40. I would like to add here another brief comment with some relevance for everyday living. There used to be a form of devotion—perhaps less practised today but quite widespread not long ago—that included the idea of “offering up” the minor daily hardships that continually strike at us like irritating “jabs”, thereby giving them a meaning. Of course, there were some exaggerations and perhaps unhealthy applications of this devotion, but we need to ask ourselves whether there may not after all have been something essential and helpful contained within it. What does it mean to offer something up? Those who did so were convinced that they could insert these little annoyances into Christ's great “com-passion” so that they somehow became part of the treasury of compassion so greatly needed by the human race. In this way, even the small inconveniences of daily life could acquire meaning and contribute to the economy of good and of human love. Maybe we should consider whether it might be judicious to revive this practice ourselves.--Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi
I’ve been meaning to post on this since last weekend when I had my first, uninterrupted reading of the complete text of Spe Salvi. I have long heard and used the term “offer it up”. It is sort of Catholic-speak for “Suck it up!” But truly this is so much more than admonishment to quit whining. This is an invitation to actively and personally participate in the salvation of souls. Christ took on the sin and suffering of all of mankind in every age in order to redeem us and allow us to spend eternity with God in Heaven. He invites us to take up our own crosses and follow him. Some of our crosses are quite large: serious illnesses, tragedies, disasters. Some of our crosses are miniscule in comparison: an unkind word, a traffic jam, a delayed airplane, a computer glitch. Yet we can join both our sufferings and our annoyances with Christ’s sacrifice. Rather than lamenting our trials we can “offer them up”. They become an asset to Salvation History rather than a stumbling block to holiness.
The hard part for me is to graciously accept the trials in silence. I want everyone to know that idiot in the blue BMW cut me off on the Beltway. I want everyone to know the injustice I suffered while waiting in line at the post office. Now part of being a writer and being a blogger in particular is sharing life’s difficulties and dilemmas. I hope that when I criticize it is because I am seeking to educate and foster an improvement. If nothing good will come of my complaint, it is time to stay quiet and “offer it up”.