Thoughts on Las Vegas: ‘By His Stripes We Are Healed’

What happened in Las Vegas was the work of the devil.

(photo: Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), ‘The Flagellation of Christ’)

Several years ago, after the most recent mass shooting of that day, I wrote a post in which I said, “We are going to have to get used to this.”

What I meant then—and mean now—is that this is our reality, and we need to respond to it with a more reasoned and long-ranging view than we had up until then. I meant that the incessant finger-pointing, blaming, and carrying on would not stop these shootings. I meant that the disgusting attempts to use mass murder for political gain by one or both “sides” in the culture war were actually feeding the demons of hate.

This morning, it happened again, and this time Satan used someone outside the normal murderer box. Today’s mass murderer appears to be a 64-year-old man who is living in a retirement community.

What’s next? Gun-toting toddlers?

The point, at least for me, is that evil has no bottom, and no one of us is immune from its grip if we first play host to it. This shooting, horrible as it is, is a symptom of an overall hate-fueled ragefulness that has our public discourse and imagination in its grip.

It has infected all our institutions, including, sadly, the Church. I’ve seen blogs that do nothing but rage at and verbally degrade the Holy Father, usually, if you sift down through it, because he has dared to upset their real god, which is their political loyalties. Certain elements in the Church are veering dangerously close to schism in their insistence on their own way, and Catholics all over the blogosphere engage in ad hominem attacks on those who disagree with them and call these attacks righteousness.

The devil doesn’t show up wearing horns and split hooves and invite you to sign away your soul for the baubles of this life on a parchment charter. He comes in on tippy toe, whispering to you in your own voice, oftentimes twisting your best impulses into something other than what they were meant to be.

At root and in whole, these whisperings play directly to the “me” part of us, the place where we keep our hubris, folded protectively around the wounds we will not admit exist.

Rageful people are wounded people, and wounded people are vulnerable people. The humiliated rage that comes from being helpless and hurt never entirely goes away. Instead, it goes underground, where the nightmares, flashbacks and soul-wrenching terrors lie.

Wounded people live in fear that someone will find out what they really are, and that they will be abandoned, once again, as they were when the first wounds were inflicted.

But anger and self-righteousness are not the safe hiding places they seem. They are self-constructed shacks that do not shelter but blow away in any storm, including the storms of their own rage.

“The world is sick.” That is the reaction of one the entertainers who was performing at the site of this latest massacre. True. The world, our world, is indeed sick.

It is a sickness that feeds on wounded people, including wounded Christians, trying to heal themselves instead of turning to the Master Healer.

Drugs, alcoholism, divorce are like giant wrecking balls that we use to batter our children’s lives into dust. We destroy their psyches before those psyches are even formed. Then, we act surprised when they grow up to be angry, confused people who can’t commit, think straight or live productive lives.

Sadly, Christians are just as bad about this as most people. We divorce, drug, drink and chase the brass ring as if getting and spending was all that mattered, all of life that there is.

Instead of following Christ, we use Him as a club to beat others with, condemning, excoriating, slandering and wounding people with rage-filled, hate-driven glee that verges on the histrionic. Not satisfied with that, we turn on each other, clawing, attacking, destroying; all while claiming in loud voices that we are the possessors of the moral high ground and that we are doing this great evil because we are superior Christians.

The world is sick. Truer words were never spoken.

But we have the cure for that sickness.

This cure does not lie in politics. When we use politics for our religion and make little-g gods out of politicians and political parties, we are turning our backs on the real god, the real cure for what ails us.

The cure is what it always has been, and what it always will be.

Follow Christ.

I do not mean demand that others follow Christ according to your politicized and anti-Christ idea of what following Christ entails. I mean to follow Jesus Christ of the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, of the woman at the well, and the woman taken in adultery, the One who called the Pharisees “whited sepulchers,” the One who told us to “take up your cross and follow after Me.”

I mean to follow Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

That means to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. It means to show religious submission of mind and will to the authentic magisterium of His vicar, Pope Francis. It means to sit down in your pews, stop yammering, and accept that He is the Potter and you are the clay.

If Christians would just do the things that Jesus has commanded them to do, and by that, I mean all that he commanded, not just the cherry-picked, anti-Christ versions of what He commanded that are used by the two political parties to deify their various corruptions, they could change the world.

We could, if we followed Christ for real instead of for pretense to our own shallow claims to self-righteousness, reverse the evil and heal the world in a miraculously short time.

The biggest problem of our time is not the threat of nuclear war, or whether the president of the United States is mentally unstable, or if the Holy Father is telling us what we want him to say.

The problem is simply that far too many Christians are not being the light. They have become part of the darkness.

Every time you join in an ad hominem attack on another person (especially the Pope), you are part of the darkness. Every time you act out the humiliated rage of your own wounds, you are wounding someone else and passing on the sickness that infects you.

We are all wounded and lost. We are all suffering and ashamed. We are—each and every one of us—pitted and stained, scarred and mutilated by the things we have done and the things that have been done to us.

We can, if we let those things drive us, bring others down into the pit with us. We can, if enough of us do that, bring the whole world into the pit of wounded rage.

Rage won’t stop our rage. Politics won’t heal our wounds. We can’t get back at life and make ourselves whole by attacking other people.

Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, is the one balm, the one place, where we can find true healing and surcease of our anguish. This huge, bawling societal rage of which these shootings are just a symbol, is actually many millions of people acting out the humiliated rage of wounds they suffered in times of helplessness and fear.

Many of our religious leaders have led us into destructive worship of the false gods of politics, and they have promised us a phony ballot-box salvation. They use hatred, personal vendettas and self-righteousness to organize and motivate their flocks to do their bidding.

They do not seek to convert the world. All they want to do is to use us to win elections to enhance their own standing in the halls of political power.

I believe we should let God deal with them, as, in time, He will. In the meantime, we should stop eating of the leaven of the Pharisees and feast on the Body and Blood of our Risen Lord.

We need to follow Him, and do it absolutely. I know full well that this entails behavior that is often entirely impractical, and that it will certainly earn you a few stripes of calumniation from those who hate Him, including, probably, some of your confused Christian friends.

But that is the way of the Way. It is a small splinter of the true Cross.

If you will follow Jesus Christ and Him crucified, He will lead you through. You can count on it.

If you will let Him, He will heal your wounds by using your wounds to heal others. God uses us in the broken places. But first we have to trust Him with those painful spots in our soul. We have to give Him our shame.

Satan spent many years convincing us he didn’t exist. That was his best weapon at that time. But now, with Satanic Masses and open Satan worship, he’s coming out and taking off his mask.

What happened in Las Vegas was his work. I don’t know the particulars, but I believe without doubt that the murderer allowed himself to be seduced by Satan and I imagine that this was a step-by-step process, a slow fall into hell.

This process could have been reversed at any time, right up to the moment when the murderer committed suicide, by turning away from Satan and to Christ. That was the murderer’s choice.

It is also your choice and mine.

We can follow Christ, or we can follow the little-g gods of this world.

We can give up the defense of our rage and accept the vulnerability of love. Or we can continue down our angry path, wounding and damaging people and driving them away from Christ.

We can be the Light of the world. Or we can be the darkness.

God has set before us Life in Christ and death.

Choose life.