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Becoming Salt and Light

At the beginning of the pandemic last year, there was a beautiful transition in our world from a “me” society to a “we” society. It was amazing to watch as people began to think outside of themselves and instead worried about others. True love and concern for neighbor ran rampant throughout our families, our cities, our countries- our world. Unfortunately, as the pandemic persisted and people began to feel weary of lockdowns, food shortages, masks, and being separated from those they loved, their patience with one another became noticeably short. Where salt and light surrounded us at one point, it now seems as if we struggle to be decent to one another again. As we continue to fight our way through the lingering effects and damage the lockdown caused, we may wonder how we can recapture this spirit that once infected everyone around us.

HOW ARE WE CALLED?

In Matthew’s Gospel we read, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father.” (Matt 5:13-16)

SALT

Christians are called to live our faith in a way that glorifies the Lord. Everything we say and do should lead others to God. Christ tells us in Matthew’s Gospel that we are the salt of the earth. Salt is one of the most important (if not the most important!) minerals for civilization. Historically it has been used for preservation, healing, and even as currency. Our bodies not only crave it, but need it to function properly. Wars have been fought, friendships have been made, civilizations built, and religious customs have flourished all because of salt. When salt is so vital, it’s no wonder that Christ would call His followers the salt of the earth!

As the salt of the earth, we are called to “flavor” the world with Christ. What we say, what we do, and who we are should all glorify God and inspire others to seek out the Lord. Our “saltiness” is vital to making sure that God’s presence is felt by others. Of course being “salty” in today’s terms means something completely different than what Christ calls us to be. Often it is easier to be “salty” than to be the “salt of the earth” and yet God still calls us to the task.

LIGHT

With this call to be the “salt of the earth”, Christ also calls us to be the “light of the world”. He tells us that we are not to hide the light which burns within us and which reflects God’s love and life under a bushel basket. I would venture to say that in today’s world we have many “bushel baskets” under which we hide His light. Perhaps we are embarrassed to share our faith.  Maybe we worry about persecution, ridicule, or rejection. It might be that we think we are not knowledgeable enough or even faithful enough to spread our faith. Maybe the timing is never right or we simply want to keep our faith private.

Whatever our reasons for hiding Christ’s light, we must come to realize that as Christians we are not just called but are expected to shine His light brightly for all to see. Christ’s light which lives inside of us is not simply for our own benefit, but instead is meant to “shine before others” so that they have a clear path to God through us!

ANSWERING THE CALL- BECOMING SALT AND LIGHT

What does it take to become salt and light? While we know that our good deeds are not what get us to heaven, we do know that God calls us to live out our faith through doing good works. These acts of love and hope help others to see our Christian faith being fully lived out as God has asked us. Christ modeled this life for us. He was a man of action. He fed the hungry, taught the masses, healed the sick, forgave the sinner, He died upon a cross, and rose from the dead. His actions were vital to His ministry. Likewise, our actions are vital to making Christ known and felt in the world. If we are to call ourselves Christians then we must be heavily involved in doing good works.

At the beginning of the pandemic we saw that “good works” became the norm for most people. People rushed to help one another to secure food, medicine, or other needs. These good works were not just corporal (taking care of one another’s physical needs), which is sometimes the easier work to do. They also encompassed the spiritual works of mercy as well. We saw people extend kindness, mercy, forgiveness and openness despite differences in political ideology, religious practices, economic status, or any other qualifier. People were comforting others in their sorrow, counseling them in their doubt, and praying like crazy for one another. Life was no longer “us” versus “them”; it was simply “us”.

This is what God desires for His people. He wants us to be united as one and He knows that the fastest way to achieve this is through good works. When we stop fighting and start loving one another it follows that God’s love and goodness can be more readily seen and felt by others.

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

It is true that the pandemic has worn many of us down. It has broken spirits and for some contributed to hatefulness and anger towards others. There are still many people doing good in the world, but the last year and a half has also hardened many hearts that were open and giving at the beginning of the lockdown. If we are to follow Christ’s call to be salt and light in the world, we can’t allow our own hearts to be hardened by the overwhelming distress the virus and the lockdown have caused us. Instead we must continue to look out for the needs of others. We must attend to both the physical and spiritual needs of our neighbors even when it is difficult.

