Sad, tired and angry: A prayer in the face of gun violence

Melissah Burke and her husband Stephen, of Seattle, walk along the Las Vegas Strip near Mandalay Bay hotel and casino Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ronda Churchill)

Almighty God,

I come before you,
once again,
after another shooting.

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I am sad, God.

So I ask you
to receive into your loving care the souls of those who were killed,
to care for those who were wounded or hurt in any way,
to console the family members and friends of those who died or were wounded,
to strengthen the hands of the rescue workers, medical professionals and caregivers

I pray too for the shooter, as I must as a Christian.

All this makes me inexpressibly sad, God.
But I know that the sadness I feel is your sadness.
It is the same sadness your son expressed
when he wept over the death of
his friend Lazarus.

I know that the sadness I feel is your sadness.

I am tired, God.
I’m tired of the unwillingness to see this as an important issue.
I’m tired of those in power who work to prevent any real change.
I’m tired of those who say that gun violence can’t be reduced.

All this makes me tired.
But I know that the tiredness I feel is your tiredness.
It’s the same tiredness that Jesus felt after his own struggles against injustice
that led him to fall asleep on the boat with his disciples.

I am angry, God.
I’m angry at the seeming powerlessness of our community to prevent this.
I’m angry at the selfish financial interests who block change.
I’m angry that these shootings happen at all.

But I know that this anger is your anger
It’s the same anger Jesus felt when he overturned the tables in the Temple,
angry that anyone would be taken advantage of in any way.


Help me see in these feelings as the way that you move me to act.

Help me see in these emotions your own desire for change.
Help me see in these feelings your moving me to act.
Help me see in these reactions your pushing me to do something.

Because I know this is the way you move people to action.
And I know that you desire action.
For Jesus did not stand by while people were being hurt.
He plunged into their lives.

So help me to answer these questions:
How can I help?
How can I fight against gun violence?
How can I urge my political leaders to enact change?
How can I help people understand that this is
an issue about life?

I am sad over the loss of life,
tired of excuses for the loss of life,
and angry that we are paralyzed by the loss of life.

Turn my sadness into compassion. Turn my tiredness into advocacy.

So

Turn my sadness into compassion.
Turn my tiredness into advocacy.
Turn my paralysis into the freedom to act.

Help me
to be compassionate,
to advocate
and to act,
as your son did,
Almighty God.

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Rudolph Koser
2 months 1 week ago

AMEN

Mary Cuny
2 months 1 week ago

Too bad noone noticed how deranged he was and alerted someone to prevent this!Thank you fr Martin for the prayers.

Bill Freeman
2 months 1 week ago

After the Sandy Hook, Newton CT massacre, the GOP has proven itself to be johns for the NRA. Screw prayer -- what is needed is committed action. And the Church leadership . . . crickets. It's more important to defend an individual's right to not bake a cake for a same-sex couple than to marshal the will and resources​ to address this horrible issue. Jesus wept!

Vincent Gaglione
2 months 1 week ago

I thought that your comment about the difference between the nation’s Bishops’ campaign for religious freedom and their desultory actions on gun violence was on target.

Father Martin wrote:
“How can I help people understand that this is
an issue about life?
I am sad over the loss of life,
tired of excuses for the loss of life,
and angry that we are paralyzed by the loss of life.”

Besides my opposition to their attempt to criminalize abortions, one of my reservations about the Right to Life movement within the Catholic Church is its silence on other issues that affect life. A Jewish sage said that to save one life is to save the world. You would never know that from the Catholic Right to Life movement.

I firmly oppose the efforts of bishops who use the reception of Communion as a weapon. But examine how the weapon has been used and it tells you something. We have had far too many bishops prohibit the reception of Communion to legislators who vote for abortion legislation. Why haven’t we heard similar proclamations aimed at those legislators who vote for the death penalty, those who vote for wars, those who refuse to vote for gun control legislation. Aren’t the death penalty, war, and gun control right to life issues?

