Almost weekly, someone here asks me the question as to why good people suffer and bad people live and thrive. I was asked this twice in a week, “Why does God let the bad live and the good die young?”
The question is, perhaps, the most common one of all Catholics.
The Protestant answer is not our answer. Like the so-called arrogant friends of Job, the Protestants claim that all suffering in brought upon those who either are not of the Elect, or those who need to be chastised.
Now, some suffering is purgation of sin and the predominant fault. However, as we read in Job, some suffering involves the mystery of evil in this world.
God is in charge of every detail of one’s life. This truth underlines the belief in Divine Providence.
Some Protestants would believe that Maria Goretti, or Therese of Lisieux, or Karl of Austria were great sinners to be allowed to suffer so much. Yet, we know these people as saints and more than unusually innocent.
The Protestant heresy that God favors the rich by giving them success and that God hates the poor, because of some great sin, infects Catholicism.
Today, when yet another person asked me why good people, like her husband, had to die young and why nasty people who curse, do violence, eat and drink too much, cheat, lie, live and prosper, I could only answer what St. Ignatius has taught me.
That the greater Glory of God is seen out of suffering.
Frequently, I am judged for being so poor. This is a suffering of unfair judgment. When some of my friends and myself got cancer, people actually said it was punishment for sin. Those who are healthy and wealthy think that their health and wealth have to do with God favoring them, and that may be so.
God does not love each one of us equally.
Perhaps poverty and illness are party purgation of sins, but mostly, like Job’s cry to God, those who have experienced great suffering know that God has allowed this type of pain for various reasons. I have chosen all my life not to be rich. I could have been, and sometimes I think I may have been able to help others more directly if I had money.
But, I have removed distractions from my life-intimacy, the pursuit of wealth, or even the preoccupation of such, and any tendency to be rebellious against God’s Perfect Will.
But, involved with each decision to go the way of wealth were compromises, which I could not do.
Daily we make decisions. Daily we face false jugdments because of our decisions.
The woman who was upset today with God, for taking her good husband and for leaving the evil ones around, her is struggling with this mystery.
I tried to speak with her about free will. That all have choices to either be kind or be malicious. All have choices either to be merciful or judgmental. All have choices whether to see the world as God sees it or to choose to see it as satan sees it.
And, how does satan see the world. The Fathers of the Church tell us that even the demons still love their Creator. They cannot help it. They see the ultimate Good and Beauty Who is God, but they hate Him as judge.
Notice—they hate Justice as well as Mercy towards us.
Satan sees us and the world in grief, remorse and in malice. He churns up malice in those who listen to his deceitful voice. Today, I need to follow up on this woman’s questions so that she does not lose heart and follow the lies that God does not love her.
Bad things happen to good, very good people, daily.
Elizabeth of the Trinity died so young that most people have not even heard of her, which is why I highlighted her life and writings on the old blog.
One of my best friends, who is a genius, was kicked out of the seminary many years ago, as was another good friend of mine. These good men should have been priests, but for the evil in the seminaries which they attended-both run by liberals and heretics. Their lives were not what should have been, but God has found things for them to do. One has started a Lay Association of the Faithful, while the other, God has allowed in His inscrutable mercy, to suffer even more, physically and mentally.
I know these men are holy, yet the world judges them otherwise as failures.
The Protestantized Catholics judge them as failures. And, yet, they have touched many lives and are saved by their following Christ through all difficulties.
I wish there was an easy answer to the allowance of God’s permissive will in this world. One aspect of the answer would have to be that God gives everyone free will, one way in which we are made in His image and likeness. And, this free will is sacred to God, absolutely sacred. He will not overcome our wills, but informs the wills with grace, knowledge, love.
Yet, there are those who turn away from Him. I see this so clearly here especially.
I have given a small Byzantine crucifix to this woman, but I may have to give her more—time and attention. She is being tempted to doubt God’s love and kindness. I, who was left and had to become a single mum, know what it is like to be alone, facing difficulties, which those who have had support never can imagine. God allows all these evils to happen to us as He wants to bring us all into union with Him.
Suffering is a necessity of life to the soul. Those who avoid suffering, or deny it, or run away from those who suffer, cannot see that the opposite of the Protestant heresy is the truth.
God gives suffering as a gift to those He loves the most. Job’s only flaw, for example, was that he underestimated God.
I was thinking of St. Francis today, who is the saint most like Christ, and how he lost control of his own order before he died, watching it splinter into groups would did not want to follow his way.
Those who judge events by worldly standards would say that he was a failure as a manager, or that some sin of his caused these ruptures.
Both of these ideas would not be true.
Now, when a woman is raped, too many blame the woman. Maria Goretti would understand this horror and know the truth. Now, when people become ill, society wants to kill them and harvest their organs. St. Therese of Liseux would know how to answer them.
Now, when people have financial set-backs or refuse to compromise their consciences for the sake of money, they are labeled as reckless or as fools. People still think that God only wills success.
Garrigou-Lagrange in one of his books refers to the gifts God gives His People. He notes that to those to whom God has given knowledge, it is the duty of those to share it. Hence, I write. He notes that to those to whom God has given riches, it is the duty of those to share it. Not governments, but individuals gain merit through charity.
I shall try and find this woman again today. She is on the edge of turning her back on God, because her life has been hard and she cannot understand.why.
Sometimes, all we can do is say, “Thy Will be done” and not understand, but trust.
i made the evangelical counsels as formal, even though I was poor and chaste and obedient. Why? To make these promises formal, means that now I have consecrated this way to God. And, He is teaching me more and more the depth of these promises. One not only earns merit through consecration, but God takes one more seriously, as one takes God more seriously. These are called also, “the counsels of perfection”, not because these make a person automatically perfect, but these are guidelines and helps towards that perfection.
This good woman is struggling with pain, which can bring her to sainthood. Yes.
Pray for her to trust in God today. Pray for me to always trust in God.
Once, a long time ago, Christ invited me to join Him in His sufferings. I said yes, not realizing what that meant, just because I wanted to be close to Christ, to learn to love Him more.
Our God is a God of both freedom and suffering. If all men and women chose His perfect will, Earth would resemble Eden. But, people do not and we are sinned against, as well as being sinners. Freedom to will is our gift from God.
St. Bernard said that we have kept the image but lost the likeness of God. He meant that we have kept free will but lost the grace to live in God, through Original Sin and actual sin. We have the image in our wills to choose good or evil, but we have to regain, through the sacraments of the Church, the likeness, which is God’s life of sanctifying grace.
Without this grace one is no longer like God. Remember the name of Michael the Archangel, his own battle cry “Who is like God”.
What this meant on that day of battle between the good angels who chose obedience and love, and the bad angels who chose their own wills and hate, was that those who chose God’s Will were like God.
Those who choose their own wills are not like God.
Who is like God? Michael is like God as the angel is in grace. And, the name reminds us that there is a Creator, One Greater than the angels, One we are like if we are in grace.
Michael’s cry of victory is for those who follow God’s Perfect Will and against those who choose their own wills.
Who is like God?
Christ gave us the answer.
5 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain, and when he was set down, his disciples came unto him.
2 And opening his mouth, he taught them, saying:
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
5 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
6 Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.
10 Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake:
12 Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.