Why We Define Our Suffering’s Power


Let us begin by asserting that, whether we like it or not, we all suffer and will continue to do so.  Suffering comes from imperfection, either external to us or internal within us.   It is impossible to avoid suffering in this imperfect world, complete with its injustice, evil, and human weakness and sin.  Simply put, even the most perfect being would suffer in this imperfect world ( just look at Our Lord).  For all of us except Christ and Our Blessed Mother,  the added complication of our own internal imperfection magnifies and intensifies the imperfection which assaults us on a daily basis.  This double dose of imperfection ( our world’s and our own) makes suffering a given which we are foolish to ignore or reject.

Atheists and agnostics argue that the existence of suffering proves that God does not exist.  Such an argument is as juvenile as it is delusional.  All of us have suffered as children despite, and sometimes because, of our parents’ efforts, yet we do not therefore argue that our parents do not exist either because they allow us to suffer or cannot prevent our suffering! Now atheists and agnostics will argue that, since believers view God as all powerful, He is therefore in a unique position to prevent and stop all suffering and would therefore have to be a patronizing sadist to allow suffering and injustice to befall even the most innocent, such as children.  Again, we are judging and viewing things from our perspective and not God’s. Innate in all of this is the notion that suffering is somehow something terrible to be avoided at all costs.   Once we accept this fallacy, it is easy to see why we would feel that suffering can and should be avoided, and that there is little if any redeeming value to suffering which justifies its cost.

Such a consumerist morality, which views right and wrong, joy and suffering, good and evil etc as some store negotiation by which we each seek the best deal we can get, is one of the central causes of this warped idea that suffering can and should be avoided and that anything which brings about suffering is somehow evil.  In fact, as Christians we are called to follow Our Lord’s example, and what better example in this regard do we have than His Obedient acceptance of suffering as a redemptive tool.  Suffering then, has the great capacity to bring us closer to God or, if taken destructively, to take us further from God.  The choice is up to us, which is why and how we define our own suffering’s power to save us or to  destroy us.

Copyright, 2012  Gabriel Garnica

 

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Embrace The Rain


[11] Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: [12] Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.  ( Matthew 5:11-12, Douay-Rheims)

If you call  yourself a follower of Christ, you have to decide what kind of follower you will be.  You may be one of those followers who calls himself a follower of Christ in the comfort  found beneath your bed, where you proudly whisper His Name in defiance of the world outside.  Better still, you may be one of those followers who dares to utter His Name in the safety of your home, where you valiantly speak His Name when no guest who might be offended or become angry is around.  Perhaps, you may be one of those followers who actually speaks His Name in  your home while some people who might not like it are getting a drink or a snack from your refrigerator.  Dare I go further?  Yes, why not!  Could it be that you have the courage to actually speak His Name outside your home, making sure the nobody is within an earshot of what you are saying.  Better still, maybe you actually speak His Name within hearing distance of someone who might be deeply wounded by the mere mention of your Master’s Holy Name.  If you are any of these, I challenge you to be much, much more, not because I am in a position to judge you much less compare myself to you, for like you I am a sinner badly needing Christ’s Mercy. No, I challenge you not on my accord or by any virtue of being qualified for this labor but; rather, because My Lord gives me the audacity to suggest that He is all that should matter to you, and that anything you think, feel, see, say, do, or plan should be run through a simple test; namely, whether it brings greater glory to His Name, and helps others to be closer to Him.

What kind of follower am I challenging you to become then?  I am asking you to consider one who embraces the spit.  Yes, Christ told us that we will be spit upon, mocked, despised, and unfairly persecuted if we follow Him.  Doors will be closed on us just as they were closed on Him the night He was born.  Laughter and insults will be hurled against us by mindless imbeciles too ignorant and arrogant to respect as well as too hypocritical and illogical to be relevant.  You will be tempted to abandon Him, to avoid the rain that awaits those who follow His Word.  I challenge you not to avoid that rain, not to run for cover from it.  Rather, smile and welcome those storms, for they are a blessing from Heaven.  Stand up and open your arms and mind to the privilege of being criticized, mocked, ridiculed, insulted, and persecuted for having the courage to believe, speak, and act as a true follower of our Master.

