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The disagreeable experience of soul that comes with the presence of evil or the privation of some good. Although commonly synonymous with pain, suffering is rather the reaction to pain, and in this sense suffering is a decisive factor in Christian spirituality. Absolutely speaking, suffering is possible because we are creatures, but in the present order of Providence suffering is possible because we are creatures, but in the present order of Providence suffering is the result of sin having entered the world. Its purpose, however, is not only to expiate wrongdoing, but to enable the believer to offer God a sacrifice of praise of his divine right over creatures, to unite oneself with Christ in his sufferings as an expression of love, and in the process to become more like Christ, who, having joy set before him, chose the Cross, and thus "to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of His body, the Church" (I Colosians 1:24). (Etym. Latin sufferre, to sustain, to bear up: sub-, up from under + ferre, to bear.)
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.