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Chapter 5 Suffering and Healing:

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1 Chapter 5 Suffering and Healing:
Toward Full Humanity

2 Section A: “The Many Faces of Loss and Suffering”
“For Review” questions from page 89: 1. Give two examples of necessary losses involved in growing up. Being born Going to day care or nursery school Starting school and becoming a student Leaving friends behind for various reasons Shedding childhood ways and becoming an adolescent Graduating high school 2. Why does great suffering feel so destructive to a person? Because the person perceives that her very self is being destroyed and falling to pieces.

3 “The Many Faces of Loss & Suffering”
Section A summary: “The Many Faces of Loss & Suffering” Much as we want to avoid it, loss and the suffering that accompanies it are inevitable parts of life. Some losses are natural, necessary occurrences on our path of growth—like graduating from high school. Other times, suffering and loss may seem totally senseless and may threaten to rear apart our sense of self. Whatever suffering we experience, we need to attend to it (rather than avoid it) and learn skills for coping with it. (See CCC, numbers 164 and 1500.)

4 Section B: “The Big Question” (Pages 90—95)
1. Describe two sources of suffering. Give an example of suffering from each kind of source and a mix of both. Suffering results from both a) the cycles and processes of nature and b) from free human choice. An example of suffering from natural causes is skiers getting killed in a blizzard. An example of suffering caused by free human choice is drug trafficking. Some suffering results from a mix of both natural causes and human choices, such as a car accident in bad weather.

5 2. Briefly explain what the Bible says about
a) whether suffering is always the result of something we did wrong, and b) whether God wants us to suffer. In the Biblical story of Job, God scolds friends for assuming that Job brought on his misery by doing something wrong; God makes it clear that this is not the case for Job.

6 Section B summary: “The Big Question”
“Why?” questions dominate humankind’s reflections on suffering: “Why do people experience suffering?” Objectively, suffering has two main sources: the cycles and processes of nature and free human choice. Personally, people often assume they (or others) suffer because of something they did wrong, or because God is testing them. The Scriptures challenge us to see that ultimately suffering is a mystery and that the more critical question about suffering is not why it happens but what we do with it when it does happen. (See CCC, number 1502.)

7 3. How does Rabbi Kushner answer the question,
“Why do bad things happen to good people?” First, Rabbi Kushner says that being human means we are free to hurt each other. To stop suffering caused by human choices, God would have to take away our freedom and thus our humanity, and God will not do this. (God allows us to be free and make our own choices.) Second, Kushner says that the “laws of nature do not make exceptions for nice people… . God does not reach down to interrupt the workings of the Laws of Nature to protect the innocent and righteous from harm.”

8 4. What is God’s answer to Job about we suffer?
God does not give Job a clear “answer” on why we suffer, but only tells Job NOT to question the majesty of God. In other words, life is governed by a divine mystery that is too great for human beings to grasp. 5. What is the more significant question about suffering, according to Sr. Thea? The more significant question about suffering is not really why it happens but what we do with it once it does happen.

9 Section C: “Jesus” (Pages 96—97)
1. Give two examples from Jesus’ life and teaching of his compassion for those who suffered. His curing of the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath and His making caring for those who suffer a prerequisite for having eternal life. 2. With what attitude did Jesus face his own suffering and death? An attitude of acceptance, love and forgiveness. 3. What is the meaning of suffering for Christians? Suffering is a means of our redemption; through suffering we are transformed to full humanity.

10 Section C summary: “Jesus”
Jesus was not exempt from suffering, nor unaware of the suffering of others. But Jesus always responded to suffering with love. If we approach suffering as Jesus did and unite ourselves with him in the mystery of his life, passion, death, and Resurrection, suffering can bring us to a new and richer life. (See CCC, numbers 1503—1508.)

11 Section D: “Transforming the Pain” (Pp. 97—103)
1. Briefly describe the process of healthy grieving. Healthy grieving involves the following: a) acknowledging our loss so that it does not gain power over us, b) expressing our feelings so that we can move through our grief and release it, and c) taking some sort of action that helps us to move on with life, to resolve our grief, and to appreciate new possibilities. 2. In what ways can a person be transformed by suffering? A person can be transformed by suffering if s/he lets suffering bring about the best in her/him, seeing it as an opportunity for compassion, action for justice and peace, and healing.

12 Section D summary: “Transforming the Pain”
Whether suffering transforms us for good or for ill depends on how we choose to respond to it. Redemptive new life can come from suffering if we allow ourselves to grieve our losses, if in the midst of suffering we discover what really matters to us, and if we let suffering bring out the best in us—compassion, action for justice and peace, and healing. (See CCC, numbers 1501 and 1509.)

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