In a nation where you have to kill over two dozen people to reach the top of the mass murder list, the Newtown massacre stands out, not for the sheer number mowed down in cold blood, but for their ages. They were mostly innocent children, at the dawn of the age of reason. They never met their killer, never harmed anyone in their brief lives, these lovely little children never gave anything but sheer joy to their families who are in agony at their senseless killing.
This is a new low.
As a nation we are horrified at the grotesque image we see in this new mirror which the shooter has held up to our culture. He acted out of free will, and has faced God for his particular judgement. We do not need to condemn him, we need to ask ourselves how our culture gave rise to such a monster. One hundred years ago, there were all sorts of murderers, but none like this. People killed for money, lust, anger, power but such carnage for sheer hatred or a sick sense of pleasure at the suffering of innocents was unknown.
The culture of death created Adam Lanza and we have to face up to the terrifying fact that no law we pass will prevent this tragedy from reoccurring. We can ban assault rifles, step up waiting periods and background checks, attempt to reach the mentally ill with treatment (it is estimated that 30% are not in treatment) and keep guns from them. These are all laudable goals, but they are not enough. They are merely attempting to reign in the evil which we have allowed to emerge from our callous indifference to the slaughter of 1,500 innocents which has bloodied our hands for the past 40 years. Blessed John Paul II in his 1995 Encyclical “The Gospel of Life”saw this phenomenon.
Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable.
The end result of this is tragic: not only is the fact of the destruction of so many human lives still to be born or in their final stage extremely grave and disturbing, but no less grave and disturbing is the fact that conscience itself, darkened as it were by such widespread conditioning, is finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between good and evil in what concerns the basic value of human life.
We are morally blind because we are spiritually dead. It is caused by our inattention to the things of God in our frantic pursuit of things of this world.
It’s a week away from the birth of Our Lord and Savior, and millions of Americans are frantically busy. Busy buying gifts, and preparing for the commercial side of Christmas. How many of us are preparing to receive Jesus into their hearts this Christmas? How many of us were reading the Scriptures, going to Mass and adoration, performing acts of charity, fasting and going to confession to prepare our hearts for His coming? Far too few. So many of us barely even make time for church at Christmastime, we are too busy partying. We have forgotten who we are; “By living "as if God did not exist", man not only loses sight of the mystery of God, but also of the mystery of the world and the mystery of his own being.”
Gospel of Life
It is a blessing which flows from the tragedy that St Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown is overflowing. That on Friday morning church bells around Connecticut will ring 26 times in Connecticut in memory of those precious lives lost to our society. We will pray for the lost, but how soon will we return to our ordinary lives where we have no time for God?My parish was overflowing after 9/11 too, but the crowds soon dissipated as we forgot the terror. We don’t approach Our Lord out of love but out of fear. He loves us enough to accept us no matter what our motivation, but we don’t allow Him to get close to us, we are afraid of being changed. Changed into people whose lives are transformed by Him.
This Christmas, before you forget about this terrible tragedy, ask Our Lord what He would have you do to be an agent of change. Permit Him to transform you by the amazing grace of the sacraments into the Mother Teresa of your town. Stay in touch with Him through prayer, give Him your free time, your time, talent and treasure. Forget your hobbies, put aside your addiction to material things which can’t make you happy, and remember this adage;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past
only what’s done for God will last.
The only tragedy in life is to fail to become a saint. God has permitted us to be born at this time for a reason. We must seek that reason, embrace our calling to profoundly change the culture of death. Or the painful lessons of Newtown will fade away and an opportunity to take back this culture from the hands of the enemy will be lost as will the souls of millions who are blinded by the culture of death.
Spero columnist Leticia Velasquez is an author who writes at Causa Nostrae Laetitiae.