Frj82’s Blog

June 24, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — frj82 @ 11:46 am

“With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me? (Psalm 118:6)

Not terribly long ago, someone showed up at our parish’s Bible Study. He didn’t look quite like the rest of us, he seemed a bit nervous and out of place– uncomfortable.  We, for our part, did our best to include him in our study, to make sure he had enough to eat and drink, and were pleased at the end of the day that simply had another soul being fed The Word.

You can easily imagine the same thought process going through the parishioners and friends of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  As we are in prayer here at St. Mary’s preparing for our 100th Anniversary, they are on the verge of their 200th.  And their Bible is roughly the same size as ours.

The comparisons end there.  One day, our guy showed up and left..  One day, a guy visited their church and left carnage.

This story makes me sick to my stomach, even days later.  We are taught at a young age the sanctity and safety of the church…and then hear of the largest mass murder in a religious institution on American soil.

On this day, Satan took the form of an average, skinny, white 18-year-old boy.  In an old, historic city, a life of brewed hatred hit a fork, and the road less-traveled was chosen.

In the days since, the media/social media reaction has been both predictable and shocking.

Predictable are the bigots who have an issue with the calls for the Confederate Flag to be erased from this country.  “But it has Christian roots, St. Andrew’s “X” Cross!  It was based on the Scottish Flag!” Swastikas also have a religious root, but the Lord knows what they have come to represent as well.

Without getting political, we should strive to look at this with a point-of-view that begins with Christ.  Christ advises us to love our enemies, no matter how we perceive them.

This act had no love.  It was based on ideals taught to a kid…yes, 18 is technically an adult, but there are many reasons that is still “a kid”.  This boy was taught…through inferences to a “lesser race”, by throwaway phrases about skin color, with names for those with different skin colors that may even sound cute-sy.  Something was done to this boy to make him hate.  Hate is not nature– it is 100% nurture.

So how do Christians move on?  The affected parish in Charleston called for forgiveness, as Christ would deem.  Many have called for the removal of that Confederate Flag—something anyone admits is barely a half-measure…but its something.

Christians should continue to pray for equality.  The Civil War is the darkest part of our nation’s history.  And though it will never happen here again, events of the last few months have really heated tensions, especially in our Cleveland area.  We know Christ said to love our neighbor as self (Mark 12:31),  that St. Paul said there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, for all are one in Christ (Gal 3:28).

I don’t know how to get to that point.  But I do know we have to trust God.  We need to continue to keep our doors open to the community around us.  We need to keep up the Mission of our Church and parish, to Evangelize to any and everyone who walks through our doors.

It pains me to know that people’s minds will wander to dark thoughts whenever someone “strange” walks through church doors for the next few months.  A new soul entering our church buildings should be something to rejoice about…but minds will wander.

The church is our safe-haven—it should be free from hatred, stress, fighting, politics, cliques, and shame.  At least, that is how Christ left the church.  Humans have done a number on it…but it leaves room for improvement.

I don’t expect any of these words to change anyone’s mind or heart over anything.  Priests need to vent sometimes, too.  To see hatred come alive and have access to people who condone such acts is an amazing feat of technology, sad as it may be.  Extreme views are media bait—don’t be fooled!

Pray for these souls’ release, for the families affected, for a parish in pain.  Pray for peace, understanding, and for parents and caretakers to further understand the potential impact of their personal views on race on children around them.

Hateful acts have no place in our society, and it hurts ever-harder when something breaks through that dimension of church.  As I opened with verse 6 of Psalm 118, disregarding the affect of mortals on our temporal life, I close with verse 7-our trust in Him that is forever.

“The Lord is on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me” (Psalm 118:7)

Fr. Jason





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