The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

“In our perseverance, we discern God’s Spirit…”

“Now occasionally, God in his providential care permits us to experience severe pain and suffering, but in the final analysis, always for some greater good. The full weight of our sorrows, if patiently endured after Cardinal Newman’s example, often provides us with abundant opportunities for growth. In our perseverance we discern God’s Spirit guiding us, prompting us to follow ‘His kindly light of truth’ along the path He has chosen for each one of us.”

 — Deacon Jack Sullivan, in his homily, delivered today at Westminster Cathedral.
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posted November 9, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Personally, I have difficulty with the “God as major puppet master” views that include a Deity that micromanages our lives.
One must then make all manner of excuses for the evil that occurs in the world, as though God choreographs evil, pain, and suffering.
This takes the individual’s free will out of the equation and makes God the choreographer of all sinful acts. Not a very convincing theology for me personally.

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Deacon Alex Breviario

posted November 9, 2009 at 9:13 pm

My dear,
Yes, I agree that this is somewhat hard to understand or at times comprehend… In our human condition there are many things we will never fully comprehend or understand unless God reveals them to us! This is why the faith we celebrate has so many mysteries…
God IS the master of all, but at the same time he is a God of great love and compassion. How can God be in charge of everything, the good and the bad, if he has given us all free will? This doesn’t make any sense to us as humans, but for God all things are possible…If not, he could NOT be God as we can ONLY imagine him to be.
If you’re lucky, it will take a life time to figure it out… If you are not that lucky, it will ALL make sense if and when you get to stand before the almighty face-to-face, because at that very moment God will reveal ALL his mysteries to you and your soul will be filled with his loving grace…

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posted November 9, 2009 at 10:41 pm

I wonder where the spiritual growth is in such great suffering we see in less fortunate parts of the world. In the US or England, we can toy with the idea of suffering, but we really don’t know it well enough, if we did we wouldn’t embrace it.
A good reading of the Book of Job perhaps sets the stage for God’s role in suffering. He gets together with Satan, and on a whim they decide to strip away Job’s family and fortune. Although Job’s luck is restored, his wife and family remain dead, too bad for them. Job’s friends try to understand it and offer advice, but in the end, God tells them that he can do as he pleases, how dare a mortal even ask why we suffer.

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Your Name

posted November 10, 2009 at 4:07 pm

“In our human condition there are many things we will never fully comprehend or understand unless God reveals them to us!” I thought God had/has already revealed himself fully in Jesus Christ?
“He gets together(???) with Satan, and on a whim they(???) decide to strip away Job’s family and fortune.

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posted November 10, 2009 at 4:45 pm

@Your Name,
Yep, you really need to sit down and read the Book of Job. Interesting book really that differs from the “turn or burn” message found throughout most of the Hebrew Bible, where one is punished for sin and rewarded for obedience. God and Satan seem to have a good working relationship in this book. I suppose that the ethic of misfortune and suffering changes yet again in the New Testament when Jesus says that it rains on the wicked and the righteous alike regardless of their behavior.

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posted November 10, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Dear Deacon Alex,
Thanks for your response.
It seems you are slip-slidin’ past some good theology wrt free will and maybe not seeing the error of conceiving God to be a puppet master.
If God orchestrates the acts of the evil person in order to teach someone else the lesson of suffering — well, that’s a God that drives people away from the Church. And invoking “mystery” does not get us past the problem.
Quoting from “The Church in the Modern World” from Sixteen Documents of Vatican II:
“For its part, authentic freedom is an exceptional sign of the divine image within Man. For God has willed that man remain ‘under the control of his own decisions,’ so that he can seek his Creator spontaneously, and come freely to utter and blissful perfection through loyalty to Him. Hence man’s dignity demands that he act according to knowing and free choice that is personally motivated and prompted from within, not under blind internal impulse nor by mere external pressure.”

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