Salvifici Doloris (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering)


. Declaring the power of salvific suffering, the Apostle Paul says: “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church”(1).

These words seem to be found at the end of the long road that winds through the suffering which forms part of the history of man and which is illuminated by the Word of God. These words have as it were the value of a final discovery, which is accompanied by joy. For this reason Saint Paul writes: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake”(2). The joy comes from the discovery of the meaning of suffering, and this discovery, even if it is most personally shared in by Paul of Tarsus who wrote these words, is at the same time valid for others. The Apostle shares his own discovery and rejoices in it because of all those whom it can help—just as it helped him—to understand the salvific meaning of suffering.

  1. The theme of suffering - precisely under the aspect of this salvific meaning - seems to fit profoundly into the context of the Holy Year of the Redemption as an extraordinary Jubilee of the Church. And this circumstance too clearly favours the attention it deserves during this period. Independently of this fact, it is a universal theme that accompanies man at every point on earth: in a certain sense it co-exists with him in the world, and thus demands to be constantly reconsidered. Even though Paul, in the Letter to the Romans, wrote that “the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now”(3), even though man knows and is close to the sufferings of the animal world, nevertheless what we express by the word “suffering” seems to be particularly essential to the nature of man. It is as deep as man himself, precisely because it manifests in its own way that depth which is proper to man, and in its own way surpasses it. Suffering seems to belong to man’s transcendence: it is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense “destined” to go beyond himself, and he is called to this in a mysterious way.


What a testament toward faith. Everyone suffers in some way but in order to grow from that experience we learn to love and in that suffering we reach for God.

The best description and comment on suffering came out from this article:

. The theme of suffering in a special way demands to be faced in the context of the Holy Year of the Redemption, and this is so, in the first place, because the Redemption was accomplished through the Cross of Christ, that is, through his suffering. And at the same time, during the Holy Year of the Redemption we recall the truth expressed in the Encyclical Redemptor Hominis: in Christ “every man becomes the way for the Church”(4). It can be said that man in a special fashion becomes the way for the Church when suffering enters his life. This happens, as we know, at different moments in life, it takes place in different ways, it assumes different dimensions; nevertheless, in whatever form, suffering seems to be, and is, almost inseparable from man’s earthly existence


  1. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”(27). These words, spoken by Christ in his conversation with Nicodemus, introduce us into the very heart of God’s salvific work. They also express the very essence of Christian soteriology, that is, of the theology of salvation. Salvation means liberation from evil, and for this reason it is closely bound up with the problem of suffering. According to the words spoken to Nicodemus, God gives his Son to “the world” to free man from evil, which bears within itself the definitive and absolute perspective on suffering. At the same time, the very word “gives” (“gave”) indicates that this liberation must be achieved by the only-begotten Son through his own suffering. And in this, love is manifested, the infinite love both of that only-begotten Son and of the Father who for this reason “gives” his Son. This is love for man, love for the “world”: it is salvific love.


Beautiful and very practical document.

A great gift to all Catholics and Christians.

In the words of St Josemaria Esciva, from Furrow.

“This is what Our Lord wants, for we need it if we are to follow him closely. There is no other way. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in each soul — in yours. Be docile and present no obstacles to God, until he makes your poor flesh like that of Jesus on the Cross.”

Our Father should be able to see His Son in us, and that means suffering for the good of others.


The beautiful remark you gave came as a blessing to me today! Suffering is like a spiritual growth spurt, it a measuring rod to how much we understand about our faith, trust and belief in God.

This spurt, although a painful lesson, tells us where we need help and given grace. I can’t imagine Peter or even the Apostle Paul back then.

I have read a few of Pope Benedict’s articles and on Pope John Paul because of the fact that both wanted to teach others the way and truth of the teaching of Christ. Especially, Pope John Paul however I am glad to know that both were very to the point in their messages.We as Catholics are very blessed to have them.

"As the body needs oxygen, food, and water to survive, grow, and flourish, so does the human soul need its spiritual expression through worship, faith, hope, love, acceptance, and thanksgiving.

The spiritual nature of the human person is the privileged forum within which the person can know himself and understand moral goodness. The human person is a beautiful mystery, even to himself. And the life of every human person is not a mechanistic problem to be solved but is precisely a mystery to be lived and experienced, as Pope John Paul II both observed and taught throughout his life.

Any attempt to limit or suppress the person’s spiritual soul is a grave sacrilege to his dignity and will cause severe harm to the person’s own experience of life as well as to any benevolence within the common good."


A young John Paul II taught us life without spirit isn’t fully human

Oct 29, 2017


This may not be from a Catholic article but it sends my point:



You write well on this topic! Great points. Thank you.


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