Monday, August 4, 2014

Spirituality: Pedro Arrupe on the Atomic Bombing in 1945

Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe, 28th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima from "Pedro Arrupe: Essential Writings" by Kevin Burke (Orbis Books, 2004):

On the morning of August 6, 1945, something happened to break the monotony of the previous months. At about 7:55 in the morning a B-29 appeared ... I was in my room with another priest at 8:15 when suddenly we saw a blinding light, like a flash of magnesium. As I opened the door, which faced the city, we heard a formidable explosion similar to the blast of a hurricane ... We climbed a hill to get a better view. From there we could see a ruined city: before us was a decimated Hiroshima...

Since the houses were made of wood, paper and straw and it was at a time when the first meal of the day was being prepared in all the kitchens, the flames contacting the electric current turned the entire city into one enormous lake of fire within two and one half hours...

We did the only thing that could be done in the presence of such mass slaughter; we fell on our knees and prayed for guidance, as we were destitute of all human help ... In spite of the urgency of our work, we had first stopped to celebrate our masses. Assuredly, it is in such moments of tragedy that we felt God most near to us.