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The Legacy of a martyr


National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

On this coming, Monday, January, 16, 2017, we will honor a great American ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was 39 when he was martyred on April 4, 1968.

On that fateful day, Dr. King was gunned down by an assassin’s bullet while he was leading a strike for sanitation workers.  He inspired and led the Civil Rights movement that achieved great change in our land.  This man is one of my mentors.  I was in his presence in 1963 when I was in the seminary in Baltimore.  Our Rector bussed a lot of us to hear him speak somewhere in the city. Today, I have an image of him near my desk.

He was a man who committed himself to nonviolence like Mohandas Gandhi and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for us, as the only way that justice and peace can be achieved.  Dr. King inspired ordinary folks, black and white, to stand up for their rights and to sit down and accept the vicious blows of police and others, and to have the courage to go to jail for what they believed.

On, April 5, 1968, I formally entered the service of the Roman Catholic Church as an ordained deacon.  I was a seminary student at the Theological College of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

The shrill sound of sirens all over the city mingled with the ancient chant melody of the Litany of the Saints as I lay prostrate on the floor with my brothers to be ordained. As I sucked in a deep breath  in the shadow of this man in whose ideal of justice and peace and freedom I also wanted to absorb into my soul and body, I pledged my life to Christ.

Today,  in this land of America, we have lost many of the freedoms and ideals of that other great man Thomas Jefferson that all men are created equal and have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Today, not only young black men are listless and have no hope.  This is true of so many others as well.

Inauguration day is upon us; some welcome our President-elect; some are fearful of what is to come.   But the questions Dr. King ask of us are . . . .

Where are those today who will inspire us and lead us out of our complacency?
Who will inspire us to stand up and put our lives on the line for what we believe in?
Who still dreams the dream of Martin Luther King and Thomas Jefferson?
Who is willing to sacrifice to restore those ideals to our beloved country?

O God of Justice,
raise up men and women in our day who will inspire us                                                                                    
and restore us to the original ideals of our nation.
Enable us to wake up from our slumber and see what we have lost, and safeguard our freedoms.
Give us the strength and courage to pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to win this spiritual revolution of justice, peace and love that now lies before us in 2o17.
We pray to you, God,  for You are the God who cries for justice for your children
and who still hears the cries of those who know and realize they are poor without You.
We pray ~ for only You can can restore us to the ideal of freedom and justice FOR ALL.                   T
o You Glory and Honor and Power, now and forever, Amen!

St. Luke attributes has Mary sing these words in her Magnificat sung or recited every evening in the church everywhere in the world. Would  that we would believe it and commit ourselves to it!

“[God} has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servants
for he has remembered the promise of his mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers [and mothers]                                                                                             
to Abraham [and Sarah and Haggar]
and [their] children for ever.

But I call us more than a generation later to the principles of Nonviolence Dr. King instilled in his followers.

They were trained to sit down on the ground and take blows of the police because they knew that Nonviolence was a more powerful weapon than guns and bombs.

Dr. King held no public office.  He persuaded us by the power of his words and the depth of his conviction.

And his willingness to give his life for what he believed in ~ no matter what.

Is there anything you  are willing to give your  life for?

I continually ask myself the same question and pray the answer is Yes!  (Or at least I hope so.)

Now, since it’s been a generation since Dr. King delivered his most powerful and eloquent speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963.that led subsequently to President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act into law on June 2, 1964.

For a brief excerpt of “the I Have a Dream” speech,    Click here.  It’s the original.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

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