Reflection on Virginia Tech

The following reflection was given by Bishop Paul S. Loverde on April 22 during the Holy Hour for the Virginia Tech Victims at Holy Spirit Parish in Annandale.

The Church of Arlington is a family of faith, brothers and sisters united through and with and in Jesus Christ, Who died and rose again to new and unending life. As family members, we share joy and sorrow; we rejoice with those who rejoice and we weep with those who weep; we stand by one another in good times and in bad. This is why we are here: to give a visible sign of our deep desire to be with all those so profoundly affected by the devastating tragedy of Virginia Tech: the victims, both those so senselessly killed and those so needlessly wounded; their families and friends; all the members of the Virginia Tech community, including the alumni; and also to pray for all these people in the Eucharistic Presence of our Crucified yet Risen Lord Jesus.

What does our praying do? Does it remove the pain of loss, the sorrow of separation, the ache in the heart, the haunting questions, the conflicting emotions? No, these are real and remain real.

Praying enables us to see the same reality which others see differently, with the eyes of faith: to see through the tears, to see beyond the present, to cling to the Risen Jesus, Himself the Innocent Victim of evil and cruelty, to be reminded of Jesus' promise to Martha in her grief: "I am the resurrection and the life: whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life, and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die," and again to the disciples at the Last Supper: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and faith in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places; otherwise, how could I have told you that I was going to prepare a place for you? I am indeed going to prepare a place for you, and then I shall come back to take you with me, that where I am you also may be."

So, we do pray. Lord, give to those who were so senselessly and innocently killed life without end in Your presence. Give to those so needlessly wounded renewed health of body, the healing of their painful memories and strength of soul. Give to the families and friends of all the victims, those killed and those wounded, consolation in their grief, the grace of perseverance and true hope. Give to each member of the Virginia Tech community the ability to move forward from this place of pain to a new future rooted in hope-filled unity. Give to the alumni a deepened love and a renewed commitment to their beloved Alma Mater.

Remember too Seung-Hui Cho. You forgave those who murdered You on Calvary's hill; forgive him now, for You are the fountain of mercy. Have pity on his family, who struggle with profound shame and broken hearts for him and for all those so terribly affected by him.

Enable us all to be recommitted to upholding and protecting the precious gift of life from conception all the way to natural death. Help us to remove the obstacles, to prevent the attacks and to strengthen our support. May we learn to treasure personal relationships far more than possessions, prestige or power. If we emerge from this devastating and overwhelming tragedy more life-giving, more life-sustaining, more life-protecting, then those who died will not have died in vain, but with You, will have been the instruments of life triumphing over death and evil. Risen Lord Jesus, hear our prayer!

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