Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fr. Philippe on accepting suffering

I'm re-reading "Interior Freedom" by Fr. Jacques Philippe. I highly, highly recommend it! The first part especially is so, so good. It had been a while since I found a good spiritual book that made me stop and think and ponder, and gave advice that I thought was very applicable to my life. This one did all that, hence why I'm re-reading it =)

Came across this today:

"The worst pain of suffering lies in rejecting it. To the pain itself we then add rebellion, resentment, and the upset this suffering arouses in us. The tension within us increases our pain. But when we have the grace to accept a suffering and consent to it, it becomes at once much less painful."

Challenging. I resonate with his description of rejecting suffering, especially the resentment part. I feel so resentful that we have to walk this path of IF, but when I read this, I realized that feeling that resentment is part of the pain! It's not pleasant to walk around feeling resentful all the time. I know in particular that this affects how I relate to people with kids. I feel resentful toward them - as if they had any part in causing our childlessness!

(He goes on to explain what it means to "accept suffering" in a later section in greater detail.)

Another passage that stood out:

"In accepting suffering we find new strength. Scripture speaks of the 'bread of tears.'"

I love that image.


"One further point: What really hurts is not so much suffering itself as the fear of suffering. If welcomed trustingly and peacefully, suffering makes us grow. It matures us, trains us, purifies us, teaches us to love unselfishly, makes us poor in heart, humble, gentle, and compassionate toward our neighbor. Fear of suffering, on the other hand, hardens us in self-protective, defensive attitudes, and often leads us to make irrational choices with disastrous consequences." (his italics)

This makes a lot of sense to me. I am afraid of suffering. (Who isn't?) I'm afraid of lifelong childlessness, but honestly, what makes me afraid about that is the fear of being unloved, unvalued, unimportant, and forgotten. The fear of growing old alone. None of that is actually taking place in my actual life - but I still spend a lot of time worrying about it!

I love his description of how suffering can make you grow. (Emphasis on "can"! It's not like it's a magic wand or something.) Resolution: expend less energy trying to avoid the suffering of IF - real or imagined, shutting myself in, shutting my heart down, and more energy trying to grow through this particular suffering in the ways he describes.



  1. Ecce,

    This book sounds great. I want to get a copy to read.

    You have shared some wonderful reflections here. Thanks!

  2. WOW!!! Wonderful reflections and snippits from the book!

  3. That is fantastic stuff! I need to go check that book out!