Lamenting the reality of now

“Today is a day of national lament and mourning for the 100, 000+ victims of COVID-19. In the midst of that lamentation, we would be remiss if we did not also lament the pain and suffering that has engulfed our nation in the wake of the senseless and unjust death of George Floyd,” said Sister Anne Wambach, prioress. “We uphold Mr. Floyd and his family in prayer; together with them and the thousands of people who have raised their hearts and voices in nonviolent protest, we grieve the racial injustice that once again has wrought such anguish.”

As women monastics, the Erie Benedictines uphold the Benedictine motto of PAX/Peace. St. Benedict urges us to seek peace and pursue it—the peace that comes from loving God, from loving one’s neighbor, from living in truth with love for all. It requires effort to be united in peace and the bond of love. To that end, we commit ourselves as religious women, through faithfulness to the Gospel and the Rule of Benedict, to help create a world rooted in love, acceptance, inclusion, peace and justice for all.

Martin Luther King, Jr, said that a “riot is the language of the unheard.” While we do not condone violence and destruction, we seek to understand the agony and torment that has brought about such a response. As Benedictines, we hope to “listen with the ear of the heart” and respond through our corporate commitment to “be a healing presence and prophetic witness for peace and justice.” Solidarity with the suffering is shown through mercy. “Mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of another so as to answer them in their need.” (James Keenan, SJ)

Today we lament, a prayer genre that allows us to acknowledge the excruciating reality of now while also anticipating a new creation. We mourn the victims of COVID-19. We mourn the victims of violence. We mourn the victims of racism. We beg God to deliver all victims from their distress, suffering and pain. We implore God to help us recognize our own culpability. “Lament can lead us to a place of hope—not because lamenting does anything magical, but because God sings a louder song than suffering ever could, a song of renewal, restoration, and re-creation.” (Aubrey Sampson) May God, to whom we are drawn through lament, empower us to imagine and bring about that re-creation.

Sister Anne Wambach, Prioress
Benedictine Sisters of Erie