Skip to comments.WHEN EVIL STRIKES (What the CHURCH teaches)
Posted on 10/12/2001 10:54:21 AM PDT by janee
The Catholic Response to Terrorism The reality of evil and the response of faith
When tragedy strikes, when horrors such as terrorist acts are inflicted by human beings upon their fellow human beings, our very sense of self is shaken. The rules and rituals that guide us through our daily lives may be temporarily shattered, and we can feel profoundly disoriented, vulnerable, and alone.
This is particularly true when we come face-to-face with evil. It is tempting for modern men and women to deny the reality of evil, or to explain it away in psychological or sociological terms. But evil exists, and when we see it directly, it can cause us to despair. That human beings can commit such terribly evil acts may even rock the foundations of our faith. That is why the true triumph of evil is not simply the evil act itself, but the despair, hopelessness, and fear that these acts can engender in others.
Terrorism is meant to inspire fear, and only faith can drive fear out. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, the psalmist sings, for thou art with me. In faith we turn to One who is greater than evil. We turn to the God who so loved us that His own Son died for us and our salvation. We remember the assurances He gave us that He will always be with us, that death is no longer the end, but a new beginning.
We turn to the Church He instituted on this earth, and we gather with other believers so that our faith may deepen and our courage grow. Do not be afraid, Jesus tells us. Having stood face-to-face with evil, we need to immerse ourselves in that which is good. We need to hear the truth that our God is greater than any evil, if only we turn to Him and call upon Him.
But where is God when evil strikes?
Did the victims of terrorist attacks deserve to die? Was this part of Gods plan? Certainly not!
God does not intend evil. God does not wish for human suffer-ing. But God created humans with free will. From the moment when Adam and Eve chose their own desires over the way of God, the effects of original sin have echoed down the genera-tions. Sin is real, and we all are sinners. We all abuse the free-dom God gives us. That is why we have need of Gods mercy and forgiveness. Some people, however, have so hardened their hearts perhaps out of hatred, perhaps out of despair, but always by turning away from God that they are capable of great acts of terror and destruction.
Where is God? God is present always and everywhere. Not commandeering our free wills, but present with strength, hope, and love. God is with the victims at the moment of tragedy. God is with the survivors. God is with their rescuers. God is with each person who calls on Him.
While acts of great evil such as terrorism can seem overwhelm-ing, as Catholics we know that death is not the end, and that God awaits all those who perish. But God is present also in the after-math of tragedy the helping hands of strangers, the Good Samaritans who donate labor or blood or money, even the people who can only pray from afar.
On the Cross Jesus cried out, My God, my God, why have you abandoned me! from the first line of Psalm 22. Take time to read this psalm, which reads like a description of Jesus Passion and Death. This psalm ultimately becomes a prayer of great faith that God can be trusted even in the darkest moments. God did not abandon Jesus on the Cross, nor does He abandon us. As Jesus suffered on the Cross, so God suffers with us. He is also present in our own response to tragedy our courage, our will-ingness to sacrifice for the sake of others, and our witness to Jesus call to love everyone, even our enemies.
The righteousness of anger, the danger and futility of revenge
After an act of terrorism or other great evil, we may feel great anger, and some of us will cry out for revenge. But as Catholics, we know that while we cannot deny our emotions, neither can we surrender to hatred.
In the wake of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Pope John Paul IIs prayer is one that we can all make our own: May (the Virgin Mary) help all not to give in to the temptation of hate and violence, but to commit them-selves to the service of justice and peace.
It is natural for our shock to give way to anger, said Bishop Walter Sullivan of Richmond, Va. We must be careful that it does not give way to vengeance.
Anger is a totally appropriate response to tragedy. Anger can indeed be holy. It can motivate us to work for justice, to right wrongs, and to provide for victims. Anger fuels us to protect life and respond to threats. But anger, no matter how righteous, can easily take a devilish turn when it gets channeled into vengeance and mindless retaliation.
Certainly it is appropriate and right to work toward bringing evildoers to justice. Those responsible for acts of terror or cruel-ty must be held accountable. Likewise, it is appropriate to pro-tect ourselves from greater harm to come.
But great care needs to be taken that defense of our own citi-zens safety and efforts to bring the guilty to justice do not occur at the expense of innocent lives. Such action is immoral in itself and also leads to greater and greater retaliation, condemning ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren to an endless downward spiral of violence and hate.
Specifically, it is wrong to assign guilt by association. We must not hold innocent people responsible just because they happen to share the same religion or national or ethnic origin of the perpetrators.
It is also wrong to launch military action that would target civil-ians and others innocent of the crime. Catholic teaching says military action is justifiable once responsibility for the act is determined with moral certitude, though the use of force must be applied with certain restrictions. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that the use of arms must not pro-duce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition (2309).
Ultimately, the challenge is to take our anger and our resolve and turn it towards building the Kingdom of God, where all are protected and all can live in peace.
