Faith in suffering

Question: Before driving, I usually say a prayer for safety. Recently, I had a minor but expensive accident. Should I be angry at God?

Hugh Sweeney, Stoneham, Massachusetts

Answer: Prayers for protection and safety are good and recommendable, but they are no guarantee that we will evade all harms or travail. It is part of God’s will for all of us that we share in the cross, because some degree of suffering is healing for us. The remedy of the cross is the “strong medicine” that teaches humility.

Note, however, God does not allow suffering except that some greater good might come from it. St. Paul says that suffering produces glory (2 Cor 4:17). St. Peter says that suffering purifies our faith and makes it genuine (1 Pt 1:6-7). St. James says that suffering produces perseverance (James 1:3).

I am sorry for your accident, but God can and will bring good out of it. Scripture assures: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). Notice the text says “all things” — not just the good things — work together for good if we trust God. So, even this can be a gift in a strange package. If we are faithful, all is gift.

Russia’s consecration

Question: Your recent answer regarding Our Lady of Fatima omits the most important part of the message: consecrating Russia to her Immaculate Heart to obtain peace in the world. Please write about this message and why the Church has not done the consecration for more than 98 years.

Elizabeth Towie, via email

Answer: It is true Our Lady asked to have Russia consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. This was in fact done by Pope St. John Paul II in 1984. On Nov. 8, 1989, Sister Lucia sent a letter to Pope John Paul II in which she confirmed that his consecration of March 25, 1984, was done as Our Lady requested.

Strangely there remains in the Church a small but very vocal contingent who insist that the consecration was lacking in some way. Never mind that Sister Lucia herself said it was done, they resort to unfounded accusations that she was forced to write and sign the letter. She herself refuted those claims as well. It seems nothing will convince this group that the consecration was done.

Another related question is, “Has Russia been converted?” We should begin by noting that being converted does not mean being sin-free. And for a nation to be converted does not mean every citizen is perfect, a worshipper of Christ, and its leaders always make godly decisions.

That said, it is arguable that Russia has been converted. The Christian faith is openly practiced there. The largest statue of Christ in the world is currently under construction, and Russia currently is resisting many trends of Western decadence, including secularization and the approval of homosexual acts, widespread access to pornography and same-sex “marriage.” Compare this to other Western nations, including the United States. It is not likely we could construct the largest statue of Christ in the world here today, and every form of decadence is on open display.

You are free to decide if Russia is converted or not. But it seems quite unreasonable to say that the requested consecration has not been done.

Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., blog at blog.adw.org. Send questions to Pastoral Answers, Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or to msgrpope@osv.com. Letters must be signed, but anonymity may be requested.