Excerpt from America, Suffering, and the Mystery of Evil
by Father Richard G. Cipolla
To read this in context, go here.
And the same is true in our own time. But in a different way. We always assume that human tragedy of any sort can be ultimately explained by man’s refusal to let the other “be”, by man’s refusal to accept the other as he is without any moral judgment, to adopt the new golden rule: let others be as they want to be and be happy about yourself and about them. But closer to home: how can the contemporary Catholic confront Baton Rouge or Minnesota or Dallas or 9/11 or Newtown? Or how can they confront physical disasters that cause suffering and death? They are powerless before human tragedy because they have forgotten what is the heart of the matter, what is the heart of the Mass, which is the terrible sacrifice of the God in the flesh to his Father. They are the product of years of the reduction of the Mass as a dialogue between Father as Sister Mary Principal and the smiling flock, the priest who lulls them to sleep by avoiding the terrible challenges of the very gospel readings that he reads at Mass, those readings, those words of Christ that tear apart any attempt to tame the terrible force of sin and death. Father helps them to forget, to forget Jesus’ terrible shudder at the tomb of Lazarus, and instead indulges in sanctimonious and sentimental feelings, slipping into the role of the sleek anchor: why, oh why, why?.. there is no explanation for this, for this carnage, for this hatred, for this death, all we can do is to somehow hug each other and move on. All this because they have forgotten the terrible reality of the Cross of Jesus Christ, the God-man who suffered infinitely and who died a terrible death on that Cross precisely because of the human condition that is held in bondage by the power of sin that leads to death.
It is there that we encounter the heart of human reality; there is the deepest heart of the darkness of the human condition, and it is the Cross that is the only answer to the tragedy of the human condition, but it is an answer that the world has always and will always reject, because the mystery of evil and the mystery of love cannot be separated, and it is only love, even and especially within the darkness of evil, that can make sense of the human condition, from the garden of Eden to Baton Rouge and Minnesota and Dallas. And it is not love in general, it is not exhortations from well meaning people to love each other, it is not those in the Church who would deny the real tragedy of the human condition in the name of mercy: it is only and singularly the love of God in the person of Jesus Christ that is the answer to the ultimate mystery of evil and death. But this is not an easy answer. It is does not give us a quick high. But it gives us an access to a depth that is infinite and yet accessible. And it is precisely here at this Mass that the ultimate mystery of the sacrifice and death of God and the offering of the Son to the Father within the inexpressible beauty of this Mass makes sense and touches us in places that we never even knew existed within us.