Day 2 | Silent Deaths

BY CHRISTINE BOYLE | March 7, 2019
Today’s Readings

Self-denial is a gateway reason as to why people immigrate. With the hope that a better tomorrow—not for one’s self, but for one’s loved ones—awaits, a person puts their interests and desires behind those of their loved ones, pursuing the way of the Gospel we hear today. There are practical realities and cruelties that accompany the move forward.

When my grandmother died, the need to get to her, to mourn, and to care for the body was paramount and a family preoccupation. My dad and brother flew out immediately upon getting the call. My mother, sister, and I flew out two days later after the arrangements had been made. I wept at seeing my grandma dead; I wept at our final goodbye.

A student from a mixed-status family shared with me that when her grandmother died, it was impossible for her father to go home to his mother, to tend to her and the funeral arrangements. He lacked the status of citizen to go, and then, to return home to his family here. He was broken. A motherless child, left to mourn and weep from afar, denied the dignity of saying that precious final goodbye.

As my student retold this family experience it made me realize we bury so much more than our dead—we bury our humanity under narrow policies and other people’s dignity in the margins of law.

Can you imagine not going home to the one who gave you life or coming home to the life you made because of status? This type of situation is not unique; immigrants and migrants face cruel and inhumane realities daily. We’ve just forgotten to weep for their experiences as if they were our own.

Have you wept over the brokenness and silent deaths the border causes?

9 replies
  1. Pat Madden
    Pat Madden says:

    I teach immigrants and have shared with many Broken hearts about the cruel reality of never returning home. It’s a heavy burden.

  2. Mary Rainey
    Mary Rainey says:

    I am an instructor at a local college. We teach free community English classes. Over the years I have had many students come through my doors with similar stories that can break your heart just listening. Last week a student told me his only brother died. It was along and painful illness. He was unable to be with his brother physically, he FaceTimed him until his last breath. It is unimaginable the desperation that this creates. I think what is even more heartbreaking are the justifications to treating people inhumanely by saying, “they should have thought about that before they came her illegally” who, when they are in danger, stops and think of all the variables in the future. It is a sad reflection of how our Christian beliefs are being twisted into forms never set forth by Christ.

  3. iva
    iva says:

    I am in the same situation.When I look for compassion and help in my parish, I am worse off.
    There is no mercy or compassion. Just cruel remarks and advice from those living comfortably,
    in wealth. Priviliged people ,with many blessings have very cruel hearts. Christ said, when I was
    a stranger…. Will he know them in the end? Because they are mocking Him. Sadly there are many of us, unheard and unnoticed, sitting in pews near the ones without mercy. Nothing changed after the Year of Mercy, just got worst. I do pray for people with cold hearts. But they are satisfied with themselves. Because they believe they can fool God with their status, mansions, possessions…
    People commit suicide in this culture, because those who are called by Christ to love like He does,
    could not care less, about God or others. IT IS VERY VISIBLE. Where is the solution? They are fine and do not want to change, I have been in this parish for 20 years and all is the same. Only indifference.Poor are not loved. The wealthy ones lavishly throw many around for more stuff- and others do not have even place to rent , because those big empty houses of the rich can’t be shared
    with single mothers, etc. Our dignity is not recognized by the very people, that are our brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no difference in lifestyle between majority of rich Catholics and the rest of
    the world. Our Deacon knows personaly family who needs god home. He has an empty house, would not offer the place, but is putting down, those that are sad and have no place. They should be joyful- his words. What a cruelty!The rich are hurting Christ and do not care at all. Because if they would, lives of immigrants, poor, disabled , Natives, single parents would be improved . In the Old Testament widows and orphans were cared for. Every normal human sees how mother with children can’t provide and if she has some chronic condition is even worse. But in here, no one even asks, if she is surviving and if she needs help.On the top of this, witness to the world about the love of God is horrible.That is why the world doesn’t believe Catholics- not because the priests scandals, that is only little part of the problem./ very horrible/. The main is that majority is failing in love for God.
    We who lived in persecution, don’t have a weak love for God, because we know Who he is. But because we are not wealthy, we are not taking seriously here. So the hearts of indifferent rich people, those that dipend on themselves, NEED to be broken. That they will allow love of God to lead them. But how is it going to happened? There is not will for a change.It is really bad, tragic. And the poor suffer the most.

  4. Adrian
    Adrian says:

    I personally have family members in that situation. Its a heavy burden, about 10 years ago I lost my brother-in-law due to violence in Mexico, his older brother couldn’t leave the country to say good bye to him because of his “status”.

  5. Martha
    Martha says:

    I wrote this on June 18 2018 when the child separation policy first became public:

    These are stressful times. Every hour another crisis erupts in the news. We are weary, but we are living in a reality TV show that cannot be turned off with a simple click of the remote.
    I watch, I cry, I shout, I fume, I knit. I try to pray, but I’m don’t feel comfort.
    So I knit some more. Why? Over and over… a ritual of stitches that form sweaters for babies who are often not welcomed into our country. Probably close to 50 sweaters by now. Each sweater gets a tag with a message: “Welcome to the world little one. So thrilled that you are here. May you always be kept safe and snug.”
    But my country is moving on a path that denies children the love and safety of a parent. They are even denied the comfort of human touch in their absence. I cannot stop this pain and suffering, but I can witness and lend my voice to the furor. And I can knit.
    Catholics revere the rosary as prayer, a mantra, a way to connect with the Holy Family. I can never complete a Rosary. My mind moves onto other thoughts, or I simply fall asleep. But I can knit. Today as I watched the news and listened to the cry of the toddler whimpering ‘papa, papa’, I felt a hand of comfort on my shoulder while tears dampened the stitches.
    Now I understand. Each stitch is my prayer, my human touch, my witness of solidarity with each child who wears this gift of my hands.
    “Welcome to the world little one. So thrilled that you are here. May you always be safe and snug. And may God hold you dearly in the palm of his hand. Amen.”

      • Sandy
        Sandy says:

        Martha, I love your deeply personal way to provide such a needed soft love- filled blanket & message to these babies & their parents. Unfortunately in my rural area I’ve found no centers to personally become involved. So for the present, I stay up on this issue by reading/& acting on the weekly emails I receive from American Immigration Council & other resources, share that information, call/petition Congress donate, and Daily Offer this dreadful situation up in prayer to Our God whose heart is surely breaking.It doesn’t feel as personal as yours yet hoping this is joining with others in solidarity. And I’m keeping my eyes and heart open to do more.

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