Looking at all the darkness, don't forget that the light is there as well ...
Pope Francis referered to the attack on Paris as a “piece” of a piecemeal Third World War, and the horror there has rightly taken all of our attention and our prayers, but Sunday is a good day for thinking about miracles and hope, and what keeps occurring to me as I watch the news is that in the midst of all of that terror, maybe a miracle happened too: Bataclan hall seats 1500, and was sold out; the terrorists executed and reloaded nonstop for more than ten minutes, yet there were many more survivors than victims; this seems miraculous to me in much the same way as did the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. The first plane struck the North Tower—a place where the workdays started at 9 a.m. or earlier—at 8:46 a.m. Logically, tens of thousands of people should have been in those towers, yet the loss of life (as grievous as it was) topped out at 3,000.
The people responsible for these terrible deaths are walking in darkness, and in the face of their evil it sometimes becomes easy to forget this: that evil and goodness exist right beside each other, just as Christ, the All Good, was crucified next to criminals; while this evil is a threat, its seeming “victories” are illusions because they try to murder everyone, but somehow—because buses and trains were running late, or people stopped for coffee, or unlimited firepower and an intention to kill an entrapped crowd of people still came up against something that slowed things down—they were prevented from getting what they really wanted: total death.
Please don’t misconstrue my meaning: I am in no way attempting to minimize the seriousness of what happened on the thirteenth of this month. But I think there are mysteries before us: battles between dark and light, and things visible and invisible, and it is worth thinking about how much worse things could have been, and considering how it happens that they are not much, much worse in Paris, and were not a great deal worse in New York.
On a Sunday it is worth pondering all of that and coming down on the side of hope, and of miracles that save lives, and to remember that both hope and miracles are realities, and not abstractions, not for us, within our threatening streets, not for a Catholic Deacon drilling an impossible plan for rescue, and not a young addict who touched the Holy Eucharist and was healed.
Heck, it might be something of a miracle that a movie that might have understandably taken every opportunity to bash the Catholic Church, manages to resist that temptation.
The young friar healed after touching the Body of Christ gives witness to its reality; so did this elderly South Korean priest, who risked violence to protect the Eucharist, and this great missionary.
A few other things you may have missed, this week:
Being Catholic: Some good advice on bringing small children to church, on how to encourage young couples in your parish, on jumpstarting your prayer life and on renewing your excitement about the Advent season.
What one man found to be the best way to address his anxiety, and what the children of divorce are telling the church about Communion for Divorced and Remarried Catholics
Pope Francis: “Do not let remorse dry up” because then everything else does too.
The world saved by beauty.
Welcoming Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble as a featured columnist every Tuesday!
Keep praying for the people of Paris, and really, for the whole world.
Elizabeth Scalia is Editor-in-Chief of the English edition of Aleteia