88 – Why do children suffer? Only when our hearts can ask this question and weep, can we begin to understand. There are no answers. Do not be afraid to challenge God: ‘Why?’

Antonietta Meo was born in Rome, in the year 1930, the fourth daughter of upright and believing parents. At home she learned the first truths of the faith, while the Catholic atmosphere of Rome at the time also contributed favorably toward her religious formation.

When four years old, due to an inflammation in the knee that didn’t appear worrisome at first, the doctors discovered that she was the victim of a terrible illness: osteosarcoma. The torments that she underwent from that time on would make even the bravest of men shudder: painful and practically useless treatments, including the amputation of her left leg, followed by the steady advance of the disease, which even affected her lungs. The doctors were amazed to see how such a small person could endure such great sufferings.

But the most impressive aspect of the situation was, without a doubt, Antonietta’s attitude toward her ordeal. For, the more she learned of the sufferings of the life of Jesus, the more she identified her own state with that of Christ, discovering in the Passion a true motive for her pain: ‘Dear Crucified Jesus, I really wish You well and I love You so much. I want to be on Calvary with You and I suffer with joy because I know how to be on Calvary. Dear Jesus. Thanks that You have sent me this illness because it’s a way to arrive in Paradise. Dear Jesus, tell God the Father that I love Him so much, Him too. Dear Jesus, I want to be Your lamp and Your Lily dear Jesus, dear Jesus give me the strength necessary to stand the pains that I offer for sinners…’ (Letter no. 162, May 2, 1937)

Antonietta died when she was seven years old, and today her body lies in her parish church, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. There are many people who hopefully await the recognition of her heroic virtues and elevation to the altar.

In the same city of the Popes, a scene that took place last May reminds us of the example of ‘Nennolina’: the Pope received children affected by grave illnesses accompanied by their parents. These children, whose bodies suffer infirmity, enjoy in their souls the fruits of baptism and the blessings of the Church. They awaited a word of encouragement, hoping that the Pope, as the Father of the Church and especially attentive to all in need, would enlighten them on the significance of their atrocious sufferings.

However, expounding once again on his strange outlook on of the topic of suffering already mentioned in his Apostolic Journey to the Philippines, Francis once again stated that this is a situation that has no explanation, and that the only solution for the children and their parents is to weep.

To top off these perplexing statements, Francis applied an entirely rationalistic sense to the reactions of the Sorrowful Mother and her Divine Son. According to Francis, the Blessed Virgin didn’t comprehend what was happening at Calvary, and her Son didn’t have a clear idea of our troubles until the moment that he wept.

We are at a loss for words …for if the teachings of the Church explain this question, would any other explanation be expected from the Vicar of Christ?



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Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter in the various parts of our study

I – Both innocent people and sinners are subject to suffering. Why?
II – The role of suffering in the sanctification of humans
III – The Virgin Mary offered her Son as a victim of expiation for the sins of humanity
IV – As true God and true Man, Jesus had full knowledge of his Redeeming mission

I – Both innocent people and sinners are subject to suffering. Why?

Benedict XVI

Christ, innocent, took upon himself the wounds of injured humanity - Only a God who loves us to the extent of taking upon himself our pain is worthy of faith

John Paul II

All of those who suffer, especially the innocent, may feel themselves called to participate in the work of redemption, carried out through the cross
The suffering of the innocent is especially valuable in the eyes of the Lord
Even when the darkness is deepest, faith points to a trusting acknowledgment: ‘I know that you can do all things’

Benedict XVI

Why does the suffering of innocents exist? In the mysterious designs of Providence, God draws a greater good even from evil
Through the wounds of Christ, we are able to see the evils that afflict humanity with eyes of hope

Sacred Scripture

Is it not logical that we accept suffering?
Taking up the cross is the obligation of whoever follows Jesus
The sufferings of Christ are a cause of rejoicing
The future glory surpasses all suffering

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Death and all consequent bodily defects are punishments of original sin

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Original sin subjected all human nature to suffering
Sufferings: a means of cooperating with God
Means of purification and of salvation
From the greatest of all moral evils, God has brought forth the greatest of all goods

Catechism of the Catholic Church

A new meaning for suffering - participation in the saving work of Jesus
Makes a person more mature, helping to discern what is not essential

Saint John Chrysostom

The remedy against pride; the power of God in weak men

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Sorrow or pain cannot be the greatest evil

