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To be instruments of God’s peace

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

July 20, 2016

What leads a person/s to slaughter innocent people?  Sheer madness, mental illness and unbridled anger can be counted among the causes of such horror.  

So many people today are angry.  For instance, you’ve seen some of the examples of pathetic road rage.   Increasingly, angry people have targeted the innocent with deadly force. 

Loved ones, including those who risk their lives for our safety, are gunned down on our streets by those packing military assault rifles and other weaponry that are too easily available.

Ferguson, Missouri; San Bernardino, St. Paul/Minneapolis, Orlando, Baton Rouge, Dallas - we didn’t reach overnight this tragic state of affairs of anger gone amok. 

We have seen: increasing erosion of respect for authority; disregard for the dignity of every human person, beginning in the womb, regardless of the color of one’s skin; growing economic injustice; increasing religious intolerance and the denial of religious freedom; widespread vitriolic language being lashed out towards others; and the breakdown of marriage and family values. 

All have been contributing factors to much of the angry, violent behavior that has erupted in our communities.
Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, urges us, in the midst of such darkness, not to allow ourselves to be robbed of hope.  “We are called to be living sources of water from which others can drink.” (#86)

Perhaps we’ve placed too much trust in our politicians and not enough in our own ability to make a difference with the grace of God.  I can be a living source of water from which others can drink by my own management of the anger that wells up within me.

How do I speak to my spouse, my children, my parishioners, my co-workers, the guy who cuts me off in traffic, when I am angry, righteous or not?

How can we be instruments of peace in a society where everyone seems to be constantly hollering at everyone else?

Peaceful public demonstrations can contribute to a sense of solidarity for those who are aggrieved.  They capture the public’s attention. 

But, reasoned, honest and respectful dialogue must be the means for constructive change to occur.

The hurling of verbal missiles and ‘in your face’ accusatory shouts stir the flames of violence and lead to deafness, not reconciliation and peace.

This Jubilee of Mercy, we are especially aware of how much our world needs each one of us to be an instrument of peace and reconciliation. Clearly, the Church, nor certainly your bishop, have solutions for every particular burning issue of the day, but we must join with others in supporting those policies and programs which best respond to the dignity of each person and the common good.  

We must not underestimate the power of our personal and communal prayer for justice, healing and peace for all people. 

All three of our Diocesan Priorities provide ways for us to contribute to the good of all.  I’m confident that as we continue to address these priorities, we will provide the environment, both personally and as a community, where peace can be within reach, building our parishes into vibrant communities of worship and service. 

We rely on the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance to give us strength and the grace to persevere. 

We continue to pray for healing for the victims of the uncontrolled anger of others. 


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