The pandemic took so much away from all of us… but it can never take away Christ’s light shining through us. Only we can hide it away. God tells us that He desires good and holy work from us. Through these good works His light shines brightly and draws others into a relationship with Him. If we want to see a change in our world, if we want peace, we must be the salt and light that Christ has called us to be. By living out our Christian faith in love and good deeds, we can lead others to Him- the One who brings ultimate peace and healing.

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Battling Acedia

Battling Acedia

Anxiety, depression, listlessness, sloth, apathy—those are just a few of the emotions I’ve experienced the last year. Let’s face it, 2020 was rough and the pessimist in me is feeling 2021 doesn’t look much better. Sitting and stewing in negative emotions is not where we should be and certainly will not change the world around us. What is a faithful Catholic to do? If you have heard of Saint Benedict’s motto: Ora et Labora (pray and work), what I propose below will seem fairly familiar and may assist in overcoming the malaise of 2020.

It is proved by experience that a fit of acedia should not be evaded by running away from it, but overcome by resisting it.

Saint John Cassian

Physical Health

The “Covid-19” weight gain may be something we all joke about, but I have been truly guilty of neglecting my health the last several months. One way for us to combat lethargy and malaise is to take care of our physical health. I’m not proposing we all go on strict diets and start exercising like maniacs, but I am encouraging us all to take a look at how we are neglecting our health by eating poorly and by not moving our bodies in some way. It is a medical fact that physical health is very closely linked to mental health. For a good start, try cutting sugar, alcohol, and processed foods out of your diet and make sure you’re eating nutritiously dense foods including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure you are staying adequately hydrated (think 8 glasses of water each day).

Very few of us are employed in manual labor as Saint Benedict’s monks would have been in his day, but physical activity is an integral part of physical health. Move your body. Start slow and easy if you’ve been neglecting regular exercise. I count a good house cleaning or weeding in the garden as being physically active. Grab a friend, a child, or your spouse and go for a walk. Getting your activity out of doors is a huge plus as adequate “sunny” vitamin D is also linked to improved mood.

Idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be employed in manual labor at certain times, at others, in devout reading.

Saint Benedict of Nursia

Intellectual Health

Mindlessly scrolling through social media, bingeing on Netflix, anxiously watching or reading alarming news accounts can all be huge contributors to general torpor. Set time limits for yourself or avoid these activities altogether and instead focus on something that will improve your mind. In his holy rule, Saint Benedict encouraged his monks to read selections from the Holy Fathers to grow in virtue and knowledge. Read a great book, play games with your family, work on brain teasers or puzzles, learn a new skill; anything that takes you out of yourself and causes you to engage your brain in a more challenging activity. Cultivating an intellectual life will be time well spent leading to much less time scrolling mindlessly through social media.

Spiritual Health

Acedia is primarily an issue of the spirit. Squandered time and can rob us of hope and joy. This is where the battle is most importantly focused. If you’ve been struggling or have given in to listlessness take it to confession as soon as possible. Repenting of the sin of sloth is probably the most important step in overcoming acedia. Next, you must take active steps to combat this sin in your spiritual life.

Pray for guidance and help from the Holy Spirit. Start spending more time in deliberate silence, prayer, and spiritual reading. Set a goal of devoting an hour a day in prayer and/or spiritual reading. Divide that time into reasonable parts throughout the day. Try to cover the ACTS of prayer: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication. Read from the Bible everyday. The readings from daily Mass are a great place to start. Read encouraging and good spiritual works that will help you grow in holiness. 

Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall a soul except sin.  God commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry.

