As the years get farther apart, I can only vaguely, but fondly, remember a course I had with Professor Dick Westley at Loyola University on the subject of Death and Dying. One of the assigned books was by Miguel De Unamuno, a Spanish philosopher, who wrote The Tragic Sense of Life. What I remember from reading this text was Unamuno’s struggle with faith and reason. He made the strong plea for passion over rationality, heart over head, faith over reason. Though it was a long time ago when I read that book, the one striking line that stands out for me is when the author suggested the real struggle or contradiction we wrestle with is “My head that says yes and my heart that says no!”
It might be a bit of a stretch making the connection, but I’m mindful of Unamuno’s struggle as we enter today this “Season of Social Justice” at Old St. Patrick’s. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there is no contradiction in knowing that at the center of each disciple should be an acknowledged call to be agents of change. I believe in my heart “that’s a given.” But when I sometimes think of Social Justice and how to actually be an agent of change, I sometimes flip Unamuno’s words to, “My heart that says ‘Yes,’ and my head that says, ‘I don’t know how!’
I am tremendously grateful to folks on our staff like Bob Kolatorowicz and Rachel Lyons and those who are so deeply involved in our Justice Initiatives for calling our attention to this basic premise as witnesses of the gospel through this Season of Social Justice. I love the fact that, like other liturgical seasons, we are holding up a period of time in our calendar year and focusing our prayer and hopefully our action, on transforming the world and culture in light of our baptismal call. But one of the things that Rachel and I have discussed, and this is my own personal dilemma, is that I believe deeply in the concept of Social Justice and being an agent of change, but I just don’t know how to actually put that into action. My heart says yes, but my head doesn’t know how! How do I take the next step?
I pray that, together, we will try to get our heads and hearts more intentionally around Jesus’ life witness of change. How can we change the world for the better, and for the good? Welcome to this sacred season dedicated to Social Justice and what that means for each one of us. Often I think we “assign” the social justice ‘stuff’ to some committee or another group in the community, when in fact the stuff of justice, equality, and peace are the responsibility of every disciple who follows in the footsteps the Risen One. I hope you’ll try to make yourself available for a few, if not all, of the Wednesday workshops happening during this month of August, beginning on the 10th.
Connected to this Season of Social Justice, remember that we are also in the midst of what Pope Francis has called the Year of Mercy. This past week, our staff had an enriching afternoon with theologian and OSP friend Jack Shea on this theme of Mercy. We were really just doing a “check-in” to see how the Year of Mercy was actually playing itself out in the midst of our ministry and among the community of Old St. Patrick’s. We were pleasantly amazed to hear from each other the rich stories of mercy, compassion, understanding, and connectivity that have been highlighted as a result of this deliberate call to Mercy by the pope. Likewise, we were impressed by the countless ways in which “Mercy” has become part of our daily parlance in preaching, teaching, and ministry. As a result of our short afternoon conversation, we were also mindful of the fact that the Year of Mercy, declared by Francis, is really just a first step. Mercy doesn’t end in November! Our music minister Laura Higgins wisely pointed out that the Year of Mercy is really just an invitation into a Life of Mercy! So true! As we shared our stories with each other, so we invite you to share your stories as well. Has anything about the Year of Mercy resonated with you in any special or particular way? Would you like to share (even anonymously) an experience you’ve had where God’s Mercy has been at work? I’d invite you to email those to our Communications Minister Lauren Kezon at any time with the subject line, ‘Moved By Mercy” at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s pray for each other and especially for our country during this season of social justice and in the midst of this Year of Mercy.
Peace to you,
Fr. Tom Hurley
Stay in touch with Fr. Hurley through Instagram and Twitter by following @TomHurleyOSP.