When my Uncle Jim was murdered, I wondered if this is what it would take for every American to care about gun violence: to lose someone they loved.
Now that another classroom of innocent children has been gunned down in the latest school shooting, I ask the same questions. How long, O Lord? Until every last one of us is grieving?
It’s easy to write about faith and family if you stay safe at home. Liturgical living, praying together, talking to kids about God — all of this is not without challenges, but it brings deep joy.
Yet what good is our faith at home if we do not live it out in the world? How can we keep going as parents and grandparents, sending our children out into a violent and unsafe society? What good is our pro-life stance if it does not cover all of life?
After comforting families in Uvalde, Texas, San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller urged all Catholics to act: “The Catholic Church consistently calls for the protection of all life; and these mass shootings are a most pressing life issue on which all in society must act — elected leaders and citizens alike.”
We know there are no easy answers to this horrific evil. But this does not mean there are no answers. It means the work to change our society will be long, and hard, and will demand something from each of us.
Exactly what we would say about abortion.
The point is not to care less about any issue related to the sanctity of life. The point is to care about more, and to keep caring about more. More of the world, more of God’s beloved children, more of the evil and injustice that keep humans from full flourishing.
Compassion was made to grow, not shrink.
When we narrow the scope of what we care about or act about or vote about or speak about, we close ourselves off to more of the world that God is calling us to change.
I first sent a child to school in 2012, the same year as the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Suddenly school no longer seemed safe, the sanctuary I thought it could be as a new parent, as a student who always loved school. I hugged my son tighter each morning and felt my stomach twist every time I watched him enter the school door.
Now I watch four of my children head off to school each morning — schools with caring teachers, strong communities and practiced safety plans. But like every parent I know, this week has been agonizing, rife with anguish and anxiety.
How long, O Lord? I want to keep praying. I fear the answer might be: as long as we keep doing what we’re doing, unwilling to change the status quo.
But the past month has also taught me that what seems immovable can be moved.
The recent Supreme Court draft leak indicates that seismic change is on the horizon for abortion in this country. We can change what once looked impossible to change.
This week I had hard conversations with my kids about the news. I prayed for the victims and sent money to their families. I called my representatives to ask how we can work for change from a public policy standpoint.
None of us can do everything. But all of us can do something.
This is what I teach my kids about how we must act in the world, as Catholics who believe that our God of justice calls us to act for justice.
May we do whatever we can before each of us knows this grief firsthand.
Fanucci is a writer, speaker, and author of several books including “Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting.” Her work can be found at laurakellyfanucci.com.
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