Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why Does a Loving God Not End Suffering?

On Wednesday February 26th I was intrigued by Father Chris’ discussion tackling the challenging question “How does a just and loving God allow suffering?” I was touched by so many examples that Father Chris gave explaining that suffering is a part of life. It is not only our own suffering but the suffering of those around us. We are a part of a greater human experience and while we feel that suffering is our own and feeling the need of isolation, it’s actually the opposite. I know sometimes we want to be left alone but as Father Chris mentioned, it’s best to be done in communion with others. On one hand I agree that it’s important to look for community with our friends and family but more importantly in the Eucharist with Christ Himself. 

As I approach the Lenten season, a time of reflection and most of all repentance I found a few things helpful that Father Chris suggested overcoming suffering. First, pray and ask that God decides how they are answered. He suggests that at times we tend to rush to judgment, in that we think sometimes that God hasn’t figured it out yet or doesn’t understand us. When I actually think about it, I know that isn’t the case. However, I also know that growth is hard and change is even more difficult. I think we know who we are and what we want to become but God is the one who tells us how much more we can be.
Second, some suffering in our lives is a result of personal sin and can be a great teacher. I appreciate how Father Chris connects this element to reconciliation in that we need to learn from it before getting rid of it. Rather than going through the ritual cleansing too quickly, I agree for the need to step back and examine why sin is committed and understand how to move forward without that particular temptation. It doesn’t mean that it won’t happen again but it’s about letting go of our ego, seeking out spiritual guidance and figuring out who God wants us to be.
Father Chris concludes with one last example that we sometimes need to go a little easier on ourselves. I know we can be our worst enemy and we sometimes need to justify our feelings. It’s not about why we feel pain and suffering in our lives it’s about allowing ourselves to mourn, to weep, to feel alone, or to feel hurt. To end off, Father Chris compares our hands as the instrument that we use to achieve our personal self worth to the throne to accept the body of Christ. In our response, Amen; we tell Him that we believe. During the waiting period of 40 days and 6 Sundays, I would suggest our focus be to ask and pray that we may become what we receive and let Him heal our suffering in our hearts. 
Cati Carnovale 
St. Isaac Joques Parish 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Christianity and World Religions: Complimentary or Contradictory?

On January 13, 2014, close to 100 young adults from the Western Region gathered at West 50 Pourhouse and Grille in Mississauga for Theology on Tap West.  Fr. Damian McPherson explored the question “Christianity and World Religions: Complimentary or Contradictory?”

To begin, Fr. Damian outlined that the Church does not reject anything that is holy in other religions; it respects the “ray of Truth” that is found within them for “there are seeds of God’s Word sown in other nations.” As such, in following our faith, we must respect those who are following theirs in good moral conscience. Many Christians, self included, get caught up worrying about the salvation of the people we love, so we eagerly seek to help them find Jesus. As we know, all salvation comes from Christ alone and, since all things are possible through Him, even those who believe otherwise are saved through Him (including Pilate, who condemned Him to death!). It is only one who recognizes Jesus Christ as Saviour of the world and explicitly chooses to ignore Him that puts their salvation at risk.

But how does this fit into the call we’ve received from Jesus to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19)? One would think that doing this while respecting the beliefs of others is impossible – but, again, all things through Christ! Fr. Damian made it clear that “making disciples” does not require us to force our faith on others; conversion is not our mission. We are called to evangelize by witnessing the Gospel and then allowing the Holy Spirit to work on the hearts of those that are open to receiving Him. Conversion, then, is the work of the Lord.

Fr. Damian left it to us that night to determine whether our faith and world religions are complimentary or contradictory. He explained to us that interfaith dialogue can enrich our understanding of others and of ourselves.

While I can’t claim to have effectively worked out whether our faith compliments or contradicts world religions, what I do know is this: As a Catholic I am called to reflect on why I follow Christ when I could believe anything else.  This is what I must share with others.  I am called to bring Jesus to everyone I meet by allowing Him to affect them though me. …May we all give God permission.

- Alycia J. Rodrigues