Suffering is an inescapable fact of life, from which no one is immune.

Whether it’s the agony of the annual dental visit or much deeper mental and physical anguish caused by life events, suffering is inevitable.

For Catholics, however, suffering is the gift that keeps on giving.

Redemptive suffering, defined as any physical or mental tribulation, is an important tenet of the Catholic faith. Catholics, as well as Christians, believe that human suffering, when offered up for others through Christ, can remit the punishment for one’s own sins or for the sins of another.

Through our own suffering, by offering up the pain to Jesus, who, of course, went through the ultimate suffering to save all souls, we are able to help others gain entry into God’s kingdom.

“Christ is the ultimate for (redemptive suffering),” Deacon Pat Broussard said. “He suffered on the cross for all of us. So we share in his suffering.

“You offer (suffering) to God for special intentions. It gives you solace and gives your suffering purpose.”

Offering up one’s suffering can be achieved either formal or informally. Formally may mean using morning prayer to offer up the day’s joys, sufferings, pains and intentions.

Informally might be something as simple as using your own words to ask God to use a particular suffering for a specific purpose. Essentially, by accepting and not complaining about life’s daily inconveniences, frustrations and pains, and by offering that up to God, you are able to pay on your own debt, or that of others, owed to God for our human weakness.

Embracing the cross, or the acceptance of one’s hardships, is essential for eternal salvation.

So the next time you stub your toe and issue utterances that require confession, or find yourself stymied on the bottleneck that is I-10, or when lost in the desert of Lent wondering why you ever decided to give up chocolate, or even have a chat with the boss, take a moment to say a brief prayer and offer it up either for your own sins or that of others. In that moment, you will be helping a lost relative or friend with their own salvation.

In human suffering, there is indeed redemption and glory.