If you are like me, you are still trying to make sense of the senseless slaughter of 20 innocent children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14. 

In the days after that horrific event, which also saw the death of the gunman’s mother and the gunman himself, I have been turning to news sites for the latest events in the investigation into the question of why the tragedy occurred. But in addition to expressing my feelings with family and friends, I have also found myself turning to Facebook and other social media to share in the grief that the nation is feeling for the young lives lost. People from Georgia and New York to Oregon and California and everywhere in between have posted prayers, tributes to the victims and petitions regarding the school shooting.  

But many of us feel a sense of helplessness. What can we do to help those suffering in Connecticut, especially the parents who have lost their children? 

One thing we can do is follow the call of Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who in his statement on the tragedy urged all Catholics to pray for peace and work for peace: 

“At this time, we pledge especially our prayerful support to the Diocese of Bridgeport and the community of Newtown as they cope with this almost unbearable sorrow. We pray that the peace that passes understanding be with them as they deal with the injuries they have sustained and with the deaths of their beautiful children. 

“Once again we speak against the culture of violence infecting our country even as we prepare to welcome the Prince of Peace at Christmas. All of us are called to work for peace in our homes, our streets and our world, now more than ever” (Read the entire statement at www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-220.cfm). 

In addition to our own extemporaneous prayers, the Catholic tradition provides us with a wealth of prayers for peace, comfort and hope. You can find resources at http://osv.cm/OqqGlv.  

One prayer in particular seems appropriate for a nation in mourning for the innocent lives lost: 

“Lord God, 
You are attentive to the voice of our pleading. Let us find in your Son  
Comfort in our sadness, 
Certainty in our doubt, 
and courage to live through this hour. 
Make our faith strong 
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.” 

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This week’s In Focus (Pages 9-12) highlights a new year-end feature for OSV Newsweekly looking at Catholics of 2012. 

We solicited input from Our Sunday Visitor staff members and readers of OSV Daily Take to come up with a list of people — men and women, clergy and laity, famous and anonymous — who have been outstanding examples of Catholic leadership, service and witness in the past 12 months.  

Who else should be included? Let us know at feedback@osv.com

Sarah Hayes is OSV presentation editor.