Today what people have in view is eliminating suffering from the world. For the individual, that means avoiding pain and suffering in whatever way. Yet we must also see that it is in this very way that the world becomes very hard and very cold. Pain is part of being human. Anyone who really wanted to get rid of suffering would have to get rid of love before anything else, because there can be no love without suffering, because it always demands an element of self-sacrifice, because, given temperamental differences and the drama of situations, it will always bring with it renunciation and pain.

When we know that the way of love – this exodus, this going out of oneself – is the true way by which man becomes human, then we also understand that suffering is the process through which we mature.

  • Anyone who has inwardly accepted suffering becomes more mature and more understanding of others, becomes more human.
  • Anyone who has consistently avoided suffering does not understand other people; he becomes hard and selfish.

Love itself is a passion, something we endure. In love we experience first a happiness, a general feeling of happiness. Yet at the same time, we are taken out of our comfortable tranquillity and have to let ourselves be reshaped.

If we say that suffering is the inner side of love, we then also understand

  • why it is so important to learn how to suffer–and
  • why the avoidance of suffering renders someone unfit to cope with life.

Pope Benedict XVI

 

An excerpt from God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald (Ignatius Press, 2002), by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, pages 332-36, 333.

This article can be found in Mirror 0815.