On July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb, codenamed Trinity, was detonated over the desert in southern New Mexico. For more than 30 years there has been an annual witness of prayer at what is known as the Trinity Site on the Alamogordo Bombing Range to pray for repentance for creating and using nuclear weapons and for the protection from the dangers of the production, testing and use of them. These prayers are for the whole world, but as Americans, we feel a special responsibility for the nuclear age.
The vigil is held near the site of the first explosion, just outside the Army base. For the three decades of witnessing and praying at the site, people have come from all over the world to be part of the vigil. This year it will be a virtual witness, held over Zoom. The 24 hours of prayer will still be the same.
As the years of the vigil add up so also does the nuclear madness. The fruitfulness of the prayer vigil is hardly measurable in apparent success. So why do we continue with the vigil? Or, as a friend of mine asked: “Are you going to do this for the rest of your life?”
The short answer is yes. The reason is because of the gospel and because of the tradition of Jesus and the early Church. All three disavowed any excuse for violence. Love is the gospel message; forgiveness is the bottom line, and actually the top line and all the middle lines as well.
The reason is because the Second Vatican Council made only one condemnation in all its documents, and that was against weapons of mass destruction. All nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction. In fact, just the manufacture and testing are in themselves responsible for hundreds of thousands of lives lost to cancer and all forms of respiratory diseases.
The reason is because I don’t know what else to do to resist such a threat to humanity, a danger to earth and an affront to the Christian message of life.
Father Dan Berrigan had a saying: “Don’t just do something, stand there.” So, I go to the desert (in reality or virtually) every year to sit or stand there to pray with others to the God of all creation in sorrow for the destruction of this creation and in hope for a new creation on this earth in Christ Jesus the Lord.
Pray with us from sunset on July 15 to sunset on July 16. We carry life in our hearts and in our prayers, life for every man, woman and child on this earth, the life promised us by God the Father through his Son Jesus, and by the breath of the Holy Spirit. The Trinitarian God conquers the Trinity Test Site.
Sister Patricia McCarthy currently teaches Math at a Catholic School. For many years she taught troubled children and victims of abuse.