Summary of today’s show: In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings, Scot Landry and Fr. O’Connor were joined by Fr. Roger Landry to talk about evil and our response to evil; WQOM station manager Chris Kelley, who lost a cousin in the Pan Am Flight 103 terrorist bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988; and Joe D’Arrigo, an Archdiocese of Boston who was running the Marathon with his four daughters and was just down the street when the bombs exploded. There are no easy answers and many platitudes, but everyone on the show agreed that the best of human nature is exposed in the face of enormous evil; that the Lord grieves with us; and that our best response is to pray and to return love when shown hatred.
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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor
Today’s guest(s): Fr. Roger Landry, Joe D’Arrigo, Chris Kelley
Links from today’s show:
Today’s topics: Responding to the Boston Marathon Bombings
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed everyone to the show and acknowledging the bombings at the Boston Marathon yesterday, we’ll be devoting today’s show to the events. Fr. Chris O’Connor read a prayer from the Mass in Times of War and Civil Disturbance. Scot said over the past 24 hours he’s seen how the entire country and entire world is praying with us.
Fr. Chris said there’s a strong desire for justice, calling out to God for justice. Second, we should pray for everyone involved and ask for God’s consolation and peace. We have returned to Good Friday, but we know there will always be an Easter. We’re united in fighting this evil and figuring out who perpetrated it.
Fr. Chris noted in today’s Mass readings that it records the stoning of St. Stephen and we are reminded that we haven’t progressed very far. God doesn’t cause this. We also realize that only bring about the healing and opportunity for new life. Suffering reminds us as human beings that we are never complete without Christ.
Scot said Fr. Matt Williams led a holy hour at the Pastoral Center. He said this is a time when we turn first to God. He welcomed WQOM station manager Chris Kelley, who said he experienced the loss of his cousin in the terrorist attack on the Pan-Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, in the 1980s. He said there’s a lot of confusion, fear, and not knowing where to turn. You’re trying to come to grips what’s happening. At the same time, there are already people reaching out with prayers and support. We are united in prayer with the whole country, but this is the cross. It doesn’t get any more real than this.
Scot said the image that stuck with him today was 8-year-old Martin Richard in his First Communion outfit in a picture that’s been going around and now the boy lost his life and his sister and mother are gravely injured.
Fr. Roger Landry said there’s a certain powerlessness in human responses to this. There are no human words to adequately console. Our first Christian response is to fall to our knees. He said there was an outstanding contrast yesterday between good and evil, the response of goodness to evil. Fr. Roger said he thinks about how most of those injured or killed were spectators but in the marathon against evil there are no spectators. He thought back to the idea of Patriots Day which marks April 19, 1775 and the battle of Lexington Green. He recalled the poem which said it was the “shot heard round the world.” We have heard the bombs around the world and we all have to take up the weapons of prayer and work as hard as those who work in Homeland Security work to get at the root of all that.
Today is the Feast of St. Bernadette, the patroness of Fr. Roger’s parish, and he said she exemplified courage in the face of adversity. Mary promised her that she wouldn’t necessarily be happy in this life but would be happy in the next.
Scot recalled the column by Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy who noted that of all days in the calendar, Patriots Day is unique to Boston and we may never be the same day. Fr. Chris cautioned that we need to temper our desire for vengeance and turn it to a desire for justice.
Fr. Chris said if we wonder what we can do, we can look at ourselves and see how we can become less angry and become a peacemaker. This isn’t pollyannaish because we still want justice. If there was ever a case to show us that Satan still exists, yesterday was it.
Scot noted the other of the 3 deceased victims was Krystle Campbell, 29, of Arlington, this afternoon.
Scot said one of our colleagues, Joe D’Arrigo ran the Marathon with his four daughters.
2nd segment: Scot said Joe is executive director of the Clergy Funds and said he was following his times running the Marathon. Joe was running the Marathon because he recently turned 70 and he decided he wanted to run the Marathon. For the last 37 years, his family has attended and at least one member of the family has run for the past 20 years. So he said for his birthday he wanted to run the Marathon with all his girls.
Joe said at 25.9 miles, a police officer stopped them from running, around Mass. Ave. They heard sirens and police radios were crackling. A police officer told them that there were two incidents at the finish line. It was total confusion and they knew it was bad.
