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Guest Author: June 2024 Blog by Sr. Mary Ann Zimmer, Sisters of Notre Dame, Omaha


I invite you to share a burden…

Why, you might ask, are you determined to burden me with more awareness of life’s many tragedies? Aren’t you asking me for more discouragement, depression, or anger?

Awareness faces reality head on.

The other choice is blocking out realities that are clearly present. We all see reports of shootings in public places. We know people whose loved ones have died by suicide or tragic accidents. We have seen the heartbreaking reports of little children who have found an unsecured gun and innocently used it to injure or kill a playmate, sibling, or parent. We see the accounts of lethal violence in domestic disputes.

Even when we are not focused on these things, on some level we know they are there. And we actually have to expend energy on not knowing, on maintaining our numbness. Letting ourselves be aware frees up that energy for constructive engagement with life. Yes, awareness can be painful! We may even choose to take a vacation from paying attention from time to time. Maybe at some points in our lives we cannot tolerate more awareness. An engrained habit of numbness, however, diminishes our connections to ourselves and others and to our own powers for good.

Most of the time, when I do let myself share in the hard realities of the people around me, empathy, energizing anger, determination, and compassion are released. My feelings find constructive uses through action. And for that I need hope. Just as my oneness with all humanity drives me to face our common sorrows and tragedies, our oneness also brings me hope. Every small action moves reality. Everywhere someone who does not know me, whom I will never meet writes a letter, calls an official, stands by a victim, shapes a law to restrain would-be perpetrators, votes with care, mentors a young person, and raises compassionate children. They give witness by their actions that compassion and hope are alive in our shared human family.

Any action that one person takes gives hope to others. Through the cycle of awareness, feeling, action, and hope we nurture one another to endure and make fruitful use of the realities we let in to our consciousness. Awareness can be intolerable alone. We need the knowledge and the experience that the human family is resisting violence in ways large and small and that each of us has the power to take some action.

Please join with the Notre Dame Sisters, the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids, and Catholic Sisters everywhere — this month praying for those who have suffered death or injury from gun violence, their family, loved ones, neighbors, and all who are united in sorrow and determination. We pray with and for one another:

O God, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Redeemer,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.