Gary Wright, SJ
I have invited our parish to focus this Lent on growth in prayer. (Our Lenten series on prayer will continue on March 9 and 23 – see details in sidebar.) In our prayer these days, we can’t help but reflect with grief, wonder and hope at the national movement of students responding to the recent gun violence at the high school in Parkland, Florida. This tragedy has moved so many people. The parents I’ve talked with in recent days are so aware of the vulnerability and fear their precious children live with. Many people are feeling frustration and discouragement at the lack of progress on this problem. St. Ignatius says that frustration and discouragement do not come from the good spirit; rather, the Spirit of God leads us to hope and committed action to change.
Across the country high school students are demonstrating with 17 minutes of silence – one minute for each Parkland death. 17 minutes of silence is a feat for most teenagers. Truth be told, it is probably a challenge for most of us adults. What if we could join them in 17 minutes of silent prayer this Lent? Could you do that once a week? How about once a day? I can’t promise it will change our world, but I can guarantee it will change you. You will be closer to God, more open to the Spirit, and more peace-filled. Take 17 minutes to pray for our young people, for the grace to live their lives inspired by the Gospel.
Are you looking for guidance from our faith as you face this national tragedy of gun violence? Begin with 17 minutes of contemplation of the non-violence of Christ on his cross. “When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten… By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2.23)” Spend 17 minutes with the statement issued by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 2016, on “A Mercy and Peacebuilding Approach to Gun Violence
.” They call on Catholics and all people of good will to urge Congress to “require universal background checks for all gun purchases; limit civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines; make gun trafficking a federal crime; and, improve access to mental health care for those who may be prone to violence.” These are the conclusions of our leaders in the faith, as they ponder the call of Jesus in the Gospel to deal with all our human problems through peace, justice, and reconciliation.
Let us pray.