"Remember you are dust,
and into dust you shall return."
(Ash Wednesday Liturgy
)

Every human being born into this world experiences the pain of dying. A number of questions arise in the human mind. Why must I die? When will I die? Where will I die? How will I die? Will my death be painful? Will I die alone? Is there life after death? This causes man a degree of suffering throughout his or her life because these thoughts are always in back of his or her mind.

 

That we were meant to live forever is evident in the fact that everyone seeks to live as long as possible. Some blame God for this state of affairs thus: "If God is so good, He would wish to make his creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty, He would be able to do what he wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore, God lacks ether goodness, or power, or both." (C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, Harper, San Francisco, 1940, p. 16)

Man was created with an infinite desire for happiness which no temporal creature can give him. True happiness consists in our union with God, but man's rebellion against God, made this impossible. Without suffering and death this rebellion against God would have continued forever thus excluding the human race from the happiness of God's vision. This world would have become an eternal hell. Also, death bring to an end the evil man intends. Had Hitler not died, he would have continued his holocaust of the Jews.

Man had rebelled against the infinite God and as a limited creature was unable to be reconciled to God. Since man was incapable of reconciliation with God, God brought this about through the suffering of his Son in his human nature. Christ suffered his imminent death in the Garden of Gethsemani. He prayed to his Father saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt 26:39) Christ human will had to abandon itself to the divine will, so must we.

The explanation above may be unsatisfactory to those who think that they would be happy to live in this world forever, but "All wisdom comes from the LORD and with him remains forever." (Sr 1:1) As a teenager I saw the film"Teahouse of the August Moon" in which this refrain was often repeated, "Pain makes you think, thought makes you wise, wisdom makes life endurable". St. Paul gives the Christian words of consolation, "And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1Cor 15:54-55)

7. Pain of Purgatory