Suffering, Death, and Life

Father Cassilly concludes his story of love with a word about suffering. He writes: “No life is so unfortunate as to be without suffering of some kind, no day even is without some drops of this golden elixir. Christ Himself bade us take up our cross daily and follow Him.”

“What is the ordinary man or woman called to suffer? Sprinkled freely through our days, will be rebuffs, humiliations, toil, unrewarded effort, unsuccessful labors, desires unfulfilled, and perhaps poverty and ill health. At one time the result of long, untiring labor will be swept away; at another, our aims and ambitions will fall lamentably short of realization. Our work perhaps is unappreciated, unnoticed and disregarded, while others are preferred before us. We lack talent that we desire or need for our work, or we have no proper field in which to use the abilities we possess; or, given talent and opportunity for its use, our efforts are thwarted by the ill-will or indifference of those we would benefit. And with the most favorable of opportunities how little can the ordinary man compass in a lifetime! Old age draws on apace and seizes us in its talons, before perhaps we have fairly shaped our ideals.”

“And death, the foe of all, is soon seen beckoning to us from over the river and, when it calls, its demands are peremptory; we cannot bribe or coax it to bide awhile, until we complete our unfinished tasks. . . . The fear of death will not daunt the Christian soul. His faith teaches him it is but the entrance into life. . . . When he enters into the valley, and darkness begins to fall upon him, and the tawdry panorama of life is crumbling into pieces about him, he will hold fast by the hand faith and hope and charity, and sinking into a gentle sleep, with their arms about him, he will wake in the blessed land to find that faith has given place to vision, hope to fruition, while charity remains to bind him to God forever. And love, that was the beginning and the middle, is now become the end.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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