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Posts Tagged ‘Sandy Hook Elementary’

Sandy Hook

For tonight, I wanted to offer some meta-reflections — that is, reflections on reflections — with regard to the Sandy Hook tragedy.  First, let me quote from my own post from Dec. 18:

In a recent interview with WGRZ (www.wgrz.com), University of Buffalo Department of Psychiatry Chair Steven L. Dubovsky, MD, stated that many perpetrators of these types of crimes do not have any psychiatric illnesses.  Rather, they tend to be “losers” and “cowards” who seek fame and notoriety and think that this is the only way they will be able to achieve it.

I thought it would be worthwhile to explore this a little bit further.  No doubt, the “copycat” occurrences these phenomena tend to inspire illustrate this human tendency very well, even if the people involved do have some sort of special psychological “baggage.”

This is nothing new.  Violent and evil manifestations of the desire to stand out in the midst of mediocrity or apathy — or even, sometimes, to stand out against fashionable wrongs — have been around probably longer than memory or recorded history.

John Doe

An example — albeit fictional — that stands out powerfully in my mind is John Doe (Kevin Spacey), the notorious serious killer in the 1995 film “Se7en.”  Doe, as fans of the film know, chooses his victims and his methods based on each of the Seven Deadly Sins — Pride, Envy, Wrath, Greed, Lust, Gluttony, and Sloth.  He has a sort of mini-monologue at the end that cannot fail to arrest the viewer:

We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it.  We tolerate it because it’s common — it’s…it’s trivial.  We tolerate it morning, noon, and night.  Well, not anymore.  I’m setting the example.  And what I’ve done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed forever.

boondock saints

We can see something a little bit similar in Troy Duffy’s 1999 film “The Boondock Saints,” in which two brothers (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) embark on what they consider to be a divinely ordained quest to rid Boston of its most evil criminals.  This they do vigilante style, fighting violence with violence.

Duffy’s film is bookended with two very interesting pieces.  At the beginning, a priest gives a sermon in which he tells the story of a woman being beaten and raped while crowds of people pass by and do nothing; at the end, we see what are meant to be interviews with citizens on the street who speak highly of “the saints” (the name given to the two brothers) and, to varying degrees, express their own desire to be able to behave as they do rather than succumb to apathy in the face of society’s evils.

Adam_lanza

Of course, we have no indication that Adam Lanza’s actions were geared toward fighting any kind of evil.  But I use the above examples to illustrate an overarching point: Certain things are so much a part of the human makeup that when we try, as individuals or as collectives, to suppress or ignore them, they don’t go away; instead, they come back to us in distorted, unhealthy, and destructive forms.

In the cases of John Doe and “the saints,” the quality that comes back distorted is the desire for justice.  In the case of those of whom Dr. Dubovsky speaks, the quality is broader in nature (the former can be seen as an example within the scope of this broader quality) — it is the desire to escape mediocrity.

Rediscover Catholicism

Motivational speaker Matthew Kelly, in his book “Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose,” speaks of minimalism as one of the prevalent philosophies of our age.  We are constantly asking ourselves what is the least we can do.  Kelly calls this “the enemy of excellence and the father of mediocrity.”

The problem with this philosophy is that each and every one of us is made for excellence.  We are made in the image and likeness of our Creator and placed on this earth for a purpose.  Yet how easily we can succumb to the temptations of comfort, security, or similar things, and take the path of least resistance.

As a result, many of us lead what Henry David Thoreau called “lives of quiet desperation.”

When society as a whole fosters this sort of thing, “shadow” phenomena such as John Doe, “the saints,” and school shooters are bound to surface here and there.  But we all know — at least I hope we all know — that this is not the way to respond to our innate desire to go beyond mediocrity.  In fact, it is counterproductive, having as its end destruction rather than the building-up of the self and others.

The real answer to this quandary of ours is to become saints — real saints, not boondock saints.  It is to love — to give of ourselves without expecting anything in return.  It is to pursue changes in our character, so that we not only do the right things, but desire the right things.  It is also to discover our purpose in life, what we are called to do.  We are all called to discover and cultivate those unique talents in ourselves whereby we may contribute to the growth of truth, goodness, and beauty in the world.

This does not, of course, mean that we must strive for extraordinary feats of heroism.  Some are called to those, yes.  But as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta famously said:

We cannot do great things on this earth, only small things with great love.

As a Catholic, I believe that in entrusting ourselves to God and prayerfully discerning what it is He wants us to do, we have a sure escape from the “quiet desperation” that would like to haunt us all to the grave.  If more of us live this way, just maybe our “societal subconscious” will feel the need to spit out fewer and fewer John Does, “saints,” and school shooters.

Photos of Sandy Hook and Adam Lanza from http://www.wikipedia.org; photo of “Rediscovering Catholicism” from http://www.amazon.com; remaining images obtained through a Google image search.

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Holy Innocents

Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which commemorates the children of Bethlehem who were murdered by Herod after the birth of Christ.

Even though these children could not exercise reason or free will, we consider them martyrs.  A number of the Church Fathers deemed them the “first soldiers” in Christ’s army.  After all, why did Herod have them killed?  Because the Messiah was in their midst.

That is why the devil, of whom Herod was a mere agent, wants to wreak havoc and destruction among mankind — because through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, God is in our midst.

I wanted to share part of the sermon given this morning by Fr. Anthony Mary, of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word.  In his sermon, Fr. Anthony shares some thought-provoking reflections on the slaughter of the innocents and the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.

FYI: You don’t need to watch the whole video.  The relevant portion starts at 7:26, and lasts just a little over five minutes.

