Memorial Service for the Victims
of the Terrorist Attack in Madrid

on March 11, 2004

Messe commémorative
pour les victimes des attentats à Madrid

le 11 mars 2004


'My soul is deprived of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is; I tell myself, my future is lost...remembering it over and over leaves my soul downcast within me.' These sad words from the Book of Lamentations, written after the total destruction of Jerusalem, expresses the sentiments of all those wives, husbands, children, family members, friends and co-workers and of everyone here, who have felt the terrible loss of the Madrid tragedy. It has left us all with a bitter taste of ashes in our souls.

If we had been in a declared war zone we would be more able to accept it. The victims did not leave home with machine guns and hand grenades. They did not step into a terrible accident, a horrible miscalculation on someone's part. No, they left for work with briefcases, lunch buckets, and tools of their trades. They stepped into a full-blown act of war. Neither they nor anyone else knew that they were at war.

Our first response is horror, then fear. But soon other sentiments rise up in our hearts and minds. Anger begins to grow. Anger changes to rage. How simple to let the anger grow into hatred. How logical it is to let hatred turn to wanting vengeance. We must all guard our hearts; keep the monster of revenge out of our souls. This we must not allow to develop in our hearts.

We must keep a guard on our hearts to prevent them from dehumanizing our enemy. Our enemy is neither a devil nor a beast; our enemies are human beings who have allowed evil to master them. They let the beast of revenge run their lives and us as well. We must not become like them in seeking vengeance.

Il est remarquable de noter que tout le monde semble donner libre cours à des sentiments de douleur, mais souvent recouverts d'un motif de vengeance.

Oui, déshumaniser notre ennemi, le rendre un animal ou un monstre le transforme en un être plus fort que nous. En faire un animal ou un démon, ne nous aide pas à comprendre, ne nous aide pas à surmonter la tentation à la vengeance. Non, nos ennemis sont des humains. Mais il faut aussi reconnaître que le démon peut se servir des hommes pour faire sa volonté. Il y a présent dans ces événements, plus que la faiblesse des humains, il y a là la puissance du surhumain, le diabolique.

Our enemies have parents. The demonic is very easy to raise up, and we can hate what is of the devil, but we must resist the temptation to identify our human enemies as the devil. The devil is at play, working his horrible deeds everywhere on earth. Seldom is he more evident than in the events of September 2001 and the events of March 2004.

The war has moved from ground zero in New York to the train stations of Madrid and has entered into our hearts, a battle between dehumanizing hatred and humanizing mercy. This is the big battlefield that is present in our lives. We want to scream vengeance, and in our hearts we know that if we do not allow ourselves to suffer this pain of resisting evil, we risk becoming instruments of evil and this would be the final victory of our enemy and the final victory of the terrorists.

We must also remind ourselves that the final victory belongs to Christ, our Saviour. His victory is sure - he has proven by his acceptance of violence and by being himself the victim of a kind of terrorism. His victory is that he loved us, he loves us and nothing can separate us from that love. He rose up for life. He lives and can make us live - neither death nor life, nor spirits and powers ... nothing can separate us from his love.

Neither can anything separate us from suffering through the agony in our souls - what is right? What is wrong? Is this just? Is it vengeance? With the war on terrorism we could not but give our reluctant approval. We are in dangerous territory now, and everyone knows that. We need to remember that the language of terrorism is terrorism, it is not peaceful negotiation. So what do we do? What should the leaders in Spain, the leaders in Europe do? We need to develop our skills; we need to become wise as serpents to seek them out to protect ourselves against them, to rid our countries of their presence. But one thing we know for certain, we must pray, and pray with all our hearts for our leaders and for everyone involved.

Nous vivons tous des moments angoissants; c'est le joug que le Seigneur nous impose. Il ne nous offre pas de solutions faciles. Il nous invite à être prudents comme les serpents et candides comme les colombes. En nous demandant d'aimer nos ennemis, il ne nous interdit pas d'utiliser les moyens nécessaires pour connaître leurs véritables motifs, mieux les comprendre et être prêts pour leurs gestes à venir.

We have no recourse for our healing except to call upon our Lord himself and to remember his words - 'Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.'