Bad News, Beauty, and the Body of Christ
This past week has been filled with bad news.
We all know about the horrific mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton, the devastating stories of terror, pain, and loss. Personally, I’m also processing more bad news in my Church - revelations about decades of horrific abuse and cover up in Guam, ongoing problems with accountability in Cincinnati, and the never-ending, stomach-churning situation in Buffalo. It’s all so heartbreaking, so sickening, so unimaginably ugly.
Sometimes, the ugliness in the world - and in the Church - threatens to overwhelm me.
But there’s also this:
A midday gathering for prayer.
A collection of flickering candles arranged on the altar, one for each life lost in these shootings.
Beautiful music communicating peace, light, understanding, consolation.
Thoughtful reflections from priests and lay people, speaking with courage about the plague of racism.
Somber, pleading prayers, filled with grief but also with hope.
Seven minutes of contemplative silence, listening together for the voice of God.
An intentional call to move beyond prayer into concrete action for justice.
People of every race united by our common sorrow and our common humanity.
Comfort, compassion, community.
I come to my Church carrying all the ugliness of the world, and honestly, it’s all still there when I walk out the door.
And yet, and yet -
How beautiful is the body of Christ.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
- Prayer of Saint Francis