The Face of God (Part 2)-A A +A
The Living Spirit
Saturday, September 29, 2012
I GOT a reaction on my last column from a reader who said: “How can you make sense out of suffering? Who likes suffering, how can you cope with it?”
Again, the mystics in the Church, like Titus Brandsma, who say: suffering does make sense. Suffering is painful but you can stand it. How? By going into your own self and you will discover there the Face of God who suffered out of love for mankind.
I would like to give here another quote from the prayer that Titus Brandsma wrote in the concentration camp in Dachau:
I feel true blessing in my pain:
such suffering for me is gain,
for what your providence will do
is make me one, my God, with you.
Just leave me in this cold alone
although it chills me to the bone.
No visitors no one to see
to be alone is good for me.
Brandsma had made friends with his fellow prisoners in his barrack and even with the German soldiers who were guarding them. They asked him to give them a meditation when they were commemorating Good Friday during the Holy Week. He said in that meditation: ‘Spirituality has its roots in our distress.’ Here we are at the core of that meditation. How can you make sense in your life of suffering that is inescapable? How can you keep yourself from being crushed by it? How can you learn to bear it? A fellow prisoner who survived the ordeal in Dachau and was able to get back to Holland after the war, has recorded in a book what Titus has said to his listeners in that camp. I quote from that book: ‘Titus Brandsma held out to us as powerful support in our difficulties: daily meditation on God’s suffering for us, by which our suffering for Him can only mean joy. In his wounds we would find healing. It was a much-heard truth, therefore, but one which in these surroundings became for us a totally new source of inspiration, which enabled us to go forward with love where, humanly speaking, only hatred could exist.’ A German soldier was quoted as saying: ‘It was as if this man was in the free world.’ This soldier had discovered that there is such a thing as a new kind of freedom. Brandsma was receptive to the power that comes from God. There awakened in him a new power, one he recognized as coming from God, a power that enabled him to grow above and beyond himself. He was more himself than ever before.
In the past days we commemorated the declaration of martial law 40 years ago. We know now how many people were arrested, tortured and killed by the Marcos regime. Because of the heroic suffering of these people our nation survived and gained freedom again.
Today we experience again many violations of human rights, people who are suffering because of poverty and hunger. In the midst of these sufferings, we should find in ourselves the courage to move on and to continue fighting for reform in our judicial system, to get rid of corrupt judges and lawyers and see to it that justice is given in due time to all those victims.
(For your comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 30, 2012.