“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
This feast day, those words carry more weight than usual.
After the tragic events of yesterday, we are a city and a country in mourning; we pray to be comforted.
We are a people haunted by fear; we pray to be consoled.
We know we aren’t the first to live in an age of anxiety. Sadly, we probably won’t be the last.
But we know this, too: trying to make sense of a senseless act of violence, we look beyond the cross. We are Christians. We see the empty tomb. We live in prayer and hope.
We live with the promise of resurrection. We live with a faith that says to the world that hate and evil, death and despair, do not have the last word.
We are Christians. We live in prayer and hope.
And if All Saints Day teaches us anything, it is that we stand on the shoulders of giants—holy men and women who, in times of hate, dared to be witnesses of love.
Thirty years ago, three priests—two Franciscans from Poland and an Italian—were serving as missionaries in Peru, ministering to the poor. They celebrated Mass, heard confessions, taught catechism class, baptized children in the local churches. They were beloved for their generosity, their simplicity, their youth and joy.
In August of 1991, in two separate incidents, these priests were abducted by members of the Shining Path, a communist guerilla group.
They were all murdered.
Pope John Paul opened the cause for their sainthood in 1995. Twenty years later, they were beatified. They are, in every sense, “blessed.”
They are saints of our time, for our time. They show us what the beatitudes mean.
The priests—Michal Tomaszek, age 29, Zbigniew Stralkowski, age 33, and Alessandro Dordi, age 60—were “meek,”and “poor in spirit.” They were peacemakers, “children of God,” who were “persecuted for the sake of righteousness.”
Last year, during his visit to Peru, Pope Francis visited the tomb of these men, now known as the Martyrs of Chimbote. He offered this prayer for an end to terrorism.
This Solemnity of All Saints, we lift it up, joining our prayer to that of all the saints, asking for God’s mercy and consolation for our city, our country, and our world.
Pope Francis prayed:
“O almighty and merciful God, Lord of the universe and of history. All that You have created is good and your compassion for the mistakes of mankind knows no limits. We come to You today to ask You to keep in peace the world and its people, to keep far away from it the devastating wave of terrorism, to restore friendship and instill in the hearts of your creatures the gift of trust and of readiness to forgive.
O Giver of life, we pray to You also for all those who have died as victims of brutal terrorist attacks. Grant them their eternal reward. May they intercede for the world that is torn apart by conflicts and disagreements.
O Jesus, Prince of Peace, we pray to You for the ones who have been wounded in these acts of inhuman violence: children and young people, old people and innocent people accidentally involved in evil. Heal their bodies and hearts; console them with Your strength and, at the same time, take away any hatred and a desire for revenge.
Holy Spirit Consoler, visit the families of the victims of terrorism, families that suffer through no fault of their own. Wrap them in the mantle of Your divine mercy. Make them find again in You and in themselves the strength and courage to continue to be brothers and sisters for others, above all for immigrants, giving witness to Your love by their lives.
Touch the hearts of terrorists so that they may recognize the evil of their actions and may turn to the way of peace and goodness, of respect for the life and for the dignity of every human being, regardless of religion, origin, wealth or poverty.
O God, Eternal Father, in Your mercy hear our prayer which we raise up to You amidst the deafening noise and desperation of the world. We turn to You with great hope, full of trust in Your infinite Mercy. We entrust ourselves to the intercession of Your Most Holy Mother. We ask for the gift of peace and of the elimination from our midst of the sore of terrorism.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”