World on Fire

Megan Smillie // Genius of the Call


June 3  



“Please, I can’t breathe”

“Please, man.”


“Please. Please. Please”

“I can’t breathe”

“I’m about to die”

“I can’t breathe, my face”


“I can’t breathe”

“Please, your knee on my neck”

“I can’t breathe”

“I will (get in the car)”

“I will. But I can’t move.”



“I can’t”

“knee . . . my neck”

“I’m through”

“I’m through”

“My stomach hurts. My neck hurts.”

“Everything hurts.”

“Just some water or something.”



“I can’t breathe officer”

“You’re going to kill me”

“They’re going to kill me”


“I cannot breathe”

“I cannot breathe”



“I can’t breathe”

*The officer stays in place compressing George’s neck for 4 more minutes*

The last words of George Floyd. We need to sit with them. Even if you, like me, can’t bear the sight of this man’s last few minutes on earth. If we cannot bring ourselves to watch the video and witness for ourselves this horrific act. We need to quietly contemplate these moments of a man made in the image and likeness of God. No politics here.

He calls for his mom.

As mothers ourselves, (what if this was our own son?) this should cut us to the very core. And if it does not, if it does not shatter our hearts into a million pieces, I offer this from our rich Catholic tradition:

“It is necessary then, to appeal to the spiritual and moral capacities of the human person and to the permanent need for his inner conversion, so as to obtain social changes that will really serve him. The acknowledged priority of the conversion of heart in no way eliminates but on the contrary imposes the obligation of bringing the appropriate remedies to institutions and living conditions when they are an inducement to sin, so that they conform to the norms of justice and advance the good rather than hinder it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., 1888).

As Catholics, we protest the killing of George Floyd because we are a pro-life people. This is all-encompassing. And we need to do a mighty work to ensure that this type of injustice is completely annihilated from our society.

The world is on fire. Let us use the water of our baptism, our lives in Christ, to bring hope and healing. Let us use the flames of the Holy Spirit to enlighten the minds of all and light a fire in our hearts. Let us uphold charity and mercy and justice and right—every man a neighbor, every man a brother. This is our charge—nothing less:

“Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect for the principle that ‘everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as “another self,” above all bearing in mind his life and the means necessary for living it with dignity.’ No legislation could by itself do away with the fears, prejudices, and attitudes of pride and selfishness which obstruct the establishment of truly fraternal societies. Such behavior will cease only through the charity that finds in every man a ‘neighbor,’ a brother (CCC, 1931).

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