Like you, we are shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic and senseless killings in Orlando. We mourn the loss of those persons who have died, we offer our prayers for our brothers and sisters who are wounded, and we grieve with the families of all involved. We know that this great sadness is particularly acute for LGBT communities in Orlando and beyond, and we condemn such horrific violence against them and indeed against any human being.
John Donne’s (1572-1631, Anglican Priest, Poet, Lawyer) powerful poem, “No Man is an Island” states that we are deeply connected one to another as members of the human family – God’s family – and that each person is a “piece of the continent; a part of the main.” Therefore, as Donne reminds us, any person’s death diminishes all of us because we are all involved with humanity. We are all diminished because of such tragedies.
The emotions of anger, frustration, and grief are constant companions in these events. We encourage you to strengthen your resolve to do all in your power, in your realm of influence, to be a peacemaker. This might appear to be a small thing, but it is a vastly important thing for the human spirit; especially in a time such as this. As Jesus so clearly teaches, it is the hard work of peacemaking which identifies children of God: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5.9). We all have a stake in the well-being of humanity, and each person has a responsibility to build up, rather than tear down, the gift of life.
This morning, the diocesan staff began our day with Holy Eucharist in St. John’s Chapel, as we do each Tuesday morning. This morning, we were especially mindful of Orlando. We ask you to remember, in your liturgies this week and in your private prayers, all those who are victims of this tragedy. May God guide and direct our hearts in the reconciling work of peacemaking in the face of such violence.
And, remembering those who had their lives taken from them: “May their souls, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”
Bishop Gary Lillibridge and Bishop Coadjutor David Reed
Diocese of West Texas