There will surely be those who will mockingly say, “Who do you think you are, do you think you are better than we are?”  Others will squeal “Look who is judging me, the one who…..”  Do not listen to these cries, for they come from the evil one who only wants to make you feel like a hypocrite, like a fool with no standing in this fight.  I am here to tell you that you have a very good standing in this battle, and every reason to be part of it.  If you truly love Him, and you truly want to follow Him, then you belong in these front lines fighting for Him.

The world will not understand you because it cannot grasp why following anyone, much less a distant Carpenter who hung like a criminal should be worth all of this aggravation in the present. You can try to explain your loyalty if you wish, and perhaps Our Lord will give you the words to do so.  What matters most, however, is that you bravely and loyally serve Him, follow His Word, model His actions and love, and proudly speak of Him to all who will hear.  Where you will most confuse this world, however, will be in the way you will embrace the rain rather than run for cover from it.  You will relish any suffering you find due to following Him, and see such sorrow as a blessing well worth the effort. At the end of the day, at the end of your days, and at the end of this world’s days, you will embrace the rain if you believe that God alone, is what matters in this world, in this life, and in your future.

Copyright, 2011  Gabriel Garnica

Five Wounds We Face


    

One of the most beautiful and powerful devotions of our faith is that of The Five Sacred Wounds of Our Lord suffered during His Passion. To recall His crown of thorns, His two pierced Hands, His pierced feet, and His pierced side is to fully embrace the magnitude and depth of His Sacred Sacrifice for our sins and the redemption won by this profound gesture of love. St. Bernard, St Clare of Assisi, St. Mechtilde, and St. Gertrude were famed devotees of Our Lord’s Five Sacred Wounds. The “Golden Mass” in honor of these Wounds composed by St. John the Evangelist and revealed to Pope Boniface II in 532 was indulgenced by Pope Innocent VI in 1362. Finally, the Dominican Rosary honors these Five Wounds on its large beads. While much has been written and said on the meaning and power of these Wounds, we cannot truly follow Our Lord unless we face our own five wounds in His service.

Our Crown of Thorns

This society fervently seeks to punish those who even think of God or wish to include Him in the thoughts of His creatures. One need only look at the determined, demonic effort to eradicate God’s Holy Name and Word from all public arenas. His Sacred Word as revealed in The Holy Bible is now either hate speech, ancient gibberish, biased prejudice, fanciful superstition, or mindless dribble in popular circles. Any attempt to instill the seed or recharge the thought of The Creator is painted as hypnotic brainwashing or divisive inculcation by those who practice such indoctrination for evil. The forces of evil seek to remove God and Christ from the minds of children and replace Them with the occult, mindless superficiality, violence and lust. Thus it is obvious that anyone who seeks to follow Christ must face attacks upon his or her thinking, attitude, and beliefs. Only when our mind is fixated upon Christ will we realize the pain inflicted upon that mind by those seeking to remove Him from our thoughts.

Our Left Hand

Despite recent variations in knowledge about the function of each side of our brain, the research still generally finds that our left hand is controlled by the right side of our brain, which controls visual and motor skills. Thus we can say that the left hand is related to what is seen and how we react to what is seen. There is no doubt that anyone who seeks to follow Christ will face many disturbing images that will evoke varied reactions. An example of such images is the sacrilegious trash that passes for art in this society. Certainly any true follower of Christ must cringe in pain upon seeing blasphemous images involving God, Christ, The Blessed Sacrament, Our Heavenly Mother, and various sacred images. Movies, paintings, and photos that attack what we hold sacred and holy should be like nails driven through our left hand. It should be impossible to face such horrors without bleeding inside and feeling excruciating pain!  This society cringes at the violence of The Passion despite the fact that this movie shows Christ’s great love yet it applauds  despicable trash like The Last Temptation of Christ which must be far more excruciating to a true follower of Christ than any scene conjured up by Mel Gibson.

