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No Retreat, No Surrender

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  4. The Meaning of All Things
  5. Your priests, your words of gratitude

In addition, the physicians had also carried out GI investigations. When I came out of my general anesthesia an hour later, I could see my wife greeting me and I could hear my wife talking to a doctor nearby, but I could not move, nor could I utter a sound. I was mentally clear, but my voice would not come out and no one paid any attention. For the first time, I experienced the devastating pain of being totally abandoned and ignored by the whole world.

At that time, I felt that being trapped in a paralyzed body with a clear mind must be the second worst kind of human existence—second only to physical torture. The whole painful experience was an education of what hell was like. But there was also the positive side. During those hospital days, I gained a deeper understanding of suffering and became more convinced than ever that we need a positive psychology specifically for suffering people. In , I decided to tackle the mysteries of suffering, which had been one of my lifelong research interests. Symposium participants included Dr.

Warren Brown and neuroscientist Dr. Malcolm Jeeves. I had some unexpected experiences in organizing this conference. I have seen much of suffering. To call suffering a gift is a rhetorical and poetical stretch that does violence to its reality, for some suffering is truly unendurable. Daily, throughout the world, individuals are tortured for political, religious, military, and trivial reasons.

To none of the recipients of this torture, whether physical or psychological, is the suffering a good gift? Every day, in many places, another child is beaten, degraded, raped, or abused. He went on to provide detailed graphic descriptions of many terrible real-life cases, including the physical and psychological sufferings of an old man. Now, in my old age, having personally experienced or observed many cases of seemingly unbearable suffering as I have just described, I feel even more confident than 14 years ago that suffering is indeed a blessing in disguise, a gift from God that not only deepens our understanding of the self and awakens us to all the wrong things we do in our lives, but also opens our eyes to the hidden beauty and goodness of life.

I do not think anyone can find an adequate answer to the question of why little children have to undergo surgeries, chemotherapy, and then die alone. It is always heartbreaking to see them suffer and die in the hospital or in war torn regions. This dark reality may motivate us to do whatever we can so that they do not have to go through hell even before they have an opportunity to live. It propels us to higher levels of self-knowledge and a deeper understanding of the true reality of human existence.

When we are stripped of all our illusions and delusions, when we are confronted with the reality of death, it is only natural that we would ask ourselves the following existential questions: Who am I? What is my purpose here? What is life all about? What happens after death? In Making Sense Out of Suffering , Peter Kreeft , a Catholic philosopher, observes that billions of people have been touched by apparently pointless and random suffering.

He finds the ultimate meaning of suffering in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. How can we reconcile the suffering of little children with a belief in a good God? Does God descend into our hells? Christ came into this world for the purpose of suffering with us and for us so that we may find redemption and eternal joy. In a poetic way, Kreeft describes the intimate fellowship of suffering ,.

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Every tear we shed becomes his tear. He may not yet wipe them away, but he makes them his. When all our cherished worldly things are taken away from us, when the whole world fades away and the end draws near, how do we remain hopeful? We can transcend our limitations in space and time by turning inwards to spiritual values, such as faith, love, wisdom, and compassion. These values represent our best self or higher angels. The faith dimension encompasses our ultimate concerns, a sense of a mystical transcendental reality, and feeling of being connected with the Creator and all humanity.

Faith unlocks the mysteries of suffering and death. I am glad that the last Meaning Conference I organized again focuses on the existential positive psychology of facing adversity and suffering with courage, faith, and meaning. Carl Jung in his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections , had a very realistic portrait of the world in which we live:.

Which element we think outweighs the other, whether meaninglessness or meaning, is a matter of temperament. If meaninglessness were absolutely preponderant, the meaningfulness of life would vanish to an increasing degree with each step in our development. But that is or seems to me not the case. Probably as in all metaphysical questions, both are true; life is or has meaning and meaninglessness. I cherish the anxious hope that meaning will be preponderate and win the battle. The challenge confronting us is how we can survive, thrive, and be happy in such a world.

The first tenet of PP 2. All our efforts to enhance well-being and achieve a good life have to be built on this undeniable foundation. It means that our research and interventions have to be predicated on the understanding that the world is full of evil and suffering, just as the natural environment is full of bacteria, viruses, and toxins. The main limitations of positive psychology as usual PP 1. In contrast, PP 2. Therefore, I can be simultaneously at the bottom of a dark abyss and resting in the arms of our loving Heavenly Father.