Saint Francis de Sales

Three Hours

We are given the gift of 24 hours each day. What are we spending those hours on? Obviously, adequate sleep is important, but are we making the most out our waking hours? It may seem pretty difficult to devote an hour a day to each of the three: physical labor, education, and spiritual works. We are a busy people but it is not completely impossible. Start with a shorter length of time for each or combine two. You might listen to a podcast or pray while you exercise or clean the house, for example. The world seems to be in a real downward spiral. If we do not pull ourselves out, how can we ever hope to change it for the better? Called to evangelize the world, it is time to cast aside our inactivity, pull up our sleeves and get to work. Who’s with me?

Resources:

How Mental Health and Physical Health are Linked

How Fit Are You?

The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had

Daily Bible Reading with the Church (takes you through the entire Bible in 2 years)

USCCB Daily Readings

Divine Intimacy

The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Imitation of Christ

Sayings of the Desert Fathers

An Introduction to the Devout Life

The Noonday Devil: Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our Times (ebook)

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Tread Softly, Pray Fiercely

Tread Softly Pray Fiercely

The past several months of this year have been exceptionally hard to watch, as friends and family seem to quickly and easily tear each other apart. Assassinations of character, name-calling, ad hominum attacks, and vitriol seem to be spewed with nary a thought of a backward glance. All across social media, the push to speak first, think after seems to be prevalent, and the share buttons seem to promote use of simply sharing what best suits our own narrative, rather than considering the point of view of friends who may not hold that same viewpoint.

We all seem to be in a rush to drown out the other person, without taking the time to not just hear the words of the other person, but to slow down and identify the true intent behind that person’s beliefs. Social media, of late, is simply a tool being used to air grievances, ills, snarkiness, and ugliness.

There used to be an unspoken social norm that said, whenever engaging in public discourse with someone outside your home, “Never discuss money, politics, sex, or religion.” Yet, in today’s world, it seems as though we have all waded into a hotbed of discussion, with no preparation in understanding the best way forward in a debate is to listen to the opponent’s argument – both spoken, and unspoken.

And, our relationships are suffering because of our inability to listen… to truly hear each other.

Left and right we are witnessing our friends and family on social media tout their message, while lambasting those who do not agree.

This lack of voice has left many feeling downtrodden, depressed, and silenced.

This is precisely where the devil wants us.

Matthew 7:19-20 reminds us, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.”

The uncomfortable question to ask ourselves is not where we stand on any given issue; rather, the question to ask is are our actions – spoken and unspoken, in real life or on social media – bearing good fruit?

What are these fruits? The list of bad fruit, or “works of the flesh,” is found in Galatians 5:19-21 and include, “… hatreds… jealously… outbursts of fury… dissensions, factions..” and more.

Yet, the good fruits, or the fruit of the Holy Spirit, are, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

There is a time and a place to correct someone for their sins. After all, we are given the task as Catholics to perform Spiritual Works of Mercy, in addition to the Corporal Works of Mercy, which include admonishing sinners and instructing the ignorant.

However, many of us have forgotten the other Catholic Spiritual Works of Mercy: Bear patiently those who wrong us, forgive offences, and comfort the afflicted.

In an effort to prove our way is the best and most correct, we find ourselves speaking over, and forgetting the patience, the forgiveness, and the comfort to which we are called to share.

As faithful Christians, we are reminded blatantly in 1 Corinthians 13:1, “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.”

Going back to the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and the Spiritual Works of Mercy, the guidance in 1 Corinthians is sound, but is also sometimes a hard pill to swallow.

How do we extend love to others, when we are interested in getting our own viewpoint heard, or even convince others of our approach to situations?

Quite simply:

We tread softly, gently and silently.

We assess the situation.

We determine which battle we want to choose to fight and champion.

We remember the adage that God gave us one mouth to speak, and two ears to listen, and we employ that saying as we approach the situation.

We employ the cardinal virtue of prudence, which challenges us to, “discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it…” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1806).

We recognize the bad fruit trying to sway our country toward further division, hatred, and violence. Satan operates under darkness, and in secrecy, to create division.

We call out the prince of darkness, not by casting blame at each other and hurling accusations at them, but by recognizing his sleight of hand in the strife.

We call to mind one of the last words of Christ, as He hung on the Cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Finally, we pray… fiercely.

