The Cross in Dark Waters

There’s a story in the NYTimes today about the writer, Neil Sheehan, whose book “ A Fierce Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon,” a history of the arms race between America and Russia, will be published tomorrow.  He’s described as “an extremely patient bat” who works long and hard, mostly at night, without research assistants, at his writing.

Sheehan’s book has been 15 years in the making.

What attracted me most were Sheehan’s remarks at the end of the article.

“I really felt I was casting light in darkness. I have a habit of going to church on Good Friday and saying a prayer that I’ll be able to cast light in what I write. And in this case I felt I was writing about a period of history that had been overlooked, and now enough time had passed that we could begin to look at it clearly.”

It takes awhile to throw light on issues like the arms race, which cast its dark shadow on so much of our world since the Second World War. It looks like Sheehan is prompted by the mystery of Good Friday to do it.

Yesterday the Greek churches in our area gathered on the Jersey Shore to participate in the beautiful ceremony in which their bishop takes a cross and casts it into the dark waters of the ocean and waits till it’s retrieved by young divers. It’s part of their celebration of the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, September 14th.

The Cross brings a powerful blessing to the darkest of waters.

1 thought on “The Cross in Dark Waters

  1. mystagogyfortheanawim

    Some years ago, I was stunned to discover what Russian women had lived through during World War II and the years that followed. It was a Russian Track and Field Coach who explained why it was that the women athletes I met showed no emotion not even that of celebration of a the winning of a race. It was the 70’s at the height of Cold War. It was the logical progression of womens liberation during the War. He said that he thought it was because Russian women had no emotions left. Intrigued by the remark and living around the corner from a Harvard-esque university library… I began breaking open his observation. Seems without the Women of Russia, Russia would never have been able to endure the War… nor recover from it. As I found out, the men of Russia never came home… The statistics are staggering. What that meant was that those jobs that women took on during the war… they never got to leave. There were no men left to defend the country and none to do the basic jobs to run it either. Women had no choice about it. And to ‘repopulate’ Russia, the women were given awards for having as many babies as possible. Centers were set up to ‘arrange’ relationships between the few available men and childbearing women just for the purpose of the survival of Russia.

    I had never before understood the profound grief of the Russian people, especially the women, following World War II. The huge compromise to their faith, the sanctity of marriage, the basic morality… what a sacrifice to be asked to make. In a terrible way… it made all that Cold War stuff a bit softer. As if the Russians were promising the Russian women — never again.

    I understand that Pope Benedict XVI is to meet with the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church… perhaps he could apply ointment on the wounds of Russian women, especially those who still weep for their loss… wrap them in the mantle of Our Lady of Sorrows. A simple… I’m sorry for your loss, would be a way to shine light into the darkness of those who have not yet found the The Easter of Our Risen Lord after their cruel Good Friday of World War II…

    I doubt your friend mentions the grieving hearts of Russian women in his book… and the silent role they played… It may be profoundly simplistic of me to suggest that the Cold War was a defense of the sacrifices of Russian women… but such grief cries for consoling….even now.


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