Conversely, the true loyalty to God and Christ of anyone unaffected by such trash must be questioned. Any true follower of Christ must strive to seek, promote, and defend positive, constructive, and loving images of all we hold dear. Only the eyes that are fixated upon Christ will see and feel the pain of seeing Him once again brutalized by our sins. Only those eyes in agony will act upon that agony to follow and serve The Lord. Many saw Our Lord in pain, but only Veronica felt that pain enough to wipe His Holy Face!

Our Right Hand

The same research described above has found that our right hand is controlled by the left side of our brain which controls speech, language, and words. We can therefore say that our right hand is related to the use and perception of language. Anyone who seeks to follow Christ in this society will certainly feel nails driven into their right hand whenever he or she reads the blasphemy and despicable writings of trash like The DaVinci Code and other such rubbish. Likewise, one cannot be unaffected by written attacks by mindless imbeciles upon The Passion. It is an offense to God that arrogant ghouls use language to insult, isolate, remove, disrespect, or mock His Most Sacred Name, Will, and Word! Each foul word, sentence, paragraph, and book should pierce our right hand for they are inflicted upon our Christ. Conversely, the true follower will seek, embrace, create, promote, and defend what is written to adore, honor, respect, thank, and praise Our God and all that is holy. Only in those words that serve Christ will we find the path to salvation for ourselves and others.

Our Side

Any true follower of Christ must have Christ within the heart, beating with every pulse that runs through the body. Just as the heart propels the blood feeding the body and mind, so too the heart filled with Christ will propel His Sacred Blood feeding our bodies and minds with His Saving Grace. When facing the world, we must act as if Christ was standing next to us, at our side. Any true follower will certainly feel that side pierced by the evil of this world that tries to make a god of man and a mere man of God. Only those who feel Christ at their side will be able to face what this world and society are all too ready to throw at them.

Our Feet

The true follower of Christ must be ready to stand up for what is right and for truth as Christ did. Just as Our Lord’s Divine Feet were placed together and pierced, so too both our feet must be together in one purpose which is to stand up in defense and service to God. We must be ready to be attacked and mocked for taking such stands, but we must also realize that only those feet that stand for Christ can walk with Him toward eternal salvation.

Conclusion

The Devotion of The Five Sacred Wounds is a powerful and beautiful aspect of Our Lord’s Passion and the ultimate sacrifice it represents. As true followers of Christ, we too are called to suffer five wounds for Him. Our mind will surely be pierced by a crown of thorns by a society eager to remove Him from our thoughts. Our left hand will surely be pierced by the nails of a society eager to remove His image from our eyes. Our right hand will surely be pierced by the nails of a society eager to remove His Words from our pages and lips. Our side will surely be pierced by a society eager to remove Him from our side. Lastly, our feet will surely be pierced by a society eager to attack those who stand up for their Lord. Regardless of which of these five wounds the true follower of Christ must be ready to face, seeing God Alone as the purpose and reason of all we do will guide us beyond any suffering associated with defending Our Lord.

Copyright 2011  Gabriel Garnica

Triple Value of Suffering


Like many people, I have always marveled at how internally strong and determined many saints were. I cannot believe how they were able to overcome great hardships and terrible sufferings, not by finding some trick to avoid these things, but by learning how to use them constructively.

As weak human beings, we often fail to use suffering and hardship constructively because we go into the game already deciding that these things can only be bad for us on many levels. Rather than see the pain around the corner as a potential blessing for ourselves and others, we label it as a dreadful thing such that, when we actually face it, we have already decided that nothing good could ever come from it.

If we think about it, however, we can benefit from suffering in three ways.
Union with the Cross

Obviously, through our simple suffering on matters far less dramatic than Our Lord‘s Passion we can offer sacrifice to He Who gave the greatest Sacrifice of all. We are all called to carry our crosses and to accept that following our Master expects nothing less.
Appreciation and Gratitude For Our Lives

If our lives were a series of joyful exchanges, we would not have a comparative position on which to measure our relative fortune and blessings. Imagine a completely white background. One cannot discern contrast or appreciate variation. The good and bad times in our lives are that contrasting variation that make us appreciate each. While visiting San Diego one time I met a cabdriver who exclaimed that he was sick of sun and blue skies. I thought that he was crazy, but I guess too much of anything with no variation, is a bad thing in the end.

