Dorothy Day, Champion of the Disenfranchised

The following was written by Joshua for his collection of stories, Telling the Stories that Matter.

Life didn’t feel like what Dorothy felt it should. It felt like there was something missing–something askew–and that she was constantly and consistently on the verge of true happiness but never breaking through. It felt like happiness should be such a natural thing but that it still eluded her. As a child, she had been baptized Episcopalian but had never really been a part of the Church. As she aged, she became concerned with the plight of the poverty stricken and disenfranchised. Seeing the oppression of the people that surrounded her struck her with a vague desperation but watching churches ignore this same issue only further convinced her of the irrelevance of most Christians. So, she sought change and had left the Church behind because the Church was leaving her and her concerns behind.

Yet, something felt different as she sat alone in her apartment. Her boyfriend wasn’t around and she was pondering something she hadn’t yet told him: she was pregnant. Dorothy was pregnant and her boyfriend was the father. She enjoyed her bohemian life but was aware that a child might change things. Yet, in spite of all of the looming change she was quietly and powerfully happy. She later described the feeling as being “natural happiness.” This happiness combined with an increasing realization that her life wasn’t a solution to poverty so much as a desperate reaction to the Church’s inattention effected a conversion within her. Soon, she realized that though she had been running away from God she had been running toward God because God had promised the Kingdom to the poor and the outcast. She decided to have her baby baptized into the Roman Catholic church and followed along with her child in 1927.

Yet, she was still uncomfortable with the Church’s inattention to the plight of the poor and the causes of social justice. A self-proclaimed anarchist and pacifist, Dorothy was unafraid to break down existing structures that no longer served any beneficial purpose and it became clear that Dorothy would not sit by and watch the Church protect itself at the cost of the lives of the needy and its own damnation. She prayed that she might do something about it instead of simply talking about it and in 1932, she met Peter Maurin. Peter gave her the idea she needed to get started about the business of changing the Church and the world. Soon, Dorothy was publishing a newspaper entitled The Catholic Worker that connected the people of the Church to the people of the Kingdom. She opened up the Catholic Worker offices as a house of hospitality to provide shelter and food for the poor. She committed herself to vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity but never became a nun or took a position in the Church.

She remained active in protesting wars and acts of vast inattention and ignorance concerning the needy and outcast.She was investigated by the FBI and CIA as a spy and a revolutionary. Though her citizenship was truly in another Kingdom, she was not promoting insurrection anywhere except in the souls of the people whose hearts had been hardened to the cries of the needy. She was shot at, threatened, and assaulted because of her radical stance of peace and love as superior to vengeance and control. She actively resisted people who tried to insist that it was possible for her to do great things but impossible for them.In a very real way, Dorothy called everybody she met to live a life worthy of the Gospel and the cross of her Lord.Though she had rejected the Church as a youth because of its inattention to the poor, she spent the majority of her life (all the way until November 29, 1980) reforming the Church she loved to care for the people she loved.

G+M Worship – November 25, 2012

The following was written by Joshua for the service of worship and prayers held at Grace and Main Fellowship on November 25, 2012.

Worship on the Last Sunday after Pentecost, the Feast of Christ the King – November 25, 2012

Preparing and Setting the Altar

Lighting of the Christ Candle

Lord Jesus, we proclaim you as our King and give thanks for your Kingdom.
May you reign in our lives, King Jesus.

Passing the Peace

Today is the last Sunday of the Church year: the day we call the Feast of Christ the King. Next week, we will begin a new year in the Church, but today we celebrate our Lord and King Jesus by living out the Kingdom with food and fellowship. Together, we give thanks for another year that has almost passed and join the Church in saying,

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Blessing the Food

 


May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you.
May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.
Amen.

Columban, Monk and Voluntary Refugee

The following was written by Joshua for his collection of stories, Telling the Stories that Matter.

Columban was born in Nobber, Ireland–in the County of Meath–and grew into a competent and attractive young man.He was so attractive that women noticed him passing by through the towns and on the roads and began to seek him out. He became something of a local celebrity on account of his appearance and he was distressed by the steady decreases of his private life as more and more women sought him out to have him as their own. Columban received a piece of advice: flee from temptation so that you cannot succumb to it. In this advice, Columban saw hope and promise–he had always dreamed of becoming a monk and living a life of retreat and prayer and this path offered that opportunity.

