i realize i am a bit late with this and debated on whether or not to post about it or not, but i know most of us will be packing our children up in a week or so to go back to school and will be praying extra hard as we send them off…the memory of the horrific incident at sandy hook elementary school feeling like a fresh wound. and with today being the feastday of the holy innocents, those precious 14,000 children martyred for Christ, it seemed right to bring it up today.
some things in life transcend time and place. the pain a mother feels for a child violently taken, is one of those things. the cries that went out in bethlehem over 2,000 years ago were exactly like those in connecticut on december 14.
sometimes we need a bit of a reality check to help remind us of what truly matters in life. unfortunately, those reality checks usually come in the form of tragedy.
parents around the world hugged their children a little tighter that day. tears gushed forth for people we may not have known but loved nonetheless. and for their parents, who are enduring every parent’s worst nightmare. it’s impossible to find words of consolation for those families. what can you say, really? no words, no matter how true or comforting will ease the pain of a house filled with gifts under a tree that will never be opened. christmas will never be the same for those families. i can only hope that they embrace the promises of the Lord and find comfort in Him, the holy king, comforter, spirit of truth…
all of those precious children and the brave souls that gave their lives to protect the others celebrated their first christmas at the doors of paradise, i have no doubt. i will continue to pray for all those left behind in the shadowy aftermath.
people can debate the real cause behind what happened until the cows come home, but truth be told, there is only one thing responsible for monstrous acts like that. that poor boy allowed the evil one to come in and pollute his thoughts, his dreams, his hopes. thus causing him to steal away his life and the innocent lives of so many countless others. lord have mercy on his soul, too. guns are not to blame; they don’t shoot themselves. school security is not to blame; if someone wants to get in, they will. evil is to blame. but it will never receive the blame. instead our children’s schools will become more like prisons and our right to bear arms will eventually be taken away. and evil will always thrive. guns will always exist; evil will always exist. just like you cannot stop people from doing drugs simply because they are illegal, people who allow evil in their hearts and have planted the seed of destruction within them will always find a way to hurt others. and that is the whole reason why we have the right to bear arms, the right to protect our family from those who seek to destroy them. robbing citizens of their rights will not make the world a better place, it will only make the playground larger for those who refuse to abide by the laws; both man’s and God’s.
the only solution is to put God back where He belongs. in schools, in office buildings, in every place of HIS dominion. but i’m afraid the world is far too politically correct for that now.
human beings are created in three parts; mind, body and spirit. people today choose to ignore the third and most vital component of our very beings and therefore they fill the void created by the absence of God with anything and everything else. their souls beg for Him, but they continue to choose to ignore it’s pleading.
when we ask God to leave a place, how can we blame Him for the evil done there? it’s such a sad thing, i can only imagine how He as our Father and Creator feels during these times. these things are very real to Him, too, you know.
i will say that i think the movies and video games and other forms of electronic “entertainment” are partially responsible. it’s so black and white but people will continue shifting the blame on other things to suit them and their wants. i mean, it’s all about our wants, isn’t it? when athletes want to get pumped up for a big game they listen to music that puts them in the mood to play. when couples want to snuggle close they watch romantic movies or listen to romantic music. when people are angry, they listen to music that helps them release that anger. this is no different. the boy who did the shooting in the theater during the batman movie was obsessed with the joker. he planned and waited for his moment. no one blamed the movie or the darkness inside of it. people will defend the movie (and so many like it) and that is to be expected. kids sit in front of the tv and video game systems “killing” people (or watching them be killed) all day long, can one really be surprised when they are desensitized? when they lose their compassion for others and respect for life?
“and what communion has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14
we can all probably agree that if this boy had the light of Christ within him, if he allowed himself to feel His love, that this never would have happened…all the more reason to hold our children tight and remind them of how much they are loved by Him.
however, i am as guilty as the next person for allowing things that have “no communion” with God into our home. i all too often “ride the line” when it comes to matters of my faith. like it or not i am far too often lukewarm. when i remind myself of the scriptures that say,
15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[a] I will vomit you out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16
a sobering wave of realization rushes over me, reminding of my complete and total unworthiness. my works are neither cold nor hot. they are just plain, stale, and lukewarm. even when i am doing something good, it is usually to feed my own desires or ego. lord have mercy on me. help me to become hot with Your love.
If you haven’t talked to your children about what happened before they go back to school, here are some links that I thought might be helpful.
sometimes saying nothing is best. i kept going back and forth with it myself. i wanted to tell my boys how to be safe in situations like these, but each situation is so different that i wondered if what i told them would help or hurt them if actually faced with something like this. they knew what happened, we talked about how terrible it was and how everyone killed that day went to heaven. we prayed for all the victims, including the shooter. and in the end the only thing that comforted all of us was knowing that everything God allowed, no matter how scary or unexplainable, was somehow for the better of our salvation. we talked about the gift of free will given to mankind and how God is saddest of all on these days, seeing His creation destroyed and we cannot blame Him for the evil in the hearts of men; this is not how we were created to be. i reminded them that Christ and Panagia, their patron saints and guardian angels are there with them every single day. though they might be away from me and dh, they were never alone. i want them to know how very much they are loved by us and God. in the end, that’s all that really matters.
the photo below is from a recent edition of The Orthodox Observer. the text was taken from an article i wrote for them awhile back. be sure to arm your precious children every single day. and then trust in the Lord and the Theotokos to keep them safe.
when we invoke the name of God and ask for the intercessions His saints, they surround us with their love and protection. i want my children to understand that it is not me who protects them, even though i would die trying. God sends His protection down to us through whoever He deems worthy, whether they be in the form of saints or elementary school teachers…
below is a prayer from the Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children. i’ve posted about this service many times on this blog and have posted this exact prayer before but wanted to share it again for those of you who may not be familiar with it. if you don’t have this book, you should absolutely order it. it’s only $6 and i guarantee you will use it over and over again. if you don’t want to order a copy, at least check it out online here.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, through of the prayers of Thy Most Pure Mother, hearken unto me, Thine unworthy servant (name). O Lord, govern in mercy my children, Thy servants (names). Have mercy on them and save them, for Thy name’s sake. O Lord, forgive them all their transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, that they may be perfected before Thee. O Lord, set them on the true path of Thy commandments and enlighten their minds with the light of Christ unto the salvation of their souls and the healing of their bodies.
Bless them, O Lord, at home, at school, in their journeys and in every place of Thy dominion. Preserve and shelter them, O Lord, from flying bullets, arrows, the sword, poison and fire, from mortal wounds and sudden death.
Guard them, O Lord, from all visible and invisible enemies, and from all danger, evil and misfortune. Heal them, O Lord, from all sickness, deliver them from every impurity, and lighten their spiritual sufferings. Grant them, O Lord, the grace of Thy Holy Spirit and a long life; grant them health and chastity in all piety and love, and to live in accord with all their neighbors, near and far. Multiply and strengthen them, O Lord, in mental ability and bodily strength, given to them by Thee.
Bless them to lead a pious life and, if it is pleasing to Thee, grant them married life and honorable childbearing. For Thy name’s sake, O Lord, give me, Thy sinful and unworthy servant, a parental blessing for my children and Thy servants, both in this present time, morning, noon and night, and also in Thine eternal, almighty and all-powerful Kingdom.