ColumnsNaming Grace

The only path forward

Pope Francis climbed, step by slow step, to an altar in an eerily empty St. Peter’s Square, reflecting the heaviness of our hearts during this pandemic. As a drizzle fell, the Pope prayed for an end of the coronavirus. He gave the Apostolic Blessing, the Urbi et Orbi, a prayer for the “city [of Rome] and the world,” while surrounded by the columns designed to symbolize Christ’s embrace of humanity.

On this Feast of the Holy Trinity, we reflect on Jesus’ words: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” God created and redeemed the entire world — each person from every single nation and race.

When I began this reflection, never did I imagine the plague of racism and social injustice would strike again with such brutal force. This past week, our country exploded with righteous anger over the horrific death of a black man, Mr. George Floyd, of Minneapolis, Minnesota. And we face, once again, the shame of racism.

According to the United States Council of Catholic Bishops’ 2018 Pastoral Letter on Racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love”: “Almost every day, news headlines demonstrate that our country’s ‘original sin’ of racism continues to impact the lives of many Americans, many of them Catholic — particularly those who belong to the African American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American communities.” Just as Original Sin wreaks havoc in our world, so our country’s “original sin” of slavery and racism rears its ugly head in unjust policies and discriminatory practices.

Interestingly, there is also a correlation between race and rates of coronavirus — dependent on medical care access, living quarters, and working conditions. National Public Radio reported: “African-American deaths from COVID-19 are nearly two times greater than would be expected based on their share of the population. … Hispanics/Latinos make up a greater share of confirmed cases than their share of the population. In eight states, it’s more than four times greater.”

As parents/grandparents, we name grace — God’s saving presence — each time we speak of the dignity of the human person, regardless of race or economic status. With our children, we pray for peace and work for justice. We refuse to stereotype others and encourage our children to respect differences.

Peaceful protests for equal justice are of the Spirit, while violence is of our fallen human nature — Original Sin. The Bishops direct us: “Indifference is not an option. … we unequivocally state that racism is a life issue.” We must act. The only path forward, step by hard step, is through the love of the Trinity — the Father, the Son who “frees us from Original Sin and our own actual sins” (Adult Catechism, p. 70), and the Holy Spirit who grants us courage and strength.

Under thick clouds and pouring rain, we pray with Pope Francis for the entire world and each person affected by sickness or injustice. With the Bishops, we beg “God to heal our deeply broken view of each other, as well as our deeply broken society.” Together, we pray for the protection of protester and police — for safety of all. May the Trinity guide us on the only path forward, which is love. Now, that’s good news.

How will you educate your child about racism?

Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent: