Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Tragedy: The Prayer of "Why?"

On the same day for seven years, beginning on Patriot's Day of 1977 through Patriot's Day of 1983, I stood with my fellow seminarians, seminary professors, chancery workers, priests, and bishops on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston's Brighton neighborhood. We stood in front of the then "Carindal's Residence," watching and cheering on the thousands of runners in Boston's annual marathon. Some days were cold and rainy; others cool and sunny. We stood for hours, encouraging those who had trained long and hard for this significant day in their lives.

What transpired yesterday in Boston was simply unfathomable to me, as it is for so many others. The pride the people of Boston take in staging this annual event is so evident from the moment the race steps off in Hopkinton to the finish line in downtown Boston. My heart ached yesterday for those killed, their loved ones, and the scores injured. As with so many tragedies, we are left with the question, "Why?"

Most of us will never experience the murder of someone we love. It is difficult enough to live through the grief that accompanies the sudden death of a loved one through a car accident, a heart attack, or stroke. And it is as difficult to move through the grief when a loved one dies after a long struggle with a debilitating disease. I just can't imagine what these families are going through at this time of tragic and unexplained terror.

On September 11, 2001, the employees of the J.S. Paluch Company and World Library Publications gathered for prayer just a few hours after the tragic events of that day. I wrote a prayer that grew out of my own sadness, anguish, despair, and anger. It is sad that I have to turn to that prayer again today.

O God of mercy and forgiveness,
we stand before you in pain, in fear, and in grief.
We know you desire good for your people,
which is why we are stunned when we face terror of today's magnitude.
We cry out to you with the word that we share with one another:

In our fear and doubt, we still turn to you,
O God, and ask your presence.

Welcome those who were killed today
into your loving embrace.
Give them eternal peace.

Comfort the families of those who lost loved ones.
Give them strength.

Be with those who have suffered pain.
Heal them.

Guide those who care for the injured.
Be their strength.

Lead our country through this grief.
Comfort us.

Bring justice to those responsible for this terror.

And Almighty God,
we pray that you do not abandon your people
in their time of need.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

1 comment:

Chris Ferraro said...

Jerry, those words sound so familiar. I looked back at the prayer service we did with our parishioners on September 11, 2001. Sure enough, we used your very words. It is so sad that we have to use them again.