A lot of people in the world of Catholic blogging have been writing about the horrible tragedy last week in Newtown, Connecticut, along with the irony of it being followed two days later by Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday in Advent meant for joy.
Possibly because of the Connecticut shooting, I couldn't help but notice all the little children sitting in the pews around me during morning mass. Some of them got a bit cranky, or talked a little too loudly, but I didn't mind. What bothered me more, though, was the retirees who kept gaping, turning their heads left and right every time a child made so much as a peep. Exiting church at the end of mass, one older woman, who looked to be at least 75, even patted a 4-year old boy who had been sitting down the pew from me on the head and said "You make too much noise."
Curbing my desire to tell her to mind her own business (I was raised to respect elders, for one, and secondly, I'd just received Jesus in the Eucharist so thought it best not to be snarky), I also wanted to ask if she'd been listening to Father, or if she'd even seen the news, or tell her that she perhaps might be grateful for the little children in our midst (and that their parents bring them to church). The little boy wasn't that loud. He was being 4, and his mother dealt with him appropriately.
Ultimately, I don't think I can come up with anything better than what has already been written and said by a number of others. But I ache for those families of the children, teachers and administrators. Everyone, whether directly or indirectly, has been impacted by tragedies. I don't know why He allows bad things to happen. Sitting in mass Sunday morning, Father talked about evil in the world, and how, despite our best efforts to keep it at bay, sometimes evil happens. But we can't live our lives in fear. And I think, although it's hard to wrap our minds around sometimes, that's why we are asked to still be joyful. Jesus' birth is right around the corner. All we can do is lean on God in our sorrow and pray for everyone involved, and, despite the evil in the world, know the Lord will never abandon us.