Blessed and Broken

by Libbie Steiner

           

A few weeks ago, I attended my third Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, D.C. As always, it was an invigorating weekend of learning, praying, and advocating for justice. Four years ago, as a junior in high school, I traveled across the country from Oregon to attend my first IFTJ. I could not have predicted the impact that weekend would have on my life and my faith. I met inspiring people who were working for change and learned about the many martyrs in faith who died working for a more just world. I fell in love with many social justice movements and learned what “a faith that does justice” really looks like.

At this year’s IFTJ, I heard Sister Simone Campbell, S.S.S., executive director of NETWORK, a group founded by Catholic sisters that lobbies for social justice, speak about wealth inequality in our country. Her talk was sobering in its analysis of the ever-widening gap between the richest and poorest segments of society. Though she was an excellent speaker and I learned a great deal from her session, what has stuck with me the most is a line from a poem Sister Simone wrote that she recited in closing: “Blessed and broken, you are enough.”  

           

Being a person means being blessed and broken, and being a person of faith means knowing that we are loved in our brokenness. We are always “enough” for God. When the world rejects weakness, pain, or deficiency, God accepts that brokenness and continues to love us unconditionally. If God accepts our brokenness, it is also a call for us to love the brokenness in ourselves and in all people. Tolerance, forgiveness, and compassion flow from this love.

 

 “Blessed and broken” also describes Holy Communion. In every Mass, the body of Christ is blessed and then broken, to be shared with the Mystical Body of Christ: the Church and Her people. In the sharing of Christ’s Body and Blood in Mass, we share in Christ’s blessedness and brokenness. Christ, sacramentally blessed and broken for all, offers us grace. Our own blessed and broken parts mingle with Christ’s when we receive Communion. We, though broken, are “enough” to receive Christ.

 

Sometimes it seems like there are a lot more broken systems than blessed ones. It is often easy to feel overwhelmed by the injustice in our world. It is important to remember that we are not perfect. We are only human. We can do God’s work to the best of our abilities, but at some point, we also must admit to ourselves that we will not be able to fix everything. That is not to say that we should become discouraged and quit working for justice altogether: it is only to say, according to Bishop Ken Untener, in the familiar prayer often attributed to Blessed Oscar Romero, that we are “workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.”

 

I often want to hide my broken parts. I want to cover up my scars and bury my imperfections. My brokenness, though, makes me human. Sister Simone reminds us that no matter what our brokenness may be, we are still blessed. We are loved. In our blessedness and brokenness, we are all “enough.”

 

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