Monday, July 23, 2012

A Priest's Prayer Opens the Door to A Conversation about Mercy

As you might know, my husband is a trauma survivor who faces post-traumatic stress disorder. Greg somehow survived the Sept. 11 terror attacks and he also lost dozens of colleagues. He and I continue to consider what it all means.

We both have what we call "trauma fatigue" meaning we are not able to immerse ourselves in the details of other acts of inhumanity, such as the deadly violence that occurred in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater last week. We haven't watched the nonstop cable news reports, or read any of the extensive newspaper coverage.

He and I were not able to have the conversations that our sons wanted to have about it. I had to explain that discussing the details of the shootings brought up far too many troubling feelings for their father and me.

But a comment by one of my pastors at Sunday morning Mass made possible a small conversation  about the Colorado shootings with our older son.

In the aftermath of our own experience with terror, a few things are clear to Greg and me: humans have free will and with it, the capacity to do great evil to ourselves and to one another. Evil is real. No political party, psychologist, politician or public policy can change those facts.

We also have come to understand that there is little that separates the evildoers from "the rest of us." We share the capacity for evil and the longing for the Infinite that will heal us and make our lives meaningful.

One of our pastors, Fr. Jeff Calia, C.O, is a modest, low-key man with a powerful understanding of the Infinite. Yesterday, as the deacon was reading the prayers of the faithful, Fr. Jeff added something at the end. He asked us to ask God to show His mercy to the shooter, in addition asking God to alleviate the suffering of the victims and their loved ones.

After Mass, as I ran errands with our older son to prepare him for music camp, he mentioned Fr. Jeff. "I like that he doesn't care what people think; he isn't trying to get people to like him," Gabriel told me.

"Did you hear what he said about the shooter? That we need to ask God to show him mercy, in addition to healing the victims and their families?" Gabriel nodded. "That is what Fr. Jeff cares about.," I said. "That is what our faith is all about."

Gabriel nodded again and we drove on, in silence.


  1. Beautiful - this is going on Facebook.

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. This is what faith is about.