I first heard of the tragedy that struck our fair city in the form of an email call for urgent prayer. And being the prayer warrior that I am… [ahem] well, no, you guessed it. Instead of instantly falling on my knees to almighty God and begging the protection and supplication of his saints and angels, I instead worried and hunted on the internet for information when information was least readily available.
I had been just four blocks away from the blast site with my three young children only several hours before the incident. We enjoyed a lovely morning of carousel and swan boat riding and were contemplating a trip into the spectator crowds around the marathon when a wiser notion [nudge from a guardian angel?] steered us underground on the metro and back towards home.
My first thought, actually, was gratitude that the Boston Marathon bombing did not claim as many lives as other terrorist attacks. But then, as the magnitude of the event sunk in, I realized that terror is not ultimately a numbers game. And the violence perpetrated, for whatever reason it was committed, was not purely random, either. But finding out why does not necessarily help us to grieve the loss of an eight year old boy from another family of five.
What helped me finally on Monday evening, as I put my own three children to bed, was finally answering the call to prayer issued to me that morning. And the specific prayer I choose speaks of God’s protection over not just individuals, but whole cities, through His saints, and especially the Most Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary:
To Thee the Champion Leader
Do I [i.e. Your City] offer thanks of victory
O Theotokos [God-bearer], thou who hast delivered me from terror
But as thou that hast that power invincible
O Theotokos, thou alone can set me free
From all dangers that can be do thou deliver me.
That I may cry out unto thee
Hail, O Bride, without bridegroom.
I have never been this close to a terrorist attack before. But now that I have, the words of this hymn mean so much more to me who has been personally delivered from terror, not to mention all the dangers that can be. But it isn’t just about me and my family. This prayer is for all of us to learn to take every evil that happens in this world personally, to bear with the suffering of the world as if we were the ones to blame for it, because, as the Christian Gospel teaches, to some extent we are to blame, if for nothing else than our own lack of prayer and concern.
Lord have mercy on us and save us as Thou art good and the lover of mankind! May he who rose from the dead, Christ our true God, bring comfort and consolation to those who grieve and mourn the loss of loved ones from this and other world-wide tragedies. Amen.