I’ve heard the term, “suffering with Christ” like with His passion, death or something. Since I am ignorant on Catholicism and theology, what does that really mean? We suffer with Him like having pity, sorrowful, etc. or am I WAY off the line here?
The first thing that it means is ‘taking up our crosses’ daily. In other words, suffering is a component of our acceptance of God’s grace. Suffering, in the case of many, is redemptive. Read the stories fof Padre Pio, St. Francis of Assisi, Therese of Lisieux, and others and you will see that they accepted the suffering which God had given them and used it as a way to accept God’s grace and revelation. In the case of the stigmatics, they actually HAVE the wounds of Christ in their hands, side, and feet. This is suffering with Christ in the literal sense but many of us go through physical, spiritual, and mental tribulation in our lives in which we do suffer. If we see those tribulations as a call from God to piety and humility, we suffer with Christ.
Second, the Catechism speaks of suffering in this way:
Union with the passion of Christ. By the grace of this sacrament the sick person receives the strength and the gift of uniting himself more closely to Christ’s Passion: in a certain way he is consecrated to bear fruit by configuration to the Savior’s redemptive Passion. Suffering, a consequence of original sin, acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus.
The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”. But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men. He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him]”, for “Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.” In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.
In short, the uniting with Christ’s suffering is a mystical one which has ramifications on our entire spiritual, mental, and physical being. It is a method of atonement and penance as well as a method of synchronizing our hearts with Jesus.
We join our suffering–whatever it may be–to His suffering, thereby giving it redemptive value. St. Paul makes the same point when he says that he makes up in his own body “what is lacking” in the sufferings of Christ. That doesn’t mean that Christ’s sacrifice was not sufficient, for the only thing “lacking” is our own suffering, which gains value by being joined to Christ. It means our sufferings, our sorrows, are not wasted. We do not suffer in vain.
Mother Teresa used to tell her sisters to “Love until it hurts. It hurt Jesus to love us.”
This is the essence of redemptive suffering. Offering all our day – our works, our joys, our sufferings and our prayers – uniting this offering to Jesus on the cross for the redemption of all souls.
When done out of love, this sacrificing and suffering can bring much joy to our souls.
So, when you’re stuck in traffic, looking at an ambulance up the road, instead of grumbling you can say a prayer offering your impatience to God, and pray for whoever was in the accident while you’re at it.
When you are home sick with the flu, you can offer your aches and pains, your fever and restlessness to God and ask Him to apply the graces of your suffering to someone in your life who needs God’s grace, or leave it in God’s hands saying “for whoever is in most need of Your mercy and grace.”
As you do so, you can recall all the suffering Jesus endured for us, and it seems like a pretty small sacrifice in comparison.
Suffering tests us, giving ourselves a chance to be purified. We are purified by testing as gold is tested in fire.
By that I mean that unless we undergo trials, we really will not know whether we truly have peace, or whether we just think we’re at peace because nothing obvious is weighing heavily at the moment. Demanding situations bring out the best or worst in us.
[quote=Paris Blues]I’ve heard the term, “suffering with Christ” like with His passion, death or something. Since I am ignorant on Catholicism and theology, what does that really mean? We suffer with Him like having pity, sorrowful, etc. or am I WAY off the line here?
Hi Paris Blues,
Suffering is not obeying. Read Paul who says, I do what I will not to do and dont do what I will to do. That is suffering. If you are out of step with your conscience you are suffering. If you are sick you are suffering. As you learn to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading you will slowly gain understanding and this understanding will accelerate. It is a process and can not be hurried. But as you mature your life becomes fullfilled and as the scripture says you begin to experience a life overflowing with abundance and going from glory to glory as He glorifys you when you submit and obey.Live you life in a quiet routine and then you can easily see when Christ is calling you. Example on Sunday when I left church I walked across the road to the bus stop as I always do and as I was watching a man and a woman on a motor bike my bus drove past at a great rate of knots. I couldnt believe it, but I started to sing a worship song which just came to my lips and then a bus pulled up at the bus stop and the second bus which was going my way didnt bother to pull into the bus stop. That was two buses I had missed and then I realised Christ had work for me. I was not suffering or being angry.At this point many people may be tempted to become irate, but because of my previous teachings, I was pleased because I knew He had work for me to do. SO I looked around and there was an old man there who was trying to catch a bus. He looked as if he hadnt worn shoes for 30 years, had only one eye and was very dirty. I guess he couldnt read and the man he approached was not inclined to speak to him. I caught his eye and spoke the name of where I was going, but he said something I couldnt understand. I prayed and then a young man came and said he had seen me giving out tracks on the footpath near our church. I asked him to help the old man so he did and the very next bus, like 30 seconds later, was the bus the old man needed. The young man came on the bus I wanted, in another 2 minutes and both he and his girlfriend want to come to church next week. I was in plenty of time for my school where I teach english conversation. Another aspect is the joy and re-inforcement of His love for me. How my spirit soars when I can do some small work for Him. Please look for Him instead of being frustated. It is just Him trying to catch your attention. Seek to do good, in season and out of season.
