Tragedy in Paris

Last night I kept vigil, not just for the people of Paris killed or injured in the terrorist attacks, or their grieving families and friends, but for all of us. When such dreadful things happen, there is a tendency to want vengeance, to express lots of emotion and fear, often in violent language. This morning Social Media is awash with ugly sentiments. At such times it is easy to preach, but not so easy to practise, restraint. I think, however, that it is vitally important. We must not pass the poison on — not because that is what the terrorists want (I have no idea what they want) but because to do so is to diminish our own humanity; and I think our humanity matters. This morning, when everyone is in shock, please take a moment just to listen. Ignore the clamour inside; forget yourself; listen to what the Holy Spirit is urging; and remember the Benedictine motto, pax, peace. It is surrounded by a crown of  thorns which both protect and bar the way, reminding us that to choose peace and love rather than hatred and violence is true heroism, true valour, and comes at enormous cost.

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14 thoughts on “Tragedy in Paris”

  1. Amen to this. Sometimes we over react to violence and respond with violence. This is as you say a time for a measured response in peace and prayer.

    The French Government in particular need our prayers as they consider how to respond – hopefully holding out a hand of peace and forgiveness, not matter how hard it might be.

    Jesus’ light in the world is what is needed to over come the darkness which seems to pervade in some hearts and minds.

  2. We have just switched on the TV and watched the coverage of the Paris terrorist attacks. This afternoon and evening I will be in Coventry Cathedral, which has a special mission of reconciliation because of being bombed in the blitz. At 6.30 there is going to be a Peace and Light demonstration with people circling the cathedral, attended by the Duke of Kent. At 7.30 we are singing a Mozart concert – Solemn Vespers and Requiem (St. Michael’s Singers). All this is going to be especially moving following the Paris attacks.

  3. You are so right – our humanity matters, and even more so in the face of inhumanity. The people who committed this outrage (claimed by IS) are simply terrorists – they betray their religion by their actions. They do not represent Islam any more than the Ku Klux Klan represents Christianity. To allow them to poison our feelings towards any other human beings would not only completely diminish our own humanity, but would fall into the trap of causing further division and conflict and potentially increasing their (currently minimal) support.

  4. Thank you Sister: I am here in Paris and everyone is shocked, almost beyond words, but as far as I can judge reacting with dignity – and naturally great , great sadness. Our way of dealing with such abnormal hatred towards those out enjoying the evening is as you say to put all into the hands of the One Who is Peace: better days will come, but it is up to us to allow them to happen.
    I am touched that you kept us in your prayer last night: we heard the sirens of ambulances and police as they went around not too far from us, 10 minutes distance or so: the Church never sleeps……

  5. After watching France Vingt Quatre for a couple of hours last, praying as I did as I watched. I tried to calm down some silly statements on a Catholic posters comment section and then kept vigil too for all those affected by this tragic and pointless violent act.

    All we can do is spend our time in prayer.

  6. i really hate comments like these, i think its better to not post at all imo, i cannot imagine the rage and hatred they feel towards this injustice right now…

    i dont think its right to tell someone who just lost family to some crazy [person] to calm down =/

    • If you have time, please would you read Robyn’s comment on my post of 9 November about the abolition of the death penalty (here) in which she talks about her family’s forgiveness of her father’s murderers, and what it cost them all. I am not telling anyone to calm down. I am saying that perpetuating violence is not a good idea, but it will take courage, effort and sacrfice to avoid doing so.

  7. This kind of evil is beyond the understanding of our common humanity. We can deeply empathize with the those directly affected by these atrocities, but as followers of Christ, we are called to practice “uncommon” humanity: to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, turn the other cheek, and go the extra mile. (Matt. 5)

    I wonder if we have, however, heard the scriptures so often that it becomes too easy to quote them in these times. It is immensely harder do the tough, humble, daily, spiritual work that enables us to meet these kinds of horrific happenings, as well as our own life’s sufferings and the “trespasses against us,” with God’s love, equanimity, forgiveness, and healing.

    Developing this “uncommon” humanity is the work of a lifetime!

  8. My husband and I are deeply saddened by the atrocities committed in Paris yesterday. We read the message posted by the terrorists in its entirety this morning and were left shaking our heads. There will certainly be repercussions as France reacts militarily and I fear more loss of innocent lives, but as I prayed for the victims the thought came to mind of the deceased perpetrators now standing before God in judgement. They didn’t win, have no hope of doing so because Christ is victorious. We can lay aside our anger, hatred, urge for revenge because I am confident God’s just punishments will suffice. If we persist in courting evil we risk joining them in eternity.

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