by Ken Rolheiser
Apocalyptic Times and Our Sufferings

Many of us are reeling from Covid-19 as from a biblical plague. On Wednesday of Holy Week members of a Christian church in our community placed red cloths over their doorways to symbolize the blood of the Passover lamb.

As it turned out other Christians were inspired to similar action. But I dare say not everyone had the experience we did in Canora, just as darkness was falling. As described by a Pastor of the church: “A sudden and major bluster of snow and wind whipped through our community. It appeared and it disappeared just as quickly.

… It was incredible … an absolute whiteout. And then it was gone. I believe that this was a physical sign of the passing over. …I could see the cloth we had put up over our doorposts only an hour earlier, whipping and snapping in the wind.”

I witnessed the fierce wind and whiteout conditions. It was truly reminiscent of the Passover season which began that night. And within the Octave of this Passover we began to hear news of positive progress against Covid-19.

Suffering is a mystery which can bring us closer to God and help us grow in holiness. The answer to suffering is Jesus Christ. Into The Breach, a Knight’s of Columbus video, tells us, “A man lives 35 – 40 % of life. 60 % of the time we ‘put up with’ worry, waiting, sickness, suffering.”

Virtue comes from this suffering – patience, compassion, wisdom, understanding. We ask “why?” We need to invite Jesus into our suffering. The video goes on to share Frank Ramirez’s story of the loss of his daughter Magdeline Theresa Ramirez.

Maggie got sick, deadly sick from a large tumour causing pressure on the brain. There was nothing they could do. Frank led the family in prayer as she was dying. They prayed the Glory to God in the highest, praising God and embracing the meaning of her death and suffering.

“When someone dies the devil says, ‘She’s dead,’” Frank tells us. “No! She isn’t. Christ has risen.” Suffering and death are redemptive because of the crucifixion. Good comes from suffering, and we can embrace that. Our deaths say that to the world.

Suffering helps us detach from the world to what is most important in life. We need to practise dying – Fulton J. Sheen said. One of man’s greatest fears is death. We can practise for it.

Christ’s death and resurrection have made our deaths a Passover! We will Passover into heaven! That is what we ponder as we face suffering and death in our world. That is a good focus as we are house-bound over Covid-19. We can either become depressed or philosophic!

Today I was pondering the meaning of life. I spent time thinking of the greatest jokes about life’s meaning, but settled on a few appropriate gems: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning to dance in the rain.” Author Unknown.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Pablo Picasso. This has been variously expressed by others including Shakespeare.

“To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end in life.” Robert Louis Stevenson.

Living as Christians is to engage life more than 40% of the time!

(565 words)