As I write this, it is a cool, rainy, foggy September morning in Minnesota. In this kind of morning, the melancholic soul finds an odd sort respite. I am the kind of person who is drawn to sad things. I take comfort in the Sorrowful Mysteries. My favorite Psalm is Psalm 43: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?”
In some ways, I like to feel sad. Not because I actually enjoy the sadness, but because I can see beauty in it. Sadness, sorrow, and suffering are all facts of life, and as Catholics, we are especially aware and in tune with this truth.
I do believe it is true that one experiences joyful times more intensely when they have also experienced suffering. The sweetness of consolation is fully appreciated when you can contrast with desolation. But, on a deeper level, I am drawn to the rawness of sorrow, the vulnerability, the way in which it connects us all.
This is something that my favorite character, Anne Shirley, is also acutely aware of. In one of my favorite scenes, we learn of Anne’s insistence on having an engagement ring of pearls. When Gilbert balks she delivers one of the most beautiful lines in all of the Anne series.
“But pearls are for tears, the old legend says,” Gilbert had objected.
“I’m not afraid of that. And tears can be happy as well as sad. My very happiest moments have been when I had tears in my eyes—when Marilla told me I might stay at Green Gables—when Matthew gave me the first pretty dress I ever had—when I heard that you were going to recover from the fever. So give me pearls for our troth ring, Gilbert, and I’ll willingly accept the sorrow of life with its joy.”
I appreciate L.M. Montgomery’s ability to touch on these beautiful truths of the human condition. That is what makes her Anne series an enduring classic.
On a more spiritual level, I recognize that it is in sadness that we are afforded the most opportunities to love. I might even venture to suggest that you cannot love someone unless you understand what makes them sad. Yet an even more beautiful aspect to consider when faced with sorrow and suffering is that in asking you to endure, Jesus is asking you to sit with Him at the foot of the Cross. He is asking you to sit with him in His sorrow. He is offering you a chance at an intimate connection with Him in His Passion.
Moreover, as Catholics, we know that each of us is asked to take up our crosses, to bear our particular suffering on our road to holiness. This looks different for everyone, but what is universal is that we can use our sorrow as a means to purify our hearts. Most often, when we are overcome with sadness, it is because we are too preoccupied with the material world.
This is not to say that the material should not be enjoyed. Indeed, I believe we are meant to take delight in His creation. We must be vigilant; however, not to love creation over its Creator. The desires of our hearts have been placed there by God, and many of the good things on earth that fulfill those desires are meant only to be reflections and shadows of the perfect way that God fulfills them.
It is in accepting these sorrows that we learn to detach from the world and attach more perfectly to God. It is in this way that suffering is a gift, and in this way that I have found it my calling to rejoice, even in suffering.
Have you been led to deeper faith in suffering?
Copyright 2018 Amanda Torres