When a good person has to undergo suffering or succumb to death, there is always one question. "Why?"

That was a question my wife and I pondered as we sat at the breakfast table on the day one of our relatives was bid good-bye by his wife, family and friends at a Mass and then at the cemetery.

Death came at the end of nearly 10 years of pain and suffering, distress borne with faith in God and without complaint. Certainly, our relative, a good man, must have asked the "Why?" question during his long illness.

Then, God gave me an answer to that question. Actually, the answer was provided by St. Peter Damian, a bishop, who lived in Italy about a thousand years ago. It was that morning's reading in "The Liturgy of the Hours," "The Divine Office."

"For God's chosen ones there is great comfort; the torment lasts but a short time," wrote St. Peter Damian. "Then God bends down, cradles the fallen figure, whispers words of consolation. With hope in his heart, man picks himself up and walks again toward the glory and happiness of heaven…

"The Scriptures reassure us: let your understanding strengthen your patience. In serenity look forward to the joy that follows sadness. Hope leads you to that joy and love enkindles your zeal."

Of course, we will not ever find out the definitive answer to "Why?" while we are on this earth.

We do know the answer to an even more vital question, "Who?" That, of course, is God.

If we follow the example of people like our late relative, faith in, hope from and love for God will help us bear the unbearable. Better yet, those divine qualities will give our relative, and all of us, the joy of eventually reuniting with our loved ones in God's presence forever.

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God is the answer to every essential question.