A Message From the Very Rev. Bernard J. Owens
“No one heals himself by wounding another.” – St. Ambrose of Milan
I am deeply saddened by the news of the past day, of two mass shootings on one day: one in El Paso, Texas and the second here in Dayton. As the news unfolded, I came across this quote by St. Ambrose of Milan and found myself wondering: what wounds, emptiness and feelings of loss might lead someone to take innocent lives? What led someone to seek answers in terrible violence?
As Christians we know that violence cannot heal. It only destroys.
Words can be violent as well. Words that fan the flames of anger, that use bigotry and fear as fuel, these are words that promise to fill the emptiness by taking something from someone else. Such words cannot be trusted. Violence is individual, but it is also collective, the terrible surfacing of alienation and hate, apathy and anger. We can’t stop all violence, but we can prevent a whole lot more than we do.
Words matter. Prayer matters. Actions matter. Grace matters, because the issue of guns violence in America cannot be resolved with a simple fix. Hearts must be changed, yet at the moment so many hearts remain hardened.
Let us pray, but let us also call those with the power affect change to action. The Very Rev. Randy Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, said in a statement today that “As a person of faith, prayer is always central to my life, but the act of prayer is not an excuse for the lack of substantive action to address gun violence. If we value the lives lost, do not let these shootings further numb us. Let them drive us to create change and finally take steps to eliminate these mass killings.”
Finally, I invite you to join me in prayer in praying for those who have lost their lives in the epidemic of mass shootings that our country has known in recent years. You can find and pray the Litany in the Wake of a Mass Shooting, created by Bishops United Against Gun Violence, here.
Remember, friends, to hold one another in your prayers. Pray for those who are grieving. Pray for those who contemplate committing a similar act. Pray for those who see this very differently: may we seek healing in our nation and in so doing, honor the image of God in each of our neighbors.