Months have passed since I've written here. Been writing and working full time in youth ministry, but at least I've thought about blogging. I'll hit on a particularly moving topic in my car or shower and think "gotta blog about it" but it's forgotten in fifteen minutes. But I actually thought of something this morning before starting the day.
The terrorist attacker in NYC, killing eight people riding their bikes, has left us with a renewed feeling of vulnerability. We've amped up security in airports, government buildings, concerts, and in virtual spaces. Yet something as innocuous as a rental truck can wipe out human lives in five minutes or less. I've seen commentaries and declarations about how "unsafe" we are and how "vulnerable" people feel. Well... yes. Nothing has changed in one sense; we've always been vulnerable. The evil one is ramping up his game and instilling fear. That's a powerful tool. Fear causes people to close their minds in a variety of ways.
Yet we can stand in this vulnerable space knowing that no matter what happens to us, God is with us. God is for us. God honors free will, but we can trust that as Jesus has promised us, he will be with us to the end of the age. Nothing is unseen or unknown by God, and we can rely on God's mercy and justice to prevail, even if we can't see it with human eyes, in human terms. And uniting our sufferings to the suffering of Christ for the salvation of souls is a powerful antidote to what ails us. In fact it is the only way to accept what is and to stand in the vulnerability of being human without growing hardened and closed off. Praying for those whose lives were taken so suddenly and violently is what we are called to, as well as for their loved ones experiencing such a shocking loss.
Today is All Souls Day, when we pray in a special way for the deceased, for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. We can offer our sufferings and the sufferings of others for them, and for ourselves.
Purgatory, BTW, isn't a limbo or a half-way point between Heaven and Hell. It is a place of purification on the way to Heaven. Hence we say "holy souls" or "friends of God" in Purgatory. Since nothing imperfect can enter One who is perfect, we are then made perfect by the stripping away of our attachments to anything other than God. Then we can enter into that perfect union with the Holy Perfection that is the Trinity of Love.
Many writers and saints have done a much better job of addressing vulnerability as the beloved of Christ. For me, the vulnerability is something to accept in a spirit of humility. I cannot change the world this instant to fix the problems or heal everyone. Nor can I snap my fingers and make my life what I think it ought to be. Funny that! But I can trust that in this place of vulnerability, I am (we all are) treasured, sustained and cared for lovingly by the One who loved me enough to die for me.
Those whose lives were cut short in NYC, and those who die daily from violence, hunger and disease (most of which is preventable, BTW, with more and better human effort aided by God's grace) need our prayers and our love as we stand in this vulnerable place with Christ at our side, remembering his own humble vulnerability before the forces of evil in the world. Through his ultimate sacrifice, death is destroyed, and we need not fear our vulnerability in the world.