Torn and Tattered


A reflection by STM President Mary McIntosh

After a stormy and somewhat sleepless night, the first image I saw on the news this morning, as I drank my first cup of coffee, was the tattered Acuity flag in Sheboygan. If you are not familiar with this flag, it is the largest free flying flag in the world. 

Photo of torn Acuity flag, from Fox 11 News article

It seems that over the past week I always wake up with a fear in my stomach. Starting with the senseless, tragic murder of George Floyd, it was comforting to see the large crowds peacefully protesting the injustice. But many of the protests turned to riots. Every morning on the news, there were reports of more businesses and neighborhoods being recklessly destroyed.

When I saw the flag this morning, it brought a tear to my eye as I thought of how tattered and divided our country is right now. Where is all this going?  As a Catholic and leader of a Catholic school, what message can I give our community? 

Of course it starts with love. Catholic Social Teaching is a central and essential element of our faith, recognizing Christ in the poorest among us.  It is based on our understanding of human life and dignity.  As we are made in the image of God, Catholics believe that human life and human dignity are sacred. Catholic Social Teaching is the way we live out God’s greatest commandment, which is:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

This essential element of our Catholic faith calls us to reach out and build personal relationships with those most in need of mercy and justice. It also calls us to inspire and defend the sacred dignity of the human person while also promoting the common good. We have an enduring duty of commitment to the poor and the most vulnerable, especially groups affected by systemic racism. 

So, in these trying times, and at all times, let us love God and each other.  As we see suffering, let us, out of love for them, try to help. While it may sound somewhat corny to some, not loving ends up harder and more painful, which is what we are seeing now in our country.  Let us come together and love one another, leaving politics aside.  Love is what it is all about at the end of the day. 

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