Catholic author and speaker discusses meaning of suffering


A Catholic author and speaker addressed the topic of suffering and explained how it can join people to God’s mission of salvation in a presentation Oct. 6 in Christ the King Chapel.

In his lecture “When You Suffer: Biblical Keys for Hope and Understanding,” Jeff Cavins, director of evangelization for the Diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, spoke about the bigger picture in which suffering allows mankind to take part. He also discussed the everyday occurrence of suffering, big or small, and how one can deal with it.

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Jeff Cavins (class of ’99) addresses student on the subject of suffering in Christ the King Chapel on October 6th. (Photo by Sam Tillman)

Cavins said, “We have this idea of an ideal life and ideal day. Then we wake up. … Those who share in the suffering of Christ preserve in their own suffering a particle that allows us to participate in God’s mission.”

Suffering is a side effect of deviance from this ideal. God, Cavins said, has the better plan and allows people to take part in suffering as a privilege.

Cavins told the audience that suffering helps one to know the love of God who suffered and died for mankind. When people better understand God’s love, they can offer their suffering for others and even embrace suffering to help those they love. He stressed that the relationship between Christ and the church is so intimate that the mission does not stop with Christ’s death and resurrection; it carries on in people’s bodies.

He described suffering as a vocation, saying that mankind fears death because he does not practice for it. He said suffering is a way to die to self, discipline the flesh and live even more richly in Christ.

How appropriate, Cavins said, that the lecture followed closely after the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. He said people can use suffering to transform their lives and for the salvation of souls.

Cavins told the audience to either offer up suffering or to waste it, to suffer meaninglessly or to be more like Christ in a way that teaches people to love him.

If one does not attach meaning to suffering, it turns to despair, but if one does, he said, it is a powerful thing.

Despite the heavy topic, Cavins retained his sense of humor throughout the lecture, eliciting a wave of laughter from the audience when he referenced Shia Labeouf’s “Just Do It” speech to emphasize the importance of offering up suffering.

Freshman Chris Thorpe praised Cavins’ demeanor, saying “It wasn’t purely theological. He spoke on a personal level about how we can be like Christ.”


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