Over the past few weeks, we’ve witnessed more than our share of disasters – both man-made and natural occurrences.
Hurricanes devastated Texas, Florida and the islands of the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico. Earthquakes shattered Mexico and Myanmar. And now a lunatic gunman opens fire on a concert crowd in Las Vegas.
At a Mass to support Mexicans, here and abroad, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio addressed the question of evil, as he has in his column several times in recent times. He asks the question about whether a loving God would allow such calamities. For the Christian, the answer is as close as the nearest crucifix. Jesus endured the horror of the cross just as we encounter the troubles of our time.
God doesn’t create evil. It is a sign of Original Sin, that we do not live in a perfect world, but a world besmirched by sin. As imperfect humans, we struggle against evil in order to one day enjoy perfection with Him in heaven.
For some, this is nonsense, sheer lunacy. For others, it is a stumbling block, says St. Paul. But for those with faith, it is at least an explanation, as unsatisfying as it might be.
As we confront evil, we must tangibly fight against it because it works against the goodness of the Creator. And so, the Church provides physical responses for us. We take up special collections to help our brothers and sisters who are affected firsthand. We come together at special liturgies to pray for healing.
Last weekend, the Diocese gathered local Mexicans for a Mass at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral in Prospect Heights. (See story.) Bishop DiMarzio also has asked parishes to take up a special collection on Sunday, Oct. 15, to assist Mexican relief efforts.
The Diocese will call together all Puerto Ricans for a Mass at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral on Friday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. Father Freddy Cintron is coordinating this event. He is also suggesting a special collection on Oct. 8 to aid Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
In the meantime, the Bishop has asked all parishes to take up a collection of material goods (not clothes) as part of Catholic Charities’ response for Puerto Rican assistance. Catholic Charities is collecting bottled water, rice, beans, crackers, baby food, diapers, flashlights and batteries and first aid and hygiene supplies and will ship them to Puerto Rico through a generous arrangement with Jet Blue Airlines.
The Diocese is responding as quickly as it can to as much as it can. Bishop DiMarzio has written to all pastors saying, “We do realize that this is the fourth request for a special collection for natural disaster in one month’s time. The need for assistance to these people is real. I know that the faithful of Brooklyn and Queens are caring and generous people. Please express my deep appreciation as we once again ask for the generosity of the people of your parish.”
All as we add to our Prayers of the Faithful this weekend, the families and all those affected by the senseless killings in Las Vegas. May God heal the trauma they are experiencing at this time.