Tag Archives: hardship

22nd Sunday of the Year: Facing the pain of suffering

Station - Jesus in Crucified

Study:  Recall a moment when you encountered personal suffering.  What gave you strength to continue?

Pray:  Many people are suffering right now in our world.  Pray for those in need and join your heart with them to God.

Serve:  Where is the suffering face of Christ in your life right now?  How can you help another who is in need?

22nd Sunday of the Year Readings

Some of the toughest questions I routinely encounter as a priest occur during sickness or untimely death. In the midst of great suffering and pain, a loved one comes up to me and asks, “Father, why did this have to happen? Why do they have to suffer? Why doesn’t God take the pain away?”

In the anguish of the moment no answer is adequate; the pain hurts too much, and seeing another suffering is often too hard to describe with words. Our hearts feel more than we can say, and the emotions overflow the limits of our soul.

We encounter suffering in many ways: at the graves of loved ones; in hospital and nursing home rooms; at the bedsides and wheel chairs of homebound; through news stories of tragedy; and in quiet moments all alone. Many of us are familiar with the grief and pain of suffering, and we are quick to recognize its presence in those around us.

In the Old Testament and Gospel readings today we encounter suffering. Both Jeremiah and Jesus raise two crucial points:
1. The pain is real.
2. The suffering is part of their witness.

First, neither Jeremiah nor Jesus deny that suffering is part of their lives. They do not hide from it, repress it, pretend it is not there, or run away out of fear. Their suffering is real; they acknowledge the truth of what they must face and confront it.

Second, the pain they face is part of their ministry. Simply put, they suffer because they have remained faithful to God. Jeremiah burns with the fire of a prophet; to remain silent would destroy him and deny God’s word. Jesus knows that only through his death and resurrection can he fulfill his Father’s will; to run away would deny God’s plan for salvation history.

From the example of Jeremiah and Jesus we discover that our suffering is part of a much larger picture. We know that suffering is an element of life, mixed with the joy and beauty we encounter daily. We know that it will come in difficult and sometimes unexpected ways.

Yet God is present in our suffering. Just as Jeremiah and Jesus knew that God was present with them, so too we can see that the Lord is near, giving us strength and hope. Thus suffering may be a way that we draw closer to God, mindful of our need.

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Catholic Inspiration Archives

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Note: This post was first published on August 26, 2014.


Daily Mass: Our task will not be easy, but God will give us strength! Catholic Inspiration

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The Lord speaks with great clarity that persecution and hardship will accompany us as disciples, even as we trust in the Lord for the grace and strength to overcome them.

Mass Readings – Friday of the 14th Week of the Year

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Catholic Inspiration Archives


Daily Mass: When the going gets tough, get going…with God! Catholic Inspiration

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In the Second Letter to Timothy we hear the call to remain steadfast in the face of persecution and hardship.

Mass Readings – Friday of the 9th Week of the Year

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Catholic Inspiration Archives


Daily Mass: God's grace gives us hope. Catholic Inspiration

The Scripture readings today all reference human hardship: suffering, battle and illness. Yet through it all we have hope as we see how God gives us the grace we need to overcome these challenges every time we turn to Christ.

Mass Readings – Monday of the 4th Week of Lent

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Catholic Inspiration Archives


5th Sunday of Easter: The cost of the commandment to love. Catholic Inspiration

We all know that Jesus commands us to love one another, but all too often we overlook the sacrifice it takes to follow the teaching and example of Jesus. All three readings today point out that there will be a cost…and we will pay it with our lives.

Mass Readings – 5th Sunday of Easter

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Catholic Inspiration Archives


4th Sunday of the Year: When the going gets tough…keep going!

when the going gets tough

Study:  Recall a time when you had to speak up in a difficult situation.  How did you face it?  What gave you strength to do it?

Pray:  Ask the Lord for the grace to respond to challenging circumstances with love.  Call upon the Holy Spirit for the gifts you need.

Serve:  How can you support someone who is faced with a tough task right now?  How can you help them?

Mass Readings – 4th Sunday of the Year

Let’s start with a quick recap of the readings this week:

  • 1st Reading: Jeremiah will be strengthened to preach a difficult message
  • Psalm: We proclaim God’s goodness, especially when life is tough
  • 2nd Reading: The Love of God shapes and directs our lives
  • Gospel: Jesus encounters opposition at Nazareth

The first reading, psalm, and Gospel all refer to moments that challenge us.  The prophets encountered it, the Psalmist sings about it, and the Lord himself met resistance and opposition to the message he proclaimed.  But note this: in spite of the difficulty they did it.

Sometimes saying what needs to be said is unpleasant and unwelcome.  We might want to avoid it or wish someone else could do it, but there are times in life when it’s up to us to deliver a tough message.  We know what needs to be said…and that it’s up to us to speak.

The key is how we say it.  How does our intention, our desire, and our tone convey a tough message?  The answer is found in the second reading: Love.  The love of Christ guides and directs every aspect of our lives – including those times when we are called to speak about a difficult topic.

This notion of “what” and “how” shows up repeatedly in the spiritual life:

  • What refers to the issue, content, and “facts” of a situation or circumstance
  • How refers to the manner in which it is conveyed – the way we do something

Our faith calls us to confront the reality of life, particularly when things are tough.  We need not fear engaging a difficult situation; rather, we draw on the love of Christ to guide us – both in what we say and how we say it – trusting that the Lord will provide us with the grace we need.

Let’s face it:  Life is tough!  But when the going gets tough, the tough get going…guided by God’s love.

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Catholic Inspiration Archives

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Note: This post was first published on January 26, 2016.


21st Sunday of the Year: Facing hard times with faith. Catholic Inspiration

The passage from John’s Gospel marks a low point in the active ministry of Jesus.  The people have seen healing miracles and the multiplication of the fishes and loaves, but when they hear the Lord’s teaching about the Eucharist they turn away.  It is in this rock-bottom moment that Peter reminds us that we face hard times with the power of our faith in Christ.

Mass Readings – 21st Sunday of the Year

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Catholic Inspiration Archives


Daily Mass: Facing the hardship of hate in the world. Catholic Inspiration

There is a cost to following the Lord: sometimes we must endure the hardship of hate in this world and contend with forces that would seek to destroy the goodness in our lives.  Yet we do not stand alone; Jesus Christ gives us the strength we need to face this hardship with the power of his grace.

Mass Readings – Saturday of the 5th Week of Easter

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts


5th Sunday of the Year: We focus on our faith in the midst of suffering. Catholic Inspiration

Suffering, for all its challenges and burdens, is a part of human life.  How do we face it?  How do we find the strength and wisdom to keep going?  When we bring our faith in Jesus Christ into the center of our lives we find the courage and conviction to continue on as the Lord guides us through this life to the life to come.

Mass Readings – Sunday of the 5th Week of the Year

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts


St. Peter & St. Paul Catholic Inspiration

Mass Readings – The Feast of St. Peter & St. Paul

These two great saints made an enormous impact in the Church, even as they encountered hard work and confronted their own weaknesses and sins.  May we look to their example and trust in the Lord for the grace we need to face the challenges of life.

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts