Daniel Lanahan: Approaching the mystery
Why we suffer and why we die are two of the great mysteries that many of us grapple
They are questions that faith is both challenged by and provides insight on. In When God Says No
, Franciscan Daniel Lanahan offers a Catholic perspective on the great mystery of why we are visited with suffering and why at times God does not seem to hear our prayers.
In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed that the "cup be taken from him," if it be God's will. God answered no. Three times St. Paul begged God to remove the "thorn from his side." Three times God said no. When my family prayed desperately for my brother Neil to be cured of melanoma, God said no. When we prayed for a twenty-five-year-old niece to survive a car accident, God said no. When the victims of war in the former Yugoslavia, or in any of the hundred places war is being waged at any given time prayed; when people afflicted with cancer, alcoholism, or AIDS prayed for deliverance; when the victims of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse prayed to be spared, the answer was no. . . .
Instead of providing pat answers, this moving book helps us to learn how to live with our questions and doubts. Using the example of his own brother's early death, Fr. Daniel helps us to surrender to unconditional love no matter what suffering or refusals come our way.
A monk and a nun have their own responses. Trappist monk, Fr. Thomas Keating argues in The Transformation of Suffering
that Christ suffers with us, and that the events of 9/11 crystallized that experience:
What I saw, and it is only my vision of it, was the image of the crucifixion of Christ extended to the whole of humanity. The two towers, for me, were like the two arms of Christ on the cross, reaching up to heaven for mercy and to all appearances receiving no answer. The scene in lower Manhattan was the crucifixion of humanity, so to speak, extended in this enormous, visible, and public way.
The Ven. Yifa sees suffering from a Buddhist perspective. In Safeguarding the Heart
and The Tender Heart
, she explores the meaning of suffering on September 11, 2001, and shows how the laws of cause and effect, karma, and codependent co-arising work in shaping our lives.