The initial post about Fr. Robert Spitzer’s newest book, The Light Shines on in the Darkness, simply introduced it with endorsements from well-known contemporary spiritual writers. Let’s take a closer look at but a few of Father’s theological underpinnings which led him to write this compendium on suffering. In the book’s introduction, Father gets right to the truth that suffering is a gift:
Suffering is darkness, leading to light – if we let it…
In its initial moments it hurts, distresses, enervates, isolates, threatens and discourages – obscuring and even eclipsing the light of love, joy and peace that calls us to our true home…
There is no need to remain in the darkness, because we have been told by Jesus there is light – love, joy, peace and home – in every kind and instance of suffering, light that can transform us into a perfect reflection of God’s unconditionally loving nature. If we want to overcome the darkness – to transform it into even greater light than we experienced before the darkness – we will have to be able to see the light in the darkness, and then follow it. But this can be a challenge, because the darkness of suffering can be quite overwhelming – and when suffering is particularly acute, the darkness can seem all-encompassing…
To meet the challenge, Fr. Spitzer invites us to consider:
Jesus has made multiple promises to us – and every one of them is true…
Some of these promises are:
*Blessed are the sorrowing, for they shall be consoled. (Mt 5:4; Father’s translation)
*Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. (Mt. 11-28)
*I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (Jn 8:12)
*Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. (Jn 16:20)
Father advises us to take these promises to heart, for, says he:
“If we take Jesus’ promises to heart – if we believe that He will fulfill them now and in His Kingdom – then we will begin to see His light in the darkness… If we have faith in the promises of Jesus, the light will intensify through the darkness, and it will lead to the love and joy of Jesus Himself.”
Fr. Spitzer’s expressed goal in writing his book is
“… to point us to the light in the darkness – the light of Jesus, His Father and the Holy Spirit – so that we might more easily follow it.”
And, surely, in following it, by ever acknowledging God and asking for Holy Spirit’s help, we are illumined to take our next right steps, so that God may transform us to BE His Light of Hope for those around us.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Mt 5:14-16)
Friends, in these last years of becoming part of TNRS community, I have heard – we all have heard – from many who are suffering great trials, enduring the seemingly unendurable, yet, we know God never ever gives us more than we can handle. He is with us always and, immediately, enters with us into each struggle in which we suffer. Even so, He waits for us to ask Him for help. In all candor, I remain in the thick of current challenges. Not whining and not wasting a bit of it, but it is real and raw in these days for me, as it is for so many of you and for so many we encounter all around us.
Little did I know when I ordered Fr. Spitzer’s latest book that it would affirm and articulate so well what I intuitively perceive as I live what cannot be escaped and I have discovered it is not only a compendium on suffering but also a treasury of consolation.
Father enfleshes and deepens understanding of the concepts he presents via rich detail in his book. If your preferred intake style is hearing rather than reading, you would likely benefit from the You Tube recordings of his presentations, such as this discussion of the nine Christian foundations for “suffering well.”
In future posts, we’ll focus on Father’s wisdom thoughts related to the truth that fear is useless; what is needed is trust. I’ll also share his suggested spontaneous prayers which he says can become immediate conduits of grace. We’ll consider his practical techniques for mitigating fear and anxiety. Lastly, I think it would be of great value to share Father’s suggested practices which help us CHOOSE and ACCEPT consolation.
Charlie has often written, in his posts and comments, uplifting and encouraging all who are immersed in intense suffering. His piece, The Fiery Trial of Love, is worthy of reread if you find yourself bearing heavy burdens at this time.
And I believe there is a wealth of wisdom on “suffering well” which can be shared by those in this community of believers as not one of us is immune from trials and we embrace the Lord’s dictum:
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mt 16:24)
In my own times of difficulty, using a simple prayer which I learned from Fr. Spitzer long ago, I reach to God, telling Him I KNOW He is near and I KNOW He loves me, then I follow with a request that He would help me. Most often, this results in being washed in a Peace which I am not capable of producing on my own. In this I KNOW He hears me and He cares deeply, just as He said He would:
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Mt 7:11)
As the darkness deepens all around us, let us take heart in this truth expressed in Fr. Spitzer’s introduction:
There is no need to remain in the darkness, because we have been told by Jesus there is light – love, joy, peace and home – in every kind and instance of suffering, light that can transform us into a perfect reflection of God’s unconditionally loving nature… If we have faith in the promises of Jesus, the light will intensify through the darkness, and it will lead to the love and joy of Jesus Himself.”
May it be in each of our lives. We are blessed!