Restoring Spiritual Sight in Suffering


Restoring Spiritual Sight in Suffering
By Br. Luke Neitzke, O.P.

For Dominican hospital chaplains, the most joyful visits are to patients who call out to us from their beds as we walk through the halls in our habits. During my healthcare ministry training, one of my most memorable visits was just like this.

A nurse asked me to step into a patient’s room because of the suffering that she was going through. As I approached, I could hear the patient moaning in pain and asking for help. When I entered the room and began speaking to her, she started to focus more on the suffering that she was experiencing in her soul and less on the bodily pain.

I gently explained that as Christ hung upon the cross, the suffering that he experienced in his soul—which arose from seeing his closest friends abandon him and the knowledge that we would continue to sin despite his sacrifice—was also greater than the pain of being nailed to the cross.

On the Lord’s final journey to Jerusalem, he took a detour to Jericho to visit one blind man. When Christ asked him what he wanted, the man simply responded that he wanted to see. The patient to whom I was speaking was also seeking sight in the spiritual sense: she sought the reason why she was suffering.

While we cannot know why we must endure each particular suffering, we can know that every trial we face is meant to bring us closer and closer to Christ. The blind man followed Christ to Jerusalem after being healed. If he was never sick, he would not have needed healing and may have never become a follower of Christ.

It was the same for the patient that I was talking to. If she had not been in the hospital, she may have never asked to see a friar. She may have never received the healing of the soul that one receives through the sacraments and that is so much greater than the healing of the body.

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