Reflections on Reconciliation

By Anne Stricherz ‘96

At my freshman convocation, Rev. Monk Malloy, C.S.C. was the first of many to welcome my classmates and me to the Notre Dame family. We have all heard mention of, and many have felt the strength of, this family as students, alumni, and friends of Notre Dame. Yet recent events, as well as those from decades prior, have led to fracture, hurt, disappointment and dismay within and among this family. 

Reconciliation, as both a Catholic sacrament and a secular concept, can be a powerful tool to usher in forgiveness, mercy and change. Through reconciliation, “we are called to become vehicles of Christ’s love, making amends and restoring justice and the bonds that have been broken.” 

In Family Peace: A Reconciliation Meditation, Jack Korn writes, “In Buddhist monasteries, when conflict arises, monks and nuns are encouraged to undertake a formal practice of reconciliation. They begin with this simple intention: “No matter what the hurt within us, we can seek to be reconciled.” 

Both physical and social pandemics have plagued our countries and our communities. The hurt and harm, the sting and the silence of racism, have gone on for too long. Many of us want to respond. We want it to end. And yet, many of us are complicit in what we have done and what we have failed to do. Can we, too, hold the intention of reciliation? 

Korn continues: “Reconciliation may ask us to listen to one another deeply. It may ask us to see each other with more mercy and tenderness. It may mean acknowledging the past and then starting anew.” 

The late Rep. John Lewis believed such reconciliation was essential for the survival of our nation. In Lewis’s final essay, Together You Can Redeem the Soul of the Nation, published on July 30, 2020, the day of his funeral, the civil rights leader and congressman wrote:

“When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.” 

Lewis asked that all Americans do their part to bring healing into our own hearts and homes.

Regina Gesicki '08 recalls that Reconciliation was in fact the theme of her College of Arts & Letters Seminar sophomore year. She wrote, “I remember moving toward an understanding of reconciliation as much more than a binary of 'right' and 'wrong' or 'winner' and 'loser.' Though it was very hard for me to grasp at the time, it's become easier as I've gotten older and lived more." She added, “reconciliation is about meeting in the middle, showing up with all the messiness we each carry and being able to be vulnerable both in terms of showing the whole self and in terms of learning and growing, being willing to change and see the other side(s). We must have the courage to say ‘I was wrong’ or ‘I harmed you’.”

These might be the most important words that we can say and hear in a family.  So let us help one another “put down the heavy burdens of hate” and move toward reconciliation.

In the meditation practice below, we begin by reciting the intentions of reconciliation, willingly planting seeds of reconnection and love in our heart.

Picture each person and group named below as you go through this practice. As you repeat each phrase, turn your intention to the possibility of restoring harmony where suffering has set you apart. 

Slowly recite the following intentions, allowing time to sense the reconnection of each:

View of the Lady Chapel, Cathedral of St. Julien, Le Mans, France

May all mothers and sons be reconciled.

May all mothers and daughters be reconciled.

May all fathers and sons be reconciled.

May all fathers and daughters be reconciled.

May all sisters and brothers be reconciled.

May all husbands and wives be reconciled.

May all partners and lovers be reconciled.

May all family members be reconciled.

May all employers and employees be reconciled.

May all community members be reconciled.

May all friends be reconciled.

May all women be reconciled.

May all men be reconciled.

May all men and women be reconciled.

May all religions be reconciled.

May all races be reconciled.

May all nations be reconciled.

May all peoples be reconciled.

May all creatures be reconciled.

May all beings of every form be reconciled.

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