Worth a thousand words: Gabrielle Giffords' wedding day

From the New York Times, in 2007:

Read more here.  There’s also a good overview with lots of links over at The Anchoress.

Please pray for all those affected by this horrific crime.


  1. From the little I’ve seen her (via interviews), she comes off as a very lovely women. What a tragedy.

  2. Thank you, Deacon Greg for posting this.

    I try not to be political and I know that I will encounter some who will find my comments offensive. Let me first say that I admire Sarah Palin for her pro-life stand, since so many Down Syndrome babies are aborted. However, her “targeting” of certain candidates who do not agree with her has to be contributing to the mind-set of people like this murderer, if not proximately. Even some of her supporters have criticized her for this.

  3. HMS, I’m not easily offended, but your statement is indeed unfair and offensive.

    This shooting was done by a wacko anti-government guy, who probably never sat through a Palin interview in his life. In fact, I would bet if Palin has been the speaker, he would have shot her, even for once being associated with government.

    The guy is a nut case who hates government, period. In fact, I, like many, loathe most of government, I just don’t have the desire to kill people over it.

    To link this to Palin in any way is about as absurd as calling every thing “racist” for shock value.

  4. pagansister says:

    There is no excuse for this tragic event. It is amazing that Ms. Gifford survived the head wound. She has a very long road ahead of her, and it won’t be easy. The ONLY good thing is that the shooter was arrested. I can’t imagine what the parents of the little girl that was killed are going through as well as the families of the judge and the others who were killed and wounded.

  5. I am horrified by this. I don’t even know what to say.

  6. Klaire

    I am sorry to have offended you. But I just do not agree with you.

    He may not been influenced directly by such ideas as Saran Palin espouses (and he probably hasn’t) but it is all in the same mind-set.

  7. Since Ms Palin removed the cross-hair graphic from her Facebook site earlier today, perhaps she too realized that using such inflammatory imagery is ill advised, albeit belatedly?

    I think it’s a fair comment to make. While nobody should suggest that anyone other than he whose actions today resulted in this carnage is directly responsible – perhaps it should serve as a reminder that we ALL have a responsibility to choose our words and engage in debate carefully.

    My thoughts and prayers have been with all of those affected all day today.

  8. Klaire:
    I do not link this atrocity to Palin directly but to the kind of thinking that she and those who support her advocate. I am beginning to think that we need to look at such thinking through a Gospel lens.

  9. Danny Lucas says:

    As the story developed, I read a line and smiled. That is hard to believe in a story that morphed into mass killing, and tragic loss that only the Destroyer could relish.

    But the mass attack hid the word “Mass” that I read, of a fellow Pennsylvanian, Judge Roll reported in earlier stories.

    “The sheriff pointed to the vitriolic political rhetoric that has consumed the country as he denounced the shooting that claimed several of his friends as victims, including U.S. District Judge John Roll. The judge celebrated Mass on Saturday morning like he does every day before stopping by to say hello to his good friend Giffords.”

    ~~~ 4th paragraph from this full story here:

    Rep. Gifford’s assembly was at noon, and she sent a Tweet out to come over.
    Judge Roll lived by the supermarket and went to see his friend.

    But first, he did as he does every day, and went to Mass. He met the Body of Christ in the morning; the Body of Christ met him again, and personally, around lunchtime.

    Our social fabric has been stretched to its’ limits this day. Pray for the family of all injured and dead in this event.

    The fact that Rep. Gifford is even alive after what she went through, is a testimony to the power of prayer.

    God help us, for we do not know what to do.
    And God, we thank you in advance for what YOU are about to do. Amen.

  10. Thanks Greg

    It has been a rough day of reading the news as this horrific event has unfolded and your posting brought the first smile of the day as it relates to Mrs. Giffords.

    They are all in my prayers.

  11. HMS,

    I support Sarah Palin’s ideas. What is my kind of thinking, what do I advocate? Atrocity? Do you really think that conservatism espouses violence and murder? Do you really think wejust want people to die? That is what you just said.

    I have no desire to be any more offensive than you do, but that is simply a ridiculous and “inflammatory” statement and an offensive implication to make about me and those others that support her ideas. And liberals accuse US of hating?

    Get educated. Go to some TEA group meetings. Listen to Glenn Back (I’m sure you think he espouses killing too) for a month without your presuppositions, and then come back and tell me we conservatives and TEA party-ers want people to die senselessly and violently.

