Our parish church was vandalized yesterday. In the late afternoon, someone used votive candles to set fire to the altar linens, the wooden altar that holds the tabernacle, and the floor in the center aisle. Candles and a crucifix were strewn across the floor and pages were ripped from the missals.
All things considered, the damage was rather minimal. The church certainly wasn’t burned down and the Blessed Sacrament was untouched. When Dan called from work to tell me about it, I looked up the story online and read him the news report from a local paper. I thought that I understood and accepted this horrible story for what it was.
But I wasn’t prepared for the photo.
I wasn’t prepared to see my spiritual home desecrated. I wasn’t ready to take in the sight of a burned altar and broken candles in the place where my babies have been baptized, where my children have received their First Communions, and where we attend Mass together as a family. I wasn’t prepared to see something that is so holy and so real to me defiled by another human being.
I felt like that altar. Gutted. Violated. Wounded. Burned.
I keep thinking of Christ, who was there, present in the tabernacle, when the church was attacked. He alone knows the face of the person who brought hatred to this holy place, who brought rage to this place of grace and love.
Christ knows who did this. And yet He loves. He forgives.
Grant us, O Lord, the strength to do the same.