Thursday, January 20, 2011

From Death to Rebirth

We Are Resurrection People

The people who were killed and injured here in Tucson recently have been in my thoughts and prayers since, and as I related, by my attendance at the daily and Sunday masses held at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton parish, I have felt at least a remote part of the tragedy and its aftermath.  The healing of those wounded continues apace, and the healing of those who lost loved ones begins.

Funerals and memorial services have been held for the deceased, including the funerals of Judge John Roll and Christina Taylor Green that were held at SEAS.

Yesterday, I had lunch with a 53 year old man and father of a 9 year old son, whose wife passed away this past October from brain cancer.  Although she had been diagnosed 23 months prior to her demise, she was only seriously disabled by the disease for the last 5 months of her 49 years here on earth.  This man is grief stricken, but coping as best he can, and looking after his son to the best of his abilities.  It should come as no surprise that the Tucson shooting did not come up in our discussion.  He has enough coping with tragedy on his own plate to last him for some time to come.  He wondered if the grief he was feeling was appropriate.  I have had enough personal grieving over losses to know that we are all individuals, with individual circumstances, and how we grieve our losses is very personal.  I assured him that he was doing fine, and that there was no blueprint, just a journey.  

Yesterday, before meeting my new friend, I had been at SEAS for mass, and spent time before the Eucharist exposed for Adoration.  For me, coming to grips with the incomprehensible is not about finding who to blame, as many are attempting, but in putting it all at the foot of the Cross, and giving it to Our Saviour in hope and trust.

But, this morning I had two opportunities to witness the aftermath of the tragedy, and whereas aftermath is usually a harsh word that means more bad stuff, what is coming out of the tragedy is not unlike what has arisen out of 9/11.  

On the Catholic Channel there was an interview today, replayed from late last summer with Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, speaking with Father Jim Martin, a Jesuit priest, and well known Catholic writer.  Father Martin related how he had been in New York at the time of 9/11, and had the opportunity to minister to people at Ground Zero for the two weeks after that monumental tragedy.  He spoke of how the Holy Spirit was alive and well, and that there was much good fruit that came out of what happened that September day.  He said mass there, and distributed communion to the faithful, and witnessed to them of the forever love of Jesus.

This morning I attended the 9 am mass at SEAS, and it was a mass for the students of the Catholic school on the property.  The students were all in their school uniforms and many of them were seated with their parents, and families.  Something special happened at this mass.  3 young people, students at the school, 2 of whom were about the age of Christina Taylor Green, were baptized during the mass.  Father Al Caponigro, a transplant from Cleveland, spoke during his homily of how SEAS had become famous for all the wrong reasons last week, because of the funerals, and how when he turned his cell phone on after the masses, he had several voice mail messages from people from Cleveland and around the USA who he knew, who suddenly realized that he was where the goings on were going on.

He reminded those in attendance that SEAS was not just a building that had held funerals for two decedents, but that it was the spiritual home of all present today, and many who had attended the funerals as well, and that SEAS was joined in prayer with Christian congregations around the world, by our faith in Our Saviour and Lord.  And, further that played out in the admission to membership of those newly baptized.

So, while we bid some adieu at their funerals, and godspeed to their heavenly home, we also are renewed by the new members who join us in communion.

After mass, I drove over to the Safeway store at Ina Road and Oracle Road, the site of the shootings.  I was curious to see how the event was being remembered.  A monument of sorts had been placed in front of the store for Rep. Giffords, and for all who were killed and injured.  Many local residents had put hand written notes of condolence there.  Many more had placed a bouquet of flowers, or a teddy bear, or other memento.  But what was very evident was the faith component evidenced by votive candles that were burning to keep the light of faith in memory.

At the Baptisms at SEAS, the final sacramental is the lighting of a candle from the Easter candle for each of the baptized, and as a reminder to their families, godparents and us all that we are to be the light of the world, in our role of being Christ for others here on earth.

And so, the candles at both locations remind us that in tragedy or joy, He is present.  He is the Light of the World, and we are to bear that light to a world that is in darkness.

May God use these tragedies, and joyful occasions to bring us all to knowledge of Him, and of the redemptive work His Son accomplished for us here on earth.

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