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I just finished evening prayers with my three children. We prayed together in Lucas and Nora’s room, because they had been up late, me reading “The Hobbit” to them, and they were too sleepy and cranky to stand in the den in front of the icons, as we usually do. So prayer-time tonight was also tucking-in, kiss-me-goodnight-Daddy time.

It occurred to me as we stood there in the dim glow of the bedroom, the two little ones snug in their beds, that mothers and fathers in Newtown had tucked their little ones in last night, and had never imagined what the next day would bring.

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13 Comments To "Tenebrae"

#1 Comment By Uncle Vanya On December 15, 2012 @ 12:51 am

Tenebrae, such a good Latin word.

Those four years of “hic, haec, hoc, huius, huius, huius” paid off big time when I took French and Spanish. No need to wonder what “ténèbres” and “tinieblas” meant.

No one ever knows what the next day will bring, let alone the next minute.

In an age when so much is expected to be utilitarian or feels the need to pretend to be so, I remember what my mother had always told me about my grandfather: Learning was important to him, and he treasured it because it was something no one could ever take away from him. I never met him, but knowing the passion and reverence for knowledge and learning my parents instilled in all of us, I feel as if I could have known him for 100 years.

Man proposes and God disposes, and as in Plato’s cave and with Paul the apostle, we are seeing “through a glass darkly,” but, nevertheless, try and figure it all out we must.

Peace be to the parents of Newton and may God comfort them in their sorrow. May their sorrow (and ours) pass quickly, and may we some day know what it was all about, and barring our ability to do that, may we all find the courage to go on and say, “Yes, Lord, thy will be done.”

God bless,

Uncle Vanya

#2 Comment By shelley On December 15, 2012 @ 4:30 am

It’s a little after midnight here. My husband is a school principal and this event has shaken the school culture to the core and in particular my husband. He, like Dawn Hochsburg, is 47, passionately committed to his students and school. There is absolutely no way to prevent something like this from occurring again…and again….and again. We are so so sad for the families and community of Newtown and like you, as I tucked my little boy and girl in bed tonight I felt such sorrow for those mothers and father who will never be able to do this simple ordinary thing again with their child.

Guns are not the problem. Wasilla is a rural, gun rich environment and stuff like this hasn’t happened there. But what Newtown shows me is that it could happen here. Evil can strike anywhere, anytime.

It is against federal law to bring a gun onto public school property. No teacher, staff, principal or child may have a gun on school property ever, under any circumstances. I wonder how many school shootings there would be if this policy was changed? What if teachers and staff, some of them, were well-trained and armed, like a concealed weapons permit and lock down policy procedure training? I wonder if a person contemplating a massacre at a school would think twice if he knew that there was a possibility that he would get shot before he could accomplish his objective of blowing away innocent children?

The only other viable option is to build schools to look like and function like prisons….high wire fences with barbed wire tops, no windows, no doors except the front door, intense security in and out. I don’t think any of us want our children in such an environment.

Lord have mercy on these families and these little ones: may their memory be eternal.

#3 Comment By Patrick in Michigan On December 15, 2012 @ 4:40 am


That’s tough to read, even for this eternally single tough old bird.


#4 Comment By T.S.Gay On December 15, 2012 @ 6:59 am

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that those extinguished candles are with the hidden candle.
I would like my grandchildren to have the evidence of grace and creativity to share that light with those on the journey with whom they come into contact. Truth is they need time to cultivate the habits. Be the attitudes over and over until they are instinctive. It’s still dark here, despite what we’ve called enlightenment. Cutting off the light at its source, at its beginning as it were, has to be close to the unpardonable.

#5 Comment By Isaac Hess On December 15, 2012 @ 8:00 am

My wife and I are about to have our first child. Our baby daughter is due one week from today, so she could come at any time.

I was very busy yesterday at work, and so didn’t have time to truly process yesterday’s events until I woke up this morning, and now I’m aching for the victims, their family, and the entire community. One of my first thoughts, this morning, was a selfish one: I wished such a tragedy hadn’t happened so near the time of my own daughter’s birth.

My thoughts are changing, though. I want to be careful here, because I do not mean to be insensitive in any way, but I think that — even in the midst of this greatest tragedy — the continued occurrence of beautiful and happy events is a sign that we live not just in a “wicked world,” as you put it, but a beautiful world, a world already overcome, where tragedy and opportunity, death and birth, do and will continue side-by-side.

Nothing can replace these lost children, and yet beautiful children will continue to be born into this world. Nothing can take away the scar of such a wicked act, but also nothing can stop the outreach of love, support, and comfort offered to those suffering.

It is a wicked world. But my first child’s upcoming birth seems a herald (at least for me) to remind me that wickedness cannot completely overcome goodness. I ache for the victims’ families, and I pray that — after the period of grief (if such a thing ever passes) — something may happen in their lives to also remind them of this.

May God bless and comfort them all.

#6 Comment By Nickp On December 15, 2012 @ 8:15 am

I can’t get out of my head the vision of Christmas trees and presents, chosen with loving care, that will never be opened.

#7 Comment By Heather On December 15, 2012 @ 9:17 am

“that mothers and fathers in Newtown had tucked their little ones in last night, and had never imagined what the next day would bring.”

The parents of the kids, perhaps. But what do we really know about any of the people in that community or related to the shooter? Almost nothing. What did anyone know or cared to know about him? Did he have a relationship with anyone in that school?

The first question that popped into my mind was if the killer had a history of being abused or bullied, like the Columbine young man. And what went on within his family as he grew up? If he had serious mental problems, when did they become serious? When he was still in school? And nobody noticed or did anything about it?

Was he just another kid with serious problems that was abandoned by society?

Reports in the media say that he already displayed social problems while in school.

Why would he target a school with children and not, say, a mall or movie theater full of adults? Does it reflect anything he might have experienced as a child himself in a school setting?

Is this just another case where they were plenty of warning signs that much could have been amiss with this young man for a long time, but no one cared?

#8 Comment By Leapold On December 15, 2012 @ 10:45 am

But perhaps those parents had imagined, not that it would happen tomorrow, but that it could happen someday. These events happen often enough that I think we parents have all been down that imaginary road, again and again.

The question is how do we cope in spite of the knowledge of such evil. Why, you love twice as hard, you increase your output of patience and gentleness with your children. And from a child’s point of view, you best show love by enjoying them, paying attention, showering them with laughter and applying sensible discipline when needed.

You love all you can because you don’t want the tragedy to be doubled if something bad happens, i.e. you don’t want to have been stingy with your love because you were afraid of hurting too much.

#9 Comment By kb On December 15, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

We are so blessed to take these reminders to be present and care even more deeply for our families, but even more blessed I think when we take them as reminders that all of this is passing away, we are not promised even one more moment beyond this one, and understand for what ends truly we are living.

#10 Comment By kb On December 15, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

I knew once a young man with antisocial personality disorder (who is today productive and law abiding, simply absent of normal emotions and conscience) who planned to attack a school bus and kill all the children on it, specifically because that would be received most painfully and with most grief by the public, to his amusement, much more than if he targeted random adults.

#11 Comment By pacopond On December 15, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

I would like, first, to express my gratitude for the decency and thoughtfulness of many commenters here, and to Rod for, most likely, screening out the trolls.

I had made the plans several days ago, but happened that, a day after the massacre of the innocents in Connecticut, I was blessed to be able to give my daughter’s old rocking horse to a wonderful young couple and their two happy, healthy, bright, and very-much-loved children.

The house was cluttered with toys and books, and Christmas cards were hung on the wall. Holding a year-old boy, and helping a three-year-old girl name her new pony, I experienced something that my secular heart can only call grace.

May we find our way through darkness illuminated by that grace.

#12 Comment By Charles Curtis On December 15, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

God bless you and your family, Rod.

On a happy note, I saw the Hobbit last night, Rod. That reviewer you linked to earlier couldn’t be more benighted in my opinion. The movie is a masterpiece, and if you could handle Jackson’s liberties and mild distortions in LOTR, there is nothing in this new film that will offend. The purists will grumble, the haters will gnatter. This film isn’t for them. If you like Tolkien, and like Jackson, the film is gold. Whatever you think of Radagast and his rabbit sleigh, he is no Jar Jar Binks. He’s Radagast the Brown, mentioned by Beorn and Ganadalf in the text of the Hobbit, and in the appendixes of LOTR. He’s canonical, and while his depiction in the film will annoy some, I thought it was great. I saw it at 24 frames, and I think it looked awesome. I’m seeing it again tonight in 3D. I could sit in the theatre for 6 hours, see all of it at once. I hope someday some theatre will do a Hobbit/LOTR marathon (extended versions all) so I can do just that. On the violence issue, if you thought LOTR kosher for your kids, there is nothing in this new film that surpasses that. Orcs get beheaded, the Great Goblin meets a gory end. Nothing we didn’t see at Helms Deep or Minas Tirith in the other films. Go see it, is what I am saying, and give us your review. I’d like to read it.

#13 Comment By Charles Curtis On December 15, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

I bought American Conservative off the newsstand at B&N last night, by the way. Good issue. I’m subscribing for your sake, Rod. Couple shekels your way for years of good links and reads. Thanks a lot, old man.

[Note from Rod: No, thank you! — RD]