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Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Date of Award




Degree Level


LCSH subject

Suffering--Religious aspects--Christianity.




1 online resource

Proquest Document ID





St. Mary's University (San Antonio, Texas). Department of Theology

Size or duration

1 online resource (xii, 213 pages)

Document Type


First Advisor

Getz, Andrew

Second Advisor

Buhrman, William

Third Advisor

Montague, S.M., George


The purpose of this study is to encourage a more contemporary understanding of the traditional Christian approach to suffering — the belief that we can experience great goodness and enrich our lives as a result of taking up our cross as Jesus did. This concept of "redemptive suffering" seems to be losing its viability in contemporary life. Instead, advancing support for the Assisted Suicide movement reflects a growing sense that suffering is a "problem" that can be "solved" even if it means taking one's own life. The author contends that a more contemporary understanding of Jesus' suffering — one that can be related to one's own experience of suffering - is necessary so we can more confidently face the hardships of life, and in doing so reap unexpected benefits for ourselves and others.

Essential to the project was a theological anthropological methodology in order to address a two-fold task: 1) developing a contemporary theological interpretation of Jesus' sacrificial suffering on the cross, and 2) relating it to an authentic experience of even everyday human suffering. To accomplish this, theological insights of Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar were supplemented with social scientific findings that connected healthy human growth/development with a positive resolution of suffering. The study highlighted the significance of Jesus' suffering the abandonment by God on the cross, as well as his trusting response to God's will even in the midst of not understanding why God seemed to have forsaken him. This freely given cooperation with God allowed God to bring a humanly unfathomable Resurrection from the desolation of Jesus' Good Friday. A comparison was made to our own encounters with suffering and the difference made when we freely seek to cooperate with God's will in responding to them. The findings of the study attest not only to the existence of a redemptive/liberating potential in our experiences of suffering, but also to the unfathomable love of God through Jesus which is reaching out to us even today, and encourages us even as we face horrendous challenges in life to take up our cross with hope.