Christian Suffering and the Mystical Body of Christ
While Christianity offers a unique view on the redemptive qualities of suffering, Catholicism’s theology
expands it to even a more social level. Catholicism’s ideals of suffering extends to the individuals ability to unite his suffering with Christ in a redemptive fashion. It is important to note that as isolated offerings these sufferings can mean nothing without the sacrifice of Christ and in correlation with it. However, while these sufferings can help one gain merit in the next life, they can also be applied to other souls in need of grace. This is the social nature of Christian suffering in Catholicism.
Of course, Protestantism, under Martin Luther denied the existence of Purgatory. First, this stemmed from the abuses of the Catholic Church in selling indulgences. The Catholic Church at that time faced corruption at all levels. Through this, the horrible practice of Simony took place where religious favors were sold. Martin Luther, justly, condemned this action, but also questioned the very existence of Purgatory itself. He felt there was no middle ground after death but only Heaven or Hell. This led to a theological debate that went well beyond the offense of Simony but to a whole theological revolution of idealology that would separate Catholics and Protestants.
Despite these theological divisions, Christian Counselors, of all Christian denominations, should point out the redemptive nature of suffering in one’s trials and tribulations. Belief in Purgatory is not a pre-requisite for that nor should be. One should offer their crosses to Christ for their own salvation and tie their suffering and
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By Mark Moran, MA