We ask God for prudence, but we also ask Him for the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and for the ability to speak less and listen more.

We ask God for both the willingness to hear the spoken word of our opponent, and the grace to see beyond the spoken word to understand the unspoken, and perhaps even subconscious, motivation behind the words.

We pray, not just for the other person, but for humility to acknowledge when our own viewpoint may be both difficult to hear, and also at times, completely incorrect.

Simply put, as we continue to wade the waters of instant gratification on social media, and swim these waters of division in this world, we tread softly, but pray fiercely.

– AnnAliese Harry

We listen to the words spoken but listen harder to the underlying motivations and experiences of the other person.

We speak firmly, but with patience.

We love each other.

We pray unceasingly (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

As we continue to move forward, let each of us visit, and re-visit, the uncomfortable question at hand – are our actions, both in real life and on social media, bearing good fruit?

Are we living with our collective and individual sight set on our eternal home?

Are we ready to squirm a little by taking accountability of our own actions, in an effort to live in a manner which is ultimately pleasing to God?

Are we being agents of love?

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To Whom Shall We Go?

It’s human nature – when we are forced to look in a mirror and confront uncomfortable truths, we are destined to squirm.

The Catholic Church rocked by incendiary and evil sexual abuse scandals? There is nothing but critique for Church leadership in my mind. The victims have been forever scarred, and their families and friends have been left to assist with the fall-out of the impact sexual abuse has on a victim. Church leadership continues to mishandle opportunities to right a horrible wrong that has been committed, erring on remaining silent, rather than acknowledging the pain caused by one of their agents. There is absolutely no way to defend the indefensible, and I can attest that silence does not make things better. Silence reeks of shadows, in which we know the evil one loves to hide.

Belonging to a universal church… a universal organization… whose leadership continues to jaw-droppingly bungle every opportunity to get it right can seem counter-productive and absurd, to some many.

I get that.

St. Peter is one of my favorites, and I have often shared this with my husband when he has (lovingly) asked what keeps me going to Mass through the entire scandal, “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God’” (John 6:68-69).

If I did not truly believe, deep in my heart, that the One Who is raised up over the heads of us all at church was the True Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ at every single Mass, I would have left the Church two years ago as the Pennsylvania sex abuse scandals broke.

Yet, if I leave the Church – the physical Body of Christ left on earth – to whom shall I go?

There have been half a dozen studies released in the past couple years which point to an amazingly low number of Catholics who either know, or believe, in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Often, it appears the generation of the respondent seems to drive their understanding of Church teachings, and most likely fuels their subsequent answers.

The Church teaches that, when the priest says the words of consecration (“this is my Body…” and “this is my Blood…”), something amazing happens. At the moment of (big word alert) “Transubstantiation,” the physical appearance of bread and wine remain the same, but that “mere” bread and wine undergo a spiritual conversion into Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Christ becomes present, tangible, and a living witness in our lives at every single Mass. In fact, the Catholic Church just universally celebrated this amazing belief in the Feast of Corpus Christi on the 14th of June!

I don’t have a major conversion story, and I honestly can’t tell a soul a single instance in which I felt Jesus truly come to me in a big way. Yet, He reveals Himself to me in the little ways… and He comes to me at every Mass. This I know… this I profess.

But, to let you in on a little secret…

This, I have sometimes doubted.

In my course as a Catholic social media influencer and blogger, I have to confess that I, too, have sometimes doubted if the Church teachings are true… are just… and, are sound.

The Bible, itself, appears to be a timeless story. The stories (and lessons) were applicable as the books were written, as they were when the Bible was officially put together, as they remain today. There’s infinite love, there’s loss, there’s the antagonist, there’s the Savior. It’s all there, and the lessons and stories span the centuries.

Just as the Mass spans the centuries, so, too do the teachings of the Church, found in the Bible and Tradition.

Yet, sometimes, doubt lingers.

As some of the words of the translated Tantum Ergo point out, “Faith will tell us Christ is present, when our human senses fail…” and sometimes, our human senses fail to an irreconcilable level, and our faith crumbles entirely.

