Monday, March 25, 2013

Saint Monica and other Saintly Wives

I've posted about Saint Monica in the past, a few years ago, but I find her story (and that of Saint Rita) interesting.
Because of her name and place of birth, Monica is assumed to have been of Berber origin.[3] She was married early in life to Patritius (or Patricius), who held an official position in Tagaste (present-day Souk Ahras, Algeria). Patritius was a pagan, though like so many at that period, his religion was no more than a name; his temper was violent and he appears to have been of dissolute habits. Consequently Monica's married life was far from being a happy one, more especially as Patritius's mother seems to have been of a like disposition with himself. There was, of course, a gulf between husband and wife; her alms deeds and her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence. (Wikipedia)
Patritius died shortly after converting to Christianity, and Saint Monica decided not to remarry.  Saint Rita also did not remarry and entered a convent, and there are many instances of other, perhaps more happily married women such as Elizabeth Ann Seton who, once their husbands pass away, decide to enter convents or start up their own convents.

As a pre-teen (and teen) reading the Father Lovasik Lives of the Saints series, I used to wonder why they all ended up in convents.  Why didn't any of them just re-marry?  Especially the ones who didn't have happy marriages the first time around.  Here was their chance to finally find that happy-ever-after.  I could understand why those who'd had happy marriages might not want to re-marry, it made sense to me, back then, that after a happy, full life with someone, you might just not be interested in starting over with someone else, but why did they all consistently decide to remain single and almost all consistently enter convents?

That was when I still believed in happy-ever-after, the kind of fairy-tale happy-ever-after where you are so in love and so in tune with each other that life together is harmonious and you hardly ever disagree, and when you do, you never harbour hard feelings, or keep grudges, because even when you disagree you never hurt each other, even inadvertently.

That kind of happy-ever-after doesn't exist, not even in the best of marriages.

As a 40+ year old adult, I now see couples who break up and many who almost immediately start looking for a new partner, and I find myself wondering the opposite.  When one marriage (or the equivalent of marriage) has failed or even if there was a happy marriage, but a spouse has died, why do people want to try again?  When you have spent years making compromises, learning what not to do or what not to say in order to keep the peace, when you have put a huge effort into making something work, why would you want to start over again with someone new?

It has a lot to do with a person's idea of what marriage is.  People still think that marriage is the happy-ever-after, everything-will-be-easy-from-now-on thing from fairy tales and if one marriage doesn't work out easily, then you try another, and another, and another.

Romance is not love and love is not romance.  You can have both in a relationship, but it is equally possible to have one without the other.  Love is not necessarily a feeling, it is a choice.  We choose to love our children no matter their faults or our own weaknesses, but for some reason, we are not only incapable of loving our spouses despite their faults, but also incapable of loving them despite our own weaknesses.

Marriage has the inconvenience of throwing things up in your face that you would rather not know about yourself.  It is impossible to live with a person and not have them discover your imperfections, your weaknesses, your bad habits, your faults.  It is equally impossible for them to, at one time or another, not bring these things up, refer to them or make them evident to you in some way, directly or indirectly.

God seems to have a twisted sense of humour sometimes.  Why else would He "trick" us into believing marriage would be magical and beautiful and that we would live happily ever after, only to find out that we would have to work at controlling our own tempers, that we would be confronted with our own faults, that we would inevitably have to change and become better people in order to have that fairy tale happy-ever-after and that this would be an on-going, never-ending, never-easy thing to do?  The only magic in marriage comes, not from without, but from within, in our capacity to see the magic in the ordinary, in our capacity to create magic from nothing; in our ability to be innovative, creative and both forgiving of and able to find beauty in imperfection just as our creator is innovative, creative, forgiving and able to find beauty in each of us.

Marriage has the capacity to turn us either into saints or into bitter, unhappy people.  It really all depends on how willing we are to accept our own shortcomings.

