My thoughts and reflections on my Catholic Faith, Fulton Sheen, the problem of suffering, and books

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Post-Thesis Reflections on Lent and Suffering

Spring Break seems to be the only time when I have the time to write a blog post...and when I actually think about writing one.

It's not only Spring's also Lent.  A time when Catholics around the world adopt voluntary penances in preparation for the biggest feast of the Church's Liturgical Year: Easter.  There are four more weeks left in Lent (not that I'm counting...actually, I *am* counting...backwards: looking back at the days I've wasted so far.

Voluntary penance...suffering.  Crosses...our daily crosses, my daily crosses...His Cross.

I'm reading a little book of Sheen's (surprise, surprise!) for Lent: "Lenten Meditations with Fulton J. Sheen," published by Liguori.  It has a short (2-3 sentence) reading for each of the 40 days of Lent, taken from one of Sheen's books.  I'm 2 days behind, and the reading for Day 13 is taken from Sheen's encouraging book "Lift Up Your Heart":
We would all like to make our own crosses; but since Our Lord did not make His own, neither do we make ours. We can take whatever He gives us, and we can make the supernatural best of it. The typist at the desk working on routine letters . . . the student with his books, the sick in their isolation and pain, the teacher drilling her pupils, the mother dressing the children--every such task, every such duty, can be ennobled and spiritualized if it is done in God's name.
I wrote a 30-odd page thesis on suffering (according to Sheen), so it would seem that I have it down...I know the purpose of suffering and how to make it profitable, right?  Wrong.  Intellectually, maybe I know it...after all, I blabbed on for 39 pages about suffering and the proper way to accept it...but when it comes to the day-to-day stresses and obstacles, I forget all of that knowledge: I know it, but I can't apply it practically.

I'm lousy when it comes to suffering.  I complain, I freak out, I babble to anyone who will listen, I get tense and worried and uptight and stressed when obstacles come up in daily life.  And I would get an "F" in the virtue of trust if there were a test...I'm generally bad at it, but then throw stress or obstacles or "suffering" in my way, and even the thought of trust disappears from my mind.  Then again, the thought "This is something I could offer up" doesn't even cross my mind: practically, I think of suffering as physical pain.  And I'm lousy at that too.  I didn't give up coffee for Lent because a) I'm a wimp when it comes to the withdrawal headaches, and b) my roommates forbade me to give it up: they don't want to have to live with a caffeine-deprived senior.

Back to the non-physical sufferings: this is a lousy excuse, but I can't control the almost-automatic tension and worry that arises when my paranoid and manipulative mother does something manipulative or fueled by her paranoia...something I should be used to by now, except then I realize I never will get used to it, it's always gonna hurt.  Guess that's something I could offer up, but in the tension of the moment, I don't think of it.

Time to go do homework and remember Sheen's principle: "Every such task, every such duty, can be ennobled and spiritualized if it is done in God's name."


  1. Do you make a "Morning Offering"? If so, then you are covered for the whole day. Offer the whole mess to Christ, through Mary (always Mary), and He will use it to make you grow. But it's kind of "organic"--we grow slowly. Jesus uses plant imagery all the time.

  2. Oh, sweetie! What an HONEST post!! I am very, very impressed with the way you are able to acknowledge your struggles and fears. That is the first step to trusting: saying "I need to trust." :-)

    I can relate to essentially everything you put on here. In fact, I wish I could have said it so clearly and precisely! You're a REALLY good writer. Whenever I try to explain a problem I have, I can't because it's all just a confused jumble in my head!

    Prayers. Love you. <3 Keep writing!!!