Faces of the Children

… are now being published. If you are wondering whether I will be posting them, the answer is no.


Because I just can’t stand it. That’s all. That’s why.

It is unendurable. The whole God-damned thing is unendurable.

And please don’t complain about the “profanity”. It is not profanity. It is the exactly precise, theologically correct term for this outrage. If God doesn’t damn this crime, he’s not a good God.

And he is a good God.

Eternal memory to them, Father. And your mercy to their killer, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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  • Ellen

    I saw this yesterday and burst into tears. I closed the computer and prayed.

  • I understand. It is unendurable, yet it is good to be Catholic and ask that our suffering go to the good of their souls and the comfort of their families.

  • Doug Sirman

    Saw it a couple of days ago. As much as I wanted to recognize them, (to acknowledge them?) I just couldn’t bear it.

  • Oddly, seeing the pictures wasn’t as heartbreaking for me as reading the stories about the victims. Not that the pictures weren’t tough, but I still haven’t been able to read the stories written about them.

  • It is unendurable. But, we can at least take solace in knowing that the sweet little children are now with the angels, saints, and the Holy Trinity in Heaven and they are now receiving the perpetual blessings which are diametrically opposed to the terror they suffered. I also believe that those who tried to save the children and all who were killed will also receive the Great Reward.

    I still grieve for their parents and loved ones. They are the ones who are suffering now. I pray that they can find some comfort, however little it may be.

  • John C

    Amen. And I don’t want to see any interviews with the parents of the dead children.

  • Julie

    You are right. It is unendurable. I was reading something that showed a photo of one of the children and I just zipped past it because it was too hurtful to look. And I can’t read the story today about 2 of the funerals. I just can’t. I am praying, and I am hoping the families can come to grips and be happy again one day, but if I read stories and see photos I will obsess about it. Some things are damned near too much to bear in this life.

  • Confederate Papist

    The initial headline was enough for me.

    Despicable! Media is harassing and cashing in on this…and politicising it too boot. This is off the chart for politics dammit!

  • Anna

    I’d rather know their faces than his – though I’m glad that this time the coward’s image has been less ubiquitous than usual. But I feel awful enjoying my own beautiful 6 y-o if I can’t look at those lovely faces and grieve for their families. They can’t go back to life-as-usual, so how can I? (I know that’s not realistic, but still.)

  • Stu


    When we disagree, it’s sometime to an extreme. But when we agree, like we do here, it’s a whole different magnitude of extreme.

    God is good. Even when we are not.

  • EdL

    Back in 1991 the son of singer Eric Clapton fell to his death from the 53rd floor of a New York apartment building. In his pain and grief he composed this beautiful song which might also be appropriate for this event that is so painful beyond words:

  • EdL
    • Now, that’s a song I can’t listen to. I just can’t imagine the pain.

  • One of the teachers who died was my age (27) and she hid all of her students in cabinets and closets. When the gunman came to her classroom, she told him she brought her students to another location. He shot her and left the room. All of her students survived. A true hero. May they all rest in peace in the heavenly Kingdom!

  • Peggy R

    I agree. I think it’s cruel to post their photos. I can’t imagine how any parent attended the public mourning event Sunday night. What could any governor or president say that would help? Who wants to be in public in such deep pain and mourning? Let teh families and friends comfort one another in privacy.

  • While I respect your decision, Mark, and the feelings of those who can’t look at those sweet faces, I have a tendency to look at this differently. It’s the same reason why I am still trying (haven’t succeeded yet) to view each 9/11 victim’s posted information (and photo, when the family included it).

    I do this because otherwise the tendency, for me anyway, is to lump all the deceased under the dreadful name “victims” and then go back to my ordinary life, perhaps feeling good if I remember to say a prayer or so during the course of the next week or two for these nameless victims and their unknown families. Reading the names, reading the stories, recalling what my own children were like at those young ages, saying a special prayer for the parents of the little girl whose name one of my own daughters has, and another for the parents of the little girl whose name is that of a dearly loved relative…are these merely sentimental tricks, maybe? Or am I trying in the only way I can to be present to these suffering strangers who are so far away from me?

