When I first came to Rome you could walk right into three out of the four major basilicas in Rome: the Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul's. And I did so, pretty often. Since the attacks in Paris last year, you have to go through security. It's a reminder of the world we live in and those who have been murdered in it.
How do I pray? What is my lament to God?
I pray for Europe. In Italy it's not uncommon to see graffiti that expresses a certain hopelessness, a certain feeling of having no pride or future. Europe needs to find itself, precisely so as to have a place and an identity from which it can meet those who are new, different. It needs to let go of a secularism that becomes more dogmatic and intolerant than a lot of religion.
In the words of Pope Benedict XVI:
Europe today is in search of its own identity. Of course, in order to create new and lasting unity, political, economic and juridical instruments are important, but it is also necessary to awaken an ethical and spiritual renewal which draws on the Christian roots of the Continent, otherwise a new Europe cannot be built. (General Audience of April 9, 2008)I pray for my Muslim brothers and sisters. May those how have authority in their religion examine their consciences as to what draws some into applying it in a violent way, and may they work so as to reduce these tendencies.
I pray for the United States. May we mourn our dead and comfort those who are bereaved. But may we also seek a reconciliation that could reduce violence in the future. Let us confess to each other how we are affected and infected by our legacy of racism. It's just like a sin one struggles with in individual life; there may be great moments of liberation, but the work of recovery and healing must be ongoing. Let us admit and face how some of our industries, like incarceration and abortion, have been intertwined with racism. Wars often make somebody rich, but this wealth is blood money; it is the value of human lives converted into cash. In this sense someone may seem rich, but on the whole an infinitely greater wealth is lost and together we are poorer.
And I pray for the Church. May all of us, her faithful, find anew our way to step into the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection, the Mystery of his Sacrifice by which all the sacrifices of blood-drinking gods are ended by the Blood of God himself. May we think and behave according to the truth that Jesus Christ has suffered and died for our redemption, and not only for ours, but also for everyone who has not yet been baptized visibly. May our local churches and parishes and every other organ of the Catholic faith become a place where this value of created and redeemed humanity radiates in prayer and in action on behalf of all in whom Christ continues to suffer. May our clergy be brave in leading us, in proposing a daring charity for one another that has no fear because it knows it has God behind it, and may they reject all the temptations to become bourgeois and effete that come with their state in life, giving in to a worldliness by which the devil ruins vocations.