The Civil Rights Act
The Legacy of a martyr ~ what are you willing to give your life for?
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
On this coming, Monday, January, 21, 2019, 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 took an assassin’s bullet that he knew was waiting for him at any moment. It came while he was leading a strike for sanitation workers in Memphis. He inspired and led the Civil Rights movement that acquired great change in our land. This man is one of my mentors. I was in his presence once in 1963 when I was in the seminary in Baltimore. Our Rector arranged for a lot of us to hear him speak when he came to Baltimore. Today, I have an image of him near my desk.
He was a man who committed himself to nonviolence like Mohandas Gandhi and Jesus my Lord 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 in their racial hatred. His organizers trained them to have the courage to go to jail for what they believed.
On, the day after his assassination, 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 of our chapel with my brothers to be ordained. In the shadow of this man whose ideals of justice and peace and freedom I also wanted to absorb into my body and soul, I sucked in a deep breath and pledged my life to Christ.
Today, in this land of America, we seem to be allowing 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 to slip away from us.
Racism that was covert has reared its ugly head and been condoned when it should have been severely condemned, beginning with Charlottesville, Virginia, the very home of Jefferson’s great University of Virginia and, recently, infecting the halls of the House of Representatives itself. The number of race-based killings and other incidents in our country in the last two years has been astounding — some by officers of the law. It has taken our young people to lead the way to and advocate for real change once again.
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 2019.
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. To You Glory and Honor and Power, now and forever, Amen!
May we call each other 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.)
It has 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, I offer this brief excerpt of “the I Have a Dream” speech. It’s the original given at the Lincoln Memorial. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen as it’s not a good quality video. Click here.