A tribute to humanity
The well groomed grounds, not a stone out of place; the beautifully manicured gardens, full of greens and such lively colorful flowers; the buildings, crisp and clean.
That is Dachau now, but the memories that it keeps, the stories that it tries to tell speaks of the evil that is hidden in each of us. Our potential to be cruel and violent.
“God can make of the worst, good things we never thought about,” was one of the quotes shared to us as we went through the stories of Dachau.
On our way back to Pullach, across me was sitting this young man who was crying so hard. He had a beer with him and from time to time, amidst his sobs he would throw his phone to the floor. He was in deep sorrow for whatever reason. My heart ached, but what am I to do? Is it enough for me to say that my heart is heavy for this guy? What if he will beat me up when I touch him? I don’t know European culture, but from what I gathered they are not really a “touchy” people, unlike Asians.
But that is exactly what’s wrong with our culture these days, we have lost touch of our humanity, of our ability to connect with each other, of our desire to empathize with other people, especially those who are in distress who are complete strangers to us.
Prior General Fr. Fernando Romeral, O.Carm., in his homily for the closing liturgy of our visit to Dachau shared three signs that makes Dachau a holy place.
First, in the convent of the Discalced Carmelite nuns lies an image of Our Lady which, during the concentration camp years, was housed in a makeshift chapel in one of the prisoner barracks in Dachau.
The image was smuggled into the facility, and has become a source of comfort for many Catholics. It has been bathed by the tears and sweat of many prisoners who were in deep pain, sorrow, and grief. It has witnessed so many anxieties, so many worries, so many fears.
The image of the Blessed Mother, tenderly carrying the child Jesus in her arms, protecting him and lovingly cradling him, silently listening to those who are in distress.
In Dachau we were made to realize that we should be a sign of hope for all of humanity. Fr. Fernando said that after the burdensome stories told in the exhibit at the main building of Dachau, when one enters the convent of the Discalced Carmelite sisters, one would immediately feel the hope of God, with the bright lights and the lights that is the sisters who are always ready to share themselves to the visitors.
Carmel is a sign of hope, and Blessed Titus showed this to us, when in Christ he became a light in the dark tunnel that is Dachau. And Christ’s light never flickered in his life, it shone, refusing to be turned off even after his death.
Dachau is also a sign of the Cross, pointed out Fr. Fernando. The monastery of the Discalced Carmelite nuns completes the cross that runs through the center of the facility in Dachau, from the main building passing through the barracks, to the Roman Catholic Chapel of the Mortal Agony of Christ and straight to the cemetery of the sisters. The arms of the cross are the cells of the sisters, spread both on the left and on the right of this line.
For me, the Cross of Christ does not only symbolize suffering and pain, but it offers hope, reconciliation, love and faith. It is a light that will guide us in the darkest tunnels of our lives.
The pains of Dachau is a reality, and it is a reality that we should keep burning in our hearts because its memory reminds us of our humanity, that God has given us the better choice, to be human beings and not the animal that we are capable of.
In the pains and sorrows of our world, we should be that light that puts into the limelight Christ’s witness of self sacrifice for the love of the Father and of humankind.