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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More on Suffering

It's official. I now have all the elements of true suffering: blood, sweat, and tears.

The sweat came first, actually, as I raced through the pages of the encyclicals and class notes, trying to write this darned paper about how suffering is salvific (according to John Paul II in Salvifici Doloris). I can't seem to make it come together.

Then the tears threatened today as I considered my deadline approaching, one day closer, and I am only one sentence and one quote closer to ending my paper - with another paragraph and a conclusion still to go. The tears came as a result of the thought of turning in this terrible paper, and the embarassment it will cause my faithful references. I considered calling them to tell them not to send in the forms. After this one, I'm not sure they'll want to stand behind me.

You may say I'm being too hard on myself, but not this time...this paper simply will not come together. I've highlighted and dog-eared my books, I have colored tabs to code the topics, and I've starred and underlines and bracketed important passages.

I have revised, I have replaced quotes, I have cut sentences and added others. I've cut, I've expanded. I've drawn the connections....and lost others.

And I can't seem to get anywhere.

And the final element was the blood. I cut my finger when reaching into my backpack to grab my binder containing 3 Encyclicals, all printed off from the EWTN website because they are no longer in print.

So I bled, and now I have blood on my pages.

That does it. I'm really suffering.

I know I read something about joy in suffering...where is it?

And how can this possibly be salvific?

Oh...right...that's what the paper is about.

Maybe I should just turn in a blood-stained piece of paper with a picture of the Crucified Lord, and sign it with a smilie face.

20 comments:

Ray from MN said...

I'm not sure what you are looking for, Adoro, but Father Robert Spitzer, S.J. (but Orthodox), President of Gonzaga U, has done a show on EWTN but not now available there. Only in Video.

"Suffering and the God of Love"

Part of it deals with something that I am dealing with now with respect to the faith (non-existent) of my brother who has become a Christmas Easter Catholic.

I don't know all the reasons that he has left the faith, but one major reason he won't return is that he can't believe in a God that allows suffering. One of his children has had some problems that now seem to be handled.

I don't have this mastered yet, but I've done a little research and in a nutshell, Spitzer believes that without suffering, there would be no reason to love.

For example, if children, spouses and elderly parents didn't need us, ever, and we didn't need them, what need would there be for "love?"

We would just be like animals, self-sufficient.

You might be able to find a more detailed discussion of Father Spitzer's arguments on the internet. I'll look too.

I should have been to give my brother something to look at. I've been procrastinating on this for several years.

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

i shrink from suffering!

Adoro te Devote said...

Ray, ~ my sources are very specific because this is a class on the Writings of John Paul II.

So the main source is Salvifici Doloris, and the othera are Dives en Miseriacordia and Dominum et Vivificantem.

I have a very specific point I have to make to bring it together, and it's just not working. And of course, my conclusion.

The sources you mentioned are not about what John Paul II said about suffering, and what I need is what HE said....I have all the info, I just can't make it happen!

((( sweating blood now....))))

Mrs. Jackie Parkes, we can't shrink from suffering! We are called to EMBRACE IT and, ironically, the final point I have to make in my paper, we offer it in union with the suffering of Christ! Suffering is often actually a grace that brings us closer to God and helps us to transcend the evil we experience.

God bless!

Sanctus Belle said...

Graduate school was one of the most painful experiences I've ever faced - it was also VERY purifying. All will be well, one step, one paper, one course at a time!

Angela Messenger said...

I laughed so hard at your last sentence in the original post!

PS - read about Fr. Tim Vakoc. He suffers greatly yet his hospital bed is his new altar. Who knows how many souls he is bringing to Christ by this. Anyway, just a thought.

raphaella said...

By His cross, Christ taught all of us it is impossible to love without suffering. When we truly love the people around us, we surrender a little more of our ego-centric ways every day.

In my experiences, some of most intense sufferings in my life were because I loved someone, sometimes because they didn't love me the same way I loved them. Would I erase that person from my life in order to eliminate the suffering? Absolutely not. Even if the relationship did not work out, by the grace of God, I learned valuable lessons along the way. My sufferings, when joined with Christ, have burned off some of my rough edges and formed me into the person I am today- hopefully a better person, closer to Christ. Now when the trials of life come my way, I look at it through a different perspective. Here lies the joy of suffering.

Adoro te Devote said...

Sanctus ~ Thanks. At least I know that others are suffering in solidarity, or have done so in the past! :-)

Angela ~ :-) I'm seriously tempted to live out that last line.....

Oh, and about Fr. Vakoc - he's local so I'm very familiar w/ his situation. Lots of articles around here on him.

rafaela ~ thanks for your comment! I actually posted more seriously on this awhile ago because on my first read-through of this encyclical I actually discovered the joy of suffering - it was really a wonderful grace.

This post was really just a way to blow off steam, but I forgot the humor label - will go back and add it, so my question wasn't a serious question.

