Today I was texting a friend and I was joking with her. Since it is Good Friday and we have to fast and abstain from meat, I suggested that we go to Texas Roadhouse for a good steak. She replied that it sounds great but her family has a tradition of going to a certain church for their noon mass. She said she likes the symbolism and that she feels like she is there with Jesus as he walks and is crucified. It reminded me of how fortunate we are as Catholics to have the tradition of "offering it up."
Now, I'm no theologian and I find this to be sort of difficult to explain so if someone knows how to better please speak up. Jesus, as God incarnate, was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. We celebrate that sacrifice he made on Golgatha today when we celebrate Good Friday and recall His sacred passion and death on the cross. Actually, we recall, and enter into that sacrifice every time that we go to mass.
But, as Christians, we are able to offer up our pains and sufferings as our own sacrifices and sufferings. Whenever we are in pain, physically or emotionally, we are able to take that and offer it up, perhaps for reparation of our own sins or even for the sins of others. Yes, we are forgiven for our sins because of the death of Jesus and nothing we do could ever amount to that sacrifice. We are forgiven, but we are still tainted by that sin and are not fully purified until we are "purged." This is what purgatory is all about.
What a great benefit we have that we are able to take our pains and sufferings and offer them up. I actually do this while working out. When doing the CrossFit I offer up my pains to three different friends who have passed away in the last year. Today, I did CrossFit on my lunch hour and, like my friend, was able to feel like I was walking with Jesus because I could offer up my aches to Him (and believe me--with overhead squats and GHD sit-ups--there is pain).
We all have aches, pains and sufferings. It is a relief for me that I am able to take these pains and use them for something better. Perhaps they will even get me out of Purgatory sooner and in Heaven faster.
Like I said, I'm no theologian and I'm sure there is a better way of explaining this so if someone wants, please take a stab at it!