Life is Hard but God is Good
Adele Gonzales, Orbis
Here’s a brilliant, “progressive Catholic” attempt to present the best theodicy possible. Adele Gonzales knows about suffering. After losing her beloved father unexpectedly when she was 14, she was soon after shipped to Florida from Cuba without any English language skills. She’s suffered emotionally, spiritually, physically (rheumatoid arthritis) and ecclesiastically in a conservative Catholic church.
Her vocation includes leading seminars and doing personal spiritual direction with other sufferers. Evil is always the greatest obstacle to believing and trusting in God. As theologian Hans Kung wrote, suffering or evil is the “acid test” for every religion.
Christians have tried to theologise it all via the Augustinian notion of original sin. But Sister Gonzales would prefer to say that though evil and suffering are real, as Anne Frank writes in her diary while hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam: “Everyone has inside of them a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love!”
She writes, “I know I am a better person because of … evil. My father’s sudden death, our exile from our country of birth, my mother’s blindness, my little cousin’s leukaemia, the struggles to finish graduate school, my many illnesses since I was young … are experiences which have made me the person I am today. I believe that the greatest good that has come out of these ‘evils’ is the ability to empathise with someone else’s pain and to walk in their shoes, to be a woman of hope, to enjoy and share a great sense of humour, and to believe without any doubt in the goodness of God and of the universe.”
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