And, when a person in a position of authority within the Church begins to doubt, to whom shall they go?

I have been guilty of “faking it until I make it,” at times in my life. Either sitting out of the communion line, or going to communion with a simple prayer on my heart, “Lord, make my belief as strong as Peter’s,” I readily acknowledge I have been guilty of going through the motions at times.

As Dr. Brant Pitre asserts in his book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, Peter acknowledged in the aforementioned Bible quote (John 6:68-69) he didn’t quite understand everything Jesus said, but he placed his trust in the One Who spoke the words. And, at times, the simple prayer to give me faith like Peter’s has been what has held me together spiritually.

However, it’s uncomfortable to sit and look in the mirror, knowing you publicly profess one thing, and privately struggle with that teaching.

Whether it’s one certain teaching that one struggles to understand, or whether it’s a central teaching that shakes a person to their core, it’s uncomfortable to acknowledge that there remains a doubt.

And, well-meaning (or otherwise) individuals in our Church don’t often make it feel safe to express our doubts and discomfort.

St. John of the Cross explores the concept of the, “dark night of the soul,” when he wrote his same-titled book. I once was told by a priest in a confessional that there was no way I could be experiencing a dark night of the soul, “because you are a wife and mom with a little kid. Dark night of the soul only occurs to really holy people.” The absurdity of that young friar’s statement sticks with me four years later.

But, if I weren’t prepared to seek other counsel when faced with that response, to whom would I go?

Little girl running with abandon with the question "To Whom Shall We Go" as the feature title. #catholicsistas #recentevents #beautifulcamouflage

Jesus, present in the Eucharist, is on a mission to change hearts and minds. When we approach Him with an open heart, we receive the Graces He bestows on us, even in the midst of our doubt.

Yet, the previously mentioned statistics beg the uncomfortable “reflection” moment destined to make us squirm. The rhetorical question for each of us to ask ourselves as we stare in the mirror is: are each of us truly receiving Christ with an open mind and heart?

After we have received Jesus, do we go back to our daily lives and continue to live unchanged from mere moments before?

Do we leave Mass without a care or thought of the One Whom we are called to know, love, and serve with all our heart, mind, soul, and body?

Do we invite Christ into our lives on a daily basis, and ask Him to actively help us in being more loving toward our family, toward our neighbors, toward the stranger on the street, or toward those in our Church – lay and ordained alike?

Are we giving Christ room to change our minds, hearts, and ultimately, our actions?

When those in a position of leadership within their church begin to doubt, is the atmosphere welcoming to discussion of those doubts? Or, are they shut down with the trite, “You need to pray harder, study Scripture more, get involved more…”?

Do they find a safe space to voice their normal and natural doubts? Or, are they being told that it makes them a lesser Christian and a worse Catholic because they dare to voice their doubts?

Do they have support in unpacking a lot of the anger, confusion, frustration, pain, and doubt? Or, are they told they are not worthy to express any of those normal emotions?

When we don’t have the support within our community to explore these emotions and doubt, we can become increasingly isolated…

we become lonely…

we become discouraged…

we become weary…

we begin to give in to our doubts…

When we try to muddle through the doubt on our own, we open ourselves up to succumbing to the lure that maybe Christ, His teachings, and that of the Church are not all true.

In light of recent events, perhaps each of us need to take a moment to reflect on where we are on our own faith journey, and dig a little deeper for the compassion to recognize that not everyone is on the same journey, nor on the same part of the path.

Perhaps each of us need to squirm a little to recognize those actions we have done, and the ones we have failed to do, which led to another person experiencing doubt, or wading alone in their doubt.

Finally, perhaps we, as a collective Catholic group, need to get better at meeting all of our members – lay and religious, outspoken and reserved, well-known and inconspicuous – where they are at, recognizing them, and embracing where they are on their journey.

There comes a time in everyone’s spiritual journey where we can’t go it alone – we need the compassion, the empathy, the guidance, and the love of others to continue to grow spiritually. When we don’t find that around us, and when the Truths of the Church are hard to comprehend, we need to be able to rely on the strength of others to support us.

