How do I pray – when my hometown has become the site of a mass-shooting?

This was my question today, as I struggled to settle into morning prayer, with images of the mass-shooting in Hanau, Germany, in my heart. This horror, for me, is not just another mass-shooting, as tragic as each of them is (but they are exceedingly rare in Germany, since people do not routinely own guns). The mass-shooting in Hanau went straight to my heart because this city is my home-town. As I tried to settle into prayer, struggling to anchor my prayer – with a text, an image, a psalm, a space of silence, the Divine Office, anything that would hold my heart and body still before God, I remembered that I had written a text for just such an occasion some years back. It took me a while to find it again, but here it is, tweaked for this morning:

Eternal, All-Compassionate God:
You are our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.
We lift our hearts and voices in lament to you this day
as we grieve the violence, the terror, and the loss of life in Hanau, Germany.
Have mercy, O God, have mercy.
We entrust to your infinite compassion all those who have died.
May they rest in your eternal peace.
We pray for those who are fighting for their lives, and for those who are injured in body, mind, and soul.
Grant them easing of their pain and healing.
We pray for this city and for its inhabitants, in shock.
We pray for those tasked with responding to this catastrophe.
Give them steadfastness and wisdom.
And, as you commanded us to do, we pray for our enemies.
Let them not be lost in violence and hatred.
To all of us, grant deep compassion for all that exists, and an abiding longing for your peace.
Lord, send out your Spirit
And renew the face of our marred and grieving world.
Amen.

2 comments

  1. Teresa, I am so sorry. I have been reading about this incident in the newspaper, and it’s evident that the town itself is diverse and well-iintegrated. Yet one person can tear at the fabric of society in a truly horrific way. The trauma lasts long after the event. I fear we in the U.S. are becoming anesthetized to news of mass shootings because they are so frequent. But for the victims, the survivors, their families, and their neighbors, there is no forgetting. Their lives — their one, only, precious life — are forever changed. To pray for peace is not a platitude, it’s a necessity.

  2. Thank you, Teresa, for this prayer, which I have said and shall continue to say with you. I have dear friends from and in neighboring Offenbach who are shocked and terrified, and so the Hanau victims, perpetrator, and German people are in my intercessory prayer these days. I deeply appreciate your prayer including for those lost in violence and hate. The resurgence of such movements there and here is disconcerting, indeed. May we all be converted to the gospel of the poor, the peace-makers, the mourners, the justice-pursuers.

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