During Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Hurricanes and Tornadoes… where is God?
If God is good, why did he allow such a tragedy, that he didn't even spare the little children?
Letter from Marcelo
Marcelo, 21yo, catholic, São Paulo, Brazil
Dear Orlando, Salve Maria
I have participated in a meeting in a catholic chapel and I realize that after the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia, people are having questions, putting pressure on our faith, I take advantage of newspaper reports, because the arguments are identical:
In the aftermath of a cataclysm, with pictures of parents sobbing over dead infants driven into human consciousness around the globe, faith-shaking questions arise: Where was God? Why does a good and all-powerful deity permit such evil and grief to fall on so many thousands of innocents? What did these people do to deserve such suffering?
After a similar natural disaster wiped out tens of thousands of lives in Lisbon, Portugal, in the 18th century, the philosopher Voltaire wrote Candide, savagely satirizing optimists who still found comfort and hope in God. After last month's Indian Ocean tsunami, the same anguished questioning is in the minds of millions of religious believers..
Turn to the Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible. It was written some 2,500 years ago during what must have been a crisis of faith. The covenant with Abraham - worship the one God, and his people would be protected - didn't seem to be working. The good died young, the wicked prospered; where was the promised justice? 1
I was a good Muslim, I prayed to Allah every day. I don't know why all this happened to me." The phrase is by the iranian Alma Sepehr, a survivor of the earthquake that hit the southwest of the country on December 27, 2004, and was uttered next to the grave where she believes 21 of her relatives were buried, including her husband, a daughter, one son and several brothers.
Sepehr is not the only one to have raised questions of this nature. In fact, with her doubt, we enter a terrain already covered by one of the greatest philosophers of all times – Voltaire.
A good dose of indignation emerges from the verses. If God is good, why did He allow such a tragedy, which did not spare even the little children? Basically, Voltaire poses a question that we have all asked ourselves: how to reconcile evil with the idea of a benevolent God? "It must be said: evil is in the earth: Its secret principle is unknown. From the author of all good has he departed?", says the poem.
Indeed, the contradiction between the idea of an absolute good and visible evil has been known since Antiquity.
The following dilemma is attributed to Epicurus: If God is good and omnipotent, there could be no evil on Earth; if there is, either God does not want to put an end to evil – and He is not benevolent – or He cannot – and He is not omnipotent.2
Response from Orlando Fedeli
AVE CRUX, SPES UNICA!!! 3
Only those who think very superficially can be scandalized by the tsunami and the deaths it caused. These same people do not think that every day there are thousands of mothers who kill their own children, in their womb, practicing abortion.
Millions of abortions are carried out daily around the world. This is much worse than the tsunami. In the last carnival, in São Paulo (Brazil) alone, there were more than 150 murders.
Every year in Brazil, more people are murdered than in the (whole) Vietnam war.
The Tsunami is not to blame.
Abortions and homicides are criminal.
Millions of people die every day from disease. And God allows it.
Only those who are materialists, consider that death is the greatest of evils and believe that there is only this physical life, which would be the supreme good.
Poor fools who do not know the good and question a relative evil!
Poor desperate people who believe that physical life is the supreme good and who see this [same] good slipping through their fingers every day. Desperate poor people who cling to a life that escapes them with pneumonia, with a disaster, an assault, or with AIDS.
The Tsunami was not directly caused by God.
God made the laws of nature that work by themselves. God is the first cause. The laws of nature are the second cause.
If I trip and fall, breaking a leg, God is not the cause. He made the law of gravity, which allows me to walk. But if I'm not careful, I stumble, and that same law that helps in my life, can break me.
God permits that, the laws of nature, by acting, to cause relative evils. But it is not God who directly caused the tsunami to kill. He could have done it, to punish, as he punished and exterminated the homosexuals of Sodom. But normally, God only allows natural laws to cause disasters. It is usually the second cause, the laws of nature, that cause the tsunami, not God, the first cause.
And death is not the worst evil that can happen to us.
The worst evil is sin, which leads us to hell.
The greatest evil is not having God in the soul. The greatest evil is not to love God, who is absolute Truth, Good, and Beauty.
We are all doomed to die, whether from an ingrown-toenail-infection or from a tsunami. I will die soon. You will also die. Cancer waits for me, like the criminal hiding in the shadows of night. The important thing is to die well.
