The Relationship of Faith and Suffering

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Dear Sister,

There is so much suffering in the world. Why does God allow people to suffer, especially good people? What is the relationship, if any, to faith and suffering?

Dear Friend,

There is indeed “so much” suffering in the world!  I would recommend to you #302-314 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which deals with this question beautifully.  God did freely choose to create the material world in an imperfect state – tolerating physical evils, like natural disasters, while His Providence moves creation “toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained”.

Yet the Catechism is careful to point out that God is in no way the cause of moralevil. Moral evil is strictly the result of the misuse of freedom by those creatures – human and angelic – who were intended by God to exercise the dignity of freedom to pursue their own greatest good – their destiny of perfect union with their Creator.

Some would question whether the freedom to choose, and even the consequent power to love, are really ‘worth’ all the suffering caused by moral evil that we see in our world. The Old Testament grappled with the mystery of evil – and it is a mystery – throughout its length, the story of Joseph in Genesis being especially insightful and instructive. The Church offers no facile answers: “There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil” (CCC 309).

You asked about the relationship between faith and suffering. In this life, faith is, itself, the ‘answer’ to suffering. It does not tell us “why” so much as “how”.  Among others, the Catechism quotes Dame Julian of Norwich: “Here I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly keep me in the faith… and that at the same time I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord showed in this time—that ‘all manner [of] things shall be well.’”  In our own sufferings and those of our loved ones that can be quite an act of faith – but we do have every model and encouragement.

Like Our Lady beneath the Cross, our moments of greatest suffering are our greatest moments of faith. It has been the constant teaching of the Church that God will allow evil and suffering only when and if He is going to bring a greater good from them – a good so good that we ourselves will one day know the fulfillment of St. Paul’s act of faith: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us” (Romans 8:18).

Until next time, may God bless you abundantly and give you the strength to withstand whatever may come…

Sister Benedicta Marie, O.C.D.


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A Letter from Mother Luisita about Anxiety and Worry

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About the Author

Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa's doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: - A life of prayer and union with God - A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - Devotion to our Blessed Mother - Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church - Praying for priests - Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service

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