“Where was God when all this happened?”
Fr. Alex’s Corner, 27th Sunday, October 8, 2017
How many times have I heard this question, and I’m sure to hear it when I celebrate parish Masses this weekend. Good question! I can talk my way out of it, especially by saying, “where was God the Father when His Son was hanging on the Cross?” That’s another way of saying, “I just don’t know.”
We’ve seen too much hurt, heartbreak, and tragedy lately. Someone said that it’s like a window to hell just opened. We’ve also seen some remarkable things in these days. Heroism, bravery, willingness to help are GOD’S LOVE MADE REAL. Maybe that’s where God was when all this happened.
We are stunned and frightened by random act of terror. Is there ANYTHING we can do to stop them or lessen the damage? Some say there is nothing we can do. The No Responsibility Accepted crowd thinks that way. Well, maybe they should move over, get off the highways and thrones of power, and off the air waves, and make room for the folks who are willing to try. We have to try. For our kids, for our youth, for our world. We have to try.
Driving fatalities are down because of traffic lights, speed limits, seat belts, and air bags. No one thing, but a number of little things do help. Do you know there are rules about crafting safe step-ladders? We are developing an early-warning system to detect earthquakes. If that isn’t a random act of terror! The system saved lives in Mexico. And in California we have millions of acres of very dry ground growth due to years of drought. We can’t change that and we can’t make rain. But intelligent people have forbidden fireworks, campfires, and found ways to prevent forest fires. We still have them, but no one says “there is nothing we can do.” Imagine your doctor saying that when your appendix is about-to-rupture!
Ok! You know where I’m going with this. How many times have I heard that “the only way to stop a bad person with a gun is for good persons to have guns.” (Isn’t that why we have police officers and the military?) That fallacy fails to admit that the availability of guns makes it too easy for more bad people to get guns. What about the good person (like that “not a bad guy” in Vegas) who has 23 guns and “thousands of rounds of ammunition” and suddenly becomes bad, or just mad? And can you imagine if all or most of those thousands of concert-goers had guns and started shooting back?
I don’t want to be political. I believe it’s a moral issue. I’m offended when people blame God for the foolishness of His people. God who said “Thou shalt not kill,” has gifted us with an intellect and a free will that we must use to live wisely and safely.
In the days following “9-11,” some TV watchers thought they saw the face of the devil in the debris. One of our Friars, a volunteer fire-fighter who went to help at the scene, was later asked if he had seen that face of the devil. He thought for a moment and said, “No, but I did see the face of God!” He was asked to explain. As the emergency responders were going into and out of the collapsed towers for days-on-end seeking survivors, ordinary citizens were bringing bags of food, water, and juices to refresh the workers. One very old and fragile woman walked up with two shopping bags filled with new socks. She said she couldn’t carry heavy bags of water and food, “but maybe the responders might enjoy a fresh pair of socks.” In that old, fragile woman the Friar saw the face of God!
So my friends, there has got to be something we can do to stop 92 American gun-deaths each day. That includes 14 children. Every day! As for you and me, well, to offset those random acts of terror, let’s each do random acts of kindness. The only Hands Jesus has today are our hands. Let’s be the Face of God smiling at whoever needs a smile.
Let us pray fervently for those who weep and all those trying to rebuild their homes and their lives.
THE DAILY ROSARY FOR PEACE
Fr. Alex’s Corner, 28th Sunday, October 15, 2017
In Catholic tradition October is the month of the Rosary. Many of us keep that tradition alive, and that is good. One hundred years ago (October 13, 1917) our Blessed Mother appeared for the sixth and last time to three children in Fatima. There was “a spectacle” which even made unbelievers blink: 70,000 people saw the sun dancing over the crowds. World War I was ending, and Our Lady told the children that unless people turned to God, a greater war would come. Did it? You tell me. Our Blessed Mother told the children that we should say the Rosary every day for peace in the world. How do you say ‘NO’ to a Mom?
There is a lot of pain and anguish among us these days. Storms, floods and wildfires have cost people their homes, dreams, and some lives, too. The shootings – let’s not even get into that. There is more tension in our world than ever. Maybe it’s time to think about that Daily Rosary for Peace.
There is another story I’d like to add. In the late 1980’s two of our Franciscan Friars from Poland embarked on a mission of peace to serve the poor in Peru. Two years later, Friars Miguel Tomaszek (29) and Zbigniew Strzalkowski (31) were shot and killed by Marxist guerillas. They became local heroes and were declared “Blessed” in 2015. Our Franciscan Order is presenting them as PATRONS IN PRAYER to end terrorism and violence. We are promoting the Daily Rosary to End Terrorism with Frs. Miguel and Zbigniew as our partners in prayer.
I am committed to a daily Holy Hour, including the Daily Rosary to End Terrorism, at 3 o’clock each afternoon. Could you join me in that prayer? If you can’t say the whole Rosary, how about one decade, or three Hail Mary’s, or a prayer of your choice. I know that 3 o’clock differs in time zones, but for God there are no time zones. 3 o’clock is big for me because of what Jesus did for us at that time one Friday afternoon so many years ago. If that time doesn’t work for you, any other time is fine.
Another item: On September 23, 2017, the very first American-born priest-martyr was beatified. Fr. Stanley Rother, a native of Okarche, Oklahoma, was a missionary to Guatemala where he too was shot to death by local revolutionaries in 1981. The story of Fr. Stanley is amazing as told in “The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run.” He was only 46 when he died and his parents were still living at the time. Another prayer partner for peace in our times!
Thanks to our novices, a picture of Friars Miguel and Zbigniew are included in this blog. I ask you to join me in The Daily Rosary for Peace with the two Friars and Fr. Stanley Rother as our prayer partners. These three priests know the cost of violence.