Where was God?

The cry is always the same when we hear about events such as the tragic Newtown massacre that took place last weekend and it is all too familiar to me, as I noted in my post yesterday. So where was God?

Tanya Marlow wrote beautifully on how this affected her yesterday. Lisa Graas identified with this in just the same way as I do and posted this beautiful reflection. It might seem a little abstract to you if you're not a Catholic or familiar with the spirituality. But suffering is one of the ways we feel close to God: God is not distant or removed from suffering, He is present in it. If you are a Catholic, or at least familiar with this spirituality, you will certainly benefit from reflecting on her post there. In my darkest days, I identified with Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, which culminate in the Crucifixion, which for me, constitutes the death of my child.

There's a huge debate raging about gun control as the result of this and for us in the UK it is so hard to understand why America seems to want to retain their gun culture in spite of such tragedy. Indeed, Gun sales have actually increased since the massacre. Lots of people want to speak in derogatory fashion our our American brothers and sisters and this will not do.

From the U.S. perspective, the argument is that guns do not commit atrocities  people do. The above video goes some way to making sense of that argument. If we were able to create a culture in which the Christian ethic proliferated all aspects, such events would be difficult to envisage.Yet we have a culture which extols violence as a form of entertainment in film and video games which seems to spiral into ever more graphic depiction of violent fantasy. It ridicules and condemns Christian faith from a position of ignorance. It makes no effort to understand the historical, philosophical and cultural reality of our society which is built on Christian values.

If one thinks logically about it, the gun was the key enabling factor in the Newtown massacre. If the perpetrator didn't have access to a weapon, he would not have been able to carry out his crime. De facto.

Guns equal freedom to Americans, they are a symbol of, and to some extent guarantee that freedom.

In this case the counter argument to gun control has just seemed plain daft. Teachers having guns or even that
children should pack baby Glocks. I don't think many see this as realistic or seriously want to live in a society like that.

But if America banned guns, in a country with so many weapons, would you really want to be in a position where the only people who still had firearms were the ones who hold the law in contempt? The Guardian have a frightening map which displays a startling, though frankly not unexpected correlation between gun ownership and gun homicide rates throughout the world.

Whilst I do my best to understand the American love affair with guns, personally I consider them designed for one purpose only and that purpose is contrary to my prayer for the world and strangely contradictory when considered in the context of the great respect I generally have for my cousins across the Atlantic.

I will conclude with some words I often quote here on my blog. Words which my Bishop Thomas MacMahon quoted when he wrote to me after Ruth died, the words of the famous dramatist Paul Claudel, who said poignantly of suffering, “Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it. He came to fill it with His presence.” You see, for we who believe in Christ, suffering is never without meaning. With faith, our suffering unites us with Christ in the one great act of redemption. What our modern, secular world forgets is that suffering is part of life, and it presents an opportunity to be united with Christ in the greatest moment of the history of the world – we can be united with Him on that cross and in the salvation of the world. Souls can be redeemed and saved and prayers answered when we direct our suffering, offer it up, to this spiritual end. And, importantly, in our suffering, we are not alone. Jesus is right there by our side carrying the cross with us.

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