Monday, January 2, 2012

Why our Suffering has Meaning

Yesterday, for Our Lady's feast, the Office of Readings had an excerpt from St. Athanasius on the Incarnation. Definitely worth looking up if you didn't get around to it. Every line was a jewel of Incarnational theology. This one jumped out at me:

Man’s body has acquired something great through its communion and union with the Word. 

In a nutshell, this is why human suffering now has profound meaning, and is what St. Paul meant about making up in our own bodies what is "lacking" in the sufferings of Jesus, and what Catholic tradition means by the custom of "offering up" our sufferings for the conversion of sinners.

  Just the fact of our Lord taking a body (not just wearing one like a costume, but joining it to His person) from the body of Mary, ("our sister" as Athanasius points out so sweetly), gives our bodies a significance they did not have before the Annuniciation.  Beyond that, the union among Christ and the members of His mystical body makes our sufferings His sufferings. 

And our prayers, especially when praying in the name of the Church, His prayers. Which is why praying the Liturgy of the Hours is such an incredible privilege.