Monday, August 20, 2007

Et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis

I came across this story, about the Peruvian earthquake which struck the Church of San Clemente while a Funeral Mass was going on killing 150 people inside the Church. So much death and so much destruction, but amidst all this there was no despair but hope still springs eternal. Lux in tenebris lucet et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt, a light shines in the darkness and the darkness could not comprehend it.

I read of the people, whose homes were flattened, who kin were killed speaking of God's love for them. Wow.

What was that light that gave these people hope? What was that light that illumined the darkness of that moment and gave them comfort amidst suffering and death?

Et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. It was the presence of God, dwelling among them that gave them comfort, His presence which was communicated through the signs of the images of His Son and His saints, undamaged through fury and violence of the quake. These statues and images, through they be made of plaster, have become 'sacraments', signifying a hidden, unseen grace, communicating God's presence and God's care for His children in their moment of trial. By touching, by caressing these images of Jesus, the people are comforted by His presence and draw closer to their God.

Some people might find it offensive, these displays of affection for lifeless plaster and stone, but we know it is not that which the villagers are caressing, but their God, Jesus in Heaven through the conduit of the statues. It is the way these simple people show their love and gratitude to God for His continued presence among them through His undamaged images as He was once really and corporally present among them in the flesh 2000 years ago and now continues to dwell among them through the Holy Eucharist.

Et habitavit in nobis. May this be our comfort too in times of trial.

The story, from Reuters.

Peruvians weep at church statues that survive quake

By Terry Wade

PISCO, Peru (Reuters) - Peruvian earthquake survivors on Saturday wept and hugged statues of Jesus Christ and Catholic saints dug out intact from the rubble of a church where at least 150 people died three days earlier.

Rescue workers placed the life-sized statues in the main square in Pisco, the Pacific coast town that was among the hardest hit by a 8.0 magnitude earthquake on Wednesday that killed more than 500 people in Peru.

The Church of San Clemente was where most of the Pisco victims died, crushed during a funeral mass.

Desperate and ragged residents, most of them hungry people who haven't slept under a roof since the quake, thronged around the Christ statue in amazement as it was carried in procession into the square by half a dozen men in hard hats and masks.

The survival of the religious figures gave people hope and something to celebrate in their desolation in this predominantly Catholic country.

"The Lord is present here with us, along with the saints, it's a miracle they weren't destroyed," said Amelia Ugaz de Aria, 69, whose home was flattened by the earthquake.

Nearby, a mobile hospital attended to injured survivors while others continued to search for kin among rows of distended, purple bodies laid out in the square and still awaiting identification.

Lourdes Girau, 42, sobbed as she kneeled before Jesus and with a rag dusted off the wooden cross he was staked to.

"The fact that he's here, shows Jesus continues to live to fight so much tragedy," Girau said.

Townspeople rushed to hold the hands of San Clemente or caress the face of Jesus, their fingers tracing the painted blood stains streaming down his skin.

The Peruvian government sent hundreds of troops to the stricken towns of Pisco, Chincha and Ica on Saturday as looting intensified, partly because of frustration over what survivors said was the slow pace of aid.

Some residents were fleeing the area to find food and shelter elsewhere.


John said...

On a much smaller scale, I visited a First World War cemetary on the Somme on Saturday. In the centre was a single, unadorned concrete cross. Although the Somme offensive was fought over 90 years ago, I, who knew nor recognised any of the victims, was reduced to tears! It was surreal! The cross made me think, that in the middle of such large-scale carnage (and anyone who has visited any of these places will know how it feels to look at a thousand identical graves for unknown soldiers), we must remember that Christ suffers alongside all of us, through eternity.

Just a little thought..

Anonymous said...

Awesome pictures but saddening to,. Will pray for them...

Archistrategos said...

This is the thing I love most about Hispanic Catholicism-- there is always a sense of the supernatural, at once thoroughly human, yet radiating the Divine. I pray for their loss; may God smile upon their Faith, and may He be merciful to the souls of the departed. It's a sad story, but even sad stories have the faintest glimmer of hope in them.

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