But... when a person has put that much effort into a relationship and the relationship is over, why would anyone want to start over?  After the initial sadness and loneliness after the death of a spouse or the failure of a marriage, wouldn't a person just be glad to not be responsible or accountable to anyone else anymore?  Maybe that's just me though, being the introvert and dreaming of life on a desert island, surrounded with nothing but monkeys and parrots and coconut trees.

I get Pope Benedict XVI, I really do.  At some point, you just don't want the responsibility of the whole world on your shoulders anymore.  At some point, you just don't have the energy anymore, you've done your bit, and now you just want to go and hide and be contemplative.  Not that I think he was running away, he just knew that it was time for someone else to take up that cross, the weight of the world, and carry it for a bit.  I think his prayers will do us just as much good as his direction did when he was pope, and in a way, the fact that he resigned, instead of dying in office has not only given Catholics a new father for the church but also a "grandfather".  That's how I see it.  He hasn't abandoned us, like so many felt, instead his role has changed.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pomp and Ceremony

 But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  (Matt 22:11-13)  

I came across another version of the "Which of These Made a Vow of Poverty?" memes on facebook the other day, and I re-posted it with my own commentary, but I'd like to add a few things; one was pointed out by a friend, and the other I came across while reading Bible stories to my two youngest.

WHAT is the point of this meme? That it is morally wrong to wear ceremonial robes to a ceremony? So what now? We can't wear wedding dresses to a wedding? We can't wear graduation robes to a graduation? Military personnel should abstain from wearing their dress uniform at military ceremonies? Hollywood actors should wear rags to the Oscars? Native peoples shouldn't wear beaded, leather, ceremonial clothes to pow wows?

Pomp and Ceremony has its place in pompous and ceremonial occasions.  
"The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me" (Matt 26:11)  

Oh right. I forgot. It's only Catholic clergy that should wear rags. Because apparently they're all sitting on a hoard of treasure somewhere (not doing anything with it except buying ceremonial robes) like Smaug in the Dwarf's mountain. Since they also all apparently took "vows of poverty", this clearly forbids them to wear ceremonial garb as long as there are still poor people in the world.

Obviously, not buying ceremonial garb, and using that money to buy food for the starving people is going to change things. Because buying food for the poor makes governments stand up and make just laws about things like minimum salary and not taking advantage of people and not letting big companies come in and do whatever they want with impunity. Yep. Problem solved.

I'd like to point out a couple of errors, the first of which is the fact that not all priests take vows of poverty. Only certain orders do. The second is this: while Jesus DOES want us to be concerned with the poor and to fight injustice in the world, he DOES NOT condone forgetting everything else, honour, respect, friendship, and yes - even pomp and ceremony in our ardour to do so.

I came across this story while reading stories from the Bible to my children last night:
A woman came to (Jesus) with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor." Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me."
Clearly, when it comes to showing the proper respect to God, whether it be in dressing appropriately, as in the parable of the wedding where he who did not bother to dress in his best clothes was thrown out, whether it be anointing Christ's head with alabaster oil, (which was very costly) kneeling or bowing in the proper circumstances, spending quiet time in prayer, or some other thing, God is pleased.  There will always be poor people.  This should not stop us from honouring special occasions with expensive items, celebrating religious ceremonies with elaborate feasts afterwards or from showing the proper respect to Christ and his Church even if that means wearing fancy clothes while some less fortunate may have none.  We cannot dress and feed everyone in the world, but if we have done it for one other, we have done it for Christ.  I am sure that most of these cardinals have done it for more than one other.  The best way to eradicate poverty is not in giving all of one's money or belongings away, but in working towards eradicating injustice.  The point here being not to impoverish ourselves in order to be "in communion with" the poor, but rather to work with them in order to give them the same rights, the same opportunities that we have, that they might pull themselves up to the same level.  Evidently, the fact that injustice is pretty much impossible to eradicate should not stop us from trying!  Once again, I quote Samwise Gamgee: "there is some good in this world, and (...) it's worth fighting for."

