From the desk of Fr Stephen
Last week we noticed that a squirrel had gotten into the church and we were having a hard time getting him out. I decided I was going to buy a trap to catch him. I went to three sporting goods stores in St. Charles before I found what I was looking for. That night I put the trap in the church and we had our squirrel in the cage the next morning. One of the reasons for telling this story is because when I was in the sporting goods stores, 95% of the people I saw did not have a mask. I was stunned by this. When I go to the store here in the city, 95% of people have a mask, but out in St. Charles, hardly anyone had a mask. In trying to understand this, I thought that many people go by what they see other people doing. When I go to the store in the city, most people are wearing a mask, so I make sure I have mine. Out in St. Charles, most did not have a mask, and so we become complacent. We just kind of do what other people are doing without really thinking about it too much.
I use this as an example because unless other people remind us of something, we may not pay much attention. Three months ago, I put out some signs on the wall on Grand. These signs are a reminder for us to LOVE one another. Every day 1000 people go by the church. I hope every person that goes by sees those signs and is reminded to be loving and kind to one another. I am not sure if it is working or not. Even the people from church don’t comment on the signs, but I think they are important.
This past Saturday, we had a sign of a different kind. From 11:00 a.m. until 12 noon, about 300 people gathered on the steps and sidewalk around the church. It was a great sign, a great witness. Much of the talk was on white privilege, which made some uncomfortable, but I was very pleased with the whole event. Many people, as they drove by, honked their horns in support of what was going on. These kinds of events must continue to happen. We need constant reminders, not just of systemic racism in this country, but to be kind and loving in every situation. I just saw a quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “I have decided to stick with love; hate is too great a burden to bear.” I like that quote a lot. When we carry around hatred in our hearts, it wears us out. Kindness, mercy, and love are much easier to carry than hatred.
And so yes, I call for an end to racism, but for me, it is much more than that. I am calling for love of neighbor in every situation. I am calling for love of neighbor regardless of the color of their skin. I am calling for love of neighbor, even within our own families and parish. Certainly, our country must change, but each person must make that change in their own heart first; otherwise, nothing will change.