Top image obtained from http://www.wikipedia.org

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Lourdes

So sorry for forgetting to post this yesterday!  I’m sure those of you who would like to pray along may still do so, though.

From http://www.gerardnadal.com:

Prayer

Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.

DAY NINE

O glorious Mother of God, to you we raise our hearts and hands to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the benign Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly for the grace of a happy death. O Mother of our Divine Lord, as we conclude this novena for the special favor we seek at this time.

That your beloved Son send His Holy Sprit upon this nation in its hour of despair, to enlighten every heart, showing the sacredness of all human life from the moment of conception until natural death; that through this tragedy the scales will fall from the nation’s eyes and all will see the seamless garment of human life and dignity.

We feel animated with confidence that your prayers in our behalf will be graciously heard. O Mother of My Lord, through the love you bear to Jesus Christ and for the glory of His Name, hear our prayers and obtain our petitions.
O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/novena/lourdes.htm#day9#ixzz2FvVPwYJd

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

To leave an encouraging comment for those affected by this tragedy, go to http://gerardnadal.com/2012/12/23/novena-to-our-lady-of-lourdes-for-healing-the-wounds-of-newtown-and-sandy-hook-day-9/

Photo also from Dr. Nadal’s blog.

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Lourdes

From http://www.gerardnadal.com:

As we continue our nine days of prayer, please leave your supportive messages for the folks in Newtown and Sandy Hook in the comments section here on the blog. They’ll be seeing them, I assure you. Each night as we pray for the entire community, we’ll lift up in a special way different groups within that population. Thanks for joining in. God Bless you and your loved ones.

Day 1 here.

Day 2 here.

Day 3 here.


Day 4 here.

Day 5 here.

Day 6 here.

Day 7 here.

Prayer

Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.

DAY EIGHT

O Immaculate Mother of God, from heaven itself you came to appear to the little Bernadette in the rough Grotto of Lourdes! And as Bernadette knelt at your feet and the miraculous spring burst forth and as multitudes have knelt ever since before your shrine, O Mother of God, we kneel before you today to ask that in your mercy you plead with your Divine Son to grant the special favor we seek in this novena.

We pray tonight for all of the citizens of Sandy Hook and Newtown, that Christmas brings a reprieve from the trauma of these past eight days. We pray, too, for eternal rest for all 28 people who died in the madness of that day, especially for those most in need of your Son’s mercy.

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

To leave an encouraging comment for those affected by this tragedy, go to http://gerardnadal.com/2012/12/22/novena-to-our-lady-of-lourdes-for-healing-the-wounds-of-newtown-and-sandy-hook-day-8/

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Lourdes

From http://www.gerardnadal.com:

Day 1 here.

Day 2 here.

Day 3 here.


Day 4 here.

Day 5 here.

Day 6 here.

Prayer

Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.

DAY SEVEN

O Almighty God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary did prepare a worthy dwelling place for your Son, we humbly beseech you that as we contemplate the apparition of Our Lady in the Grotto of Lourdes, we may be blessed with health of mind and body. O most gracious Mother Mary, beloved Mother of Our Lord and Redeemer, look with favor upon us as you did that day on Bernadette and intercede with him for us that the favor we now so earnestly seek may be granted to us.

Once again, we lift up to you the parents, and grandparents, and godparents of those who were killed. We beg your beloved Son’s special blessings on them, for healing in heart, mind, body and soul. We lift up too, the family of Adam Lanza, who tonight bear a very different and unimaginable burden of not only loss, but shame and guilt for something of which they had no culpability. We beg your Son’s healing touch that all may find peace and reconciliation, through your loving intercession.

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

To leave an encouraging comment for those affected by this tragedy, go to http://gerardnadal.com/2012/12/21/novena-to-our-lady-of-lourdes-for-healing-the-wounds-of-newtown-and-sandy-hook-day-7/

Photo also from Dr. Nadal’s website.

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My apologies for being late — got to bed before this was published on “Coming Home” last night.

From http://www.gerardnadal.com:

Day 1 here.

Day 2 here.

Day 3 here.


Day 4 here.

Day 5 here.

Prayer

Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.

DAY SIX

O glorious Mother of God, so powerful under your special title of Our Lady of Lourdes, to you we raise our hearts and hands to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the gracious Heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare and for the special favor we so earnestly seek in this novena.

We lift up today our shaken political leaders who are under pressure to act. We ask your intercession with your beloved Son, that He heal the shock and horror in our leaders, that they may act with prudence, wisdom, and calm deliberation for the common good.

O Lady of Bernadette, with the stars of heaven in your hair and the roses of earth at your feet, look with compassion upon us today as you did so long ago on Bernadette in the Grotto of Lourdes.

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

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LourdesFrom http://www.gerardnadal.com:

As we continue our nine days of prayer, please leave your supportive messages for the folks in Newtown and Sandy Hook in the comments section here on the blog. They’ll be seeing them, I assure you. Each night as we pray for the entire community, we’ll lift up in a special way different groups within that population. Thanks for joining in. God Bless you and your loved ones.

Day 1 here.

Day 2 here.

Day 3 here.

Day 4 here.

Prayer

Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.

DAY FIVE

O Mary Immaculate, Mother of God and our mother, from the heights of your dignity look down mercifully upon us while we, full of confidence in your unbounded goodness and confident that your Divine Son will look favorably upon any request you make of Him in our behalf, we beseech you to come to our aid and secure for us the favor we seek in this novena.

That the families of the slain teachers and staff be comforted this day that has seen the burial of their loved ones who showed that greatest of love, having laid down their lives for the children. We beseech Heaven’s greatest comfort for these family, and for the surviving faculty, staff, and their families.

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

Photo also from Dr. Nadal’s blog.

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