Much time and energy has been expanding on the question of suffering. Because of this I will not try to explain why humans suffer. I will however, try to give a little of the teenager's perspective. In class we have been reading the book Night, a powerful book about the Holocaust. In the course of our discussion, we began to talk about human suffering, and how, if there is a god, how can he/she/it allow us to suffer. From what we read in Night, the Jewish perspective the author talks about is that the concentration camps were a way from God to punish the Jews for their sins. Personally I, and many of my classmates, find this explanation far from convincing and even a bit repulsive. One of my classmates thought that if this is how God deals with humans, why should we worship God at all? This is the same argument that Wiesel makes in Night.
Personally, I can't explain God's relation to suffering. But something I have noticed, at least with high school students, is that suffering is often a contest. When one person talks about all the homework they have, another person will chime in with "Well I had that much homework AND a sport." Instead of trying to talk about what is going on in their lives, people will try to downplay what is going on in other people's lives when comparing it to their own. They want to be the best, even when that means suffering more.
Everyone suffers. Some people suffer more than others, but that does devalue your own suffering. When we get into a pissing contest over who has more problems in their life, we often ignore the fact that every one's problems are still problems. So when you listen to someone elses' problems, try to remember that, even if what they are going through isn't as bad as what you're experiencing, it is still an issue in their life. So instead of pointing out how your life is worse, just shut up and listen. You might learn something. And at the least, you'll make them better.
For a good look at suffering, the Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Sitting in my kitchen with my mom and my girlfriend, talking about, what else?: radiation. You laugh? Well it's true. My mom is lecturing next week about nuclear chemistry, so when she sees us eating chocolate, she instantly jumps to, what else?: radiation. Chocolate is a good source of potassium, and a significant percentage of potassium is radioactive. So in short, you're radioactive. And so is the person next to you! You're yearly exposure to radiation from sharing a bed with someone is 40 times more then you're exposure from living near a nuclear power plant. So one good way to cut down on your exposure is to not sleep with anyone! And as celibate men and women don't share beds, they are exposed to significantly less radiation over time. The best thing actually is to become a hermit...as long as you don't live in a cave. So if you don't want cancer, join the Jesuits!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Mark Thibodeaux writes, "Good Christians often worry about their sexual feelings. They are embarrassed and ashamed of them." Fr. Martin reminds us that sexuality is a great gift from God, and we should remember that these things are meant to be celebrated. God, being all powerful, all loving and whatnot, want us to be happy. And Martin looks at loving chastely as the best way to be happy. But "How can I love chastely?" St. Ignatius says that love shows itself more in deeds, so Fr. Martin gives five ways for us to love chastely: listen compassionately, be present, do something practical, love freely, and forgive. By doing these things, Martin believes that all people, not just celibate ones, can love more freely and better.
While reading this book, a profound experience in itself, I realized that some people around me love more freely then others. One of my friends (whose name is withheld for my safety) has some trouble "sharing" her boyfriend. She gets pretty possessive around him when it comes to other girls, and boys sometimes. When I talked to her about the Ignatian way of loving freely, she gave me this weird look, smiled, and kept talking. But a few days ago, when I asked her a question about her boyfriend, she said she was trying to "share him better" because of what I said. Contemplation in action. I think so...
The photo is from America Magazine.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Holy Thursday. The celebration of the Last Supper. This year I sang at the 7:30 mass. It was probably one of the most powerful moments of my life. Precessing into the church, all singing, I was overpowered by the sense of God in my life. Ubi caritas etamor, Deus ibi est. Where charity and love are, God is there. Tonight is a reminder of our calling as humans, “Mandatum novum do vobis…a new commandment I give you, love one another as I have loved you.” Sitting in the darkened church, surrounded by the silence, I contemplated what I am called to in life. (I still have no idea, in case you care.) And how we are called to love each other. I found it really interesting how the age old message of love and charity continues to this day, how through the ages people still preach the same thing. All our technology and 'advancement' has not changed our essential humanity. We are still the same people who, many years ago, gathered around that table, broke bread and shared wine, and celebrated that paschal feast. We are called to spread love throughout the world today. And so I challenge you today to love more deeply.
The image is of Jesus washing his disciple's feet after the Last Supper.
Picture is from Jim McDermott, SJ