Scientia Crucis

In talking with some of my spiritual mentors over the past month or so, a topic that has come up is the degree to which people, myself included, understand what suffering is as a result of sin. There seems to be a disconnect in a lot of people’s minds today between suffering and sin—people fail to grasp a) what sin is, and b) that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). It seems to be completely lost on people that the more you sin, the more you truly suffer, because your conscience can never rest. The less you sin, the more at peace you are, and the more redemptive value your suffering has.

Sin starts with the conscience, in the depths of the soul that are seen only by you and God. We are told in Matthew 5:48,Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The Father wants to make a saint out of each and every one of us, to make us like his Son. Cooperating with His will means crucifying our sinfulness and denying ourselves daily in striving for this perfection.

The question of sin ultimately leads to who Christ is, because “for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Christ became sin on the Cross and of His own free will provided a flawless model for how we should bear suffering.

There is the intellectual understanding of suffering that is purely imagination, and then there is the experiential understanding that is grounded in one’s own pain. All of us, as weak-willed and petty as we are, need to know that someone “gets” our misfortune and that someone is being put through the same wringer that we are. 

In more intense cases, like people dealing with terminal illnesses and handicaps, the pain becomes so great that the only satisfactory consolation is not found in the visible world. The pain, physical and psychological, forces one to focus on the transcendent, on spiritual and eternal things, because frankly, this present world doesn’t have the answers.

Part of the answer to pain goes all the way back to the first humans. Sin came into the world because, as Fr. Abbot Peter likes to say in response to the news of any horrific evil committed, “Wow. Adam and Eve really blew it.” There is scientific proof in our mitochondrial DNA that all homo sapiens descend directly from one common mother, Eve. She is the biological mother of all mankind, who was tricked by Satan into sinning. Because she put the Eve in evil, everyone has this concupiscence, that is a tendency to sin, and thus everyone knows suffering.

Everyone, by virtue of being human, is by nature a sinner. If Jesus became sin on the Cross, we are all therefore studiers of the scientia Crucis, the science of the Cross. Scientia comes from the Latin root scio, scire meaning “to know, to understand”. Though our tiny pains don’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as Jesus’ sufferings, each person nonetheless understands in his unique way the torture of His crucifixion.

To those who say, “I don’t believe in God. I put my faith in science”— I am so glad that you like science, because you study the science of the Cross every day whether you like it or not!

“Here learn the science of the Saints: All is to be found in the Passion of Jesus.” —St. Paul of the Cross

Those who have terrible migraine headaches know His crown of thorns. Those with Parkinson’s disease know the indescribable pain that shot through His nervous system. Those who suffer from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder know the Agony in the Garden in which He sweated blood. Those with cystic fibrosis know His slow suffocation as His upper body started to tire and the Crucified had to push upwards on His nailed feet for every breath. Abandoned, parentless children know His cry of “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) The disfigured and deformed know the humiliation of being publicly mocked and rejected. The list could go on.

This is why Pope Francis shows such compassion and love for the maimed and misunderstood. He is showing the world as the Vicar of Christ that to know Christ is to know the despised, the outcasts, the sick, the lame, the forgotten. Isaiah 53:3 prophesied all of this about Christ:

“He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Pope Francis

Some of my most spiritually fruitful prayer is spent in adoration while meditating on the Cross. It is something that all of the saints did frequently. If you truly believe that Christ’s Passion was the most important event of all time, the most spiritually fruitful event ever, then I don’t know that there is a better topic or image to meditate on.

It is good to ask yourself every day: Do I actually, truthfully appreciate what He did for me on the Cross? Am I detached from everything that He was detached from on the Cross—things like wealth, power, honor, pleasure, and fame?

Jesus nailed to Cross

“We must kneel there at the foot of that Pulpit of Love and confess that when we stabbed His Heart it was our own we slew. But, oh, it is such a difficult thing to climb up the hill of Calvary. It is such a humiliating thing to be seen at the foot of the Cross. It is such a painful thing to be with one in pain and to be seen with one condemned by the world. It is such a hard thing to kneel at the foot of the Cross and admit that one is wrong. It is hard — but it is harder to hang there!” —Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Divine Romance

February 11

Sister Julian Paul from the Dallas branch of the Missionaries of Charity called today telling me that I have been approved to be a Sick and Suffering Co-Worker. I could not be happier! February 11 has now become quite a busy day in my life and that of the Church. There are five significant things going on:

1) It is the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes. This is of course known to be a holy site where miraculous cures have taken place. Approximately 7,000 people have sought to have their case confirmed as a miracle, of which 68 have been declared a scientifically inexplicable miracle by both the Lourdes Medical Bureau and the Catholic Church.

