The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tragedy, Grief, Forgiveness and Blessing

I just returned from the local UPS store where I shipped five large boxes filled with Christmas presents. They're on their way to our children and grandchildren, all of whom still live in the icy north. Presumably, as our children age the cold will penetrate their bones more deeply and lead them to migrate in our direction. One can only hope, since sending large, heavy boxes is not inexpensive. I'd prefer to drop them off personally at the front doors of our sons and daughters. In the meantime, however, I will add to the UPS bottom line.

Returning home from my errands, I caught the news about the horrific school shooting in lovely Newtown, Connecticut. Dear Diane and I are familiar with the town since good friends once lived there and we visited them on several occasions. But I find myself unable to juxtapose in my mind the memory of that quaint, picturesque village and the events of this sad day. It simply does not compute. Far worse, however, as a parent and grandparent I cannot imagine what the families of the victims are experiencing. My thoughts turn to my children and grandchildren, and I thank God they are safe, but I stop that train of thought in its tracks. I cannot go where it wants to take me. To have a child, one of God's precious little ones, taken so suddenly and so capriciously is something no family should ever experience. For those families in Newtown this will be the worst time of their lives, and in their grief whatever faith they have will be sorely tested.

Recognizing this please join me today in praying for the souls of those who died, for peace in the hearts of those who love them, and also for the soul of the confused and troubled young man who was apparently responsible for this massacre of innocents. We must pray for his soul because we are commanded to do so by our Lord Himself. We must pray for him because the families of most of his victims will be unable to take that step, probably for years to come. Forgiveness cannot enter a heart that is understandably filled with grief and anger, that is unable to respond in love. And so let us extend forgiveness for them who are as yet unable to do so.

And to those of you with children, please accept a little advice. Bless your children each day, for blessings are spiritually powerful acts, especially when extended by a parent. As a father or a mother, reach out and touch their beautiful heads with your hands and extend God's blessing in the name of Jesus Christ. Every morning send them into the world cloaked with God's love and your love. Let them know you love them deeply and ask the Father to protect them, for as Jesus told us, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father" [Mt 18:10].

Pray too for our country.

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