Years later in Harlem I sensed another need of the Church: martyrdom. The Church needed—not big, spectacular martyrs but—little martyrs, little beggars, poor people to live with the poor. The Church needed people to teach the Gospel and the liturgy in order not to compromise the Gospel.
This is what it means to be little martyrs. Many people who worked with us were martyrs. They were persecuted even by their parents and friends. This was an anticipation of the future. Because today, all over the world, the Church is being called to martyrdom.
Then came Hiroshima, the Bomb. I reviewed my history of the Church and of the world. I concluded: “There have never been times such as these.” As usual, the Lord gave me some kind of insight as to the meaning of these events for the future. In my heart I knew that Hiroshima spelled chaos for the world. Compared to Hiroshima, the Tower of Babel was child’s play.
I began to watch people. What effect did Hiroshima have on them? Do you know what effect it had? It stirred up an incredible fear in people’s unconscious. It stirred up a terrible anger against God and against the people who had created this chaos. Even those most unaware of the meaning of events knew that something had happened in the history of the world that had never happened before: The Bomb. People began to doubt the power of God to control the world. It seemed that the devil had won. Once again it seemed that the Church too would be ruined. Once again someone had to lay his life to prepare for the resurrection. I did. Many others did too.
Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Fragments of My Life
Reflection – Well, this is pretty intense. But it is Friday, after all! Happy Friday. Catherine Doherty will never be mistaken for Polyanna. She had a deep sense, a profound insight into just how badly off the world was, and it was her great suffering that she saw it sooner and more clearly than almost anyone else. In an era of triumphalism and can-do commitment to progress and the American Dream, she saw clearly that a great fear, a great anger, and a great danger had been unleashed in the world.
Seeing all this, though, she did not capitulate herself to anger, fear, despondency, rebellion, or any of other such path of destruction. She laid down her life, day by day, in loving service of the poor, in tireless proclamation of the Gospel, and in prayer and fasting for the world.
It would have been so easy for her to be lost in rage and negative protest. She was living in Harlem, after all, seeing day by day the ravages of racism and economic injustice. Seeing it, not only in society, but in the Church where segregation and bigotry was commonplace. It would have been easy for her to get angry, stay angry, and allow anger to rule her heart and mind.
It seems to me that this spirit of anger is very much at loose in the world today. It has an allure, an almost intoxicating power, an addictive rush to it. It seems to fill us with such energy, such drive, such passion. And surely there is much to get angry about, isn’t there? The world is a mess, and a big part of why it is a mess is the terrible greed and injustice and evil done in high places by powerful people. Surely anger is appropriate?
The trouble is, anger does not create. Anger can only tear down, only destroy. If something needs to be destroyed, anger is your friend… but what are you going to create? Anger does nothing for that. Only love creates. Only love leads us to lay down our lives and be martyrs for truth, justice, and charity. And so anger, attractive as it may be to some, is not enough.