I ventured out to the theater yesterday to watch the new movie on Fatima. The movie left me with various emotions and reactions. I do not want to discourage people from seeing it, because many people have reviewed the movie favorably. At the same time, I think a discussion on suffering is merited. I think a review on atonement and modern Catholic theology is worthwhile.
In the movie, the visionaries preached a message of atonement by suffering. Anyone who reads the Bible knows that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is all the atonement that is needed. There’s nothing anyone can do to save souls on one’s own. At the same time, Catholics believe that there are valid ways of cooperating with Jesus. There are ways in which we can participate in God’s plan of salvation. Biblically speaking, we see this in the example of Simon. Simon assisted God by caring the cross with Jesus. He helped Jesus get to the finish line. We also see this in the words of Jesus when he says pick up your cross and follow me.
The church teaches that we participate in Jesus’ salvific actions by enduring what comes our way with joy. We carry the cross with Jesus, just as Simon did. The church teaches that by joining our prayers and actions with Jesus, we participate with Him. We believe that carrying the cross with Jesus is a way of working with the Holy Spirit for our own purification and the purification of others.
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit analyzing your life and your way of dealing with the trials and tribulations of this life. Ask him to show you if there is any value in changing how you mentally deal with these things. If you are already a believer in this, ask him to show you ways in which you can more fully cooperate in his work.
Ms. Debra D. Weldon, O.P.