A Lenten response to violence Print
Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

It was interesting to see people with crosses on their foreheads in the crowds shown after the school shootings in Parkland, Fla.

Of course, the shootings occurred on Ash Wednesday, so some of the parents and other family members had gone to Mass during the day.

Is there a message for us? The more I thought about it, I think there is.

Ash Wednesday begins the 40-day season of Lent, when we prepare to celebrate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

During Lent, Christians focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. This year, we might consider how our Lenten practices can be even more focused on what we can do to bring the love of Christ into our world in response to violence.

Here are some thoughts:

Prayer — We can pray for the grieving families in Florida and throughout our country who have suffered from school shootings. Since the year 2000, there have been more than 188 shootings at schools and universities, with more than 200 students killed and at least 200 more injured. In the vast majority of the killings, the perpetrators used guns.

We can pray that our country look for ways to stop senseless violence with common sense gun control and increased help for those who are mentally ill and disturbed. Prayer should be followed up by action.

Fasting — Besides just fasting from meat or other foods, we can pledge to fast from apathy towards those in need or fast from our own tendencies towards gossip and saying unkind things about others.

Almsgiving — We can consider giving of our time, talent, and treasure to helping those in need in our neighborhoods, in our communities, and across the world. We can reach out to those who are hurting, depressed, or alienated. How about volunteering at a local food pantry or at The Beacon homeless day resource center in Madison?

Let’s bring a special focus to our Lenten practices this year to help bring healing and peace to our country.