RE-humanize this Lent

Reflection Questions and Responses

See below the reflection responses and feedback from some of our members who attended RE-humanize the Lent. We offer these as a way to open dialogue and thus build relationships, something desperately needed in these troubling times.

Each week’s questions will be posted below the appropriate heading. (Jump to each specific week using the bookmarks in the beige strip below.)

To submit a response, click here.

Week 1      Week 2     Week 3     Week 4     Week 5     Week 6     Week 7

Week One

What are my initial thoughts about the connection between speech that demonizes others and potential violence as well as polarization? Did anything I heard in the presentations surprise me or make me see the issue in a new light? Might I be called to re-examine my own speech during this sacred season?

Week 1. Sr. Judith

Communal Discussion by: Margaret Magee, OSF, Helen Roberts, OSF, Kathie Uhler, OSF, Harriet Hamilton, OSF, Claire Bertero, OSF, Gwyen Melhado, OSF, Cindy matthews, OSFJudith Terrameo, OSF, Rosemary Weiss, and Mary Labenthaul

Week 1. Althea

The day before the presentation on the FAN the celebrant at Mass talked about the impact of words on society and us as individuals. Then I...

Week 1. Dianna

What are my initial thoughts about the connection between speech that demonizes others and potential violence as well as polarization? I have...

Week 1. Beth

I was struck by the importance of responding/reacting to divisive conversation with questions to clarify the speakers meaning. This seems a...

Week 1. Michele

Week 1. Michele

Hi friends, Some of you were interested in hearing more from speaker Rachel Kleinfeld about prospects for political violence, including in the US....

Week 1. Barbara

The call definitely made me realize how casually we use words and how damaging they can be. Fasting from demeaning and dismissive words will be part...

Week 1. Nora N.

I really appreciated the various approaches of the presenters and the thoughtfulness of the messages shared. I had not thought I'd be- humanizing in...

Week 1. Jean D.

It was an excellent presentation and gave me pause to reflect on my own words that I use when I am so angry at some of the blatant disregards for...

Week 1. Jeremiah

I totally agree with living the acronym THINK, however it seems overly optimistic and unrealistic to have civil discourse when one or both sides are...

Week Two

In the Gospel according to Luke (4:1-13), Jesus is tempted by the devil to abuse his power as the Son of God in several ways. As a child of God, can I think of times when I have underestimated or undervalued the power of my speech, thereby causing harm, even if unintentionally? And times when I’ve underestimated the power of my speech to do good?

Week 2. Mark

Franciscan and someone from the other side (a Republican) the presentation was a typical Franciscan Action Network (FAN) product.

Week 2. Michele

Week 2. Michele

Friends, The March 14 episode of “The Daily,” a New York Times podcast, discusses how the Putin govt has used the accusation that Ukraine is ruled by “Nazis” to convince Russians that the invasion of the country is justified.

Week 2. Gilbert

Given our understanding of Catholic Social Teaching, what is the appropriate role of Secular Franciscans in confronting speech which dehumanizes or demonizes others?

Week 2. Michael

A friend talks about how as we learn and grow, we have this sludge that continues in us where do what we know we should not.

Week 2. Jean

For sure I have underestimated the power of my own speech!

Week 2. Michele

Week 2. Michele

How many times I have envied the prophet Isaiah:
“The Lord GOD has given me…

Week 2. Casey

Week 2. Casey

I’m the kind of person who likes to listen first and doesn’t talk a lot…so I know that when I do speak, people listen.

Week 2. Nan

Matthew 25…whatsoever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me. Let’s help one another and our democracy

Week 2. Jerry

The term re-humanizing you’re so right on, but it’s a very complicated process since the lack of civil discourse has been going on for so long.

Week Three

Cardinal Sean O’Malley has quoted Pope Paul VI in saying that dehumanizing discourse, including racism, not only wounds its target but that the speaker is also “mutilated by their selfishness.” In what way might my selfishness–the perceived self-interest that causes me to distance myself from others with whom I am at odds–mutilate me? Has my image of anyone been “mutilated” after I heard that person use dehumanizing or demonizing language about another?

