July 20, 2012 – Sorting It All Out

Thursday I started thinking a little bit about what I was going to tackle in the blog this week.  To that point it had been a good week, and I was excited to tell you a little bit about a project I have become involved with concerning the upcoming 150th anniversary of our school.  So my thoughts were that this week’s blog should be pretty light-hearted and upbeat.  Then when I turned on my computer yesterday morning to finish up a few odds and ends, I saw the headline that said there was a massive shooting at a Colorado theatre, and that there were multiple fatalities and at least 50 people injured.  We now know that there were 12 people killed and 59 people injured.  We also know that the situation could have become even worse if someone had entered the suspect’s apartment without realizing that it was booby-trapped with explosives.  Obviously the suspect had a very elaborate plan that he had worked on for a long time.

We of course have had to react to news like this much too often.  I know for myself my initial reaction, which would have been complete shock years ago, has almost turned into a “here we go again” reaction.  And as I’m sure is the case with you, a flood of questions enter my mind.  How could the suspect have masterminded something like this without anyone noticing anything?  Would tougher background checks and gun laws have prevented this horrific tragedy?  Was there something in his background or how he was raised that set this off?  Is there a need for even MORE security than we already have, even at a seemingly innocent and fun place like a movie theater?

Answers to these questions will be discussed in more detail in the coming weeks, I’m sure.  Then the news will fade out of our minds and the discussion will die down until the next massive incident occurs.  Right now, with the tragedy still very fresh in our minds, I think there are two things that all of us can do to channel our anger and doubts.  First and foremost, we of course need to pray for those who were killed and for their families in their time of loss, for those who were injured that they may be healed, for those who were present at the movie theatre that they may be able to deal with their emotions and memories, and for all of us that we do not have another horrific tragedy like this occur again.

The other thing we need to think about as Catholic Christians is how we can begin to reverse this culture that seems to continue to de-value life.  It is hard to imagine that during the whole time the suspect was plotting this, that not once did he think that there will be children who will no longer have parents, or siblings who will no longer have their brother or sister, or that someone will lose their best friend they have known for years and years.  Reports appear to indicate that the suspect had well-respected parents who practiced Christian faith and that he was raised in a very nice neighborhood.  So how does the thought of taking multiple lives enter one’s mind?

It is large scale incidents such as this one that will draw the most news coverage and headlines, of course.  However, as we know by watching the local new and reading the local headlines, there are senseless killings happening in our country every single day.  In the year 2009 there were over 15,ooo homicides in our country, with over 9000 of these by use of a firearm.  Last night in Chicago, there were 3 people killed and 18 wounded by gunshots.  I’m not going on a soapbox about gun control, but I am saying that there continues to be a blatant disregard for the value of human life by some people, and unfortunately it sometimes takes a catastrophic event such as the one in Colorado to remind us of that.  We as Catholics need to continue to defend and respect all human life, including the unborn and people of all ages and races.  As I mentioned in my reflection when I held the Sunday celebration a couple of weeks ago, we are a nation that is still about 25% Catholic, and if we could mobilize into one voice, what a difference we could make.

After tackling such serious subject matter, there really is no good way to switch gears and talk about something much more light-hearted, so I’ll just get into it.  As you may have seen or heard elsewhere, our parish school began in 1863, which means that it will be celebrating its 150th anniversary next year.  There will be many activities taking place to mark this important milestone in our parish.  I attended a meeting the other night with a group that will be working on a commemorative book to mark the occasion.  It will be somewhat similar to the book that was published in 1992 for the 150th anniversary of the parish.  It will contain a history of the school along with other things.  I’m sure there are a lot of stories, memories, photos, etc. that are floating around amongst the alumni of our school, and it would be great if you could share some if this with us.  I have begun a Facebook page (yes, another Facebook page) titled “I attended St. Mary’s School in Chester, and I remember….”.  On this page anyone registered to Facebook can post stories, photos, etc, from their time at St. Mary’s and can also interact with other St. Mary’s alumni.  If you do not have a Facebook account, you can e-mail me directly at webmaster@maryhoc.org with your submissions.  You will be hearing much more about this in the next week or two as all of the parish families and registered alumni will be receiving a letter about it.

Well I did my part yesterday to end the drought – I washed my car.  If this doesn’t work, who knows what will happen.  I know farmers, gardeners, and others who rely on the rain for their livelihood are getting very frustrated, but we have to hold on to our faith and know that the Lord knows what is best for us.  Have a great week.  Peace.

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