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Prayers for an End to Gun Violence

photo by Richard Gregor

ECHO Staff

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A response to shootings in schools in Marshall County, Ky., and in Parkland, Fla., the prayer service in Marshall Stadium and letter writing to legislators held during advising on Mar. 6 were designed to show support for an end to gun violence.

In the words of Trinity Student Government moderator Mr. Chad Waggoner:

“A couple hundred of our students walked out of school to walk the stations of the cross. Our senior captains created a prayer for each station and led the walk….I hope you take a few minutes of your day sometime soon to read their prayer for our nation, our students, and peace and healing in our schools.”

STATIONS OF THE CROSS – MARCH 6, 2018

Student “walk-out” in protest of Gun Violence

(response to Parkland, Florida shootings on Feb. 14, 2018)

Opening PrayerCONNER GOLDSMITH

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, as we go through these Stations of the Cross, let us connect with you and your suffering. Let us understand your pain and relate it to our own lives, where we are facing so much of it right now. Let us know that your burial in the tomb only signified a new beginning, as these recent tragedies will hopefully lead us to a safer world. (pause)

1st Station: (MARY EMRICH) READER: JACOB STALEY

Leader:  We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.

ALL:  Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Leader: The First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Die.

Jesus is betrayed by his best friend, arrested, and sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. Though innocent, He accepts the punishment in silence, without saying a word. (pause)

Even today, there are those who endure suffering without being heard, the voiceless are condemned because of the fear and anger of others. Cries for justice, safety, compassion and care for others go unheard.

(pause)

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help us to speak out, to be a voice for those who cannot speak, to cry out on behalf of those condemned by injustice, anger, and fear.

(pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin next station)

2nd Station: LEE HURST

Leader:  We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.

ALL:  Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Leader: The Second Station:  Jesus Takes Up His Cross

Jesus is forced to carry the instrument of his own death. The weight of the cross bears down on to him, cutting into his shoulders and sending pain through his body.

(pause)

In the face of violence and tragedy, it can be tempting to think, “I’m just one person with my own problem to deal with. How can I possibly make a difference?” Overcoming these big problems can seem overwhelming or even impossible, but when we face them together, we can make a difference.

(pause)

Let us pray: Dear God, help us have the courage to take up our cross and do what is right. Let us have the strength to make a positive change on the world, so that it can be safer for others. Let this country come to together so that we can end these violent acts and have a peaceful world.

(pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin next station)

3rd Station: CHRIS TROUTMAN

Leader:  We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.

ALL:  Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Leader: The Third Station:  Jesus Falls For The First Time

We often think of Jesus as someone who has not failed. Jesus fell under the weight of his cross.

(pause)

Too many people have fallen to gun violence. The call for justice can often at times feel too heavy of a cross to bear.

(pause)

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help us be strong enough to call out for justice to end gun violence.

(pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin next station)

4th Station: (MIKE DOMZALSKI) READER:  CHRISTIAN ENGLISH      

Leader:  We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.

ALL:  Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Leader: The Fourth Station:  Jesus Meets His Mother

Mary, the mother of Jesus, has to endure watching her beloved son suffer the pain and humiliation of crucifixion.  The sorrow she experiences watching Jesus suffer would be unbearable. Jesus is the son of God but Jesus is also the child Mary helped raise, the child she nurtured, the child she loves like only a mother can.  Like any parent she wants to end her child’s pain but can only watch helplessly as her child suffers.

(pause)

How many mothers and fathers feel helpless as they watch their children suffer and die needlessly in our world today.  Schools, above all other places, should be places where every parent can send their children without fear of pain, suffering or violence.  Our schools should be a safe haven from the violence of the world, where every student can enter without fear or worry.

(pause)

Let us pray: Lord God, Mary suffered helplessly as she watched Jesus suffer on the cross.  We pray today for an end to the senseless violence that has taken the lives of too many sons and daughters.  We pray for the parents who today grieve over a child lost in an act of school violence and, filled with hope, look forward to the day when school violence is no more.

(pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin next station)

5th Station: COOPER WINRICH

Leader:  We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.

ALL:  Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Leader: The Fifth Station:  Simon Helps Jesus Carry the Cross

As soldiers watching Jesus become restless, they begin to think that he won’t make it to Golgotha.  Eventually they call on Simon from Cyrene, and put the cross on his shoulders.  Simon proceeded to help Jesus on his way to Golgotha.

