Vienna after the attack

Vienna: "Before God, to entrust our fears"

The attack took place a few meters from their home. Then came the news on TV, messages from parishioners. Their Cardinal, from the outset, was in the chapel praying. "Where can hope come from?"
Maria Acqua Simi

Fr. Matteo, Fr. Marcus, Fr. Giovanni and Fr. Christoph are missionaries of the Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo and live in Vienna. Their parish, dedicated to the Virgin Annunciate, is a few minutes away from the area of Monday night’s attacks. When news broke of the shootings, all four of them were at home. "Monday night is the time when we are together and discuss many things,” says Fr. Matteo Dall'Agata. The first few hours spent glued to the TV and then responding to the many messages from worried friends and parishioners. Terrorists were still on the loose, there were victims, dead and wounded, and the climate of security that appeared to shield Austrian society showed its cracks.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn

"Despite the pandemic, we felt relatively safe. But what happened last night once again took away any such certainty. And, at the same time, it made us realize our fragility. A fragility that we always have, but that today, more than ever, we feel we must take seriously," says Fr. Matteo again. "The question that we asked ourselves, that I asked myself last night, was - where does my hope really come from?” Shortly after, he says, they heard Cardinal Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, speak on TV. "First he went to the chapel to pray. He placed himself before God with confidence, because there is a Father to whom he entrusts his fear. There is someone to whom we can say that we are frightened and to whom we can look, so as not to be simply shocked in the face of horror. Thus, the next morning we too prayed together and were spurred to look at what in our experience gives us confidence and hope.”

The Cardinal's words are clear: "Today we are afraid, but we must not respond to blind hatred with more hatred. We must not even fall into the temptation to shut ourselves up at home in fear. Although we must now keep our distance because of the pandemic, we must not keep our hearts at a distance. As long as the heat of our society is stronger than the coldness of hatred, we must not become discouraged.”

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For this reason, the priests of St. Charles tell us, this morning each of them went back to do their usual tasks - at school (three of them teach), and the pastoral care of university students and some young immigrants. "Tomorrow evening with the friends of the movement we will meet again for the School of Community," adds Fr. Matteo. Yesterday's events will be on the agenda. "And two questions: where does our hope come from and what is freedom for us?" Last week, he says, they held an assembly. "Now is the time to verify if all the things we said to each other about hope and what sustains it in the difficulties are true even in this moment of fatigue.” Fatigue and fear can be there, “but knowing that we are in the hands of a good Father keeps us alive and still allows us to go to work, to stay in touch with everyone. The certainty that we live is greater than our fears.”