What is the difference between the Catholic and Mennonite theological understanding of suffering?


Hello all,

I have run into a debate with a Mennonite and the discussion entered into the theology of suffering. Now I know Catholics believe that we may offer up our suffering in union with the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross which is strengthened by Colossians 1:24. However I was unaware of any other protestant denomination who taught this also. the idea of offering up sufferings for others I believed to be a Catholic thing.

However this person disagreed with me and claimed that this is also what Mennonites believe. I am trying to find out if this is correct. It may be that Mennonites believe in something similar to catholics on suffering but with slight theological differences in their understanding of it…

…does anyone know?

Help apreciated


AP Quinn




I think what may be specifically Catholic (though with some exceptions–the Anglican Charles Williams, for instance, took the idea farther than most Catholics would, though admittedly he was a very Catholic-minded Anglican) is the idea that one can somehow transfer one’s suffering to the “account” of someone else. The idea that suffering can be redemptive for ourselves and others is pretty commonly accepted, but most Protestants would think of it in somewhat more tangible terms–for instance, the suffering of a martyr might lead to the conversion of those who saw the martyr’s death).

I know that in my “holiness” tradition, suffering was seen as redemptive and I was told many stories of martyrs and missionaries and other saints whose suffering had been “used by God.” I was taught to see all the unpleasant things that happened to me as part of God’s plan to make me a holy person, and as an imitation/participation of Christ’s suffering on the Cross. Arguably Wesleyans come closer in this respect (as in others) to Catholicism than many other Protestants. I’m not surprised that Anabaptists do as well. Wesleyans and Anabaptists both link faith and works much more closely than the Lutheran/Calvinist/Baptist traditions of Protestantism.



While I do not know what the Mennonites believe as to suffering., I will say what the Catholic Church says as to suffering. It can be a prayer. If we negate this, we negate the suffering, redemptive prayer of Christ on the Cross. I highly encourage all people who suffer to offer it to God in love and in reparation for sins of their past. Pain is redemptive and can be spiritually healing. Most saints who suffered, considered it a gift. I do know that most Protestants disagree with this. Thats not part of what I am saying. Pain can be redemptive, purifying and a means of holiness.
Deacon Ed B


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