A friend of mine pointed out that in the photo so self-righteously used, the children lining up to be fed were probably ironically being fed by Catholic Relief Services.

For the record, I prefer a Church where the clergy is capable of recognizing the solemnity, mystery and beauty of the liturgy by wearing the appropriate ceremonial robes. Thank you very much.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

To be a Just Man

I've been reading Plato's The Republic, among other things, and listening to the priest's homily on today's gospel brought a few of these things together.

The scribes and pharisees bring an adulteress before Jesus, in order to condemn her.  Instead of condemning her, Jesus says, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."  When everyone has left, Jesus asks her "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She replies, "No one, sir." Then Jesus says, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more."

The point of the priest's homily was that Jesus did not come to condemn us, but as a physician come to heal the sick, he comes to save us from our sins.  He comes to make us holy and just people.

In his talk on the importance of apologetics, John Njoroge asks the questions: Why is Christianity not having the desired effect on people in Africa?  Why is there still so much injustice and evil being done, when people BELIEVE and go to church?

He points out that when asked which of the commandments was the most important, Jesus answered: "The most important one, is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:29-30)

The problem with the Christian faith today is that we are no longer taught to love the Lord with all our mind.  Logic and thought are left out of religion and the focus is put on relationship and emotion.  So people BELIEVE but somehow, this belief is NOT changing their lives.  Somehow, they are getting the message that Jesus came to die for our sins, but they are not getting the message that the Kingdom of Heaven starts here on earth, that Jesus wants us to have that little bit of Heaven here on earth, that he wishes us to "go and sin no more."
"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder."  (James 2:14-19)
Belief in God does no good, if it does not transform you.  This is why even protestants such as C.S. Lewis believe in Purgatory (see this talk by Evangelist Jerry Walls)  God's DESIRE is to make us in his image.  That is to say, like God.  We can never be as God in substance but, if we let Him transform us,  He will make us like Him in character.  Jerry Walls explains in his talk, based on C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, that, unless we are perfect ourselves, we can never truly appreciate Heaven.  Purgatory, contrary to some views, is not a punishment dealt to souls by God, but a begging of the souls to be purified so that they can be in Heaven with Him.  Heaven is not so much a place as a state of being.  If it is true that we make our own Hell, that Hell is the absence of God, and that we are the ones who bring ourselves to that state of being by rejecting God, then it is equally true that we make our own Heaven.  In order to be in a state of Heaven then, we MUST be pure.  Only God can purify us, and He can only do that if we let Him.

He goes on to mention that the soul recognizes that this may hurt somewhat.  The purification process is not an easy one.  It is not without pain and suffering that we are remolded into perfect beings, but this remolding, this recognition of the tendency inside us to sin and the effort to eradicate that tendency, is necessary in order to be in Heaven.  It is logical then to also believe that an impure soul, even if he had gained entrance to Heaven, would not want to stay there, would not be at ease or happy there.  Souls in Hell can never enter Heaven, not because God does not will it, but because THEY do not will it.