John Paul II

The wound can become a fountain of life
Suffering conceals a particular power that draws person interiorly to Christ
Suffering clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls

Benedict XVI

We can try to limit suffering but we cannot eliminate it
What heals us is not fleeing from suffering, but our capacity for accepting it

Sacred Scripture

In my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ

John Paul II

The cross of Christ gives meaning to human suffering
The individual’s personal response to God
The Redemption, accomplished through satisfactory love, remains always open to all love expressed in human suffering

II – The role of suffering in the sanctification of humans

Catechism of the Catholic Church

There is no holiness without the Cross

Saint Thomas Aquinas

There is no virtue that did not have its example on the Cross

Saint Augustine of Hippo

He who wills not to suffer has not yet begun to be a Christian

Saint Alphonsus Liguori

He that humbles himself under tribulations is wheat for paradise; he that grows enraged is chaff for hell
Let us go out to the battle with great courage, looking at Jesus crucified

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Tribulation for the love of Christ precedes glory together with him

Saint Teresa of Jesus

It is absurd to suppose that God favors with his friendship those who are strangers to suffering

Saint John of the Cross

If we knew how beneficial suffering is, we would not wish for comfort

Saint Francis de Sales

God is as worthy of our love when he afflicts us as when he consoles us
How happy are the souls that drink of the chalice of suffering with Our Lord!
Path that leads us directly to God

Saint Therese of Lisieux

Holiness consists in suffering everything
In order to become a Saint one must suffer much

Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Lord, what else can I ask but sufferings and contempt?
It is entirely just that we suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ
The saints accepted as treasures infirmities, persecutions, the loss of property, and the most painful and desolate deaths

III – The Virgin Mary offered her Son as a victim of expiation for the sins of humanity

John Paul II

In accepting the words of the Angel Gabriel, Mary began her participation in the drama of Redemption
Perfect model of all of those who accept to associate themselves without reserve to the redemptive offering

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

Mary freely cooperated in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience
Lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim, her only begotten Son

John Paul II

Mary’s consent to Jesus’ immolation is a genuine act of love
Direct participation in the work of Redemption
Model of unfailing constancy and extraordinary courage in facing suffering
The first who knew and wished to participate in the salvific mystery
An intrepid presence at the Cross
In contrast with the faith of the disciples, who fled, Mary’s was far more enlightened
She who was linked to the Son of God by bonds of maternal love, at the foot of the Cross, experienced this union in suffering

Benedict XVI

Mary’s self-restraint prevents us from plumbing the depths of her grief

Saint Bede

Mary had full certainty of the Resurrection

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

The Virgin Most Holy is a true martyr

IV – As true God and true Man, Jesus had full knowledge of his Redeeming mission

Gregory I, the Great

Jesus, the Wisdom of God, did not ignore anything

Pius X

Papal condemnation for the errors of modernism regarding Christ’s knowledge
According to agnosticism, there are two Christs: one real; the other, who never was in fact, but pertains to faith

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The temptation to diminish the Son of God to our size

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The fullness of all grace and knowledge

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Word incarnate enjoyed the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans
Jesus is inseparably true God and true man

The Formula called the ‘Faith of Damasus’

Christ operates as God; and dies as a man

Leo the Great

The Son of God became man without withdrawing from the glory of the Father

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The confession of the divinity of Jesus Christ is an absolutely essential part of the faith

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus willed humanly all that had decided divinely

John Paul II

Christ’s loving acceptance of the Cross
Jesus went toward death voluntarily
Continuous offering for the salvation of humanity
Jesus offered himself freely in the Passion

CELAM – Document of Puebla

Jesus freely surrendered himself to death on the Cross, the goal of his life’s journey

The Lateran Synod

If anyone does not confess that God the Word voluntarily suffered, let him be condemned

International Theological Commission

The Cross is a liturgy of obedience

Saint Francis de Sales

The will of the Father and of Christ was to redeem us by the cross

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Whoever omits the cross, omits the essence of Christianity
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2 thoughts on “88 – Why do children suffer? Only when our hearts can ask this question and weep, can we begin to understand. There are no answers. Do not be afraid to challenge God: ‘Why?’

  1. I am reading the diary of Sister Faustina (who has been declared a saint). She suffered a lot, and Jesus made it clear to her that she was atoning for sin and that by her suffering she was saving many souls.

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