The Catholic tradition is unanimous when it talks about the role of suffering in the spiritual life. We all must face the abandonment of the Cross; the fear, the anxiety, and the illusions of a world that is living in shadows and confusion. In a certain sense, by our learning to mourn this fallen existence, we participate in the very salvific work of Jesus Christ, and in a mystical way, participate in his undoing of the bondage of sin.
Our suffering is never meaningless. When we learn to bring everything to Christ with complete abandonment, we allow for the dynamism of salvation to take flesh within us. We stubbornly refuse to give into the voice of hatred and condemnation, and we allow ourselves to commune with our God in ways that move beyond simply nice sentiments and pleasant ideas. Thus, when freely accepted, suffering becomes a powerful catalyst for sanctification.
That is why we must give unscripted time for God because we must give ourselves time to suffer. Certainly there will be joys, but we must never forget that our time with Jesus is not simply about maximizing our comforts and good feelings. By giving time and permission to suffer, we allow for that spirit of gentleness to take hold in our heart. Likewise, we learn to reject those voices of judgment, the ones that tell us lies about who we are and what we are called to do.
By allowing ourselves to feel the depths of desolation without giving into despair and self-escape, we allow the desolation to pass to the glory of the Resurrection. We must walk with Jesus in the garden; we must feel the sting of the crown of thorns and the cross. We must feel the full weight of sin and heroically look out from our cross and….
That is what it means to be Christ like; that is what it means to look upon humanity with the eyes of faith. In the midst of pain and confusion, let us dare to love.