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Cross to Saint
This is a Catholic Blog on The Cross of Christ, Mary, and the Saints

What is Redemptive Suffering?

by Marianne Buzzelli

Redemptive suffering is our participation in and union with the passion of Christ through our physical or mental suffering. It is a participation in the cross of Christ. As we carry our cross of suffering we are united to the cross of Christ. And, it is, of course, the cross of Christ that brought us redemption, through His suffering, and salvation from original sin which provided the means for us to join God in his heavenly kingdom.  As the Catechism of The Catholic Church (par 1521) states, “suffering, a consequence of original sin, acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus.”

What a wonderful privilege we are given to participate in the saving work of Jesus. It is not, of course, that our redemption was not accomplished by the death of Jesus. But, we can unite ourselves to Jesus on the cross during our suffering. And, as we participate in the suffering of Jesus, we offer God our suffering to be united to the suffering of His beloved Son.

The apostle, St. Paul reaffirms the power of redemptive suffering, when he says, “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (Col 1:24). Pope John Paul II wrote extensively on redemptive suffering in Apostolic Letter, “Salvifici Doloris”. He reminds us that that the Gospel speaks in multiple places of “suffering for the sake of Christ”. And, it is just as Jesus shared in that aspect of our humanity when He experienced suffering, we are blessed to be able to share in the most wonderful redemptive value gained by His suffering as we carry our crosses.

During His life Christ endured suffering, pain, and death. And, his ministry focused on helping and healing those suffering from pain, illness, and disease. Another aspect identified in the redemptive value of suffering is the result of suffering on those around the suffering individual. For it is when we witness a loved one in pain are we not called to express our love in trying to comfort and assist him in both words and actions. And, is it not during the time of the illness of a friend, loved one, or even a stranger, that we turn to God in our prayer of petition to Him. And, we are brought closer to God in our response to the suffering of another. This is, thus, an example of redemptive suffering.

Reflection: Pain, illness, disease, and suffering are a part of our lives. Whether we experience suffering ourselves or as we witness a friend or loved one in pain we nonetheless endure the cross of suffering throughout our lives on earth. It is God’s Will that we unite our suffering to His suffering of His cross. Let us pray for the strength to endure whatever cross we have been given and offer the suffering for the salvation of souls as we “suffer for the sake of Christ”. And, we can then join St. Paul in saying, “ I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”. (Gal 2:20).  As we pray to Jesus we can show our devotion and love for His cross as we display and wear a cross necklace crucifix.

Bio: Marianne Buzzelli is a Catholic writer and owner of Holy Cross Necklaces which sells fine cross necklaces, saint medals, rosaries, religious statuary, Catholic books, and more.


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