    The man who did this is a Godless, demented, lost soul. Pray for him, and leave your accusations about us on the side of the road somewhere for the sanitation department to pick up.

    That REALLY made me angry and upset. For anyone to politicize this…? Now? Stop it.

    I’m a passionate Catholic. So, any lectures about my ideas not aligning with the Gospel are just as inappropriate as accusing my ideas of murder.

  12. Danny Lucas says:

    Millions of comments have been posted on the Internet on main stream media outlets and on blogs.

    The vitriol and hatred, assumptions, and anger, are rampant nationwide.

    I am convinced personally, that of all human emotions, blame is the most useless.

    I read another Catholic blogger, who sought the Truths out of what occurred, but then he veered into Gifford being Jewish, and her pro-abortion stance. He allowed that he would never support that and then, shut things down by saying he wants to keep politics out of this day. HEY! YOU put the politics in the post when you spoke of “pro-abortion”.
    Now, politics is not timely he adds???

    This is not the time.
    This is not the day.
    But this IS the place where commentary can reflect on the humans involved in the atrocity in Arizona, their families’ plight at loss and change, add God into the mix as you know Him in your faith, and be the one place on the Internet to have comments reflecting on Our Glorious Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    As the news of misery is widely reported, and blame escorted to the front pews, let this site reflect Christ, and Christ alone in comments.

    Maybe the revulsion at comments and political division and blame will lead people to read here, at The Bench, of the wonders of our Lord, even in suffering times.

    Remember Ephesians 1:15-18 for Gifford, her attempted murderer, and all parties involved, even yourself, as you watch this played out nationwide, nay,… globally.

    “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
    I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that YOU may KNOW him better.”

    Think on these things; not on blame.
    Let satan alone concentrate on blame, as we search meaning with eyes lifted higher.

  13. HMS (Has Minimal Sensibility),

    From defending the right of those with Down Syndrome to that constituting sufficient animus for such a shocking and horrific crime as this!

    I dare say you seem not much more stable than this severely deluded soul.

    Leave the forensic psychiatric analyses to the professionals please, and join the rest of us in prayer for all whose lives have been suddenly ended or changed by this burst of insanity.

    Prayers for these people and their families, as well as the Down Syndrome babies who fare no better.

  14. For the dead:

    Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

    I have and continue to pray for Rep. Gifford’s full recovery, as well as all those injured.

    In my mind, it’s irresponsible for anyone at this point to offer conjecture on motive, and unprofessional of the local sheriff to have done so. As the sheriff alluded, this man has a history of mental health issues. The mentally ill need no motive. He also has a criminal record, so this is only the latest and most horrific of his deeds. It would be, furthermore, a desecration of the memory of those who died and a dishonor to those injured to attempt to turn this tragedy into a means of political gain.

  15. BobRN,


  16. Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher says:

    Deacon Greg, thanks for posting the above article from the NYT. It is lovely and a nice way to think about Rep. Giffords while we pray for her recovery. I am praying for her family and for the families of the others who were killed or wounded. When confronted with such senseless acts, the only act that makes sense is prayer.

  17. I wish that I could find the words to respond to such an “ad hominen” attack to my expression of opinion on the Deacon’s Bench. (“I dare say you seem not much more stable than this severely deluded soul.” – Gerard Naral). But, I take Deacon Greg’s Guidelines for Comments seriously and expect others who post here to do the same.

  18. Danny Lucas says:

    Lifting our eyes higher once anew, there is a story to be told with each person killed or wounded in Arizona.

    What do you say about a girl who loves ballet and baseball?
    What do you say about achievement at age 9, getting elected to student council at your school?

    That endeavor gave a neighbor pause for thought; Christina would likely enjoy meeting a real Congresswoman, at a real town hall type event. Just for fun. And so they went.

    And in a moment, Christina became the youngest death in the Gifford assassination attempt. Nine years of life and gone forever.

    What could be said to those parents?
    These were parents in the news before.
    They gave birth to Christina and she was a poster child among what has been called “Faces of Hope”.

    As the World Trade Centers collapsed across the way from The Deacon’s Bench, the Pentagon was being consumed in flames, and a sleepy town in PA, became the resting place of those, who were the first to fight back against terrorists…..babies were being born.

    Collectively, babies born on a day of national tragedy and war became known as “Faces of Hope”.

    Chrisina Taylor Green was one of the “Faces of Hope”. She was born September 11, 2001.
    The war started that day rages on.
    But no longer for Christina.

