A Week of Novenas for Justice, Peace and Holiness
63 days of intercessory prayer for peace among nations and justice for all people, commencing the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, June 8, 2002.

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+ This summer call to prayer consists of seven consecutive nine day novenas. Each novena has a general justice and peace intention, the novena prayer, a short prayer to a saint, and a focus on one of the seven Works of Justice and Peace. It is beneficial to begin a time of prayer with a moment of quietness and recollection. Meditating on a short phrase -- a Bible verse, a short prayer -- or a decade of the Rosary can help set this time apart for prayer and intercession. The Jesus prayer - "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner," is especially appropriate. As the spirit of prayer comes upon you, read the intentions and prayers for the day.


June 28 - July 6, 2002

Our Lady of Sorrows & Archbishop Oscar Romero

General intentions: For the redemption of structures of violence, oppression, exploitation, and despair with beauty, goodness, mercy, and peace. The First Work of Justice and Peace: Live simply and justly in solidarity with the poor and marginalized and be a good neighbor. Make no war on them, rather, be one with them in spirit, truth, and love.

Prayers:
Let us pray together in peace, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Holy Mary, Mother of God, help the helpless, strengthen the fearful, comfort the sorrowful, bring justice to the poor, peace to all nations, and solidarity among all peoples. Open our eyes to see the beauty, joy, redemption, and goodness which comes through obedience to the call of your Son our Lord. Teach us to be a refuge of hope for all who are oppressed by injustice and violence. Give us strength to stand against the demonic powers which prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Our Lady of Sorrows, most holy and afflicted mother, queen of martyrs, you stood beneath the cross and witnessed the agony of your dying Son. Look down with tenderness and pity on us as we meditate on your sorrows and place our request in the sanctuary of your wounded heart. To whom shall we have recourse in our needs and wants if not to you, mother of mercy, who drank so deeply of the chalice of your Son? To whom shall we turn if not to you, mother of sorrows, who shared in the sorrows of your Son from birth to death? The Father who chose you to be the mother of his Son allowed the sword of sorrow to pierce you through. In the immensity of the sorrows you suffered help me to persevere and bear patiently with our present sorrow.

We pray for those who will die today because of war, economic chaos, injustice, and exploitation, especially the children. Prepare them for the agony, despair, and terror of the violence that is upon them. Comfort them and hold them close to the bosom of thy Wounded Heart as they drink deeply of the bitter cup which is forced upon them. Wipe their tears, calm their fears, welcome them to peace and safety. Eternal rest grant to them, and may perpetual light shine upon them.

Archbishop Oscar Romero, prophet of justice and peace, you stood in solidarity with the poor and oppressed even unto your own death. May your holy example strengthen us with courage and wisdom as we do the works of justice and peace, beauty and wisdom.

Thoughts for the journey.

Traditionally, we recall "seven sorrows of Mary": the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the three-day separation from Jesus, and four incidents along the Via Dolorosa (Mary meets Jesus on the way to the crucifixion, the crucifixion, the taking down of his body, the burial). Today many swords pierce the heart of Mary. Injustice, oppression, violence, murder -- sins and structures of sin against justice and peace. We know that within our hearts are the seeds of the problems the world faces. If we are going forward in the work of justice and peace, we must begin with an examination of our own lives. How do my sins of omission and commission create and support structures of injustice and oppression? How do I participate in and profit from the social sins of this age? What must be redeemed in my life so that I live in solidarity with those our society has pushed to the edge and further, into the abyss? As we pray this novena, we declare peace in the War on the Poor, and resign our commissions in the Army of Injustice.


Defend the lowly and the fatherless; render justice to the afflicted and needy. Rescue the lowly and poor, deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82, 3-4.

July 7 - 15, 2003

Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Martyrs of Latin America
General Intention: The unjust exercise of authority, and the sins and structures of sin against life. The 2nd Work of Justice and Peace: Hear the truth when it is spoken to you. Discern the signs of the times and speak truth -- to power, to the people, and to the Church.

