St. JP II: Salvifici Doloris

The frontispiece of the NRSVCE Reader's Edition. St. JPII, pray for us!

The frontispiece of the NRSVCE Reader’s Edition. St. JPII, pray for us!

As a person, and especially a Catholic, with a permanent and sometimes painful physical disability, the doctrine of redemptive suffering resonates with me very deeply. And this idea of patient suffering made me love John Paul II, even before I was Catholic—underneath that slouching, frail body was an indomitable Spirit that even non-religious folks noticed. I think of John Paul II, and I see the fruit Jesus’ words when he said, “Do not be afraid.” This man was to me so brave, and I’m glad he’s interceding for us now in Heaven, asking God to help us patiently bear our own crosses; what a reassurance! And what a reassurance and grace that we have a God who still speaks to us in the Sacraments and from the pages of Holy Scripture proclaiming, “Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe! Be strong and courageous!” (Dan. 10:19) Because Friday is traditionally a day of penance and reflection on Jesus’ sacrifice, I’d like to share with you all this excerpt from St. John Paul II’s apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris:

As a result of Christ’s salvific work, man exists on earth with the hope of eternal life and holiness. And even though the victory over sin and death achieved by Christ in his Cross and Resurrection does not abolish temporal suffering from human life…it nevertheless throws a new light upon this dimension and upon every suffering: the light of salvation… This truth radically changes the picture of man’s history and his earthly situation: in spite of the sin that took root in this history both as an original inheritance and as the “sin of the world” and as the sum of personal sins, God the Father has loved the only-begotten Son, that is, he loves him in a lasting way; and then in time, precisely through this all-surpassing love, he “gives” this Son, that he may strike at the very roots of human evil and thus draw close in a salvific way to the whole world of suffering in which man shares…

The Redeemer suffered in place of man and for man. Every man has his own share in the Redemption. Each one is also called to share in that suffering through which the Redemption was accomplished. He is called to share in that suffering through which all human suffering has also been redeemed. In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ…

You can read the entire thing here. It’s a beautiful letter, and a reminder of the truth—”See, I am making all things new.” (Rev. 21:5) Even our suffering can become beautiful and good when illuminated by the Gospel and united to the cross. Have a blessed and safe weekend, everyone!

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2 thoughts on “St. JP II: Salvifici Doloris

  1. Pingback: The Oxford NRSV Catholic Reader’s Edition | Out of the Whirlwind

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