About the human and the divine
Summer is over, at least my summer holidays are, and before returning to the daily grind (as if I had really managed to fully disconnect during my vacation), I want to share with you some reflections about what has impressed me more during the last weeks (beyond family lunches, beach excursions and outdoor cinema to name just a few personal highlights). Notice: this might be my most personal blog ever posted.
• I have been captivated by, and read compulsively, Joan Sales’ book “Uncertain Glory”. The book, published in 1956 by Mr. Sales, a self-confessed anarchist and later converted Catholic and Catalan nationalist, has not lost an ounce of the anger, wrath, and sadness inherent of the Spanish Civil War. I wish the book, a masterpiece and literary gem about lost illusions, lost ideals and lost youth, were to be read by the many around the globe who try to divide people among “the good ones “ (we) and “the bad ones” (the others).
• The murder of Father Jacques Hamel, the 85 year-old French priest slaughtered at the altar by two jihadists (even if it may seem minor comparable to the recent terrible terrorist atrocities in Paris, Brussels or more recently Nice), who has become, as Mr. Ross Douthat put it in his article at the “International New York times”, a contested symbol in his country, continent and church. As the French philosopher Pierre Manent noted, the scene of Father Hamel’s murder, “an almost empty church, two parishioners, three nuns, a very old priest”- vividly illustrates the condition of the faith in Western Europe.
• In a year in which tourism in Spain is breaking one record after another (32.8 million just until June, representing a 11.7% increase vs. last year), where packed beaches and pretty bad service are no exceptions and islands like Ibiza are about to collapse an eye-opening book “La España vacía” (or The Empty Spain) has been published but remains mostly unnoticed. Sergio del Molino, the author, invites us to a tour of the Spanish countryside and its villages who are slowly dying through depopulation. Rural Spain is now almost nonexistent, when it actually accounts for 53% of the surface of Spain. As the author reminds his readers: many villages exist only nominally, in fact from five p.m. on, they do no longer exist, they are simply retirement homes. The terrifying part is that we will see these small towns much emptier in the future. I wonder myself, how could a whole country forget about its roots in just one or two generations?
• The sudden death of by beloved cousin Andres (55) of a heavy heart attack, even if impossible to understand, and endlessly sad, gave me some hope regarding the two previous points. The sight of the magnificent church of the small town he grew up in and lived most of his life – one of the thousands closer to a residence for the elderly than to a flourishing community and Sergio del Molino describes so accurately- filled up with several hundreds of people (and I am not exaggerating, there were dozens who did not even fit in the church that is closer to a cathedral in size and beauty), was simply heartbreaking and moving. He, a good person in the most honorable sense of the word, who certainly did not have 1,000 Facebook friends, and probably not even ten, was able to mobilize friends and family, neighbors and acquaintances in order to honor him in his last hour and thank him for all the many gesture and courtesy gifts he had bestowed on us over the years will all us, shall stay always with us. God bless him.