In Book One of The Republic, Socrates argues that it is better to be a just man than to be an unjust man.
Socrates: You are very kind, I said; and would you have the goodness also to inform me, whether you think that a state, or an army, or a band of robbers and thieves, or any other gang of evil-doers could act at all if they injured one another?
Thrasymachus: No indeed, they could not.
Socrates: But if they abstained from injuring one another, then they might act together better?
Thrasymachus: Yes.
Socrates: And this is because injustice creates divisions and hatreds and fighting, and justice imparts harmony and friendship; is not that true, Thrasymachus?
Socrates points out that, even among unjust men, there must be a minimum of justice because absolutely unjust men would cause each other absolute evil, no common action could take place and they would destroy each other.  Injustice always becomes its own enemy.
Socrates: And is not injustice equally fatal when existing in a single person; in the first place rendering him incapable of action because he is not at unity with himself, and in the second place making him an enemy to himself and the just? Is not that true, Thrasymachus?
Thrasymachus: Yes 
He then goes on to point out that, in much the same way that the end purpose of the eye is to see, and the end purpose of the ear is to hear, and that their excellence is in seeing and hearing, "the same is true of all other things; they have each of them an end and a special excellence", and if "deprived of their own proper excellence they cannot fulfill their end".
Socrates: Well; and has not the soul an end which nothing else can fulfill? For example, to superintend and command and deliberate and the like. Are not these functions proper to the soul, and can they rightly be assigned to any other?
Thrasymachus: To no other.
Socrates: And is not life to be reckoned among the ends of the soul?
Thrasymachus: Assuredly.
Socrates: And has not the soul an excellence also?
Thrasymachus: Yes.
Socrates: And can she or can she not fulfil her own ends when deprived of that excellence?
Thrasymachus: She cannot.
Socrates: Then an evil soul must necessarily be an evil ruler and superintendent, and the good soul a good ruler?
Thrasymachus: Yes, necessarily.
Socrates: And we have admitted that justice is the excellence of the soul, and injustice the defect of the soul?
Thrasymachus: That has been admitted.
Socrates: Then the just soul and the just man will live well, and the unjust man will live ill?
Thrasymachus: That is what your argument proves.
Socrates: And he who lives well is blessed and happy, and he who lives ill the reverse of happy?
Thrasymachus: Certainly.
Socrates: Then the just is happy, and the unjust miserable?
Thrasymachus: So be it.
Socrates: But happiness and not misery is profitable.
Thrasymachus: Of course.
Socrates: Then, my blessed Thrasymachus, injustice can never be more profitable than justice.
Because of his tendency to sin, man cannot be in a state of Heaven.  In order to turn injustice into justice, retribution is demanded.  But God's idea of justice is not punishment, since injustice, as we have seen, inevitably punishes itself; we sinful creatures punish ourselves, God has no need to punish us.  What God desires above all is to bring us to Him and to make us like Him.  Only God can transform us and make us like him, but He could only do this by becoming human himself, and dying with us, in order to raise us up to eternal life.

To have faith in God then, is not only to believe in God but, as C.S. Lewis puts it:
[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” (Mere Christianity)
What God truly asks from all of us is this:
Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self---in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The book is mine once again...

I've discontinued my book and had the rights returned to me.
"You own the unformatted text only, and you can do as you choose with that alone. PublishAmerica continues to own the ISBN number, the cover design, and the layout design of the text. Any use of any of these items would be a serious and very clear case of infringement. Therefore, you can use the same design only if we transfer the rights to you, or to your new publishing company. If you would like to use the cover or layout design, we would transfer the rights to your cover design and/or text layout, and provide you with high resolution pdf files of each. The cover design would cost $500, and/or the text layout would cost $250."
Umm yeah, about the cover design?  I hated it.  You can keep it and good riddance.  I imagine I can always get another ISBN if ever I publish the book with a real publisher and I doubt that I will need the layout design.  Not that I even have a copy of that, so thanks but no thanks.  Publishing with Publish America has already been a waste of both time, and unfortunately money as well, since the books I DID buy, somehow got lost in the mail and were never found again. (Not your fault, but still... a waste of my money.)

I think I'll just revise it, and try somewhere else, or publish it electronically.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

16 Ans de Mariage - depuis le 8 Mars 1997

À mon mari - Après 16 ans de mariage, voilà pourquoi je te respecte et t’admire:

