Father Jacques HamelWhat happened in Saint-Étienne du Rouvray can only raise horror and even anger before so much hate, so cowardly, so cruelly suicidal. After so many terrorist attacks in France and Germany, we can see that in this case these madmen did not murder at random.
So far (excluding an attempt fortunately failed against a church in Ivry, in the Paris suburbs), the fanatics had targeted a certain flattering idea that our fellow citizens have of themselves: the iconoclastic insolence of Charlie Hebdo, the pagan worship of sports at the Stade de France, the joyous light-heartedness of the Bataclan and of the "radical chic" café terraces of the eleventh arrondissement in Paris, the fireworks of July 14th in Nice, celebrating a Revolution that promoted ideals, but also produced many less noble facts...
Today, it is completely different. The object of revenge is not the West in general nor its complacent and selfish prosperity that may appear insulting to the poor of the world. It is its root, its living source it often forgets - Christianity - in one of the moments and places where, in a discreet but invincible way, it is implemented in the most explicit and intense way: the celebration of the Mass.
The question that arises now is to what extent the French (and others) will identify themselves with the victims: an elderly priest, savagely slaughtered, and a handful of worshippers, including a few nuns. Will they dare identify with them and say, "I am Father Jacques Hamel," as it happened with "Je Suis Charlie" which was shouted and repeated at will? Or will we be content to just say that killing whoever is never good, pushing ourselves (sometimes) to defend freedom of conscience and worship? Perhaps, something has already moved when on social networks, after the killer truck plummeted on the crowd on the Promenade des Anglais, what went viral was not some sort of self-justification, but Pray for Nice - "Let us pray for the innocent lives of Nice", because the problem is neither political nor cultural, rather it is spiritual.
Christians, for their part, can only be shocked and outraged, like any civilised human being worthy of this title. But if they have to be even more shaken than others, it is not because they now have the right to think that their Eucharistic assemblies are in the crosshairs of frustrated individuals gripped by murderous impulses triggered by a delirious propaganda. It is because they once again have to face, as no one could wish for, nor predict, the mystery of evil in its crudest brutality, with this unbearable enigma whereby love is not loved, as revealed by the Cross where their Lord was nailed to.
We shall therefore continue to go to Mass, whatever our fears, in order to receive the love that overcomes hatred because it does not return. And since we want to love those who think themselves our enemies just like those who do not care, the doors of our churches remain wide open.
The article was published on Alateia and translated from French.