Revelations on Pain
by Maria Grizzetti
This one is for the torn ones. They are everyone.
The remedy for every tribulation is found in the cross.
–St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Hebrews 12.1.667
Caring ambulating humanity searches for pain obliteration. The sheer thought of pain, pains us. All we have to offer each other is unstable and at best insufficient. Human loves vacillate. Human sufferings undulate in intensity. The comforts of friendship are inconstant. Rare is a constant, un-stormed love.
Daring us forward to the threshold of subsistence, pain drains the human heart, as it conquers the depths of the soul.
Within these depths, the ravages of loss and gain play themselves out. Victory is not for the fearless, but the ones who though truly fearing, trust — unwavering.
We are confronted by the inevitability of suffering, and yet constantly strive to vanquish it. We are confronted with the finality of death, and unable to conquer it of our own strength, we diminish it’s drama.
Death is part of human experience. And, likewise, death shapes human nature. It’s stark reality counters the naturally imprinted urge to live. Were death the final note of each human life, life would be unbearable.
Pain is a part of human experience. Pain shapes human nature. However far or near pain comes to us, however known or unknown real pain is, pain excises the passions — the joys of life.
And in this way, it purifies the heart — tearing from it all that is not worth the agony; revealing what we are made of, what we will suffer for — yes, even die for.
The key to living this reality is to aim higher when the real and tragic temptation is to succumb in resignation. Trusting is no easy feat, but it is the only way. Trust takes pain to higher ground. Sometimes, it takes serious pain to sacred ground. There, pain helps us discover the Passion. And it brings us to our knees, begging to be spared all that is not All — begging for the One who is Life in darkness and dread.
For if life here were already beatitude, what would we live for?
It is useful to remember how many things we willingly pay for in this world. The prices are too innumerable to count: for shelter, and food and basic comforts; for pleasures and fleeting enjoyments; for what is overrated or underrated; for beauty and perceived allure; for things we crave or think helpful; for losses masked as benefits — fantastic thrills that deflate and finally fail to satisfy.
Could it not then be that pain is also a price we pay?
Could it not be that pain is the price we pay for joy?
The Passion: is it not the price for the ransom of souls impoverished in sin, trial and tribulation?
Is not the Cross the precious price of Life?
He, the Life of all, our Lord and Saviour, did not arrange the manner of his own death lest He should seem to be afraid of some other kind. No. He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those other His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognised as finally annulled. A marvellous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonour and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat.”
― Athanasius of Alexandria, On the Incarnation
And were this so, would not pain be revealed blessed? And the Passion, a gift?
Such is Christ, crucified.
For from the Cross He reveals the infinity of love — and from the apex of a wounded, consumed yet inextinguishable love, brings the apogee of human pain to the threshold of glory.
If this were not true, then God is not God.
And all else? A painful lie, shredding already torn lives from the last vestiges of hope.
… The remedy for every tribulation is found in the cross.
O Crux, Ave. Spes unica, spes nostra, salve.
You may reach Maria Grizzetti at IncarnationandModernity@gmail.com