Yesterday was the funeral of Christina Taylor Green, a precious 9 year old who went to meet her Congresswoman to learn more about the American political system. Caught in the midst of a senseless shooting by a deranged man, she and 5 others were murdered, while the Congresswoman and 12 others were wounded.
Yesterday, I touched on some of the tangible Signs of the Arizona Tragedy that I witnessed as I went to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton church for morning mass. The funeral was held in mid afternoon.
This morning, I went up once again for morning mass, not knowing what to expect, but thinking something might be up, with today being the funeral mass for respected Federal Judge John Roll, and it also being scheduled for mid morning.
All was quiet as I parked my car in the north parking lot, rather than the south as per yesterday, and approached the chapel entrance. The only sign of anything in the early hours of the still dark morning was that the door was locked and had to be opened for me by a parishioner. My prayers and the prayers of others in the chapel at the time before mass for those involved in this tragedy were uneventful, and Mass proceeded as the Mass does. Father Clement Agamba was the celebrant, and was clearly under some direction to get on with it. There were no prayers of the faithful,the homily was brief, and Mass was over a few minutes early.
As I made my way to the parking lot to get my car, I noticed across the street, that news trucks for many stations were already assembled there, and police were directing traffic already.
I pondered this as I drove, and listened to Gus Lloyd on the Catholic Channel during the last half hour of his morning show. However, as I drove south on Interstate 10 through the heart of Tucson to our winter home, Gus had an interview with Bishop Gerald Kikanas, the Bishop and shepherd of the Diocese of Tucson.
A couple of years ago, I was here in Tucson, and was involved with 40 Days for Life, praying in front of abortion mill with other Tusconans. On the 40th day, there was a special prayer vigil led by one of the priests of the diocese, but Bishop Kikanas made an appearance. He had just arrived the day before from the periodic visits that groups of Bishops make to the Holy See, and so was jet lagged and clearly fatigued. Yet, he made an effort to greet and speak briefly with all gathered there. As he shook my hand, made eye contact and greeted me, I felt blessed to have met the local shepherd.
This morning his leader's faith and love reached out to me and to anyone listening to their satellite radio at the moment. This gentle man of faith has reached out to his flock in this time of tragedy. When the tragedy occurred, Bishop Kikanas was once again overseas, in Jerusalem this time, and immediately made arrangements to return home to be with his people. Even before he left Jerusalem, he had sent a letter by email to the parishes of the diocese, expressing his deep sorrow and desire to be one with those he loves so much. This letter was read at the masses at SEAS last Sunday.
When Bishop Kikanas arrived home, he went to the hospitals and visited with a number of the sick, and reached out to the families of the deceased.
The Bishop presided yesterday at Christina Taylor Green's funeral, and spoke of the liturgy that was held to bid her body adieu. He made mention of the selection of the passages from Ecclesiastes about a time for every season, a time to live, a time to die, and spoke about her love of dance, and love of sports. She was a pretty good baseball player, better than most of the boys her age. Her pedigree as the grand daughter of former major league pitcher Dallas Green, and daughter of an LA Dodgers scout probably helped with her ball playing. He told the children who sang with her in her church choir that though they are pretty good, and she loved singing with them, that she is now singing in the celestial choir.
Last evening, he was at the wake for Judge John Roll. He spoke of how Judge Roll was looked up to by other lawyers in the community, as a mentor, and how his participation in things of faith in the community and in the judicial aspects of the community will be missed.
He related how he had phoned the judge's wife from Jerusalem when he heard of the tragedy, and of her conversation with him. Mrs. Roll stated that her husband told her that morning that he was going out to mass, and would stop by to see Congresswoman Giffords on his way home, because she was going to be just a few blocks away from their residence. He never made it home, at least not to that home.
Today, Bishop Kikanas will preside at Judge Roll's funeral, and will have the opportunity to bid adieu to his mortal remains as well.
As the Bishop spoke, my eyes welled up with tears, to hear his love for his community, and to hear how he and other faith leaders in the community had gathered to discuss joint responses to what has happened.
It has been said that: "That which does not kill you, makes you stronger." But, as well, that which kills you, can only kill the body, and so in faith we know that Christina Taylor Green and Judge John Roll are with our Saviour in heaven. We hope and pray the same for the 4 others killed so senselessly in Tucson last Saturday.
For those who were injured, we pray that they will be made stronger, stronger in the seeds of faith that are inside them, stronger in their respect for human life in all its stages, and that they will become witnesses of the healing and saving power of God.
The tragedy has passed. The healing has begun, and those who mourn today will one day laugh again.
When President Obama was here in Tucson on Wednesday, he spoke words of healing, and did not point fingers. In fact, he was a leader of the people, not a politician. He left partisan politics and policies behind and came to be with a wounded section of the American people.
All will be well. All will be well. All manner of things will be well.