So, Columban decided to flee from the temptations of an overly sexual existence and join a monastery. But, when he had packed his things and was headed to the door, his mother stopped him and begged him not to go. He insisted that he felt a call toward the monastic life but his mother refused to listen. She pleaded with him to stay again and again he insisted on following God’s call. In desperation, Colulmban’s mother laid down in the doorway to prevent her son from leaving. Columban struggled with what to do: should he concede to his mother’s wishes or should he follow the call he felt on his life. He looked at his mother and made his decision. He stepped over his dear mother and left her behind to follow after the calling God had placed on his life.

After some time as a monk and after he had become a noted speaker and counselor, he was appointed a missionary to a foreign land. The Roman empire had fallen only a few generations prior but the people of continental Europe still saw the outlying regions–such as Ireland–to be a barbarous place devoid of education or sense. The very idea of an Irish missionary to France was unthinkable to the French Christians–they were a people who sent missionaries not who received missionaries. Yet, this is where Columban and twelve others arrived. In France, they found a sickly and anemic Faith that subsisted on dead ritual and vague memories of spirituality. This was a mind bending experience for the Irish missionaries who knew that the Irish had received their faith from the world they now ministered to. They were bringing the faith that had been brought to them back to the ones who had sent it.They were met with a mixture of resistance and open arms. Many found the Irish spirituality to be an oasis in a dry and dusty land. There were many who ended up being guided by Columban to follow in the footsteps of Patrick who had been one of them (having been born in Roman Britain) but had gone to provide sustenance to the Irish who had enslaved him. In essence, Columban brought back spiritual sustenance to a people who had forgotten that they had stored it away in Ireland.

Eventually, they were met with resistance from local rulers and became enemies of the King of Burgundy. It seems that the Frankish bishops and leaders were uncomfortably with the Irish being in a seat of authority. They held on to their memories and nostalgia instead of drinking deeply from the cool waters Columban brought with him. They were forced to flee from their monastery and became voluntary refugees who lived by charity and good fortune. Eventually, they walked across the Alps to Milan and were received gladly. Columban would spend the remainder of his days far away from the formative places of his childhood in Ireland and in a land that God had called him to–regardless of the cost.

Miguel Pro, Martyr and Man of Prayer

The following was written by Joshua for his collection of stories, Telling the Stories that Matter.

Miguel had spent many years among the mining towns of Mexico. Born the son of a miner and his wife in Guadalupe, Zacatecas, he didn’t experience the same kind of affluent lifestyle of some other saints. Rather, Miguel was born on the poverty line and was one of eleven children. As one of the elder children, he helped take care of his siblings. The Mexican people were Miguel’s passion even as a child and he studied so that he might become a priest and serve them. Of particular interest to Miguel were people with similar humble beginnings who struggled to survive in a world that was rarely suited for their success and health.Throughout his life, Miguel was a man of prayer–often saying that the only thing that truly kept him going was prayer. At the age of 20, he began his studies with the Jesuits so that he might offer himself to the clerical life among the people of Mexico.Regrettably, however, he could not stay in Mexico long after this time.

In 1915, the surging tide of opponents to Roman Catholicism in Mexico became too much for Miguel and his superiors. He was sent to Spain to continue his studies so that he might not be arrested or killed by the government that had taken power after a rigged election. After finishing his studies, he was sent as a professor to Nicargagua. His heart yearned to be back in Mexico but it was becoming increasingly less hospitable to priests and he was assigned to Belgium. As his heart pined for the people of Mexico, his health deteriorated and the laws of Mexico became increasingly restrictive. The people who dared to follow after Jesus were forced to meet in secret and avoid detection–again. Priests were being framed for crimes and executed. Others were being arrested and abused. It was a bad time to be Christian in Mexico. It was a worse time to be a minister in a country that now forbade the wearing of clerical vestments or the speaking of clerical thoughts and commentary in public. The goal was the excision of the Roman Catholic church from Mexico and it was very nearly successful. It very well may have been if not for Miguel’s testament to the faith in his dying words.