    She died in Tucson, AZ yesterday, at the age of 9. Her entire life is a bookend of tragedy to tragedy.

    Her parents birthed HOPE.
    Yesterday, HOPE returned to her Creator.
    The parents remain behind.
    The bookend of CHRISTina’s life is now closed.

    This…the Green Family….is a group to pray for this day. It is almost impossible to conceive that their HOPE was so senselessly shattered.

    This Face of Hope can be seen here:

    “Father, forgive them…..they know not what they do”

  19. Danny Lucas says:
  20. Danny, that’s a beautiful contribution of info. Thanks so much!

    Also, it’s very refreshing being that the secular blogosphere is nothing but the political blame game, with next to nothing written about the lives lost.

    But then, isn’t that to be expected in a country that debases human life?

    God Bless, and may God’s mercy grant eternal rest and peace to the souls lost.

  21. Oh, darn it all. I just bought that shiny brand new Acme Irony-O-Meter, and now HMS has gone and made it melt down into a hunk of molten slag. Leaving me nothing to measure this morning’s AP product — you know, back when I took journalism in 1979, Mrs Sternberg taught us that putting the naked editorializing up there in the lede was just so transparent.

    I am indebted to another online commenter who used a little google to assemble this huge (but in no ways exhaustive) list of political hate speech:

    Why don’t people who are so intent on blaming things politicians have said for this tragedy ever mention rhetoric from Democrats and liberals including:

    President Obama:

    “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said in Philadelphia last night. “Because from what I understand, folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

    “I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face.”

    Or John Kerry who said on the Bill Maher show: “I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone.”

    Or Howard Dean “I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for…”

    and: “This is a struggle between good and evil and we’re the good?”

    and “we need to remember that the enemy here is George Bush, not each other.”

    Or Senator Chuck Schumer who called a flight attendant a “bitch.”

    Or the Florida Democrats who ran an ad calling for the assassination of Donald Rumsfeld

    Or New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi who called for Senator Schumer to “put a bullet between the president’s eyes?”

    Or Jonathan Chait who said “I hate President George W. Bush.”

    Or singer Rickie Lee Jones who said of President Bush “You’re an ignorant, low-class, opportunistic man, both personally and politically, who does everything for political gain and nothing for the wellbeing of the people, and you should not be in office, and the kind of fascism you’re perpetrating on our country we don’t want, and you’re out. We’re done with you. Ffffhgggmm.”

    And when asked if she would be willing to take Bush out for the benefit of democracy? “If I say that, I might get arrested when I go back. And I have to go home.” She’s thinking it out carefully. “I guess the question is, would I kill anyone? And the answer is, no. But would I feel sorry if someone killed him? No, I wouldn’t. It would depend on who killed him, I guess.”

    Or “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn” where they superimposed the words “Snipers Wanted” over an image of Bush delivering his acceptance speech at the Republican convention.

    Or Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams who said she could kill President Bush?

    Or Randi Rhodes who joked about killing the President?

    Or Reverend Wright who called Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Condoskeeza [sic] Rice.

    Or England’s Charlie Brooker who wrote: “On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod’s law dictates he’ll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr – where are you now that we need you?”

    Posted by: ROA | January 09, 2011 at 04:08 AM

    As yesterday and today progressed, it appears much closer to the truth that, while Mr. Loughner was once “left wing, quite liberal,” in the last few years he was spiraling into a mental state much more characteristic of paranoid schizophrenia. And the nearest thing to “political” hate speech he’s produced recently was an impassioned and quite incoherent rant upon the “tyranny” of the rules of grammar. (Given the work product of modern journalists, that rant alone would make most of the MSM qualify as his “fellow travelers.”)

  22. Danny Lucas says:

    I appreciate your kind words this day to me.
    I learned long ago, when Christ healed the Ten Lepers, one of them came back to Him and said:
    “I just wanna Thank You for what you did for me”.

    Christ responded:
    “Were not ten of you healed?
    Where are the other nine?”

    Christ found value in Thank You.
    So Klaire, I just wanna Thank You for your kind words to me.
    It mattered to Christ. It matters to me too!
    ALWAYS be a Ten!
    The world is edified and built up in such ways.

    I failed to mention another fact about young Christina Green. Last year, she received her first Holy Communion, about a mile away from the grocery store where her life was snuffed out, in a whisp of smoke.

    Most of the news media skips that; they do not know what it means.

