Suffering (Sharing in Others Suffering)

November 22, 2019

“The word “empathy” is often defined as placing ourselves in the shoes of another. Empathy makes us more compassionate toward other people. It is interesting that the etymology of “empathy” comes from two Greek words, “em” and “pathos.” “Em” means “in.” “Pathos” can be translated “feeling.” It can also be translated as “passion,” meaning the things we struggle with, and “suffering.” We call the sufferings of Christ His “Passion,” which comes from the same word. So, the word “empathy” can correctly be translated as “sharing in sufferings.” (Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis)

 

“The consumer world does not suffer well. It has substituted an ethic of false compassion, defined as the relief of pain (not the “sharing of suffering,” its original meaning). Consumerist compassion is stymied when confronted with suffering. That which cannot be relieved must be eliminated. We anesthesize, abort, and euthanize, all in the name of compassion. We do not withstand and endure. Consumption is turned towards the self. Within the self alone, suffering can have no meaning. In the name of compassion, we kill, thinking that death ends suffering. It is an act of despair.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

 

 “God has created us in such a manner that we all influence one another. When a neighbor or friend feels compassion for our suffering, we immediately feel comforted and stronger “God created us to be in mutually dependent  and compassionate relationships with one another where we share in each other’s sufferings, yet we spend so much time opposing and mistreating each other.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Sacramental Living Ministries)

 

“Sharing another’s suffering is one of the most intimate things we can do. It is easy to be with another in their joy. It is a much harder task to be with someone as they cry out in pain or misery or suffer in silence as their spirit is ripped to shreds and they feel that the light will never come out again. So often, when we see someone else in pain, we want to fix things. We want to make the pain go away. Sometimes, we can. Other times, we have nothing to offer but our presence. It is important to realize how much a gift that can be.” (Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur)

 

“We cannot eliminate suffering in this life; there are times when we can partially alleviate another’s suffering, but our proper response to suffering is to simply be with, be for, the suffering person. The answer to suffering is always an experience of grace and unconditional acceptance. The answer to suffering is love.” (Kathryn Mulderink)

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