Peace, Justice and the Grace of Understanding

For many white Americans, the horrifying murder of George Floyd found us at the foot of a cross that has overshadowed African-American life and death for 400 years. From an Ignatian view, there is no single way for people of faith to respond rightly to this unsettling reality. Each of us will be called according to the distinct gifts we have to offer. Still, there are a few Ignatian insights that can guide us in our desire to join the struggle for racial justice in these critical times:

First, if you are white, don’t run from the crosses carried by communities of color. Listen intently to people of color. Look intently at your own privilege. Ask God for the grace of understanding, empathy and courageous imagination.

Second, don’t run from your own racial biases and limitations, fears and failures. See them, name them, and ask God – and those you may have offended – for the grace to make peace with them. And then release them. Resolve that each day, through the struggle itself, you can become a new creation.

Third, resist the temptation to judge others from a privileged distance. Proximity is God’s doorway to grace. Find ways to draw near, to initiate encounters with the most vulnerable and marginalized communities. And then, repeat steps one through three. What once was novel and frightening can become a life-changing spiritual exercise, a habit of being.

Lastly, look for beauty in others and beauty will overwhelm you. Radiate kindness and it will come back to you, 70 times seven. Pray for mercy and mercy will be given you.

In sum, contemplate what is and dare to imagine what is yet possible. Together, in freedom and grace, we can become a new creation, pilgrims in the way of justice, reconciliation and love.

The image above is the Van Ek-Fedde Crucifix, located in the meditation garden west of the St. John Francis Regis Chapel on the Northwest Denver Campus.

Christopher Pramuk, Ph.D., is Regis University's Chair of Ignatian Thought and Imagination and an associate professor of Theology. Find more of his writing online at Hope Sings, So Beautiful.