Suffering and Ash Wednesday

Good Letters | 2/14/2018 | Staff
stefania (Posted by) Level 3
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Suffering is the most dissociative word in the Christian lexicon.

Raised Catholic, I was taught to “offer up” my suffering for the salvation of a soul in purgatory. The sooner I embraced my suffering, which meant releasing or suppressing it, the sooner suffering would turn to joy. Joy was the preferred endgame, and it was always within our power.

Women - Privilege - Woman - Dr - Alice

Likewise, Christian women are often taught to embrace the “privilege of being a woman,” as Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand calls it, which is essentially to suffer more than men due to our capacity to bear children— and therefore have more supernatural meaning in one’s life.

I don’t discount the relationship between suffering and supernatural meaning, but I do take issue with the rhetorical leap so many take to get there. When Christians talk about suffering, rather than spending much time with the associated endurance, pain, and spiritual poverty, we’re encouraged to dissociate from our feelings, and transform our thoughts to positive ones as quickly as possible.

Bible - Suffering - Women - Childbirth - Curse

And yet the Bible calls the suffering of women in childbirth a curse. I much prefer the Biblical language, because it doesn’t create false expectations. Suffering is not a privilege. It’s a curse that entered the world at the fall of humanity.

God did not design us to suffer. It’s a generational, evil aberration. Saying otherwise is at best, misleading, at worst, heresy.

Catholic - Tradition - Mary - Status - Sin

Some Catholic tradition holds that Mary’s status as untouched by original sin means that Christ did not pass through her birth canal, and was as painlessly and miraculously born as he was conceived. In that case, Mary received the privileged position of having been returned to a prelapsarian state in order to give birth to the Son of God.

It is perhaps more apt to align the experience of mortal childbirth with Christ himself, who went willingly to his...
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