by Ken Rolheiser
All the wealth that pain brings 

Eighty-two-year-old Morris went to the doctor for a physical. Two days
later, the doctor saw Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman. The doctor says, "You're really doing great, aren't you?"
Morris replied, "Just doing what you said, Doc: 'Get a hot mamma and be
cheerful.'" The doctor said, "I said, 'You've got a heart murmur; be careful.’"

When it comes to pain and suffering it is hard for us to get the story straight. We got the pain, now how do we become cheerful?

Seven months before she died St Theresa of Lisieux, the Little Flower, penned a poem to her Guardian Angel. She asks her Angel to tell others about the sweet cross we can bear in “Jesu’s name”.

All her life Theresa tried to rescue souls from sin through the bearing of her daily crosses. We can joyfully offer our sufferings “to God on high”, she says: 
The Host in the ciboriums bright
Is mine, and all the wealth pain brings
So with the Cross, and with the Host

Can we now dry the tears that pain brings and embrace the sweetness of meaningful suffering in the Cross of Christ? Jesus tells us “You will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.” (John 16:20).

When it comes to our pain and suffering, we want God to intervene. We will lose the battle for good health and fitness, but death is not the end but the beginning. Our moment of death will be the greatest moment of our existence. It will be the time to rejoice in Christ’s victory over death. 

The greatest meditation related to pain and suffering is to reflect on the Passion of Jesus. Our Lord said to St Bernard, “I will remit all the venial sins and I will no more think of the mortal sins of those who honour the grievous wound on my right shoulder, which caused me unutterable pain when bearing my heavy cross to Calvary.”

The key to finding meaning in suffering is being close to God. “Nothing is wanting to him who possesses God,” said St Teresa of Avila. “God alone suffices”. Being close to God means joy.

In Breaking into Joy Anne Costa says: “Joy does not depend upon our circumstances. It comes from God and cannot be reduced by suffering or hardship.” About suffering, Costa says, “How we choose to think about things is always within our control.”

Jane Merczewski (Nightbirde), dying of cancer, said: “If something so impossibly catastrophic and unimaginably awful can happen then doesn't it also mean that something impossibly beautiful and redemptive can happen. 

“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy. 
Tears have become the only prayer I know. Prayers roll over my nostrils and drip down my forearms. They fall to the ground as I reach for Him. These are the prayers I repeat night and day, sunrise, and sunset.”

The story is told of the French impressionist Auguste Renoir’s last years of paralyzing arthritis. Henri Matisse visited him daily, watching Renoir fighting torturous pain with each brush stroke. Finally Matisse asked, “Auguste, why do you continue to paint when you are in such agony?”
“The pain passes but the beauty remains,” Renoir replied. Indeed, the pain of the Cross passes but the beauty of the Resurrection light remains. Without Christ’s light we stumble in darkness.

(583 words)