What's so frustrating is that I fully understand the content of the encyclicals, the issues I'm addressing in them, how it's salvific, but I can't get it to work out in the paper! I've had to delete tangents which are relevant, but not necessary to the core of the topic, and I HAVE to get this done!

It really is a terrible paper.

God bless! :-)

Adoro te Devote said...

rafaela ~ I forgot to mention - I LOVE what you shared about your experience of love and suffering. And in fact, this is deeply addressed in SD, as well as, naturally, in my paper. Love desires union, and we find that when we love, even if there is suffering we are drawn into it on behalf of another.

This class has quite literally changed my life. I wish everyone could be taking this with me.

Besides, misery loves company, and then you'd all know how hard these papers are to write! :-)

Anonymous said...

Adoro, even though I've never been to grad school, I've done a BA (English) so can definitely relate! Like one of the above commenters, I laughed long and loud at your final sentence. If I were the Prof grading that course, and you turned it in, I'd give you an A, for sure! God bless!

Adoro te Devote said...

Thanks, anon! :-) I may do just that...or when I email my paper to him I'll just make the comment that I intended to do so.

Terry Nelson said...

Can't you just buy a degree online? Kidding! You are very much in my prayers...have you asked JPII to help you? I hear he does that. ;)

Adoro te Devote said...

Terry! Thank you for your prayers, and yes, indeed I have been praying to John Paul II...he's been so good to me!

But unfortunately, he's a hard taskmaster and isn't letting me off easy in this theology stuff.

tara said...

adoro...
The only way I make it through suffering is to know that it will not last forever--that's when the joy happens. The last quarter (I had quarters back in them olden days when I went to school) It was such pain, I just had to keep telling myself--"It will be over soon," I counted the days, hours, and minutes--I knew there was a light at the end of the dark tunnel. I feel your pain, Hang in there--the pain will not last forever.

Daughter of St. John said...

Adoro,

Thanks for your comment and for visiting. It always amazes me how what I write can touch someone, even some time after. Truly the work of the HS.

I've been where you are. It's not pleasant. Perhaps you could write about the many souls released from suffering in purgatory as a result of your suffering due to this assignment ;-)

Hang in there. Remember, the papers are never as bad as WE think they are! (Though admittedly sometimes they're just not that great!)

In Mary, DSJ

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: Bend over so I can kick you. [Kick]

For heaven's sake, relax!

No one expects you to earn that PhD in Theology right this very minute. Though, you seem to be kicking yourself because you think you are not at that standard. Of course, you aren't-yet. But one day you will be. I'm sure of it.

Little steps first.

One of my favorite brief speeches by JPII is the one he gave on the Shroud of Turin in May 24, 1998 while visiting Turin, Italy. It speaks about suffering. You may not be able to quote it if you are only allowed to use his encyclicals but reading it could help you get some ideas.

You can find it here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/travels/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_24051998_sindone_en.html

You are in my prayers.

LOL! At your last line here too.

Who else but a true friend can talk to you like this? :-)

Adoro te Devote said...

Cathy ~ Keep your kicks to yourself, please! :-)

Who CARES about PhD!????? This paper isn't even up to snuff as an undergrad paper! It's worse than the paper I wrote for the class on Alexis de Tocqueville in my freshman year! Oy!

And seriously, more links will not help me....I have the content, I just can't put it together. As of today, I'm done, I'm doing my final edit and I'm turning it in...and let it be damned as whatever grade. I simply cannot do any more with it. The paper is due so I have no choice but to be done.

Such is life.

I still think I'm going to turn in the paper with a picture of Jesus Crucified, with blood stains, and a highlighted smilie face, scan it in, and send it as an attachment with the paper. :-)

Anyway, I sent the paper to Ray because he asked for it...ask him how bad it is. It's awful.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

It's possible for paper to be damned? That's harsh. LOL! Ok, I'm a snark.

Ray, how BAD is it?

By turning in that paper with the smiley face etc. you may be demonstrating 4 things:

1) You have a great sense of humor
2) You need psychiatric help
3) You are a blasphemer
3) You really need to explore a career as a performance artist.

Adoro te Devote said...

hmmm...I hope I have a sense of humor, that's important!

I MIGHT need psychiatric help...can't rule that out.

Blasphemer....uh oh! That concerns me.

Performance artist...hmm....no...been there, done that, don't wanna do it again. It was fun, though. :-)

Fr. V said...

I see a lot of good coming out of your suffering. I've been laughing all through these comments.

I've not been able to read you for a few days (been away) a lot going on! Reminds me of seminary (except for the bleeding.)

Like Mary or Saint John at the foot of the cross, not much for us to do but be there and say, "Praying for ya kid!"

Please let us know how it turns out!

Adoro te Devote said...

Fr. V. ~ What!? No bleeding in seminary? You missed out...either that, or I really did something bad to deserve this and I must be paying for something.

:-)

Glad this made you laugh. If people are laughing, that makes this worth something. Somehow.

Still can't figure out how my cut finger is redemptive.