By Tony DeSantis, member of CTA’s Vision Council and Anti-Racism Team
Blow the ram’s horn trumpet in Zion!
Declare a day of repentance, a holy fast day.
O God, We have ignored You too long
We are complacent in our privilege
Complicit in our silence and
Comfortable in our ignorance
Help us to repent;
To accept our part in injustice
To be courageous in changing our hearts
And to be wise to the ways we are distracted from our faith
As we take ashes on Ash Wednesday, let us pause to consider the placement of a black cross on our foreheads. The black cross symbolizes remembrance, reflection and resurrection. We must remember our oft forgotten 250-year history of slavery and our unending history of Jim Crow. We must also remember our history of genocide against the indigenous peoples of North America. We must reflect on the continuous effect of those histories on our own lives and the society as a whole. And we must repent of our own part, however small, in the perpetuation of the legacy that began in the horrific economic necessity to justify perpetual bondage on the basis of race.
The prophet Joel declares that there is still time to change one’s heart, but it must happen soon. The day of repentance includes elders and children and even those on their honeymoon. All of us must go to the Temple and ask for mercy for our God. And as the Psalm says, we must be humble enough to let God work his will on us. We must be prepared to do willingly whatever God asks us to do. As Christ’s representatives, we speak for Christ himself. As Paul says, We cannot squander this opportunity.
As the same time, we must remember that we are still no different from those we seek to persuade. We as individuals are wounded and corrupted by racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia. We have no room to condemn others or to boast about how far we have come. We still have work to do on ourselves.
So let us begin our Lenten journey by continuing to work on ourselves. Let us pray for those who are have not come as far, or haven’t even started. And let us with God’s help be courageous in opposing racism in all its forms.
- How much have I attempted to learn about my country’s history of slavery and genocide?
- Have I attempted any changes in my life as a result of it?
Suggestion for Almsgiving:
The Center for Environmental Transformation (CFET) in Camden, New Jersey engages, educates, and inspires people to practice a more environmentally responsible way of living on the planet.
Tony DeSantis is a member of the Vision Council and the Anti-Racism Team. He is also a prison minister with Sacred Heart parish in Camden, New Jersey and the President of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers in Philadelphia.