Contemplative Prayer for Reconciliation and Healing of Racism
March 9, 2018
Over the next few weeks we will be examining how trauma affects those living on the margins in our city. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a four part series that we will be referencing through excerpts and praying about each week at our Friday prayer services. To access this article: https://projects.jsonline.com/news/2017/3/23/epidemic-of-childhood-trauma-haunts-milwaukee.html
“The city of Milwaukee produces far too many…children exposed to traumatic levels of abuse, neglect and violence — but
not nearly enough who find a path to post-traumatic healing.
Healing the invisible scars often involves one-on-one interventions that have little to do with conventional urban remedies like adding more police, teachers or jobs programs. Instead, it typically begins with a series of questions known as the adverse childhood experience survey, the ACE test, which asks whether they were exposed as children to violence, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, incarceration.
“The mere fact of just being asked ‘What happened to you?’ by itself is a huge first step,” says Nancy Stone, a mental health clinician at Sojourner Family Peace Center, a Milwaukee nonprofit that houses and helps victims of domestic violence.
Within three months of being asked about their lives, some survivors of traumatized childhoods report an improvement in their situation. “They said they felt better that someone asked and someone listened,” Stone says.
Not everyone exposed to trauma allows themselves to become traumatized. Some have an inner firewall of resilience.
Yael Danieli, who researches how trauma is passed down through generations, defines resilience as the capacity to believe that some better future might exist, even when no other possibilities are apparent.
“I might be helpless, but I don’t have to be hopeless because there might be someone else who can help me,” Danieli explains. “It might be God, it might be luck. Hope could be magical. For example, you could be in a concentration camp and you imagine your grandmother’s hand on your shoulder, saying: ‘Keep going, son.’ And you keep going.” Minds that are stuck reliving traumatic memories often lack that capacity, she says.
On the ACE tra
uma scale, Alisha Fox scores a nine out of 10.
Fox and others like her also have other attributes in common: They often don’t blame, don’t see themselves as victims, and accept that the horrific experiences shaped them — as if the pain gave them a greater purpose.
“Yes it sucked what happened,” Fox says. “But at the end of the day, I’m compassionate, caring and loving. If I didn’t go throug
h what I went through, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
Like Fox, many survivors find a calling helping others deal with addictions or mental health afflictions. “They find a purpose in their lives to try not to pass adversity onto the next generation,” says Robert Anda, a public health physician who co-created the ACE test 20 years ago. “That is healing.” – From “I’m defying the odds: Far too many children face lives of trauma, and not nearly enough find paths to healing By John Schmid of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel https://projects.jsonline.com/news/2017/3/28/healing-invisible-scars-demands-resilience-inte
As we enter into our prayer today, let us reflect on the places in our own lives where we may need healing and how our healing may be linked to the healing of our community. Mindful of how much information we take in during the course of a day – images of war, exploitation, abuse, murder – even if we have not suffered traumatic experiences ourselves, we are affected by the pain and suffering that we witness others experiencing. We know we need healing and so we pray:
God of peace and healing:
We have witnessed evil.
We have seen terrified communities.
We have seen innocent civilians hurt and killed in conflicts with which they have little to do.
We have seen people killed in cold blood.
We have seen mass murder.
We grieve with mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters, friends.
We cannot unsee these things.
We do not even
comprehend the damage done to our souls,
how numb and scarred our minds become by violence.
We are disheartened by the frequency and magnitude of traumas.
It is a sad day when such evil is commonplace.
In these times
Remind us of your vastness
And the vastness of your creation.
Help us to be creative in utilizing the tools you’ve given:
Mercy, Kindness, Gentleness
Words and gestures of comfort and solidarity.
Help us to be str
ong in our minds
Able to withstand
Able to retreat into your presence for peace.
Help us to be disciplined in maintaining our connection with you, Giver of Life
Even when the news feels all-consuming and urgent.
We do not know what to do
Except sit with you
And let your nearness transform and heal us.
We long for the day when the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
– Fran Pratt
Invitation to Silence
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
The greed which e
xploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
The lust which dishonors the bodies of men, women and children,
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Be kind to one
another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.
What is my ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) score? Take the test here: https://projects.jsonline.com/news/2017/3/23/ace-test.html
If I have a high ACE score – what have I done or what can I do to begin healing the trauma I have experienced?
If I have a low ACE score – what can I learn about how to best support and care for people who have high scores? How does my experience of safety and well-being impact how I view the world?
As we come t
ogether as a community this Saturday for our Mass for Healing the City, what part of me needs healing – what is the intention for healing that I bring to God and to my community?
March 10, 2018, 5:15 PM – A Healing Mass for the City of Milwaukee, co-presided by Fr. Tim Kitzke, Vicar General for Urban Ministry and Fr. Mike Hammer, Archdiocesan AIDS Ministry
ACTION ALERT from Justice for Immigrants:
New Resources for Racial Healing
Several newUSCCB resources can assist Catholics to pray and act for racial healing. Perfect for Lent, A Prayer Service for Racial Healing in Our Land (also in Spanish) includes Scripture, reflection, and an examination of conscience to help Catholics call on the Divine Physician, Christ the Lord, to heal the wounds of racism throughout our land. Two new prayers are also available: Prayer to Address the Sin of Racism (also in Spanish) and Prayer to Heal Racial Division (also in Spanish). Find other resources at usccb.org/racism.