The suffering of the women of the Magdalene Laundries is overwhelming
Daniel Berrigan is a hero for me so these words have added impact. I share his words for everyone who feels overwhelmed by the suffering of the women revealed in yesterday’s Report (on the Magdalene Laundries). Sometimes there are no words to express profound emotion. I found these words strangely consoling in a way: Christ taking all of them and us “in his gospel net.” — that reassurance of unconditional, almighty and unceasing love.
The Face of Christ
The tragic beauty of the face of Christ
shines in the face of man;
The abandoned old live on
in shabby rooms, far from inner comfort.
Outside, in the street
din and purpose, the world like a fiery animal
reined in by youth. Within
a pallid tiring heart
shuffles about its dwelling.
Nothing, or so little, comes of life’s promise.
Out of broken men, despised minds
what does one make—
a roadside show, a graveyard of the heart?
The Christian God reproves
faithless ranting minds
crushing like upper and lower stones
all life between;
Christ, fowler of street and hedgerow
of cripples and the distempered old
—eyes blind as woodknots,
tongues tight as immigrants—
takes in his gospel net
all the hue and cry of existence.
Heaven, of such imperfection
wary, ravaged, wild?
Yes. Compel them in.
—Daniel Berrigan, S.J.
(Excerpted from Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, © 1993 Institute of Jesuit Sources, St. Louis MO)