December 1

Reflection

I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Psalm 23;1-3

Tomorrow we remember three religious sisters and one laywoman who were raped, mutilated, and murdered on December 2, 1980. These American women dedicated their lives to providing food, transportation and other assistance to the people who were being oppressed in El Salvador. Sr. Dorothy Kazel, OSU, Jean Donovan, Sr. Ita Ford, MM, and Sr. Maura Clarke, MM, gave their lives to a faith that does justice. They were accused of political actions and not supported by our own government. They committed their lives to living out the gospel “in the house of the Lord”, without knowing it would lead to such a brutal end. In struggling to help the poor during a horrific civil war that claimed more than 75,000 lives, they lost their own. “The history of the church is written in the blood of martyrs.” But these four women represented a different kind of martyrdom, increasingly common in our time. Their murderers dared to call themselves Christians, indeed defenders of Christian values. And they died not simply for clinging to faith but for clinging, like Jesus, to the poor.

Prayer

Help us. Christ, to see the truth and to reject the hypocrisy that supports injustice
in your name.

Action

Bring up information about these murders on the internet. Recreate in your imagination the context of the time in which they occurred. What could have been your thoughts then? What are they as you reflect on this now?

Suggested Reading

I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Psalm 23;1-3

The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly; to heal the brokenhearted.
Isaiah 61:1

When a person, of hope and faith starts down the long path of prophetic action,
it is impossible to turn aside to lesser things.  That’s why prophets are so dangerous, they cry in season and out of season, politely and impolitely, loud and long.  And they do it because having prayed the vision, they cannot live with themselves and do otherwise.
Joan Chittister, OSB

Jesus’ respect for the dignity of everyone he encountered was boundless.  He treated each individual as unique and lovable– whether that person was a blind beggar, an epileptic, or a Roman centurion.  He was particularly attentive to the needs of women and children.
Albert Nolan

One cries out, ‘Lord, how long?’ And then too what creeps into my mind is the little fear or big, that when it touches me personally, will I be faithful?
Maura Clarke, MM

Am I willing to suffer with the people here, the suffering of the powerless, the feeling impotent? Can I say to my neighbors – I have no solutions to this situation; I don’t know the answers, but I will walk with you, search with you, be with you? Can I let myself be evangelized by this opportunity? Can I look at and accept my own poorness as I learn it from the poor ones?”
Ita Ford, MM

Several times I have decided to leave – I almost could except for the children, the poor bruised victims of adult lunacy. Who would care for them?
Jean Donovan

El Salvador, Savior of the World, is writhing in pain – a country that daily faces the loss of so many of its people – and yet a country that is waiting, hoping, yearning for peace. The steadfast faith and courage our leaders have to continue preaching the Word of the Lord, even though it may mean laying down your life in the very real sense, is always a point of admiration and a vivid realization that Jesus is here with us.
Dorothy Kazel, OSU

 It’s unbelievable. People are being killed daily. We just found out that three people from one of our areas were taken, tortured and hacked to death.
Jean Donovan

I hope you come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you. Something worth living for–maybe even worth dying for–something that energizes you, enthuses you, enables you to keep moving ahead.
Ita Ford, MM

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I am at peace here and searching — trying to learn what the Lord is asking. Ita is a beautiful, faith-filled young woman. I am learning much from her. At this point, I would hope to be able to go on, God willing… This seems what he is asking of me at this moment. The work is really what Archbishop Romero called “acompañamiento” (accompanying the people), as well as searching for ways to bring help.
Maura Clarke, MM

The reign of God is making headway – and for this I am grateful. Do continue to be Spirit-filled and challenging.
Dorothy Kazel, OSU

  

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