In the picture above, you see the SWAT Team that responded to the Sandy Hook massacre just days before Christmas. They were eager to do the best they could to help the children. That determination and self-giving reminds me of the real Saint Nick, who was a Catholic Bishop of Mira. Hearing of the intentions of a man in his diocese to pimp out his three girls in prostitution since he could not come up with dowries for them (the custom at the time), the bishop himself provided their dowries, saving them from sex slavery and, surely, as is the case with these things, an early death just as certain as shooting them outright.
Instead of blaming God and being bitter as we take note of the violence and darkness of this world, let’s praise the infant Jesus, another little child, who came into this world of horrific violence with the very purpose of taking all this hell onto Himself. He knew that His very goodness, in all of its kindness, would seem incriminating of our lack thereof, and that we would kill Him for it. He knew that, but held out the invitation of friendship at the very moment we tortured Him to death on the Cross: Father, forgive them! He rose, then, from the dead, ascending to heaven so as to welcome into heaven those such as the littlies of Sandy Hook. Does God know about our agony here on earth. Yes. He does. And He paid the price to have the right in all justice to have mercy on us. He permits the bad use of free will. Yes, but only in favor of those who will use their free will for good. In heaven, there won’t be any one who uses their free will for evil. They go somewhere else. Their choice. Let’s use that evil choice of theirs for the good, that is, by taking that as occasion not to give up, but to do what we can for love of God and love of neighbor while we can. Take good note of the SWAT team.
Just to say: Encouraging us to use our free will to bring love and goodness and kindness to others is also how the Prince of the Most Profound Peace brings that Christmas Peace we so desire into our lives.
Is it ludicrous to wish the survivors of Sandy Hook a Happy Merry Christmas? No, it’s not. In fact. It’s just the other way around: Look at the violence! And… and… Look at how the Son of God leaps from heaven into the cold desert cave of Bethlehem to begin his own journey directly into the epicenter of that violence to bring us, eventually together, when the time is right for us, to be in heaven with Him and, please God, all our loved ones.
A thought for the priests of the parish as well. This from an email from a fellow priest:
A time long, long ago, in what seems like another galaxy now, I was only a couple of years ordained, and an associate pastor. The pastor (who almost never left) was away on vacation the week after Christmas. In the wee hours of the morning, I was called to the hospital for a parishioner who had died. Now that of course was not unusual, except that the man’s sister was the secretary to the Bishop. I suggested to Dorothy that she might want to ask the Bishop to celebrate the Mass, or at least give the homily. But Dorothy replied that her brother would want his pastor to celebrate his funeral, and to preach. That meant of course that I had to preach to the Bishop, the Auxiliary Bishop, and the entire Chancery Staff. That was one of the few homilies I wrote out completely, and followed almost completely. I got compliments on my homily, but it was one of the most nerve-wracking things I have ever had to do.
I have been thinking of that experience this past week as I watched the events unfold in Newtown, Connecticut. The Pastor and Parish staff of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown have had an horrendous week, and it is surely draining on them. So I was thinking of the strain on them, both this week and in coming weeks. So I have been praying for strength for them, for God’s grace to see them through this difficult time.
All of us have likely been thinking of having to face such a task, and probably imagining and wondering what we would do. I have been involved in emergency service for many years, as chaplain to Level One hospitals, law enforcement and fire service, and hospice. So I have experienced on a small scale what they are going thru.
I would like to ask you all to pray for them, to offer them any support you can, so speak to the Lord about them in your prayer this coming Christmas. I will send a copy of this email to Monsignor Bob, as his parish calls him, so that he and his staff will know of our prayer and support.
God be with you in this Christmas Season!
I love it when priests are in solidarity with each other. That’s just very cool indeed.
Now, let’s re-publish the post from the sister of one of the priests, and then again the poem about the children of Sandy Hook celebrating Christmas in heaven:
From Father Suarez’ sister’s Facebook posting (sent in by a reader as I don’t have facebook):
“Many of you have received emails from me about my younger brother, Father Luke Suarez, who is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish, a Catholic church just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. He, and his pastor, Monsignor Weiss, arrived at the school within moments of the shooting, and have been caring for the community ever since. The picture I have included was taken at the school.