Prayers: Let us pray together in peace, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Holy Mary, Mother of God, help the helpless, strengthen the fearful, comfort the sorrowful, bring justice to the poor, peace to all nations, and solidarity among all peoples. Open our eyes to see the beauty, joy, redemption, and goodness which comes through obedience to the call of your Son our Lord. Teach us to be a refuge of hope for all who are oppressed by injustice and violence. Give us strength to stand against the demonic powers which prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

O Mary, blessed Lady of Guadalupe, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life: Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult, of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy. Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of life with honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life.

Pray for us, Martyrs of Latin America. Bring to our remembrance this day all people who are killed in wars, tortured in jails, disappeared in the night, starved for food, subjected to oppression, driven from their homes, unlawfully imprisoned, denied religious liberty, excluded from economic opportunity, marginalized by poverty, targeted by racial and cultural prejudices, silenced by violence and injustice. May we hear and remember the tragedy, joy, despair, and hope of the voices that call to us and to history for justice, reconciliation, and peace. Amen.

Thoughts for the journey.

In this Novena we honor Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe, protector of the unborn, patron of all those who are oppressed and persecuted. We also remember the martyrs of Latin America, victims of cruel conflicts between world empires and corrupt ruling classes, martyrs of injustice and oppression.

Throughout history, we have drawn circles around certain groups and said, "These people are not human -- dispose of them as you choose." The holocausts are too many to count. Do we really believe that human life is precious and deserves respect and protection? That depends on where the alleged person is located, socially and physically. Some people simply aren't considered to be real people. Maybe they are too old, and too sick, and too poor, just give them a shot and put them out of our misery. Or perhaps they live on land which is coveted by others more powerful than they. Society has developed many ways to ease this process, starting with the NewSpeak vocabulary that describes these events. Remember, structures of sin always defend themselves vigorously.

There is enough tragedy in this to go around. Abandonment by fathers, violence against women, unjust economics that encourage abortion, terrorism, mandatory contraception & sterilization, demonization of the poor (especially young single mothers), cartelized and corporatized health care and so on. Here is where we remember that the Lady of Guadalupe took upon herself the image of a young pregnant Aztec maiden in a place of oppression and injustice, demonstrating God's love for everybody.

We find this message also in the mysteries of the Martyrs of Latin America. They were condemned by politicians. The bullets and bombs were paid for by the powerful. They were targeted because they were poor. Their deaths were enabled by structures that dehumanize and depersonalize human beings. Like unborn children, a circle was drawn around them and they were proclaimed as fair game. Empires counted their deaths as collateral damage. Their voices call to us & to history for justice & remembrance.


July 16 - 24, 2003

Our Lady of the Precious Blood and St. Franz Jagerstatter

General Intention: The reconciliation of persons and peoples. Third Work of Justice and Peace: Make injustice visible -- witness, remember, teach, proclaim, tell. Light candles, do not curse the darkness.

Prayers: Let us pray together in peace, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Holy Mary, Mother of God, help the helpless, strengthen the fearful, comfort the sorrowful, bring justice to the poor, peace to all nations, and solidarity among all peoples. Open our eyes to see the beauty, joy, redemption, and goodness which comes through obedience to the call of your Son our Lord. Teach us to be a refuge of hope for all who are oppressed by injustice and violence. Give us strength to stand against the demonic powers which prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Precious Blood, Ocean of Divine Mercy: Flow upon us! Precious Blood, most pure Offering: Procure for us every grace! Precious Blood, Hope and Refuge of sinners: Atone for us! Precious Blood, Delight of holy souls: Draw us!

St. Franz Jagerstatter, in a time of great hatred, injustice, and violence, you bore heroic witness to peace, beauty, and holiness. Your devotion to truth shows us the way to reconciliation. Your example of fortitude brings us understanding. Your life of beauty in the face of appalling evil fills us with hope. May your heart of love inspire us so that we will witness, remember, teach, and proclaim the Gospel of life and love for all peoples, everywhere, and not count the cost.

