How are we serving the least among us?

| December 2, 2010 | 0 Comments

Clockwise from top, Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maureen Clarke, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan. CNS file photo

Two important anniversaries occur this week that deserve special mention.

Dec. 2 marks the 30th anniversary of the murder of four missionary churchwomen — Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and lay missionary Jean Donovan.

They were brutally raped and shot by five Salvadoran national guardsmen who ran the women’s vehicle off a road.

Their crime? Serving the poor as Christ did, teaching them about their God-given human dignity and helping them deepen their spiritual lives at a time when El Salvador was devastated by civil war and their actions were perceived as a threat to the government.

Their deaths came less than a year after the assassination of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, another friend of the poor.

This week — Nov. 29 — also marked the 30th anniversary of the death of another women who likewise made a commitment to serve the poor no matter the cost. Dorothy Day — a peace and justice activist, Catholic convert and co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement — took the Gospel message to heart to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and welcome the stranger.

Answering the call

The examples set by Day and the martyred churchwomen challenge us to ask ourselves: How are we serving the least among us?

Are we, like these women, willing to leave our comfort zones to make the name of Jesus known and loved in places and among people that need him the most? What risks are we willing to take?

Of course, not every person is called to serve as an overseas missionary in countries where safety is a constant concern and violence a daily risk.

Dorothy Day. CNS file photo

And, like Day, we are not all called to start new, worldwide movements to serve the poor.

We are called, however, to live out our faith in our daily lives and share the Good News with others — no small challenge in a secular culture that is often ambivalent and, at times, even hostile to what the church teaches.

Accepting the challenge requires us, however, to move beyond our comfort zones, to risk how others might perceive us, in order to speak up for what is right: protecting children in the womb, assisting the poor with their immediate needs and helping them exit poverty permanently, promoting state and federal policies that strengthen marriage and family life, welcoming immigrants and refugees into our neighborhoods and churches, defending the environment from pollution, and ending violence in all its forms.

Faith with consequences

This Advent — the beginning of a new liturgical year for our church — is a good time to commit to a deeper prayer life and to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming at Christmas by following the examples set by the martyrs and saints who have gone before us.

As one friend of the martyred sisters noted on this 30th anniversary of their deaths: “Faith does have consequences in the real world.”

The sisters paid the ultimate price for their faith.

What price are you willing to pay? What will you speak out about and stand up for in order to spread the Good News?

Tags: ,

Category: Editorials