Turning away from hate

Almost two weeks ago, the KKK dropped their anti-Jewish screed in front of the doors of St. Peter’s Church. I was disgusted and irritated when I saw the flyer as were many others who received the same flyer. I decided to attend the ad hoc group of people concerned about the issue last Monday (December 4) at the Theater (as reported in an article in the Rappahannock News last Thursday). At the meeting, I was amazed by the number of others who had gathered, like me, on the spur of the moment. The sharing at the meeting was informative and one of the good things that came out of the meeting was learning about the “Hate has no home here” movement.

Thanks to the generosity of Steffi Ritter, I was able to get a sign (Hate has no home here) for St. Peter’s. As I was putting the sign up on that Monday afternoon, I had a number of thoughts. One was a silly thought — that this sign is so small that no one will notice much less read it. Then I began to think more deeply about the message on the sign.

As a resident of Rappahannock County for only 3 plus years, I asked myself whether the message on the sign was true in my experience of the county. Is my parish and our county truly a place where: “hate has no home?” While I have seen, and heard, and read isolated expressions of hate both in my parish community and the community at large, my general experience is that, by and large, the message of the sign is true “hate has no home here.” I have been impressed, while living and ministering here, with the overall attitudes of respect, and generosity, and volunteerism that characterize both my parish and our county community.

There is, however, a still deeper question to address — what about my own heart? Is it true that “hate has no home in my own heart?” To find out, I have been reflecting on that question in prayer. Catholics call what I am doing an “examination of conscience.” I have been asking myself whether there is any hate in my attitudes, or my actions, or my omissions toward others as individuals or groups of individuals? Sadly, I have found that there are some sins for which I must repent and there are some attitudes that I must change. Now, I realize that my examination of conscience must be ongoing if I am to be able to truly say that “hate has no home here” in my heart.

So, in a strange way, the KKK has done me “a favor” — and not a favor that they ever intended when they dropped that flyer at my Church door. Their hateful screed has made me more determined than ever to turn away from hate in my heart — in my parish — in my county and in my country. I invite you, the reader, to join me on this “journey.” Ask yourself, as I did, whether “hate has no home” in your family and in your life. Do your own personal “examination of conscience.” Address whatever issues that you find. Then we will be a community ever more filled with individuals determined to turn away from hate in any form or in any place. What a perfect response that will be to the strangers who left the flyers on our doorsteps!

Rev. Horace H. (Tuck) Grinnell
Pastor, St. Peter Catholic Church, Washington

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