    I can’t know their pain, and I don’t pretend I do (in fact, I pray daily, more than once, that I will die before any of my children; it can’t hurt to ask, right?). But for me, personally–and again, I totally respect those for whom this is different–I can’t even begin to try to help carry that pain in prayer and small offerings if I close my ears to what the parents and families actually want to share. I agree that nobody should be hounded by the media to share what they don’t want to. I think we should all scold those who shove microphones and cameras in the faces of the grieving. But when a father wants us to know how sweet and special his daughter was, or a mother recounts her sorrowful search for her baby who was going to get cowboy boots for Christmas, I know that they are honoring their children in the last way they have left to them–and some of us, those of us who can do so, should honor them too by listening.

    • KML

      Very well stated, Erin. I feel the same, while also respecting those who feel differently. I approached reading the obituaries with a sense of duty to the families and the children, to remember them and do what I could to participate in their grief. A small, insignificant act of solidarity.

  • Alias Clio

    I believe Erin Manning has a point, and not only because it prevents us, or some of us, from the tendency to personalize only the perpetrator, and, however unintentionally, think of the victims as an anonymous mass. The other and perhaps more important reason is that, from what I’ve observed over my middle-aged life, one of the things that most troubles parents of those who die too young is that they will, sooner or later, be forgotten by everyone except their immediate families. One of my first lessons in this: I was sent abroad to school in Switzerland as a teenager, staying at a boarding house or “pension.” The lady who ran it had lost a daughter of 24 in a bad car accident. Every new boarder who came into that house had to listen to the story of the dead girl and her accident. While I was young and ignorant enough to be puzzled by this at first – why would her mother want to discuss something so painful with strangers? – I came to see that it would be a worse pain to her if her daughter were entirely forgotten. She was, in effect, sweeping the grave clean.

    While such forgetfulness is less likely to occur after a tragedy of this magnitude, it is not impossible that some day not too long from now, the individual children will be no more than a vague memory – while the name of their killer, of course, lives on in infamy. And so I think that those who feel inclined can learn and remember the faces and stories of these children without feeling ghoulish. An act of remembrance can be a form of charity.

  • Rachel K

    Mark, I understand completely. My homepage is the Washington Post; at one point this weekend, I opened Firefox and there was a huge headline giving information about the murders that I could have gone my entire life without knowing. I’ve been avoiding stories about this as much as possible because I just can’t bear it, but there it was, right there in the headline. I cried. A lot.

    Erin Manning and Alias Clio, I admire you for being able to look at and remember the victims, but I can’t do it. God bless you for having more fortitude than me.

    • If you do not punish them by withholding your patronage, they will continue. There are lots of reasons to move on to new media from the legacy stuff. This one is as good as any.

  • paul

    This story has gone beyond just the facts and into this typical, sick American media voyeurism. I can’t look either. But in a way it’s due to perhaps a lack of faith and plain cynicism, because the more I think about this the more I fail to reconcile the fact that I too have three small children and live in a world, and country, which is so totally, manifestly, effed at all levels I wonder how myself or any parent can navigate this moral, economic and social disaster we call home.

  • InsaneSanity

    Yes, God Damn this act. I have a 8, 10 and 12 year old. This was one of those moments that I questioned God and His will and I will never understand such a senseless act of evil while here on earth. Maybe, one day I’ll understand, but for now…………a sense of abandonment. Forgive me, but that’s how I feel.

    • BK

      I know exactly how you feel. One of my children is 6, the same age as so many of the children killed. I, too, struggle to understand how a good God could let these poor children suffer in such a horrific way in the last moments of their lives, to experience such terror.

    • I realize this probably won’t help, but I think it is rather that we have abandoned God and are now beginning to reap what we have sowed. (I also have an 8 year old and a 12 year old – and a bunch of older kids)

  • tz

    Yet no one sheds tears over the current and continuous war:
    “collateral damage”. That is the euphemism. Like Albright’s “Worth it” about 1/2 million starved children in Iraq.
    Some acts of evil are senseless. Others are done with full knowledge and will. Violent video games – in this case with real bombs and real blood.
    Then there’s the continual Abortion Holocaust which turns 40 in a month.

    My only wonder is that after all the looking the other way on both the right and the left of the respective slaughter of innocents that they can still feel something when something like this happens.

    Though the massacre at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin was off the air in about a week, maybe because the president wasn’t trying to ban guns from that.