In Belgium he was ordained to the priestly ministry. His life was even more prayer filled after his ordination and after a short time in Belgium, it became clear that his deteriorating health was partially due to his discomfort with the climate and his homesickness for the people of Mexico. Against the better judgment of some of his superiors, he was sent back to Mexico. Miguel prayerfully thanked those over him and went gladly. His life in Mexico included priestly duties held in secret. He was overjoyed to visit and pray with the people entrusted to him and broke bread in many homes under the cover of darkness and the confident peace of prayer. When the ruler of Mexico–Plutarco Elias Calles–was nearly assassinated, he took a chance to put a stop to Miguel’s work. He insisted that the planning had been the work of Miguel and had him arrested. There was a short–and ludicrous–trial but eventually Plutarco simply decreed that Miguel be executed.The pretext for the execution was an attempted assassination but the real reason was the constantly grasping desire of the State to subvert and excise the Church in Mexico. Miguel was drug from his cell in the early morning and granted one last request: to be allowed to kneel and pray (see above picture). They took him to the firing range and secured him so that he might present a target for the rifles. They did not secure his arms and so he offered a blessing and prayer over the men holding the rifles that would soon bring his death. He declined the blindfold offered to him,–he was not afraid to look upon the State’s atrocities– grasped his crucifix in one hand and his rosary in the other and offered a loud shout proclaiming his desire to forgive the ones who now held his earthly life in their hands. “Ready,” yelled the commander and Miguel offered a sweet smile as the men raised their rifles.”Aim,” continued the commander and Miguel stretched his arms out as if he were being crucified (see picture). The firing squad directed their rifles at his heart now exposed in his cruciform posture. “Fire!” yelled the commander. The men shot and hit Miguel who crumpled to the ground. He was not dead but he was dying. As the commander approached the bleeding body of Miguel, Miguel cried out:”Viva Cristo Rey!” or “Long live Christ the King!” The commander drew his sidearm and shot Miguel in the head at pointblank range.

G+M Worship – November 18, 2012

The following was written by Joshua for the service of worship and prayers held at Grace and Main Fellowship on November 18, 2012.

Worship on the Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost – November 18, 2012

Preparing and Setting the Altar

Lighting of the Christ Candle

Lord Jesus, we welcome you into this place and ask you to teach us your way so that we may truly live.
Be present among us, Lord. Fill this place with your Spirit.

Sharing our Stories

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us—sinners that we are—and hear these ours prayers:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

As we learn from our Lord who lived, died, and was raised for us, let us sing.

Singing

Lord, who holds the keys to the Kingdom, hear us when we cry to you.

Psalm 119:169-176
Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word.
Let my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise.
My lips will pour forth praise, because you teach me your statutes.
My tongue will sing of your promise, for all your commandments are right.
Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.
Let me live that I may praise you, and let your ordinances help me.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek out your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

 


Lord, who holds the keys to the Kingdom, hear us when we cry to you.
Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28
Lord, who holds the keys to the Kingdom, hear us when we cry to you.
Matthew 5:1-2, 7:21-27
Lord, who holds the keys to the Kingdom, hear us when we cry to you.

We Listen and Interpret Together

Our brother, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was a 20th century Lutheran pastor and theologian, who was martyred by the Nazis on April 9, 1945, for his role in an assassination plot against Hitler. In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, he wrote: “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

Prayers for OthersThe Lord’s Prayer

Singing

Go now from this place with your eyes focused on our Lord Jesus, who stands eager to forgive each and every one of us—no matter what sin or offense we’ve committed. Go and build your life and your future upon the solid foundation of all that our Lord has taught and commanded. Go in peace.


May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you.
May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.
Amen.

Hugh of Lincoln, Reforming Monk

The following was written by Joshua for his collection of stories, Telling the Stories that Matter.

Hugh hadn’t asked for power. He had been content in his positions of leadership within the Carthusian monasteries of England. He had been born in France and raised in a Christian family. He loved to tend to the garden near his monastic cell and to live the life of prayer and reflection that characterized the Carthusian life. As people recognized the natural leader within him, he was appointed prior of a monastery and, eventually, prior of a larger monastery. It became increasingly clear that Hugh had been set apart to lead but Hugh never sought power for the sake of power–he was content to be a monk and follower of Jesus and didn’t feel any need to dictate, command, or control.

