Lately, it seems this country has been saturated with confusion, anger and division. We are a nation on edge, a people searching for meaning and security, and quick to blame each other for all of the problems we face or that seem to loom on the horizon, threatening what is important to us. And the threats are real, the problems are real.
The events of this past week added grief and fear to that confusion, and are difficult to understand without landing helplessly at the feet of Mercy.
The paradox is that in a week where fear and ideologies violently divided us, the Cross has a quiet triumph.
Grief unites us as we weep for 49 people killed Saturday evening at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Sons, daughters, friends, strangers. In death all of the things that divided ‘us and them’ fall away. We all grieve the loss of brothers and sisters. We look at their pictures and see the eyes of beloved children of God. We face a mystery. We deeply recognize and resonate with people who in many ways may not have lived “like us” but are more “like us” than we realized before we were faced with their mortality.
We have no choice but to grieve, and to ponder. Like Mary, we ponder this week in our hearts. 49 people killed by a man who ultimately also died. All Mary’s children, our brothers and sisters, beloved by Mercy himself.
When we have no words or cogent thoughts to make sense of the violence and death of 50 people in Orlando Saturday night, our mother quietly gives us a way to grapple with the tragedy. The 50 beads of the rosary. One for each person that died that night. Not knowing what to say, or what to pray, or what this week shows us about ourselves, we can repeat with the rhythm of her heartbeat, “Hail Mary…” for each person.
With each prayer we become more peaceful, we come a bit closer together and we find our security in the heart of Christ.
Here are the names of the 50 people who died in the terror attack in Orlando, including the killer himself. Praying for someone by name is very powerful. God himself tells us that he has each of our names carved on his hand. Joining our prayer to Mary’s, we can pray for each of their souls, weep for their loss, beg for forgiveness, for our healing as a country and open ourselves to faith, hope and love.
We can look together to God’s plan for the future of this divided country, and let the paradox of the cross use the violent events of the week to unite us a little more, make us a little more loving, and have more peace than we did a week ago.
May God use this week to bring us a step closer to himself, to each other, to what is right and true and good. May it strengthen us in our love and compassion, and in our resolve to protect the value of human life and all that is true and beautiful in this country.
I invite you to join me this week in praying a rosary, a Hail Mary for each person by name.
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
Omar Mateen, 29 years old