(pause)

Much like Jesus, we all witness acts of people that mirror the actions of Simon of Cyrene in our everyday life.  During the Parkland shooting, Peter Wang, a student involved in the JROTC was shot to death after staying behind and keeping the exits cleared for his fellow schoolmates.  He sacrificed his life in order to save as many other students as possible.

(pause)

Let us pray: Lord, let us have the courage, fortitude, and selflessness that Peter Wang exhibited during the Parkland Shooting.  Help us recognize when You call upon us to sacrifice for Your plan and help others.

(pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin next station)

6th Station: JACK WOLFRAM

Leader:  We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.

ALL:  Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Leader: The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

A woman, Veronica, emerges from the crowd & approaches Jesus. Taking a cloth, she gently cleans the blood, grime, and sweat from his face. Veronica helped ease Christ’s suffering as best she could.

(pause)

As teenagers and adults, we can often tell when our peers are struggling, burdened by their own “crosses.” All of us are faced with decisions, pressures, obstacles, and temptations every single day. Unfortunately, many end up bearing their burdens without relief.

(pause)

Let us pray: Lord God, help us to be Veronicas for one another, and to do what we can to ease the struggles of our sisters and brothers. Give us the strength and courage to step in and ease one another’s burdens as best we can at every opportunity to do so.

(pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin next station)

7th Station: DALLAS JENKINS

Leader:  We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.

ALL:  Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Leader: The Seventh Station:  Jesus Falls A Second Time

For the second time as he makes his way along the narrow path to Calvary, Jesus falls. We can sense his physical weakness after the long night and the torture he had endured. Perhaps it was not just that ordeal, but his own exhaustion and the heavy cross on his shoulders that made him fall.

(Pause)

As a student, sometimes I think I should know more than I do. I become impatient with myself and find it hard to believe in myself when I fail. It is easy to despair over small things, and sometimes I do. Every time another mass shooting happens, a collective roar cries out for changes that could prevent such violence and tragedy. How many times have we tried to do something, only to give up after lawmakers resist and the memory of a tragedy fades? Like Jesus, we fall down, exhausted by the hopelessness that seems inevitable in the face of these obstacles.

(Pause)

Let us pray: Jesus, help me to be more patient with myself and with others. When I fail or find it hard to believe in myself, remind me that I am strong and can do hard things. In the face of despair, give me hope and courage.

 (pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin next station)

8th Station: (DAN ZOELLER) READER: CHRIS WEATHERS

Leader:  We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.

ALL:  Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Leader: The Eight Station:  Jesus Meets The Women Of Jerusalem

Jesus you stopped along your journey with the cross when you saw women in the crowd crying. Even walking to your death, you saw their pain and reached out to them.

(pause)

In my world today, in my school day each day, I see kids who need to be noticed, who need a kind word, who never interact in class, who sit by themselves at the lunch table. I also sometimes see those who are obviously depressed, even crying, and I walk past.

(pause)

Let us pray: God give me the strength to see beyond my own problems in life. Relieve me of my selfishness so I can reach out to kids I see in pain, kids who struggle because they don’t have a lot of friends or just seem depressed and in need. Help me to be the one who doesn’t walk past them. Help me understand that in giving, I also help myself and Your kingdom.  (pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin next station)

9th Station: RYAN HELLINGER

Leader:  We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.

ALL:  Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Leader: The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls A Third Time

Jesus is struggling with his journey. He falls for the third time under the weight of his cross. He can’t bear the weight of the cross and is forced up to his feet by the soldiers.

(pause)

Jesus’ struggle to get up and continue on is like the friends and families of those who have died in these school shootings. To see their loved ones gone is so harsh, and must be too hard to bear, much like Jesus’ own cross.

(pause)

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help those who are suffering the loss of a loved one. Give them the strength to carry their cross and live out the rest of their lives.

(pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin next station)

10th Station: (DAN ZOELLER)   READER: DAVIS OYLER

Leader:  We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.

ALL:  Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Leader: The Tenth Station: Jesus Is Stripped Of His Garments

Jesus, the soldiers notice you have something of value. They remove your cloak and throw dice for it. Your wounds are torn open once again. Some of the people in the crowd make fun of you. They tease you and challenge you to perform a miracle for them to see.

(pause)

Though it’s easy for me to say, I’m not someone who picks on others, if I’m honest, sometimes I’m in the group laughing. Or maybe I’m just the one who watches someone who is different be ignored or made fun of, without being Jesus for them.

