Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Trying to make sense

Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord and let your perpetual light shine upon him and may he rest in peace.

 The world lost a beautiful boy on Dec. 31st, 2012. His name is Nolan Connors. He was the oldest out of 5 children. Nolan was only 13 years old. He was a remarkable young man. He was so gentle and kind to his younger brothers and sisters. He was always thinking about other people. He went to bed completely fine. Sometime in the night, he just stopped breathing and was brought back home to God. As you can imagine, this is a terrible blow to his parents. Just 10 days earlier, Nolan gave his mom a booklet that was full of everything he was going to do for her in the next year. He was full of love. Their suffering is greater than I can imagine. Why must they suffer so much? What the heck is the point of this pain?  I remember asking myself this question years ago when I was talking to a mom who was unable to have any more children after her 2nd one was born. This woman was the happiest and most joyful and reverent woman I knew. Why would God not want her to have dozens of children?!  During my studies about Purgatory and suffering, the puzzle pieces began coming together. Is it better to suffer the way these parents have, who have brought up this young man the way they were instructed by God, than it is in Purgatory?

Without question, it is better to suffer on earth than in Purgatory for 3 reasons:

One, suffering on earth is easier and less painful.

Two, we increase our own merit with our sufferings here on earth. However, our sufferings in Purgatory earn us no extra merit. All opportunity to gain merit ends at death. Here is a simple example to illustrate. Imagine we are “cups” of all sizes, meant to be filled with God’s grace. Sin empties us, taking away grace. Each time we suffer on earth and unite our sufferings to Christ’s, offering them as a sacrifice to the Lord for ourselves and others, we not only add grace to our cup, but we increase the size of our cup. Therefore, each time we embrace suffering as God’s gift for our betterment, we increase our capacity to hold more grace. In Heaven, our “cup” will be completely filled, no matter our size. All souls will be completely happy and fulfilled, but some will have the capacity to hold more. This “extra capacity” is the merit we have earned on earth by saying to “yes” to all God sends us. However, in Purgatory, our sufferings do not increase the size of our “cup” any longer.

Third, each time we embrace suffering here on earth with love, not only do we bring grace to ourselves, but also to the whole world. This perhaps is the greatest reason to willingly embrace suffering here on earth because it is true charity toward others. Each good act here on earth has positive benefits for the entire Body of Christ, i.e. fellow man. Each act brings grace into us and the world. Suffering in purgatory does not bring grace to the world; it simply serves as a means to purify us, but brings no added grace or merit to anyone on earth. True charity impels us to desire suffering on earth in order that we can help others by accepting our own. Many of the saints actually said that the angels have a holy jealousy toward us because of our ability to suffer, which demonstrates our love for God and others.

(copied and pasted from piercedhearts.org)

If it is really better to suffer here than in Purgatory, than I am getting a greater understanding about why God chose the mom that dreamed her entire life of having a quiver full of children and these parents who lost their son. Their faith is so great that God is blessing them with this suffering.  If you are not Catholic, I imagine that you are gasping. To put in more plain words; God is having them suffer their Purgatory on Earth for the redemption of themselves, their family and those in the Church Suffering (Purgatory) and Church Militant (here on Earth). God knows that these parents will use this suffering for the salvation of souls. God is making it easier to “increase the size of their cup”.

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” Colossians 1:24 Read that slowly again.

 “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church”

There is a verse in the Bible that says that Christ didn’t do enough? His suffering was lacking something? We have to make up for what He was lacking by suffering ourselves? Not quite. Of course Christ’s suffering was lacking nothing. He is making room for us to join Him in our sufferings. When we join Him, we can be joyful because we are uniting ourselves to Christ. It is redemptive.  It is our Purgatory time on Earth.

Nolan’s death reminds me of all of the Old Testament deaths that seemed so senseless and undeserving. Several times, God orders a “ban” on cities and nations. A “ban” meant that every person, animal and material goods were to be wiped out completely. Inevitably, that meant women, children and babies. Why would He ask such a thing and expect us to believe that He is a merciful God? Children and babies…..(Nolan)?  It would make a sane person want to just flip to the New Testament where we can find our loving Father, Son and Holy Spirit who is all good, merciful and forgiving. To avoid believing that these are two separate God’s and therefore being labeled a heretic, we need to make sense of these deaths that are ordered by our loving, forgiving and merciful Father that we know and love.

My Bible study teacher had explained to the class that this was a total and complete sacrifice to God and that it was an in-your-face reminder as to whom these people belonged to in the first place. EVERYTHING belongs to God.         EVERYTHING. The only reason we are here today is because God planted us here at this time for a purpose. We belong to Him and he entrusts our parents to raise and care for us until we return back to our real home.  We have a job to do. We have a purpose to raise our children to love and serve God so they can be happy with Him in the next, even if it’s only for 13 short years. Nolan’s parents fulfilled their job in lesser time then they hoped but never-the-less, their job is complete. They are my hero’s and my role models.


“May the Lord Bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! May the Lord look upon you with kindness and give you peace!” Numbers 6:24-26


  1. So well said. This was good for my heart on many levels. Thank you.

  2. I am so glad that I could read this...Patrick and Jill and their children are having their hearts pierced with a sword dipped in suffering, and I pray that God would let this sword pierce my heart too.

  3. I really needed this, thank you so much for posting and bringing some perspective to suffering. Bless you!