This Benedictine at Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls – the last of the four Major Basilicas in Rome that I’ll be able to visit this time around – was born the same year as my own dad, 1924. I was born late in his life.
I sat down with him for a visit and I found out he had suffered quite a bit in his life. I very stupidly repeated a platitude to him. Don’t do that with wise people unless you’re willing to be humiliated.
- Me: Suffering teaches a lot.
- Him: Pfft. No. God teaches a lot.
Update: I had lapsed, of course, into some brand of Pelagianism here. In putting this up again as a kind of confession, I recall other conversations I’ve had across the decades when others have stated that “Suffering teaches a lot,” and then have gone on to recite their suffering, some of which, mind you, was crushing just to hear. Did I have the clarity and simplicity to say: “Pfft. No. God teaches a lot.” No, no I didn’t. A pity that.
But I have a solution, a self-imposed penance: some prayer that those with whom I haven’t witnessed perfectly will nevertheless be taught by God. And they will all be taught by God (see Isaiah 54:13 and John 6:45). Of course, that goes along with also being drawn to the Lord all the more to be taught by Him ourselves.