Nashville Dominican sister shares the transforming power of suffering


Photo by Sabrina Ariss

We must return to a “foundational understanding of human dignity and suffering,” said Sister Mary Madeline Todd, OP on the second night of her talk series on Saturday night in the International Lounge.

The series was focused on Christ’s love and suffering, with both nights beginning at 7 p.m.

Physical and moral suffering, Todd said, exists purely and principally to aid in our spiritual maturation. While this is the mystery of the purpose behind suffering, we cannot forget that with this, we learn of God’s redemptive love.

Suffering, in a secular way, is seen as something to avoid and to hate; however, in Christian suffering, Christ Himself enters into our suffering and “touches our wounds with His own,” so that we may be healed and come out stronger, said Todd.

Todd reaffirmed her audience that “if we hide our suffering, we close ourselves off to Christ, but if we let Him touch our wounds, we can be transformed.”

“If we love even in the midst of pain, we will come to life,” Todd said.

Todd stressed that in order to address larger key issues, such as abortion, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, an understanding of human dignity is essential.

Todd centered her words around St. Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Salvifici Doloris,” which discusses the true meaning behind Christian human suffering and compassion. The saint’s words came to life as she said that “if you lose a sense of suffering, you will forget what true compassion is.” The word “compassion,” as Todd explained, is defined literally as “to suffer with.”

Todd’s words resonated with junior Angela Penza, who said that in her own life, she has seen that “there is something beautiful in our lacking, and that in our suffering, we are being sanctified.”

“My suffering played a part in Jesus’ death on the cross,” said freshman Madeline Helfers. “… in that, I can unite myself to Him.”