We can only appreciate our health when we consider our illnesses. We can only appreciate our money when we consider our poverty. We can only appreciate our fortune when we consider our misfortune. We can only appreciate our loved ones when we consider their absence. Above all, we can only appreciate Our Lord when we consider both the temporary earthly loss of Him and the far more terrible and unspeakable eternal loss of Him.
Other Peoples’ Pain

When we suffer, we have the opportunity to become beacons of holy patience, showing all who bother to look just how one should deal with pain and sorrow while fixating on Christ. Obviously, we all fail to a lesser or greater extent in this office, but we must continue to try. Also, when we are sick we help the healthy appreciate their health. When we are poor we help those with money appreciate their money. When we are lonely we help the loved appreciate their loved ones. When we fail we help others appreciate their success. We must not, therefore, see suffering as merely some curse raining down on our lives. Such thinking necessarily creates a selfish victim syndrome whereby all we are about is our pain and end up full of resentment. “Why me?” is not in the lexicon of the true follower of Christ.

Additionally, when we experience another’s suffering and pain, we receive the opportunity to extend a helping hand, to reach out as Christ so often did. I was hungry, naked and sick and you gave me food, clothing and care. I was lonely and you visited me. Our suffering, then, is an opportunity for both our own and other’s sanctification!
Conclusion

The secret of following Christ is loving the cross, and the secret of loving the cross is appreciating what the cross brings to our lives and the lives of those around us.

How can we become vain, arrogant or insolent while holding our cross? The cross is a reminder that we must remain humble, unselfish, generous, patient and kind. One cannot hold it and be resentful or angry at the same time.

In the end, how we handle and perceive pain and suffering will determine our eternal fate. We can choose to see these things as baggage holding us down in the pit of resentment, anger, despair or self-pity, in which case we will be too self-preoccupied to see God above and in others. Conversely, we can choose to see these as wings carrying us close to God, in which case we will fly to a higher union with Our Lord and have no choice but to see Him above and in others. The ultimate choice is up to us. In a sense, the Via Dolorosa in our lives runs two ways, up or down. Which way we go is truly up to each of us. If we see God alone as the answer, our path will invariably be up.

Copyright 2011  Gabriel Garnica


The Currency of Calvary


The Currency of Calvary
Service, Sacrifice, Suffering and Justice

As we recall the greatest of sacrifices for love, it is wise to convert our experiences and thoughts to the currency of Calvary, which are service, sacrifice, suffering and justice.ServiceWhat good are we on this earth if not to serve as many people as best we can? Is not such service the most fulfilling experience one can have? Does not following Our Lord entail serving others in unselfish, generous and sincere love?

Service is not the target of being a good Christian. Rather, it is simply the starting point, for the only target that matters is God and Christ has shown us that service to others is one path to God and the salvation He offers us if we wish to earn that salvation.

Service implies unselfish humility for one cannot serve without thinking of the other and to serve is to humble oneself to the needs of the other. It is enough and conclusive that Christ came to serve us despite being our Lord in order to model what we should do. Even as He sacrificed out of love, He served. We can do no less despite our comparably modest ability to do so.

Sacrifice

To sacrifice means to give up oneself for another, which is the ultimate expression of love and the epitome of humility as well. Just as the ancients sacrificed to God as an expression of their love, commitment, loyalty and dedication to Him, so too we must never cease to offer what we have, what we do, what we feel and what we intend to do to Him as sacrifice as well.

To sacrifice also means to voluntarily place oneself at a disadvantage in the eyes of this world in order to place oneself at an advantage in the eyes of God. When we sacrifice what is of this world in deference to what is of the next we express our trust and faith that eternal salvation is not found in the immediate, temporary or superficial but, rather, in the long-term, permanent and profound. Ultimately, we are what we sacrifice for. Surrounded by a world that sacrifices for money, power, fame, lust and earthly pleasure, we must steadfastly continue to sacrifice for God Almighty.