If we can’t find that strength or support in the midst of the doubt, when we can’t find Christ at work in our lives, and have trouble seeing Him working around us, to whom shall we go?

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An Interview with Dr. Alveda King: A Message of Peace and Fear

A Message of Peace and Hope in a Time of Chaos and Fear - Dr. Alveda King Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

One only has to turn on her television set, listen to the radio, peruse social media, or even step outside her front door to be witness to the winds of change sweeping through the nation. Of course, with that wind we have also seen chaos and upheaval grip much of our nation as well. Following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, many have taken the opportunity to speak out against the inequality faced by people of color in our nation. And while this is a wonderful thing to do, others have used this platform to preach change through any means available, including violence. As Christians, what are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to react? How can we help implement change and civil discourse and yet dissuade those using violence?

A Message of Peace and Hope in a Time of Chaos and Fear - Dr. Alveda King Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

I was blessed to speak with pro-life leader and civil rights activist Dr. Alveda King, niece of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In a candid interview, we discussed the state of our country as well as what we, as Christians, can do to help our nation move forward.  In the eyes of many, the two of us are vastly different- she is an African American from a well-known family, engaged in activism since she was born. She served in the Georgia House of Representatives and has written numerous books. She is well-known, often giving interviews for news stations and other media. She has faced challenges that I will never face. She has lived a life that I cannot imagine.

A Message of Peace and Hope in a Time of Chaos and Fear - Dr. Alveda King Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

I, on the other hand, am a white woman who was born after the civil rights movement and grew up never truly knowing what it was like not to love everyone I met. Schools were not segregated, I had friends of every color and nationality, and I was never taught to hate those who are different from me. I am married to a police officer, who was raised the same, and together we have raised our children to also love everyone they meet. I am a homemaker and homeschooling parent. I practice what I preach and volunteer in many ways to help our community thrive and uplift those who need to be uplifted. I am currently the youth minister at my parish and I would venture to say my name is not known outside of my own little world. We have faced intense hate because of my husband’s chosen profession and for our faith, but our experiences are not the same.

In most people eyes, we are more different than alike… but as Dr. King points out, speaking sister to sister, we aren’t different, we are the same and this is the message we all need to hear but that we often fail to hear.

Beginning a Conversation of Peace

Opening our conversation, I asked Dr. King about her feelings regarding George Floyd, the police, the protests, and ultimately the riots. She began, “We are having this conversation in June of 2020. This particular year there is a new election, we will be reelecting our president I believe and some others will be elected; Covid 19 has just rocked America and the world. This is not new… elections are not new, pandemics are not new; and neither is the violence we are experiencing from the death of George Floyd- a man who was killed from a knee on his neck-of course him being African American and the officer being Caucasian.” Expanding on the public’s vastly different reactions to officer involved arrests by white officers versus black officers, she continued, “So we’re down to the argument of skin color, over and over again. That has happened throughout creation since the fall of humanity. People fight about skin color, class, who’s rich, who’s poor, who’s young, who’s old, and all types of things. The answer, the cure, of course, is always- come to the Lord and seek the Lord. And treat each other, regardless of skin color and socioeconomic conditions- treat each other as humans…”

This is where we most often fail. We only see a black man or a white officer. We fail to see that God has created us each in His image and likeness. We fail to see the inherent dignity in one another. Instead, we focus on skin color, wealth, social standing, age, and a myriad of other qualifiers that don’t necessary qualify but instead divide. And we are all guilty of this regardless of our color, status, pocketbook, etc. As humans, because we are sinful, because have experienced the fall, it is difficult for us to see each other through God’s eyes.

