I'm back from Fr. Sigmund's funeral, which was beautiful in its way. Hearing the eulogy and talking to friars before and after the Mass, I recalled some details that I had forgotten about Fr. Sigmund's life.
Sigmund was present at the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. Having been there for five years, he used to say that he was scheduled to be shot the next day. After the war he dedicated himself to the hopefulness of the Esperanto movement, went all over the world promoting it, and was an Australian citizen when he finally came here to the USA.
I remember visiting Dachau. In the spring of 1993 I was supposed to be studying philosophy at NUI Galway. We had a month off for Easter, so this kid Travis and I went over to the continent and wandered around. We had no plan nor itinerary, so we were never lost or off schedule. Waking up in Munich one morning after a long evening of pretzel and beer consumption, we decided to make the short side trip to the concentration camp.
It was one of the eeriest experiences of my life. It was dusty and desolate. You didn't even want to talk. I remember seeing another tourist with his video camera going. It made me feel something like angry or sad. I wanted to say something to him, but again, I just didn't feel like speaking. I don't even feel much like writing about the experience now, but it does call out to me with something that I have come to believe, and which is at the heart of my own desire for God and conversion to Catholic Christianity: we human beings cannot trust ourselves to know what is good and right. We are too wounded. We need God.