Tu as toujours travaillé fort pour subvenir aux besoins de ta famille.  Même qu’aujourd’hui tu as deux contrats sur lesquels tu travailles et même si tu es fatigué parce que tu te couches tard, et te lève tôt, tu trouves quand même le temps de faire des choses autour de la maison.
Tu fais bien ton travail, et tu sembles être apprécié par la plupart de tes compagnons de travail.  Quand on est obligé d’engager 3 différentes personnes pour faire le travail que tu faisais seul c’est que tu fais tout un travail !  Je suis très fière de toi, même si je ne le dis pas assez, je le pense.
Je pense que tu finis par faire plus de lavage de vêtements que moi dans la semaine.
Quand la seule paire de bottes propres qui me font (à mes pattes d’éléphant) te coûtent $200, c’est à peine si tu clignes des yeux, et tu me dis « achète-les », même si tu ne t’achèterais jamais une paire de bottes pour toi-même à ce prix-là.
Tu me laisses faire un paquet de sports (folle que je suis) et jamais tu ne te plains que je suis partie trop souvent le soir, ou que ça te coûte trop cher.
Tu as les épaules plus imposantes que moi et les bras deux fois plus larges.  Tu es capable de lever d’un seul bras, ce dont j’ai de la misère à lever avec deux.   Il n’y a pas de doute, c’est toi le plus fort.  Et une fille aime ça avoir un homme fort. J
Quand il faut faire valoir ses droits, et que moi, j’hésite devant la confrontation, c’est toi qui y vas à ma place, car tu n’as pas peur de défendre les intérêts de ta famille.
Tu travailles bien avec tes mains et tu fais de belles choses, dont le patio de la piscine, le cabanon, la réparation de la bibliothèque pour en nommer quelques-unes.
Tu fais de très bons desserts… miam, miam.
Tu m’accompagnes parfois à des places, même si ça t’intéresse plus ou moins, comme par exemple, au spectacle d’Andrew Allen.
Tu mets constamment les besoins de ta famille devant tes propres besoins. 

 Tu es un homme intélligent qui se tient au courant de pas mal de choses.  Tu as souvent de bons conseils, et tu es toujours prèt à aider les autres.  

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Priesthood, Celibacy and Respect for others...

Imagine this scenario for a minute:
You ordain a straight priest.  You ask him to take vows of obedience, chastity and celibacy.  Then you put him in a women's monastery for the rest of his life, where he will be sharing meals, activities, common rooms and bathrooms with all kinds of women, many of them young and attractive.  Does expecting him to remain chaste and celibate while spending most of his time with women sound a little far-fetched?

But then can one expect the same of a gay priest who spends most of his time in a community with other men, some of them also gay, and many of whom are quite attractive?

For a man who has no desire at all for marriage with a woman, to be asked to give up marriage and live all his life with men he is attracted to is either an excruciating, intolerable, practically impossible sacrifice in the case where he does remain faithful to his vows of celibacy and chastity, or it is not a sacrifice at all. Can a gay priest ever really understand what it means to give up marriage, or even appreciate marriage between a man and women? I suppose some can. But it might certainly make it a lot harder.

If a gay priest does break the vows of celibacy and chastity then, how can he be expected to keep other vows as well? When you start down a road of broken vows and secrecy, unless you make an effort to stop and to avoid further temptation, things only get worse. You need to cover it up. You live a lie. This is not the path to becoming an straightforward, honest and virtuous man. It makes you manipulable. Anyone can blackmail a man who has something to hide. Better to be openly gay in the secular world, than to be secretly gay as a priest.

On a semi-related note:
Only a very small percentage of priests have ever abused minors. 80% of them were apparently not cases of pedophilia but cases of ephebophilia, according to Vatican officials. (Adult men preying on adolescent or pre-pubescent boys instead of young girls). Now, I don't know if these were gay priests preying on boys or not, I assume some of them were, but it would seem that ephebophilia is a problem with married heterosexual men as well. In fact, it would seem that there are actually more cases of abuse among married, protestant ministers than among unmarried Roman Catholic priests and that most acts of sexual abuse against minors are actually committed by sports trainers (or by Hollywood directors).

