“Cry Havoc…!”

Tonight, the country learned that President Trump ordered the launching of cruise missiles against a Syrian air base.  This was in response to the Syrian government’s air strike, with gas bombs, against civilians in rebel held territory.

I will be the first to admit that I am split personality in my reactions to this.  The pacifist in me fears that this is the first step to a deeper conflict.  The realist in me acknowledges that the Syrian government must learn that there is a price to pay when they use deadly gas against civilians.  One has only to look at the pictures and videos of gasping, dying children; to realize something needed to be done.  But now that the missles have flown, what happens next?  Do we have a Commander in Chief who will know what to do, now that he has “….let slip the dogs of war.”  I hope so; but in the meantime, I will add my prayers to countless others, that the Father will guide us and protect us:  

I raise my eyes toward the mountains.  From where will my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

The Lord will guard you from all evil, will always guard your life. The Lord will guard your coming and your going, both now and forever.   (Psalm 121: 1-2, 7-8)

“…And In His Saints!” A Work of Fiction from a Real Tragedy

niceThe French EMT helps load another stretcher into the ambulance, and shuts its doors as it takes off.  She wearily turns around and looks down the street of tragedy; lined with the injured, and the dead.  Just a little while ago it was full of people, celebrating the founding of a republic, celebrating Bastille Day.  Then tragedy struck in this city of Nice; one maniac in a truck, mowing the people down.  Now, there is fear, agony, and grief.  And her heart is screaming:  “Where are You in all of this?”

She closes her eyes for second.  When she opens them, she is looking at the curbside.  She notices for the first time, a little friar, dressed in a patched brown habit.  He is holding the hand of an injured child, singing a French ditty for her.

The sound of sobbing draws her attention to two women, kneeling over a covered body.  One of them is bent over with grief; the other has her arm around the grieving woman’s shoulders, holding her tight.  This woman looks like she is from the Middle East.  She is wearing a long blue veil; her face looks as if she has known much sorrow in her life, and now she is comforting another woman through hers.

The EMT looks further down the street of tragedy and saw a police officer standing guard.  He nervously stares out into night, holding his rifle tight.  The EMT blinks her eyes, because she could swear there was a girl standing next to him.  She is dressed like a French peasant, with short-cropped hair.  Her hand is gripping the officer’s shoulder, as with fierce eyes, she also stares into night with him.  Is that a sword in her other hand?

Movement next to her drew the EMT’s attention.  She stares at her medical bag, and sees that someone has placed a red rose in it.  She looks quickly behind her and thinks she sees a nun, a Carmelite nun, disappearing into the crowds.  She turns around again, but the people she saw, the friar, the woman in blue, the peasant girl, have also disappeared.  She looks down to her bag, the rose is real.  As she looks at it; she suddenly no longer feels so alone.  She grabs her medical bag, takes a deep breath, and walks back down the street of tragedy.

“Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.”

And Jesus Wept

Memorial Orlando ShootingsThe tragedy in Orlando FL has shaken the country.  Yet, there are those who say the people, the victims, who attended the nightclub; got what they deserved.

Whether you accept their lifestyle or not; these were human beings, created by God.  And Jesus wept.

There are politicians who cry out for banning Muslims from our shores.  The majority here are hard-working, and law-abiding.  Those who wish come here; are seeking refuge from violence.

They wish only to exercise the rights that are the foundation of this country; “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  But some of us want to turn them into objects of fear.  They are human beings, created by God.  And Jesus weeps.

And Jesus wept

San Bernardino Tragedy – A Prayer

Francis weeping“Once I said:  ‘In the noontime of life I must depart!  To gates of the nether world I shall be consigned for the rest of my years’…

Like a swallow I utter shrill cries; I moan like a dove.  My eyes grow weak gazing heavenward; O Lord, I am in straits; be my surety!…

What I am to say or tell him?  He has done it!  I shall go on through all my years despite the bitterness of my soul.  Those live whom the Lord protects; yours…the life of my spirit.  You have given me health and life; thus is my bitterness transformed into peace.

