St. John Paul II on the Joy in Finding Meaning in Suffering. by Paul Chaloux

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By Paul Chaloux, Catholic Exchange, May 6, 2021

Paul Chaloux was born in Maine in 1960 to Paul and Dolly Chaloux, the oldest of 6 children. He grew up in Northern Virginia and attended public schools. ….

Joy is our ability to sense spiritual attainment, the carrot to the stick of suffering, which guides us home along the path of righteousness as surely as a beacon in a stormy harbor. At the beginning of our spiritual journey, it can be hard to see the joy; particularly when we are experiencing suffering as God guides us toward His plan for us. However, as we proceed through the four tasks of suffering, learning to love, while at the same time learning of God’s love for us, our suffering begins to take on meaning.

In the very first paragraph of Salvifici doloris, St. John Paul II asserts that when St. Paul declared to the Colossians, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,” his joy came from the discovery of the meaning of suffering. In a very real way, this is the basis for the entire apostolic letter, a work that the pope completed shortly after his recovery from an assassination attempt. Later in the document, perhaps speaking of his own personal experience, St. John Paul II writes: “It is when the salvific meaning of suffering descends to man’s level and becomes the individual’s personal response that man finds in his suffering interior peace and even spiritual joy.”