From Our Pastors
As democracy took root and evolved in the early days of the United States, local governments determined how electoral processes would proceed. In 1791, in the State of Delaware, established voting to take place in the Sussex county seat, Georgetown, the first Tuesday of November on alternating years. Built into that law was Return Day, where two days after the elections, the winners and losers, along with political leaders would gather for the result to be announced. The winners were celebrated, and the citizens joined in an ox roast where they ate and drank together, enjoyed music and celebrated the return to post election civility. Of particular note and worthy or reflection is that the political leaders and candidates would collectively bury a hatchet in soil brought from Lewes, the first town in the state, as a sign of their desire to move forward together despite the acrimony of the political season. This practice has continued every election cycle since 1791. Despite the pandemic, Return Day was marked once again this year. With little fanfare, the results were announced, and the hatchet was buried by representatives of all the parties that fielded candidates. What a great tradition to have continued through all these years.
This tradition of burying the hatchet should resonate with us as Catholic Christians, who have been reconciled to God through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. God desires our wholeness and our holiness, which becomes impossible to have when we hold onto injuries that become resentments. Resentment is toxic to the human soul. Jesus takes on the toxic human condition, to literally bury in himself all that can destroy us, so that we have a way to live towards the fullness of life. It can be challenging to give up resentments, resentment may initially even be justifiable. But resentment creates a cycle of reliving hurts and injuries in a way that amplifies their negative impact, which never leads to healing.
The healing of individual and even social and political divisions may be served by an interior process in which we invite the power of God into our thinking, so we can begin to bury the hatchet in the various situations of our lives. Here is a simple yet powerful way to begin to let go of resentment and grow towards peace within and among ourselves.
- Identify and accept the resentments in your life. It’s hard to have unacknowledged wounds healed.
- Identify your role in the resentment. How might I have contributed to the situation or clung to the feelings?
- Be willing to live without the resentment – they are not badges of honor.
- Pray for the person or situation you resent, even if that prayer feels only like mere words at first. Grace is greater than our capacity and grace will find its way in when we make an opening.
Fr. Michael Callaghan, C.O. and Fr. Mark Lane, C.O.