October 05, 2017
PHOTO FROM facebook.com/usccbFlag at half-staff at USCCBBY BR. AL MASCIA, OFM
Since the latest mass shooting that just took place in Las Vegas, I’m personally aware of a growing sense of fear. Not for my own safety, no, but for what might be happening to us as a country. The script is becoming all too familiar and, unfortunately, all too predictable as well. Something horrendous happens and captures our national attention for a little while as various notables mouth the same text: Our thoughts and prayers are with the (fill in the blank).
What’s worrying me the most about this is that there seems to be an absence of true mourning. Flying the flag at half-staff for a few days is indeed a start but more akin to someone wearing black at a funeral; a pro forma gesture. Dr. Alan Wolfelt, an expert on grief and mourning, has this to say: “We all grieve when someone we love dies, but if we are to heal, we must also mourn.”
I remember attending an interprovincial gathering up at Siena College which began the day after the Orlando shooting in 2016. Upon my arrival I looked around for some outward sign that the tragedy which had just taken place had in some way registered there, 1,200 miles away. Eventually it made its way into our intercessory prayers that week, but I remember feeling as if something else was sorely missing as we went about our business, something outward and more manifest.
I’m thinking about that haunting poem of W. H. Auden right now which says, in part, “Stop all the clocks...let the mourners come.”
Br. Mark Gehret, OFM:
As I was sleeping Sunday night I kept hearing news notifications on my phone and thought something must have happened. On Monday morning I checked and saw the sad news. It was shocking. I immediately prayed for the dead and the injured and then we prayed for them at Morning Prayer and Mass. One thing that struck me was the display of evil by one and of heroism by so many others. Many more lives were saved because of the good people on the ground. Not all the facts are in yet on what was going on in this individual’s mind. If people/authorities were able to read other’s minds some of these acts could be prevented, but that is not the case. Demonstrations of evil are a hard thing to swallow. God, have mercy.
Fr. Francis Tebbe, OFM:
On the first day of October, we marked Respect for Life Month with its theme of “Be Not Afraid”, and we face the unspeakable once again. This past year has been overrun with an inordinate amount of uncertainty, suffering, heartache, and tragedies in the public eye and in our personal lives. There’s no shortage of reasons we cry out to God. May God give us peace!
Fr. Clifford Hennings, OFM:
Lord have mercy on your children. We are broken and need your love. Mend our hearts. Remove hatred. Give us eyes to see as you see. Ears to hear as you hear. Hands that are open to one another and hearts for compassion.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
We woke this morning and learned of yet another night filled with unspeakable terror. …My heart and my prayers, and those of my brother bishops and all the members of the Church go out to the victims of this tragedy and to the city of Las Vegas. At this time, we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering. In the end, the only response is to do good – for no matter what the darkness, it will never overcome the light. May the Lord of all gentleness surround all those who are suffering from this evil, and for those who have been killed we pray, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM, from a pilgrimage in Italy:
Most everyone is horrified, myself included. Because our access to news is somewhat limited, we don’t know all the details. Nobody from outside the country has spoken negatively about our country or culture. No one has offered condolences, either, but it has been mentioned in our prayer. Most of the U.S. folks seem to be of the same mind and lament that we are not doing more to control guns, kind of like “here we go again,” and it just seems to get worse each time.
Fr. Robert Seay, OFM:
We need a lot of prayers, and prayers with good works. Oftentimes we pray but don’t have the answers, and perhaps one of the answers to this is that we should look very closely to the mental health problem. Perhaps a nationwide hotline could be set up where a person who may be going through this situation will be able to call and ask for help.
Fr. Richard Goodin, OFM:
(from his Transitus homily, St. Anthony Chapel)
In this little chapel tonight we recall the death of someone important to us. …Francis of Assisi, such a towering saint of the Catholic Church – you can’t help but smile at the mention of him. But there are plenty of chapels, churches and funeral homes in Las Vegas and around the country tonight where smiles are non-existent and hearts are beyond heavy.
The contrast between a life well lived and a great many lives cut way-too-short is the reality of our evening. Historically we remember a saint who died gracefully after a long battle with several illnesses. And presently all of humanity mulls over how one man could surprise-attack so many utterly innocent people.
With that acknowledged, let our prayer and reflection tonight hold the saintly and the victim together – as difficult as it may be. But let us not allow such senseless violence to overshadow the great witness of Christianity’s saint of peace.
Fr. Jim Bok, OFM, missionary:
My take is that, for most folks, the USA is a faraway place and most Jamaicans pay little attention to it. No one expressed sympathy or even commented on the event unless I mentioned it. Most Jamaicans are not deep into following things American. People here are very myopic—well, the ordinary people who have no money or connections in the U.S. Ms. Yvonne, our cook, told me at Mass this morning that there was another shooting in Red Ground last night. Her nephew was brutally murdered about six weeks ago in Red Ground. The violence here, in Negril and the country, continues to escalate with gunmen shooting people right and left. Here it is one at a time, not 58 plus hundreds wounded. So, simply put, most folks here are focused on the ongoing murders and have little time to care about what is happening in the USA.
Most Rev. Joseph A. Pepe, Bishop of Las Vegas:
We must find ways to work together to bring about healing in our world so that none of God’s children have to suffer what we have suffered.
Br. David Crank, OFM:
Shock, horror, disbelief, overwhelming sadness. Then I ask the question, what are we doing in this nation about mental health? Our nation is crying out for mental health reform.
Fr. John Pavlik, OFM Cap., Executive Director CMSM:
How profoundly distressing, sad, and disconcerting that our American society once again suffers a horrific wound to our souls through gun violence which could have been prevented. 163 mass shootings in nine years drive home the depth of this latest tragedy. One man with 10 or more rapid-fire assault weapons murdered 58 innocent men, women, and youth, using automatic weapons impossible to justify as sporting weaponry. Have Americans become numb to deadly violence?
PHOTO by Shutterstock.comWe began this week with yet another, deadlier mass shooting, one of the worst ever seen in this country, if not the worst. The perpetrator was a man who raised no red flags beforehand among his family and friends. We will likely never know how such violent acts could be conceived and nurtured within the human heart.
As you read these responses and reflections from our friars and other church leaders, bear up in prayer our fractured country, divided in so many angry ways. Pray too that the spirit of St. Francis, whose feast day occupied the middle of this painful week, will find real and persuasive expressions in a time when we need his gifts the most. “Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned.”
— Fr. Bill Farris, OFM
Where was God during the tragedy in Las Vegas? Fr. Pat McCloskey reflects on the spiritual aftermath of such terrible violence and loss in a video blog for Franciscan Media at: Vegas-shooting. When innocents are killed, “Some people find that to be a great challenge to faith,” Pat says. “I don’t think we should let their deaths make us more bitter people.”
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