My eyes can be filled with tears of sorrow, but at the same time, my heart can be full of the joy and comfort from the God of all comforts. According to PP 2. More importantly, the best way to experience positive emotions is to accept and go through the negative ones. Thus, to develop a positive attitude towards death and suffering, one needs to confront the dark side of human existence. For positive psychologists with the mindset of modernity, they could not comprehend how the dimension of transcendental reality can greatly enlarge our perspectives and enrich our lives, even when the world is closing in on us.

Nor can they understand why I would rather suffer hardships and frustrations living with the people I love than enjoying all the creature comforts living without my loved ones.

No Retreat, No Surrender: A Story of Faith, Love and Cancer.

From this perspective, other people matter, not because they contribute to my happiness, but because my sacrificial love for them makes me fully human. Paradoxically, death holds the key to living a vital, authentic, and meaningful life. Yalom once said that the idea of death has saved many lives. That is, we cannot live fully without becoming aware of the fragility and finiteness of life. Death acceptance is the biggest challenge of acceptance, to no longer regard death as an enemy, but as a good companion and a great gift.

It is an end to all suffering and anxiety; it may open the door to something better. Our awareness that we are dying offers us the best opportunity to live fully and become our best. We need to learn how to embrace death without fear of its sting. There is so much power in acceptance. True happiness comes from accepting the dark side of life. We need to accept our vulnerabilities, limitations, and the horrors of existence—with the courage and honesty of a warrior Wong, From this enlarged spiritual perspective, suffering becomes a stepping stone that connects us with God and with the cosmos, thus losing its all-consuming power.

The pain is still there, but it becomes absorbed into our expanded consciousness. In being fully present and intimate with God, we lose ourselves and our pains. Learn to give what you have in order to reduce suffering and increase happiness in others. Be willing to make the necessary sacrifices and endure the pain so that you can transcend limitations and make life better for and others. You cannot ascend to heaven without descending to the hell of suffering and sacrifice. View life through the lens of yin-yang, the universal coexistence of the good and the bad, success and failure, rejoicing and suffering.

The positive psychology of death and dying can be best understood in terms of the dual-system model Wong, a. According to this model, optimal adaptation depends on our ability to confront and transform the dark side of life in service of achieving positive goals. Both avoidance and approach systems are needed to be free from the prison of death fear and to motivate us to engage actively in what matters to us.

From this dual-systems perspective, death fear and death acceptance can co-exist and work together for our well-being. Adopt a double-vision. Always keep one eye on heaven with its uplifting ideals and another eye on earth with its grim unrelenting reality. Tragic optimism will emerge when we face the daily struggle to survive and at the same time believe that a better future is awaiting if we do not give up Wong, c, b. Keep the faith that life is inherently worth living and you have intrinsic value. This worldview will empower you to face death with dignity and peace if you have assumed the personal responsibility of fighting the good fight and completing your race Wong, b, Maintain an appreciative attitude and be thankful for being alive each day.

Practice existential gratitude for being alive each day, for planet earth, and for all the people that make your life comfortable. You can always find something positive in every negative situation Wong, b. Make each day count.

The Mysteries of Suffering

Life, even immortal life, is a curse unless we can find real meaning and purpose for our existence. We do not understand, until we discover something worth fighting and dying for. We can die happy, knowing that our suffering and sacrifice have made life better for others. I am gratified that my lifelong research on meaning and resilience Wong, has prepared me for my battle with cancer.

It is my sincere hope that the above suggestions will offer some hope, encouragement, and wisdom to all those struggling with the horrors of life. My brother, David, and my son, Wesley. With Benedict and his wife both in black. The ugly look of prostate cancer cells. Infographic on cancer fighting foods. The Scream by Edvard Munch. References Baumeister, R. Evil: Inside human cruelty and violence. New York, NY: Freeman. Baumeister, R. Bad is stronger than good. After the darkest hour: How suffering begins the journey to wisdom.

New York, NY: Holt. Frankl, V.

No excuse, no retreat, no surrender | Bible Aid

Jung, C. Memories, dreams, reflections A. Jaffe, Ed. Winston, Trans.

The Meaning of All Things

New York, NY: Vintage. Kreeft, P. Making sense out of suffering. Peck, S. People of the lie: The hope for healing human evil people of the lie. Wong, P. Effective management of life stress: The resource-congruence model. Stress Medicine, 9 1 , Meaning of life and meaning of death in successful aging.

International Network on Personal Meaning. Compassionate and spiritual care: A vision of positive holistic medicine. Kwan Ed. Hong Kong, China: Commercial Press. To hell and back and what I have learned about happiness. A less traveled road to happiness. What is the ancient Chinese secret to resilience and happiness? Positive Living Newsletter. Compassion: The hospice movement. Kurian Ed. Existential positive psychology. Lopez Ed. Levinson Eds. Early version available here.