You have preserved my life from the pit of destruction. When you cast behind your back all my sins.”  (Isaiah: 38: 10a, 14, 15-17)

Another senseless massacre, more innocent lives lost, more victims suffering from wounds received.  It is easy to give in to the anger, and the fear.  It easy to strike out at the groups we identify with the threat, even though a majority of them are innocent, law-abiding citizens. It is easy to agree with those pundits and politicians, who will soon be calling for expulsions, and closing of places of worship.

The challenge is to remain faithful to the ideals that founded this country, that has drawn so many people, so many refugees to its shores.

And finally,  we cannot give into despair, but draw on that faith in God, that he will still sustain us during these uncertain times.

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thess 4: 14)

 

 

Terror Strikes Again!

pray for parisMy wife and I do not turn on the TV much during the day.  When I do, I am usually watching TV reruns, until it is time for the evening news.  So yesterday, I was shocked when I saw the breaking news on WCVB TV, Channel 5, about the terrorist attacks throughout the city of Paris, France.

I know the scientific research is out there explaining it, but I still cannot understand why a human person can inflict so much pain, so much suffering, on another person.  How individuals can turn the great religions of humanity, faiths that teach peace, tolerance, charity, and mercy; and use them as the reason for slaughtering so many innocent men, women, children, and themselves!

In the face of so much evil, so much suffering, so much death; you cannot blame someone losing their faith in a merciful God.  As bad as things are in the world, as much as I may, at times, give in to despair; I cannot abandon my faith in God, nor my love for my Creator.  The Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to show us the path to true peace.  God the Son, came into the world, so that by his death and Resurrection, we are freed from the fear of suffering and death.  That does not mean that we will not encounter suffering.  That does not mean we will not continue to experience death, of loved ones, and our own.  But God has shown us that there is a sunrise to defeat the darkness, that life, transformed and glorified, does exist.  That there is hope.

The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.  They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction.  But they are in peace.” (Wisdom 3: 1-3)

70th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Prisoners of Auschwitz

auschwitz

Today, January 27, 2015, is the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Soviet troops during World War II. It is reported that 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz, 90% of them were Jewish, and the remainder were prisoners from the rest of occupied Europe and the Soviet Union. The BBC had a very moving report on the anniversary memorial at the camp. New England has been hit by a record breaking blizzard, so the local news channels have been covering that story non-stop. I have not been able to see any national news, so I do not know if this anniversary has been mentioned in American media. I really hope it was, but I would not be surprised if it was not.

After learning about the atrocities the Nazis did to the Jews, and other peoples, the nations of the world cried out; “Never again!” Yet we know that it has happened again, and again! In my times, it has happened to the Cambodians, victims of the Khmer Rouge. It has happened again among the ethnic peoples of the former Yugoslavia. It is happening in Africa, whether among the ethnic tribes, from terrorist groups, or corrupt governments. Genocide continues to happen, and all the world seems to do is wring its hands.

Growing up, I was never aware of the Holocaust, until one day a teacher in my high school, I cannot remember which class, showed us a black and white documentary film on the Holocaust. It was the most powerful film I had ever seen, and I think it still shapes my thinking to this day. In Boston, near Quincy Market, is a memorial to the Holocaust victims, glass columns shaped like the smokestacks of the concentration camps crematoria. On each pane of glass are engraved the identification number tattooed on each prisoner of the camps. When I worked in Boston, I would occasionally walk through the monument, touch the glass, and pray for the victims. I pray that I will not forget, and I will not be silent.

Exalted and hallowed be God’s great name
in the world which God created, according to plan.
May God’s majesty be revealed in the days of our lifetime
and the life of all Israel — speedily, imminently, to which we say Amen.

Blessed be God’s great name to all eternity.

Blessed, praised, honored, exalted, extolled, glorified, adored, and lauded
be the name of the Holy Blessed One, beyond all earthly words and songs of blessing,
praise, and comfort. To which we say Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and all Israel,
to which we say Amen.

May the One who creates harmony on high, bring peace to us and to all Israel.
To which we say Amen.

Kaddish