So the argument that celibacy causes pedophilia (or ephebophilia) has no foundation and it is obviously not a given that the perpetrators are gay either. In fact, in the two cases of ephebophilia where I have actually known people involved, neither perpetrator was a celibate priest, one was a married soccer coach and the other a teenager over 16 years old.

Hollywood is equally as bad, if not worse than the Church, and the underground network there, protecting perpetrators and making it difficult to denounce anyone is just as scandalous. (And again, the perpetrators are neither celibate nor necessarily gay.) But mainstream media prefers to bash the Catholic Church all the while pretending not to notice that the problem also lies elsewhere in perhaps greater numbers.

So really, the solution to this does not lie in bringing down the Catholic Church, abolishing celibacy (or marriage) or destroying Hollywood. Something bigger needs to be done. Somehow, people in all walks of life are just screwed up. Why?

You know, in a society that has become so permissive that there no longer is a truth; there no longer is an ideal path to follow; there no longer is a desire for holiness; there no longer is any appreciation of sacrifice for the greater good, is it so surprising that this kind of thing is rampant everywhere? When men EXPECT to get laid on their first date with a girl, when men do NOT respect a girl's wishes to not have sex, cannot even conceive of sacrificing sex for a better relationship, do not even believe that a girl really might not wish to have sex, when they think that they only have to CONVINCE her, to coerce her, to arouse her against her wishes, why would they stop there? Anyone is open season. When men NO LONGER LISTEN to anyone but their own hormones, when sex has replaced God, when porn has replaced prayer, then is it any wonder that enormous amounts of abuse occur, and are often covered up, or never even acknowledged?

I know of too many women who were coerced into sex by their boyfriends, BETRAYED by those they trusted. Too many women who regret it later. Too many women who blame themselves. Too many women who have become cynical towards men. This kind of abuse is so frequent and no one seems to notice. Is the idea that women might not want to have sex with their boyfriends so backwards and impossible to believe? This kind of abuse does not just hurt the women involved, it ALSO hurts the men out there who DO respect and care for women, and aren't just in the game for what they can get out of it. Because women are cynical and distrustful of them too.

Is it any wonder then, if adult women are so consistently taken advantage of, that children are also at risk?

Friday, March 01, 2013

Holding On

Today's reading recounts part of the story of Joseph:

Book of Genesis 37:3-4.12-13a.17b-28. Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him. One day, when his brothers had gone to pasture their father's flocks at Shechem, Israel said to Joseph, "Your brothers, you know, are tending our flocks at Shechem. Get ready; I will send you to them." "I am ready," Joseph answered. They noticed him from a distance, and before he came up to them, they plotted to kill him. They said to one another: "Here comes that master dreamer! Come on, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here; we could say that a wild beast devoured him. We shall then see what comes of his dreams." When Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from their hands, saying: "We must not take his life. Instead of shedding blood," he continued, "just throw him into that cistern there in the desert; but don't kill him outright." His purpose was to rescue him from their hands and restore him to his father. So when Joseph came up to them, they stripped him of the long tunic he had on; then they took him and threw him into the cistern, which was empty and dry. They then sat down to their meal. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, balm and resin to be taken down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers: "What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood? Rather, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh." His brothers agreed. They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. Some Midianite traders passed by, and they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and took him to Egypt.  Daily Gospel
Joseph could have despaired and given up on God.  Sold into slavery by his own brothers, who actually wanted to kill him; far away from his family, his country, his father; wrongly accused, thrown into prison, it seemed like God had forgotten him.  How could he know that all this had to happen in order for him to save his family from starvation one day and ensure that future generations of the people of Israel would be born?  He couldn't have known.  It is only ever in hindsight that we realize that the intolerable situations in our lives had to happen in order for some good to take place.

So if you are in the pit of despair, take courage from the story of Joseph.  Some day, in hindsight, you will look back on today and know, this had to happen, it was going somewhere, you just didn't know where.  Like Frodo and Sam, we are holding onto the fact that there's some good in this world, and that it's worth fighting for.