All posts tagged: suffering

A Suffering Silence

The other day a friend asked I could go with her for her chemotherapy treatment. I had no idea what a lesson it would be for me in how to bear the Cross. She is in her late seventies, distinguished and “full of wisdom” as the Scriptures say, full of that astonishing capacity to quietly accept deep suffering which I often find in my older friends. When I arrived to her house, she was weak and short of breath so we didn’t say much on the ride over to the clinic. The nurse who welcomed us was kind and patient, explaining every step of the procedure and bringing warm blankets for my friend. At first, I didn’t know if she wanted me to chat with her or not, and she seemed so tired, that finally I realized she just wanted to rest as much as possible. There wasn’t much I could do to make her comfortable, nor much she asked for—it was simply a matter of me being attentive to her and waiting. She didn’t …

Beauty from the Brokenness

As the flickering candles and dim lights fought off the dark Texan night pouring in from outside, the chapel danced between silence and sound. The silence was palpable—as thick as the bonds of the seventy young men huddled attentively as they leaned forward to listen to their fellow senior standing behind the ambo. He began to break open his life, allowing others to listen to the symphony of his rugged voice: crescendos of moments we never expected, slurred words in between tears fought back, staccatos of the surprising levity, and pauses to gather his soul to spoken notes—his young life sung to the tune of the Paschal Mystery. I remember my astonished gaze ascending upwards from the student’s face, aglow with fire light in the dark, towards the gnarled figure of Christ on the suspended crucifix. . . Crucifixion—Why? I found myself in the chapel before the whirlwind events of yet another retreat, drawn to the silent gaze of that same crucifix. Memories flooded the silence and past retreat experiences reverberated into this crossroad in …

The Cruciform Shape of the Family

Embarking on the journey of marriage and family life is filled with many joyful moments but also with moments of suffering. This suffering is inherently relational, meaning that by entering into commitments such as marriage and parenthood, we open ourselves up to the possibility of being wounded by such commitment. For example, think of the newlyweds who ache with overwhelming love for one another, a mother who labors to meet her child, the infertile couple who longs to conceive, the parents who suffer with and for a sick child, or the elderly man who sits at his dying wife’s bedside after a lifetime shared together. As we can see, suffering takes a unique, relational shape in the context of marriage and family life. This shape reflects Christ’s suffering in the sense that he entered into relationship with mankind, therefore opening himself up to such relational wounds—wounds of love. When we gaze upon Christ crucified, we see not only the horrific suffering of his Passion but also a sign of hope in his Resurrection. However, it …

And the Nominees Are . . . Arrival

Editors’ Note: In anticipation of the 89th Academy Awards on February 26, we present a series exploring the philosophical and theological elements in each of the nine films nominated for Best Picture. Caveat: this review contains spoilers. The film Arrival, starring Amy Adams as Dr. Louise Banks, linguistics scholar, takes the science fiction trope of first contact and explores it from an astonishingly intimate perspective: through the memories and experiences of Adams’ character as she, and the rest of the world, come to know humanity’s new extraterrestrial visitors. Louise, whose life, we see, has involved terrible heartache, is chosen by the government for her linguistics expertise and tasked with finding a means of communication with the visitors: unraveling their language, teaching them our own, and, most importantly, finding out what they want. She is paired with a physicist, Ian Donelly (Jeremy Renner), who is supposed to make sense of the alien technology and scientific knowledge. Instead, he comes to serve as mostly a partner and visual aid for Louise’s communication work. And as they work against the clock to comprehend the alien language …

The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Knowledge of the divine compassion results from what is perhaps the most intense movement of the Spirit in our hearts. The Virgin Mary—who is the Church as she dawns in a single person—is the mirror of this knowledge, its vital space. To know this compassion from within requires more than self-acceptance in joyful resignation; it requires that we say “Yes” with our whole being to the love that gives us life; it requires that we accept ourselves from the hand of the Father and entrust the burden of our human nature to Jesus, who carries it for us. (Jean Corbon, The Wellspring of Worship, 245) What thoughts passed through Mary’s mind as she stood at the foot of the Cross, contemplating the dying image of her Son? Surely, she must have remembered all those hidden years in Nazareth where she and Joseph watched this child grow in wisdom and knowledge (cf. Lk 2:52). Or, perhaps Simeon’s prophecy in the presentation at the temple—that Mary’s heart would be pierced by a sword (Lk 2:35). Or, the …

“Single by Default” by Jessica Keating

Last week, Jessica Keating wrote for Church Life on three insights into marriage from a single person. This week, America Magazine published another piece by Jessica Keating on singlehood. In this piece, she makes an argument that whatever a “single vocation” consists of, it is really just a concrete way of living out a vocation to holiness in the world. And even if she is among the many young women and men who have not chosen this vocation, she is still called to live with holiness in the world: Things do not always work out the way we expect. Life is precarious. We are thrown into situations over which we have no control. Married couples experience infertility. The person one falls in love with may not return that love. A religious order may ask a member to leave. We are all vulnerable. Yet we are called to holiness precisely in the circumstances of reality as it is, not as we would like it to be. But I did not discern a call to single life. In …