Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Coping With Terrorism

By FATHER EUGENE HEMRICK, CNS | Published July 21, 2005

A chill shot through me when I awoke July 7 to hear that a series of bombs had exploded in London. As the morning wore on, I thought: “Now we have another anguish to cope with. How much more can we take?”

At this moment of high anxiety, we need more than ever to keep our perspective on life. When the London bombings occurred, the Scripture readings in the Liturgy of the Hours were recounting the life of King David. During his last days David never was allowed to enjoy complete peace. His son Absalom had turned against him and eventually was killed. Then Adoniah laid claim to the throne, forcing David, who was close to dying, to step in and have his son Solomon anointed king.

Throughout the Bible and history we learn that just when peace is within a nation’s grasp, something comes along to disrupt it. Humankind never is allowed to rest on its laurels.

The war on terrorism is a historical reminder that just as there is goodness on earth and there are glimmers of peace, we nonetheless continue to witness evil and conflict. We also learn that terrorists never operate in the open. They are always hiding, the same sort of hiding that Adam and Eve sought after turning away from God.

To cope with terrorism we must keep reviewing the history of evil and reminding ourselves that events similar to those that have happened in our times have happened before and will happen again as long as there is sin. Facing this fact helps to remove the fear that this sort of evil has happened only to us, that we are alone and unique in our anguish.

We must also remember that the worst defeat we confront in the face of terrorism is losing heart. The cry “Fear not!” is heard repeatedly throughout the Gospels and church history. A perplexed Mary who hears she is to be the mother of God is comforted by the words of an angel saying, “Fear not Mary, the Holy Spirit is with you.” Christ soothes frightened apostles in a storm with the assurance, “Fear not!” We read of martyrs during the early persecutions inspiring each other to take heart and trust in God.

No doubt the war on terrorism will be long and bloody. No doubt it will take the best military and technological strength to gain victory. No doubt we will need a spirit of patriotism to keep heart.

But in all this we must never doubt the power of prayer! Prayer keeps our hearts open and our thinking clear because it overcomes hardness of heart and the blindness this causes. More than this, prayer renews our faith in God.

As Job’s faith in God was his strength, so keeping faith through prayer is our strength. God has the ultimate answer for overcoming terrorism. Only an open heart can read God’s mind and learn the answers.