Thoughts for the journey.
His lifeless body was taken from the Cross and laid in her blessed arms. How the tears must have flowed as she cradled Him in her arms, He who once had been a little baby, bouncing on her lap, a young man who followed in Joseph's footsteps as a carpenter and who taught in the Temple confounding the wise, a fearless prophet who healed and taught and brought hope. How His life must have passed before her eyes, as her tears mingled with His most precious Blood. "A sword shall also pierce your heart." Her blood had been his first nourishment. Present at that first Eucharist, she received the Cup from His hands -- did she understand even then what was to come? "She kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."

"For in Christ all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him. (Colossians 1:19-20a). "And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

How great is the need for reconciliation in this world! But reconciliation is more than an oppressor saying, "By the way, I'm sorry" who then goes does the same thing to someone else, who closes his eyes to the consequences of his actions. It is not the denial of injustice, but rather, the correction of the objective disorders that brought on the harm. The call to reconciliation is also not the Voice of the Oppressor saying "Cooperate with our violence against you." Rather, it is the witness of the Precious Blood of Christ that reconciliation is praxis -- it is action rooted in spirituality. Faith without works is dead.

This is not a comfortable process; often it is easier to shift the blame onto the victims. People say that poverty is caused by laziness and bad choices. Sometimes this is true, but it is only part of the explanation. Many close their eyes to structures of injustice and exploitation and greed, processes that make people poor and keep them "in their place." The poor become a fearful Alien, the Other, to be mastered, confined, counted, regulated, and exploited for the good of the ruling political and economic elites.

St. Franz Jagerstatter was an Austrian farmer who was killed by the Nazis during World War II because of his refusal to bear arms and serve in the German military. His example of fortitude in the face of the most appalling evil is a reminder that reconciliation begins with truth -- and leads to a personal commitment to live the Gospel, even at great personal risk.

Our prayer is that through true reconciliation, all people will learn how to be one in solidarity with each other, so that Serbian and Albanian, Irish Protestant and Irish Catholic, Hutu and Tutsi, Afrikaner and Zulu, White Americans and Native Americans, and all other persons and peoples will acknowledge the human personhood and dignity of each other, and live together in peace upon the earth. And as the song says, let this begin with me. Our praxis is also a prayer, and this is the prayer that is most pleasing to God.


July 25 - August 2, 2003

Our Lady of Good Counsel and Matthew Talbot

General Intention: For all those pushed to the edges of human societies. Fourth Work of Justice and Peace: Protect the poor and powerless -- listen, learn, educate, organize, empower participation, and respect life from the moment of conception to the time of natural death.

Prayers: Let us pray together in peace, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Holy Mary, Mother of God, help the helpless, strengthen the fearful, comfort the sorrowful, bring justice to the poor, peace to all nations, and solidarity among all peoples. Open our eyes to see the beauty, joy, redemption, and goodness which comes through obedience to the call of your Son our Lord. Teach us to be a refuge of hope for all who are oppressed by injustice and violence. Give us strength to stand against the demonic powers which prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Most Glorious Virgin Mary, you were chosen by the eternal Counsel to be the Mother of the Eternal Word made flesh. You know that our thoughts on earth are sometimes full of fear and uncertainty. Send us the gift of counsel to teach us how to discern God's will and to guide us in all we do.

Matthew Talbot, you were born into poverty, among a marginalized people, and you went right to the edge as an alcoholic. See the violence, despair, alienation and oppression that afflicts this world as the strong prey upon the weak and powerless. We pray that your example of solidarity with the poor will be an inspiration for many to follow your holy example, and open their hearts, their minds, and their homes in hospitality and welcome. Amen.

Thoughts for the journey.
See how Our Lady carefully guides the steps of her Son. What advice did she give to the servants at the wedding at Cana? "Do whatever he tells you." We recall that this includes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, challenging unjust structures, speaking out against oppression and hypocrisy, loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Matthew Talbot was born in a slum in Dublin, Ireland in 1856, and died in the same town in 1925. His journey led into the dark depths of alcoholism. But by the grace of God, he experienced a true and lasting religious conversion, and spent his life among the poor, practicing evangelical poverty, working at labor jobs and giving most of his money as alms to the poor and for the benefit of missions. He helped many people find sobriety. His entire life was an evangelical witness to the power of the Gospel to transform the most alienated and to bring new life to community in the midst of despair.