Positive psychology 2. Canadian Psychology, 52 2 , Toward a dual-systems model of what makes life worth living.

Your priests, your words of gratitude

Wong Ed. New York, NY: Routledge. What is the meaning mindset? International Journal of Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy, 4 1 , The positive psychology of grit: The defiant power of the human spirit. The good life through polarity and transcendence Part 1 of 2. The Virtue Blog. Integrative meaning therapy: From logotherapy to existential positive interventions. Russo-Netzer, S. New York, NY: Springer. Reflections on my psychology career: Where I came from, and where I am going. Paul Wong.

Mature happiness and global wellbeing in difficult times. Silton Ed. Death Attitude Profile—Revised: A multidimensional measure of attitudes toward death. Neimeyer Ed. Beyond stress and coping: The positive psychology of transformation. In Wong, P. Alec Seelau gave his witness of faith March 18th at St.

Wenceslaus church. Through these challenges she has encountered Christ in a very powerful way. Joseph Church. The amazing healings he saw changed his life at the early age of Mercy University campus. Joan Hackbarth was raised in a faith-filled Jewish home. She was introduced to the Catholic faith by her husband, Dan. After the death of her daughter, Rebecca, she encountered Jesus through their church community and God continued to reveal Himself to her through many other life challenges. Tom shares after falling away as a young adult how he rediscovered his faith that eventually led him into a leadership role in Catholic education.

Pius X church in Cedar Rapids. Invited on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in , Diana Richardson expected the trip to be a wonderful site seeing tour of the historical sites in the bible. Her visit to Mt. Matt Selby grew up in a faith-filled home. He learned to love God and make his faith a priority at an early age. During college he decided to become a pastor.

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While serving as a missionary in the Middle East he encountered the truth, beauty and goodness in the Catholic church and his path was…. Marriage is not easy. Actually, it can be very hard. They shared their story and how God is the key to this Sacrament at All Saints church. Michael DeClerck turned to God while still in grade school in a most unusual way. Hear what led him to the Catholic faith as a freshman college student. While sitting in the back pew, trying not to be noticed as a non-Catholic, he had an amazing encounter with Christ. We need to be listening.

Archbishop Jackels gave his personal witness to an overflow crowd at St. Matthew church on Feb. Hear hear how three teens from St. So many messages are being sent to our young people today. Living a life in relationship with God is not prevalent in those messages. Listen to Lorrenne Mulherin give her witness at St.

Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. Ludmilla Parish. Listen as Haley tells her remarkable story of faith and triumph. Pius X Parish. At St. Patrick Parish. Listen as Larry tells how God kept knocking at his door and what happened when he was finally willing to open the door. Chris and Dee Dee Scaffidi give a heart-felt witness. See how they came to the Catholic Church and worked through the challenges of marriage, career and family.

Wenceslaus Parish. National speaker, Melissa Ohden gave her witness at St. Matthew Church on Monday, Feb. A big crowd of people came on a drizzly night to hear Melissa talk about her life after surviving a failed abortion at a Sioux City hospital in Steve was raised Catholic and slowly drifted away from his faith after moving away from home. Hear his amazing personal witness of how God called him back to the Church. Joseph Parish. When John Harris was diagnosed with cancer in it deeply impacted he and his wife Phyllis.

Hear their witness of how God was present to them in each other and those who cared and prayed for them. In his early years as a husband and father, Jim lived a selfish and irresponsible life. Only when he finally grew to know God, could he truly love Him and serve Him. Witness talk was at St. Ludmila Parish. He has inspired hundreds of thousands to grow in their faith. Tony credits the power of prayer for pulling him out of the depths of despair. Mary spoke about the fear and anxiety she felt after losing her home to the flood of At All Saints Parish. Being lead to a retreat was a turning point in his life.

Pete Mathison achieved success beyond his dreams as a founder and owner of a multi-million dollar athletic apparel company. But despite his success he felt anger in his heart and suffered from suicidal depression. Witness Talks. Faith During Crisis. Faith in Action. Journeys of Renewal. Mercy St. EAS St. Joseph St. Jude St. Ludmila St.

Matthew St. Patrick St. Pius St. April 26, — Fr. Chris Podhajsky Fr. Feb 20, — Dcn. May 8, — Bill Hunter Who am I….. April 4, — Michael Schmidt Michael Schmidt was indifferent towards any particular faith tradition, but was met at the door of a Catholic church by a priest with a big hug. May 12, Sr. Stephanie Baliga Sr. Kennidee DeVilbiss, Dec. Aaron Junge, Nov. Denise Upah, Oct. Mary Beth Helgens, Feb. Nicole Trapani, Jan.