Yesterday was an extraordinarily difficult day.
I already knew I'd be spending the evening attending a wake service for one of the Secular Franciscans who'd passed away after a long illness. Much as we are relieved that her suffering has ended, we mourn her loss and grieve with her family.
When I stopped at the parish office for a Mass card, the secretary was mourning for one of her own family members who'd passed away. All I could do was squeeze her hand across the counter as she wept...I've been praying for her since then.
One of the other Secular Franciscans has a birthday today. She will spend it at a funeral for her longtime friend and neighbor.
28 people died in Connecticut yesterday. The story just kept getting worse and worse. The media interviewed traumatized little kids and mis-identified the shooter.
And the parents of 20 little children will have to get through Christmas without those children. They will be wishing for the opportunity to tell their child to clean up his toys.
After dinner I went to the funeral home for the wake, where the deacon wisely began the prayer service with a prayer for the New England community that had suffered such a tragedy. And we all agreed that Mary M, a mom of 6 and grandmother of 9, was probably welcoming those little children to Heaven yesterday.
I was glad, last night, to have all my kids under the same roof when I went to sleep. I hope that they know every day that I love them. Even when I take away their video games, make them clean up their own messes, and enforce curfews. Someday they will realize that I do these things BECAUSE I love them, that I wouldn't be loving them very much at all if I didn't.
Today, when they wake up, I will hug them all just a little harder. There is just no way to understand this. All I can do is try to be better at loving my family. And I pray for Mary, for the people of Newtown, CT, and for our parish secretary, Mary's family, our Franciscan community and all others who grieve.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
And may the Lord comfort those who mourn.
Updated to add: I was asked in the comments how to get to the point of praying for the shooter. I don't know. I just don't. But Friar Charles has a good starting point here.