When Pope Francis visited Assisi last week, he offered a reflection on the power of forgiveness. “In this year of mercy, it becomes ever clearer the path of forgiveness can truly renew the church and the world,” the Holy Father said. “To offer today’s world the witness of mercy is a task from which none of us can feel exempted.”
This Sunday, August 14, at 4:00 PM, we will dedicate the Reconciliation Labyrinth at Precious Blood Center as part of our province’s response to this Holy Year of Mercy. We envision this sacred space on the grounds of the Center as a place where those who are carrying heavy burdens of guilt or grief, doubt or fear, resentment or remorse, can come to walk this sacred path as a way of finding forgiveness and peace in their lives. As I wrote to you when we announced its construction, “The labyrinth models for us how reconciliation is journey toward the sacred center where we recognize ourselves and each person as a child of God. It is this reality of covenant relationship that shapes a spirituality of reconciliation.”
In his homily at Assisi on August 4, the Pope said, “The world needs forgiveness; too many people are caught up in resentment and harbor hatred because they are incapable of forgiving. They ruin their lives and the lives of those around them rather than finding the joy of serenity and peace.” In this long, hot summer of seemingly endless violence, hurtful rhetoric of exclusion and condemnation, and hateful words that call forth wrath and vengeance, we hope this Reconciliation Labyrinth, patterned after the one designed by Clare Wilson of South Africa to help heal the wounds caused by apartheid in her country, will offer pilgrims a place of peace. In the stillness of this journey walking the labyrinth, one is invited to discover one’s true self as God’s beloved, and with God’s grace to remove the poison of resentment, shame, and hate. The sacred ritual of walking the labyrinth reminds us that forgiveness is not so much a moment as it is a movement of mercy that takes us deeper into the mystery of God’s compassion and love.
I hope you can join us as we dedicate the Reconciliation Labyrinth this Sunday, August 14. The following day, August 15, the Most Rev. James V. Johnston, bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, will join the province staff and Precious Blood members serving in the area for noontime prayer and lunch at Precious Blood Center as we celebrate the 201st anniversary of the founding of the Congregation. As we meet in prayer across the miles, may we rededicate our lives as people of the cross, cup, and covenant to be ministers of mercy and makers of peace in a world screaming for forgiveness, mercy, and reconciliation.
Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S.