Venezuelan gangs now using food to recruit children

The Eudists serve in Venezuela. The people of the country are now facing unimaginable difficulty securing the basics of life: food, medicine, electricity…

Inflation soared over 2,000% in 2017 by conservative estimates (4,000% according to Bloomberg which is no slouch in fact-checking). This means that “If you want to buy a can of tomatoes, you have to carry six bundles of 100-bolivar bills.” [source]

Bundles of bolivars

Further bad news: “75% of people who die as a result of the criminal violence are less than 30 years old, and that the same percentage of the killers are 29 years or younger.” And gangs which perpetrate this kind of violence are using food to recruit more members.

Pray for the people of Venezuela, pray for the Eudist priests and lay associates ministering there. Pray especially for the students they teach in the diocesan seminaries. I imagine that an intense amount of pressure is put on those young men: do they stay in formation? Do they go home in the desperate hope that their families would better survive with their help? Are the seminary’s resources even enough to support them or would they be just as well served looking elsewhere?

Their plight brings to mind a letter which St. John Eudes wrote to a dear friend of his who was suffering terribly in mourning for her brother who was killed in war. I find it to be a beautiful hymn to the unity of Christ’s body with our Head when we suffer. He writes:

“My soul is filled with sadness and my heart with anguish at the thought of your agony. I cannot think of you and your pitiable state without pain and tears. That, I believe, I am allowed. I see Jesus, the joy of heaven and earth, giving way to profound grief and sobbing at the sight of the tears of Martha and Mary bemoaning the death of their brother…

I want to weep with Jesus that I may honor His tears.
I wish to weep with the same emotions and sentiments as Jesus when He wept.
I desire to offer Him a sacrifice of tears in homage of His divine and adorable tears.
Let us, madam, offer Him our tears in honor of His.
Let us beseech Him to unite them to His…

Madam, behold Jesus within your heart. He is there wishing to bear with you the harshness of your trial. But he neither can nor does he wish to bear it without you. Unite yourself, therefore, with Him that you may bear your sorrow with Him.

He would pick up this same theme almost without interruption in a later letter to her:

He is there, madam; He abides within you.
He is present in your anguish and sufferings.
He is there, all love and completely transformed into love for your sake.
He is there, preparing and giving order to these sufferings for love of you.
He is there, bearing all the anguish of mind and body that is yours to bear.
Bearing it with you through His love…

Jesus allows us to weep for the pain of our brothers in Christ, for this suffering branch of our human family. As we do, let us remember that hidden in these tears, sobs, and cries of pain which we share with them, underneath is the voice of Christ, crying, sobbing, and aching along with them as “in our bodies we make up for what still remains in the sufferings of Christ.”

We are not alone in our own Good Friday. And we shall not be alone when He shares with us His Easter Sunday.

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