Henry II was still doing penance for the murder of Thomas Becket. As part of his penance, he was ordered to establish a Carthusian monastery in England but it had experienced quite a bit of trouble in getting started. The first prior had retired without building the monastery and the second had recently died. Henry knew that he was expected to find a prior who would establish and strengthen the group so he sent a group to go and bring Hugh to England to lead this group of unorganized monks. Hugh and the Carthusians knew that this was a dangerous thing–to go to the country that had murdered Thomas and lead a monastic movement–but it was agreed that Hugh could do great work for the Kingdom so Hugh went willingly with a touch of anxiety.

Hugh found that there had been negligible leadership at Lincoln before he arrived. Not only was there not a monastery building but there were no plans to build one. He organized the monks to work together and campaigned with Henry to provide money to them. He insisted that if Henry truly wanted a Carthusian monastery in Lincoln, then he would have to help support them as they established themselves. Realizing that this was the kind of leader he had recruited, Henry supplied an official charter to the Carthusians and helped to fund their endeavors. Further, he was known to attend their worship services when he was nearby.

Eventually, Hugh was elected bishop of Lincoln by the king and the king’s people. He thanked the king but refused to accept it until he could meet with his colleague and they could vote. Hugh wasn’t keen on allowing a king to command the affairs of the Church. Hugh’s colleagues agreed and Hugh became bishop of Lincoln. As bishop, he was not afraid of the king, however. He remained convinced that the king had no room to command or dictate Church policy and did not hesitate to exact Church discipline upon errant members who were connected to the king.Their relation to the king of England did not absolve them from their sins, he insisted. He resisted the king’s appointments to ecclesial positions and even refused some of the king’s direct orders. All of this was done in a culture that keenly remembered the martyrdom of Thomas Becket. Hugh had no fear, however. Further crusading against the culture, Hugh was known to condemn violence against the Jewish people of Lincoln and England. The Jewish people soon learned that they were safe with Hugh.

By the end of his life, Hugh had made it very clear that he wasn’t the average bishop. He had resisted the commands of a king and a kingdom that had shown no hesitation in murdering people like him before. He stood by his commitments because they were his calling. Indeed, he had not asked for power but when given the yoke of leadership, Hugh did not balk or hesitate. He understood that leadership and power were not things to be sought for selfish gain but things to be used for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God and in service to the will of God.

G+M Worship – November 11, 2012

The following was written by Joshua for the service of worship and prayers held at Grace and Main Fellowship on November 11, 2012.

Worship on the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost – November 11, 2012

Preparing and Setting the Altar

Lighting of the Christ Candle

Lord Jesus, we welcome you into this place and ask you to teach us your way so that we may truly live.
Be present among us, Lord. Fill this place with your Spirit.

Sharing our Stories

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us—sinners that we are—and hear these ours prayers:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

As we learn from our Lord who lived, died, and was raised for us, let us sing.

Singing

Lord, who calls us to walk your narrow path, show us the steps and walk alongside us.

Psalm 119:137-144

You are righteous, O Lord, and your judgments are right.
You have appointed your decrees in righteousness and in all faithfulness.
My zeal consumes me because my foes forget your words.
Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it.
I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law is the truth.
Trouble and anguish have come upon me, but your commandments are my delight.
Your decrees are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.

 


Lord, who calls us to walk your narrow path, show us the steps and walk alongside us.
Luke 3:1-14
Lord, who calls us to walk your narrow path, show us the steps and walk alongside us.
Matthew 5:1-2, 7:12-20
Lord, who calls us to walk your narrow path, show us the steps and walk alongside us.

We Listen and Interpret Together


Our brother, J.C. Ryle, was a 19th century Anglican bishop. In a sermon entitled, Needs of the Times, he wrote: “The kingdom of God is very near. Christ the almighty Savior, Christ the sinner’s Friend, Christ and eternal life, are ready for you if you will only come to Christ. Arise and cast away excuses; this very day Christ calls you. Wait not for company if you cannot have it; wait for nobody. The times, I repeat, are desperately dangerous. If only few are in the narrow way of life, resolve that by God’s help you at any rate will be among the few.”

Prayers for OthersThe Lord’s Prayer

Singing

Paul tells us in Galatians 5 that the fruit of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” So, go now along the narrow way of our Lord with the fruit of the Spirit growing in your life, so that we might take confidence in the way that God is moving in our lives as we seek not only the Kingdom to come, but the Kingdom that is already here in our midst.


May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you.
May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.
Amen.

