Monday, March 9, 2009

Were You There ... ?

Many of us commenced our Lenten journey on Saturday at the Catholic Theological Union during Charis Ministries’ annual Lenten Day of Reflection. Fr. Joseph Brown, SJ, expert theologian specializing in African-American spirituality, history, and culture, guided us through a day of challenging and consoling grace. Paralleling the suffering of Christ to that of slavery in this country, Fr. Brown’s spirited and animated presentations challenged us to answer the Gospel’s call to work for justice in a country and world riddled with discrimination, inequality, and suffering.

The day was centered around powerful live-performances of African American spirituals, ranging from a moving solo of “Motherless Child” to an upbeat version “This Little Light of Mine." Fr. Brown reflected that these spirituals characterize the dignity and faith upheld by the slaves, despite the cruel oppression and abuse to which they were subjected. The music and reflections encouraged us to be moved and humbled by this dignity as we are by the dignity of Christ’s life, suffering, and death.

As Fr. Brown reminded us, Jesus’ persecution and sacrifice resulted from his commitment to overturning the social order and liberating the oppressed. Lent calls us to bear witness to the love and commitment to social justice personified in Jesus’ life, suffering, and death. May this witness move us to recognize our responsibility to follow Christ’s example of liberating the oppressed and marginalized in our world today in the hope of creating the Kingdom of God here on Earth.

Many thanks to Fr. Brown, the awe-inspiring musicians, and our co-hosts Catholics on Call and The Tolton Scholars Program, without whom the day would not have been possible!

-Mary Ellen M.

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