And only those who have lived well, fulfilling God's law, die well.
Who does not know why he lives, does not understand why he dies.
Who has no reason to live, does not know why to die.
And as a poet said well, since we are going to die, it is better to die with glory.
It is better to live with honor, so to know how to die with glory.
This is what the sun teaches us, who's dying on the horizon is full of glory.
"Et je voudrais mourrir un jour sous un ciel rose, en disant un bon mot pour une belle cause"
And I would like to die one day under a fiery sky, saying a good word for a good cause
Yes… to die for God and for the Church!
On a blue morning. Under the sun!
The men of our time do not know why they live, and therefore they do not know why they die.
You quoted Voltaire as a great philosopher. This man, who spoke of freedom, but also lived off from the slave trade, in addition to other spurious sources, said to his friends:
Lie, lie, something will always remain
Of him, another philosopher, also full of errors, Joseph de Maistre, said:
Paris crowned him, Sodom would have banished him.
Voltaire who concluded all his letters by saying: "Crush the Infamous", that is, Jesus Christ… this man [Voltaire] who lived slandering, lying and making sophisms, this man of corrupt life, died a horrible death, out of despair, eating his own excrement.
It horrifies me to quote him, and I regret having to write his name — the infamous one — on the Montfort website.
And you quote me Job, thinking he was a Jew, and he wasn't. And you argue with the book of Job, noting that the wicked prospered, while Job, who was holy, suffered.
But don't you see that it is still so today? That it was always like this? That it will always be like this? The good will always be wronged and will have to suffer. For don't you know that the name Job means "Man of Sorrows", and that Job was a prophetic figure of Christ, the Man of Sorrows by antonomasia?
Christ, the Son of God, through no fault of His own, suffered a terrible passion, and death on the cross, to pay for my sins. (And yours, too). And the sins of the poor people killed by the tsunami. And, even for the poor man, who does not understand tsunamis. Because their sin is the lack of wisdom. And whoever does not have sapientia (wisdom) cannot sapere (know) the sapor (flavor) to be a sapiens (wise) 4.
The sufferings of life, my dear Marcelo, are a consequence of Adam's sin, of original sin, which did not consist in "eating an apple", but in trying to be God through magic and satanism.
Christ suffered for us through no fault of His own. We must suffer for Christ, because we are guilty. Therefore, when we patiently suffer the evils that God allows to befall us, like Job and like Christ, we must accept them. That's why Jesus said that his disciples would be persecuted and slandered, and would suffer evil and persecution.
Well then, a poet asks:
"Is it only for Christ the crown of thorns, and for us the crowns of roses?"
The great law of life is that of suffering. Hence Jesus tells us:
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Matthew 16, 24
He did not say to take the electric guitar, or Gigi's lash, but to take his cross, and follow Him.
The cross which is, according to St. Paul, a stumblingblock for the Jews , and foolishness for the Gentiles (1Co. 1, 23). If the century in which we live does not understand the cross, it is pagan.
Are you Pagan?
Did you not receive the cross on your forehead on the day of Baptism?
Do you not want to follow Jesus crucified?
Catholicism is the religion of the Cross.
On Calvary, St. Louis de Montfort recalls, there were three crosses: that of the innocent Jesus, that of the repentant thief, and that of the desperate blasphemer thief.
And it was like this to teach us that everyone in life suffers.
The innocent suffer, like Christ.
Repentant sinners suffer, like the repentant thief who won heaven with it. Pertinacious sinners suffer, like the blasphemous and desperate thief.
And don't you know that the sign of the Christian is the sign of the cross?
And this sign we make widely from head to the heart, from left shoulder to right, to signify that we accept all the crosses and sufferings that God, Our Lord, sends us or allows us, in this life.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
In Corde Jesu, semper,
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Source in Portuguese: https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/folha/pensata/helioschwartsman/ult510u356020.shtml
Translates as: Hail to the Cross, our only hope
This was a very difficult phrase to translate. Orlando Fedeli plays with the words wisdom and flavor, which, in romance languages takes the same Latin root “sapere” (to know), so we made use of the words in Latin to convey a better sense of the original, which reads in portuguese: “E quem não tem sabedoria não pode saber o que é o sabor de ser sábio.”