Now that we are a few days into processing what happened in Newtown on Friday, everyone is coming out of the woodwork with someone or something to blame. Too many guns, too few guns, violent video games, mental health stigma, lack of school prayer, and the media are a few of the most popular suspected culprits.
I believe that some of these have stronger connections to the incident than others, but what I find fascinating is this: how strong the desire is for meaning-making. Some of our questions (and answers) are about how we can prevent further violent episodes, but some are simply to satisfy our instinctual desire for life to follow a sensible narrative.
We are not comfortable with mystery. We are not comfortable when the things that shake us don’t have simple explanations. But maybe that is why they shake us, because we can’t make sense of them.
Part of living a spiritual life means living with mystery. God is one being in three persons, Jesus was fully human and fully alive, God died and conquered death – I’m not sure how you could hold these in your heart and mind without a deep comfort with things that can’t be understood. It doesn’t mean we stop exploring them, rather we talk and talk about them, all the while knowing that we’ll never have it all figured out.
This Gaudete Sunday, let me add something to the mystery: there is a light in darkness, and there is reason for joy. That’s why the pink weekends are stuck in the middle of penitential seasons anyway: to give us a break.
I know that few of us are ready for a break yet. We feel like our penitential season is just beginning. But the Church in her wisdom calls us to rejoice yearly regardless, no matter where we may be in our emotional lives. What we are supposed to be joyful about may still be a mystery, one which for now I am will add to the pile of other mysteries I carry around with me.
If all goes as planned, I will be posting reflections on the O Antiphons daily for the next week. I hope you’ll join me in praying our way through Advent using some of the Church’s oldest prayers.