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Letter by a Father to Catholic Herald on Stations of the Cross

Dear Sirs,

I participated in the Stations of the Cross march downtown on Good Friday. These are my thoughts on the event. Use this article if you feel that is of value.

Good Friday was cold, windy, and grey. The weather was appropriate for us to pray the Stations of the Cross downtown on Wisconsin Avenue. There were probably about thirty people in our group. Some people had signs, some carried what represented a coffin, and one person in the group carried the cross. Most of the times we walked together in silence, or at least we tried to be silent. We prayed as we walked from the Federal Building west to Gesu Church at Marquette University. We remembered the sufferings of Christ and we prayed for an end to our nation’s ongoing wars. The mood was solemn and subdued. That too was appropriate.
One thing that I noticed as we made our way along Wisconsin Avenue was that we were invisible. A few people honked their horns as they drove past, but in general nobody noticed us. People ignored us, just like they ignore the wars that never end. To most everybody that were on the street, we were irrelevant, just like the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. People looked at us, but didn’t see us; they heard us, but didn’t listen.

In thinking about the Passion of Christ, I wonder how he felt when suddenly he didn’t matter any more. All at once, all of his teachings, and miracles, and healings were irrelevant. It must have hurt terribly to be hated by the Jewish leaders, but I wonder if it hurt more for Jesus to stand in front of Pilate and to know that this man couldn’t possibly care less about him. It has been said that hate is not the opposite of love. Apathy is the opposite of love.

I would like to say that I was inspired by our march. That would not be entirely true. It is hard to care about peace and then realize that very few people feel the same way. It is hard to be part of a tiny minority of believers and realize that maybe things aren’t going to get better. It is hard to work for peace when you know that your eldest son will be going to war in a couple months. It is hard to keep going.
Our culture urges people to ignore the evil around them. Even Christians do this. I wrote to a good friend of mine about my fears and worry regarding our son’s deployment to Iraq in July. My friend responded by writing, “ We live in a fallen world, as a result, there will be conflicts. “ I am sure that my friend wrote this to comfort me, but I found his comments to be frustrating. His words sounded fatalistic and dismissive. That wasn’t his intention, but that is how his words came across to me.

It is easy for us to give up. Some people can even find reasons in Scripture to throw in the towel. How many times have I heard people quote Jesus when he said, “ You will have the poor with you always. “, and then they use that as an excuse not to help the poor? Why bother? Why bother working for peace when there will always be wars? Why not wait for Christ to return and fix everything? Why?

We work for peace, not because we believe we will end all wars, but because it is our vocation. Jesus said, “ Blessed our the peacemakers “, not “ Successful are the peacemakers “. We keep at it because this work needs to be done, and because we are called to do it. I regret that I am not able to prevent our son, Hans, from going to war. He has made his choices and he must follow his own path. However, if I keep working for peace, I just might be able to keep another young person from participating in this violence. Maybe. It gives me a reason to hope.

Francis Pauc

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