Some Of The Best Quotes From 'On The Christian Meaning Of Human Suffering'


The following are some of our favorite quotes from Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter, On The Christian Meaning Of Human Suffering (Salvifici Doloris), released in February 1984. You can read the full text here.

It can be said that man suffers whenever he experiences any kind of evil. (7) [This one actually didn't make sense to me at first. I thought God was asking me to suffer? But no, He asks that we unite our suffering to His redemption. He created a garden for us, He created us to be happy, but unfortunately sin and all its ugly consequences came to contort this. He does not want us to suffer, but that doesn't mean great and effing powerful good can't come from it. JPII goes on to say, "Man suffers on account of evil, which is a certain lack, limitation or distortion of good."]

Suffering is something which is still wider than sickness, more complex and at the same time still more deeply rooted in humanity itself. (5)

Sacred scripture is a great book about human suffering. (6)

The question: why?...Man can put this question to God with all the emotion of his heart and with his mind full of dismay and anxiety; and God expects the question and listens to it. (10)

Suffering must serve for conversion, that is, for rebuilding of goodness. (12)

Love is also the richest source of the meaning of suffering, which always remains a mystery...Love is also the fullest source of the answer to the question of the meaning of suffering. This answer has been given by God to man in the Cross of Jesus Christ.
— (13)

As a result of Christ's salvific work, man exists on earth with the hope of eternal life and holiness. And even though the victory over sin and death achieved by Christ in his Cross and Resurrection does not abolish temporal suffering from human life, nor free from suffering the whole historical dimension of human existence, it nevertheless throws a new light upon this dimension and upon every suffering: the light of salvation. (15)

Christ gives the answer to the question about suffering and the meaning of suffering not only by his teaching, that is by the Good News, but most of all by his own suffering. (18)

Human suffering has reached its culmination in the Passion of Christ. And at the same time it has entered into a completely new dimension and a new order: it has been linked to that love which creates good, drawing it out by means of suffering, just as the supreme good of the Redemption of the world was drawn from the Cross of Christ. (18)

Each one is also called to share in that suffering through which the Redemption was accomplished. He is called to share in that suffering through which all human suffering has also been redeemed. In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ. (19) [GUYS, are you GETTING this?!]

The eloquence of the Cross and death is...completed by the eloquence of the Resurrection. Man finds in the Resurrection a completely new light, which helps him to go forward through the thick darkness of humiliations, doubts, hopelessness, and persecution. (20)

Suffering, in fact, is always a trial--at times a very hard one. (23)

In (one who suffers) God has confirmed his desire to act especially through suffering, which is man’s weakness and emptying of self, and he wishes to make his power known precisely in this weakness and emptying of self.
— 23

...perseverance in bearing whatever disturbs and causes harm. In doing this, the individual unleashes hope. (23)

In a special way he is united with those who suffer...for whoever suffers in union with Christ...not only receives from Christ that strength...but 'completes' by his suffering 'what is lacking in Christ's afflictions.' ...the Redemption, which has already been completely accomplished is, in a certain sense, constantly being accomplished. (24)

It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls.
— (27)

Suffering, more than anything else, makes present in the history of humanity the powers of the Redemption. In that "cosmic" struggle between the spiritual powers of good and evil, spoken of in the Letter to the Ephesians, human sufferings, united to the redemptive suffering of Christ, constitute a special support for the powers of good, and open the way to the victory of these salvific powers. (27)

Suffering, which is present under so many different forms in our human world, is also present in order to unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one's "I" on behalf of other people, especially those who suffer. The world of human suffering unceasingly calls for, so to speak, another world: the world of human love; and in a certain sense man owes to suffering that unselfish love which stirs in his heart and actions. (29)

Suffering is present in the world in order to release love. (30)