Catholics get mistaken for being masochists a lot. We put a lot of emphasis on guilt and pain and enjoying the sufferings we endure in life. It’s not like we actually get off on the pain, you know. And I think the Fourth Last Word can show the Catholic perspective on coping with suffering.
When Jesus cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” it may seem like a cry of despair at first glance. For those three hours, the sky is darkened and Jesus’s human nature echoed the laments of those who feel abandoned by God. But Jesus’s human nature was never separate from His Divine Nature. Venerable Fulton Sheen compares this seeming contradiction to a mountain obscured by clouds, even when the peak of the mountain is bathed in light. Jesus took on the nature of sin and allowed Himself to feel that separation for just this moment.
But there is a deeper meaning to this phrase beyond the words themselves. The words are actually the beginning of Psalm 21 (or 22 depending on your translations), which starts out with a lament of suffering that foreshadows the Crucifixion, but ends with a cry of hope and a triumphant declaration of overcoming the suffering.
My biggest issue with existentialism is that it is centered on the idea that the universe is indifferent. The entire philosophy is built on something that, to me, brings great despair. And those who believe in existentialism admit that the belief is both terrifying and beautiful and that the power to make the world better relies on the choice of the individual.
I’m just gonna quote my favorite Marshwiggle for a minute here:
There is one thing to say. Suppose we have only dreamed and made up these things, like sun, sky, stars and moon and Aslan himself. In that case, it seems to me that the made-up things are a good deal better than the real ones; and if this black pit of a kingdom is the best you can make, then it’s a poor world. And we four can make a dream world to lick your real one hollow. As for me, I shall live like a Narnian! Even if there isn’t any Narnia, so thanking you very much for supper. We’re going to leave your court at once and make our way across your great darkness to search for our land ABOVE!
I would rather try to find light or bring light into the world than spend my life cursing the darkness. My fellow Catholics and I may lament our sufferings, but we also know that, to quote Dumbledore from Harry Potter “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times,if one only remembers to turn on the light.”