Perhaps one of the greatest questions we face in our lifetime is why God allows suffering. Oftentimes it seems we are never given a clear answer. In five-week course, Dr. Ed Hogan will walk us through an understanding of suffering in theory and practice using the writings of St. Augustine, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and C.S. Lewis.

Course Review

I can’t forget the day a high school student looked up at me and asked: “Dr. Hogan, God does everything for a reason, right?” Her 17 year old brother had just been incapacitated – probably for the rest of his life – by a major stroke.

You have 15 seconds – how would you respond?

If you say “Yes,” how is she supposed to love the God who struck her brother?

If you say “No, God has nothing to do with this,” how is she supposed to find God in the suffering?

This class will attempt to provide some tools for steering between a rock and a hard place by addressing three inter-related questions:

1) Why is there suffering?

2) How do we walk and talk with people who are suffering?

3) How do we put our own suffering to use?

Each day we will: 1) Consider one section of CS Lewis’ A Grief Observed – so that our theoretical explorations are always set in the context of real suffering; 2) Explore the philosophical and theological question of why suffering exists – with a special eye toward the interaction of theology and science; 3) Consider some deeper angles on how to unite our suffering to Christ, and put it to use.


Ed Hogan is a former Jersey Shore lifeguard whose loves to bodysurf. He is the Academic Dean at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, and has a PhD in Systematic Theology from Boston College, where he specialized in the relationship between theology and science. Ed is the Project Leader for a team at Kenrick-Glennon that recently won a $75,000 grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for the integration of science into the Seminary curriculum. Prior to life in Saint Louis Ed served under (then) Bishop Carlson in the Diocese of Saginaw, MI, as Director of Deacon Formation, Director of the Center for Ministry, and Director of the Department of Formation. He has taught theology on the high school, college, and graduate school levels. Ed is a lector and EMHC at Saint John Paul II parish in Affton. He and his wife Jen have been married for 25 years and have 6 children.