One of the callers on Mother Angelica’s show called in and asked if suffering is a vocation (I believe they said vocation) and she also said that God wants her to suffer I think. Mother Angelica said yes. I’m confused by this, because even though I know God allows bad things to happen, I don’t believe that God wants us to be unhappy.
Suffering isn’t merely about being unhappy. God wants us to be happy, yes, but eternally happy, not merely happy in this life. The Church teaches that there can be real redemptive good in suffering. We can participate in Christ’s redemption when we suffer, for our own sake or for others.
Suffering can be used by God to teach us (discipline us), to re-focus us (our souls were made for eternity, not for this mortal life), to join us with others (suffer can do this in a special way that shared pleasure can’t), and to acheive merit (to pay our debts, to pay our temporal punishment).
I do not believe that any of us will properly understand the true power of suffering in this life, until we are in the next life.
Being unhappy and suffering are not synonymous. Suffering can bring about many goods in our life and the lives of others.
Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris or “The Christian Meaning of Human Suffering” also said that sometimes for some individuals suffering is at least in part their vocation.
Mother Angelic also wrote a most excellent little booklet on suffering that I highly recommend. I forget it’s name right now…It’s “The Healing Power of Suffering”.
True, suffering can be redeemed.
However we must exercise prudence with this. If I am suffering due to disease and in spite of treatment, I do not get better, than I could suffer and offer it up. It is quite another thing to withhold pain medication from someone in pain all the while saying that their suffering is good. Also telling an abused spouse to stay with their abusers and offer up their suffering.
I’ve seen too many of the latter example growing up.
Mother may have been referring to the vocation of a “victim soul.”