Death in Spain

Today is the feast of St James, patron of Spain. Every loyal Spaniard will tell you that the apostle’s head is kept in a beautiful reliquary above the high altar of the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. It is as certain as the fact that Spain is the land of lands, and intense though local patriotism always is, there are times when my tierra is identified with the whole country. Today that must surely be the case. The bagpipes which blare out the apostle’s triumph before the cathedral will be silent because Spain is mourning the loss of all those killed or injured in yesterday’s rail accident near Santiago.

Why does God allow such things? Why does he not intervene to save his children from such a terrible fate? That is a question asked in every generation, and the only answer that to me makes any sense at all is that it is the price we pay for free will. We are not pieces of clockwork, wound up, set running, and kept to pre-determined tracks. God respects our freedom, allows us to use or abuse it, to make mistakes. But that is only a partial answer. Ultimately, we do not know why God allows such tragedies. We must live with the pain of not knowing, of feeling loss. That is the price we pay for being human; and the only consolation is knowing that God has shared that being human and himself paid the price along with us.

Requiescant in pace. Amen.


8 thoughts on “Death in Spain”

  1. What would be the limit of such intervention, if God went down that path? What would be the limit of our laziness in response – ‘oops, oh well, the godslave will clear up the mess’? In a fallen world, God kneels by the fallen.

  2. It is a very heavy day for all of Spain and all those of us who have walked to Santiago de Compostela. Yes, I don’t understand, except that I ‘believe’ Godde is there in the station, in the wreckage, with the wounded, the dead, and the grieving, as She was in the tumbling towers on 9/11. Is this any comfort? To me, yes.

  3. Hearts and prayers go out to the people of Galicia, and all those affected by this tragedy. Yes, I believe God is there in human anguish that cannot find answers and therein is the heart of compassion for suffering, to abide.

  4. 15 years ago my best friend Christopher was converted to Catholicism he took the name of James. As a confirmation gift I took him and the Canon of St Georges Cathedral to San Diego.
    What a shock we all had when the Mons Canon was given the keys to the place of burial beneath the high altar. We had Mass there, just the 3 of us. It was a momentous occasion.
    I thought at the time that Jesus had a hand in it. Maybe I am a romantic.
    I shall never forget the beauty and sense of special occasion afforded to us.

  5. I’ve been asking myself exactly that question. Why does God allow such things?

    A Priest I knew, in the prime of his ministry was struck down with a major stroke and died on Monday after three days in a coma.

    He leaves a devastated spouse, children, grand children and a congregation shattered and in disbelief that this could be the will of God?

    He had just returned from Sabbatical and was renewed, refreshed and invigorated. He preached strongly last week on renewing the spiritual life of the Church and congregation and his words still echo in my mind.

    I was in shock yesterday when I heard the news and I’m still questioning WHY LORD? Because I still can’t see any way that this was a good thing. I wrote about it here.

  6. Thank you for your comments. As Pete says, God kneels by the fallen. He shares our pain. As a man, Christ shared our bafflement and sense of abandonment (My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?) The fact that we don’t have answers to all questions is part of our limitation as human beings. No, we don’t always understand the mind of God; we don”t always see the whole picture. If we are free, then so is God β€” supremely. But in the exercise of freedom faith and trust also play a part. The death of a child, of a friend, of someone we love, will always have us questioning and crying out for understanding. A faith that has no demands made on it, a trust that is never put to the test, is hardly either. One day I believe we shall understand, but not now.

  7. My mom had told me why things are happening. Some people blame God for it but it is not His fault. Sin causes the consequences.

    I saw the online of the train wreck in Spain. How awful! May God and Blessed Virgin Mary carry them to heaven. πŸ™

  8. The words which have always helped me see the big picture are St Paul’s in Romans 8:18-23. The tragic way things are, is joined by God to our full restoration as His sons.

    In Jesus we glimpse what such a “revealing of the sons of God” will look like, except it will be a “greater work” because He will be bringing His whole Bride to such a blessed state. And we see other glimpses in the spiritual gifts of great saints.

    I heard this testimony involving Padre Pio. Two men on pilgrimage to his monastery found the lane they were walking down suddenly filled with caterpillars, all squirming along in the opposite direction. They got past them and arrived. They heard that the local farmers had suffered a plague of caterpillars in their almond orchards which was wiping out their livelihoods. They came to Padre Pio. He came out on a balcony, made the sign of the Cross, and stepped back inside. Those two pilgrims saw the miraculous result – the perfect authority of a son of God over creation, as God intended from the first.

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