On the Ash
Wednesday Shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland
Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
I have a sermon for you on today’s
Gospel, but decided I would be remiss if I said nothing about the terrible
shooting on Ash Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in
Parkland. So we will save the Gospel sermon for next year.
I grew up in the 1950s, when there
were no school shootings. There was occasional violence, but mostly it was
a case of someone taking something he wanted from someone else by force—it
was evil, but somewhat rational—not like killing unknown people at random,
for no personal gain. Nothing like this had happened in America until the
shooting of 47 people from that Texas tower in 1966.
We did some target shooting, we ate
what we hunted, we learned great respect for firearms, using them only with
proper precautions and supervision, and we had no games that counted up
How can such things happen in
America? Are there no procedures? No safeguards? There are, but the
deterioration of our culture has made them very ineffective, and even
Laws making “gun free zones” make
them shooting galleries with defenseless law-abiding targets for the
law-breaking shooter. He is virtually assured that there will be no danger
of returned fire. The lone sheriff’s deputy assigned to protect a campus
the size of a college appears to have been off duty that day.
Anyone disputing the fact that it “takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad
guy with a gun” should be required to explain why the SWAT team arrived far
more heavily armed and armored than even the average cop on the beat.
The school officials had determined
that the former student was violent and expelled him. If they told someone
in authority, it triggered no effective safeguards. Sheriff’s deputies
visited the shooter’s home 39 times in the last seven years, but they
triggered no effective safeguards.
Last September someone with the
shooter’s name posted to You-tube that "I'm going to be a professional
school shooter." The video’s owner contacted the FBI and provided a
screen-shot of the post to an agent during an interview the following day,
September 25th—that was the last he heard from the Bureau until after the
shooting took place.
Classmates, relatives, and neighbors have described Cruz as a
troubled "loner" who often talked about guns and flaunted his
obsession with weapons on his social media accounts. And Jim Gard, a
math teacher at the school, told the Miami Herald that the teen had
previously been identified as a potential threat to other students.
Again, this information did not
trigger any effective safeguards.
Of course we should not be in too
much of a hurry to put people under psychiatric surveillance, for that can
begin with mere rumor and innuendo, and there has been a great misuse of
psychiatry by despotic regimes.
Law abiding Americans have every right to be free from intrusive questions
from the government—“the Bibles, guns, gold, and grub in my home are my business
There is very little in the media
about the medications the shooter might have been taking. This despite the
fact that “problem” students are frequently given psychotropic meds.
Some of these are known to have “side effects” like suicide or homicide. A
number of mass shootings are connected to such medications.
We are too quick to prescribe pills for disruptive behavior.
Modern society has become quite
polarized. A few decades back, the Left demanded “academic freedom” and the
“right” to popularize counter-cultural ideas. Today it demands that
contradictory ideas be suppressed—often by violent means. And the ideas
that are violently suppressed are those we would consider “traditional
So what is the difference between
1958 and 2018?
People went to church or synagogue
regularly—even those of denominations that had no Sunday or Saturday
obligation—and their worship was reverent. In the Catholic Church, all of
the measurable statistics—baptisms, marriages, religious vocations, schools
and church buildings—were steadily rising. Religious education was
meaningful—not just pictures of rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns.
In public school we always said a
table grace before meals. My fourth or fifth grade reader was filled with
Bible stories. Often there would be a “show and tell” associated with the
major religious holidays—Christians learned about Chanukah and Passover;
Jews learned about Christmas and Easter—but no one was forced to take part
in another’s religious practice. When we had a student assembly, it always
contained a brief Bible reading. It was legal to pray in school and to have
the Ten Commandments in a court room! Americans had freedom of religion—but
no one in their wildest imagination would have considered secular
humanism—let alone Satan worship—as a religion. Nor could they imagine
that the Little Sisters of the Poor would be required to pay for abortions!
Public immorality would ruin
anyone’s career (except the movie stars). People didn’t curse or fornicate
in public (for the most part, not even in the movies). If it was on radio,
television or produced by Disney, it was almost certainly moral (and
relatively peaceful). Most families had two parents—the government was only
beginning to favor fatherless families, and using welfare to gain political
power. Mom and Dad taught young people to respect parents, teachers,
clergymen, and adults in general. And Mom and Dad taught us to be gentle
with other kids and with our animals.
Human life was protected by American
law—abortion and euthanasia were universally illegal, and even contraception
and divorce in some states. By the way, all of these laws were passed long
before Catholics exercised any sort of political power. “Life” was the
first and foremost of our “unalienable rights” as Americans.
What I am suggesting is that we
must go back—as a people, a Church, and a culture—to what
we were in the 1950s and before. That is the only effective safeguard to
random shootings in public places.
We must start with ourselves or none
of this will be possible. If we expect others to keep the Commandments and
to exercise peaceful mutual respect, we must do so ourselves.
But is also imperative that we not
allow liberal politicians, clergy, and media outlets to carry on the
destruction of our nation, Church, and culture:
Politicians must be made completely
aware that evil laws will not obeyed, nor tolerated, nor supported with tax
revenues. Nor can those who make such laws expect our votes. They must be
assured that we will not tolerate their efforts to undermine our Faith.
Likewise the clergy who positively
violate the Commandments, counsel the faithful to do the same, and otherwise
refuse to teach the Faith. If Modernist “discernment” allows me to violate
the first and sixth Commandments, why would I keep the other eight? False
clergy and religious must be assured that we will not tolerate their efforts
to undermine our nation. “No doctrine, no dollars.” “No morals, no money.”
In recent days, much has been said
about the “fake news” churned up by the media (often in support of liberal
ideas). Radio, TV, newspapers, and cinema must all be brought to understand
that betrayal of our culture will drive them to oblivion. We will not spend
money on them, and will freely exercise the channel selector and the off
The events of Ash Wednesday have put
“the ball back in our court.” We must not allow liberal politicians,
clergy, and media outlets to carry on the destruction of our nation, Church,
And let us offer our prayers during
this Mass for those who were injured and who died; for their families and
friends who had their lives tragically disrupted; and for our nation’s
ability to fight its own decomposition. And may God have mercy on the soul
of Nikolas Cruz.