Monday, December 17, 2012
EMPATHY AND ANXIETY AND "BE NOT AFRAID"
The news coverage on the 24 hour networks acts as a two edge sword. On the one hand it helps us to be there and to realize that this tragedy could have happened anywhere. On the other hand, I worry that it will inspire other deranged people to consider a similar type atrocity simply to go down in a blaze of notoriety and 24 hour a day international news coverage that garners even the President of the USA's attention and "ministry."
Yesterday we remembered the victims and their families at all our Sunday Masses. Both Fr. Dawid and I had to make some changes to our homilies to tie the tragedy into them and to give a perspective of faith, although the Advent readings actually contributed to that and the homily I already had only needed some minor adjustments.
In fact Fr Dawid has a classmate from Mt. St. Mary's Seminary who is a priest in a nearby parish to Newtown and that parish has lost some of the children killed. Our local television station learned of it and wanted to interview him about it.
One parishioner asked me before the procession at the beginning of the 12:10 PM Mass if we had security, anyone with a concealed gun who could react at any of our Masses if someone came into the Church at any time to do what the killer in Newtown did. Our nerves are frayed and we live as though the other shoe will fall at any moment. I felt the same way in the hours and days following 9/11, I felt as though a jetliner would crash into the building in my town at the time, into my church too!
As soon as I heard the news on Friday, I wondered if something similar could happen at our school. I wondered what we would do as a parish and community if it had been our school and our kids and our teachers. Yes, the thought is a nightmare, a nightmare that is a reality for the people of Newtown at this very moment.
We have security similar to what this Newtown school had in place. We have locked doors and people have to be "buzzed" in and they must register at the desk and get a security card clearance. But we've got to do more and we will.
I think we may have to consider hiring off duty police to be present on our campus at all our Sunday Masses. Our CCD program at our school on Sunday needs to have the same security in place as our school does during the week.
But we can't live like the bubble boy. What about field trips, the school Masses we have in a wide open church? Do we over react and make our children even more insecure and dependent on living in a bubble, a manufactured, virtual world?
When we look at how much more protected our children are today compared to what we baby boomers were allowed to do growing up, and we lived dangerously, not only in automobiles that had no seat belts but also in what we did and where we went without our parents holding our hands and having to know where we were every moment of every day, just as long as we got home by dinner and after dinner returned home before it got dark.
Ultimately, and I can't believe I'm saying this, we must listen to the Saint Louis Jesuits' in their popular song, "Be Not Afraid."
We have to get back in the car, even though the neighbors and their children were killed in a car accident that day. We have fly in planes that could crash, be hijacked and used as a weapon of mass destruction. We have to go into hospitals and risk contagious diseases. We have to undergo minor and major surgery which in itself could end our lives.
We can't live life paralyzed by the extraordinary and what happened in Newtown is grossly extraordinary.
Ultimately, we have failed in communicating the true faith to our people, if we haven't taught them or made it clear in our Sacraments, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that our true home isn't here but in heaven and that Jesus Christ, the Son of God was murdered to show us that this world is hostile to goodness and to truth and to love and to hope because of Satan, because of Original Sin and certainly because of actual sin. We may have to experience a fate like His but death will not be the end if we have died a death like His for we will also share in a like resurrection!
The prophet Isaiah standing in the ruins of Jerusalem which had been destroyed, mournfully cries out "Rejoice, (Gaudete) in the Lord always, Again I say rejoice." "Rise up Jerusalem!"
Our salvation is at hand, but it won't be through the means that this world offers us, it will only be through our Faith in Jesus Christ and what He has wrought.
Finally, if our American people and the political parties to which they belong cannot see the connection between being pro-choice when it comes to killing a child in the womb and the choice that this deranged man made on Friday, they are truly delusional like he was. You can't declare that killing in one circumstance is a women's choice only and therefore off limits to even legal prohibition and at the same time lament what has happened in Newtown. Each of those children could have been killed by their mom as long as that child was hidden in her womb and by her private choice which has no law to prevent it. How many six year olds are absent from their schools this morning because of abortion and no one gives a damn? That truth is a part of this national nightmare scenario of the current circumstances we lament.