Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A small reflection on suffering

Dawn Eden's blog has been added to the Pantheon of Links (which is now the Nonpareil Nine) - she has an excellent, quite recent post on Ms. Schiavo that reflects on Terri's sufferings in light of the Christian Holy Week.

A co-worker of mine mentioned this just today, and while puttering about I've been considering it. Even St. Paul said that in his own suffering he makes up what is lacking in Christ's suffering for us (Colossians 1:24). I've thought about what that could mean, and the only conclusion that makes any sense to me is this: when we suffer, we have a link to Christ through this shared pain; even our bodies are allowed a share in redemption, even as our minds and hearts cooperate with God through understanding and faith.

But even animals can feel pain; therefore the material order of creation sharing in the redemption extends through us and links us not only to Heaven but also Earth. (This is consistent with passages calling us the stewards of creation.) In a way, then, our suffering can also be thought of as on behalf of those placed under our care and protection, even as Christ's suffering is on our behalf before the Father.


jorge said...

they should just let that woman rest and move on, she is suffering here, you think anyone would want to be in that condition?

Dennis said...

Jorge: Which is it? Is she braindead, in which case she is no longer actually a person (under the strictest medical and legal definitions) and she is no longer suffering? Or is she in fact suffering, which proves that she is in fact a person and therefore endowed with unalienable rights?

Mike: Yes, we do make up what is lacking in Christ's suffering. What you've written is very sound Catholic theology (though I know you're not a Catholic). Consider these propositions. Even though God alone is the creator, we "participate" in his ongoing creation through sexual union that is open to new life. Likewise, though Christ alone redeems us, we "participate," as members of his body, in his ongoing act of redemption through the suffering that comes to us. In all things, God is the principle agent, but he allows us to have a role.

Dennis said...

Why did I think you weren't Catholic? Geez. Sorry. Just re-read the top of your webpage and... OOPS. Mea culpa.

nightfly said...

Dennis - it's all good. I'm pretty sure you meant it as a compliment, and I'm glad I got the theology right. I agree with the rest of your post, too.

Jorge - I understand that you're speaking from your compassion, but I don't think the argument holds. Naturally nobody wants to be in her situation, or for that matter, her husband's or her parents' situation. When we do wind up in poor straits we try to improve things. But does starvation improve her situation? Does her pain increase or decrease?

There are plenty of ways to let her live free from physical pain, so the question becomes, is she capable of anguish, mental suffering - does she have enough of her mind left? If so, then she deserves humane treatment at the very least, not a brutal death by forced starvation. If not, then we make irrelevant the whole idea of sparing her suffering by permitting her death.

It's important to remember that she isn't terminal, just very badly injured. She doesn't have a condition that will kill her whether she eats or not; she's been alive (as of this moment) for 107 hours without food or water. She lasted six days back in 2001 in the same circumstance. Few of us healthy folks could survive anything like that.

jorge said...

#1 i don't watch the news, so i am not completely filled in on all the details

#2 i am just speaking on a reaction to the pictures and videoclips i have seen of her

end result, it seems that she is not living a "normal" life, and my comment is still, who would want to be in that state?

p.s. i am not trying to claim i am an expert on "normal" but humans have a desire to be able to do certain things...

Anonymous said...

Found you through Dawn's blog, and am a Catholic also. Had heard of Terri on and off for years- can not believe anyone would support allowing her to die. Know we have to pray for her and her family, including her husband and his new family. Am also concerned with and bothered by the people with the power to help her and won't. This is not heroic means, but merely providing the basics. Do not understand how they could abandon her, and even make arrests for those trying to help her- altho I thank God that there are those who care enough to try.