Father Luke has an impossible task before him. His diocese is without a bishop right now…. Monsignor … is personally devastated by the losses. The parish is very large…. The rectory has received serious threats, and as my brother gave the homily Sunday at the noon mass, the church had to be evacuated by SWAT teams. After experiencing identity theft and online hacking incidents, he had to erase all of his internet accounts. After a weekend of endless media requests, notifications and vigils with heartbroken families, and little sleep, he now has two wakes and two funerals every day, until the fourth Sunday of Advent. Father Luke has not even been ordained two years.
My large family has been trying to send Father Luke our love and support from afar, and one of my brothers was able to visit with him briefly a couple times. All he asks for is prayer.
I have been wracking my brain, trying to think of a way that our beautiful, loving community could tangibly reach out to Father Luke, Monsignor Weiss, and the St. Rose parish, to support them in this most awful of times. I have sent many prayer requests, and I am asking for more prayers again. But I also want to ask everyone to search their hearts, and if the Holy Spirit moves you,please consider sending one of your family’s Christmas cards to the rectory, with a few words of love and encouragement. Here is his address:
Father Luke Suarez 46 Church Hill Road Newtown, CT 06470
My brother has said over and over again that without the prayer support he is receiving, he could not keep going. And this week is only the beginning. Everyone there is still in shock. Their peaceful home has been desecrated by violence. They will need to live with this sorrow forever.
But in our weakness is His strength. Grace abounds. Can you help me carry him through this time of trial? On a hopeful note, Father Luke did say that no media coverage has even touched the deep, beautiful awakening of faith that has occurred there. Their tiny church, where my children have received sacraments and where Luke was ordained, has been full of people in prayer without ceasing since this tragedy happened. Love is stronger than death.
Please feel free to share the address with your family, friends, and community. An outpouring of love will sustain these good priests through their impossible ministry–impossible on their own, but possible with God. I am so grateful to live in this community. We are all so blessed with one another. Every day, I see you all loving one another as Christ loved. Thank you for letting me reach out to you now. With humble appreciation”
From another email:
Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38 when 20 beautiful children stormed through Heaven’s gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air. they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say. they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
“Where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse. “This is heaven.” declared a small boy. “We’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”
When what to their wondering eyes did appear, but Jesus, their Savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same, then He opened His arms and He called them by name. And in that moment was joy, that only Heaven can bring; those children all flew into the arms of their King,
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace, one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face. And as if He could read all the questions she had He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”
Then He looked down on earth, the world far below He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe. Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
“Let My power and presence re-enter this land!” “May this country be delivered from the hands of fools” “I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”
Then He and the children stood up without a sound. “Come now my children, let me show you around.” Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran, all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight, “In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”
Written by [a lady] in Mt. Wolf, PA [ I edited the name of the author out since all this is so crazy with death threats for anyone who has a nice thing to say about the kids and their teachers, or approves of mourning for the loss of life.]
Comment: I bet that there are adults who laid down their lives in trying to protect the children that are on their way as well. Also, just to say, our Lord never did abandon the USA. People will do horrible things, using their free will the wrong way.
- Our Lord is evident in the teachers laying down their lives to try to protect the children.
- Our Lord is evident in the bravery of the police who rushed into the school.
- Our Lord is evident in the grieving of so many.
- Our Lord’s continual care for us is evident when we really take a look at Him, and see the wounds on His hands and feet, His side, His Heart.
God knows what it means to suffer injustice, mortal violence, torture and death. He takes all this on to have the right in justice to have mercy on us. We still go through these things here on earth because of the justice of original sin and the misuse of free will that people are to have. But then there’s heaven. The author of the poem has it right about the kids.
To such children belong the Kingdom of the heavens.
We need to be little children.
These children lead the way. They are cheering us on.