March 24 – Oscar Romero

From the Bible

Read Isaiah 61

The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
with plants springing up everywhere.

About Oscar Romero

Until he was 62 years old, Óscar Romero y Galdámez served as priest, bishop, and lastly Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador.   On Monday, March 24, 1980 Romero was shot through the heart while lifting the chalice as part of the communion meal.  The day before, while radio broadcasting his sermon, Romero called on Salvadoran soldiers to disobey orders that would contradict a life in Christ – namely carrying out the government’s repression and denial of basic human rights.

His appointment to Archbishop was seen as a “safe” move by the conservatives and government, while the progressive priests were disappointed.  They were involved in critique of what they understood as systemic sin and were open in teaching and activism about resolving class conflict, sometimes implicating the Catholic Church as part of the oppressor class.  Their worldview, and later Romero’s became known as Liberation Theology.  After a friend of Romero’s was assassinated for his subversive activities in 1977, Romero was astonished at the lack of help in the investigation he received from the authorities.  He felt the call to follow his late friend, Rutilio Grande, in work and into death.  His letter to President Jimmy Carter petitions “His Excellency” as a Christian and someone who cares about human rights to cut off  military aid to the Salvadoran government because it would violently carry out the interests of the military oligarchy not the people.

“We have never preached violence, except the violence of love, which left Christ nailed to a cross, the violence that we must each do to ourselves to overcome our selfishness and such cruel inequalities among us. The violence we preach is not the violence of the sword, the violence of hatred. It is the violence of love, of brotherhood,the violence that wills to beat weapons into sickles for work.”
― from The Violence of Love (get it as a free audio book!)

More?

Martyr’s Prayer Project video
http://saltandlighttv.org/radio/video-of-the-week/video-of-the-week-the-martyrs-project-romero

The movie: Romero. Watch 1:01 to 1:09 h
ttp://youtu.be/6hAdhmosepI

Oliver Stone’s Salvador
http://youtu.be/umh_g8jlVcw

The Simple Way have a connection with Cielo Azul. https://www.facebook.com/theSimpleWay/posts/123734394481853#!/friends.cielo.azul?group_id=0

March 20 – Gordon Cosby

From the Bible

Read 2 Corinthians 5:6-11

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.About Gordon Cosby

About Gordon Cosby

On this day in 2013 Gordon Cosby died at the age of 95, just a few years after retiring. In 1944 Gordon was a participant on D-Day on Utah beach, where he witnessed enormous loss and served those injured and dying. He was convinced both of the futility of war and that the church needed to equip people for making the transition into what is after death. He became pastor of the Church of the Savior in Washington, DC, getting it started in 1946. By 1953 the group had become more official and also purchased land in Maryland to build a retreat lodge and place for silence and rest. Over the years nine faith communities and several non-profits formed with Gordon and his wife Mary serving as catalysts.

As an activist, Cosby participated in numerous non-violent direct actions as well as making space for people to organize for justice. In 1960, his church began the first Christian Coffeehouse as a place to get the church further into needed social spaces in the world rather than being cloistered. Whether beginning successful and lasting ministries for foster kids, the homeless, people with HIV/AIDS, housing creation, and job training, Cosby led people to BE the church for over sixty years. The Church of the Savior has been a pioneer in numerous inward practices and disciplines such as retreating and linkage between urban and rural areas as well as on the forefront of outward practices of racial reconciliation and local justice work.

Jim Wallis of Sojourners recounts (link below) “Gordon Cosby never needed or wanted to be out front or become a famous public figure. He could have spoken across the country, and was often invited to do so. But he instead decided that his own vocation was to stay with a relatively small group of people trying to “be the church” in Washington, D.C.: the Church of the Saviour, which has produced more missions and ministries, especially with the poor, than any church I know of anywhere in the country — even the huge mega-churches who capture all the fame. He never wrote a book, went on television, talked to presidents, planted more churches, built national movements, or traveled around the world. He just inspired everybody else to do all those things and much more. And the world came to him.”

Cosby has been credited as a mentor or inspiration by countless ministries, leaders, activists, pastors, and churches over the decades. In a sermon in 1989, Gordon said “Faith is trusting the flow and reveling in the view and being carried beyond all existing boundaries. Faith is being excited about the final destination, even when the destination is mystery. When Jesus says, ‘Believe in God, believe also in me,’ he is saying, Get into the stream with us. It is a stream of pure grace and mercy. Go into its depths and find us there.”

More:

Church of the Savior online [link]

Obituary from Ched Myers’ blog [link]

Four minute piece on NPR’s All Things Considered [link]

Memorial piece in Washington Post [link]

Articles by Cosby on Sojourners [link]

Jim Wallis on Cosby [link] and his interview with Mary [link]

 

March 17 – Patrick

From the Bible

Read Acts 2:14-24 

What you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:
‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women alike—
and they will prophesy.

