If you’ve never heard of him, Father Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R. is one of the GIANTS of the spiritual life. A Columbia University-educated doctor of psychology, Director of the Office of Spiritual Development for the Archdiocese of New York, Co-Founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Retreat Master, and a PROLIFIC AUTHOR, I was fortunate to have been taught Ascetical Theology by him in my brief year of Divinity studies in the 1980’s.
Today as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, let’s sit awhile with Fr. Groeschel as he speaks to us from his book, Arise From Darkness.
The Martyrs- Witness to Good Out of Evil (p.140)
“What is more distressing to us than the death of the innocent? Whether it is a Christian in ancient Rome or the Jews in Auschwitz or the bomb victims of London or Hiroshima-regardless of who caused it or why, the death of the innocent is the ultimate abomination. And people are so casual about this. Starvation, abortion, political machinations- all these cry out that something is terribly wrong. This is especially true when the victim is a child- a St. Maria Goretti or an Anne Frank.
“One group of victims, the martyrs proclaim the message that all believers must hold onto in the worst situations. We often think of them as witnesses to the faith, and indeed they do give a powerful testimony to life after death. But they also remind us that God brings good out of evil. Innumerable innocent people have died because they were in the way and seemed expendable or because of the greed and sinfulness of man. The martyrs thought that the loss of life was not the ultimate disaster. We need to listen to them in order to put our experience of life into perspective. The martyrs remind us that God continues to bring immense good out of evil. We have been horrified by the dreadful crimes against generous apostles in recent years- for instance, in Central America, the assassination of Archbishop Romero, the killing of the Jesuit priests, and the murder of sisters, one of whom, a Maryknoll sister, I had taught. There have been so many in this century. These were horrible, dreadful, bloodthirsty, hideous events. But out of these things, which were only permitted by God and perpetrated by the free will of human beings, he can bring immense good. As Scripture says, “Their blood cries out.”
“As one distressed and horrified by the abortion holocaust in our country, I am forced to believe that out of this terrible thing God will bring some good. I can’t tell how. I had a rabbi friend who lost his family to the Nazis in Auschwitz, and he used to say to me, ‘I don’t understand this, but the Almighty will bring some good out of it.'”