Friday, December 14, 2012

Evil is an absence

Since 30 November, a few days before Advent began, early each morning, I have been reading a chapter a day of Bishop Steven Croft's book The Advent Calendar. Even though I was up in plenty of time this morning to read today's chapter, I really didn't feel like it. Internally, I tried talking myself into it, but to no avail, thinking, "I'll read it tonight." Read tonight I did; here's the very first paragraph:
Alice woke early the next morning, her mind full of the image of the great tree, rotten to the core and falling to the ground. What was it, she thought, that caused people to go bad? Where did badness come from? How did it grow so that it took over your whole life?
In the wake of today's evil, many are asking this question tonight. St. Augustine taught that evil is simply the privatio boni (i.e., privation of good). Evil is insubstantial, it is not an (ontological) entity. I think this is why evil almost always seems to throw the world into chaos. In the wake of today's horrific events the most human question is Why?

President Obama summed it up well when he said, "our hearts are broken today." So, at the end of this horrifying day I am happy to be home with all my children, even as I am heartbroken to think about those parents and those children who can't do that tonight. I pray for them and all who are left devastated by today's violence. While this is always controversial, I pray, too, for Adam Lanza, the sad soul who perpetrated today's horror. Kyrie eleison/Christi eleison/Kyrie eleison.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

I'm more convinced than ever that our greatest need is to be loved. The absence that is evil is overcome by a Presence, "the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:5).

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