The Feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, 2012
With the Trappists honoring the Jesuits.
With the African Church looking out towards the West.
Reading Segundo and Origen in conjunction with recent statements out of Rome and Dublin and America—and taking it all in, as all of it together defines a universal Church, an all-too-human Church, well-intentioned, apostolic, trying to be catholic, yet soiled with blood and history and… hopefully, through God’s grace, finding the grace to re-unite and to find the mercy to move forward together.
Listening to Pärt and Mozart and Penderecki and Gorecki and Kilar and Probst and Britten and Jenkins and Mansell and requiems written before and after Auschwitz and Hiroshima and 1948 and the Israeli and Palestinian shared crisis for identity and existence and the Mau-Mau Rebellion and the Simba Rebellion and regimes like Mobutu and Pol Pot and the Rwandan Genocide and the Congo Wars and the Viet Nam War and the Cold War and the Pax Americana and the blowback attacks of 9/11 and the retaliatory invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Peace for some: but at what cost for others? The victors today are economical: they count their fallen; they no longer no more count the deaths of the others, particularly the noncombatants and those they do not even stoop to name.
“Let the dead bury the dead.” In such above disregard, words of Christ can only become twisted and turned into scandal. (One only need reflect that most of the officers at Auschwitz and the other camps were not sterile adherents of Heidegger and Nietzsche, but were garden-variety Christians or agnostics, albeit with an allegiance to the Reich they voted for, pragmatically.)
Last Sunday, during the homily, the superior referred to a professor he ounce had at university in Nairobi, a visiting priest from America, who had once mentioned in a lecture that America had within her power the ability to singly feed the world. Its reality is simply a matter of compassion and choice. Later, in conversation, I remarked that this may or might not be true; but within her own population, too many Americans right now face daily hunger and strife, forgetting the billion beyond her shores that are simply and literally starving. Again, a reality based on economics and compassion and choice.
I wade through the plodding of Kilar’s “Requiem Father Kolbe” and turn after to the lyrics in Massive Attack’s “Protection” for a sense of guidance out of Kilar’s meditation on Auschwitz:
“I stand in front of you / I take the force of the blow”
This is the legacy of Father Kolbe in Auschwitz.
This is the legacy of Christ [John15: 13].
Beyond Congo, and the mess in Rutshuru:
Beyond the reported outbreak of Ebola, here, that made the news back home:
Beyond Aleppo, and the armed helicopters attacking shoppers downtown:
Beyond the Damascene regime and the threat to the world of resorting to chemical warfare:
Yesterday: visiting with the village schoolchildren during their week of end-of-term exams: some doing revisions; some in the midst of testing; some just hanging, waiting for the end of term, exams for their grade already done.
On the road: an old man peddling bananas ten kilometers to the roadside fruit stands to sell to lorries and peddlers going to the capital or to Tanzania (only 26 kilometers in the opposite direction.
Walking in the dusty heat, under a wide, open sky and an Equatorial sun.
And walking further: to find the pigs out and about, in the fields with the young plantings amidst the scarecrows, munching on things they shouldn’t be.
Trying to round up fat, stubborn sows, which are surprisingly fast and determined; and being shown up by the swine, who run deep into the bush to double back to their tasty treats.
And in the moment: in the middle of village and farm celebrating simply life: near the Tanzania-Uganda border: in the middle of the day in the middle of Africa: village and farm endure just fine and transform as best they can the toil of this harsh land: in this moment: a lesson to take home to share and remember.
I think of Dilsey in The Sound of the Fury.
I think of James Agee and Walker Evans and the sharecroppers.
An old familiar story: retold every centennial or so.