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Archbishop Aquila to Pray at Aurora Theater Reopening
Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver will offer the closing prayer at the Jan. 17 reopening of the Century Aurora 16 theater, located at 14300 E. Alameda Ave., in Aurora. The event, called by organizers as a “special evening of remembrance and reopening,” will begin at 6 p.m.
On July 20, 2012, a mass shooting left 12 dead and 58 injured. The theater has been closed since the event took place.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan will also speak at the event. The opening prayer will be led by Aurora Community of Faith chair Pastor Reid Hettich.
Below are the comments of Archbishop Aquila, Under Embargo until January 17, 2013, at 7 p.m. MST.
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Survivors and family members, first responders, Governor Hickenlooper, Mayor Hogan, dear brothers and sisters:
The Scripture I pray each morning says that “in the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Many in this community, here in Aurora and well beyond, have dwelt these past six months in darkness. We have walked in the shadow of death. Many of you, here tonight, have lost someone you love dearly. Some of you stood in this theater, in the shadow of death, in the darkness and chaos of evil. All of us, in some small way, suffered in your suffering.
In 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot by a man who lived in darkness. A short time later, he said that “suffering is a part of the mystery of man.”
“The redemption of the world,” he said, “is rooted in suffering.”
In suffering, and in the love of God, dawn breaks before us. We are here tonight with one another to remember. To celebrate the lives of those we’ve lost, and to support those who were wounded and continue to heal. We are here to stand together in mourning, in suffering, and we stand together in redemption.
We are here because the Lord wants to guide our feet into the way of peace.
The way of peace means rejecting the violence of that night. It means giving to God our desire for vengeance, our hatred, our bitterness, and our anger.
Walking in the way of peace means knowing that we are connected to one another—that in the family of humanity, each of our lives has worth, and dignity, meaning, and purpose. God calls us to pursue together what is true, what is good, and what is beautiful. The way of peace means coming together in love.
If we walk together in peace, we will honor those who died here more than words can. Our lives are the greatest tribute we can make to those who perished or were wounded here. We must not forget—we must make a memorial of the lives we choose to live.
As we move forward, dear brothers and sisters, let us be redeemed. Let us be a people of peace. Though we will not forget those who died, let us abandon the violence we consume in media, and the violence we harbor in our hearts. Let us seek the love of God, who is the light, and the way of peace.
And, please, brothers and sisters, let us pray together now:
Loving and merciful God, we praise you, and we adore you. Your love knows no bounds; your mercy knows no limit.
O Lord, you have been with us in our joys and in our sorrows. You have been with us in our suffering, in our weeping, and in our redemption. Transform us through our suffering. Make of us a people of peace. Make of this community a community of peace.
Make our hearts, hearts of peace.
We entrust our beloved dead to you, O Lord. We pray that they might enjoy the perpetual light of your eternal love. We pray that we who remain might trust in their happiness with you. Our hope is your victory over death—our hope is the redemption of your suffering.
Lord, be present to our families. Be present to those who are still healing from their wounds, and to those who first responded. As our families heal, may our community heal. Lord, be present to our city, to our state and to our nation. Help us to turn to peace. We pray, O Lord, that we might honor the dead by serving one another, and loving one another. We pray that we might overcome evil by love. Help us to know truth, and goodness, and beauty. Help us to know you.
You are our hope Lord. You are our lasting victory over evil, violence, sin, and death.
We pray that each of us may join in the victory of your resurrection.
We ask this through Jesus Christ Our Lord.