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The Theology of Suffering

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The Universal Character of Salvation

Today we are called to reflect on the redemptive

, and to unite our sufferings to those of Christ the Redeemer. We are to make a spiritual offering of our sufferings for the remission of sin. This proposition might sound out of place in today’s culture so much obsessed with pleasure, comfort, health, youth, and appearance. Many in our society, today hold the view that life is meaningful only when there is no pain. But we know that a painless existence is not possible in this present life, no matter how hard we try. Suffering is an inseparable consequence of fallen humanity and, ironically, it is through suffering by Christ that we are saved.

In the First Reading, Paul and Barnabas face an intense persecution in the course of spreading the Gospel. Paul was even stoned and left for dead but, instead of giving up, both men encouraged the faithful to not shy away from the sorrows and persecutions of the Christian life. The disciples must persevere because: “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). In other words, the Cross is the only way to the Resurrection – it is only through self-sacrificing love that we can experience true Christian joy.

Reflecting on the Christian meaning of human suffering, Pope St John Paul II talks about the Gospel of human suffering which the Redeemer himself wrote through his own suffering accepted in love. He said that in suffering “there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ, a special grace.” This grace produces a profound conversion of heart by which the person not only discovers the redemptive meaning of suffering but also becomes a completely new person.

According to the Pope, suffering helps to release love and the works of charity towards each other. This, he says, transform human society into a ‘civilization of love’. In this love, the redemptive value of suffering is perfected. Christ the Redeemer is present in every suffering person, and all those suffering are called to become sharers in his own sufferings
Dear friends, the saints teach us a lot about the Gospel of suffering.

Blessed Lydwina of Holland was a pretty, vibrant 15-year-old girl until an ice-skating accident left her with serious complications. For the next thirty-eight years she never left her sickroom. Her suffering was a horrendous case as her flesh began to rot. She had agonizing headaches, constant fits of vomiting, unending fevers, maddening thirst, and spasms of pain in every part of her body. It felt like she was already decaying in the grave, while she remained conscious to experience it.

At first, she felt anger and revulsion at her suffering. But gradually she understood that God was inviting her to suffer for the reparation of the sins of others. Her confessor visited her frequently and taught her to meditate on the Lord’s passion. He also brought her Holy Communion frequently, which was to be the only food she ate for the last 13 years of her life.

As she recognized and embraced her life’s mission, Lydwina took on additional voluntary sufferings, like leaving her bed to sleep on wooden boards. God rewarded her with healing powers (healing others, of course), prophecy, and special visions. Blessed Lydwina’s specific vocation was exceptional, but the pattern is the same for every Christian vocation, ours included: we must endure many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.

Saint John Paul II also makes a distinction between physical suffering which is when the body is hurting, and moral suffering, which is the agony of the soul. Not everyone might be living in a state of physical suffering, but we all have our own moral sufferings one way or another. This is an inescapable reality of human existence. The mother looking after a very sick child, running from one hospital to the other knows this feeling. Anyone caring for a terminally sick or permanently incapacitated relative or friend knows this feeling too.

Anyone unjustly criticised or discriminated against on account of his/her faith or ethnicity or colour is enduring moral suffering.

What about the parents in many parts of the world who watch agonizingly as their young children suffer hunger and malnutrition, and those who cannot afford to send their children to school? They know moral suffering. What about those in dysfunctional family situations, who feel unloved and unappreciated no matter how hard they try? They know moral suffering. Those who watch powerlessly as others suffer due to the might of evil in society – who would gladly help but lack the means – they know moral suffering. This was what happened to Mary as she watched her own Son die on the Cross.

Dear brothers and sisters, apart from embracing the redemptive dimension of our own sufferings, we also need to be mindful of the sufferings of the people around us. Pope St John Paul II makes the point that the parable of the Good Samaritan shows what our attitude must be towards our suffering neighbour. A “Good Samaritan”, he says, is anyone who is sensitive to the sufferings of others; who is moved by the misfortune of another. How can we claim to love God whom we cannot see when we fail to love those around us? (I Jn. 4:20).

Nevertheless, it’s important to realize that embracing suffering does not mean saying “yes” to evil and injustice in society. There is a place for social advocacy, and we must pursue it vigorously, but it must be oriented towards our heavenly redemption. We can be sure that social advocacy outside the Christian plan of salvation does not go far enough.

May our Lord Jesus, the Man of sorrows, give us the grace to discover in love the salvific meaning of our sufferings, and the fortitude to persevere till the very end! Amen.

 

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USAID begins Covid-19 testing in Imo rural areas

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USAID averts 25,000 unwanted pregnancies in Ebonyi, Kogi

…Umuagwo Varsity of Agric kicks-off October

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun Covid-19 testing in the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State, “in a bid to reduce the impact of community spread of the virus in the rural areas of the state.

The Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba disclosed this in Owerri while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the Weekly Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Hope Uzodimma on Wednesday.

Chief Emelumba said so far, the USAID officials have carried out reasonable number of testing in Njaba LGA and reported that all those tested came out negative and that the council prayed that the result from other Local Government Areas will be the same.

He announced that the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has approved the take off of the Imo State University for Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Umuagwo in October this year.

According to him, the approval underscores the efforts which the Imo State Government ably led by Governor Hope Uzodinma has made towards the establishment of a second university for the state.

Recently, the NUC panel was in Imo State to carry out the necessary verification exercises on the state facilities, human and physical infrastructures.

Mr. Declan Emelumba, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Bernard Ikegwuoha, Commissioner for Health Dr. Damaris Osunkwo and the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Governor Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku, informed that the Executive Council is happy that something new is happening in the Education Sector of the State.

Emelumba said that the Imo State University of Science and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo will take off by October when other universities would be resuming for a new academic session.

In the same vein, the Council has approved the immediate relocation of Faculty of Engineering Imo State University Owerri to its permanent site at Okigwe, stressing that Government has put all processes and facilities on ground to ensure the immediate take–off of the faculty.

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM  Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

The Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku has visited Mr. Ogechi Iwu, a journalist with Osiza FM.

The media man is hospitalized at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri over complications from diabetes that led to his right leg being amputated.

Mr. Nwachuku said the visit was to show solidarity on behalf of Governor Uzodimma to his professional colleague, assuring him of their prayers, particularly that of his principal, and the prayers of Mr. Iwu’s numerous friends and well wishers who are touched by his plight.

“I am here on behalf of my principal to associate with him in this time of health challenge and to encourage him not to see the sickness as a death sentence.”

Oge Iwu at fmc

L-R: Chief Akaraonye, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku with Ogechi Iwu during the visit

Mr. Nwachuku urged Mr. Iwu to continue in the high spirit he saw him and trust God for his total recovery “because healing is a thing of mind and when a sick person is in high spirit the patient gets recovered quickly.”

The spokesman of the Governor promised to bring the plight of the journalist to the attention of his principal, and assured that the Governor will, in his usual manner of one with milk of human sympathy, show concern over Iwu’s plight.

Earlier, Mr. Iwu thanked the CPS/Media Adviser, the State Chairman of NUJ, Imo State, Chief Christopher Akaraonye and other journalists who were on the entourage, for coming to identify with him on his sick bed, and assured that God in his infinite mercy will quicken his recovery.

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has inaugurated a new Governing Council, for the Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri.

At the inauguration ceremony on Monday, August 31, the governor named Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji as the Chairman of the Governing Council and Pro-Chancellor of the University.

Other members of the Council include: Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, Chief Tony Ezenna, Prof. (Ven.) Chinedu Nebo, Sir. Louis Ezeigwe, Chief Engr. Ernest Nwapa, Dr. (Mrs.) Uwandu Uzoma, Ugoeze Victoria Adaku Ekezie, Prof. Adaobi Obasi (Vice Chancellor) and others.

Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Uzodimma said the choice of the members is to infuse fresh air into the university because “It is in dire need to bounce back to reckoning.”
He added that the choice of the members was because they have carved a niche for themselves in their chosen fields of endeavour and that they have earned solid reputation as men and women of substance in their individual trade, indices that qualified them for the appointment.

He challenged the members to bring their reputation to bear on the University, bearing in mind the task for good quality scholarship in Imo State University as well as service to humanity.

The Governor urged the members to deploy their individual accomplishments, excellence, expertise, passion for service as effectively as necessary to actualize the dream of his administration of having a highly reputable University comparable to the best Universities in the World.

He also requested the Council to “restore in words and deeds the motto of Imo State University, which is Excellence in Service”.

“Imo State University currently is a classical example of a failed University,” Governor Uzodimma said but strongly believed that “with a star studded Governing Council such as the one inaugurated there is no doubt that Imo is on the track to realize the dreams of her founding fathers.”

He further enjoined the Council members to quickly hit the ground running and come up with policies and programmes that will reassure Imo people that the University that made them proud 20 years back is on track as he assured them of Government partnership in this regard.

In an acceptance speech, on behalf of the Council, the Chairman, Most Rev. Ugorji who is the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia thanked the Governor for the absolute confidence reposed in them by giving them the assignment and acknowledged that though the task is daunting he has a strong belief that with the calibre of members of the Council and support of the management, staff and students the University will be returned to a centre of excellence which was the dream of the founding fathers.

He said that Imo State University deserves the best and that he and his members as inaugurated will work acidulously to ensure that the target of the governor in making Imo State University one of the best universities in Africa is realised.

He congratulated fellow members and promised that God’s willing, they will not fail the government and people of Imo State.

Present at the inauguration were the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, and other members of the expanded State Executive Council.

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