Father George Rutler, pastor of the Church of Our Saviour (NYC) wrote the following in a recent newsletter that ought to be part of our ongoing reflection on what happened to the good people of the Sandy Hook Elementary School:
Locking school doors will not keep Satan out if our
hearts are open to him. Nor will banning weapons ban murder if God is banned
from the conscience. Cain slew Abel without a gun. An illogical world can be
saved from self-destruction only by loving the Logos who was in the Beginning,
who was with God and was God.
You may remember that the Governor of Connecticut Dannel Malloy said that “evil visited this community [Newtown]” following the deaths of 27 on December 14, 2012.
I don’t frequently quote political leaders, but the Governor was correct in his statement. Incredible, unspeakable grief, sadness left many speechless at the deaths of so many and the tragic circumstances of a young plagued by mental illness. In the wake of the shootings one can only say that, in fact, in the season of Advent –a time of preparation for the Incarnation– Satan visited a community. 10 days before Christmastide, a time of great joy at our God becoming one of us. The joy we speak of in this season is rooted in this truth: we believe in the Presence of the Divine in the life of the mortal, the Presence of intense love removes sin, death, darkness and violence. And while Christian joy removes the power of darkness, it doesn’t neglect the existence of such things and the power these things can have over us.
At other point we can discuss gun control, mental health, violence, loneliness, etc. What needs to be dealt with is what Malloy recognized: the presence of evil viz. joy. Malloy named a truth that Christians, indeed, all people of faith, have yet to seriously deal with: Satan’s grip on the hearts of the faithful while the doors are locked. A priest friend said in a homily last Sunday, “…evil does exist and it has existed from the beginning of the creation, that power that first rebelled against God and hates in a way that we cannot imagine, that hates beauty, truth and above all love” (Fr Richard Cipolla).
We can’t confuse wrong for right, violence for peace. We can embrace love, joy, truth; we can embrace Jesus Christ as our Savior, the sacraments, and the Church. We can embrace friendship and the Mysteries of God and Man.