Newtown, Connecticut School Tragedy
Questions of Faith



 

 

Across the world, people are asking, "Why God, did You allow the massacre of 27 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School?  20 little innocent children slaughtered.  Why?  Here are two letters received concerning this atrocity along with answers for you: 

Father:

Every funeral I have attended, the priest says "GOD has asked for your loved one to come home to Him".  In other words He (God) decides when your time is up. So today 12-14-12, in Newtown, Connecticut, 20 children under age 10 were senselessly killed by a deranged 20 year old at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Now are you telling me GOD wanted all of them to die today?  I truly have questioned my faith as a Catholic for quite sometime now, and as I am a father, this tragedy has me sick to my stomach believing the priests all my life of 44 years now, that GOD chooses your destiny.  My faith is gone, leaning more towards the Alien intervention than a god. 44 years of senseless prayers & beliefs just make me sick.  All my life long beliefs were smashed today.  So did GOD want all these kids killed today?  Or were the words from every priest at every funeral I have been to a big fat lie? -  Please try to help me comprehend this... Tony

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Tony:

On December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, a young man named Adam Lanza entered a school and killed 20 children and 6 adults as well as his mother and later himself. Twenty-seven souls were thrust into the presence of God by Adam Lanza's act. Such a tragedy is too great to bear for the people of Newtown, and an unspeakable fear of any loving parent for their children. Trying to understand and get human control over this situation is proving to be difficult for anyone. You have stated that you have heard priests and preachers say at funerals that "God has asked for your loved one to come home to Him." This platitude is simplistic but it does hold truth. I am not saying that God "wanted all these kids killed today" as you say. On the contrary, God had nothing to do with the killing. The murder of these beautiful people happened at the hand of one man, Adam Lanza, by his free will and his decision made in the darkness of his mind.  But the scripture states that even though God wasn't responsible for the killing of these people in Newtown, He was there to take them all "home to him." When I saw the events unfold on the television news reports, my mind immediately went to the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, Verses 1 through 6, which Jesus states:

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, have faith also in Me.  In my Father's house, there are many dwelling places.  If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be.  Where I am going you know the way."

Thomas said to Him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?"Jesus said to him, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

Notice what John is saying. John does not say that God wants or wills the death of anyone. The Apostle John knew what the Book of Wisdom, Chapter 1, Verse 13 and 14, said:
 

"Because God did not make death nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living.  For He fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome."

On the contrary, John is saying that at the moment of death, God is right there to take that person home to heaven.  As Jesus said, "I will come back again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be."  Why?  Because "God did not make death.  "God did not have anything to do with the killing of these innocent souls.  But He did, as you stated, "asked for your loved one to come home to Him" as John quotes Jesus to say.  Death came not from God, Who didn't make it. Death came through sin and man's willing it, as Saint Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 15, Verse 21:

"For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being.  For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life."

The death of these people in Newtown came through a human being and Jesus was right there taking them each home to Him as He promised, to a mansion (dwelling place) built just for them. But as the Book of Wisdom stated, God "does not rejoice in the destruction of the living." He too felt and experienced each bullet and each emotional crying pain of those who lost their loved ones.  So, why didn't God intervene and stop this shooter?  Here is the biggest mystery that is difficult to accept and understand.  God has given us all free will, and therefore the ability to make my own destiny and to influence (and even destroy) the destiny of others by what I personally do.  God does not interfere in our free will because to do so would make us unable to freely love Him or freely hate Him, and also to freely love others or to freely hate others.  God so much values our free will that He will rarely, if at all, interferes in our free will decisions, even if the consequences of our actions have such a destructive impact on others to the point of changing another's destiny.  

That's the hardest part of this mystery of free will to accept. But it points to the fact that we are all responsible and will be held accountable for every action of our entire life at all times before the God who gave me free will.  The shooter, Adam Lanza, freely chose to do what he did, even though his culpability was limited by his own mental and emotional illness that isolated him from others and played tricks on his own reality.  Yet, Jesus was there, taking each innocent victim by the hand and embracing them forever in His loving arms.

So, our own impending death is dependent on many complicated factors, our free will decisions, the free will decisions of others, our own bodies, and our own environmental situations.  We will all meet death and Jesus will be there to take us home.  You could leave your faith in God behind in your confusion, anger and your judgment that God should have intervened and stopped the carnage.  And by not having any faith and instead even, as you say, believe in "alien intervention" for the reason of our existence, then life would become so burdensome and hopeless.  But I know that my God is real, and that He Himself made all life and did not make death (remember, man made death a reality by that original sin of Adam and Eve.) It is because of faith that I can make such a negative and evil event into something positive, change that will prevent such tragedies in the future.  And the people of Newtown will do the impossible through their faith in a loving God who pushes us by His love into action.  For free will human decisions can be directed to good by the actions of others.  And the more good we can accomplish to change, the more that human free will decisions and actions can be directed to the greater good.  Without faith, there is no reason to do anything but just to sit and watch the world go by.