Suffering

Much has been written about the value of suffering and rightly so, for it is the purifying agent which has the potential to bring us much closer to God than we ever thought possible. However, it is valuable to note that we can suffer externally or internally.

External suffering is often caused by others and, in the wise observation of a close friend, is often directly proportional to our goodness toward those very people who cause us suffering.

In other words, the more loving, merciful, generous, kind, forgiving, helpful and unselfish we are toward many people, the more uncaring, unmerciful, stingy, unkind, unforgiving, resentful, unhelpful and selfish they may be toward us. Their evil toward us is commensurate with our goodness toward them. What greater example do we need than that of the Christ of Calvary, Whose epic love was met with equally epic hatred, brutality and cruelty? If He who loved as no other has was responded to with as much hatred, ingratitude and evil as no other has experienced, what other evidence do we need?

If those of us who try our feeble best to deserve and respond as we should to that love still manage to cause Him so much suffering, what can be said of those who do not care to serve, deserve or respond to that love in the first place? How pathetic from an earthly perspective is a love so inadequately responded to that it suffers wounds from even those who least want to wound it?

Given the fact that the more we love, the more we may suffer for that love, it is easy to see that one cannot be a true Christian unless one is willing to love without expecting anything in return. For the true Christian, love is a gift to offer and not a bargain to exchange. This is why the earthly focus will never understand Calvary. Such a focus cannot explain such a love because it measures the value of love in terms of expected returns. This is also why those who do nor care do not suffer externally as much if at all.

If external suffering is often caused by dark responses to our efforts of light, then what of internal suffering? Unlike external suffering, which is directly proportional to how much we love, internal suffering is directly proportional to how much we do not love.

If we do not love God as we should, we sin and thus suffer internally. If we do not love others as we should, we hurt them and suffer internally through guilt, remorse, resentment, ingratitude, a lack of forgiveness and the like. If we do not love ourselves as we should, we suffer through hopelessness, helplessness, despair, and surrender.

There is a reason that internal suffering such as feelings of revenge only serve to consume, enslave and, ultimately, destroy us. That is because internal suffering leads us away from God while external suffering can lead us right to Him if used constructively and perceptively.

Ultimately, external suffering is the suffering of Christ at the hands of those He loves and internal suffering is the suffering of Judas and, to a lesser extent, Peter, at the hands of their own human weakness. The only difference between Judas and Peter is that Judas never loved his God, others or himself enough to recover from his weakness and ask forgiveness while Peter loved his God, others and himself enough to humbly believe in God’s mercy and ultimately lead the Church.

Justice

Much of our suffering may be seen as a reaction to or a result of perceived injustice. We suffer when we feel that we have been treated unfairly, ungratefully or inaccurately.
We seek our fair share, our just desserts and what we expect from an exchange or interaction. If we serve, we expect appreciation. If we share, we expect sharing in return. If we achieve, we expect recognition. If we are good, we expect salvation.

My close friend also observed that there is a divine, eternal pendulum in life or, as some put it, the perception that “what goes around comes around”. Ultimately, much of our suffering comes from arrogance, pride, mistrust or a lack of faith. We feel that we do not deserve this or that injustice. We feel offended when treated in this or that way. We despair over this and that situation. In the end, much of our suffering is a response to perceived injustice in some form.

If we trust God, if we see Him as the Just Judge Who will have the final say, much of our suffering, our anxiety, our despair, our anger and our stress will be relieved. Why should we imagine that we can bring justice to our lives when we cannot even demonstrate justice to our God? Why should we who are weak sinners expect fair treatment in this world when He who never sinned was and continues to be treated unfairly by an ungrateful, arrogant and confused world?

In the end, we must leave justice to God. We must surrender everything to His Will with the firm trust and faith that He will bring the unjust to their knees and the victimized to their feet. Is that not the ultimate message of Easter?

