It's your decision, of course. You don't have to pray. You don't even have to approve of prayer. You are free to make your own decisions.
Murder Isn't NiceRight now, there seems to be pretty good reason to believe that Melissa Huckaby killed Sandra Cantu. What she told police didn't match what she told the Tracy Press: she said she had no criminal record, but had pleaded no contest to a burglary charge and been convicted of theft.
Case Solved by Spunky Girl Reporter - Sort ofI often write about how stereotypes and cliches aren't always true, and shouldn't be the foundation of a decision - but as Gosalyn said to Darkwing Duck (I think it was in Let's Get Respectable, but I could be wrong): 'Cliches are cliches for a reason!' (It's been over a decade since I viewed that, so cut me some slack on accuracy, okay?)
What I was getting at was that, in the case of Sandra Cantu's murder, we've even a spunky girl reporter: a stock character, back in the 1940s.
"...As neighbors traded information and rumors, Jennifer Wadsworth was trying to confirm the unusual things she was hearing.
"The 22-year-old reporter, one of two who covers local news for the Tracy Press, had heard two things: that a woman had been hospitalized in connection with Sandra's case and that the suitcase that entombed the girl had once belonged to Huckaby's family.'..." (SFGATE)
The Request was 'Prayers for Melissa Huckaby' - Not 'Spring Melissa Huckaby'I lived through a period of American history, when it was quite fashionable to feel sorry for criminals.
Digression: The Menndez BrothersThe Menendez brothers' had the poor judgment to kill their parents after that notion was declining in popularity. You may or may not remember them: They're the brothers who murdered their parents, went on a spending spree, said they were very sorry, and almost walked away free.
If you've read about the Menendez brothers' trial, it's probably the second ones, which ended in 1996. Their first trials, which ended in 1994, deadlocked in both cases. The defense quite successfully portrayed the Menendez brothers as victims of society: more specifically, victims of their father. It's quite possible that the father had behaved badly. That wasn't an excuse for the brothers to kill their parents, back on August 20, 1989.
Killing Your Parents isn't Nice, and You Shouldn't Do itIt's an old idea: "...''Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you.'..." (Exodus 20: 12); but I'm inclined to believe the person who said that, and people don't seem to have changed all that much since Moses had that interview on Mount Sinai.
Killing children isn't very nice, either: even if you're stressed out. It's covered in that list of no-nos that Moses got (Exodus 20, again). About three millennia later, the Catechism of the Catholic Church's Article 5 discusses Exodus 20: 13. You know, that "You shall not kill" thing that comes right before "You shall not commit adultery" and "You shall not steal." (I know: the Catholic Church is so restrictive.)
Criminals are Sinners are PeopleI think it's a good idea to pray for the Menendez brothers, too. What they did was wrong - whatever excuse they had. But they're people, like me and you. I'm reminded of that time that the authorities brought a woman who was guilty of adultery to Jesus. They probably figured they'd catch him, one way or another.
Instead, he said "...'Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.'..." The whole thing's in John 8.
The forgiveness angle of that was discussed quite a bit when I was growing up - and is very important. Jesus also said, "...'Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more.'..." Which is also important.
And other topic.
Desire for Vengeance is Understandable - And a Bad IdeaParticularly now that the police probably have arrested the person who probably killed Sandra Cantu, a desire for vengeance will be focused on Melissa Huckaby and her family.
"...Sandra's uncle, Joe Chavez, said he found it difficult to contain his rage toward Huckaby's family.
'I want to go over there and beat the crap out of those people, but I'm not going to do that,' he said as he stood at the entrance to the mobile home park where the little girl lived with her mother. 'I just want to vent my anger but it's not in me.' " (AP)
I think I can understand, to a very limited extent, what Joe Chavez may be feeling. A great injustice has been done: the death of Sandra Cantu; a violation of trust in the Tracy community; and, as seems likely, the mark of murder on the innocent daughter of Melissa Huckaby.
This injustice must be dealt with. The wrong must be corrected, as far as can be done.
But personal vengeance isn't the way to do it. I've written about this before.
I know that if a wrong had been done to my family, I'd be very inclined to act as many of my ancestors would have: Visiting retribution on the heads of the person who had wronged my family, and those connected with them. "Njal's Saga" is an example of what happens in cases like that. It's an an inspiring tale of courage and determination: and a cautionary tale of why the road of vengeance is best left untraveled.
The 28th chapter of Sirach's book might be an interesting read, on that subject. Then, there's Romans 12: 19. The Catechism has a word or two on vengeance, too: 1472, 2302. A couple of important points from that: sin hurts others; and it hurts the sinner. A lot. As paragraph 2302 puts it, "...If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin...." It's the Matthew 5: 22 thing. "...But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment...."
Easy? No way.
It's a whole lot easier to 'go with the flow' either seek vengeance, or hold on to feelings of anger against those who hurt you. But it's not a good idea.
More-or-less related posts:
- "This Time it's Clover Road Baptist Church: 'Everybody Knows' What Those People are Like"
(April 11, 2009)
- "Sandra Cantu's Dead: Time for Prayer and Thought"
(April 7, 2009)
- "Dead British Teen, Daft Letter, School Prom, and Forgiveness"
(March 25, 2009)
- "Families try to cope after arrest in girl's death"
The Associated Press (April 13, 2009)
- "Suspect's identity stuns an already reeling Tracy"
SFGATE, The San Francisco Chronicle (April 13, 2009)
- A pretty good summary of events to date
- "Family of slaying suspect says charges 'out of character' "
CNN (April 12, 2009)
- "Family of slain girl says suspect was mother of Sandra's best friend"
MercuryNews.com, San Jose Mercury News (April 11, 2009)