About St Patrick:

Because Patrick lived so long ago  some of his life remains a mystery to us.  For instance, his death is believed to have been on this day in about 493 AD, but the date is controversial. We do know that he was born into a wealthy family in Britain, to a father who was a Christian deacon. We do not have evidence about Patrick being religious himself in his early years. When he was sixteen, he was captured by a group of Irish raiders and taken back as a slave to Ireland where he remained for the next six years. He worked as a shepherd, an isolated life, and turned to his religion during this  period, becoming very devout. After six years in slavery, he escaped. According to his writings, he ran away after God spoke to him through a dream. When he was home again, he reported that he experienced another revelation from an angel in a dream telling him to go back to Ireland in order to tell those who had been his captors about the gospel.

At this point Patrick began religious studies that lasted fifteen years. When he was ordained a priest he returned to Ireland. Since he was familiar with the language and the culture, Patrick incorporated traditions from Ireland into his lessons about Jesus. He chose not to attack Irish beliefs, but to incorporate traditions and to demonstrate how these were fulfilled in Christ. So he superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol of worship, on the cross and created the Celtic cross. He famously used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the concept of the trinity. Patrick had spectacular success in converting the Irish and a body of stories developed around him and his successful evangelism tactics for centuries following his life.

One famous story was incorporated into our celebration of patrick in 2013 as we lit our own “fires of resistance.” Patrick came to the Hill of Slane in County Meath in an early on attempt to convert pagan Ireland to Christianity. On the eve of the Christian feast of Easter, 433 A.D. which coincided with the Druid feast of Bealtine (Beal’s fire) and the Spring Equinox, St. Patrick lit a bonfire upon the Hill of Slane. There was a decree that no fire should be lit in the vicinity when the great festival fire of Bealtine blazed at the Royal seat of power on the visibly nearby Hill of Tara.

The lighting of a fire may seem trivial but at the time it was equivalent to declaring war on the Druids and their pagan beliefs and war against the High King of Ireland. That small act of starting a fire was a turning point in Patrick’s life and in the history of Ireland. 

We remember Patrick’s courage and love to return to those who had “stolen” his youth, and to make a life of service in bringing the revelation of Jesus to the Irish people. It is a testament to a remarkable life lived listening to God, following dreams, and courageously giving witness to what he received.

Read Patrick’s Confession online!

March 10 – Harriet Tubman

From the Bible

Exodus 10:21-29

But Moses said, “You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the LORD our God. Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshiping the LORD our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the LORD.”

About Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman (b. around 1820 d. Mar 10, 1913), aka  Moses, escaped enslavement in Maryland for Philadelphia when she was 29yrs old. She helped her dear friend, John Brown, plan the infamous raid on Harper’s Ferry, aided in planning of the Union’s Combahee River raid in 1863 (6 months after Lincoln freed slaves in the Confederacy — note: at first, slaves were not freed in the Union states).  Her 20+ expeditions back down south freed at least 70 people, and she never lost a single “passenger” on what became known as the Underground Railroad.  Harriet remained a devout Christian throughout her life.  She accomplished so much despite never learning to read or write.  Her reputation sparked hope among the enslaved peoples of North America and perhaps equal anger among the slave owners.

As many of the Negro Spirituals, “Go Down, Moses” had multiple levels of meaning.  It was learning the sacred story from Exodus, a hope for liberation, the possibility of Tubman herself coming to liberate, and depending on which verses advice for escape tactics.

March 2 – John Wesley

From the Bible

Read Ephesians 2:1-10

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

About John Wesley

John Wesley lived in the 18th century and, with his brother Charles, is credited with the rise of Methodism in England at that time. John and Charles were quite young when they began to meet as the “Holy Club” that they founded at Oxford. They read spiritual classics and tried to apply what they read to their lives and encourage one another. It sounds a lot like a cell meeting.

John went on a missionary trip of sorts to the colony of Georgia with a friend and returned very discouraged that he couldn’t translate his ideas about God in effective ways for the people of the colony. In this period of discouragement, John became friends with a Moravian preacher, Peter Boehler. At a small religious meeting in Aldersgate Street, in London, on May 24, 1738, John had an experience with God that changed his life. He famously described this experience as having his heart “strangely warmed.”  This personal encounter with God prompted John to spend the rest of his life energetically encouraging others to meet God personally. This encounter with God seems to have caused his faith to transcend from his head to heart and activated a deep dependence on God’s grace and a whole new way of living that he then shared with thousands of people.

Wesley’s faith was devoted to social justice as well preaching. He and the Methodists were a transforming force in England and the United States. They can be congratulated for being instrumental in the aboilition of slavery by England, as well as the uplifting or the poor in countless ways.

Notables quotes from Wesley:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

“Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can”

“Holy solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the Gospel than holy adulterers. The Gospel of Christ knows no religion but social; no holiness, but social holiness.”

“Every one, though born of God in an instant, yet undoubtedly grows by slow degrees.”

“When I was young I was sure of everything. In a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before. At present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to me.”

“Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.”

“A Christian may go abundantly further: his end in all his labor is to please God — to do not his own will but the will of Him who sent him into the world for this very purpose: to do the will of God on earth as angels do in heaven. He works for eternity. He does not labor for the food that perishes (this is the smallest part of his motive), but for that which endures to everlasting life. And is not this a more excellent way?”

