23 January 2012

From Father Gunnulf

. . . a terrible temptation came over me. I thought about the way the Savior had hung nailed to the cross all those hours. But his disciples suffered inexpressible torments for many days . . . . Then it occurred to me that many of these people had suffered more than Christ himself.
I pondered this until I felt that my heart and mind would burst. But finally I received the light that I had prayed and begged for. And I realized that just as they had suffered, so should we all have the courage to suffer. Who would be so foolish not to accept pain and torment if this was the way to a faithful and steadfast bridegroom who waits with open arms, his breast bloody and burning with love.
The Wife (Kristin Lavransdatter), Sigrid Undset

14 comments:

Leah said...

I just finished that series (all three books combined). I loved reading it. In fact, it is still haunting me. I have never read a writer that captured and expressed so many of my unspoken gut feelings, both as a woman and as a mother, in such a profound way.

(Ha... I have part of this exact passage highlighted on my Kindle. :)

Reb. Mary said...

How could I forget Kristin Lavransdatter? I have a feeling I'll get more out of the series now than I did when I read them back in high school...

lisa said...

I know this isn't the same thing, but it makes me think of this painting/icon:
http://www.printeryhouse.org/ProdPage.asp?Prod=A04

Rebekah said...

RM, you read this in high school?! (I always forget you attended an actual academic institution.)

Sarah Osbun said...

Maybe I'm missing something important in the passage you quoted.

I completely disagree with the first paragraph. No one has suffered more than Christ Himself. A person could be tortured for a lifetime and not suffer as much as Christ on the cross. His disciples were never abandoned by God. Christ was forsaken by God. Christ bore the sins of the entire world and suffered the punishment for them all. The disciples suffered torments for many days because they didn't remember His teaching that He must die and rise on the third day. They were scared for their own skins and hid in a locked room. Christ did not hide, but instead gave Himself up for the salvation of the world.

The way to Christ is through faith. The faith which is only given by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pain and suffering will come but they merit nothing. We gain courage from the promise of God that He will never forsake us. The saints that have gone before us are indeed an example of perseverence through suffering. We can strive to endure suffering like they did, knowing that just as they held to the faith so can we through the strength given by Christ.

Rebekah said...

The passage from which this quotation is taken concerns the physical sufferings of the martyrs. Father Gunnulf's point is precisely your second paragraph. What they have endured demonstrates its worth for so great a prize.

It is also a warning against taking an experiential view of the atonement. Jesus' suffering on the cross does not redeem us because it was the worst, longest, most physically painful torture ever endured in the history of humanity. Jesus was not boiled in oil or roasted on a flatiron; he suffered at the hands of the Romans for hours and not days; he was also never tempted to end another's cries of suffering by treading on the fumie and he never had a wife who was assaulted or a child who died. If we turn the crucifixion or the life of Christ into a physical or emotional pain contest we've entirely missed the point (which is, as you say, his forsakenness before the Father). That is the temptation Father Gunnulf faced, and it is common to man.

lisa said...

fumie?

Rebekah said...

Come to my house one of these days and I'll loan you Silence.

lisa said...

I feel strangely frightened :(

Oh no. Is it this?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fumi-e

:(

:(

:(

Rebekah said...

Yeah, that's it. You might actually now want to read that book. I don't plan to again.

Sarah Osbun said...

That's a relief, thanks for the clarification. I was a bit worried when I read it. The devil works in insidious ways to make us devalue the salvific sacrifice of Christ. No one has suffered more than Christ who has watched mankind from the beginning. God has watched His people cry for an end of pain and has watched His children assaulted and murdered. Lord have mercy.

Gauntlets said...

That book is one of those books. Read it years ago, but I still find myself thinking and thinking about it.

lisa said...

I just committed to Master of Hestviken. But maybe after that.

M said...

Ok, yes, you are now my best friends. Since age 18, I read K. Lavrans D. maybe 5-6 times?

at 18, Erlend is dreamy.
at 22, you realize he's kind of sad.
at 26, you know he's a creep you wouldn't let near your daughter.

Try Gunnar's Daughter!