Talking with your family
Parents have a special responsibility to help their children respond to tragedies in a healthy way. Children will mirror the feelings of their parents, so be sure to take good care of your own emotions as you care for theirs. Your faith will comfort them, just as your fears will make them insecure.
The key is to reassure children that their feelings are normal, and that they are not alone. There are adults who care for them and are working to keep them safe. There is a God who loves them and will never abandon them.
You can help children by asking them to recount the incident. From that you can learn what might be at the heart of their fears. Have younger children play a game with you, or draw pictures. This will give you clues to their emotional state. Dont criticize the childs feelings, but welcome them. Also dont dis-miss their fears as baseless, but offer information that can help reassure them.
Stick to familiar routines, which children will also find reassur-ing. Bedtime is often when fears emerge. Clear away time to spend with your children in the evening. Pray with your chil-dren. Pray for the victims. Ask for courage and strength. Praise God for all the goodness found even in the midst of tragedy. Pray the Rosary or the Memorare as a family. Pray the Guardian Angel Prayer with younger children. Pray before the Crucifix, or a picture of the Holy Family. Use the symbols of our faith to remind children of Gods presence and love for them.
In times of trauma, children can feel as isolated and alone as we might. Bringing them to church to worship with a community of believers reassures them that they are not alone, and teaches them that it is to God that we all turn in such terrible times.
We also believe that God is working in history, within our own lives, and that we can be instruments of peace. If they are old enough, let your children join you in contributing time, talent, and treasure to those agencies aiding the victims and their fami-lies. In all these ways families can respond to Gods call and help to create a world of greater justice and peace.
In addition to the prayers below, you might find solace in saying the Rosary together as a family or with friends, or reading the psalms aloud. Psalms 5, 71, 85, and 140 are especially appropriate.
Prayer to a Guardian Angel
O Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom Gods love commits me here.
Ever this day be at my side,
to watch and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.
Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our safe-
guard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May
God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do you, O prince of
the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan
and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the
ruin of souls. Amen.
Memorare (Prayer to Our Lady)
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it
known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored
your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins,
my Mother. To you do I come, before you I stand, sinful
and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not
my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.
A Blessing for Your Family
Lord, bless our family, all of us now together, those far away,
all who are gone back to you. May we know joy. May we
bear our sorrows in patience. Let love guide our understand-
ing of each other. Let us be grateful to each other. We have all
made each other what we are. O Family of Jesus, watch over
our family. Amen.
Prayer for Mourners
You are attentive to the voice of our pleading.
Let us find in your Son
Comfort in our sadness,
Certainty in our doubt,
and courage to live through this hour.
Make our faith strong
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer Attributed to St. Augustine
Watch, dear Lord, with those who wake or watch or weep
tonight, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend your sick ones, O Lord Jesus Christ, rest your weary
ones, bless your dying ones, soothe your suffering ones,
shield your joyous ones, and all for your loves sake. Amen.
© 2001 Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. 200 Noll Plaza Huntington, IN 46750 1-800-348-2440 www.osv.com ISBN: 1-931709-17-3 Inventory Number: P3 The above material, and more, can be found at: www.whatthechurchteaches.com
President Bush is very reassuring and I believe he lives by FAITH. God bless us.
Thanks to my format helper!
Morning mass gives me a daily dose of getting these things into perspective for me...and comforting... as we sing "do not be afraid I Am with you..."
It also gives me a chance to comfort others who have been coming in to church in tears, fearful, sad...
Patron Saint of Policemen and the Airborne.
"Defend Us In Battle."
OSV is as mainstream a Catholic newspaper as is printed in the US. On the contrary, its reliance on the Catholic Catechism, approved by John Paul II, shows how orthodox it actually is.
What is your idea of a Catholic paper? The Wanderer?
That's not what Christ said:
(Luke 13:1-5) There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
It sounds like the appropriate question is not, "Why did they die?" but, "Why are we still alive?"
In spite of which they pretty much got this right. You don't believe deliberately killing civilians is appropriate, do you?
"St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our safe-guard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do you, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen."
I pray, O Lord, that I would be an instrument worthy of your righteousness and justice should you actively use me, your humble servant, in the battle against evil.
I am touched to the core
with a presence I can not explain
A loving plan enfolds me
Someone is always believing in me
calling me forth, calling me on
I am standing in grace
filled with mystery
touched with the eternal
I cannot get away from goodness
I think we name you, God.
You surround me like a gentle breeze
My idols live on in my life
My inconsistent values stay
My immaturity walks beside me
My sin is ever before me
Your love for me stays the same
I tremble in the face of such graciousness
Your reverence for me astounds me
You breathe out hope
and I catch on...
from "Seasons Of Your Heart"
by Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B.
...morning mass, to me.
I, too, deliberate the quotation 'ere go I, but for the Grace of God! Why spare me, a sinner? JMJ - Kyrie eleison - Christe eleison. Lord have mercy - Christ have mercy.
PEACE IS A GOAL WORTH FIGHTING FOR
The sooner they're dead the better.
And St. Barbara, Patron Saint of ARTILLERY.