Where does it hurt? Working through the pain of racism and white supremacy

October 12, 2017


 “I really think that one of the things that we’ve got to deal with is that how is it that we develop a theology or theologies in a 21st-century capitalist technocracy where only a few lives matter? How do we raise people up from disposability to essentiality? And this goes beyond the question of race. What is it that public theology can say to the white person in Massachusetts who’s heroin-addicted because they feel that their lives have no meaning, because of the trickle-down impact of whiteness in the world today? What do you say to someone who has been told that their whole essence is whiteness and power and domination? And when that no longer exists, then they feel as if they are dying or they get caught up in the throes of death, whether it’s heroin addiction.” – Ruby Sales, Founder and Director of SpiritHouse Project from On Being interview “Where does it hurt?”

“It is not, I think, a question of when and how the white people will ‘free’ the black and the red people. It is a condescension to believe that we have the power to do that. Until we have recognized in them the full strength and grace of their distinctive humanity we will be able to set no one free, for we will not be free ourselves. When we realize that they possess a knowledge for the lack of which we are incomplete and in pain, then the wound in our history will be healed. Then they will simply be free, among us–and so will we, among ourselves for the first time, and among them.”  Wendell Berry, The Hidden Wound

Prayer for Centering
I put my trust in you, O God, as best as I am able.
May I be strong. May I not be afraid.

May all who open their hearts
hear your voice and know your love.
Lead me, teach me, help me to trust.

You are gracious to us, O God:

You guide us, you forgive our clumsy ways
You help us prosper.

When I am sad and anxious
I school my heart to trust
I act with integrity and uprightness
And hope to feel your touch in my heart.

May it be so for all the peoples of the earth
Who call you by many names.  Amen. 

– Psalm 25, translated by Christine Robinson

Invitation to Silence

The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
Father, forgive.

The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
Father, forgive.

The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Father, forgive.

Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Father, forgive.

Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
Father, forgive.

The lust which dishonors the bodies of men, women and children,
Father, forgive.

The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Father, forgive.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.


Weekly Reflection Questions:

Where does it hurt for me?  Where do I feel the pain of racism and white supremacy?  When is it most painful?

How do I acknowledge this pain?  What prayers, actions, rituals allow me to work through and/or transform my pain?

How might I pass this pain on to other people?  Have there been incidents in my life when I have offloaded my own pain around racism onto another – perhaps by blaming or shaming? Or maybe by denying someone’s experience as valid? Perhaps by denying my own experience?

How might I do better in the future?


Join us in person at the Cathedral Fridays at 12:15 PM for this 30 minute communal contemplative prayer with the intention of reconciling and healing racism in our city.

Feel free to pray privately wherever you are in solidarity with those gathered at the Cathedral if you are not able to join in person.

Brought to you by:
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Three Holy Women, Our Lady of Divine Providence, Old St. Mary’s, Saints Peter and Paul Human Concerns/Social Justice Commissions
Urban Ministry of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

For more information, please contact:
Anne Haines, Respect Life Director for Urban Ministry
Andrew Musgrave, Director of Social Justice at Three Holy Women, Old St. Mary’s, Our Lady of Divine Providence and Saints Peter and Paul Parishes
Shelly Roder, Director of Outreach Ministries at
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

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