The Corner


Miracle on Bleecker Street: All Our Children, Now and Then

Karl Kenzler and Tasha Lawrence in All Our Children (Maria Baranova)

I find Good Friday and Holy Saturday almost unbearable. The empty tabernacle. If you believe in the Real Presence, this is everything. And now there seems to be nothing. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to turn. Except then we receive Him from Thursday night’s altar of repose at Good Friday services, and there is the hope of life again.

I used to feel that same brutal pain every time I walked into The Sheen Center for Thought and Culture. They had a chapel but the Blessed Sacrament wasn’t there. Now it is, and I feel a different kind of pain. The pain of the heart being stretched to love more completely, to be more radically giving. You see, on the other side of the walls of the Sheen Center, is Planned Parenthood. And so every time I’m there, I can’t help but feel the weight of what we’re not doing. What I’m not doing.

Father forgive us for what we do and what we fail to do.

New York State is like nails in the hands and feet of Christ and slashing His side all over again with its every attack on life. With all we are not doing to make abortion unthinkable for mothers in need. My baby step of the day is making a contribution to the Sisters of Life, our home team that is consoling the heart of Jesus by helping mothers and babies and families. What more can we do? So much more.

I wept Wednesday night at The Sheen Center watching the play All Our Children. It’s about another slaughter of innocents – children and teenagers with disabilities murdered in Nazi Germany. I found it impossible to watch and not think of next door.

It’s well done and powerful. And it may even be miraculous. Consider this:

This is a play about the care that people, and nations, owe to the weakest among them. It is, at its core, about the sanctity of life. And while that may sound rooted in religion, the idea is far more basic.

“This has nothing to do with being a Christian,” the bishop says. “It’s about being a human being.”

That appeared in the New York Times review of All Our Children this week. This is why it’s important for something like The Sheen Center to exist: To engage the culture. To highlight excellent art that will challenge us. We need the challenge and in the Empire State in a particular way.

Go see All Our Children, which is open for a few more weeks at Sheen on Bleecker Street, if you can. And pop into the chapel, too, with a word of thanks and prayers for conversions on that block and in the state, country, and world.

On Good Friday, we mark the greatest love of all, God conquering death with His life. We must do more. The least we can do is support good art that challenges us to be bold and courageous in the face of evil.

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