(pause)

Let us pray: Dear God, when I see an injustice, when I see people bullying or making fun of others, taking from them their very dignity, let it be me Lord. Let it be me that finds a way to reach out to stop the meanness – or lend a hand to those being targeted.

(pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin next station)

11th Station: ETHAN HULL

Leader:  We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.

ALL:  Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Leader: The Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Nailed To The Cross

Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice on the cross to redeem the world of its sins. With nails driven through his hands and feet and blood in his eyes, he prays for those who sentenced him.

(pause)

Even today, people let themselves suffer for the good of others, sacrificing themselves just for the protection and wellbeing of individuals they may have never met. They give every last bit of strength they have to keep those that they love safe, enabling them to be free of the pain.

(pause)

Let us pray: Lord, help us be strong and resilient against the pain and injustice this world brings. Help us to forgive our enemies even when they are the ones who put us on the cross.

(pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin next station)

12th Station: JOHN GILKISON

Leader:  We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.

ALL:  Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Leader: The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies On The Cross

After Jesus is beaten, whipped, stripped naked, and nailed to His cross, He cries out, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Even in His most vulnerable state, He continues to be a role model of faith and mercy.

(pause)

Our country is in a very vulnerable state. We must not lose faith in our God and our leaders, but instead take steps to make a change. Even right now, being here together, we are taking steps towards making a positive change in our country.

(pause)

Let us pray: Dear Lord, please give us the strength and courage to get through the hard times our country is currently struggling through and to speak up when it is time for change. Please keep us and our loved ones safe through these scary times and guide our lawmakers to implementing effective laws that end these horrible shootings.

(pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin next station)

13th Station: JACK WESSLING

Leader: We adore you, O Christ and we praise you.

All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world

Leader: The Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the Cross

Now Mary takes the broken body of Jesus: of her Son in her arms. In her grief, she remembers the words of her son, over the bread, ‘this is my body, broken, for you,’ and over the wine, ‘this is my blood poured out for you.’

(pause)         

Mary’s grief is our grief too. As Mary cradles the lifeless “Crosses of Today” body of her son and offers him back to the Father, she stands with all parents who have held their children close to them in death: those lost through accidents or acts of violence, those who have died by suicide, those who died suddenly or after illness.

(pause)

Let us pray: Help us Lord to accept the partings that must come. Help us to offer our loved ones back to you as Mary offered her son. Faced with the silence of death, let us not despair but find hope.

(pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin next station)

14th Station: JACK WESSLING

Leader: We adore you, O Christ and we praise you.

All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world

That night his body lay in the dark Cross of Jesus: earth of the world, a seed dying, in the winter of all spirits. All those who had loved him felt emptied and exhausted. There seemed no longer any sense or purpose in anything. But at least no more harm could come to him. (pause)

There are times when we are overcome by the Crosses of Today: darkness of the tomb, by the countless deaths that we experience each day, but the answer to all our grieving and despair lies in this place. The world is now the tabernacle of God. The grain of wheat sown in darkness and in death has indeed yielded a rich harvest. Our presence here gives witness to that.

(pause)

Let us pray: Jesus, each day you put before us life or death. Help us always to choose life. We pray for all those we have known who have died, and for those who have no one to pray for them. We ask for the gift of faith when we are faced with the darkness of the tomb and our own death approaches.

(pause…walk 5-10 steps and begin closing prayer)

CLOSING PRAYER – (MARY EMRICH)

READER: STEPHEN CURRY

We adore you, O Christ and we praise you.

All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world

Lord Jesus,

In your Cross, we find our hope. In your journey of pain, we encounter your love and mercy. Through your Resurrection, we are called to be the change we want to see in the world. Give us courage to be better versions of ourselves, and in being men of faith and men of character, our actions may transform the wounds of violence into the seeds for change.

(pause)

We pray these things together with your Son Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, our one true God, the Trinity, AMEN.

 

photos by Richard Gregor
Trinity students prayed and wrote letters in support of ending gun violence.

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “Prayers for an End to Gun Violence”

  1. Scott Holzknecht on March 7th, 2018 4:27 pm

    I participated in this and it is one of the most moving things I’ve been a part of during my years here both as a student and faculty member. The readings at each station penetrated my heartat as I considered Christ’s on-going-suffering today, in the here-and-now. It was a truly Christian thing to be a part of: a small group of thoughtful, justice-seeking, hope-filled, determined, and meek men who were willing to be witnesses the pain of others, when so many would want to turn away.

    I am very proud to be part of this brotherhood today.

    [Reply]

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