Want more? Try this article from Christian History magazine [link]

March 1 – David of Wales

From the Bible

Read Isaiah 52:6-8

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

About David of Wales

David was a 6th Century Bishop in Wales, who became well known as a teacher and preacher. He is often pictured with a white dove. The story goes that when a crowd gathered to listen to him, some people complained that they couldn’t see or hear him, so the ground rose up under him to create a hill for him to stand on so everyone had a good view of him. A white dove descended and landed on his shoulder which was seen as a sign of God’s presence and blessing.

When the pagan Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries, many British Christians sought refuge in the hill country of Wales. There they developed a style of Christian life devoted to learning, asceticism, and missionary fervor, much like the Celtic church of Ireland and Scotland. Since there were no cities, the centers of culture were the monasteries, and most abbots were bishops as well. Dewi (David in English) was the founder, abbot, and bishop of the monastery of Mynyw (Menevia in English) in Pembrokeshire. He was responsiblest davids for much of the spread of Christianity in Wales, and his monastery was sought out by many scholars from Ireland and elsewhere. He is commonly accounted the apostle of Wales, as Patrick is of Ireland. His tomb is in St. David’s cathedral, on the site of ancient Mynyw, now called Ty-Dewi (House of David). The cathedral is set on a spectacular peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic upon the site of an earlier sixth-century monastery. It has been a site of pilgrimage and worship for more than 800 years.

William Penn deeded territory to Welsh-speakings Quakers in the 1600’s. That accounts for Welsh place names along the “main line:”  North Wales, Lower Merion, Upper Merion, Bala Cynwyd, Radnor, and Haverford, later Gladwyne, Bryn Mawr and Llanerch, home to the now famous Llanerch Diner.

Want more? here is an interesting addition [link]

February 28 – John Cassian

From the Bible

Read 2 Corinthians 6:17-7:3

Therefore,

“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”

And,

“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

About John Cassian

“God can be sensed when we gaze with trembling hearts at that power of his which controls, guides, and rules everything, when we contemplate his immense knowledge and his knowing look which the secrets of the heart cannot evade.”

Bio for John Cassian: John was born in the Danube Delta in what is now Dobrogea, Romania, in about 360 (some sources instead place him as a native of Gaul). In 382 he entered a monastery in Bethlehem and after several years there was granted permission, along with his friend, Germanus, to visit the Desert Fathers and Mothers in Egypt. They remained in Egypt until 399, except for a brief period when they returned to Bethlehem and were released from the monastery there.

After they left Egypt they went to Constantinople, where they met John Chrysostom, who ordained  John Cassian as a deacon. He had to leave Constantinople in 403 when Chrysostom was exiled, eventually settling close to Marseilles, in modern France, where he was ordained a priest and founded two monasteries, one for women and one for men.

John’s most famous works are the Institutes, which detail how to live the monastic life, and the Conferences, which provide details of conversations between John and Germanus and the Desert Fathers and Mothers. He also ably warned against some of the excesses in Augustine of Hippo’s theology while refraining from criticizing him by name.    John Cassian died peacefully in 435.

Cassian, like many at this time in history, was seeking to deepen his relationship with God and to escape a corrupting culture. His writings became an important spiritual foundation for the Western Church. Cassian tried to balance the tension between pursuing an individual purity in loving God in solitude where distractions were limited as the Desert Fathers and Mothers taught and living in a community with like-minded others who could share guidance and companionship. His life is a testament to seeking holiness individually and loving God and others with others.

Cassian and the Desert Fathers, illum. MS., Conlationes, Paris, 1498

A quote from Conference Nine

We need to be especially careful to follow the gospel precept which instructs us to go into our room and to shut the door so that we may pray to our Father. And this is how we can do it.

We pray in our room whenever we withdraw our hearts completely from the tumult and the noise of our thoughts and our worries and when secretly and intimately we offer our prayers to the Lord.

We pray with the door shut when without opening our mouths and in perfect silence we offer our petitions to the One who pays no attention to words but who looks hard at our hearts.

We pray in secret when in our hearts alone and in our recollected spirits we address God and reveal our wishes only to Him and in such a way that the hostile powers themselves have no inkling of their nature. Hence we must pray in utter silence, not simply in order that our whispers and our cries do not prove both a distraction to our brothers standing nearby and a nuisance to them when they themselves are praying but also so as to ensure that the thrust of our pleading be hidden from our enemies who are especially lying in wait to attack us during our prayers. In this way we shall fulfill the command “Keep your mouth shut from the one who sleeps on your breast” (Mi 7:5).

The reason why our prayers ought to be frequent and brief is in case the enemy, who is out to trap us, should slip a distraction to us if ever we are long-drawn-out. There lies true sacrifice. “The sacrifice which God wants is a contrite heart” (Ps 51:19). This indeed is the saving oblation, the pure offering, the sacrifice of justification, the sacrifice of praise. These are the real and rich thank offerings, the fat holocausts offered up by contrite and humble hearts. If we offer them to God in the way and with zeal which I have mentioned we can be sure to be heard and we can sing: “Let my prayer rise up like incense before your face and my hands like the evening offering” (Ps 141:2).

Want even more? Hit all the tabs on this site [link]