I pray you are well.
I pray for victims of gun violence in our churches, schools, homes, and streets. I find it difficult to watch the news in the aftermath of tragedy. The personal stories depicted on the news are too painful for me to view. As a priest, I share in the lives of people with tragedy and recovery. You are very real to me. The news afar is too much for me to watch on television.
As an EMT with Maumee Volunteer Fire, I see these things first hand. Maumee is not a violent community. It is very peaceful and loving. But Maumee has its share of domestic violence, suicide, drug, and alcohol related incidents. As an EMT, I see what the police encounter every day on their shifts. I respond to police scenes where victims and suspects require medical attention. Sometimes and when needed, the police respond to my medical scenes for the sole purpose of keeping me safe. I admire and respect them for how they serve. I know our Maumee police by their first names.
I am trained in rapid response. If I ever am on duty during an active shooter incident, I know exactly how to respond with rapid intervention of medical care. The Rapid Task Force goes into the building to rescue victims as quickly as possible while the shooting situation is underway. The EMS crews are escorted by police who keep them safe. Simultaneously, another police crew isolates the shooter(s). The lack of rapid response in Uvalde is disappointing. The lessons of rapid response were learned from Columbine in the early 1990s. Perhaps the lesson that was not learned was: It can happen here.
We need more than prayer. We need a relationship with Christ. We live in a society that has forgotten how to pray, except when tragedy strikes. Prayer is needed before the tragedy. The reason for this is prayer is about having a relationship with God. Pain is not the place to build a relationship with God. Pain is the place where God comes to heal us, but the relationship should already be growing. To be clear, the families in Ulvalde need God very much. My criticism is systemic of our nation and society. What our society needs most is a relationship with God. It lacks this simple bond. I have seen an example in my own children. They grew up in the church and Maumee City Schools. Maumee City Schools served them well. However, the bulk of their friends do not have the Christ centered relationship I am talking about. They were not raised in the church. They do not have a prayer life.
In all the political discourse that is about to come, whether guns, abortion, war, inflation, elections and etc, I encourage you to remember your values. We are Christians first. Our greatest value is a relationship with Christ. From there, Christ instructs and leads our values. Christ teaches us to love our neighbor. Our values are built on relationship and love. We can engage the political conversation with that foundation.
In Peace, Paul+