Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Two More Mass Shootings. I know you all join with me in prayer for all the victims of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton last weekend. May the Lord grant eternal rest to those who were killed, and healing to those injured, and peace to all those effected by the attacks.
After yet another inexplicable vicious shooting, how can we not ask the question: what are the causes of this problem? Sadly, the initial reaction of many, especially leftist politicians and commentators, was not to ask that question, but to come with ready-made answers: it is the rise of “white nationalism” encouraged by President Trump. What a convenient, if wrong, answer for those folks who seem to have a completely knee-jerk hatred for the President.
So let’s begin with the question first: what is at the root of this problem? An excellent article by Valerie Richardson in the Washington Times last Monday, August 5, 2019, addressed this issue.
Is the cause of all these shootings white racism/nationalism? Richardson writes: “A May 2018 policy brief by the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York…found that the perception that whites are responsible for nearly all mass shootings is a myth.…[T]he findings indicate that while a majority are [white], this proportion is just over half of the perpetrators (53.9 percent)…More than one in four shooters is black and nearly one in ten is of Hispanic descent…. The FBI has reported 850 domestic terrorism investigations, 40% of which involve racially motivated violent extremism, and most of those involve white supremacists….”
Is the mental illness the cause? “Amy Swearer, senior legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, said about two-thirds of shooters are found to have serious mental problems but that the media coverage has focused on those with an ideological bent such as racism or nativism.”
What else is to blame? “…the uproar over white nationalism has shifted the focus from what some researchers describe as the biggest drivers of mass shootings, including family breakdown, childhood trauma, mental illness, workplace crises, access to weapons and a fascination with previous shooters glorified in the media.”
What do almost all these acts have in common? “The Rockefeller study found that 96% of shooters were male, which is in keeping with other research.”
Does this mean there’s something wrong with being a male? No. It means there’s something wrong with the way we’re raising young males. “Warren Farrell, author of “The Boy Crisis,” said boys with minimal or no father involvement, or with “really messed-up families,” represent the vast majority of mass shooters, Islamic State recruits and the male prison population. ‘Boys without a sense of purpose start searching for other senses of purpose, and that may be in the form of God, and then it’s constructive usually, or that may be in the form of, ‘I want Americans to be America and I don’t want any immigrants to come into the country,’…’”
The fundamental problem, in my opinion, is not the president, or racism or even guns. The problem is our culture, and the loss of the sense of purpose, and order, and of God. A problem aggravated in young males by the constant barrage of sexual/gender confusion thrown at them by the left, including treating masculinity almost as a disease (e.g., “toxic masculinity”).
Historically, young men and boys were taught by fathers and other male role models to focus their masculine energy on socially and morally productive ends: working hard to provide for a family, defending the nation, serving God in religion, etc. But now the number of boys raised in fatherless homes has soared, and masculinity is under assault from every angle.
What is the solution? Stronger families headed by a father and mother. Rebuilding the culture to respect the natural family structure, and a just authority and order, as well as the recognition of the real difference between males and females. Respect for free speech, and respectful free speech, so that we can vent our grievances calmly without feeling we have to resort to violence in speech or action. And above all, and undergirding all this, a return to recognition that God has created and ordered things a particular way, and we should reverently follow His direction.
Fr. Peter Odhiambo Okola, AJ. Many of you will fondly remember Fr. Peter Okola, a priest from Kenya who was in residence here for several years (2009-2011) and is now vicar at Holy Spirit in Annandale. I’m sad to report Fr. Peter has been diagnosed and is being treated for cancer. With faith in Jesus, I am hopeful of his full recovery, but I ask you to please keep him in your prayers.
Welcome to New Parishioners. Summer is always a time we lose and gain parishioners, especially those in the military. So I’d like to welcome all who have joined us in the last few months. I hope you find St. Raymond’s’ to be a welcoming parish, and encourage you to get involved in our many liturgies, committees, and activities.
One thing to know about our parish is that we place great importance on the Grace and Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Flowing from this you will find a pronounced emphasis on reverence, especially during Holy Mass, what I call “emphatic reverence.” Nowadays reverence is a lost virtue. The word “reverence” comes from the Latin for “fear,” “revere,” and scripture tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” But this kind of fear is not like being in terror or afraid, but rather of being in “awe”: recognizing that God is the all-powerful Creator and sustainer of the whole world, and I am just a little tiny speck in comparison—and yet, He loves me. So Christian reverence is fundamentally rooted in love.
So we go out of our way here in our liturgies to be reverent, to remind ourselves we are in presence of God, the God who loved us so much He became one of us and died for our sins on the Cross, and gave us the Eucharist to be with us always, even to enter into us, especially in the mystery of His Sacrifice.
To encourage this reverence we follow some ancient customs of the Church that set the liturgy apart as radically different from the mundane world we live in. For example, we sing traditional Catholic hymns, which are different than most contemporary liturgical music that incorporates so many aspects of modern secular music. And we use the ancient language of the Church, Latin, to remind us we’re doing something very different, in union with the Church all the way back to time of Jesus. And we incorporate beautiful vestments and vessels to remind us that Mass is a participation in the heavenly banquet come down to earth. And at many Masses the priest turns with the people, so that facing in the same way as them he leads them in prayer before the Most High God.
It’s a little different. But then again, so is God. Welcome to St. Raymond’s.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles