Companions in anguish

March 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

Greg, a senior at Xavier who took a ferocious fall from his skateboard, died on Palm Sunday. For the last few days, and prior to his death, while he lay in a coma, students and parents have been asking questions. How could this have happened? Why did it happen? Where was God?

I, too, have been asking questions, and as I have done so, I have returned to some thoughts I put down a couple years ago, in response to a horrific crime in Connecticut. In a July 2011 piece for Patheos.com titled “Sorrow Neither Sweet nor Fitting,” I considered questions of God and faith, and good and evil, in light of a raping, pillaging, and burning visited upon the Petit family (the New York Times has compiled its articles about the crime here). An excerpt from what I wrote:

The lowest evil is like the highest love: it is mystery. We try in vain to solve it, and it is not our place. Our mission is something much different precisely because faith is not like mathematics. We are called, of course, to pray for the sufferer. But more fundamentally we are called, even in our poverty of experience and empathy, to be with the sufferer, in the words of Pope Benedict, to “take up his suffering in such a way that it becomes mine also.”

For most of us, the only avenue to this solidarity is prayer. Most will never reach the depths of anguish felt by Dr. Petit and his family or countless other human beings who have faced, and will continue to face, the worst that life can bring. But in our prayer, we can say, “Lord, let me be with them. In the way and to the degree you wish, make their suffering my own.”

The rest is here. I hope it provides some worthwhile reading for those readers struggling with similar questions today. Obviously Greg’s death resulted from much different circumstances, but it still leaves us turning upward and inward, searching for God and our response.

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