Why? Why Is the All-Powerful Silent?
As we edge ever more closely to this intense, emotional, and fractious election, I believe that Americans on both sides are asking, “Why? Why Is the All-Powerful Silent?” Even for those calling themselves atheist or wholly opposed to religion of any kind, when the human heart is wounded, bleeding, that tiny voice calls out, it cannot be helped. The sense of urgency is undeniable, even danger.
My husband John and I were at Daily Mass on Friday, October 26th, where the priest asked that our intentions be directed to peace. “Today is Nevada Day, we were brought into the Union by President Lincoln during the Civil War. During this time of another time of horrific national division and strife, let us pray for peace, understanding, unity.”
During the moment of silence after his homily, I am sure others thought of the history of this ‘battle−born’ state: Birthed because of politics. It was the middle of the Civil War, a time of darkness, despair, and death. One where both sides of the terrible conflict walked in oceans of blood. Because Nevada was “was universally and correctly perceived to be both pro-Unionist and strongly Republican,” the path to statehood was rushed despite the objections of its citizens. A time when men and women were absolutely certain they were right. And willing to kill one another in defense of that certainty.
Is drawing an analogy between the upcoming election and the Civil War overly dramatic?
I think not. Instead, the analog can serve to cause reflection, maybe deeper than before. Invoke a willingness to see past our own opinion. If we can step back from the ever-widening and divisive gulf of rhetoric to see beyond our narrow view to that of the other, we can come close to understanding there lies truth in both factions. One that can reveal brother and sisterhood if we can open ourselves up.
I wager that for you as for me, there are times when trust, faith, and understanding of our powerlessness fades. And stark emotion in the shape of fear looms and threatens to overwhelm. And we want to shout those words: Why? Why Lord are you silent?
Always, He answers.
Usually, however, in a distinctly different format than what I expect. This time, a book fell into my virtual lap. A beautiful, powerful and profoundly wise book, Letters From the Desert, written by Carlo Caretto, a Roman Catholic social activist who would be welcomed in the caravan and protest groups of the twenty-first century.
In clear, deceptively simple, prose, Caretto says “yes” to a voice heard during Vespers: “Come with into the desert.” After decades of doing battle against poverty, inequality, injustice, and racism. Only to come face to face with purgatory which he defines “no longer to have the possibility of doing what before one could and should have done.”
The lessons in this small book are timeless, searing, and relevant. Author Caretto ends by discussing the new Beginning: The choice by the Word to be born a man...a poor man. To be pursued while only weeks old.
“Why? Why is the All-Powerful silent? Why doesn't he kill Herod? But this is the point: it is necessary to live by faith. Flee into Egypt, become exiles and refugees, let cruelty and injustice triumph. And so it will be until the end of time. God didn't soften the path of those whom he put beside his Son. He asked of them a faith so pure and uncompromising that only two souls could live up to this demand.”