A Prayer for this day

I’m sure you, like me, are devastated by the news of the latest mass shooting, this time in Uvalde, Texas. This time involving elementary school children. I’m sure you, like me, are sick and tired of political leaders offering “thoughts and prayers” but refusing to take any other action. 

Still, as people of faith, prayer is important. As Diana Butler Bass wrote this week, prayer can be “an act of defiance, lament, and empowerment. Thoughts and prayers can really mean something — if those thoughts and prayers reveal the extent of evil and break our hearts with the love and sorrow of God.”

Her essay also pointed me to this project by Bishops United Against Gun Violence. They wrote the Litany in the Wake of a Mass Shooting “to commemorate the dead, to comfort their loved ones, and to honor survivors.” They also offer this vital note:

One does not pray in lieu of summoning political courage, but in preparation for doing so. Bishops United Against Gun Violence invite you to join in this litany and our commitment to take action so that our country can be freed from the epidemic of gun violence.

Amen and amen. Praying through this list I notice it is horrifically, mind-bogglingly, heart-wrenchingly long. The list is offered in chronological order. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t even remember most of these incidents, so I cannot verify that it is complete. But really, how could it be?

Mass shootings — in which four or more people are killed, not including the shooter — are so common. We must pray and we must work to end our culture’s addiction to guns — here in the USA we have over 393 million guns! We only have 327 million people. We have many more guns than people.  

We must also work to end our addiction to gun violence as a way to solve problems. I hope this Litany in the Wake of a Mass Shooting can help us do so. Will you pray with me?

God of peace, we remember all those who have died in incidents of mass gun violence in this nation’s public and private spaces.

Fifteen dead at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them

Six dead at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Twelve dead at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Twenty-eight dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Six dead at Santa Monica College, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Seven dead at a Hialeah, Florida apartment complex.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Thirteen dead at the Washington Navy Yard.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead at Fort Hood, Texas.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Seven dead in Isla Vista, near UC Santa Barbara.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Five dead at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Washington.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Six dead in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Nine dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Sixteen dead at a San Bernardino, California office.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Ten dead at Umpqua Community College, Oregon.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Six dead in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead at a Hesston, Kansas office.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Five dead at a Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania backyard party.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Fifty dead at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Five dead at Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Five dead at Fort Lauderdale Airport.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead in Fresno, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Eight dead in Lincoln County, Mississippi.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead at an Eaton Township, Pennsylvania supermarket.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Nine dead at a Plano, Texas football-watching party.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Fifty-nine dead at a Las Vegas, Nevada concert.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Twenty-seven dead at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Seventeen dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Five dead at the Veterans Home in Yountville, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead at a Nashville, Tennessee Waffle House.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Ten dead at Santa Fe High School, Texas.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Five dead at the Capital Gazette Newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead at the Fifth Third Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead at a Rite Aid distribution center in Aberdeen, Maryland.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Eleven dead at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Thirteen dead at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Five dead at a bank in Sebring, Florida.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Five dead at their homes in Ascension and Livingston parishes, Louisiana.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Six dead at Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead at a home in Clinton, Mississippi.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead in Solon Township, Michigan.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Thirteen dead at a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Twenty-two dead at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Ten dead at the Oregon District of downtown Dayton, Ohio.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Eight dead on the road between the cities of Odessa and Midland, Texas.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Five dead in their home in Elkmont, Alabama.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead at a bar in Kansas City, Kansas.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead at a backyard football watch party in Fresno, California
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Six dead at a cemetery and kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Six dead at the Molson Coors complex in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Five dead at a convenience store in Springfield, Missouri.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Five dead in the northeast side of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Eight dead at three spas in Atlanta, Georgia.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Ten dead at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead at an office complex in Orange, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Six dead at a home in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Nine dead at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Seven dead at a birthday party in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Ten dead at a rail yard in San Jose, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Four dead at Oxford High School in Oxford Township, Michigan.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Five dead in Lakewood and Denver, Colorado.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Five dead at The Church in Sacramento, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Six dead in downtown Sacramento, California.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Ten dead at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Twenty-two dead at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Give to the departed eternal rest
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

All those who have died in any incident of gun violence.
Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

For survivors of gun violence.
Grant them comfort and healing.
Hear us, Lord.

For those who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
Grant them peace.
Hear us, Lord.

For those first responders who care for victims of gun violence.
Protect and strengthen them.
Hear us, Lord.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

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