Queen Margaret of Scotland, Sister of the Poor

The following was written by Joshua for his collection of stories, Telling the Stories that Matter.

“Come in! You are welcome here my brothers and sisters. Come, eat, and rest.”With words like these, Margaret began a practice that would continue for the rest of her life. The poor around the royal residence had come there because there was a slightly better chance of receiving alms when near the king and queen–not because people were more merciful or generous but because people could hardly bear to look upon the sick and destitute without offering something to salve their consciences. The homeless were–and often are–very used to playing this dehumanizing game to survive. They sell their dignity for a crust of bread–their confidence for a cup of water. So, when Margaret flung the doors open and invited them in, they hesitated. It didn’t make sense to these people so used to being objects of pity and scorn.But, then, the seven or eight that were there slowly ventured through the grand doors.

They knew Margaret and much of her history. She had been one of the last Anglo-Saxon royals that had fled England after the Norman conquest. She had been twenty-one years old when she fled with her family and had been unmarried. When she arrived, she was noticed by king Malcolm and three-years-later, she was the queen-consort of the king of Scotland by marriage. Nearly every Scot could tell the story of her impact upon the king and Scotland. It was clear that Malcolm was devoted to his beautiful young wife and her values and faith had influenced him enough to change his life and attitude. Scotland was finding Christendom in the loving embrace of Margaret.

She brought the beggars and homeless into the dining room and sat them at her own lavishly appointed table.Each of them must have gasped in awe of the beautiful settings and luxurious furniture. She sat the first of them down in a chair worth more than all his possessions and brought a bowl of water and towel out from underneath it. Without a word, she lifted his foot and washed it with the water and the towel. On her knees before a beggar, the queen offered love in a wordless and powerful way. One by one, she washed the feet of each of her beloved and esteemed guests.

Then, they sat at the table and were served as if they were foreign dignitaries. At first, they took only a few small pieces of food and a little to drink. They were worried about taking advantage of Margaret’s hospitality and so Margaret jumped from her seat and personally heaped more food onto their plates. “Eat,” she said to them, “there is plenty to go around for my beloved brothers and sisters.” So, they ate until they were full and could eat no more. Margaret herself waited until all had begun eating before joining them in the meal. She found sustenance in serving the least of Scotland’s people. In the faces of those she served, she saw the face of her Lord and in the footwashing bowl she saw the dirty water that had fallen from her Savior’s feet as she had washed them.

This was the practice that Margaret kept for most of her life as she was able. During Lent and Advent, she held great parties and invited hundreds of people into her home and fed and cared for them. She died in 1093 after a life of devoted service to Scotland, Malcolm, and the poor. Having passed on, she left Scotland forever remembering the queen who had been a friend of the poor because of the great love she had for Jesus.

Kristallnacht – Reichspogromnacht

The following was written by Joshua for his collection of stories, Telling the Stories that Matter.

Not all stories that matter are especially flattering to the people involved. In fact, some of our most important stories are the ones that speak truthfully but poorly about us. We must remember to tell these stories, as well, because they serve an essential role within our collective storybook: they don’t allow us to be comfortable with the good in us and continue to confront us with the bad in us. For Christians, this can be a challenge because we have a tendency to gloss over travesties and atrocities within Christendom by labeling the perpetrators as “not really Christians.” Indeed, they may not have been but there were, most assuredly, real followers of Christ who stood idly by and watched such things as the Inquisition and the Crusades for example. One of these stories is Kristallnacht–the Night of Broken Glass.

The Jews were ordered to leave Germany in October of 1938. 12,000 Jewish people of Polish descent were gathered up by the Gestapo and left at the border of Germany and Poland. 4,000 were admitted into Poland as refugees but 8,000 were left on the border to suffer and struggle as outcasts. Word was passed by letter and postcard and soon a Jewish relative of one of the 8,000 refugees–Herschel Grynszpan–who was living in Paris decided that he would exact revenge. He went to the Germany embassy in Paris on November 6th and shot the diplomat in the chest while claiming it to be “in the name of 12,000 persecuted Jews.” Herschel had struck back but had also unknowingly given the German leaders a rationale for atrocity. Kristallnacht soon followed.

