Friday, May 4, 2007

When life gives you lemons,

Then don't waste the opportunity--- offer them up! I learned about this Catholic practice from my mother-in-law years ago. It is a way to turn our sufferings whether big or small into a prayer that is offered to God for the purpose of uniting our sufferings to those of Christ on the Cross. It helps us to use the crosses in our own lives to realize that suffering has a purpose, and we can make good use of our own daily sufferings as a sacrificial prayer for others. Here is a definition I found on

Theology of Redemptive Suffering:
Sacrificial suffering is a rich Christian faith expression, modeled after Christ himself. It is a partial answer to the age-old question, "Why does God allow human suffering?" The Church has always taught that physical pain, mental distress, even minor annoyances, are not meaningless but are meant to be put to valuable use. As Jesus used the anguish of his Passion and the agony of Calvary to accomplish our salvation, so do our sufferings have supernatural value when joined to the Cross. By willingly accepting our struggles and presenting them back to God as a "burnt offering" for the intentions of others, we cooperate with Christ and become real participators in the mystery of his saving act."

By thinking of our daily trials and irritations in this way, it makes them easier to deal with. If we know that by patiently enduring all that comes our way in the course of the day, and that we can then unite these as small sacrifices with Christ in order to help others, then we may even learn to welcome them. The only difference between redemptive suffering and just plain suffering is the conscious act of our will to recognize that we can offer it up! It really seems so simple. Since we all suffer, then why wouldn't we want to take every opportunity to see our suffering in a positive and purposeful way? We can either be chronic complainers who are miserable in our suffering, or we can be joyful and prayerful offerers of our suffering.

I like to think of "offering it up" as the Catholic version of the old saying, " When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." I would sure take lemonade any day over those sour lemons. Through the offering up of our daily sufferings, we can put our faith into action each day. By doing so, we learn how to make the sweet lemonade of charity for others from the sour lemons of our daily human suffering. Truly, in giving we receive, because by helping others, we lighten each other's loads and recognize that God in His goodness has given us a way to create meaning from suffering. We are enriched in our spiritual life through the love of our neighbor and become more Christ like in our words and deeds.

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