Haiti Reflection: ‘Saved by Love’

By Douglas Ryan

I have a strong image of Karel Zalenka in my head. He’s standing with a cell phone in his hand and around him the world is collapsing: first the sounds, the creaking; then the noise, the falling; then the unholy utterances, long drawn out vowels, the groans of pain; then the unimaginable circumstance of being trapped; then the dust, then the dark, then the silence.

Scripture says there will be joy in the morning, but at least on that first day there is no joy.

I have an image, a strong image of CRS. In the mind it is really more of a sound, a machine clattering as it rises, clanking as it stands. The sound becomes a whir then a hum then a song.

Haiti church

The remains of the Eglise Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart Church), a Catholic Church in downtown Port au Prince, Haiti. Photo by Lane Hartill/CRS

Scripture says that we are one body. Scripture says that body has many parts. Scripture says that the parts move together harmoniously because it is God’s plan to feel each other seamlessly across time, across endless borders of cracked earth and fallen souls.

On January 13th the CRS body stirred and rose and stretched. It was like the machine with the many parts. First came the rescue, then came the consolation, then came the hope, then came the glimmer of joy, then came the harmony and then came the song that we are just now beginning to sing.

I thought about this work we do as one connected body at CRS and was reminded that it was all really an act of love perhaps in a larger but as yet unknown plan. The scriptures say love is gentle, love is kind.

And so I close with words of love from Reinhold Niebuhr, the Protestant theologian. He said:

“Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore we are saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we are saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.”


– Major gifts officer Douglas Ryan was CRS country representative in Honduras during Hurricane Mitch.

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One Response to “Haiti Reflection: ‘Saved by Love’”

  1. michaelmfc Says:

    Humanitarian aid is a direct act of love. Digging a well, delivering food, starting a school or providing medical care are all acts of compassion taken by people to alleviate the suffering of others. But, just as importantly, the recipients of these efforts also receive the knowledge that someone cares about them, and that their lives matter to someone. That is as important as the food, water and medicine. The isolation and loneliness of poverty is just as painful as the hunger and illness. We should take every opportunity to demonstrate love for our fellow human beings, but we need to be particularly compassionate towards those who are literally dying without it. If the human race would only take care of each other extreme poverty would not exist. If we loved each other like brothers we would not allow anyone to starve to death. No child would go without vaccines. Allowing entire populations to try and survive without medical care would be unthinkable. Love changes the way we see people. Love shows us that life is sacred. The thought that anyone could be expendable is abhorrent. Love allows us to see through the eyes of those who are suffering no matter how different they may seem to be from us. Love is powerful because it inspires us to see what is really important in life. It takes the focus off of material things and redirects our attention to the well being of humanity. It establishes a deep level of concern for others. It helps us to see that we all need to work together and make sure that everyone has an opportunity in life. Love makes us care.

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