Monasteries of the Heart

Monks in Our Midst: Jessie Bazan on Benedictine ideas for discerning anti-racism

This is an excerpt of Jessie Bazan’s article, Pray, study, and work: Benedictine ideas for discerning anti-racism, featured in US Catholic Magazine in summer 2020.


“…the call of the current moment—a moment built on hundreds of years of oppression—also requires white people to discern the steps each can take individually to become more anti-racist.

What might this discernment look like?

Father Bryan Massingale highlights six places for white people to start in his National Catholic Reporter article, “The assumptions of white privilege and what we can do about it.” In this article, he lifts up a litany of reasons why it has been particularly painful to be Black in America the last few months. He focuses on the story of Amy Cooper, the woman who called police when a Black man asked her to leash her dog in Central Park, and the assumptions about white privilege she embodied in that encounter. Then Massingale offers action steps for white people coming to understand white privilege.

I outline Massingale’s steps here and suggest ways fellow white Christians discerning how to be anti-racist can take action through study, prayer, and work around a related social issue. I find the movements of study, prayer, and work—movements at the heart of Benedictine spirituality—offer a helpful, holistic framework for Christian response.”


Read on here to learn the six steps that Bryan Massingale recommends, and the ways that study, prayer, and work inform Jessie Bazan’s response. 

After you read, reflect on the questions:

  • What other study, work, and prayer ideas would you add to this list? In what ways will you commit to being anti-racist? 
  • In the several months that have been since this article was written in July, how has your own understanding of anti-racism and white supremacy evolved since then?


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