Joe said his girls’ thoughts turned to their friends who were ahead of them and there was crying and anxiety. Cell service was down and they couldn’t call anyone, but they were able to find out their friends were okay through social media and text messages. From that point, they tried to figure out how to get home. They started walking toward a friend’s house over by Commonwealth Avenue. On the way, they saw the true humanity of people. They walked down Marlboro Street and were freezing. A woman walking with a baby took a blanket off a carriage and gave it one of her daughters. People were coming out of houses with big trash bags so runners could cover themselves. They rerouted to the Boston Common and BAA volunteers were running down the street to hand out emergency blankets to runners. there were about 10,000 people all streaming to the Common. All the streets were shut down, the hotels were shut down. He said it was chaotic because so many people were from out of town and didn’t know where to go. First responders and the volunteers of the BAA did a wonderful job, he said.
Joe said Mary Hanlon, the nurse who takes care of our senior priests, was present at the finish line yesterday and witnessed the horrific pain in that area. She’s taking some time off. Joe will spend this afternoon with his daughters.
3rd segment: Scot said Joe expressed the kindness and love of the people of Boston. Fr. Roger said when we see terrible evil we are jarred back to where we should be. We should be that way all the time, but we get distracted.
Scot said Joe and his daughters runs in memory of his wife who died from cancer. Fr. Chris said he believes she was watching over them yesterday. He added that the bombs will not define Boston, but the response will where we saw literally the corporal works of mercy.
Chris said people will experience a lot of guilt for having just missed being involved. Why them and not me? But by definition you can’t make sense of this senseless act. You just have to give gratitude for what you have. You take account and you begin to appreciate it even more. He encouraged anyone listening who is struggling to seek out someone to talk to. He said those who’ve been through previous attacks are often ready to reach out to those who are suffering now.
Fr. Chris asked how Scot is talking to the kids about this. He said he hasn’t been letting his kids see the news and they’ve been hearing Scot and his wife talking so they asked what is going on. He explained that an evil person did something bad in Boston and they should pray for those who were hurt by him. You can discuss it without detail and let them know that they’re safe and they’re not going to be in danger.
4th segment: Scot said some people will ask how God can allow something like yesterday happen. Fr. Roger said God never wants evil to happen in the world. When a modern Cain kills his brother, God grieves. We can’t imagine what it’s like to lose one child like three families did yesterday. God lost three children. The only way to stop what happened yesterday was for God to eliminate human freedom. The risk of allowing love is that we can use free will to hate. Jesus changed even our suffering into opportunities for goodness.
He noted that God’s direct will is that every single one of us become a saint in heaven, but he permits things as a result of our freedom in order to prevent a greater evil. This is God’s permissive will. God will bring good out of this evil.
Fr. Chris said the most important thing we can do is pray for peace, in our world and in our city. Pray for the families too and unite whatever suffering we’re going through to that of Christ’s. And do little acts of penance and offer them up for these victims.
Scot asked Chris when his family lost his cousin to a terrorist attack what did people do that helped the most. Chris said prayer was the key and that prayer has affected him throughout his life. Beyond that, people can cook meals and other things, but the bet thing to do is to love better. Also pray to the Blessed Mother, who knows what it’s like to go through the agony of the cross.
Fr. Roger said our best response is to pray, especially the Mass. As a society we need to form hearts to be good through prayer at home, especially the rosary.
Scot read the message that Pope Francis asked to be sent to Cardinal Seán through Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone:
Deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of violence perpetrated last evening in Boston, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes me to assure you of his sympathy and closeness in prayer. In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy, His Holiness invokes God’s peace upon the dead, his consolation upon the suffering and his strength upon all those engaged in the continuing work of relief and response. At this time of mourning the Holy Father prays that all Bostonians will be united in a resolve not to be overcome by evil, but to combat evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21), working together to build an ever more just, free and secure society for generations yet to come.
Scot, Fr. Roger, Fr. Chris, and Chris gave their final thoughts. Fr. Roger said there are no easy answers. Scot said he’s convinced there are people listening today who are listening for the first time, maybe because they’re tried of watching the rest of the media. If they are angry with God, he encouraged them to cry out to God and demand He answer them.