Suffering and the
God of Love
all-new 15-part series, EWTN favorite Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.,
ponders ultimate questions of human existence. Suffering without faith
can only lead to depression and despair, but suffering with love for God
leads directly into meaning and transforming faith.
1 OVERVIEW: QUESTIONS OF SUFFERING
Fr. Spitzer opens the series by stating the nature of the question as to
how does an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God allow suffering in
the world. He declares human existence as blessed with free will, and
hence the ability to choose love or un-love, opening up the potential
for shared happiness or pain in our lives and those of others.
Specifically, Spitzer delineates the following: the Epicurean, Stoic,
Promethean and Christian Methods of dealing with suffering and finding
meaning in life.
2 FOUR LEVELS OF PURPOSE
Fr. Spitzer gathers evidence for living out a meaningful existence on
four levels of fulfillment. He points out the limitations in human
attempts to live solely for ego-satisfaction, describes the heroic
mounting up to perform virtuous acts for others, and finally invites
viewers to consider the culminating experience of Christianity as
disinterested self-donation out of love for God. Specifically, Father
treats the material/physical, ego comparison, contributive agape, and
ultimate faith models of finding a sense of purpose in life.
3 FOUR LEVELS OF SUFFERING
Fr. Spitzer relates that there are four distinct approaches to deal with
unavoidable human suffering, some more egoistic and stoical, others more
transcendent in nature, leading up to the unconditional acceptance of
suffering in union with the cross of Christ. The possibility of
redemptive suffering is broached in this discussion. See especially:
comparison game, Promethean/heroic fallacy.
4 DEFINITION OF LOVE, PART 1
The nature of love is explored in this episode, beginning with the
intensity and immediacy of egoistic, self-serving appetites. Fr. Spitzer
shows the way to elevate human consciousness into the sublime, seeking
the vast and pervasive sense of spiritual joy to be had in dwelling upon
whatever is honest, just and true. See: contributive vs. comparative
5 DEFINITION OF LOVE, PART 2
Fr. Spitzer carries on the discussion of the nature of love with an
in-depth study of what we are accustomed to see as human love and then
to imagine the divine vision of love. The beatific vision holds so much
more for us than we could ever image, and this broadening and deepening
of insight is what Fr. Spitzer is about as he completes his treatment of
charity. See Gabriel Marcel, Beatitudes, 1 Cor 13.
6 WHY DOES GOD ALLOW MORAL SUFFERING
When suffering is the result of the willed choices of others or self, we
naturally question why God gave us this capacity for feeling and
emotion. Soul-searching leads to consideration of God's mercy. Since
events prove our obvious creaturely and not-divine nature, contingent
upon circumstances and other agents for provision, we look to god as the
source of our well-being. Key words: Suffering because of choices,
prayer for forgiveness.
7 WHY DOES GOD ALLOW NON-MORAL SUFFERING, PART 1
When accidents or catastrophic events of nature take place, we question
the benevolence or personal interest of God in his creations. Yet God's
love is precisely revealed as solidarity with us in our experience of
suffering. Our imperfection, self-sufficiency and supposed autonomy show
us the need for God and to serve others.
8 WHY DOES GOD ALLOW NON-MORAL SUFFERING, PART 2
Fr. Spitzer concludes his treatment of kinds of suffering brought about in
a neutral or non-moral fashion. Father takes phrases like, "What does
not kill us invariably makes us stronger," showing how god works in
mysterious ways always working for our good. Suffering is a call to
faith and unconditional love.
9 WHAT DO DO ABOUT SUFFERING
In the face of unavoidable suffering, what can a person do to make the
most of the occasion? Father mentions notions like "not wasting one
scintilla of this suffering," meaning that everything, no matter how
small, may be offered to God with love and so take on inherent value.
From examining the results of our choices and what God allows, we are
moved to respond in faith.
10 THE 5 FUNDAMENTALS: EUCHARIST
First among the essentials of Christian living full of meaning in a
healthy response to human suffering is the recourse to the Most Blessed
Sacrament as food for the journey. Without Christ we can do nothing.
Receiving the Eucharist lends divine strength to live out the call of
the Gospel to live and love as Christ. The Eucharist brings us God's
11 THE 5 FUNDAMENTALS:
Realizing that God's love is unconditional in a world where most
everything is conditional leads to transformation of life. The fact that
God loves us despite our obvious shortcomings inspires the believer to
love and forgive as Jesus did, elevating self and others to a happier,
lighter view of life. We learn to see God as the Father of the Prodigal
Son as opposed to the notions of God as the "payback" God, the Stoic
God, or Competititve God.
12 THE 5 FUNDAMENTALS:
Another way we can keep ourselves from setting ourselves up for
disappointment and failure is to manage our expectations of what we see
happening in life and what is yet to be. Basking in continual prayer,
the Christian begins to see events as mysteriously providential,
inspiring humility and gratitude, and thus happiness. We learn to say,
"Thy will be done."
13 THE 5 FUNDAMENTALS:
FOLLOWING THE HOLY SPIRIT
The way to happiness and fulfillment in life will best be lived out in
correspondence with the heavenly advocate Jesus sent to earth upon his
Ascension: the Holy Spirit. The Spirit counsels us in ways of actions
that will best please God and thus bestowing upon us ultimacy of purpose
and direction. In summary we learn to use faith to suffer well, by way
of spiritual discernment.
14 THE 5 FUNDAMENTALS:
Alleviating suffering has to be one of our main concerns as Christians,
says Fr. Spitzer. Legitimate courses of action are suggested. Christ
came that we have life and life to the full, and so we are to see to it
that others experience the fullness of life in the love that God
intended for us to experience. e.g.: Mother Teresa.
15 ALLEVIATING CULTURAL SUFFERING
Fr. Spitzer relates what concrete actions Christians ought to take as a
matter of social justice to care for our neighbors in need as a way to
transform the culture. Father sums up the series with the call to
co-redeem with Christ by offering our sufferings and good works to God
for the salvation of others and ourselves. Discussions of quality of
life are misleading. From being considered one person's option,
euthanasia quickly becomes another's dangerous duty.
Center for Life Principles
14400 Bel-Red Road, Ste. 207
Bellevue, WA 98007-3952
Ph: (425) 641-9865
(877) 877-345-5433 (toll free)
Fax: (425) 641-9635
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