The Art of Consolation in the Christian Faith

The theme of comfort appears frequently in the Bible. The psalmist prayed with conviction: “When restless thoughts crowd within me, Your consolation pleases my soul” (Psalm 93, 19). God said of himself: “It’s me, yes, I am the one comforting you” (Isaiah 51, 12). He promised: “I will turn their mourning into joy, and I will comfort them” (Jeremiah 31, 13).

God cares about grieving and desperate people who are suffering because of their situation. She comforts men with her care, and with her beautiful and true words that make her feel her love. But what does “comfort and consolation” mean to us personally?

“Convincing with kind words”

Each language introduces us to the nuances of what consolation is. In Hebrew, the root is nhm meaning: pity, help, show mercy, bring help. God sympathizes and comforts us with His loving presence. The Greek word used in the New Testament is parakalein which originally means: to call, invite, encourage, convince with good words.

The Holy Spirit is parakletos. He is a help that comforts us, helps us and encourages us. This introduces us to the truth of Jesus’ words. The Order of Pentecost calls it optimal blanket, that is, the best of blankets, which are mentioned in it “a very sweet host of our souls, a mellow freshness”.

Jesuit Alfred Delp, who was imprisoned by the Gestapo and later executed on February 2, 1945, comments on the last name as follows: “The return of spiritual power, vigor and serenity marked by ‘dulce’ literally fills the heart like coolness in a room, and the atmosphere is suddenly filled with confidence and humanity. » Where, like him, we are faced with narrowness and hatred, the Holy Spirit wants to give us refreshing comfort. He makes us see the things that benefit us, in the words that strengthen us.

How to cheer someone up?

In Latin the word convenience consist of semen (“With dan solution (” only “). The comforter is the one who accompanies me in my loneliness. The Holy Spirit never leaves me. If I want to comfort someone, I must be prepared to stand with them, not leave them alone in their pain.

“Journey”, the German word for consolation, refers to the idea of ​​firmness. Consoling does not mean showering others with pious words, drowning their sadness with beautiful words, and therefore denying them. Consolation involves stopping and holding back one’s tears, despair, doubts, anger over the death of a loved one, without degrading it. I welcome her feelings, even if it is “overflow”.

Job had the painful experience of seeing his three friends refuse to accept his tribulation. After being silent for a long time, they explained to him that his suffering must be the result of a possible sin! “I’ve heard this kind of speech hundreds of times, Job answered. What blanket hurts you” (Job 16, 2).

Strong and durable support

Slapping theories about the suffering of others means refusing to get involved in the relationship. We then place our reasoning as a buffer to protect ourselves from others. Comfort is not to explain what happened, but to support the incomprehensible with the bereaved. We can then hope to let the others stand again. In mourning, the ground seemed to crumble beneath our feet. Consolation makes it possible to find a foundation to lean on again.

The Jews raised the bread of mourning and the cup of comfort (Jeremiah 16, 7). In preparation for the Mass offering, we offer our cup of mourning to God, asking Him to turn it into a cup of consolation. Grief means not only the pain caused by the loss of a loved one, but also shattered dreams, the loss of life opportunities.

The interpretation of the Last Supper in Luke could be as follows: the cup that Jesus offered to His disciples was a cup of sorrow, a sign that He would go and no longer drink wine with His friends (Luke 22:18). But he also gave them the cup of consolation, when he said: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you” (Luke 22, 20).

In every celebration of the Eucharist, Jesus offers us the cup of comfort, which unites us intimately with Him and with God, and in which we drink His love which transforms our sorrows. His consolation contains all the nuances of the word “entertain” : Jesus is by our side, he sympathizes with us, he joins us in our loneliness, he stands by our side and offers us solid and lasting support.

medicine for sadness

Saint Thomas Aquinas suggests five very human solutions to dealing with grief: do something that makes us happy, weep for your heart, share your pain with a friend, meditate on the truth or… take a shower and sleep! Because worldly reality can help us when we are in pain. We even need to look for things, behaviors, places, and people that can cheer us up.

But at the same time, we must know that the only true comfort comes from Jesus himself, who is in us in the Holy Spirit, in our loneliness, and who changes it, so that our sorrow “will turn into joy” (John 16, 20).

To know : Anselm Grün, Benedictine, monk and therapist at the monastery of Münsterschwarzach, in Bavaria (Germany), is one of the most widely read spiritual writers in the world.

Pray, monthly spiritual life, updated
This article by Anselm Grün devoted to entertainment will appear on Pray nooh 445, dated October 2022. Pray innovate from September. In addition to reports, interviews and columnists (Anselm Grün, Martin Steffens, Patrice Gourrier, Emmanuelle Hénin, Michèle Debidour…), you will find a naturopath every month, who will help you develop a healthy life and diet at the Saint Hildegard Bingen school, and puzzles. – crossword puzzle. Booklet layout Pray every day which offers the Bible of the day commented on by spiritual writers has been completely updated to increase its readability. Pray is the only magazine that covers all aspects of spiritual life. Go to: magazine shop

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