Redemptive Suffering

From paper cuts and mosquito bites to the ravages of cancer and the death of a loved one, suffering is a fact of life that all religions try to make sense of.

Different religions approach suffering in their own ways.  So, how do Catholics “offer up” their sufferings and sacrifices?

Formally, many Catholics make the Morning Offering to give to Our Lord that day’s efforts, works, joys, sufferings, intentions, etc. (the form will vary).

At the Mass, we exercise our lay priesthood by consciously, silently, privately offering ourselves up, along with the Son, to the Father during the Offertory.

Informally, we can “offer it up” by simply asking God in our own words to use a suffering as it occurs; we could do this for specific intentions (for example, by praying, “Use this pain, Lord, for the salvation of my brother . . .”).

While it might be tempting to tell someone to “offer it up,” it is also important to remember to comfort those who are suffering, to feed the hungry and to give drink to the thirsty.

Telling someone to offer it up without also helping to deal with the temporal and emotional effects of whatever they are going through is not the fully Christian thing to do.

But for ourselves, offering our sufferings as a way to be united in Christ’s suffering is unique to Christianity . . . and to Catholicism.  (10:18)