2) World Day of the Sick, a day instituted by Pope John Paul II a year after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It began on February 11, 1993 which is exactly 9 years after he gave us his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering.

3) Pope Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy a year ago today, citing his declining health as his reason for doing so. Today, Pope Francis tweeted “Today I ask you to join me in prayer for His Holiness Benedict XVI, a man of great courage and humility.” I offer up my CF for our Pope Emeritus!

4) The start of my Sick and Suffering Co-Worker link. I have become spiritually linked with Sister Marie Betel as a Co-Worker in helping the poor and needy in St. Louis. We will pray for each other every day, with the goal being the salvation of souls. With me offering up my CF for her work, and with her praying for my patience and perseverance, we can help each other be Christ to the world in our own little ways, and lead souls to Him.

5) My fibro and actual bro David’s birthday is February 10. He turned 26 yesterday! I am blessed to have such a goofy, hilarious, devout, upbeat, caring, genuine, and all around awesome dude as my blood brother, CF brother, and brother in Christ.

There is so much to be thankful for today. In closing I’ll quote this part of Pope John Paul II’s Salvifici Doloris that is beautifully appropriate and hit close to home:

“To the suffering brother or sister Christ discloses and gradually reveals the horizons of the Kingdom of God: the horizons of a world converted to the Creator, of a world free from sin, a world being built on the saving power of love. And slowly but effectively, Christ leads into this world, into this Kingdom of the Father, suffering man, in a certain sense through the very heart of his suffering. For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by a grace from outside, but from within. And Christ through his own salvific suffering is very much present in every human suffering, and can act from within that suffering by the powers of his Spirit of truth, his consoling Spirit.

This is not all: the Divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of every sufferer through the heart of his holy Mother, the first and the most exalted of all the redeemed. As though by a continuation of that motherhood which by the power of the Holy Spirit had given him life, the dying Christ conferred upon the ever Virgin Mary a new kind of motherhood—spiritual and universal—towards all human beings, so that every individual, during the pilgrimage of faith, might remain, together with her, closely united to him unto the Cross, and so that every form of suffering, given fresh life by the power of this Cross, should become no longer the weakness of man but the power of God.”

Who do? UDU

This is a year old but still epic video about University of Dallas Ultimate (a.k.a. UDU), which has been my favorite club to be a part of at UD. We have a website here: udultimate.wix.com/udultimate

This weekend I spent about 14 hours on my feet cheering on my teammates at a tournament. It was awesome. We advanced in our bracket and dominated the other Division III schools, including Rice and TCU who went to Nationals last year. We have the best team we’ve ever had this Spring, so this is gonna be a fun semester.
One thing I love is that we pray to Mary before and after every game. If we win the game, we pray “Our Lady of Victory – pray for us” and “Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for them” – them meaning the other team.
I can’t really play all that much because I don’t have the physical stamina or lung capacity, but this is just another little suffering that I can offer to God.
In ultimate frisbee lingo, a “sick bid” is when someone running full speed dives and goes all out for the frisbee. I may not be able to do those kinds of “sick bids” but I can do my own “sick bid” by offering my sickness to God for the team’s success and cheering as loudly as I can with the lung power that I do have.

Small things

Most people don’t know this but Mother Teresa started an apostolate for people who wanted to join the Missionaries of Charity but were too sick or disabled to join. It’s called the Sick and Suffering Co-worker apostolate, and currently there are about 5,000 people in it.

The following is taken from a Word Among Us article entitled, “Mother Teresa’s Spiritual Powerhouse”:

“In 1952, Jacqueline de Decker received a letter from Mother Teresa.  It contained a request that changed her life.  Would she offer all her suffering to God for Mother and the work among the poor?  And would she find others to do the same?

