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Editorial: Words of healing for a heart-wrenching week

President Barack Obama speaks at an interfaith prayer

President Barack Obama speaks at an interfaith prayer service for victims of the Boston Marathon attack at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, Massachusetts. (April 18, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

The explosions in Boston and the community of West, Texas, have bracketed a week of disturbing events that revived our anxiety over terrorism, our vulnerability to unknown dangers and our frustration about the divisions in the nation. These emotions can be unmooring. As this agonizing week draws to a close, words of healing and inspiration from Thursday's prayer service at Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross offer some light amid the darkness.


Cardinal Sean O'Malley

In the face of the present tragedy, we must ask ourselves what kind of a community do we want to be, what are the ideals that we want to pass on to the next generation. It cannot be violence, hatred and fear. The Jewish people speak of Tikkun Olam, "repairing the world." God has entrusted us with precisely that task, to repair our broken world. We cannot do it as a collection of individuals; we can only do it together, as a community, as a family. Like every tragedy, Monday's events are a challenge and an opportunity for us to work together with a renewed spirit of determination and solidarity and with the firm conviction that love is stronger than death.

President Barack Obama

You've shown us, Boston, that in the face of evil, Americans will lift up what's good. In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion. In the face of those who would visit death upon innocents, we will choose to save and to comfort and to heal. We'll choose friendship. We'll choose love . . .

And we do that because we know that somewhere around the bend a stranger has a cup of water. Around the bend, somebody is there to boost our spirits. On that toughest mile, just when we think that we've hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall. We know that.

And that's what the perpetrators of such senseless violence -- these small, stunted individuals who would destroy instead of build, and think somehow that makes them important -- that's what they don't understand. Our faith in each other, our love for each other, our love for country, our common creed that cuts across whatever superficial differences there may be -- that is our power. That's our strength.