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How do we deal with evil
and its tragic consequences?

Question: What can we possibly say, how can we respond to the tragedies caused by the acts of terrorism in the United States on September 11?

SpacerNone of us will forget September 11, 2001. We probably will remember where we were and the growing horror that we felt as that terrible day unfolded, and the days since. And w e are going to experience more, as the statistics of the tragedy--the 5000 or more dead or missing--become faces of real people, family members, friends and neighbors.

SpacerWe have experienced evil these days. Evil that is cunning, ruthless and seemingly victorious. Evil that, perversely, is done in the name of religion.

SpacerHow can we explain this to our children? More importantly, how can we deal with this ourselves?

SpacerOne Jesus on the Crossman working at the wreckage at "Ground Zero," the site where once the great World Trade Center stood, said in an interview the other day that he was just trying to save what life he could. But he ended by saying that only God could make sense of this. The President wisely directed that the following Friday should be a day of prayer. Only God can make sense of this.

SpacerWhat sense does God give us for this? As Christians we turn to Jesus Christ, God's Son and God's Word. And Jesus points us to the mystery of his cross, always so difficult for us to understand. He points to another scene of desolation, another place of death, another apparent victory for evil.

SpacerThose who were there on Calvary on the day Jesus died saw only that. In a few days, they would see something else. They would hear the voice of the one they thought was dead, they would see the shining wounds on his body; he was alive, and they would feel life again. But then, they saw only death.

SpacerThis is the pattern we follow too, in our personal lives and in our world. Christ has died, Christ is risen. We die, we rise. We are at the first stage of that pattern. We look for signs of hope. We look for resurrection. And it will come.

SpacerOn Easter Sunday, Jesus came into the dark room where his disciples were and breathed his Holy Spirit on them. Believing in the mystery of his resurrection, we ask him to breathe eternal life on those who have died, to breathe new life on those they have left behind.

SpacerWhen Jesus rose, he breathed new purpose into those who followed him. They went to the ends of the earth, not to separate peoples from one another, not to destroy the unity of nations, but to bring them together. May that resurrection grace be given to us.

SpacerFrom the roof of the building where I live in Union City, you can look over at the New York skyline. Standing there the other day, a short sentence from the gospel story of the Passion of Jesus came to my mind. When he died, the gospels says, "There were some women, standing at a distance, looking on."

SpacerWe have a Calvary not far from us. In one sense, we stand like the women, helpless, at a distance, looking at a great Calvary with its ruins, its darkness, its smoke, its death.

SpacerMay the God of life bring life and new purpose from this place.

See also: How do we deal with evil and its tragic consequences?
and When the Towers Fell, by Maureen Skelly, SCH, police chaplain in New York City
and Retreat in Time of Sorrow,
a virtual retreat directed by Columkille Regan, C.P.

This "Ask a Catholic" response was written by Fr Victor Hoagland, C.P.

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