Faith starts with our humanity (inspired by Fr.Rick Frechette’s lenten talk at St.Gabriel Parish)
It is easy to feel powerless when faced with the tragedies of the world, let alone our own tragic stories. Headlines increasingly show the devastation that our planet faces with respect to global warming, poverty, the disintegration of human dignity, abuse in the family and the Church. How do we reconcile all of these things? How do we face it?
The responses to these questions are not simple. Fortunately, I had the honour of hearing Fr.Rick Frechette’s perspective on these questions. He is a priest and doctor serving in Haiti, and has witnessed the horrors of extreme poverty. I will share one of his powerful stories and my reflection on it.
Fr.Rick Frechette told us that the average annual wage for Haitians is approximately $600 and in Haiti the population faces 70% unemployment. To imagine the consequences of this are impossible while residing in our country. He runs an orphanage there and works in a hospital. Robberies are common in certain areas of Haiti. As a matter a fact, his orphanage was robbed by a person who had lived there before joining a gang. In addition, the gang members killed a friend and worker of the orphanage who was trying to stop them. The worker was killed in such a brutal way. Responding to this tragic situation is unimaginable. As a community, the orphanage brought the deceased to the hospital to get sewed up because they could not come to terms with this tragedy.
In all honesty, Fr.Rick admitted that he felt so much anger in response to this situation that when someone offered to kill the culprits for 20$, he was tempted. He wondered to himself how a priest could have murder on his heart. Consequently, the guilt he felt was intense and needed counsel from his friends. He explained that he was considering taking a break from priesthood. However, the friends helped him understand that by doing that he would be backing out of life.
It is with this understanding that Fr.Rick had to face his humanity, his fears, his anger and surrender them to God. Father Rick concluded that “faith starts with our humanity”.
This is a beautiful testimony of how we need to surrender to God, in order to receive the graces to move forward and love those who hurt us. For Fr. Rick, it meant letting go of anger and willing the good of those who hurt him. He started to visit the gang members in prison, after he had the time to process all that happened.
From his talk the main thing I realized is that God shared in our humanity so that we may share in his divinity. In order for this to happen we must lift our humanity to God. In the end, we hope that “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus took on our humanity out of love for us. Upon reflecting about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane all alone, I can feel the loneliness, the fear and most of all the struggle to accept the cross as Jesus says “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me…” (Luke 22:42). Yet He submits to the Will of the Father out of love. Jesus felt alone and no one understood his pain in that moment. The isolation was very real. Yet in that moment of loneliness there is a yearning for God, as He prays. This brings about greater union with God’s will, which requires facing His fear. Jesus had to face the fear of the cruel death He had to die. In the same way, we are called to face the fears and tragedies of this world by bringing them to God. Jesus said “Take courage; I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
The world wants our conscience to go to sleep Fr.Rick mentioned. However, as children of God we are called to listen and be attentive to the voice that stirs us to love in our prayers, words and actions. This takes tremendous courage, yet Jesus shows us the way. We need to bring our humanity to God, with all our emotions of fear, loneliness or anger to let Him transform it into love. Yes, this means facing the cross, but in the end, it transforms the darkness into the brightest light of love. My conclusion is that “faith starts with our humanity”, grows with hope and ends with love.
By: Natalie Urbanc