Faith and peace in the face of tragedy

sacasa    Aurora. Newtown. And now Boston.
    Lord, have mercy.
    As Catholic Christians, we accept that wrestling with fear and doubt is part of the journey. Tragedies just seem to highlight our questions of faith: How can this happen? What could have been done? What can I do? Where is God?
    These questions should not be readily dismissed, because the healing process is about growing through our fears and finding hope amidst the doubt. The reality is that there is no easy answer when confronted with evil.
    Many of us, scrambling to find a quick solution, wonder what an appropriate response is following a tragedy. Will tougher gun laws help? Maybe. Increased security screenings? Possibly.
    Yet, the best answer is not found in external procedures; rather, it is found within the hidden recesses of the human heart. The best response to tragedy is to become better people. We have to be more sensible in light of senseless violence. Yes, we need laws to protect people, but peace on earth will come only through peace within ourselves. The best thing we can do moving forward is to convert our hearts away from the evils within. It is precisely for this reason that Christ has come into the world.
    We are well into our archdiocesan Year of Family and Faith, and this is a good time to reassess what faith means to us as Catholics. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:17). Faith is a dynamic, powerful and transformative force. Faith opens our eyes to the possibility that there is more to life than loneliness and sorrow. Faith does not minimize the pain we feel in our hearts; rather faith redeems the pain. Faith points to that day where there will be no more pressure-cooker bombers, no more school shootings, no more violence.
Faith leads to hope.
    Our Christian faith preaches that our salvation was won through the crucifixion and resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ. By those acts of love, God opened the pathways of eternal life, redeeming human suffering and giving it purpose. We believe that our God assumed the filth of the world on the cross. Every human evil was driven into his flesh through three nails, a crown of thorns and a spear.
    Yet, he took the pain, died with it and rose from it. This is the Way of the Cross, and by uniting our suffering with Jesus, he transforms us, redeems us and matures us. Our faith is a gift that we must choose daily.
    In the face of tragedy, we must not underestimate the power of prayer. A good simple prayer in light of recent events is the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It moves pretty quickly, with the repetitious phrase, “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
    This can easily be done as a family. Offer this prayer for the victims of these tragedies; pray for the souls of those who committed them, and pray for the world that God may have mercy on our sins. Also, let us take “Our Family Prayer,” which is recited after every Mass in the archdiocese, more seriously. May God hear our pleas to end violence, murder and racism in our community.
    I have heard it said that God uses all things for our salvation. He can redeem anything. Let us be a people of hope and cling to his promise.
    May God grant peace to all who have suffered violence from Boston to Aurora, from Newtown to New Orleans, and everywhere else senseless tragedies occur.
    Mario A. Sacasa, Ed.S., is assistant director of the archdiocesan Family Life Apostolate and director of the Catholic Counseling Service. His email address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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