Hope everyone is having a great Advent. I missed Gaudete Sunday because I needed a mental health day. This is something I may need to tackle here. But that's for another day. In the meantime, I guess I just have to go to confession.
There are a few really cool things about being Catholic. Fish fries on Fridays, sparkly rosaries, an entire Heaven full of Saints to attend to our problems, a whole host of Marian apparitions to call on and be devoted to... but one of the very best things about being Catholic, I think, is a little thing we like to call redemptive suffering. As Catholics we like suffering, because it allows us to be closer to Jesus. Jesus suffered for our sins, but we still sin, so we still suffer. But the suffering ultimately is something good because it can shorten the penalty for our sins or the sins of others when we offer it up. Suffering also shows that we can accept God's will (think of Mary seeing her son tortured and mocked and killed-- she had to accept God's will even though it probably really sucked for her most of the time). In any event, I like redemptive suffering. Because I am one of those people who suffers. A lot. For instance, when I was going to the Other Catholic Church, every time they did some annoying, contemporary guitar mass crap (clapping during the Alleluia for example), I could offer it up! Obnoxious drivers? Offer it up! Inevitable minor injuries (paper-cuts, hitting my shins on my desk at work)? Offer it up! In fact, when you are as critical and snarky as I am, you find a LOT of ways to spring souls from Purgatory. Heck, just going to an awful movie about teenage vampires is an exercise in redemptive suffering. I know I am being glib, but I really do like that Catholicism gives us a reason to reflect on our sufferings and try to use them for something good, rather than just complaining or trying to fix everything all the time. That's not to say that we should be passive, but there is some peace in being able to accept that you are going to suffer sometimes and that there is a reason for it, and good can come from it and it will most likely pass. I've even heard it said that people who have very chronic physical or mental illnesses do all their suffering on Earth and will be able to go straight to Heaven. Most of the Saints suffered in some way, some of them like Mother Teresa suffering a horrible Dark Night of the Soul , but still doing what she believed was God's will for her. That is noble, and that is really beautiful.
It's hard for me sometimes to not have doubts. Especially when I spent the vast majority of my spiritual life doubting and searching for truth. But I have to remember that this, too, is suffering. And there is no need for me to cause myself suffering by being overly scrupulous or having too high of expectations. Not when there are a couple more horrible teenage vampire movies yet to see.