Dr. King quoted Acts 17:26, “He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and He fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their region” several times throughout our conversation. She lamented, “I was taught by my father, Reverend A.D. King, my mother Naomi King who is still living, my granddaddy Daddy King, Mama King his wife, and my uncle Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that Acts 17:26 “of one blood” means that we have to get along. Martin Luther King Jr said we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools. We’re not separate races.” She continued, “God created all people…. Our blood is red, our skin color- we can see it. We have to see it or we are colorblind.  It’s a sin to differentiate people by skin color or money or any of the human conditions that we have. The human race has been in the condition of being a fallen group of people in a fallen world. The answer to that is always Jesus Christ. So sin is sin. It is a sin to see our brothers and sisters as other races when we are all of one race- the human race. It is sin to say “my race needs to get along with your race” because there is one race. So, the issue of racism, socially engineered to divide us, is sinful.”

Unfortunately there are those who do not wish to see the world as one race. They hope to keep us separated. How are we to react then to those who wish to keep dividing us? Dr. King, like Martin Luther King Jr and her own father A.D. King, advocates peace. Communication is the key- truly listening to one another and then actively working with one another. But what about those who say that no one is listening and so violence is the only thing that will open the government’s and people’s eyes? When asked about the response of some justifying rioting and other violence she said that people are taking MLK Jr’s quote about “rioting is the language of the unheard” out of context. She states, “Martin Luther King Jr, in that same speech when he was speaking on riots and violence, went on to say that all violence is immoral and doesn’t make sense… we need to be heard, but not with violence. We have to quickly continue to say “we hear you” and now that we hear you, let us communicate in a peaceful, sensible manner. And so we have to NOT be violent and but to work together and learn to live together as brothers and sisters and not perish together as fools- because John 3:16 “for God so love the world…” God’s not colorblind, God’s colors are magnificent!”

Working for Peace

Peace is the key. But how do we teach peace? How do our religious communities take the lead? Dr. King emphatically states, “The leaders of all faiths who acknowledge that there is a God in heaven, need to come together to teach people not to be fearful and tearful and to not panic, but to have faith to pray… to pray instead of panic and to have faith instead of fear. And as leaders do that, (and every person is the leader of him or herself and if he’s not, he’s in serious bondage)- leaders of your homes, your churches, your communities, your work, our governments- all leaders should be encouraging and not stirring up fear.”

Don’t incite fear. Don’t encourage violence. Don’t panic. Instead, pray, have faith, work alongside one another to bring about true change. Encourage one another. Simple but powerful lessons for us all.

As a mother and a youth minister I was particularly interested in what we can do to help raise the next generation to avoid the mistakes of the past and to repair the damage that the past has inflicted. Dr. King spoke eloquently when she said, “Remind these young people of their purpose and their destiny- that they have a voice and their voice comes from God; they have breath that comes from God. And even though George Floyd’s voice had been taken from him, they still have their voices and can raise them for good and unity. We have to teach our young people about God- not to fear, not to panic, but to love and to communicate, to talk… use our breath that God gives us to speak truth.”

This, of course, is not just a message for the white community, but instead for all of us. If we are truly one human race then we must all reach out to one another speaking the words of truth in love… without fear, without panic, but instead with Christ guiding our words and actions.

Conquering Sin Together

As Dr. King and I ended our conversation, I asked her if she could relay one last message to the people reading, a message that she believes God wants all of us to hear, what would it be? She responded with so much love when she said, “The Lord has said in the book of Luke, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to set the captives free”- the little babies in the womb are captives, people in jail unjustly are captive, God wants this to be a time of repentance and to understand that we are all of one human race. We need to come back to God and God will help us solve these issues together.”  With God’s help, we can be the instruments to set the captives free.

What has happened to George Floyd is unquestionably wrong and horrifying. For any person to be treated as he was can’t be justified. It has shaken us all to our core. It has been a catalyst for change (and thankfully so!).  But as Dr. King agreed, this isn’t just a police officer problem; this isn’t just a black vs white problem; this isn’t just an American problem… this is a worldwide problem. It is a problem with sin. It is a problem with the condition of our hearts. Conquer sin and we will conquer racism and every other ailment of the heart and soul. But we cannot do this without God and we cannot do this without one another.

If you would like to visit Dr. Alveda King at her website you can find it here. Additionally, she works with Priests for Life as their Executive Director of their Civil Rights for the Unborn outreach program.