Walk in love
I was looking up this idea of co-redemption for a friend of mine who is dying from cancer. I found this web site called “justforcatholics.com” which has apologetics from an Evangelical to Catholics. Here is what is said about this:
Are we co-redeemers?
Question I can assure you that we Catholics believe in His completed work and suffering at Calvary’s cross. However, as the Bride of Christ, His Body, our sufferings are so united with Christ’s that we can offer them in union with His redemptive work for the salvation of souls (Colossians 1:24). The Lord Jesus Christ uses the suffering of his people to draw souls to salvation to be found only through Christ. That is what redemptive suffering is all about.
Answer There is great value in the Christian’s work and suffering in Christ. For one thing, as you said, the Lord Jesus brings souls into His kingdom, and builds them up in grace, through the painstaking work of His ministers and His people. Sadly, the idea of “redemptive suffering” as used in Catholic theology, is not limited to this sense. The Catholic Church teaches that the works, prayers and sufferings of the saints are united with that of Christ to merit our redemption (see Catechism paragraphs 618, 1476, 1477). That idea is wrong.
We must make a very clear distinction between the finished work of Christ on the cross for our redemption, and His work in and through us for the edification of the church.
Christ redeemed His people, that is, paid the ransom for their liberation and forgiveness, by His death on the cross. He came to give "His life a ransom for many,” and believers say, “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,” and He “has redeemed us to God by Your blood,” and again, “by His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Matthew 20:28; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14, Revelation 5:9; Hebrews 9:12).
So redemption has been obtained, once for all, by the death of Christ on the cross. His preaching or His miracles did not achieve redemption. Neither is Christ now obtaining redemption by working in or through His people. To be sure, the Lord is intimately involved in the lives of His children, and being spiritually united with them, their afflictions are also His. Moreover, there is value in the Christian suffering - for mortification of sin, the strengthening of faith and character. At the end, the Lord will also recompense and glorify His people for their suffering on earth. Yet nowhere does the Scripture teach that Christians participate with Christ in His sacrifice, suffering and death to achieve redemption. His blood has already obtained that.
*]By His death, Christ has already obtained redemption
*]The purpose of the Christians’ suffering is not redemptive.
Nonetheless, Catholic apologists quote Colossians 1:24 (“now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church”), and other verses, as evidence that we must co-operate by our suffering with Christ to accomplish redemption. Let’s see if this is the case or not. Please read the verse in its context:
For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ (Colossians 1:19 - 2:2).
It is clear that there is a sense in which the afflictions of Christ for His church are incomplete. Christ still suffers for His church. How? He is so united with His people that the suffering of the members of His body are in a very real sense His own! Thus the sufferings of the apostle Paul for the sake of the church are the afflictions of Christ.
The apostle Paul was suffering for the sake and benefit of the Christians in Colosse. We must ask this important question: What was the purpose of his suffering? Was Paul’s suffering added to the merits of the death of Christ to achieve redemption, the forgiveness of sins? Or did Paul’s suffering benefit the Christians in Colosse in some other way?
First, the apostle writes about the redemptive work of Christ (Colossian 1:19-23). He assures the believers in Colosse that reconciliation and peace with God were achieved “through the blood of His cross” and “in the body of His flesh through death.” Reconciliation was not achieved through the work and suffering of Christ’s ministers. Neither was reconciliation brought about by the suffering of His mystical body, the church, but “in the body of His flesh,” that is, by the sacrifice of His human physical body and the shedding of His blood. Paul does not instruct Christians to add something to the work of Christ to be reconciled with God. Rather, the apostle assures the believers that they are already at peace with Him on account of His blood.
After speaking about the sacrifice of Christ, the apostle Paul changes subject and speaks about his apostolic role (Colossians 1:23 – 2:5). He presents himself as a minister of the Gospel. His mission was to preach and teach to make known the Good News of Christ to everyone. And to do so, the apostle Paul had to suffer much hardship of every sort. In this sense he was suffering for the sake of Christians for the purpose of teaching and edifying the church. The fanciful idea that he was contributing something to the redemptive work of Christ would not even cross his mind. The thought was anathema to him! “Was Paul crucified for you?” (1 Corinthians 1:13). No, of course not! Jesus was crucified for us, and what He achieved for us by His cross (reconciliation, peace with God and redemption) could not be attributed to Paul, or any other creature.
In a word, believers are redeemed by the blood of Christ alone. The work and suffering of the apostle Paul, as well as other ministers and Christians, serve for the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the church, but not for redemption. Christ is the Redeemer. Christians are the redeemed, not co-redeemers!
I am so confused… I understand that by his death we are redeemed. But we aren’t fully redeemed until we die right?
[quote=anastacya79]I was looking up this idea of co-redemption for a friend of mine who is dying from cancer. I found this web site called “justforcatholics.com” which has apologetics from an Evangelical to Catholics. Here is what is said about this:
This is classic Protestant error on this subject. In effect, it tries to explain away the plain sense of Paul’s words in Colossians 1:24. The answer is built upon the presumption that we have no role to play in God’s plan of salvation so Paul couldn’t possibly be saying what he so plainly seems to be saying! :whacky: The rest of the “explanation” is just filler.
For the historical Christian and Catholic explanation, check out this link: