Last Thursday, early in the morning, somewhere between midnight and 7 a.m., a person broke into the church building at St. Boniface.
Apparently, as they entered into the sacristy, they pushed over our beautiful statue of Jesus the Good Shepherd. This person then walked into the sanctuary, destroying our statues of St. Francis and St. Anthony.
The two angels on the high altar were badly damaged, while the tall statue of St. Boniface was pulled down and broken into a number of pieces. The main altar candles and the high altar candles were also badly damaged.
There was wax poured out all over the carpeting and on the flag. I believe God protected the church from a devastating fire.
The person who did this was possibly in some sort of drug stupor because their clothing was left on the floor of the side sacristy. When the police went through the clothing, they found a wallet, driver’s license, cell phone, and money. A couple of hours later, they picked up the suspect.
I believe that an appropriate emotional response to this senseless act is one of just anger, of feeling profoundly violated, and even of deep sadness. The statues were original and are priceless. Many of our older folks grew up with them, from baptism and into their 90s. Indeed, a very sad day at St. Boniface.
How are we to respond to something like this? Of course, we are Christians, and although the feelings of anger, violation, and deep sadness are normal and healthy when confronted with a situation like this, I believe we are called to assert in our hearts a certain compassion. We all are sinners. Some of us have sinned greatly, others maybe less so.
All of us are guilty of turning away from God during our lives, and we are in need of our Lord’s loving mercy and forgiveness. That forgiveness is one of God’s great characteristics and when we imitate Him well, we learn how to love more deeply.
When we learn how to forgive quickly and easily, then our lives become much more enjoyable. We can become experts in forgiveness and learn how to more quickly let go of the hurt, the wounds, resentments, and grudges life sends, not letting them burden us over a long period of time.
This person that caused such pain in our community is sick, a brother in trouble. He is, however, part of God’s family of love and we are certainly called to pray for him. Who knows, maybe because of this act and all of our prayers in response, this fellow may make it to heaven.
So our love and prayers go out to him for the purpose of healing and conversion of heart, even though our anger, our sense of violation, and deep sadness still need to heal in us.d each other.
After all, when everything is said and done, the statues are just things. Our faith goes much deeper. The statues point simply to the heavenly realities of our family in heaven . . . our friends the angels, our brothers and sisters, the saints, and of course, our Lord Himself!
Our faith is alive and is animated by the presence of the Holy Spirit. No one can take from us our friendship with God unless we allow them to.
And so, we continue our journey through this life, knowing that our experiences and events of life simply continue to move us forward toward our goal. Our generous spirit in imitation of a kind and loving God who forgives us personally and forgives all who are sincerely sorry for their sins, moves us into a heart full of love, healing and redemption.