God and Suffering


As superb look at suffering by Dr. Peter Kreeft, courtesy of Prager University.  I agree with his division of suffering into what Man causes through our actions, wars are a classic example, and suffering caused by nature, the type of suffering caused by the seizure that took the life of my son Larry on May 19, 2013.  He is also correct that when we cry out against such suffering inflicted by nature we are appealing to a standard that presupposes a God, since nature cares not a whit about human suffering or the lack thereof.  It is only by belief in God that the scales of what occurs to us in this brief life are ever balanced.  To us death is often regarded as the greatest of evils.  To God physical death is merely our gateway to Him.  CS Lewis captured this perfectly in Letter 28 of his Screwtape Letters:

They, of course, do tend to regard death as the prime evil and survival as the greatest good. But that is because we have taught them to do so. Do not let us be infected by our own propaganda. I know it seems strange that your chief aim at the moment should be the very same thing for which the patient’s lover and his mother are praying – namely his bodily safety. But so it is; you should be guarding him like the apple of your eye. If he dies now, you lose him. If he survives the war, there is always hope. The Enemy has guarded him from you through the first great wave of temptations. But, if only he can be kept alive, you have time itself for your ally. The long, dull monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather. You see, it is so hard for these creatures to persevere. The routine of adversity, the gradual decay of youthful loves and youthful hopes, the quiet despair (hardly felt as pain) of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again defeated them, the drabness which we create in their lives and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it – all this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition. If, on the other hand, the middle years prove prosperous, our position is even stronger. Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is “finding his place in it”, while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth which is just what we want. You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.

The truth is that the Enemy, having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His own eternal world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home anywhere else. That is why we must often wish long life to our patients; seventy years is not a day too much for the difficult task of unravelling their souls from Heaven and building up a firm attachment to the earth. While they are young we find them always shooting off at a tangent. Even if we contrive to keep them ignorant of explicit religion, the incalculable winds of fantasy and music and poetry – the mere face of a girl, the song of a bird, or the sight of a horizon – are always blowing our whole structure away. They will not apply themselves steadily to worldly advancement, prudent connections, and the policy of safety first. So inveterate is their appetite for Heaven that our best method, at this stage, of attaching them to earth is to make them believe that earth can be turned into Heaven at some future date by politics or eugenics or “science” or psychology, or what not. Real worldliness is a work of time – assisted, of course, by pride, for we teach them to describe the creeping death as good sense or Maturity or Experience. Experience, in the peculiar sense we teach them to give it, is, by the bye, a most useful word. A great human philosopher nearly let our secret out when he said that where Virtue is concerned “Experience is the mother of illusion”; but thanks to a change in Fashion, and also, of course, to the Historical Point of View, we have largely rendered his book innocuous. Continue Reading


The Real Message From Pope Francis During World Youth Day Rio

I suspect in the coming days, weeks, months and years much will be written about World Youth Day Rio and the message of Pope Francis. Perhaps, the crux of the message can be found streaming on the Vatican’s website late Saturday night, Bring the Gospel to the world. It hardly sounds radical and yet the Gospel message is radical; a message that rejected the decadent Roman Empire’s culture; and here we are nearly 2,000 years later and western culture is doing its best to emulate what was done in Rome circa the time of Caligula, Nero and Trajan.

In our hyperbolic media age many on the Christian right, the Christian left and the secular media in general has been spinning the message to tilt to their objective. The nature of the Secular Left is to make others think their views will inevitably conquer the world due to their intellect. The Right (both religious and non-religious) seems to think we are ever closer to completely buying into the Left’s ultimate goals. Both views are wrong. Salvation history is full of ebbs and flows.

Pope Francis in his address told the faithful, particularly sisters, priests and bishops to get out and preach the gospel. He lamented that too many of them are busy with things of the world. In a way the Holy Father was calling them out for being a bunch of “Marthas” when we really need a bunch of “Marys.”

This really resonated for me because I returned home late Saturday night after attending a Defending the Faith Conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville. The eminent Dr. Peter Kreeft gave a talk on how to lose and win “The Culture War.” In a nutshell, Dr Kreeft said too many orthodox minded faithful are putting their hopes in political movements and candidates when they should be confronting what the culture is doing to our faith and society at large. Continue Reading