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Breathe Into Us a Fiery Passion for Justice

Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.'”  Mt 26:38

As Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary we recognize we have been culturally and socially conditioned to discount the lives of our African-American sisters and brothers as less valuable than the lives of individuals who look like us. Bryan Massingale counsels us to “Sit in the discomfort this hard truth brings,” rather than to run away from it.

We pledge to transform our hearts through prayer, education, and listening so that we may do all in our power to be present to and accompany our neighbors assembled in peaceful protest of regulations and practices which subjugate, harm, incarcerate, and kill people of color. We wish to say with integrity that Black Lives Matter!

We challenge all of us, sisters and readers alike, to a “novena of contemplation” — five minutes a day for nine straight days. In silence, let us regard “Pietà,” a work of art by Tylonn J. Sawyer, portraying Madonna nero e bambino, and let its powerful message seep into our bones. (See image in this Tweet posted by James Martin, SJ.)

If the picture makes me uncomfortable, what is at the root of my

What emotions might we read in the mother’s face as she holds the
     lifeless body of her cherished son?

Am I able to feel her pain?

For what does her heart cry out?

What is stirring in my heart?

As my awareness of the photo’s message deepens, is there something in
     my life that cries out for change?

In this season of Pentecost, let us pledge not to turn away from the anguish of our Black sisters and brothers; let us embrace them, accompany them, and work with them for justice. Let us open wide the doors of the hope of which Bryan Massingale wrote:

Social life is made by human beings. The society we live in is the outcome of human choices and decisions. This means that human beings can change things. What humans break, divide, and separate, we can—with God’s help—also heal, unite, and restore. What is now does not have to be. Therein lies the hope. And the challenge.”

And let us pray with him:

Come, Holy Spirit!
Fill the hearts of your faithful.
Enkindle within us the fire of your love.
Come, Holy Spirit!
Breathe into us a fiery passion for justice.
Especially for those who have the breath of life crushed from them.


Read Bryan Massingale’s full article: “The Assumptions of White Privilege and What We Can Do About It”
National Catholic Reporter, June 1, 2020

View additional artwork by Tylonn J. Sawyer

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