Yes, technically we are no longer in Easter Season but for believers, it is Easter every day. Listen all the way through – it only gets better and better!
“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
As I indicated in my last post, part of my repentance for the sins of racism, my own and that of my people, is to learn more about Black Catholic saints and to pray for their intercession. I will share here some of what I learn, providing links to full stories when possible. (Rather than posting many new posts, I will edit this article to add new saints as I discover them – so please come back to check them out!)
A cloud of witnesses
6.2.2020 Today, I learned about St. Benedict the African who was born to parents who were slaves, captured in Africa and brought to Italy. Despite being a Black man in 16th century Italy, uneducated and illiterate, he became a Franciscan, occupying roles ranging from cook to Master of the Friary. His story may be found here.
St. Benedict of Africa, please pray for us that we might develop the humility to seek and find holiness in every person we encounter. May we come to cherish the great gifts God has given the Church through the people of Africa. Amen.
6.3.2020 Today is the feast day of St. Charles Lwanga and companions, a group of 19th century young African men who were martyred in what is now Uganda. Charles was but 26 when he was burned alive at the order of the king of his country. He had been baptized less than a year earlier and yet protected other young men aspiring to the Faith from the ritual sexual abuse the king wanted to inflict on them. (I have chosen to direct you to Wikipedia for his story. Sadly, too many Catholic sites make it sound like Charles was protecting their “chastity” which I think is misleading.) His story may be found here.
Pray for us, O holy Martyrs of Africa, led by Charles Lwanga, that we might have the courage to stand up for what is right and to protect the vulnerable from mistreatment, regardless of the cost to ourselves. You freely followed the way of our Savior in sacrificing yourself out of love for God and your brothers. May we learn from you what it truly means to be a Christian, a follower of Christ. Amen.
6.10.2020 I am currently reading a biography of St. Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of Sudan and survivors of human trafficking. She was born in Darfur around 1869 and was kidnapped by Arab slave traders when still a very young child. She experienced great cruelty at the hands of a number of owners and was forcibly converted to Islam. She no longer knew her own given name or native language. She ended up in Italy and, while “temporarily” staying with the Canossian Sisters, she learned of Christianity, embracing the faith and later becoming a member of their community. Those who knew her withnessed her holiness and she was known for her gentleness and calm demeanor. More details of her story may be found here
St. Bakhita, pray for us that we might learn the way of peace, never losing faith in the midst of hardship. Strengthen our resolve to eliminate all that enslaves our brothers and sisters throughout the world, as well as all that enslaves us from within. May our lives reflect the peace that can only come from God. Amen.
Black lives matter.
First and foremost, I must say this. Yes, all lives matter but not all lives have been denied their human dignity in America the way Blacks lives have been.
Starting with the enslavement of Africans by our ancestors to the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer, Black lives have born such denigration, insult and disregard that the rage can no longer be contained. Our society is literally exploding before our eyes.
It has been a long time coming.
However, the 2016 Presidential election was a turning point. To all outward appearances, many people were disappointed about the results as always happens with elections. But many of us, of all racial hues, knew in our hearts that something very serious had happened when Donald Trump was deemed the winner of the 2016 election.
We went from having a Black president who was a calm, intelligent and articulate leader to having an openly racist and sexist White man who has no idea how to lead a nation during peaceful times, muchless during times of crisis.
It wasn’t just about whether we had a Democrat or a Republican in the White House. It was a referendum of sorts, a green light to disrespect and degrade people of color with impunity. (Women too, of course, but that is another article).
And it was clear that he had a substantial base of supporters who didn’t simply tolerate this but liked this about him. Humiliated by four years of leadership by an African American president, there was bound to be a backlash.
But it wasn’t just the obvious racists, the skinheads, the KKK, the white supremacy groups that wanted to see white rule restored, but, sadly, a substantial proportion of the Christian community commonly known as the “religious right”.
While many may argue the religious right was drawn to Mr. Trump for other reasons, e.g. his supposed “pro-life” stance, one did not have to look hard to see that candidate Trump did not talk about, much less live, the Christian message about the sanctity of human life.
If not for a conscious or unconscious desire to restore white rule, how could Christians of good faith decide to turn a blind eye to Mr. Trump’s unapologetically sinful ways?
I know that I am chancing offending some of my already small readership by make such a political statement on an otherwise spiritually oriented blog. But I simply cannot remain silent.
Black lives matter.
It is going to take a great deal of change on multiple levels of society to address all of the attitudes, injustices and violence against people of color. It will take even longer for any trust to be rebuilt between people of color and the white people who truly respect and value the diversity of the races.
I am taking three actions now, small actions because I am but one person with little power or influence.
- I just took the first step and sent a message online to Mr. Trump, telling him to step down. (Of course, I don’t believe that he will heed my counsel, but that is no reason to remain silent.)
- Tonight I am posting the following sign on my front door to make it clear where I stand:
- I am going to pray. I am going to research the Black saints of the Church, especially those who were former slaves, and ask them to pray for us – to pray that, through their intercession and the mercy of Christ our Savior, we might learn to truly repent of our sins against people of color and come to love and respect the goodness inherent in every human life.
Black lives matter.
May God have mercy on us all.