The battle between dark and light that has played out all around us since Eden now becomes more visible, at the very Altar of our worship.
The Islamic State is claiming responsibility for a cowardly slaughter of an 86 year-old priest who was celebrating a morning Mass in a church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy. Entering through the rear door of the church, two men yelled allegiance to Daesh (ISIS) and commenced their attack.
Abbe Jacques Hamel, born in 1930 in Darnétal and ordained a priest in 1958, was vicar of the parish of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. He celebrated his golden jubilee in 2008. Also taken hostage were two nuns and two worshipers. Another nun managed to escape and was able to alert authorities.
Reports are the priest’s throat was slit and that one of the worshipers, attacked in the same way, is in critical condition after what President François Hollande has called as a “vile terror attack”.
“[ISIS] has declared war on us. We must fight this war by all means, while respecting the rule of law — which is what makes us a democracy.”
“The Pope is informed and feels the deep pain and horror of this absurd violence, and forcefully condemns with with the strongest condemnation for every form of hatred, and prayer for those affected,” said Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi, who added the attack hits all the harder “because this horrific violence took place in a church, a sacred place in which the love of God is announced, and the barbaric murder of a priest, and the involvement of the faithful.”
The Sun (UK) reports that the church was one of a number of Catholic places of worship mentioned on a hitlist, discovered on an ISIS suspect in April 2015.
Writing in Aleteia’s French edition, Jean Duchesne, Executive Director fo the Catholic Academy in France and a founder of the French edition of the magazine Communio, writes: What just happened in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray can only provoke horror and even anger at such hatred that is as cowardly as it is cruel, and stupidly suicidal. After so many terrorist attacks in France but also in Germany, it is permissible to note that in this case the lunatics have not killed completely blind.
Until now…the fanatics had attacked some flattering idea that our citizens have of themselves : the iconoclastic insolence of Charlie Hebdo, the pagan cult of sports in the Stade de France and the happy go lucky Bataclan and café terraces of the eleventh arrondissement “bobo” of Paris, the fireworks of July 14 in Nice celebrating a revolution that promoted ideals, but also produces worse …
Here today is something quite different. The purpose of the condemnation was not the West in general nor its complacent and selfish prosperity, [which] may seem insulting to the poor of the world. This was an attack at [the root of European civilization] — our very living source, if we forget – [what throughout history] quietly but irresistibly, it refreshes us explicitly and most intensely: the celebration of Mass.
We must therefore ask: will the French (and others) identify with these victims — an elderly priest brutally murdered, and a handful of faithful and religious. Dare we dare say, “I am Father Jacques Hamel” as it was proclaimed, and repeated over and over again, “I am Charlie Hebdo?”
Christians, for their part, can only be shocked and outraged, as any civilized human being…but also shaken because they are now justified in thinking that their Eucharistic assemblies are now in the crosshairs of those plagued by murderous impulses and stimulated by a delirious propaganda. [Christians] once again find themselves confronting — as no one could wish or expect — the mystery of evil in its most naked brutality; the unbearable enigma that Love is not loved, as revealed that Cross was left nailed their Lord.
We will continue to go to Mass, whatever our fears, to receive the Love that overcomes hatred…and because we want to love those who consider themselves our enemies, as those who do not care. The doors of our churches will remain open.
More to read: The Church’s Newest Martyr, Jacques Hamel, pray for us!
Indeed, Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us.
St. Michael the Archangel, patron of Normandy, pray for us.
St. Therese of Lisieux, so near Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray Church, pray for us.