I recall with much vividness Sept 11, 2001. It was a surreal day that will always be remembered for all the evil and destruction at the hands of terrorists. Although violence has occurred since the beginning of time, this organized and premeditated act shocked the world and instilled a heightened fear of terrorism. I was pregnant with my daughter at the time and it didn’t take long for my thoughts to shift to her. What kind of world was she going to be born into? I recall among my many prayers that day, that God protect her from this kind of horrible evil.
Like the rest of the world, the events that unfolded with the Russian, Beirut and Paris attacks deeply affected me. So many thoughts and feelings crossed my mind. I especially felt a great deal of empathy for all those killed and wounded and their friends and families. I imagined the horrible pain of losing a child to this unspeakable violence. Upon hearing the news, my now 13 year old daughter asked me what surely was one of the most difficult questions I have faced as a parent. Mom, how can people hurt other people so much? It was a difficult thing to answer, when I myself could hardly grapple with the depths of ISIS destruction – innocent and unsuspecting people brutally killed. As a parent, my first instinct is to protect and shield my child from evil. But the reality is that news is everywhere. It’s talked about in social media, in the school yard and among friends. It is vital to be truthful about the events happening, but not to frighten our precious children, who are the world’s future. And, of course, I had to focus on our faith and hope in God and doing what we can to help through prayer.
I explained to my daughter that ISIS is a group of evil people who don’t believe in God, nor do they follow His commandments. Evil has occurred throughout history since the beginning of time…..starting with the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Inevitably, it is this distance that allowed evil to fill the terrorists’ hearts and minds. But some people say that ISIS is a religion? I stated that no religion forces or asks you to commit violence in the name of God and rewards this type of behaviour. ISIS is a misguided and dangerous ideology or system of beliefs and unfortunately they are recruiting people even younger than my daughter to join them.
Even though governments around the world are doing what they feel are measures to protect or stop ISIS from continuing to hurt people, our ultimate saviour and protector is God. What can we do to help? We can be united with people all over the world in prayer.
We need to pray for the victims and their families. We need to pray for all our leaders in government, that they make wise choices that will lead us to peace. We need to pray for the terrorists, that they may experience a conversion. Jesus’ disciple Paul is an example of this as he once persecuted Christians, but after his own conversion he followed Jesus. We need to pray for God’s mercy for the terrorists who have died, just as Jesus, while on the cross, asked God to forgive his perpetrators :“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 We need to pray for the Christians being persecuted. That they are comforted by the Holy Spirit and remain faithful to God until their death.
Pray alone, pray with family, pray with friends, pray at school and pray at church.
And I reminded my daughter that we have a very powerful weapon to protect us against evil – the Rosary. It “is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying.”—Pope Leo XIII
The last thing I reminded my daughter is to not be afraid. Jesus will come back one day and evil will be punished “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
And with that, my daughter and I hugged each other tight.
CNS photo/Paul Haring