Praying that Catholics would understand and act on "the inseparable bond" between love of God…
Choosing love and joy amid a culture of sorrow
I think everyone can agree that the recent weeks have been hard. The sinking feeling we all had upon hearing of the mass shootings in California, Texas and Ohio have become all too familiar. “Another one” — that’s what ran through my mind.
I’m too young to remember seeing Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, on the news, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t grow up with a lingering knowledge of the horrific event. Then there was the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and the music festival in Las Vegas, among others. Just months ago, I looked up at the TV screen at work and saw the town in Illinois where I was born on the screen for another shooting.
Even if none of your loved ones were affected by these terrible events, it’s probable that you’ve been touched in one way or another by tragedy in the past year. In recent months, my family has dealt with some health scares; co-workers have similar experiences. And a little more than a week ago, I learned about the unexpected death of a young woman I knew. At 22, she died of a blood clot in her lungs.
It seems anywhere we look, on the news or in our lives, there is one sad story after another — people taken too early for unexpected or even senseless reasons. Still, I keep asking myself, why am I so numb?
The Las Vegas shooting was the first that truly hit me. I was in my college gym getting in a morning workout when I looked up at the TV screen to read a headline no one wants to see. The death count was so high that I couldn’t comprehend this had actually happened. I began texting friends to see if they had heard, and soon all of campus was abuzz with the terrible news.
Yet, every time another shooting occurs, the buzz gets quieter and quieter. Like my reaction, it becomes “another shooting.”
It’s so easy to become numb to bad news. A positive headline seems to be a rare discovery as of late.
I’m not here to share political or psychological strategies to provide change. But I think we can agree that there is something deeply wrong with our culture, that there is an underlying sickness that makes us so easily forget the value of life and the dignity of each human person.
But there are moments that give me hope and fill me with joy: Witnessing a woman make vows to the religious life surrounded by family and friends; a kind couple picking up the tab at a restaurant for me and two seminarian friends; the giddy excitement of a young 2-year-old who knows she is the life of the party.
I don’t have the answers, but I know we must choose joy even amidst sorrow. We must learn to be compassionate, to suffer with those affected by tragedy. We must pray for the soul of our country and the individuals who reside here. And we must love those around us with an authentic, infectious love that can only come from God.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for OSV Newsweekly.