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Believe in peace after terror in Paris

Posted on 18 November 2015 by admin

Making sense of violence

Staff Designer

Noreen Headshot




It was the day after Friday,Nov.13.The mood was somber. The church was stocked full as we gathered for evening mass at St. Monica Church in Creve Coeur (French for broken heart). We Paris Opinion
listened to the sermon as the priest preached to his audience.

He talked about the carnage that occurred in Paris the evening before. The scenes we witnessed on TV and the Internet replayed in our minds.

It was horrifying to visualize the cold-blooded murders of hundreds of innocent people who gathered with friends and perhaps family to enjoy a meal, a soccer game or concert.

The violence made no sense to us as we sat in the peaceful atmosphere of our church. Why did it happen? Six simultaneous attacks by groups of men with guns and ammunition took place at public locations that were sure to be filled with hundreds to thousands of people. Coincidence? No, it was not. Organized? Yes, it was.

These carefully planned acts of terrorism were not just the shooting of rifles into the air to strike terror in people’s hearts. They were deliberately aimed at people’s hearts and heads and any and all parts of their bodies.

What were the terrorists thinking as they loaded and killed, reloaded and killed again and again and again?

Were they chanting in their heads, “aim and kill, aim and maim” to the beat and rhythm of each gunshot — to the rocking explosions that reverberated in their ears?

As we recited our prayers (forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive our trespassers) I thought, “Can we really, really forgive these heinous acts of murder? Our Father in heaven, are you not asking too much of us? Our hearts are heavy with grief.”

I looked around at the peaceful smiles of the statues of the saints around us. I thought to myself, “We are not saints. We are flesh and blood, hearts beating, minds recoiling in horror.”

I focused outside of myself as we stood up. I heard the priest call on us to give the sign of peace to our neighbors. In the pew just in front of us was a young family near the aisle: a pregnant mother, a father and a toddler.

As his parents wished us peace, the little boy extended his hand to the man and woman to the left of us.

With a sweet smile, he then carefully toddled along the pew bench, looking at each one of our faces as he reached out to take our hands and transmit joy and a smile.

There was a smile on every face as he proceeded to shake every hand and reached the other end of the pew.

We watched anxiously as he stepped close to the front edge of the bench.

Then, he was carefully lifted up and placed in the arms of his father who was waiting for him and held him close to the heart.

There was peace in our hearts and joy on our faces as we sang the closing hymn and left the church. We believed in peace. Our hearts were with the victims of the attacks in Paris.


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