    As the multitude of stories gather on this tragedy, we can view them through man’s eyes and become angry.

    OR, we can view them through the eyes of God, and see the serendipity of a Federal Judge leaving Mass, as he does everyday, walking, unaware, very nearby a young girl, born on 9/11 and just having her FIRST Communion…..

    meandering together outside a grocery store….

    and both, sharing Psalm 23 together in spirit, feasting at the Lord’s Table this day.

    [her connection to the Philadelphia Phillies, and being born in the East is revealed by her mom too elsewhere]
    She was closer to The Deacon’s Bench than we knew at birth.

    In the Book of Ruth, Ruth “gleaned” the fields, in order to survive. Our spirits must “glean” God, in all the white noise of this event, in order to survive.

    Christina’s communion noted from here:

    Glean God in the lengthy link.
    The mother, Roxanna Green, is in deep, deep need of prayer by any who know how to do so, if they are willing.

    God comes in a gentle whisper; seek him that way in the stories you read.
    Know that there are NO gentle whispers among the 37,000 comments, attached to Yahoo News accounts,….so don’t go there.

    God is found in a gentle whisper???

    Eternal truths are emerging from this eternal rest, imposed yesterday.

    God be with ye! This has been shortened over time to simply, “goodbye”. Sometimes, the original form of language is better.

  23. On Friday I posted a comment about truth vs partisanship made back in the ’60s by Thomas Merton. The response to the tragedy in Tucson is a sad illustration of what Merton talks about–a tendency that every one of us has to one extent or another: Thomas Merton on Truth and Parisanship

  24. Cathyf
    Thank you for this post. You have pointed out some interesting things for me to ponder. I try to read widely different blogs and newspapers (religious and secular) much to the chagrin of my more partisan friends and relatives. Why?

    1. I like to find out and understand why people think the way they do.
    2. I am not perfect; I may learn something to clarify my thinking. Sometimes I have even changed my mind.

  25. Danny Lucas says:

    There is a time to listen to the teachings of Mrs. Sternberg, and a time to listen to Jesus Christ.

    We are going to be held accountable for any word we utter, ……and online, utter is write.

    But first, notice a peculiar story in your Bible.
    It is the end times.
    The gates of heaven are being closed.
    Outside the gates, screams are heard, as if the sinking Titanic was the entire world
    (it will be).

    “Lord! Lord! Let us in. Don’t you recognize us?”

    “Get away from Me!”, he replies.
    “I NEVER knew you”

    Now atheists and nonbelievers never call Jesus Christ “Lord”.

    These are “believers” calling out to have the gates opened for them.
    Afterall, they CALL Him Lord!

    While proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord, from His point of view, He proclaims “Get away from Me….I NEVER knew you”.

    Do our comments reflect that we call Him Lord and expect to be let in the gates of heaven?

    Or do they reflect that, although we are those “believers”, who call Him Lord, in reality, He NEVER knew us?

    It is a chilling thought to expect entry to heaven, and be denied. A thief has a mansion up there of that we are sure.
    “I think you are Lord; can I go with you?”
    “This day you will reside with Me”.

    We live in the slimmest slice of infinity.
    Indeed, this is true of our entire life.

    What words count to the Lord?
    If we call him Lord, should we not use such words ALWAYS, or be silent?

    None of us will be held accountable for what other people are saying. We WILL be held accountable for OUR words.

    Google may record the words of hate, and identify the speaker. Let the speaker say them, not YOU.

    Our mighty search engines do NOT record the laughter of Christina, or the tenderness of the Federal Judge in kind deeds, or the tears pouring by the billions worldwide on this event, ……including the family of the offender, guilty by association, in oh so many minds. These are hurting people in need of prayer.

    Insanity has come into this drama and tragedy. I have read of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome”.
    (This sounds like 37,000 comments at Yahoo News, eh?)

    But take the word insanity out, and replace it with the word prayer.

    Prayer, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome!
    Indeed, you must be insane to pray.
    It works!

    The first two verses of Romans tell you the purpose of your entire life. It is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. There is your whole life purpose.
    The WHAT.

    The HOW to do the WHAT is Philippians 4:8, my favorite verse in the bible.
    “Finally, brothers and sisters,
    whatever is true,
    whatever is noble,
    whatever is right,
    whatever is pure,
    whatever is lovely,
    whatever is admirable
    —if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
    THINK about such things.”

