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Pastoral Letter in Response to this Weekend's Gun Violence

Dear Friends,

This week my heart has been heavy as we find ourselves, yet again, offering our thoughts and prayers to families whose loved ones went shopping at Wal-Mart and never came home, whose children and brothers and sisters went to enjoy a night out in downtown Dayton, Ohio and will never come back to them.  I am dismayed by the rise of hatred and violence in our nation that our current political establishment seems to condone and perpetuate.  I am sick and tired of offering my thoughts and prayers on days like today.  I am sick and tired of looking young people in the eyes and promising them that God really is a God of love, despite the evil that seems to surround us.  I am sick and tired of attending senseless funerals, of lighting candles in front of schools and churches and synagogues and now Wal-Marts.  

We are a people called to bear witness to God’s love in the world, and that means that we must be willing to speak out against injustice and inhumanity when we see it.  We are a people of prayer, who know that prayer is a powerful force, but if we fail to put our faith into action, our prayers are meaningless at the least, and we are complicit in the perpetuation of such violence in the extreme.  In the last seven years, 458 people have died in the United States in incidents of mass shootings.  Last year alone, 39,773 people died in the United States as the result of gun violence. This past weekend, in the city of Chicago alone 7 people were killed and another 52 people injured in acts of gun violence.  I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that it is time that we make our voices heard, that we take our anger to the ballot box, and that we speak God’s justice loud and clear.  God is love, and does not condone violence of any sort.  Any person who calls themselves Christian, and is willing to be complicit in such violence, is lying about their identity, because followers of the way of Jesus Christ cannot stand idly by as grandmothers are being shot in the checkout lane, parents are murdered using their own bodies to shield their children, and our young people are massacred enjoying a night out or while taking a math test.  

Again, I don’t know what the answer to all this hatred and violence is, but I do know that we can all call and write our state and federal legislative representatives and let them know that we expect them to do their job to protect all of us from gun violence.  

 

You can find your State Senator here.

You can find your State Representative to the Illinois General Assembly here.

You can find contact information for U.S. Senators Duckworth and Durbin here.

You can find contact information for the Illinois Delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives here.

The Bishops United Against Gun Violence have prepared a litany for use in the wake of a mass shooting.  This litany has been updated far to often.  I commend it for use in your personal prayers this week:
 
God of peace, we remember all those who have died in incidents of mass gun violence in this nation’s public and private spaces.
                        
Six dead at the Wisconsin Sikh Temple.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Twelve dead at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Twenty-eight dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Six dead at Santa Monica College, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Seven dead at a Hialeah, Florida apartment complex.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Thirteen dead at the Washington Navy Yard.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Four dead at Fort Hood, Texas.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Seven dead in Isla Vista, near UC Santa Barbara.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Five dead at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Washington.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Six dead in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Nine dead at Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Sixteen dead at a San Bernardino, California office.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Ten dead at Umpqua Community College, Oregon.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Six dead in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Four dead at a Hesston, Kansas office.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Five dead at a Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania backyard party.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Fifty dead at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Five dead at Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Five dead at Fort Lauderdale Airport.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Four dead in Fresno, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Eight dead in Lincoln County, Mississippi.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Four dead at an Eaton Township, Pennsylvania supermarket.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Nine dead at a Plano, Texas football-watching party.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Fifty-nine dead at a Las Vegas, Nevada concert.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Twenty-seven dead at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Seventeen dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Five dead at the Veterans Home in Yountville, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Four dead at a Nashville, Tennessee Waffle House.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Ten dead at Santa Fe High School, Texas.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Five dead at the Capital Gazette Newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Four dead at the Fifth Third Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Four dead at a Rite Aid distribution center in Aberdeen, Maryland.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Eleven dead at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Thirteen dead at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Five dead at a bank in Sebring, Florida.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Five dead at their homes in Ascension and Livingston parishes, Louisiana.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Six dead at an industrial park in Aurora, Illinois.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Four dead at a home in Clinton, Mississippi.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Four dead in Solon Township, Michigan.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Thirteen dead at a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Four dead at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Twenty dead at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
Nine dead in the Oregon District of downtown Dayton, Ohio. 
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
All those who have died in any incident of gun violence.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
 
For survivors of gun violence.
Grant them comfort and healing.
Hear us, Lord.
 
For those who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
Grant them peace.
Hear us, Lord.
 
For those first responders who care for victims of gun violence.
Protect and strengthen them.
Hear us, Lord.
 
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
 
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Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist · 2640 Park Dr · P O Box 25 · Flossmoor, IL 60422-1228 · USA

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