Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"What is lacking in the afflictions of Christ"

Anon asked the following:

“St. Paul said, ‘Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.’ How do St. Paul’s sufferings make up for what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions? I thought Christ accomplished all necessary for salvation. St Paul does speak to his audience about their sufferings and how Christ will take it and do ongoing works of salvation. So, is our suffering what St. Paul is talking about as this completion? I don’t understand.”

I referred to this passage (Col 1:24) from St Paul during the summer series talk, “Why Does God Allow Suffering?” I made the point that Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross is the perfect sacrifice, but it is not complete. Yes, Anon, we, the Church, complete it. God allows us to suffer so that, among other reasons, we will complete the afflictions of Christ. We are allowed the incredible gift of sharing in the Cross of Christ so that we will complete it. Elsewhere in his letters, St Paul writes that Christ is the head, the Church is the body. We, as the Body of Christ, complete the suffering of Christ, our Head.

Whenever each of us carries our small portion of Christ’s Cross, our suffering joins in Christ’s work of salvation. This means that our suffering can be salvific; hence, the phrase, “offer it up”. God gives us the opportunity to offer our suffering up for (the salvation of) others in the same way that Christ offered himself up for the salvation of all.

“in the mystery of the Church as his Body, Christ has in a sense opened his own redemptive suffering to all human suffering. In so far as man becomes a sharer in Christ's sufferings—in any part of the world and at any time in history—to that extent he in his own way completes the suffering through which Christ accomplished the Redemption of the world” (“Salvifici Doloris”, Pope John Paul II, 1984).

“If then you are among the members of Christ, whatever human being you are, whoever you are that hears this, whoever you are that does not hear this (but if you are among the members of Christ you do hear this), whatever you suffer at the hands of those who are not among the members of Christ was lacking to the sufferings of Christ.

Your sufferings are added because they were lacking. You fill up a measure, you do not pour something that overflows. You suffer as much as needed to be added from your sufferings to the total suffering of Christ, who suffered as our head, and suffers in his members, that is, in ourselves.

Each one of us in his own measure pays his debt to what may be called this commonwealth of ours. In proportion to our store of strength we contribute as it were a tax of suffering. The final reckoning of all suffering will not take place until the world has come to an end” (St. Augustine).


At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“God gives us the opportunity to offer our suffering up for (the salvation of) others in the same way that Christ offered himself up for the salvation of all.”

I didn’t completely understand what was meant when one used the phrase, “offer it up.” If I were to say, “Lord take my suffering in X,Y,Z for the salvation of (say) Jim?” or offer my suffering for a special intention- like peace in the Middle East, then my offerings and sufferings are taken, sanctified and put to good use?

If I had understood this, I think I would have accepted much more with peace (rather than defeat), for my worst would be used for another’s best. There’s honor in that. Though it might not be easy to do, it kind of makes suffering less insufferable. I can finally see that suffering is not in vain- thanks, FG for your diligence in addressing the subject.

At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post really made me think of suffering in a different way. I try to offer up my suffering for the souls in purgatory and for sins against chastity. In my human weakness, I sometimes forget to keep offering it up. Maybe I spend too much time hoping for an end to my suffering.

I also never read of an explanation of suffering like this one. Thanks for a detailed, good explanation.
"what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ"

Thank you.

At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for a detailed explanation on this.

One of the things I've learned in life is that you can't really face the issue until you relive it, in every detail.

I also used to ponder why God would let all this bad stuff happen to me until I realized He didn't give it me as a trial. He wants to help me through it. It took me a long time to come to this realization, and I definitely had help.

I've decided to use my bad experiences to help others. It's hard to deal with the issues, but slowly I am finding my feelings and emotions again instead of feeling numb all the time.


At 1:53 PM, Blogger fran said...

Speaking of chastity..

Chastity Day 2008, featuring Jason Anglette from Catholic Answers is going to be in the area, October 19th through the 23rd.

Sunday, October 19
1:00-2:30 pm Our Lady of Perpetual Help Panorama Room, DC
6:15 - 7:45pm Jesus the Good Shepherd Church, Owings MD

Monday, October 20:
10-11:45am Archbishop Carroll High School, Washington DC
7-8:30 pm St. Mark the Evangelist Church, Hyatsville MD

Tuesday, October 21:
10-11:45 am St. Mary's Ryken High School, Leonardtown MD
7-8:30 pm St. John Church, Hollywood MD

Wednesday, October 22
10:11:45 am St. Columba School Auditorium, Oxon Hill MD
7-8:30 pm St. Patrick Church, Rockville MD

Thursday, October 23
10-11:45 am St. Mary Church Rockville MD

There will be a parent session "Talking to your Teen about Chastity"
The event is co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington Department of Life Issues, Office of Family Life and Office of Youth Ministry
You will need to register. Call 301-853-4555

At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have thus far been unable to make any sense at all out of suffering and why some people get so much of it that it consumes their lives. I have tried, but I cannot embrace a sense of it having a purpose or ultimately being a good thing.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger fran said...

Anon 10:43-

Sometimes suffering does not make sense and is difficult to interpret as a "good thing." So I would suggest trying to stop making sense of it. Instead, I offer you this prayer, which, in my life has never gone unanswered and, I know, will help make your suffering more bearable and bring you peace.

Novena to St. Therese

O Little Therese of the Child Jesus, please pick for me a rose from the heavenly gardens and send it to me as a message of love.

O Little Flower of Jesus, ask God today to grant the favors I now place with confidence in yur hands...(mention specific requests)

St. Therese, help me to always believe as you did, in God's great love for me, so that I might imitate your "Little Way" each day. Amen

Pray the novena with great devotion and faith, and with confidence that the Lord will grant what you ask!

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous James said...

This suffering refers to the reproach that Christ's followers must suffer because of their identification with Him. (All those who live godly in Christ will face persecution - 2 Tim 3:12)
This has nothing to do with salvation or Christ's work on the cross.


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