Friday morning began in the usual way, with meetings here at the office, then a quick ride over to O'Hare. I was flying to the California desert to spend the weekend with my parents and a dear friend, a retired priest from the East Coast. I play piano at this priest's Christmas party every year. For the past several years, as I sat there playing and singing, I thought to myself, "Hmm . . . my mom and dad would have a great time at this party." So I was able to arrange for them to be there this year. They flew to California from Boston on Wednesday and, as I said, I was headed out on Friday to meet them there.
As I was in the air, the enormity of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut was unfolding. Like most everyone, what occurred was simply incomprehensible. I kind of had to put my own emotions on hold for the weekend, because of the fact that it was supposed to have been a fun weekend with friends and family.
At the Christmas party, my priest friend arranged for five students from the new Jesuit High School in the desert, Xavier, to sing a few carols at the party. Their director, Stephanie, is a Notre Dame graduate and had sung with the Notre Dame Folk Choir. The final piece they sang was Rosa Mystica, by the late Rev. Chrysogonus Waddell, OCSO. A hush fell over the room of revelers as the choir sang. I was seated behind them, so I was able to look into the peoples' faces as they watched and listened. These were parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. I couldn't help but think what was going through their minds as they watched and listened to these young people, thinking about their own young ones, remembering how their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren have grown and flourished. Not being a parent myself, I will never know those kinds of feelings. Later in the weekend, at another party, I listened to my Dad try to express his own feelings about the tragedy and he simply had to stop because his emotions took over. My mom and dad had six of us and they have five grandchildren. My two nieces are about the same age as those children killed in Connecticut. This is just unimaginable sorrow and pain.
On this "New Translation Tuesday," I feel like tragedy can help put other things into perspective. I did find solace in the celebration of the Mass on Sunday. I wasn't paying too close attention to the words; just remembering the Lord's sacrificial love was what I needed.
Let's continue to pray for these families. And even in the midst of all of this . . .
. . . Gotta sing. Gotta pray.