“My heart stopped,” said a mother, when she found out there had been a shooting at her son’s school. A six-year-old student shot and wounded a teacher. A six-year-old child—how is this possible?
It breaks my heart that we have come to this point where a child would use a gun to hurt another person. It pains me deeply that any human being, no matter the age, could do this. In January, there were 39 mass shootings within the first 24 days. With all the shootings taking place, our hearts must stop and take notice of the seriousness of these tragedies occurring in our communities today.
Lent—when we recall the passion of Christ—is a time for atonement and introspection to examine ourselves and all that surrounds us. As we begin this holy season, it may be a time for our own hearts to stop for a moment to take notice of how we are living our faith, to notice the needs of the families and others in our communities—and particularly of our children.
Children are precious gifts. Let’s treat them as such. Remember, they are being formed by the examples we model for them. They are counting on us to care for them and to guide them. They need our attention.
Every day, I see mothers who leave everything behind to come to the United States in search of something better for their children. What are the things we can leave behind this Lent and in the days that follow so that we can pay more attention to our children and others in the community? How much time do we spend distracted on mobile devices? How many TikTok videos are we scrolling though that leave us empty and rob us of our time? What violence are our children exposed to everyday on television and on video games?
Ask yourself—what can I do? How is my faith present to others? Do I make time for others? Does it help bring peace and love to my family and others in my community? Does my faith bring out patience, understanding, care, and compassion? Am I a loving example that others can follow?
If our communities are going to heal, it must start with each one of us modeling for our children—and each other—the virtues of our faith.
- In the chaos of our world—particularly seen through the eyes of children and young people impacted by the world’s violence—where do you find God?
- How can you be more attentive to God’s presence in the chaos, to be present to and attend to the needs of those on the margins, and to the work of justice?
- In what ways, during this Lenten season, can you bring peace, love, patience, understanding, care, compassion, and justice to help heal the world around you?
Sr. Norma Pimentel, M.J., a sister with the Missionaries of Jesus, is the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. She oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, providing oversight of different ministries and services in the Rio Grande Valley through emergency assistance, homelessness prevention, disaster relief, clinical counseling, pregnancy care, food programs, and humanitarian relief to immigrants.