Image provided by Fr. Chris Kanowitz
It’s been a remarkable week.
“John, those people were hanging onto US planes then fell to their deaths.”
“Same thing happened when we pulled out of Viet Nam,” my husband replied to me.
“My clients used to tell me about the Vietnamese during the US evacuation. Certain that the Viet Cong would kill them for aiding the Americans…same thing. They hung onto the helicopters and transport planes until they could no longer.”
“Those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it.” Edmond Burke’s and George Santayana’s quote overlays countless years of the futility of man’s wars:
Military jounalist Sara Cammarata’s words can describe any war. Just change the name of the place. And hugely expand the timeline.
The government’s unrealistic timelines — devised on the “mistaken” belief that the choices in Washington could “transform the calculus of complex Afghan institutions, powerbrokers and communities contested by the Taliban” — is one of seven lessons explained in the report that the U.S. must learn after almost two decades of war.Military.com
each of us feels profound sorrow for the loss of life and the devastation of Kabul. A city once known as the “Paris of central Asia.”
And wonder openmouthed at the arrogance and ignorance that informed the post 9/11 invasion of that composite of tribes, factions and animosity called a nation.
Russia had spent untold amounts of lives and money in nine years of war in the cobbled together country known as Afghanistan. Reasonably then, we ask one another, “What could possibly make the Americans believe the outcome would be any different than it was for them forty years ago?”
These separate events cohered in my mind over the past week.
The Franciscan monk who created the haunting image, The Madonna of the Holocaust, wrote this:
God of Our Fathers, let the ashes of the children incinerated in Auschwitz, the rivers of blood spilled at Babbi Yar or Majdanek, be a warning to mankind that hatred is destructive, violence is contagious, while man has an unlimited capacity to cruelty.Catholic365
Almighty God, fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah: “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares . . . nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
felt different. For one thing, the Solemnity occurred on a Sunday and therefore celebrated at weekend masses inviting deeper rumination.
In his thirteen minute homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption, Bishop Barron exhorts us with “God’s Warrior Queen.” Emphasizing the juxtaposition of Mary with the phrase, “Ark of the Covenant”, he reflects on the reasons for the correlation. “Mary goes up to Judah to visit Elizabeth”, “John the Baptist leaps in Elixabeth’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice.” These are echoes of King David’s joyous retrieval of the Ark from Judah.
“There’s something overwhelming” going on here…” Bishop Barron states,
God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth.
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her child was caught up to God and his throne.
The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed One.”
The Creator’s weapons dissipate the Tohuvavohu. “It’s a splendid word for the awfulness of desperate illness, loss, betrayal, unexpected death and all the horrors implicit in each of our lives, isn’t it? Tohuvavohu.“
Is there a better list of remedies for coping with the Tohu wa-bohu of 2021?