Father Luigi Squarcia.jpg

The Catholic News Agency ran this brief article yesterday (11/19/2009).
It captured my mind and heart, like it did for others, because I know two
people with Lou Gehrig’s disease (and one is also a priest) and another priest
who’s living with MS. The courage, love and patience these men have witnessed
is incredible. At least I think so.

Father Luigi
Squarcia, a pastor in the Italian town of Acquapendente who has suffered from
Lou Gehrig’s disease for the last four years, met with Pope Benedict XVI on
Wednesday and offered his “sufferings for the good of the Church.”

After the
meeting with the Holy Father in Paul VI Hall, Father Squarcia said, “I came to offer
the Pope my sufferings for the good of the Church
. I am here, for the
first time, after years of working with the parishioners and the children at
our school.”

Now, he told L’Osservatore Romano, “I can no longer move my arms
or legs and I know I will lose my speech and later maybe the ability to
breathe.”  He noted that more people than ever are coming to him for the
Sacrament of Reconciliation

Lou Gehrig’s disease is a serious neuromuscular
disorder that causes muscle weakness, disability and eventually death.

*Father Luigi in a 2004 photo.

If you
want a keener sense of what Father Luigi is speaking of when he says I am came
offer my sufferings for the Church, then I would suggest you read Pope John Paul II’s 1984 encyclical, Salvifici
, where he deals with notions of suffering and how it can be redemptive. That is, how suffering can be useful for the salvation of the work if we unite
our suffering to that of Christ’s. Putting suffering to good use otherwise it will eat you alive and deaden you affectively and spiritually. If not redemptive then it’s all-consuming and verging on nihilistic.