Praying for an end to gun violence

by Mary Ann McGivern

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I am a member of the Loretto Committee for Peace. We meet regularly to plan how to educate and mobilize the Loretto community, how to represent the community, and what issues to focus on. We’ve selected nuclear weapons and guns.

The committee presented a resolution at our last Assembly calling for U.S. unilateral action to abolish nuclear weapons. It passed unanimously and, as part of the implementation, Loretto will participate in the September 21-27 actions to abolish nuclear weapons. We will provide reading material and invite community group discussion. We will support community participation at demonstrations against nuclear weapons.

The Committee for Peace has also taken a position for gun control. We bought and distributed yellow tape that says, “Stop Gun Violence, Act Now!” We shared maps of small arms trade and numbers of people killed by guns. We have reported on research and local gun issues where our members live. So now, what will we do?

At the committee meeting, we looked at one another helplessly. There is no legislation pending to identify and help the mentally ill, much less place restrictions on gun sales or limit require safety locks or limit the repeating action of semi-automatics. The U.S. Congress even opposes international legislation to track small arms sales.

Our only option is prayer.

The Loretto Committee for Peace is calling on the Loretto community and all people of faith to pray for an end to gun violence. We ask people to include petitions at Mass that pray for an end to gun violence. We ask people to pray daily for an end to gun violence. We invite people to write prayers asking for an end to gun violence.

We suggest lighting a candle during the prayer. We suggest family and friends praying together by telephone, perhaps on first Fridays. We encourage joining memorial prayers, vigils and prayer gatherings at churches and temples, community groups standing for peace every week across the country.

We suggest fasting too, for as Jesus reminded us, some devils can be driven out only by prayer and fasting.

I’ve been interviewing families of some of the children killed by guns in St. Louis. Some themes are emerging and perhaps I can write an essay about this suffering in my local community. But the more I learn about neighborhood grudges, about the availability of guns, about the killing of potential witnesses, about mistaken identities -- I learn that I don’t have any answers and neither does anyone I know. We are driven to pray.

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