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Bulletin Article – March 17, 2024

Throughout the year, we present an article in the bulletin each week on a variety of topics, written by a member of our Parish staff on a rotating basis.

Growing In Faith

by Ruth Pera, Faith Formation Coordinator

There are plenty of people in secular society who accuse Catholics of “glorifying” suffering to a harmful degree. And, certainly, I have spent my fair share of time unlearning my own perfectionist tendencies from childhood (I mean if you don’t stay up all night finishing something, can you really even prove you care about it at all?), so I can’t say that this doesn’t happen. Someone looking to support that particular stereotype might even point to today’s readings as justification for their reasoning.

But how could a God, who created us solely out of love, actually desire suffering for any of us? That just can’t be true.

Despite my own tendencies to “give til it hurts,” I don’t actually think that anything we hear in the readings today are telling us that pain and suffering are a path we need to seek to find God. The problem, though, is that our own human nature – our desire to control outcomes and prove our own worth – often gets in our own way on the path to God, and suffering, as undesirable as it is, has an uncanny knack for breaking us down. Maybe then, once we’ve let go of some of the things we try to control, there’s more room for the Spirit to work on our hearts, and more space in our mind to hear God’s voice. Maybe we find new life at the bottom of a well of suffering because we’ve stopped trying to hold on to our version of what life should be and there’s space for God to work.

Don’t mistake what I’m saying – I don’t think God sends suffering to get our attention, and he certainly doesn’t do it to teach us a lesson. And I don’t think that we can find God by punishing ourselves. Even so, maybe when suffering comes, which it has a tendency to, we can cling to our hope that God will be there to lovingly, like a good parent, to show us a new way, full of love and new life.

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