Our participation in Christ’s sacrifice
618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”.452 But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men.453 He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him]“,454 for “Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.”455 In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries.456 This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.457
- Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.458
620 Our salvation flows from God’s initiative of love for us, because “he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (I Jn 4:10). “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5:19).
621 Jesus freely offered himself for our salvation. Beforehand, during the Last Supper, he both symbolized this offering and made it really present: “This is my body which is given for you” (Lk 22:19).
622 The redemption won by Christ consists in this, that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28), that is, he “loved [his own] to the end” (Jn 13:1), so that they might be “ransomed from the futile ways inherited from [their] fathers” (I Pt 1:18).
623 By his loving obedience to the Father, “unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8), Jesus fulfills the atoning mission (cf. Is 53:10) of the suffering Servant, who will “make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities” (Is 53:11; cf. Rom 5:19).
By Sue Elvis
Some years ago, I used to say, “I’m ready to do Your Will, Lord but please don’t send me any suffering.” Perhaps this wasn’t much of an offering. I knew suffering would involve much pain and I was afraid.
Often when I try to push fears to the back of my mind, God arranges matters so that I have to face whatever I feel I can’t deal with. And this was the case in 1999 when, for the first time in my life, I was plunged into a sea of suffering like nothing I’d ever experienced before. One day I was in full control of my life, the next, my world was in pieces and I was choked with the feeling that I wouldn’t survive. Finding out that our unborn baby was unlikely to survive after birth was a very frightening, distressing feeling and I was full of panic as I looked ahead to what should have been a happy event in our lives.
The next five months were a mixture of calm as I tried to place my trust in God, and despair as I contemplated holding our dead child in my arms. How could a mother be expected to survive the death of her own child? I prayed so much during those months asking God for a miracle of healing for our child.
Thomas was born and it was soon obvious that God had not healed him. There are not enough words to describe our pain and suffering. We watched Thomas being wheeled away to the intensive care unit, seconds after his birth, and our first look at him came hours later: a tiny body hooked up to a life support machine. Thomas lived 28 hours and that time seemed like months. We arrived back home 48 hours after setting off for the hospital and it was inconceivable that we had been away for such a short time. Our lives had been changed forever and it was difficult to come home and pick up the threads of everyday life…
This is the start to one of my Thomas stories. It comes from my book Grief, Love and Hope.
I started writing my Thomas Stories quite a few years ago. At first I just wanted to record our son’s life. He lived for only a fleeting moment and I wanted to say, “I have a son. His name is Thomas. He didn’t live very long but his life was valuable. And we love him so very much.”
Later a friend suggested I share my stories so that I could connect with other bereaved parents. Grieving is such a lonely existence. Sometimes we feel we are going crazy. Does anyone else feel like we do? And does anyone survive the deep sorrow of losing a child? By sharing we can encourage each other, give hope and lessen that feeling of isolation.
I wrote my first Thomas Stories for a homeschooling newsletter. Then I gathered these stories together, and added some more: my book Grief, Love and Hope came into existence.
After the publication of the book, I was very surprised to find I had still more to say about Thomas. He might have lived only for one day but he has affected our lives forever. I am continually amazed how our son works his way into my writing. So more Thomas Stories were written and I have been posting them on my blog Sue Elvis Writes, as well as here on this blog.
But now I feel my stories need a home of their own, a blog just for Thomas. So I have created Stories of Grief, Love and Hope.
I will be gathering all my Thomas stories together and posting them on this new blog. Some you will find in my book Grief, Love and Hope. And some have been published here and some on my Sue Elvis Writes blog. I am sure Thomas will keep on inspiring new stories so there will probably be entirely new posts too.
I would also like to write about the experience of miscarriage after losing seven little souls much too early.
Maybe you have experienced the sorrow of losing a child yourself, or you might be supporting the bereaved, or maybe you’d just like to learn more about the experience of grief.
If you would like to share my stories of our precious son, please visit my new blog, Stories of Grief, Love and Hope. I would feel very honoured if you read my posts.
And if you know of anyone who is suffering and might want to connect with another bereaved parent, I would be grateful if you told them about my blog.