By Father Dennis Meinen
View from the Scooter
As Catholics we know that a priest stands “in the person of Christ.”
I remember reading an article called, “The Pope and the Cross.” The writer told how most of the world noticed Pope John Paul II, now St. John Paul, was looking very frail and hunched over, that he walked with difficulty, that he talked with difficulty and, in fact, had to wipe drool from his mouth when he spoke, and that even his face muscles seemed to strain.
He was willingly suffering with the dignity of a true child of God. And even in his suffering, his schedule didn’t let up and his mind was always completely present at every event. He was focused on his role as the Vicar of Christ whether it was a typical Wednesday audience or a beatification Mass.
What kept him going? Pope John Paul II suffered in a very ordinary way, especially for a nearly 85-year-old man. But his suffering was ennobled and elevated by being united to Christ on the cross. In this way, his suffering became a powerful force in the transformation of the world of the Third Millennium.
Pope John Paul II, in his apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris – on the Christian meaning of human suffering – addressed this question and offered us many insights into the question of suffering. In his letter the pontiff looked at all the important passages in Sacred Scripture that address the question of suffering, so his letter is really a beautiful commentary on passages in Scripture on the mystery of suffering.
A Catholic Quiz on suffering might ask:
What is the Good News?
A. That through his suffering and death, Jesus paid for our sins.’
B. That Jesus has, by his cross and resurrection, opened the gates of heaven.
C. That through Jesus’ sacrifice, we have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven.
D. All of the above.
Which Bible figure is most closely associated with remaining obedient to God despite suffering?
A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain. – Mildred Witte Struven, in Bits and Pieces, Sept. 19, 1991, page 6.
Are you, or have you been, in the furnace?
Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese and Calix and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.