How Suffering Can Make America Spiritually Great

How Suffering Can Make America Spiritually Great
How Suffering Can Make America Spiritually Great

I first saw him on Twitter and was touched by his messages. I still don’t know that much about him. In the fast world of social media, there is hardly time to read anything. However, I believe people like him represent the future of America.

The first thing to report is that he is a Catholic who takes his faith seriously. This young man shows little concern for education or ambitions. He is not rich or famous. His whole life is absorbed by being in the hospital.  He suffers from some kind of exhausting and painful treatment.

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You can tell it is very painful. Every day he manages to tweet with an update on his condition and a picture. He suffers terribly. What I like best about him is that he manages to break every notion of what a successful young man is supposed to be America. By all standards, he is a failure.

Three things impress me about this young Catholic.

He Prays

The first is that he prays. The daily picture will often show him with his rosary or prayer book in hand. You perceive he derives great benefits from his prayers. They are a source of consolation and confidence in God. At times, he reports that he cannot finish his prayers due to the pain and exhaustion. Nevertheless, he makes herculean efforts to do what he can.

He prays and is not afraid to show he is praying. He wants people to see him praying, perhaps as an encouragement, so that they too might pray. This desire to appear praying is something rare and edifying, especially for a young man.

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I see that he believes in the power of prayer.  He asks people for their prayers and confides that God will give him the best solution, which might not be his recovery, or at least not a full one.

He Suffers

The second characteristic that impresses me is that he suffers. “The body may be frail, weak, and hurting, but my spirit is still going strong,” he reports in one tweet.

I am moved by his acceptance of suffering without self-pity or despair. He does not show resentment or revolt against our Good God. Instead, he has a calm resignation to do God’s will no matter what the costs. This is something rarely found in youth.

However, what awes me is that he has a notion of the redemptive value of suffering. Redemptive suffering holds that we can unite our personal sacrifices with Christ’s on the Cross. When we offer up our sufferings as members of Christ’s mystical body, they can have a redemptive value that can atone for sin and call down God’s blessings. I do not know where he gets this notion since it is rarely taught from the pulpit anymore. I find this amazing, encouraging, sublime and hopeful, all at the same time.

He Prays and Suffers for Others

Thus, the third thing that impresses me is the most extraordinary. It addresses the redemptive value of suffering. Not only does this young Catholic pray and suffer, but he also offers up his prayer and suffering for all who ask.

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“God Bless, if I have some time, I’ll be praying for everyone’s intentions. I’m already offering my suffering for you all,” he tweets.

Most Americans who enter hospitals see little purpose or meaning in their illnesses. They expect to be cured and carry on their lives.

However, when major illness strikes, it can teach patients that there is more to life than health and the pursuit of happiness. The sick may appear to be helpless, but they have a role in society.

Thus, our helpless sufferer has learned his role, which is most precious. He can offer up his prayers and sacrifices for us. God hears his prayers and hastens to help us.

Giving Meaning to Suffering

Thus, I was amazed by the perception of the young man, who acquired a medieval understanding of his societal role. Medieval Christendom invented the idea of the hospital. The Church took care of the poor and sick with Christian charity and solicitude. For those who served in the wards, the sick represented Our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Thus, the religious men and women who cared for the sick asked that their patients fulfill the duty of prayer and sacrifice. They held that God especially hears the prayers of the suffering, and asked that the sick intercede for their benefactors, the authorities and all in distress.

To the extent that they could, patients were asked to pray. The Catholic hospital encouraged Mass attendance and reception of the sacraments. At nightfall, the wards might end the day with litanies where the “sick lords” of the house would pray for those in need of prayers. In this way, the sick gave back their best to reciprocate for the enormous charity extended to them. Above all, this offering gave meaning and purpose to their pains.

“Finished Compline, gonna try and sleep for at least a few hours,” the sick young man tweeted as he completed the final prayers of the Little Office of Our Lady and ended his day.

America Needs Souls Like This

I asked myself where this young man learned these lessons and concluded that it was the product of grace and suffering.

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America needs souls who can pray and suffer. I am consoled by knowing that this young man is not the only one who offers to suffer for others. I see other cases on social media that inspire hopes in me of an America that will be spiritually great one day.

We should value these souls and the efficacy of their actions. In today’s liberal establishment, they count for little and are considered failures, with no “quality of life.” However, in the eyes of God, they are powerhouses from which His grace might flow to society.

If the nation recovers from the coronavirus, looting and rioting, it will be much more because of the prayers and sufferings of souls like these than the acts of politicians.