FRIDAY THE SECOND OF DECEMBER, 2016
* JEAN DONOVAN AND THE SALVADORAN MARTYRS *
God of hope, who brought love into this world,
be the love that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought peace into this world,
be the peace that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought joy into this world,
be the joy that dwells between us.
God of hope, the rock we stand upon,
be the centre, the focus of our lives,
this Advent time and always. Amen.
The Lord is at my right hand; I shall not fall.
Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge;
I have said to the Lord, ‘You are my lord,
all my good depends on you.’
All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land,
upon those who are noble in heart.
Though the idols are legion that many run after,
their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
neither make mention of their names upon my lips.
The Lord himself is my portion and my cup;
in your hands alone is my fortune.
My share has fallen in a fair land;
indeed, I have a goodly heritage.
I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel,
and in the night watches he instructs my heart.
I have set the Lord always before me;
he is at my right hand; I shall not fall.
Wherefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices;
my flesh also shall rest secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Death,
nor suffer your faithful one to see the Pit.
You will show me the path of life;
in your presence is the fullness of joy
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
The Lord is at my right hand; I shall not fall.
Give to us, Lord Christ,
the fullness of grace,
your presence and your very self,
for you are our portion and our delight,
now and for ever. Amen.
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Jean Donovan and the Salvadoran Martyrs
Civil war raged in the small Central American country of El Salvador, from 1979 through 1992. There was extreme violence from both sides, including the deliberate terrorising and targeting of civilians by death squads, the recruitment of child soldiers, and other violations of human rights, mostly by the military. An unknown number of people “disappeared” during the conflict and the UN reports that more than seventy-five thousand were killed.
The heroic work of Roman Catholic sisters and lay missionaries threw them into the middle of the conflict. They provided help to refugees and the poor. They provided shelter, food, transportation to medical care, and they buried the bodies of the dead left behind by the death squads. They were in danger, yet they stayed among the people, and did their best to minister to their needs.
They had an ally in Bishop Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador’s capitol. In February 1980 he wrote to US President Jimmie Carter, begging him to stop sending the ruling junta financial and military aid. A month later Romero was gunned down while celebrating mass.
“The Peace Corps left today and my heart sank low. The danger is extreme and they were right to leave. Now I must assess my own position, because I am not up for suicide. Several times I have decided to leave El Salvador. I almost could, except for the children, the poor, bruised victims of this insanity. Who would care for them? Whose heart could be so staunch as to favour the reasonable thing in a sea of their tears and loneliness? Not mine, dear friend, not mine.”
In the afternoon of the second of December, Donovan and Sister Dorothy Kazel picked up two Maryknoll missionary sisters, Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, from the airport after the pair arrived from attending a Maryknoll conference in Managua, Nicaragua. Five members of the National Guard of El Salvador, out of uniform, stopped the vehicle they were driving after they left the airport in San Salvador. Donovan and the three sisters were taken to a relatively isolated spot where they were beaten, raped, and murdered by the soldiers. Their bodies were thrown into a shallow mass grave.
Scripture. In the first chapter of “Lamentations,” at verse sixteen we read:
For these things I weep; my eyes flow with tears; for a comforter is far from me, one to revive my courage; my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed.”
… for peace in the world.
… for those who work within war zones providing care to civilians.
… for victims of rape.
… for sufferers from Parkinson’s disease.
… for those living with HIV or AIDS.
… for the victims of the wildfires raging in Tennessee DETAILS
… for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.
… for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
… for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
… for ourselves.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
From “The Coming of God” by Sister Maria Boulding:
Every year in the weeks before Christmas the Christian Church celebrates the season called Advent, the Coming of the Lord. It is a poetic, mysterious and very beautiful time, during which the prayers and longings of the prophets and psalmists and anonymous poor people of the Old Testament come into their own. We are invited to identify with the people who waited for Christ during that long night watch, and certainly the poetic elements, combined with the darkness and stars for those who live in the north, make it easy. Nevertheless, we could be dogged by a feeling of unreality, a suspicion that there is something artificial about pretending to look forward to Christ’s coming when we know that he has come already.
He has come, certainly, and that historic moment of his human birth cannot be repeated. The clock cannot be put back. The first Christmas was a gift from God which has changed human life and history, inserting into the heart of our affairs the love which gives them meaning. But the Advent we keep is not a poetic make-believe, or a nostalgic historical pageant, or even an exercise in remembering our roots, although this might have value. The coming of God in Christ still continues, and will be consummated in a coming and a gift beyond the stretch of our hope. We
are an Advent people. The season of Advent celebrates in symbolic form a reality of our own lives and of all mens destiny with God, because he who came in weakness in Bethlehem is he who will come again.
Constantly he comes. He came as a man into our human situation, accepted human experience as his own and loved it through to the bitter end, in order that what was bitter might be turned into sweetness and human experience become an expression of his sacrificial, redeeming love. He has transformed it from the inside, and offered us the possibility of allowing him to transform it in our lives too. The one historical unique birth at Bethlehem makes possible his birth in the many lives of those who will receive him, to whom he gives the power to become children of God. He is born in us continually as our minds, our actions, our reactions, our relationships, our experience and our prayer are Christified. But this is a lifetimes task, and we need to pray constantly from the still pre-Christian areas in us, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
The particular experience of the chosen people, Israel, was like a sacrament, a symbolic expression created by God of the response and readiness that he needed in order to make his ultimate gift. In Israel the long preparation of mankind was focused. This is why we are invited to identify with Israel-the-symbol during the annual celebration of Advent. What is being expressed in this symbolic way is a reality of human life, and human life not simply for a special season of a few weeks each year, but all the time. Our lives are an Advent, a time of waiting, listening and hoping, a time of openness to the unimaginable gift of God. Israel was a focus; the Christian Church is a focus. But so are you.
Almighty God, you gave grace to Jean Donovan, Dorothy Kazel, Ita Ford, and Maura Clarke, to serve your poor ones in El Salvador, even at the cost of their lives. Inspire us by their sacrifice, to serve the needs of the poor in our own place and time; through Jesus Christ, our saviour and lord. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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