Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Tragedy of the Polish Pilgrimage

In How could God allow 26 pilgrims to die in a crash?, Christopher Jamison, the Abbot of Worth and author of Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life, discusses the recent tragedy of the coach crash in France which killed 26 Polish pilgrims who had just come from La Salette.

"For the 26 Polish pilgrims killed so tragically in a coach crash in France on their way home, the two moments unexpectedly became the same moment. The knowledge that they had been visiting the shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary at La Salette only underlined the poignancy of this sudden, unmerited death.

They will have recited the Hail Mary many times on their pilgrimage and maybe they were reciting it at the moment their coach crashed through the safety barriers; perhaps its concluding phrase was on their lips in their final agony: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” The image of good and devout people saying that prayer just before they died will be a comfort to their relatives. But in the many stages of grief their families may also experience anger with the God who allowed this to happen.

When bad things happen to good people, it is hard to suppress our indignation: and because religious believers are sometimes tempted to see faith as keeping our side of a bargain with God, we can be just as indignant. Why does God allow it? "

For details of the tragedy see Shipyard sirens echo a nation’s sorrow for bus plunge pilgrims

May their souls and the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.