Ending Racial Injustice

Dear Newman Community,

I apologize for the tardiness of this letter. The Jesuit community has been (and still is) on its annual 8-day silent retreat, and we refrain from outside contact and communication during that time in order to focus on prayer. But injustice has a way of rearing its ugly head and the events of the last few days call for us to join with all of those who are crying out for justice.

Many of us have a tremendous amount of anger, pain, and sadness over the recent death of George Floyd, and for all who have suffered and died at the hands of racism and injustice. Know that you are not alone. The all too familiar taking of a black person’s life by those entrusted to protect it must stop. The hating of a person because of the color of his or her skin must stop. The violence that we afflict on one another must stop.

As Christians, we cannot stay silent. We have to speak up, and condemn racism and violence in the strongest possible terms. For silence implies consent, and we cannot consent to racism, violence, hatred, and injustice in any form.

God gave us a voice and we must use it. We must “stir into flame the gift of God … For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control” (2 Tm 1:6-7). Let us listen to the cries of our brothers and sisters. Let us not just hear them, but listen to and understand them. Let us listen to their pain, to their anger, and to their fear. And then, let us ask ourselves, how we can help to bring about change.

As you reflect, I invite you to pray:

We thank you, O Lord,
for in your loving wisdom
You created one human family
with a diversity
that enriches our communities.

We pray to you, O Lord,
that we always recognize
each member of this human family
as being made in your image and beloved by you,
with worth and dignity.

We pray to you, O Lord,
that we may envision a way forward
to heal the racial divisions
that deny human dignity and
the bonds between all human beings.

We pray to you, O Lord,
that we may have eyes to see
what is possible when we reach out
beyond fear, beyond anger,
to hold the hand of our sisters, our brothers.

Mary, friend and mother to all,
through your Son, God has found a way
to unite himself to every human being,
called to be one people,
sisters and brothers to each other.

We ask for your help in obtaining from
your Son the grace we need to overcome the evil
of racism and to build a just society.

We ask for your help in following your Son,
so that prejudice and animosity
will no longer infect our minds or hearts
but will be replaced with a love
that respects the dignity of each person.

We thank you, O Lord,
for your call and challenge to us
that we may reveal your teachings and your love
through our actions to end racism
and to proclaim that we are all your children,
heirs to your sacred creation. Amen.

As Christians we have to recognize that the risen Lord is alongside us as we continue to struggle for justice. As Bishop McElroy said in his recent statement, “Where lies grace in a moment such as this? It lies in knowing that the presence of God surrounds us in these days of sadness and loss, and calls us to moral and spiritual conversion, so that the soul of our nation can be renewed and our eyes might truly see the glory of the coming of the Lord once more into our midst.”

In Christ,

Fr. Boom Martinez, S.J. and the staff at the Newman Center Catholic Community