Summarily after leaving the dinner I proceeded to check my Facebook news feed. Ever the sea of punditry, it featured calls for prayers, calls for gun control, calls for armament, calls to hug and appreciate one's loved ones (especially the children), calls for moral responsibility, and calls for vengeance.
I am reminded that I named this blog "The Shipwrack-Harvest" in view of a nautical mishap that caused the death of many, but that very well may have prompted the repentance and conversion of some; an event that convinced a priest-poet to consecrate his fellow Englishmen to Mary, the Immaculate Conception, as the wreck happened on 7 December, the day before that solemn feast. Just as a dying nun's cries to Christ "got the Word out there" at a sorely-needed moment, perhaps Our Lady might invite the nation to return to her Son's Church. The shipwrack of bodies upon the shores of Kent might become a harvest of souls upon the shores of Heaven.
Jesus spoke on one occasion of a massacre and a collapsed tower that ended the lives of numerous unsuspecting folk, without apparent regard for their virtue or vice (cf. Lk 13:1-5). The commonly drawn lesson from that passage is the universal call to repentance, irrespective of one's perceived position vis-a-vis God, others, or self.
I will devote no space here to analysis or judgment, except to reiterate the Lord's invitation to repentance. Not to improve upon the Lord, I will further amplify it into a call for:
- Daily review of self, and prompt attendance to the personally-committed offenses that one recognizes therein
- Regular conscious placing of self in the Presence of God, seeking to better dispose oneself to serving Him in others
- Allowing one's relationship with God to unfold in all available service opportunities (generous deeds, words, and thoughts)
Whether the Sandy Hook tragedy would have happened or not, the above program is worth practicing.
Regardless of one's belief in, or concern for, God, there is the fundamental acknowledgment of: (1) the fact of one's own existence; (2) the fact that one did not bring it about by him/herself; (3) the opportunities that one has to make something beautiful and meaningful of that existence; and (4) the constant awareness that our choices-for good or ill-have consequences. In the absence of this, we're in a sad state...and we soon "find ourselves" making such a state for untold others. As an ardent theist and a Catholic priest, I place all immediately concerned parties in the Sandy Hook shooting--and the lot of us--in the hands of One who has made a Life of bringing good out of evil.
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And, to break the previous promise of no analysis or judgment, I reiterate a comment made to someone who is at a loss as to how to explain these sad realities to her children:
Somehow we continue to have responsibilities that do not disappear in the face of what seems a constant stream of tragedy and strain. At first hearing it we explode and express, and then life goes on. We think it scandalous that it should, when for these people (and the others who've preceded them, and the others who'll follow) it doesn't. But it does. And, Christ, we might not change!