As the news of another school shooting slowly broke this morning, my stomach churned.
First reports said two adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Then, the incomprehensible: 26 people — 20 of them children — dead, according to later reports.
I thought about the innocent victims of this senseless violence. Then I thought about parents who lost children that morning — parents who sent their kids, like they did every morning, to spend the day with teachers and classmates, never expecting anything so horrendous to happen in a small-town school.
They are parents like my wife and I who ready our son for school every morning, and who wish him a good day and say, “I love you” before he shuts the door to the car and walks into the school building.
They are parents like you.
But these parents won’t see their children alive again.
Shocking. Sickening. Horrible. Unbelievable.
Unbelievable — until we recall that this kind of senseless violence has happened in the past: at schools, in movie theaters, in malls.
The initial urge is to ask: Why? Why would someone do this to kids?
Sadly, there are no answers, and there may never be.
Is it because people with malicious intentions have too-easy access to guns and other weapons?
Is it because people with violent tendencies don’t have ready access to services they need for help?
Is it because we have become such a coarse society, one in which human life and human dignity is so often degraded — in movies, in video games and in myriad other ways — that it desensitizes people to the extent they can perpetrate this kind of evil?
Who really knows? It makes you feel helpless.
But, as Catholics, we can do some things today and in the days ahead.
• We can pray — for the victims and their parents and loved ones, for the other schoolchildren and families who are grieving and fearful about the future, and for our society, that we would turn away from all forms of violence and do more to promote life and the God-given human dignity of every person.
• We can pray with our children and talk to them about whatever concerns or fears they might express.
• We can initiate efforts in our parishes to help reduce violence in our own communities.
Advent and Christmas are times of hope. The child born in a manger 2,000 years ago redeems us and gives us hope as we struggle at times through sin, death and darkness. Still, amid all this, Jesus offers us love, peace and eternal life.
What can we do right now in the wake of this tragedy?
We can recommit our lives to Him. And we can hug our kids a little more tightly tonight.