St. John’s Cathedral, Denver, responds to Friday morning’s news that a lone gunman killed a dozen people and wounded 50 others during a late-night premiere of the film The Dark Knight Rises:
Regarding the Tragedy in Aurora
At Saint John’s Cathedral, we are following the developing news of the Aurora shooting with sadness and concern. All involved are in our prayers.
At times like these, our emotions come swirling to the surface, with all our questions: shock, anger, grief, wonderment; why did this happen? How could it have been prevented? What does it mean? Where was God?
There are no easy answers. This shooting is a terrible tragedy, and it is a great loss that senseless killing has become a part of our national life in recent decades. Yet this is not an occasion to abandon hope. It is not an occasion to break faith. It is rather an occasion to renew our commitment to love: to love our neighbors, both close and distant, who are suffering; to love our enemies, who have wounded us so grievously; and to love God, who does not abandon us in tragedy, but chose to enter death itself, that life might be wrested from bondage in the tomb.
We may never know the answers to all our questions. Our emotions must be allowed to run their course. Yet in the words written on ribbons at St. Paul’s Chapel in New York after September 11, in all these things let us “Remember to love.” For in loving, faith and hope are made strong, and the human family flourishes; not just despite tragedy, but even in its very teeth.
Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them.
Update: The Rt. Rev. Robert O'Neill has sent the letter that follows to the deacons and priests of the Diocese of Colorado.
Like many of you I awakened this morning to the news of the tragic shootings that took place overnight in Aurora, and as the morning has progressed I have followed with sadness the various news reports coming in as this tragedy continues to unfold.
Your colleagues in Aurora—Carol Meredith and Marionette Bennet at Saint Stephen’s; and Jim Gilchrist at Saint Martin’s—are actively engaged with young people, parents, teachers and others in the Aurora area, and they are providing wonderful pastoral leadership to folks within and beyond the scope of their parish communities. Michael Carney and Shanda Velisek from Saint Timothy’s in Centennial have been working the social media network and are in contact with a whole network of young folks from our summer mission trips and their friends.
We will certainly keep you posted as events unfold.
For now I write particularly to ask your prayers for those who are most directly affected by these shootings—those who are wounded, those who have died, emergency responders, medical and law enforcement personnel, and your colleagues and communities who are providing immediate pastoral care. The greatest gift we have to offer one another is indeed our collective prayer—not merely kind wishes, not simply good intentions, but deep prayer—the ability to hold, tangibly and intentionally, others in that abundant love that flows freely and gracefully within us and among us. This has substance. This has weight and heft. For it is the source of deep healing and lasting transformation.
Please make this your intentional practice, and please invite others to join you in doing the same today and in the days ahead.
Deep peace and many blessings be with you.
Photo: The rood screen at St. John's Cathedral.