With his permission, I share a friend’s thoughts and reflections on today’s anniversary – the centenary of the end of World War I – on the madness of war and on man’s inhumanity to man.
PAINFUL ANNIVERSARIES AND THE MADNESS OF WAR
This Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War (for us youngsters it is now called “World War One”… we had not yet learned to number them back in 1918). Personally it is a poignant reminder that at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, the horror of that madness was finally brought to a close.
Estimates vary, but some forty million combatants and civilians were killed in that war. And if that wasn’t enough, returning solders helped scatter the “Spanish Flu”.
The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, the deadliest in history, infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide — about one-third of the planet’s population — and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims. Included in the 675,000 American deaths was that of my grandfather (I’m named after him). That war and its aftermath touched every household in America and Europe.
After “World War Two”, which killed some sixty million people (3% of the world population), came other military conflicts. And almost exactly fifty years ago this month, I too was swept up and sent off to war. And at its end, yet another national monument was added to commemorate the string of war deaths.
All of this carnage has always puzzled me. Why are we humans so bent on killing one another? If Earth has been visited by aliens from other solar systems, our uncivilized history has surely scared them off. Why make friends with such immature inhabitants?
And today we are still at war… our economies spend an enormous amount on ways to kill one another. It is madness… and we never learn from history. It all seems so “normal”. If war wasn’t enough, around the world we even kill our unborn children… many are just too inconvenient to have around. In America alone, over 45 million “legal” abortions have taken the lives of the innocent and defenseless.
In the eyes of God, all of this killing must seem sheer madness. What kind of people are we? We slaughter our neighbors and family members. But then a recent survey says that a third of Americans do not even believe in God as depicted in the Holy Bible. I just do not understand it. God surely loves us dearly to put up with us.
It is the time in our Church year when we reflect on the big picture of eternity. We hear in the Sunday Readings about right and wrong… sin… Heaven and Hell. I think it is ironic that at this time of year we are also experiencing the great clergy scandal of abuse. It somehow fits into theme of great sins… Judgment Day… and Hell.
Now you can see why I personally love the 12th century icon that depicts the “Ladder of Divine Ascent”… It shows that until the last moments of our lives we are never far from the clutches of Satan.
Two of the various images of the icon of the Divine Ladder of Ascent
You can also see why my visions of Heaven are of a vast Garden of Eden… with few occupants. Apparently all those who do believe in the Holy Trinity think they automatically have a golden ticket to enter Paradise… a “get-out-of-Hell-free” card. I suppose we have a different concept of the “Last Judgment”… or are the “Elect” exempt from that?
I suppose I’m rather glum these days. Too many anniversaries of war; too many priests and bishops (who should know better) committing horrible sins against innocents; too many screaming protesters worried about losing their rights to murder their babies; too many wacko governments wanting to mass murder those who do not agree with their agenda or faith… and on and on.
Fortunately in the Fall, we are also hearing about the immense power of Our Lady, the Rosary, Saint Michael the Archangel, and the amazing graces afforded us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
So I do see hope. In Hawaii we recently celebrated our local Saints who, on Molokai, “served the poorest of the poor, and those sent off to die out of sight and mind”. Holy men and women who not only loved God with all their might, but also loved their neighbors more than themselves.
This celebration conference brought together many wonderful Catholics who are doing much tilling in the Vineyard of the Lord. I see many saints among them… no they will not be canonized to become official “Saints”, but they are none the less living saints. They give us hope… hope that Mother Church and faithful Christians will overcome the temptations of this material world and assist many souls yearning to spend eternity with Christ.
So I ask that you all pray….
Pray for the World…
Pray for Peace…
Pray for the Church…
Pray for the Americas…
Pray for non-believers…
Pray for those fallen away from Church…
Pray for the children (from conception to
Pray for the persecuted and defenseless…
Pray for those who are about to die… and
Pray for those working so diligently in the Vineyard of the Lord.
For those who love God, there is hope for all Mankind.