2/15/2012 2:02:00 PM Retreat offers a Lenten understanding of suffering
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Blessed Francis Libermann transformed anxiety into profound kindness.
ST. BENEDICT — Jesus suffered for us. That's a traditional focus of Lent.
We can suffer with Jesus for other people. That's the focus of a Lenten day of reflection for senior citizens set for Tuesday, March 6, at Mount Angel Abbey Retreat House.
Benedictine Brother Cyril Drnjevic, who will lead the retreat, has the sense a lot of people are out there suffering on their own. They have an opportunity to transform their pain into life-building lessons for others.
Participants will learn about some saints who suffered with Jesus, becoming models of hope for those who want to enter deeply into the Season of Lent.
Benedictine Brother Cyril Drnjevic of Mount Angel Abbey will present the conferences, drawing stories from the book: The Kiss from the Cross: Saints for Every Kind of Suffering, by Ronda De Sola Chervin, a professor of philosophy at St. John’s Seminary, in Camarillo, Calif. The reflections emphasize types of suffering common to Catholic elders today.
For suffering involving loneliness and loss, several saints provide models. Some lived far from their families, others lost loved ones, even children.
"Each of the saints replaced their loneliness and loss with a greater sense of the presence of God and his love for them," Brother Cyril says.
For suffering involving fear and anxiety, Blessed Francis Libermann (1802-1852) provides a model. The loss of his mother in his childhood and rejection by his father in his adulthood led him to a profound kindness, which helped him avoid fear and anxiety.
St. Lydwine (1380-1433) suffered physical pain and fatigue. Her suffering was immense; the love that helped her to accept her suffering was guided by God.
For suffering involving interior trials (ranging from boredom to despair) St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) provides a model. St. Catherine addressed her interior trials through a devotion to prayer, fasting and service to the poor — the traditional practices of Lent.
The day will end on a note of hope in Jesus and Easter.
"We need to have enough courage to look at challenging issues and do it with Jesus," says Brother Cyril, who gives retreats on the topic nationwide. "If we do it alone, it crushes us."
Brother Cyril recalls the gospel story of Jesus returning after the resurrection to visit the disciples, even Thomas, who had trouble believing Jesus was among them.
"When Jesus came back and Thomas doubted, Jesus didn't transfigure on him and show him his glory," Brother Cyril says. "He showed his wounds. That just floors me. Jesus' credibility to a doubter was his wounds. That's our credibility to people who suffer as well."
For more information, contact the Mount Angel Abbey Retreat House at 503-845-3025 or send an e-mail to: [email protected] The Retreat House website also has information at www.mountangelabbey.org/retreat-house/scheduling.html.