Here we are again, at the start of Lent. One thing is shocking about the start of Lent this year, and it is how little our society is shocked by another mass shooting at a school. I’m not going to preach about that. But it does need to be mentioned that this happened on Ash Wednesday.
Our society, perhaps more than any in millennia, worships money, sex, and power, and wants each of those things unbridled, freed, liberated. We are a deeply sick society - more so than many. We love watching violence simulated and real as much as the Romans of old and we marvel, aghast that violence sown should reap violence grown. In our alienated, dislocated, masochistic hearts we devour violence for our daily bread.
Against this, the Church and our Lord preach poverty, chastity, and obedience. The spirit of the world, the spirit of the age, as it is often called in sacred scripture, literally wants exactly the opposite of what our Lord wants and of what our Lord teaches us to want. He teaches us to want reliance on him, living for others, trusting in God. He wants us to want him for our daily bread.
Gun control is a serious social question. But why isn’t self-control? Gun control replaces one form of power with another: the power of the individual with the power of the society. Against this, I propose that we yield to our heavenly Father and dedicate ourselves ever more urgently to the task of evangelizing and healing our neighbors. When I propose such a thing, people are often incredulous. The subtext of the incredulity and the demand for policy and legislation rather than prayer and penance is this: God will not save us so we must save ourselves. As a Christian, I cannot believe this and I cannot support it. I cry foul. I have political views but will sidestep that whole debate because it does not get to the heart of the matter.
No policy will heal the human heart. Love from God heals. The plain and ugly truth of the matter is that if this latest shooter had been more closely surround by more knowing and loving friends, this probably would not have happened. It’s possible he’s schizophrenic or has some other organic disorder. Most of these shooters, though, simply have failed to thrive spiritually because they have not been in very fertile soil.
This Lent, I encourage each of us to dig into the Lenten disciples of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Do so secretly. Do so diligently. Let’s give our hearts of stone over to God and pray he turn them into living hearts of flesh.
If you haven’t decided what to abstain from for Lent, maybe start with television, Facebook, or anything that generates anger in your heart. If you haven’t decided what extra prayer and almsgiving to incorporate into your Lenten routine, maybe try the Divine Mercy chaplet, because we need it. Maybe try giving sacrificially to some cause that helps alienated or disaffected youth.