Saying a prayer for God's nonviolent love

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Article War and Peace
Guest editorial

Visiting from Michigan after overcast hikes in the Berkshires with family, the sun felt good. Daily Mass had been delayed an hour till 9 a.m. “due to the holiday,” as posted on an 8x11 sheet on the church doors, April 15. While waiting, I sat in the sunshine on the small Loeb Hall at Harvard side door steps, a block from St Paul’s. For some reason the beauty of the manicured walks with spring flowering in the beds and trees made me think of the crisis of conscience for those dedicated to violence--that God’s merciful sunshine is the only solution to this dark violence.

First I remembered a film I’ve seen with a Palestinian strapping on his bomb vest, culmination of injustices and insults, urged on by others--but in the end stripping off his bombs, after unable on the bus to take Israeli children with him to his death.

Can bombers reject their violence? Then I was filled with a hope that all of us, connected to bombs deployed all over the world in terrible violent response to conflict, will strip off our bombs. We are all bombers. Look clearly at what almost half of our federal income taxes have purchased.

When Mass had finally begun on IRS Tax Day, I voiced the offertory intention, “On this Patriot Day, which is also 'National Tribute Tax to Caesar Day,' help us rededicate our resources to following Jesus’ way of nonviolent love. And we pray blessings for Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy’s preaching of the spirituality/theology of God’s nonviolent love.” The good Father presiding at Mass completed the petition, “We pray to you Lord.” The 20 or so people present, young and old, responded, “Lord hear our prayer.”

At the doors of church afterward Father Salzmann informed me in a nice way that at their church they don’t have open Mass intentions at the offertory. I’d spoken out of turn, but he said that was OK, I didn’t know, and agreed at my suggestion that he’d consider Father McCarthy as a speaker for their Theology on Tap gatherings. Send him more info.

Our daughters Maura and Kathleen had joined my wife Ande and I for beautiful early spring walks on the Appalachian Trail this past weekend, and we were heading home to Michigan Monday afternoon. We'd left Boston that morning from Maura’s Cambridge apartment. The news came by cell phone—two killed, 26 injured (the numbers have since multiplied) at the marathon finish line. Tragedy of senseless violence! No amount of homeland security, or violence on foreign soil, can deflect it.

As the horrible carnage of the recent bombs in Boston command our attention, let’s not forget the daily human destruction caused by the bombs we’ve deployed. We heard that an 8-year-old child died at the marathon finish line attack. Almost every day one who reads the New York Times or Wall Street Journal will see reports of innocent people killed as collateral damage in our interminable War on Terrorism. Drones and smart bombs are not surgeons.

The only way to defeat the worldwide culture of death is by offering our first fruits to the life-giving God of mercy and love.

Flickr photo cc by Flyover Living