The unthinkable happens again: Murder and mayhem at Ariana Grande concert
The 23-year-old pop star Ariana Grande had finished her concert performance, and her fans — so many of them adolescent and “tween” girls who were carrying the pink balloons that had dropped minutes earlier — were clearing out of the arena in Manchester, UK. Suddenly there were two explosions in fast succession, and then chaos as people tried to dash away as fast as possible, with some being trampled.
At first it was unclear what had happened. Early reports were cautious. With what sounded like wishful thinking, reporters suggested that perhaps sound equipment had popped, or perhaps pyrotechnics were to blame. Except the show had ended, and the explosions came from another direction, entirely.
When, after a few hours, law-enforcement personnel admitted that, due to the evidence — not least of which included the kinds of injuries they were seeing — that the blast was not benign but malignant, and once again (as before) an entertainment venue had been targeted for bloody death and mayhem. Because apparently some people, in the grips of evil, really do just want to watch the world burn.
So now, summer is upon us; the month of May is tumbling away and in much of the world people’s thoughts are turning to opportunities for leisure — for breaks from school; from arduous routines of employment and study, and even home lives grown stale. Some families use the summer to visit relatives, or to send their teenage kids off to visit with seldom-seen cousins and explore a different town or city, and of course there are movies, and shows, and ballgames and summer concerts.
And all of that seems just a little less idyllic today, as our social media feeds fill with heart-wrenching pleas from parents who sent their children off, probably with a kiss, a warning not to misbehave, and a charge to “have fun” and are now desperately trying to find them:
“Everyone pls share this, my little sister Emma was at the Ari concert tonight in #Manchester and she isn’t answering her phone, pls help me,” said one message posted alongside a picture of a blonde-haired girl with flowers in her hair. Another Twitter user called Erin:P urged people to help him find his sister: “She’s wearing a pink sweatshirt and blue jeans. Her name is Whitney.” The blast rocked the foyer of the Manchester Arena as thousands of young fans and parents streamed out of the venue after the show by the U.S. singer, whose fan base is made up largely of teenagers and pre-teens. A third Twitter account, Deplorable MrsK, posted a picture of a young man smiling and wearing a suit, saying: “My son was in the Manchester Arena today. He’s not picking up my call! Please….”
Amid all of that anguish, there were — as there always, thankfully, are — people from all sorts of backgrounds willing to put themselves out, in order to help.
So, summer is upon us, and the pastoral plans we put into place have just become fraught with a bit of unease as we worry about sick people who think about “soft targets” even as we try to push those thoughts aside and pray for these victims — holding our own children more tightly than they might wish, while praying for these families — and praying for the dead, again:
May eternal light shine on them, O Lord.
with Thy saints for ever, because
Thou art merciful.
Grant the dead eternal rest, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine on them,
with Thy saints for ever,
because Thou are merciful.
We pray and we go on, because the world does go on, even as it aches to heaven. We go on, in faith. But we don’t forget.
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Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us
St. Joseph, patron of families, pray for us
Sts. Joaquin and Anne, patron of parents, pray for us
St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us
St. George, patron of England, pray for us
St. Aloysius Gonzaga, patron of teenagers, pray for us
St. Cecilia, patron of musicians, pray for us
Bl. PierGiorgio Frassati, patron of youth, pray for us
The Lord bless us and keep us; the Lord lift his countenance upon us, and give us peace. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us, Amen.