Clothing themselves in indignity and the cover of “self-defense,” they censored all Jewish publications on November 8th. This represented a severing of the ties between disparate Jewish groups and silenced the voice of the Jewish people prior to Germany’s atrocity. This move was the gag that made travesty more palatable in the days to come. Jewish children were expelled from their German schools and it soon became very clear that trouble was building like a thunderhead and would soon break.

On the night of November 9th, 1938, the German leaders executed a series of attacks, seizures, and crimes that are now know as Kristallnacht–the name given to it by the perpetrators–or Reichspogromnacht–the name given to it by those who recognize the atrocity therein. Over two hundred synagogues were looted, ransacked, and burned to the ground.Thousands upon thousands of Jewish businesses were broken into. The broken glass from the storefronts covered the sidewalks in so many places that it gave the name to this event–the Night of Broken Glass. These shops were shut down. Ninety-two Jews were killed on the night of Kristallnacht as some resisted the evil that was being perpetrated. Somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000 Jews were gathered together at gunpoint by secret police, loaded onto trains, and shipped to concentration camps.

The reaction in the days to follow? Despicable for sure. Some clergy applauded the actions of the German leaders and the people who had rioted. They commended the people for their anti-semitism and used Luther’s birthday as an additional point of celebration. The German people who had rioted and broken into stores had also been the ones who had killed some of the Jews who died that night. Yet, there was little outrage.There was little resistance. It seemed that the Church who claimed to follow after a tortured, persecuted, and Jewish savior did not see or want to see what was happening. They did not want to consider their complicity in this atrocity. They did not see how atrocious it truly was.

The “success” of Kristallnacht for the German leaders paved the way for greater tragedy. The relative lack of outrage and resistance convinced them that it was entirely possible to perpetrate worse evil since they had seen that the Church would not resist or exercise its prophetic voice en masse. The continued evil that followed may have been lessened or limited by an appropriately horrified response–yet, it didn’t happen and the Nazi war machine continued on fueled by the lives of the outcasts it consumed.

Kristallnacht should not ever be forgotten. In fact, it is best for us to adopt new language and call it Kristallnacht no longer–let us join with others who recognize the evil in the night and call it for what it is: Reichspogromnacht. The story should be–must be–told and remain an irritant in the Church’s eye. Awful things were done and the Church watched them happen.

Ignacio Ellacuria and Companions, Enemies of the State

The following was written by Joshua for his collection of stories, Telling the Stories that Matter.

Ignacio was rarely alone since moving to El Salvador. As a Jesuit, he understood the power and importance of community in his life. As he crouched in the building at the college, he wasn’t alone. He had five of his Jesuit colleagues with him and two women who had sought refuge from the gunfire outside. Little did they know that they were running toward the reason for the assault by the soldiers. As the soldiers swept through the campus with guns ready to murder any who would resist them, Ignacio huddled with his peers and colleagues and reflected back upon a life focused on liberation–a life that constantly pushed him closer and closer to this place and these executioners.

Ignacio had received a stellar education and ended up in El Salvador because of his commitments to the Jesuits and their passion for education and mission work. Ignacio was a professor of theology and philosophy–a high honor among the Jesuits who had a high regard for and prioritized education. While in El Salvador, he began teaching at the “Universidad Centroamericana ‘José Simeón Cañas.'” He was known for teaching Central American Liberation theology. This course of study gathered the attention of those who stood to lose something if release was truly granted to captives and sight was truly given to the blind.

Consequently, the elite soldiers had been given orders to take care of a communist sympathizer and organizer named Ignacio who taught at the University. Along with him there were the five other Jesuit sympathizers. They had likely received their training from the American CIA and were well prepared to crush those who could be labeled communists. Of course, the tricky part was labeling Ignacio a communist but with enough time and enough insistence, Ignacio went from being a professor of theology to being one of the much feared communist agents. The soldiers crept onto the campus and people scattered in front of them. It was clear that the soldiers had death in mind for somebody. A housekeeper and her daughter fled to a nearby building for safety and soon found themselves among those slated for death.

When the soldiers found Ignacio and his companions, they dragged them from the building and forced them to lie on the ground. Ignacio and his Jesuit colleagues had made the error of making the State their enemy.They had proclaimed a story that undermined the story of the powers and would now not even be given an opportunity to explain themselves. While they were prostrate on the ground, they were shot in the head and body at close range with submachine guns. All eight died as martyrs for a story and message that made them enemies of the State.