In the season of Lent, we are to give our lives over to penance, almsgiving and charity.
My wife just returned from visiting her ill sister, Laura, who is suffering from cancer. She spent some time sitting with her. According to Fr. Peter John Cameron who spoke at the recent Catholic Men’s Fellowship Conference, being present to suffering is the first step, and indeed a charitable step, in dealing with it. It is hard to sit with suffering for we feel so powerless, but it is most valuable for us and the person suffering. Second, we must share that suffering by not being silent about it. We should speak what many would like to hide or ignore. Not to seek pity but to acknowledge it, to put it into words. Finally, Father Cameron says we need to share the suffering with Christ which gives it meaning. This is the ultimate decision and perhaps the hardest.
We should give it over to Christ for he knows what suffering is about. He was incarnate and experienced the pain that resulted from the torment of his human flesh. He carried that pain and suffering and on the cross forgave his tormentors. His attitude perfects suffering and makes it meaningful. I am reminded how we watched as St. Pope John Paul II suffered to his death. He allowed us to bear witness to it. This Lent as we go about our Lenten rituals and devotions, let us pray for all who are suffering. Let us sit if we can with them and acknowledge their pain so that it may bring about greater meaning. Let us give it over to Christ who loves us and wishes to give us eternal life.