Why not become spiritually bound to our society which you love so dearly?  While we work in the slums, you share in the merit, the prayers, and the work, with your suffering and prayers.  The work here is tremendous and needs workers, it is true, but I also need souls like yours to pray and suffer.

Mother Teresa’s words brought Jacqueline the realization that God had not rejected her.  On the contrary, He was granting her a special role: to offer joyfully her suffering and pain in intercession for Mother Teresa.  And so began the Link for Sick and Suffering Co-Workers. As the first missionaries started to join the solitary nun in the slums, Jacqueline sought among her fellow patients for those prepared to pray for an adopted sister (or, in time, brother), to write them once or twice a year, and above all to accept from the heart the mystery of suffering offered in faith and love for the work of a virtual stranger in a far distant land.  As Mother Teresa wrote: “When the work is very hard, I think of each one of you, and tell God: ‘Look at my suffering children and for their love bless this work,’ and it works immediately. So you see you are our treasure house, the power house of the Missionaries of Charity.”

By 1980, Jacqueline had undergone thirty-four operations for her illness, which was never given an official medi­cal label. She called it the GGD, or “God-Given Disease”—her recogni­tion that emptiness, “failure,” and weakness were the means by which God used her. Also by 1980, some three thousand Sick and Suffering Co-Workers in many countries had accepted the challenge of forming a kind of “spiritual powerhouse” for their more overtly active sisters and brothers.”

I went to the Missionaries of Charity house in Dallas yesterday, and became one of these Sick and Suffering Co-Workers. I don’t know who I will be linked with yet, but I have the feeling already that it will be a huge blessing. Thank God for Mother Teresa, and thank God for this wonderful apostolate!

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” —Mother

Progeny and percentages

Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, said this in one of her books Woman and the New Race, ch. 6: “The Wickedness of Creating Large Families”:

[We should] apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.

First of all, she sounds like a robot with no emotions whatsoever. Second of all, most Planned Parenthood advocates have no idea that this is what they are supporting—a modern day Holocaust.

Regrettably, this casual attitude towards eugenic abortions is widespread in America as Sanger would have wished. I read this in a facebook comment the other day and it sums up this attitude: “We were not sure about having another child, also because of the moral dilemma. Will you have a test? What if the foetus has CF? What will you tell the sibling with CF? Little sister is 13 now, no CF, only tested her for CF after she was born. Others thought I was crazy for not testing before. I could not stand the idea of having to tell my CFer that her sibling was aborted because he/she had CF. Luckily everyone of us is free to act according to their own conscience.”

That last line is chilling. The mother who wrote this comment made it clear that, according to her conscience, she would have aborted her healthy 13 year old if the pre-natal testing came back positive for CF, because she did not want to have 2 children with it.

To find whatever the opposite of this eugenics is, look no further than the Pruit clan. In our family of 7 kids, there are 3 with CF and 1 with Down’s Syndrome. Margaret Sanger would despise our family, and unfortunately, many Americans would, too, as this article shows.

Prenatal Diagnosis and Reproductive Justice | Americans United for Life | AUL.org: “In California, Kaiser Permanente offers prenatal testing for couples who carry cystic fibrosis mutations.  From 2006 to 2008, of the 87 pregnant women who underwent testing, 23 were found to be carrying a child with cystic fibrosis.  Of the 17 children projected to have the severest type, only one was not aborted.  Of the six diagnosed with less severe cases, four were aborted…In the United States, the percentage of Down’s Syndrome babies carried to term is in the single digits.”

If Margaret Sanger had it her way, all 4 of us on the right would be exterminated because of our “objectionable traits”. That is 57% of the Pruit progeny, gone. If you support abortion and a “woman’s right to choose”, this is what you are advocating.

Pruit family without 4

A recent article that exemplifies this utter contempt for “tainted progeny” can be found here: Our impossible parenting choice – Salon.com … It makes me want to vomit.

A great response to the article above can be found here: Open Letter to Mom Who Killed Her Unborn Baby Because She Had Cystic Fibrosis | LifeNews.com

Being pro-life means respecting the sacred human dignity of all persons from their conception to their natural death. Whether their genetic code is suitable should not determine if they get to live or not.

Speaking for the entire Pruit family, I say:

In your face, Margaret!