In the last week or so, I’ve seen tragedy up close and at a distance. The latter was the dreadful killings in Aurora, Colorado. The former was a memorial service for a 22-year-old who had committed suicide a week before graduation from college and with no prior indication of distress or depression.
What do we have to say in the face of the tragic and inexplicable? These are moments for deep truth and deep ritual, not platitudes and syrupy hymns. What did I hear at Sunday’s Mass about my fears and worries, about personal tragdy and cultural disintegration? A homily where God was described as “a little night light to keep us from being frightened.”
Let’s take a hard look at the way we act in these moments and what we offer to the dead and the grieving.
What do our rituals say about what we profess to believe? Are we more than puppies that fall asleep? Do we live on somewhere other than in the memory of those who love us? And what about those whom no one loved? Is there a judgment or do we all head for our own personal versions of Valhalla? We have over 2,000 years of Scripture, Church teachings, and music. Trite phrases and a four-hymn sandwich are thin gruel inded.