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Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, SALVIFICI DOLORIS Letter of Pope John Paul II February 11, 1984.

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Presentation on theme: "Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, SALVIFICI DOLORIS Letter of Pope John Paul II February 11, 1984."— Presentation transcript:

1 Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, SALVIFICI DOLORIS Letter of Pope John Paul II February 11, 1984.

2 The witnesses of the cross and resurrection of Christ present to us a Gospel of Suffering

3 The Redeemer Himself wrote this Gospel, by His own suffering accepted in love, so that man "should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

4 Christ tells us that he came "to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."

5 reveals the salvific purpose of suffering in Christ's mission, in the Church’s mission and, in our mission This Gospel of Suffering

6 The Love of Jesus transforms the cross, a horrible instrument of torture, into the most effective means for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind. The cross of Jesus is the greatest proof of His love for men.

7 "If any man would come after me... let him take up his cross daily." In order to satisfy Jesus’ moral demands his disciples must "deny themselves.“ (Luke 9:23) The way to the kingdom of heaven is "hard and narrow." In contrast to the "wide and easy" way that "leads to destruction." (Cf Mt 7:13-14) Christ did not conceal from His listeners the need for them to suffer.

8 "They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives." (Lk 21:12-19)


10 These persecutions and tribulations will be a particular proof of likeness to Christ and union with Him.

11 This Gospel of Suffering, which speaks of persecutions, experienced because of Christ, contains in itself a special call to courage and fortitude

12 Christ has overcome the world definitively by His resurrection. He has at the same time overcome the world by His suffering.

13 Christ retains in His risen body the marks of the wounds of the cross in His hands, feet and side. Paul says: "All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. " (2 Tim 3:12)

14 Through his resurrection, Christ makes known the victorious power of suffering. He wishes to plant within the hearts of those whom He chose as Apostles and those whom He continually chooses and sends forth an appreciation for this power.

15 The Gospel of Suffering continues to be written down through history even to the current day by all those who suffer together with Christ, uniting their human sufferings to His suffering for our salvation.

16 The Gospel of suffering is fulfilled in these people, and, at the same time, it continues in a certain sense to be written: they write it and proclaim it to the world, they announce it to the world in which they live and to the people of their time.

17 For in suffering there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ, a special grace.

18 A result of such grace is not only that We may discover the salvific meaning of suffering, but above all that through suffering we may become a completely new person.

19 We can discover a new dimension, as it were, of our entire life and vocation. This discovery is a particular confirmation of the spiritual greatness which in mankind surpasses the body in a way that is completely beyond compare.



22 It is He Himself who acts at the heart of human sufferings through His Spirit of truth, through the consoling Spirit.

23 It is He who transforms, the very substance of the spiritual life, indicating for the person who suffers a place close to Himself.

24 It is He -as the interior Master and Guide- who reveals to the suffering brother and sister this wonderful interchange, situated at the very heart of the mystery of the Redemption.

25 And slowly but effectively, Christ leads into this mysterious world, into this kingdom of the Father, suffering mankind, in a certain sense through the very heart of His suffering.

26 For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by the grace from outside, but from within. Christ through His own suffering is very much present in every human suffering, and can act from within that suffering by the powers of His Spirit of truth. His consoling Spirit.

27 The divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of every sufferer through the heart of His holy Mother, the first and the most exalted of all the redeemed.

28 At the foot of the cross, the dying Christ, conferred upon the ever Virgin Mary a new kind of motherhood -spiritual and universal- towards all human beings At the foot of the cross, the dying Christ, conferred upon the ever Virgin Mary a new kind of motherhood -spiritual and universal- towards all human beings

29 so that every individual, during the pilgrimage of faith, might remain, together with her, closely united to Him unto the cross, and

30 so that every form of suffering, given fresh life by the power of this cross, should become no longer the weakness of man but the power of God.

31 We each react to suffering in different ways. But in general it can be said that the individual enters suffering with a typically human protest and with the question “Why?" How can this be?

32 We cannot help noticing that the One to whom we put the question is Himself suffering and wishes to answer us from the cross, from the heart of His own suffering. Why?

33 We hear Christ's saving answer as we ourselves gradually become sharers in the sufferings of Christ. The answer comes by way of interior encounter with the Master. It is in itself something more than the mere abstract answer to the question about the meaning of suffering. For it is above all a call. It is a vocation!

34 Christ says: "Follow me!" Come! Take part through your suffering in this work of saving the world, a salvation achieved through my suffering! Through my cross! Gradually, as we take up our cross, spiritually uniting ourselves to the cross of Christ, the salvific meaning of suffering is revealed before us.

35 We do not discover this meaning at our own human level, but at the level of the suffering of Christ. At the same time from this level of Christ the saving meaning of suffering descends to our level and becomes, in a sense, our personal response. It is then that we find in his suffering interior peace and even spiritual joy.

36 This source of joy is found in the overcoming of our sense of the uselessness of suffering, this sense not only consumes us interiorly, but convinces us that we have become a burden to others. St. Paul speaks of such joy in Col. 1:24: "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake."

37 The discovery of the saving purpose of suffering in union with Christ transforms this depressing feeling. Faith in sharing in the suffering of Christ brings with it the interior certainty that in the spiritual dimension of the work of Redemption we are serving, like Christ, the salvation of our brothers and sisters.

38 We are carrying out an irreplaceable service in the Body of Christ, which is ceaselessly born of the cross of the Redeemer. Suffering, more than anything else, makes present in the history of humanity the power of Redemption.

39 And so the Church sees in all Christ's suffering brothers and sisters as it were a multiple subject of His supernatural power.

40 The Gospel of suffering is being written unceasingly, and it speaks unceasingly with the words of this strange paradox: the springs of divine power gush forth precisely in the midst of human weakness. Those who share in the sufferings of Christ preserve in their own sufferings a very special particle of the infinite treasure of the world's redemption, and can share this treasure with others.

41 The Cross Becomes a Sacrifice: A ritual offering made to God by a priest on behalf of the people, as a sign of adoration, gratitude, supplication, and communion. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is commemorated and mysteriously made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church.

42 The sacrifice of Jesus "for the sins of the whole world" expresses his loving communion with the Father. "The Father loves me, because I lay down my life," "[for] I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father."

43 Jesus reigns from the cross To bear our cross with love is the greatest means of our sanctification Only the way of the cross leads to union with God Our sacrifices have value only inasmuch as they are offered in union with the sacrifice of Jesus

44 In the light of the unmatchable example of Christ, reflected with singular clarity in the life of His Mother, the Gospel of suffering, through the experience and words of the Apostles, becomes an inexhaustible source for each generation that succeeds one another in the history of the Church.

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