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Pain in the neck

Van Gogh's "Pieta"
I was recently diagnosed with arthritis in my neck - yes, I literally am a pain in the neck, as my brother was quick to point out. It's really not all that surprising that I developed arthritis. It runs in both sides of my family, and my paternal grandmother was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis. My father, even in high school, had to care for her most basic needs.

I've been in pretty constant pain for months now, despite receiving on-going treatment at a pain clinic. It's not debilitating, but it's more than annoying. We have a great tradition in the Catholic Church of "offering up" our pain. There's a really great post at Fisheaters on this:
...we "offer it up" by simply asking God in our own words to use a suffering as it occurs; we often do this for specific intentions (ex., "Use this pain, Lord, for the salvation of my brother..."). We might follow the example of the young St. Thérèse of Lisieux and make use of Sacrifice Beads, or the extraordinary among us might make the Heroic Act of Charity for the souls in Purgatory. 
It's quite a discipline to react to suffering this way! In mental or physical pain? Drop something on your toe? Putting up with a co-worker who is making your life a living Hell? Enduring the constant ache of arthritis? Standing in line at the grocery and hating every minute of it? Spill the milk? Accept these things in peace, and ask God to use them for the good of the Church or for a more specific intention close to your heart. This isn't easy to do (and I in no way claim to be good at it), but it does make the suffering more meaningful and less -- well, less insufferable!
All easier said than done. It's no fun to be in pain, especially when it is constant - whether that pain is physical, mental, or spiritual. However, recognizing that we suffer with intent (specifically the intent to be in harmony with God's will) makes our suffering purposeful. To suffer with no purpose is crazy. To suffer with Christ is Love.

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