Photo: Dan Valenti

These graphic images were part of the Holocaust display on view Nov. 7 in the Great Room of the Marian Fathers' monastery adjacent to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, Stockbridge, Mass.

Final Solution, Final Disposition

Marian Fathers Remember Victims of Holocaust in Special Mass

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Photo: Dan Valenti

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Father Victor Incardona, MIC, reads the Gospel during a memorial Mass for Holocaust victims. The Mass was celebrated Nov. 7 at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, Stockbridge, Mass.

By Dan Valenti (Nov 7, 2009)
November is the month of "final dispositions." It is the month of the dead.

In November, the Catholic Church remembers the dead in a special way, with All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day, and a traditional focus on the souls in purgatory. The emphasis is on death not in a morbid sense but as the means through which we enter into the ultimate spiritual realm, where the all-merciful God settles our "final disposition."

A First on Eden Hill
In a first of its kind on Eden Hill, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception this year added a special remembrance to these November traditions. It remembered victims of the "Final Solution" — Nazi Germany's systematic murder of minorities and outcasts, particularly Jews, known as the Holocaust.

History will never be able to determine the exact number of innocent people killed in the Holocaust, but the most accepted figure is six million. These victims died under horrific circumstances amid imponderable brutality. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this tragedy is its place in time: the years 1933 to 1945, which circumscribe the reign of Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler. Historically, that's practically yesterday.

The special Holocaust memorial Mass celebrated Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, Stockbridge, Mass., was the brainchild of Fr. Victor Incardona, MIC, whose mother is Jewish. With the approval and encouragement of Shrine Rector Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, Fr. Victor went to work.

He organized the day, coordinated a special historical exhibit, saw to the distribution of a memorial prayercard, and presided over the day's liturgical feast, with Fr. Anthony as a concelebrant. Brother Michael Opalacz, MIC, served as acolyte and lector. The concelebrants wore white vestments, the color traditionally used in funeral Masses. Prior to Mass, Fr. Anthony said white signifies the resurrection of Jesus and — through redemption — the eternal truth that good always overcomes evil.

Then and Now: A Moral Proximity
In his homily, Fr. Victor noted the uncomfortable moral proximity of the events of the Holocaust and the moral decline evident in present-day America. Noting that many otherwise upright and good Christians in Europe ignored the systematic slaughter of the Jews, Fr. Victor itemized the consequences of the moral crisis in our time, in our country: war, divorce, sexually transmitted diseases, violence, substance abuse, pornography, lenient abortion laws, and euthanasia.


"Then and today: What is our relationship to life?" Fr. Victor asked. This question, he said, is vital. The abuses tolerated today in America indicate "the kind of people we have become. ... The Holocaust is here [in the United States]," evident by observing the direction of our [culture] — one that worships wealth, possessions, and social status.

These things aren't important, Fr. Victor said. Rather, "It's all about our relationship to God and our care about the wellbeing of others. We need to show hospitality to strangers and defend the underdogs." In short, we need to love one another, as Jesus taught. "We must not be indifferent to this great challenge."

Prayer is the Answer
But how?

"Pray to God everyday. Be thankful to God and be grateful for all your blessings. We are called to be Chosen People of God, all of us, everybody," in all that we do.

In a theme that has become a staple of Fr. Victor's body of teaching, he emphasized that with God, there is no "other." There are no distinctions such as the kind that were made in Nazi Germany, where the government literally defined which "types" of people were worthy of favor and which "types," because they were by definition "inferior," deserved to die.

Father Victor invited all present to visit the Holocaust exhibit set up in the Great Room of the Marian monastery adjacent to the National Shrine. The display included a film, many photos, and more than 50 oversized storyboards that graphically illustrated the heinous and ghastly nature of that sad era in history.

Roofless and Bare but Infused with Divine Light
Storyboards bore such titles as "Racial Hygiene," "The Loss of Identity," and "Deportation and Abandonment." To ponder the images brings one to an interior space that is both roofless and bare, the darkness touching every point of the Infinite. There is dread in these images, but there is also the inner view illumined by the thousand dawns of light — the infused and unfathomable light of The Divine Mercy.

On the back of a prayercard available to all as part of the remembrance is a text titled, "The Annihilation":

Almighty and merciful Father, we remember the millions of Abraham's children who were brutally destroyed because they were Yours. We also remember the myriads of countless others who were forgotten by the rest of the world during the Holocaust.

God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, let the ashes of Your children be always a vivid reminder to the world that hatred is destructive and violence is contagious. We are all made in Your image and likeness. Keep us mindful of these most precious souls who suffered, died, and are now eternally Yours once more. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.


Dan Valenti writes for numerous publications of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, both in print and online. He is the author of Dan Valenti's Mercy Journal.


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maryS - Nov 7, 2009

As a read this article of your I was moved,I was blessed to visit Yad Vashem,during our side trip from Rome,and I cannot help to shed tears in that place if I was not mistaken 1.5 millions of Jews children were killed,I felt goosebumps that moment those innocents children needs more care.My heart are with them.they will all be happy because they needed our prayers,God bless.

Donna - Nov 8, 2009

God bless Fr.Victor for all his tremendous efforts in making this first ever memorial to the Holocaust victims such a moving and memorable event. It was so much worth the trip from Waterbury CT. Fr.Victor brought me to tears in his homily when he compared the horrors of the Holocaust to the tragedy of the millions of babies who have been aborted. He conveyed such love and passion as he preached. Another deeply emotional moment was when the names of the concentration camps were read and Br.Michael lit a candle for each one. At this point in the Mass, I was crying.
May all these souls rest in the peace and love of God.

michael - Nov 11, 2009

I was a visitor at the shrine last week and saw the holocaust display Friday.

Amazing.

Truly amazing. Not having been born at that time, and not experiencing it, I felt like I was transported back to 1938.

The partial crucifix of Jesus amidst the Jewish victims touched me very deeply and spoke volumes without preaching a word.

We are all God's children, and God forbid this ever happen again.

Hosting it in The Great Room of The shrine was so right, as this room
has a old german feel with dark wood, and a grand fireplace- making you feel you were actually in 1930's Germany.

Vickie - Nov 13, 2009

In his homily, Fr. Victor noted the "uncomfortable moral proximity of the events of the Holocaust and the moral decline evident in present-day America. Noting that many otherwise upright and good Christians in Europe ignored the systematic slaughter of the Jews"

Not only that but many people in the US supported eugenics laws including prominent families like the Rockerfellers. Mary pray for us!

MGZ - Nov 27, 2009

Too bad the victims of this horror are are now committing religious & ethnic bigotry, war crimes, and crimes against humanity to the Palestinians they have stolen their state of Israel from. When we say "never again" we should mean never again to anyone, not just Jewish people.

Lisa - Nov 27, 2009

We need to know all of our history. Israel was given to the Hebrews. The Christians, Palenstinians and Jews are all suffering in Israel.

Humble servant of God's Love and Mercy - Dec 1, 2009

We are all God's children but the barriers we selfishly set separates us from one another and from the God of Mercy who wants to demolish this boundaries for they are the beginning of violence leading to destructive internecine conflicts among God's children.

I pray and hope that we learn from saints like Mother Teresa of Calcutta who delights in goodness and love by living her beliefs: "Works of selfless Love are works of Peace" and "Everything we do to others we do to God."

May the Merciful, Eternal Love that is in the Heart of God be in our hearts.

O God of Mercy, gives us the grace of Your Loving Contemplative Attitude towards all Your Infinitely Loved children for we know we tear our inner being monstrously when we resist living Your Merciful Love in our hearts and our selfishness deprives us of seeing You in others.