We are in a sad state of affairs when the Catholic leadership of the United States has nothing to say after the wounding of close to 200 people and the killing of 59 because the perpetrator had the right to unfettered purchase of automatic weapons.

My comments may seem to politicize the issue, and they do. But it is the moral dimension of it that I mean to highlight, a moral dimension that is not addressed by those in the Catholic Church who are appointed to give us moral direction.

Dimitri Cavalli
2 months ago

Abortion--the deliberate killing of an innocent human being--is an intrinsic evil. It can never be justified. In fact, canon law mandates automatic excommunication for anyone has an abortion. By contrast, the language in the Catechism supports the concept of "just war" and gives the states right to impose capital punishment (though it expresses a preference for bloodless means). Only a liberal would equate the killing of millions of unborn children with the state executing a handful of criminals who have been convicted of monstrous crimes. (Funny how liberal Catholics kept quiet about President Obama's drone strikes, and his administration's claim that it had the right to kill American citizens it deems "enemy combatants.")

Murder is already against the law. The only thing the NRA and pro-Second Amendment elected officials defend is ownership of firearms. I am not an NRA member, but I do admire them for refusing to be bullied, shamed, and intimidated by the left. After all, didn't "Dead Poets Society" with Robin Williams teach us to be true to our individual beliefs regardless of the herd's scorn and disapproval?

Betty Dudney
2 months 1 week ago

The world's civil and moral balance needs strong equal rights for racism sexism, unfair profit hoarding of the profits created by the workers, including managers and consumers, better meant for all people’s needs, not just for the greed of a few who then incite power wars.
As current bullies of inequality edge us closer to nuclear destruction.

The Word of “Equality”, like the Golden Rule is meant to treat All with Equal Respect and Concern!
Seek The Holy Spirit within, to confirm, to be guided best in this life, and for the world to come!
Please share on net, and/or send a copy to Pope Francis, at Vatican City State, Rome, Italy 00120. May need 3 stamps or an International.

Thanks for Prayers and Good Tweets.

Carol Goodson
2 months 1 week ago

YES.

Lisa Weber
2 months 1 week ago

I am tired of this time of national insanity. Our president explains that an island is surrounded by a lot of water and no one is prompted to suspect senile dementia. The carnage of gun violence goes on and on and our senators and representatives are not motivated to seriously consider laws to restrict or at least monitor gun ownership. We just squeaked past having our Congress trying to take healthcare away from millions - and Cardinal Dolan invites one of the perpetrators to a place of honor at a Catholic dinner. Now we have the American oligarchs wanting Congress to reduce their taxes so they can continue to cheat the rest of the nation out of their just wages and their votes. And of the whole tiresome list of craziness, the most sickening is Cardinal Dolan's invitation to Paul Ryan. Dolan is supposed to exhibit some degree of moral fiber, but he seems to be only a publicity hound.

Prayers are always good, but until I see some action out of our do-nothing government, I consider this mass shooting as just another addition to the list of mass shootings. I would like to be more hopeful, but I don't see much evidence to support a hopeful outlook.

Roberta Lavin
2 months 1 week ago

Beautiful prayer that speaks to me. Let me turn my tiredness into advocacy. Let us all decline the right to bear arms.

Carlos Orozco
2 months 1 week ago

As a Catholic magazine, shouldn't America focus on the evil that triggered the shooter instead of playing politics? Does a deranged man justify stripping citizens of their right of self-defense?

I am not an American nor I live in the United States, so please correct me if I am wrong: my understanding is that the Second Amendment of the Consitution is there not to protect hunters, but to always have an armed population to resist a tyrannical government (foreign or internal).

Here in Mexico it is almost imposible to have a licensed firearm. You think criminals have many problems getting powerful weapons? Not at all. In many parts of the country, civil population is at the mercy of cold-blooded killers or corrupt police officials. I sure wish there was a Second Amendment over here.

Good intentions do not justify unwise decisions. Don't let them take your guns.

