Sunday, July 17, 2016

A statement from Houma-Thibodaux Bishop Shelton Fabre on today's massacre in Baton Rouge

Even though our tears are still falling and our fresh and fervent prayers are still ascending to God for the victims and families of the recent violence and los...s of life that has gripped our state, our nation and our world, we again today stand before more violence and loss of life in Baton Rouge, which is very close to home for us. As a native of New Roads and a priest of the Diocese of Baton Rouge for 17 years I feel a deep ache in my heart because of recent violence that has happened there. My sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones today or in the past weeks in the violence that has occurred in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, Istanbul and Nice. Unfortunately, I fear that we as a nation and a world are becoming too accustomed to the tragic events of violence and loss of human life such as has occurred over the past few weeks.
It is in times like these that I am drawn to the words of the Lord to the prophet Isaiah: “Comfort my people.” I chose these words as my episcopal motto because I feel that deep within the heart of God is a desire to comfort us in our pain. Each of us reacts differently to violent tragedy. Some of us may be angry. Violence pierces our hearts and leaves us in pain. Anger flows from pain. For those of us who are angry I simply remind us that underneath the anger, in the pain, there is God wanting to “Comfort His people.” Some of us may have questions like “Will the violence and killing stop? When will this end?” Those are great questions. There, in the questions and together genuinely seeking to find answers constructively, we will find God listening to us wanting to “Comfort His people.”
I am calling all people of Houma-Thibodaux to prayer. Regardless of our religion, regardless of our history, I call all of us to pray. Whether in the smallest privacy of your home or in the largest gatherings in churches, I ask all of us to pray. Specifically, I am asking each of us to consider the following:
First, to each personally pray daily for an end to violence. Violence is a complex evil; however, violence is often propelled by selfishness and self-centeredness. We as people must look “outside of ourselves”, we must turn to God, for it is in Him that our true peace lies.
Secondly, come together in prayer. Therein, I am asking that over the course of the next two weeks every Catholic Church in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux offer a “Holy Hour” to pray for an end to violence.
Thirdly, let us continue to work together for justice and peace. Where there is justice, there is peace. Where there is injustice there will always be the temptation to violence. God calls us all to “see” others as He “sees” them. As Pope Francis has indicated, we must truly seek to “encoutner” those who are racially or ethnically different from us in a real effort to appreciate the countless gifts that unite us, and to seek to address and to solve the problems that challenge and seek to divide us, complicating our lives together. When we learn to “see” people with the eyes of the Lord, we will then move forward in justice and peace.
In these troubling times, I think that the Prayer of St. Francis places before us what we are called to as people of faith:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

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