Sunday, March 13, 2005

A 'Million' to John

From A Saintly Salmagundi comes word of a brilliant piece by Fraser Nelson in The Scotsman that contrasts Pope John Paul II's handling of his own suffering with the way that suffering is handled in "Million Dollar Baby." Read it all the way through—it's a great way to get into a Sunday frame of mind.

One passage that struck me:

Suffering has a peculiar importance in the Catholic Church. Its symbol, the Crucifix, shows the body of Christ nailed to the Cross. Many Protestant churches consider this unduly gory and have the Cross on its own as their symbol.

Suffering is regarded as the link between human experience and that of Christ. He was unable to overcome by the earthly powers, but won a greater victory. The Crucifix - the body on the Cross - speaks of spiritual triumph, through worldly defeat.
When I went through my recent trials, I was deeply moved by the support and empathy that I received from people from various faiths, and some of no faith. At the same time, I did notice a certain difference in tone from the Catholics who reached out to me. It's not that they cared more than others—that wouldn't be true—but that they had a particular sensitivity to the fact that I was attacked and suffered defeat in what they considered a spiritual battle. I was touched and surprised to learn what a deep understanding they had of what it's like to be beaten down for one's principles and have to pick oneself up again, over and over. There is something to be said for a church that does not change its central beliefs over time.