Marilyn Martin
2 months 1 week ago

Your prayers are a good beginning, Father. But we must, as you indicate, act as well as pray. For ideas of how to reduce gun violence, see the excellent column by Nick Kristof in the NY Times today:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/02/opinion/mass-shooting-vegas.html? action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=span-abc-region&region=span-abc-region&WT.nav=span-abc-region.

As Nick points out, the Aussies were inspired by a mass shooting to change their laws regarding guns, and they have cut their number of gun deaths by others in half, as well as their number of suicides.

Andrew Eppink
2 months 1 week ago

My Lord. Here we’ve tortured and killed our unborns en masse for over 50 years now and no one makes the connection between that and incidents like this? The general devaluation of Life? How satanically stupid, criminal insanity.

Further, Carlos Orozco (above) is entirely correct. Stupidity doesn’t promote good (our illustrious ‘Pope’s’ vaunted m.o.), social or otherwise.. Wisdom is required.

Jack Feehily
2 months 1 week ago

America continues to have an editorial policy that reflects that of one of our political parties, and in this article Jim Martin is writing like party chairman. All the gun laws in the world would not have prevented this tragedy or the far greater one that goes on in cities like Chicago everyday. Unless of course we want to forbid firearms to law abiding citizens and rigorously enforce the policy, But a direct result of that policy would be that only criminals and evil doers would possess weapons of every kind. The very sad truth is that in a culture which tolerates violence of every kind—even in children’s games—none of is safe from a madman with a weapon of some kind—IED,guns, grenades, knives, airplanes, drones, or motor vehicles. Running to seize the moral high ground may be advantageous for politicians or editors, but the violence will go on until there is a spiritual awakening that results in changed hearts and minds.

Mike Anderson
2 months 1 week ago

Why specify gun violence? Violence in and of itself is the issue, regardless of how it is put into effect to harm others. Come on, America, let's stop with the politics.

Chuck Kotlarz
2 months 1 week ago

Since 1982, fifteen U.S. mass killings have left 326 dead. From 1949 through 1981, two mass killings claimed twenty-eight lives.

What changed? The top federal income tax rate fell to 50 percent and inequality grew on steroids. The number of U.S. billionaires quadrupled during the Reagan presidency. Four of the fifteen mass killings occurred between 1982 and 1986.

Four percent of GDP today goes toward stock buybacks which drive stock prices up. Higher stock prices mean higher capital gains income. In 2012, the top 400 incomes averaged $300 million, primarily from capital gains. Again, we have inequality (top 400 incomes) growing on steroids (4% of GDP). Six of the fifteen mass killings occurred between 2012 and 2017.

William Bannon
2 months 1 week ago

Christ was not weeping over the death of Lazarus. If you read the account and as Trappist Abbot Thomas Keating pointed out in " Crisis of Faith ", when Christ was told by a messenger that Lazarus was dying..."He remained in the same place for two more days". He wanted Lazarus to die prior to his arrival.
What He wept about was the insufficient level of faith in Mary and Martha who believed that Christ could only have helped if He arrived on time...but not if He was late....which means they still did not know who He really was. They thought He was less than Eliseus who raised a dead boy to life from death in 2 Kings 4..... even though Eliseus arrived late to that family's house.
You'll never restrict guns much in the US but the bump stock which caused two weapons to be virtual machine guns should be outlawed but was approved stupidly by the AFT and totally circumvents the 1986 ban on machine guns which itself had another loop hole. I have two guns at home because there is a criminal in this city who threatened to get me with a pistol. Thank God I have a right to be armed equally to him.

David Pierre
2 months 1 week ago

What a missed opportunity by Fr. Martin here.
I'm so disappointed.

His prayer started very beautifully. I was thinking, "Wow. Very nice."
And then ...

The politics.
The finger-pointing.
The pretentious 'why-don't-others-see-this-like-I-do' verses.

You really blew it, Father.
You really blew it.

Dimitri Cavalli
2 months ago

Why doesn't Fr. Martin seek out and engage in meaningful dialogue with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun owners--99 percent of whom do not use their weapons to commit murder or any other crime--and build a bridge and find common ground?

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