Left Justified: Please accept my humble apologies

Let me eat some crow. I made a disparaging remark in my last column for which I wish to apologize. I really have no excuse. My friends and acquaintances were taken aback by my use of a disparaging word. It was in my column about the Beloit casino. I’m not going to repeat it, but may I say I am heartily sorry. I will refrain from the use of such language in the future.

I learned about doing penance for one’s sins through my Catholic upbringing at St. Bernadette’s Grade School here in Rockford. After a quick confession of sins, the priest usually assigns the penitent to say prayers. I became quite good at rattling off the “Our Father.” But now that I’m older, I know that doing a contrite act shows true repentance.

During this Holy Week, many churches will ask their congregation to attend more than the Sunday Easter service: Holy Thursday, the Stations of the Cross on Friday, and some even hold 48-hour vigils over Saturday. I look forward to the Good Friday Walk through the city. It starts at 9 a.m. from Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 412 N. Church St. There are 14 stops in a circular route that then ends at Beattie Park, just a block from the beginning. We walk dragging a 10-foot heavy wooden cross. When we stop, it’s usually at a site that deserves prayers and support; for example, we’ll say a prayer in front of Janet Wattles Mental Health Center. We’ll read a short Scripture about that station or do a remembrance concerning the tradition. And then we’ll say a prayer concerning the facility.

Prayers will be said at Allen Chapel, blessing their soup kitchen; the Federal Building, praying for peace and our leaders; the Illinois State Building, hoping for decent services and a just way of paying for them.

It’s a long walk, probably about an hour and half, but it’s a wonderful way to spend Good Friday in the city. I especially appreciate the prayers said in front of the Veterans’ Memorial. I’m a veteran, and I know we all pray for the end of wars. Here is what we say at the Veterans’ Statue. The leader starts with: “The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross. We claim the power of the cross of Christ for the victims of war. Your attitude must be that of Christ.” We all respond, “We will walk where Jesus walks.” The leader says, “Your actions must be that of Christ.” All say: “We are a people committed to Jesus.”

The leader then reads the Scripture reading: “Toward mid-afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud tone: ‘God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matt. 27:46) After that, Jesus, realizing that everything was not finished, said to fulfill the Scriptures, ‘I am thirsty.’ When he took the wine, he said, ‘Now it is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and delivered over his spirit. (John 19:28, 30)

A brief silence follows, then a final reflection by a speaker. “This Veterans’ Statue, which stands in front of the Veterans’ Memorial Hall, is a memorial to all who have given their lives in service to our country. We pray that our children will never again have to know war, or its devastation and pain. We pray for nonviolent solutions to the world’s problems, and resolve to end conflicts through active peacemaking.”

The leader then says, “Let us continue on this journey with Christ.” The group sings songs as they resume walking.

Our final stop is Beattie Park, where we remember the Native Americans who once owned this land. And I will be especially prayerful and penitent, and pray that I can keep my mouth shut when appropriate and open it with caution.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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