(Sources: See this recent talk by Cardinal O’Malley, as well as this 2007 post.)

Suggested action: Take a walk outside to find signs of the changing season, such as green shoots or blooms on plants springing out of older, dried out growth. Take a photo and use it to remind yourself that you can change–and others can as well.

Week 3. Michele

Week 3. Michele

I recall being taught as I grew up that in a democracy like the United States each citizen should vote according to their own individual interests and the results will come out being in the best interests of the most people.

Week 3. Barbara

After working to keep to my Lenten promises I realized the online I am repeatedly trying is to re-humanize.

Week 3. Janine

Week 3. Janine

I can think of a few times when my image of someone has been mutilated when I hear them speaking in a dehumanizing way.

Week Four

When was the last time you gave yourself the opportunity to have a serious conversation with someone with whom you didn’t agree, thereby allowing yourself to learn and grow? If you have avoided such conversations–or had them and regretted how they went–how could you approach the next one with a re-humanizing lens so as to be more open to growth?

Week 4. Janine

Week 4. Janine

Many years ago, I had a friend whom I considered my best friend.

Week 4. Louise

There is one conversation that I have avoided for years, telling my self as time passes that it is too late and not necessary any longer.

Week 4. Jeremiah

Realizing they’re trying to have civil discourse with another who have quite different perspectives With underlying emotions, I have been part of at least 10 zoom calls with Classmates who attended a Franciscan seminary.

Week Five

While we often think of political violence as involving many people (rioting, insurgency, etc.) or targeting elected officials, it can also involve acts or threats against ordinary citizens. A recent poll of nearly 600 local electoral officials showed that 77% believed that threats to their safety had increased in recent years and 17% had personally experienced threats, which often started with being demonized as “traitors.”

Ask yourself: How can I become more alert to potential violence or threats of violence taking place in my state or community?

Week 5. Nora

I can make sure I vote in any election taking place and contribute to a respectful positive environment through my own presence and actions, by for example…

Week 5. Michele

On the subject of how to find out about political violence in my community, certainly there was plenty of it here in Washington DC in 2020-early 2021.

Week 5. Michele

Week 5. Michele

The more I think about dehumanization/rehumanization, the more I hear other people talking about it! Two things to share:

Week 5. Janine

I know this has been said before, but people seem to be so much more willing to demonize or dehumanize online.

Week 5. Patti

In our small town we have an online service between residents. Weather cautions, street closings, yard sales, athletic events are posted.

Week Six

When have I spoken up for someone else who was dehumanized or demonized for their views?  Was it someone with whose views I agreed or disagreed?  What words did I use to object to their dehumanization and how did that go?

Week 6. Louise

I had a recent conversation with a friend who felt de-humanized. She identifies as a person of color and felt dismissed, unappreciated by someone she felt “should know better.”

Week 6. Michele

Week 6. Michele

So….the person I’ve been trying to rehumanize for the last few weeks is….Vladimir Putin. This has been REALLY hard.

Week Seven

How has this Lenten process of considering the links among dehumanization, polarization, and political violence changed my way of thinking and/or behaving? What new tools have I acquired to cope with these issues? What’s the best tip I have learned to help me be a RE-humanizer? What new questions do I have?

Week 7. Louise

I find myself paying more attention to language that at first glance or consideration did not occur to me as dehumanizing or polarizing.

Week 7. Nora

I appreciate the “Franciscan pause”, to then follow up with a clarifying question “What did you mean when you said X?”

Week 7. Michele

The best new tips I have learned during this Lent, which I hope will help me be a RE-humanizer:

Week 7. Jeremiah

Have compassion on all of creation as you consider the ‘other’ as a mirror onto one self.

Week 7. Janine

Week 7. Janine

I have enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on my speech during Lent thanks to this event and the follow up.