I noticed something that touched my heart.  The first thing that the people of Newtown did was run to their local Catholic parish, Saint Rose of Lima, to find solace and strength in their faith in Jesus risen from the dead.  Even though they had doubts about a loving God like you and many others do, they did not abandon their faith.  Instead, they together embraced their common faith so that they could use their common pain to build a better world.  And that's your destiny.  Use your anger and frustration to build a world without violence and untimely death.  Use your faith to give you the emotional strength needed to overcome all obstacles.  You have no idea how much power you have in your free will.  God gave you the power to mold not only your destiny but the destiny of others.  That is the great human responsibility that we all have.  God will not stop us in making free will decisions, though obstacles could be placed to stop us, though once again through our free will power, we could overcome the obstacle placed before us.  He respects our free will no matter what.  But He will pick up the pieces when things go wrong.

And the goal of everything we do is directed to this end as stated in I Corinthians, Chapter 15, Verse 25 and 26:

 "For He must reign until He has put all his enemies under His feet."  The last enemy to be destroyed is death or He subjected everything under His feet."

Jesus is accomplishing His mission to destroy death by what we do here on earth.  So, instead of focusing on your frustration of God not intervening in stopping this tragedy, focus your energy instead on protecting your loved ones by influencing others in making decisions for life not death, for love not hate, for action not apathy, for faith not doubt.  There are no easy answers here.  But through faith, I can say to those who lost so much in Newtown, "Jesus is risen from the dead, and God has asked for your loved one to come home to Him," Alleuia!

My prayer for those in Newtown is one of great hope:

Father, Abba Father, Our hearts are broken, our emotions are raw, we cannot understand why such tragedy happened to good people who love you and have faith in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Yet, we will not be overcome by evil, we will not be conquered by pain, we will not be imprisoned by fear or victimhood.  Our faith in the risen Lord impels us to take action, to use our free will power to build a better world.  We will not be conquered by death for we have conquered death by our faith in Jesus.

Nothing can stop us.  So, Lord, WITH confidence in your healing Spirit, we go forward while grieving those we lost to such senseless violence.  We go forward because that is what those whose lives were cut short want us to do.  Father, send your Spirit of peace and healing upon all who are in indescribable spiritual and emotional pain.  Heal broken hearts and lives. And with your Spirit's inspiration, we will together ensure that no one will ever have to experience such tragedy again.  In Jesus' Name we pray.  Amen!  - The Priest Staff at CatholicView

 

CatholicView Staff:

In the light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut, there have been a lot of articles about why God would allow this to happen and why it is fundamentally important to understand God's nature and our own free will.  I understand this but my question is, we pray to God and ask for his intercession and ask for his will be done in our lives.  We are taught that if our faith were as big as a mustard seed we can move mountains and what we ask we surely happen if we believe and submit to His Will.  If so why then would God allow such tragedy in the life of one who had great Faith in His love and protection?  Many Thanks, with my prayers.  - Jen

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Dear Jen: 

It takes great faith and prayer to come to peace with something so horrific as this happening in Connecticut.  We simply do not know the answers why this monstrous tragedy occurred but as believers we know that life is not without promised eternal value.  Even this tremendous sadness and loss of innocent lives will be made right someday.  Yes it is so hard, so wrong, and so useless.

It took the cold reality of unexpected death and destruction to gain our full attention and remind us that we live in a temporary, imperfect, sinful, unstable, and frightening world.  We cry to the Lord, why do you allow such tragedies to happen?  Why?  Where were the guardians you promised to send to protect our loved ones?  Why didn't You intervene?

But think.  We know the Lord gave each of us free will.  He does not take it back even though our choices are wrong.  It is not our God Who causes horrific things to happen; it is man exercising free will in a sin filled world.  But know every time we do things arbitrary to His will, He sees it all and one day we will have to account for each and every action that went against His teaching.

The evil perpetrated by man is never the end or the final word, for the final word belongs to Almighty God, Who sees and knows all things.  When we ask, "GOD, where were You?" we must, through faith, confidently answer "He was right there, saddened by the choices of man, but one day, be sure, when He comes back in glory all things will be made right, for vengeance belongs only to our God.

Be at peace, Jen, and pray for those who are hurting because of their momentous losses. Ask the Lord to strengthen them during their suffering and sorrow.  Take heart, keep praying and continue to stay close to our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who has promised to walk with us through the trials and the miseries of this life.  One bright day, He will take us home to live forever in a perfect place where there will be no more crying, no more suffering, and no more dying.  Praise God forever! The Staff at CatholicView

 

 



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