I have struggled with what to say about the massacre of children and their teacher in Uvalde, Texas a week ago. On the one hand, it feels as if it was a fresh, raw, tragedy - as each loss of life is. Yet, it is also one in a far too long of a line of school and mass shootings in our nation.
I was a senior in high school when the tragedy at Columbine High School occurred. It was the first time it processed for me that the spaces I presumed safe and sacred could be deadly. It was the first time I remember looking around at who walked into the library where I worked, questioning if they were just there to pick up a book or movie or had other darker purposes.
Now, all these years later, I question myself. What more should I have done so that the current generation of children would never feel that same uncertainty, that same recognition their lives are not safe in the halls that they should feel most protected and cherished? What should I do so that my little nieces, not yet in school, can be safe, can learn and grow in safety?
Catholics believe in the life and dignity of each person. This is a critical aspect of our faith. Lack of action against the violence of those who wield guns, those who allow unfettered gun access, this is nothing less than a sin.
We cannot be so obsessed with freedoms and rights that we neglect essential responsibilities and moral obligations.
“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”
- St. Pope John Paul II
If we have not before, today is the day we must acknowledge our freedom to do what we ought and the call of our God to do what we morally must. We each must speak out and act to ensure that steps are taken to stop the cancerous spread of gun violence in our nation.
I am reminded that St. Augustine said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” Yes, let us send up prayers, let us pray for those who grieve, let us especially pray for those souls of the departed. Let those prayers not ring hollow, finally say this is enough, let us finally act. It is what we ought to do. It is the morally necessary. It is the act of divine love.