On Suffering and Hope and Forever

On Suffering and Hope and Forever October 9, 2022

Yesterday I sat at a meeting discussing donuts and flyers. The sharing of labors and stories and sufferings led as it often does, to friendship. My sister called to talk about the stresses of moving and homeschooling. When I got home, a friend texted me requesting songs for planning a funeral. Google could have given answers but she didn’t want lists. She wanted someone to look over the words and find the right ones that might comfort when all the world felt fragile.

Burdens shared are halved, just as joys shared double the happiness. We should know this from the mass, from the reality of all the pews filled with people carrying silent crosses that would otherwise crush. Participating in the mass helps place our paralyzed souls before the Lord. Graces come from sharing the readings and the songs. The Body and Blood of Christ allows each of us to share even if we do not know the reality of each other’s lives. God has thrown open the doors, inviting us in from the opening bells.

The mass knits together the father dropping off his only daughter at college, and the grandparents holding hands in the first pew. The three college students comforting a fourth over a break up, and the lonely overworked grad student trying to discern “What next? What now?” all come wearing their “I’m lost.” on their faces. Even as the opening hymn reminds us that here all are found, here all are invited to the feast. When the mass ends and we leave, our souls have at least one thread woven to each other soul that participated in this and every mass, and all the souls in Heaven that celebrate with us. This reality comforts all of us.

Knowing all of Heaven prays with us and takes our worries, all our crosses to Christ is one comfort. Knowing He gave us the mass so we could bring Him our sufferings is another. Christ delights in being our savior, in using these sufferings and trials to reveal both His deep love for us, and our faith to the world, so as to invite more souls to trust His love. It’s a gift to go and offer your trials and sufferings and pains on the altar.

It’s an act of grace to trust God’s goodness to make something holy out of it; to bring to us a peace we would not imagine possible given our pain. It is the promise of Christ, when He promises to prepare a place for us. It is the promise of God the Father, always looking for all His far away children, hoping today to host a feast. The Holy Spirit seeks to guide us to love God and others ever more deeply by helping us glimpse those hidden crosses carried by others. The Holy Trinity promises us, suffering isn’t forever or the end, and calls us to live in hope of the joy of forever.

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