On the tsunami tragedy

It may console you to know that the American Red Cross has counselors available to help you deal with your feelings of depression, anxiety or guilt as a result of the current tsunami tragedy. The recommendation is that we should not watch too much of the media coverage so as to protect ourselves from trauma.

What I wrote a year ago in 'Responding to His Call to Love' is particularly relevant today:

"An Advent meditation suggests that in order to cultivate a joyful spirit, we must first reject self-pity. It goes on to say "the daily news reports can be toxic. Too much exposure to the woes of the world can be damaging to your mental health, as well as your spirit of joy", and suggests we limit our television viewing. There are many good reasons for us to limit that very intake, but doing so in order to shield ourselves from the woes of the world may actually leave us committing a deplorable act of self-pity.

We cannot empty ourselves of self-pity by focusing on ourselves, by turning our backs on others or burying our heads in the sand. We cannot risk deceiving ourselves into believing that if we do not see the horrors which many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world are daily confronted with, they are not happening. That is to inadvertently risk exempting us from caring enough about their plights to help. Surely if members of our immediate families were suffering, we would not risk 'tuning them out' so that we would not have to suffer with them. Shall we then tune out any others? Rather, we need to tune ourselves out and tune the world in.

God arranged for us to be on this earth during these times - times in which technology enables us to be informed about what is happening to our brethren all over the world. In many ways, perhaps there isn’t enough coverage of the most serious woes of the world.

We should share in the sorrows of those who are suffering. We cannot allow ourselves to be overcome by sadness, but we should be appalled when others suffer due to injustice, negligence or contempt. Being emotionally deaf, dumb and blind to the world will not bring us joy. In order to answer the call to love, we must balance our emotions - not bury them or hide from them. We would do well to develop a deeply devotional prayer regimen on our neighbors’ behalf with the hope that one day we may share their joys."

Obviously natural disasters have nothing to do with suffering "due to injustice, negligence or contempt" (unless they could have been somewhat diminished by already available technology such as warning systems), but that does not diminish our responsibility to respond appropriately.

Perhaps God is asking us in the aftermath of this tragedy: "What will it take for you to transform yourselves; for you to beat your swords into plowshares, and your spears into pruning hooks; for you to remove the speck of personal suffering from your eyes' focus so that you may see the log of suffering reflected in the eyes of your neighbor?”

If we are to become more like God as I believe we are called to do, should we expect God to divert his sight for even a nanosecond from those who are suffering from this present tragedy? To be like God, Who is with us (Emmanuel), demands that we be with them.

Money will not solve the world's problems - love will. Love is not a gift of the moment, but a gift of ourselves for life. It is not a gift of convenience, but of inconvenience. Jesus, The Divine Solution, made this very clear by being born in poverty.

Please do give financial assistance, but do not stop there. Rather do all in your capacity to build a civilization of love. We must strive to keep our hearts open at all times so that we are able to recognize each and every opportunity that comes our way to further develop that civilization of love. This demands that we do not divert our eyes from the suffering around the world. It also demands that we direct our children and others whom we are able to influence to give of themselves to others through, with and in God, Who is Love.

We can give money until it hurts our purses, but the people of the world will not stop hurting until we give them our very selves.

Let us pray that we may be able to follow the way, which God has shed his light upon. With a light so bright one would think that the path should be easy to follow, but somehow the less lightened paths - those without the fullness of revelation - present a false and tempting hope of easier passage.

May God bless you and protect you from all harm,

Fredi D’Alessio
Jan 1, 2005

Walk in the path of ‘His’ love
God never abandons us, even in a calamity, says Pope

2 January, 2005
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – http://www.asianews.it/view.php?l=en&art=2243

In the mystery of Christmas, God “has come to share our existence”. Even in “the most difficult and painful trials—as in the recent calamity in south-east Asia—God does not abandon us”.

This is the core of what John Paul II told pilgrims in St Peter’s Square before the noon prayer.

In recent days, secular voices asked how one can believe in a God that lets underwater quakes happen and hundreds of thousands of people die.

The Pope, who yesterday spoke of a great race of compassion and empathy on behalf of tsunami victims and survivors, said today that in “the commandment ‘as he has loved you, so you also should love one another’ . . . He makes his presence felt”.

Here is the full text of what John Paul II said before the Angelus:
“In this first Sunday of the New Year, the Gospel’s Christmas liturgy resonates once more: ‘And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us’ (Jn 1:14).

“The Word of God is the eternal Wisdom that works in the Cosmos and History; Wisdom that is fully revealed in the mystery of the Incarnation to establish a kingdom of life, love and peace.

“Faith teaches us that the most difficult and painful trials—as in the recent calamity in south-east Asia—God does not abandon us”.

“In the mystery of Christmas, He ‘has come to share our existence’.

“The Babe of Bethlehem is the One who, on the eve of his redemptive death, left us with the commandment that as he has loved you, so you also should love one another (cf Jn 13: 34). It is in fulfilling ‘His’ commandment that he makes his presence felt.

“This evangelical message is the foundation for hope in a better world on the condition that we walk in the path of ‘His’ love.

“May the Mother of the Lord enable us in the beginning of the New Year make this our life plan.”

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