To Whom Much is Given: Surviving the Massacre in Mumbai

To Whom Much is Given: Surviving the Massacre in Mumbai

Peter O’Malley, a Catholic American living in Hong Kong but who was visiting Mumbai, India, last month, recounts his experience of the terrorist attacks in the Taj Hotel, how he barely escaped with his life, how his faith sustained him as he thought he was about to die, and the lessons he’s learned.

Just then a very loud bomb detonated and small arms fire rang out in one of the stairwells. I assumed the end was near.

I hurried off an email to my Mom and Dad, thanking them for my life and everything else they’d given me. Then I emailed my dear wife and sons: “Thank you, Celeste, for being my best friend and soul-mate. I love you!” I wracked my mind and heart for a few pearls of wisdom to leave my three small boys that would edify and sustain them in a life without their father. Asking the Holy Spirit for guidance, I explained to them that life was a gift, and that they should do their best to enjoy that gift. I urged them to take care of their mother, each other, and their community – and not to be afraid to discern their vocations. I counseled them to keep a daily prayer life and live the norms of piety we’d taught them. “Live life to the fullest, boys, and stay in a state of grace.”

How would I react in such a situation? I pray that I never have to find out. I hope I would react similarly, with courage, conviction, and abandonment to Divine Providence. Like the people who died on 9/11. Like Cassie Bernall at Columbine. Like the sailors, Marines, and soldiers at Pearl Harbor, 67 years ago today. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can one do so, like the martyrs throughout Church history.


Written by
Domenico Bettinelli