Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Heroic suffering

Over the weekend the cold descended with a muffled thump, and I spent a lot of time in front of the fire finishing Story of a Soul, by St. Therese of Lisieux. Now, there's something wrong with this picture: there I was, all tucked up on my cosy couch, the fire roaring in the fireplace, a cup of chamomile tea next to me, and the head of my oldest dog resting on my lap.

Now, Therese suffered gladly for Jesus. Therese begged Jesus for more suffering, so that she could endure it to His glory. Therese endured a really horrific two-day death agony from tuberculosis, without complaint. So, as a corollary, Therese should perhaps be read:

--in the cold garage, in the dark, by flashlight
--at the bus stop, in the wind and rain
--on a dark and lonely road, waiting for the tow-truck
--at a campsite in the lonely woods, when your food has run out, the
campfire is dying, and some undoubtedly large, hungry beast is howling
close by

But probably not in a comfortable living room with a cup of tea, a fire, and woman's best friend snoozing nearby. What's wrong with this picture is that it has HYPOCRITE stamped all over it.

Here's my problem. Suffering doesn't appeal to me. It isn't something I look for, in order to bear it heroically for the Lord. When I pray, "Deliver us from evil," I am not kidding! Two-day death agony? Please, no (whine). Dose me up on morphine or something.

I think most people feel the same way. There is enough suffering in the average life, without going in search of more. To my way of thinking, there's a thin line between wanting to suffer for the Lord and having some active mental pathology. Not that I'm saying anything was wrong with Therese! There's just something going on with her that I don't get.

Then again, she's a saint, and I'm not. So there you go.

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