Suffering is a difficult, but universal experience in our lives. Most of us have something we are individually going through at any given moment. Some sufferings are small, while others are life-changing. What can we do when we encounter suffering in our lives? As Catholics, we may often hear about “redemptive suffering” or offering our suffering to God — but what does this mean? What does it look like?
This year’s parish Lenten mission for our faith community will dive deeper into the experience of suffering, especially Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. We will be welcoming Liz Kelly as the presenter for this year’s mission. Liz is an internationally recognized speaker, retreat leader, and author or co-author of more than a dozen books.
Having written a book last year on the final seven utterances of Jesus from the cross, Liz’s presentation will draw from her book, and she will also speak on the topics of woundedness and healing.
“Christ’s wounds facilitate our own healing,” Liz says.
Having twice survived cancer, and living with multiple sclerosis, Liz has undergone plenty of experiences with physical woundedness and the lessons we can learn from that kind of suffering. In turn, she will be sharing some of her own story and the stories of others we can learn from.
“Praying through the experiences of chemo and talking about how to pray when you’re in pain, that’s an incredibly powerful prayer, even if it doesn’t feel like we’re accomplishing much,” she says. “Christ on the cross prayed in the deepest pain of His life and we can model that directly. Everybody is suffering something — Christ can teach us about what to do in pain and the value of it, which makes it much more tolerable.”
Liz recognizes there can be some misunderstanding in terms of what it means to offer up our sufferings. She hopes all who attend come away from the mission with a renewed perspective of suffering.
“My hope is they will look at the cross and see not only suffering, but the grace that is unleashed — not just sacrifice, but all that is accomplished in it and how we can join our suffering to that same accomplishment,” she says. “I hope it will rewrite their general posture to whatever it is they are suffering.”
The mission will take place from March 17-19, with Liz presenting each night. There will also be time for both communal and private prayer, as well as Eucharistic Adoration. Liz will provide prompts for private prayer. As each talk is separate, parishioners will not miss out if they can only attend one of the evenings. All are welcome to attend and enter into Lent in a spiritually profound way.
“Something really powerful happens when people come together to seek the face of God,” Liz says. “When we do that, really powerful graces are unleashed in that. I just feel that — I sense that happening here. I just feel so honored to be a part of that spiritual maneuver.”
For more information about Liz Kelly, please visit her website at www.lizk.org.