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Why Fear is Not the Answer

I wasn’t going to write about Friday’s sad events, instead simply choosing to pray. My heart has been heavy, and I knew others would write about it with more eloquence. My words and thoughts weren’t necessarily needed. But then, I was drawn into the conversation and realized that there was indeed something I needed to say.

One of my volunteer positions at my parish is to process CORI (criminal background check) paperwork for anyone who volunteers with children. I also have to provide them with “Safe Environment” training – basically, recognizing the signs of child abuse and how to report such abuse. I had one of these meetings scheduled for Saturday morning.

As we were wrapping up, the older woman I was meeting with, who I have known as an acquaintance for many years, asked me, “You homeschool your children, right?” I affirmed that I did. She then said that her daughter was so upset about the school shooting that she was considering homeschooling her children, who are not yet school aged. I simply nodded politely and said that it wasn’t for everyone, but homeschooling had worked out well for us.

On a related note, later that day as I scanned Facebook, I saw several parents post how scared they were to bring their children to school on Monday.

I do understand this fear and I am happy to support anyone who is considering homeschooling, but the more I thought about it over the course of the weekend, the more I realized that a gut reaction to fear and withdraw from the world is not the answer. And, while those unfamiliar with us might think otherwise, homeschoolers are just as much a part of the world as everyone else. We don’t live an isolated existence.  Nor would we want to.

Yes, there is violence in the world. No matter how we might try, we cannot protect ourselves or our children from every evil that is out there.  We can take reasonable precautions (for example, I’m not inclined to go walking alone in my city neighborhood at night, nor would I allow my children to do so), but to live in fear means that the violence has won.

Our priest addressed the topic at the Children’s Mass this morning, asking the children what lessons they should learn from these tragic events. Sadly, some of the answers were “to trust no one.” Is that really the message we want our children to take away from this? Father corrected them, and said that, “No, that the lesson was that we needed to bring good into the world.” He went on to say that there were far more good people in the world than evil people and we couldn’t let evil win.

This is so true. The devil won a battle on Friday, but he did not, and will not, win the war. God is in charge. Good will prevail. We need to be on that side. If we give into fear and live our lives in isolation in order to avoid any possible instance of violence, then we have surrendered our trust in God and allowed evil to win.

Christmas is about the birth of Christ, the light of the world coming into the darkness. As Christians we are called to radiate that light as much as possible. Right now, the world seems very dark. It needs that light more than ever. Let us be that light.


Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur has a Master of Arts degree in Applied Theology from Elms College. A former Senior Editor at Catholic Lane, she is now the editor of Today's Catholic Homeschooling. She is also the author of The Catholic Baby Name Book and Letters to Mary from a Young Mother. She has two biological sons and one adopted daughter. Visit her blog at http://spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com.


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  • Bob Struble

    Well said, Patrice. By way of balance I wouldn’t rule out the concept of strategic retreat. Some times it’s best that we try to survive, i.e. take precautions (sometimes pulling back is indicated) so we can live to fight again another day.

  • Dan

    I couldn’t agree more. The light must outshine the darkness, not be snuffed out by it (for indeed, the Light has already triumphed). At times like this, more than ever, our light must so shine before men as our Savior said. God bless.

  • Jan. 7th, well said Patrice. Fear paralyzes, even though we are all afraid once in a while. I remember after 9/11 I was afraid to drive over bridges for some reason. But you are right when you say that we need to bring more light and more goodness into the darkness of our world – Christ’s light will overcome the darkness and trust in Him will help us to overcome fear. I live near Newtown, have friends there, and it has been a shattering experience. But even now, good is emerging from the horror as families grow closer together, teenagers take their younger siblings under their wing instead of telling them to ‘get lost’, people are looking out for each other, showing love and support through prayer and tangible gifts of food and flowers and toys for the children. God does bring good out of evil and we can too…if we can get past the fear. Beautiful article. Thanks.