Conclusion

The recent controversy and debates over Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ clearly demonstrated that much of this society and this world are clueless about the currency of Calvary. This blind society cannot see love in tears and blood. It cannot see service without apparent, earthly compensation. It cannot see sacrifice for the benefit of the ungrateful. It cannot see suffering as the common compensation for love. Finally, it cannot see justice in eternal terms but only in immediate, temporal tones.

The Catholic Church has always suffered but, in the past, much of its suffering was an external, martyred suffering resulting from its love, thereby modeling that of Christ. The early Christians were persecuted because they loved as Christ loves and not as man loves.

The Church during the times of Henry VIII suffered for the same reason, leading to schism rather than capitulation, compromise and rationalization. Yes, there were internal sufferings caused by confusion, dissidence and defiance but, generally, the Church largely overcame these wounds.

The present American Catholic Church, however, is experiencing internal suffering caused by its own failure to remain loyal to and abide by the Word and Will of God Almighty. Its present pain is the result of its present sin and increasing dilution into a sea of rationalization, radical feminism, New Ageism, secularism, modernism, liberalism and even socialism and Marxism.

Tragically, the present Catholic Church has converted its currency from that of Calvary to that of convenience, cowardice, corruption and compromise. When we have as many if not more Catholic women than non-Catholic women having abortions, clueless Catholics applauding and cheering pro-abortion politicians while voting for a Democratic Party which increasingly mocks traditional Catholic principles,we have a major problem. We have moved from Cafeteria Catholics to Catholics in Name Only (CINOs) to Catholic Frauds within a short while. Evil forces and distorted Catholics are jumping over the borders of our sacred Faith; stomping on our true doctrines, sacred liturgies and core beliefs; and hoisting the flag of defiance, blasphemy, sacrilege and hellish revolution.

They are seeking earthly legitimacy while losing their heavenly one. They are seeking guest Catholic status while trespassing on the faith they claim to represent. No matter what their claims or boastful qualifications are, they are undocumented in paradise.

To make matters worse, many of those crying “I will not serve” as the devil did long ago are precisely those false shepherds entrusted with the flock and religious entrusted with the example of Christ. Enough with dissident priests advocating evil and twisted doctrine into their personal subjective pretzels. Enough with nuns chanting and cavorting like witches and palm readers around gongs, tarots and diagrams. Enough with the widespread mockery of Christ that has become the Catholic Church today. Many people are conducting their so-called Catholic faith in a business-as-usual-manner despite their fake storefronts, false advertising and defective product, but the ultimate Consumer Advocate of all, God Almighty, has found the new business brand of Catholicism morally bankrupt and lacking in the currency of Calvary.

Without the currency of Calvary we cannot obtain the eternal salvation that was purchased there for each of us. Without the currency of Calvary we will be found morally, spiritually and eternally bankrupt before the Eyes of God. The choice of Calvary is the daily choice all Christians must make. That choice is between standing by the battered, mocked and rejected Christ as His loyal follower or blending into the crowd of His detractors as yet another suffering betrayer and fraud.

Sadly, the ranks of those mocking Christ are steeped in eyes pretending to look upward, ears pretending to hear truth and tongues pretending to speak fidelity to our Faith. Tragically, the brand name of true Catholicism has been cheapened with false products, diluted goods and defective workmanship. Worst of all, the blind sheep are being led by morally blind shepherds and religious who have kept their promise to lead, but have chosen to lead away from Christ rather than toward Him. Increasingly, false Catholic leaders searching for a ton of excuses, rationalizations and interpretations cannot find an ounce of courage. Conveniently, lazy Catholics looking for a holiday from their Faith are increasingly finding it in the new Club Med of their local parish churches.

The new Catholicism is much about escape, delusion, distortion and irresponsibility. It has everything to do with pretending that salvation and suffering can be separated as morality and leadership and church and state are absurdly proclaimed to be. Ultimately, we will all suffer. If we transact with the currency of this world, that suffering will lead us away from God. However, if we convert our currency to that of Calvary, our suffering will surely lead us to Him.

In the end, the Cross will forever be our crossroads, its nails will forever be the point of suffering and its presence will forever be the symbol of Calvary’s currency.

Copyright 2011  Gabriel Garnica