    THINK on three of each of these things daily and your mind will be transformed, so that you no longer conform to the world.
    You go from slug on the Earth to butterfly, a new creation.

    Those who call Him Lord, and will see the gates opened for them, do this.

    Those who call Him Lord, and will hear Him say “Get away from Me; I never knew you”, amazingly….do NOT do this.

    I do not know how much more clear on this, God can be, than the end of Romans 1 and the beginning of Romans 2.
    In your commentary, and in your actions, the Lord commands this:(remember, how you THINK, establishes your mind as a holy sanctuary, or depraved cave).

    With that, here are a few kind words from St. Paul, as inspired by the Holy Spirit in Romans as noted.

    “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
    They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.
    Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

    Romans 2
    God’s Righteous Judgment

    You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.
    So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

    But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

    God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”

    —Romans1:28-32 and Romans 2:1-8

    Do not comment as the world; comment as one who has been transformed by the renewing of your mind.
    This is your spiritual act of WORSHIP.
    Present yourself as a living sacrifice.

    Then, the 12 gates of heaven will be wide open for you in due time.

  26. Klaire, Roberta, Cathyf, and Dr. Nadal: your self-righteous and blind offense at HMS’s quite mild statements is sickening. Paul Krugman (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/opinion/10krugman.html?_r=1&hp) is right, and until you recognize it and repent of your lies, you are serving Satan.

    [Mike, et al … please take it down a notch. And please read the guidelines for commenting. Thank you. Dcn. G.

  27. This whole thing has been over reported. A nut shot a bunch of people. I don’t think politics had anything to do with it. Also folks, millions of people died this weekend. Tragedy happens.

  28. Politics has always been reported in the language of warfare and violence. Think of all the articles we have read about “battleground” states, of all parties “targeting” incumbents, of prominent politicians of all parties who are “in the crosshairs”. I think in general, people’s speech has become more violent in its imagery. Perhaps this tragedy will teach us all to speak more softly and less angrily and less violently.

  29. The real problem is the general access to firearms, and specifically arms designed to kill people.

  30. Mike:
    I do not think that those who have posted negative reactions to my posts are liars or are serving Satan. Nevertheless, I am human and can be hurt by comments that question my mental status. But, I am adult. I can handle it.

  31. This excerpt from John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation, Reconciliation And Penance (1984) has helped me to put some perspective on the recent tragedy in Tucson:

    “Sin, in the proper sense, is always a personal act, since it is an act of freedom on the part of an individual person and not properly of a group or community. This individual may be conditioned, incited and influenced by numerous and powerful external factors.” (16)

  32. Re: David Backus Post of Merton’s words:

    So true when Merton wrote this during the Vietnam War Era and so true today. (And how he suffered for his thoughts.) It seems to me from what I have seen and read that Gabrielle Giffords would exemplify the approach that Merton is espousing here.

  33. Why is this photo worth a thousand wrords?

  34. This morning I heard an interesting (to me) interview on NPR’s Morning Edition. It certainly has given me another perspective on the controversy that has arisen over the motivation of the young man who attempted to assassinate Rep. Giffords and who killed of 6 innocent bystanders.

    The interview is entitled: Fame Through Assassination: A Secret Service Study.

    Robert Fein, who in the mid-1980s worked with the Secret Service as a psychologist, and Secret Service agent, Bryan Vossekuil, have analyzed in a rather extensive study the motivations of 83 persons who had completed assassinations or made assassination attempts since 1949. (Some cases known to the public, some not.) They make the point that rarely was the motive political, even though the assassins use political rhetoric.

    Rather, the persons “experienced failure after failure, and decided that rather than being a ‘nobody,’ they wanted to be a ‘somebody.’” In order to achieve fame and notoriety, they seek a political figure of note so as to gain instant, front-page recognition. By associating themselves with a broader political movement or goal, they can see themselves as “not such bad person.” (One person, who had attempted to assassinate Vice-President George H. W. Bush in the 1980’s, said that he “had read enough to know that there hadn’t been anybody who had attempted to assassinate a sitting vice president.”) Randy Borum, a professor at the University of South Florida who worked on the study said that they are “basically murderers in search of a cause.

    The researchers reject the notion that the assassins are people completely divorced from reality although many have serious mental health issues. Borum said “There’s nothing crazy about thinking that if I attacked the president or a major public official, I would get a lot of attention.”

    The interview can be heard or read at


    (Sorry, I have not figured out how to link via Firefox this on this Blog.)

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