By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published November 13, 2020
It’s hard to read the headlines these days. In Portland, a Catholic church was recently vandalized by street mobs running amuck. The parish, St. Andre Bessette, has a large program to help homeless people, which came to a halt due to the damage.
In Nice, France, two women and a man were killed in a terrorist attack while attending Mass. One was a Brazilian mother of three, who is shown smiling at the camera before this tragedy happened, while two little boys are snuggled against her.
“Tell my children I love them,” were her last words.
Nigeria is known as “the world’s biggest killing grounds for Christians.” Between 50 and 70,000 Christians there have been killed by Islamic militants in the past decade.
In China, the Communist Party is tearing down churches, changing the wording in the Bible, and torturing people of all religions.
What does God think when he looks at our world? I can imagine him weeping over the evil present in the realm he created. Weeping when people who call themselves good Christians fail to do anything about these terrible situations.
Still, it’s easy to feel utterly helpless. What to do when we’re in the middle of a pandemic, an economic collapse, and a confused and contentious election?
I think about the lyrics from a song: “This world keeps spinning faster into a new disaster. So, I run to you, baby.”
I used to run to Jef, my sweetheart, when the world was spinning out of orbit. When I was ill, worried, scared, depressed, anxious. When the headlines were dripping with venom, terror and hatred. When the whole world seemed to be in the grasp of the Devil.
And if Jef were here, surely I’d be running to him now, seeking his advice about the pandemic, the violence, the economic disasters. I miss his calmness and his assurance that in the end, good will win out over evil—because God is in control.
Here’s the question that preys on me, as stated by Father Gerald Vann. Am I among those who are “very regular in fulfilling our own church duties, but deaf to the cries of our neighbors, deaf to the distresses of our fellowmen”?
We might wonder what the average person can do. One important thing is donating money to Aid to the Church in Need (churchinneed.org) and Catholic Near East Welfare Association (cnewa.org)
These organizations provide food, medical care and shelter to the desperate Christians fleeing the terrors of their various countries. It’s difficult for me to view their websites without crying.
And what about praying? This is what the church was doing when Peter was jailed.
Do we believe that prayers matter? Do we pray for the people around the world who are being tortured, indoctrinated, humiliated and killed because of their faith?
Does my congregation regularly pray for the persecuted people around the world? Does our parish bulletin include prayers for the unborn, who are the most persecuted and forgotten of all? Prayers and aid for the desperate, such as single mothers?
Here’s what Father Vann says: “There is never nothing that you can do. If your heart is with Christ, who suffered for the sins that have made this suffering, then you will long to do something to lessen it, to heal and to help.”
It doesn’t matter how far away the suffering people are, since the power of the human spirit can conquer both space and time, he adds. Through the power of prayer.
Trying to change the world, trying to fix things, trying to solve the problems of humanity without prayer can lead to more disasters. Without prayer, social and political activity becomes a band-aid on a festering wound.
Good will win out over evil, and God is still in control. As the world keeps spinning faster and we keep racking up more disasters, the only one we can run to is Jesus Christ. He is the one, unchanging truth.
Artwork by Jef Murray. Lorraine’s email address is email@example.com.