His life reminds us of the precarious place of those we push to the edge. Often they fall off, into the abyss. They are all around us, but we don't notice them because they are really good at hiding from us. In their experience, to be noticed is to be abused, hurt, wounded. Their defenders are few, their enemies are many. Today there is little respect and not much protection for the poor. We restrict their economic rights and covet their neighborhoods for the building of shopping centers, malls, ballparks, and entertainment centers. Through the example of Our Lady of Good Counsel, we learn to open our eyes and hearts to see the poor who are among us, and stop doing harm to them.


August 3 -11, 2003

Our Lady of Perpetual Help & Sts. Vincent de Paul & Louise Marillac

General Intention: Justice in the distribution of the Earth's goods. 5th Work of Justice and Peace: Work for reconciliation with truth, evangelism, catechesis, orthopraxis.

Prayers:
+ Let us pray together in peace, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Holy Mary, Mother of God, help the helpless, strengthen the fearful, comfort the sorrowful, bring justice to the poor, peace to all nations, and solidarity among all peoples. Open our eyes to see the beauty, joy, redemption, and goodness which comes through obedience to the call of your Son our Lord. Teach us to be a refuge of hope for all who are oppressed by injustice and violence. Give us strength to stand against the demonic powers which prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

O Mother of Perpetual Help, you who are called the refuge and the hope of sinners; be the refuge and hope of all who are excluded from sharing in the goodness and bounty of Creation. Help me, for the love of your son Jesus Christ, to stretch forth my hands to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless. I bless and thank Almighty God, who in His mercy had given me this confidence in You, which I hold to be a pledge of my eternal salvation. Mary, tender Mother, help me. Mother of Perpetual Help, never allow me to lose my faith, hope, and love. Amen.

St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac, your lives were heroic examples of justice, compassion, and mercy. We ask your intercession today on behalf of all who are excluded from participation in the bounty of Creation. May we learn to live simply, that others may simply live. May our efforts to ensure just distribution be blessed with discernment and prudence. Amen.

Thoughts for the journey.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church. "2402. In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. However, the earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. The appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge. It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men." "2403. The right to private property, acquired by work or received from others by inheritance or gift, does not do away with the original gift of the earth to the whole of mankind. The universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise."

Now is the time to open our eyes to see the sins against just community that occur daily. Merciless and corrupt governments and international agencies encourage the exploitation of the powerless for unjust gain. Globalization, enforced by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the WTO, is making the poorest of the poor even more miserable and wretched and hopeless. 35,000 people die every day from the consequences of chronic hunger, many of them in countries where large corporate farms grow food that can't be eaten by the locals for export. This is affecting billions of people, and the past ten years have seen significant declines in their quality of life and increases in their mortality rates.

A just community respects both property rights and the social mortgage on the property. Yet, too often the property rights of the poor are accorded scant protection. Traditional lands are appropriated for the enrichment of others, making the original owners tenants on their ancestral farms. (Think about this when you buy a banana.) Sometimes the poor are killed for their land. In the past 30 years, 5 million units of low income housing have been destroyed in the US, not by the free market, but by politicized markets in which the poor neighborhoods have no voice. When a powerful government agency wants a cross-town freeway, the nearest poor neighborhood will do just fine. Or maybe a big corporate developer that makes a lot of contributions to the right politicians wants a conveniently located mall, as part of a project to redevelop and "improve" a poor neighborhood. Here in Oklahoma City, the neighborhoods of Walnut Grove and Riverside are under attack by the powerful who desire their land for their own purposes.

Sts. Vincent de Paul and Louise Marillac are two of the patron saints of justice in the distribution of earthly goods. They lived 350 years ago, but their influence continues today in the many lay and consecrated religious movements that grow from their ministry. The Vincentian apostolates are primary agents of fulfilling the Gospel's call to justice in the distribution of the bounty of creation. They show us that the path towards reconciliation is illuminated by justice.


August 12 - 20, 2003

Our Lady Queen of Peace and Peter Maurin

General intention: For the conversion of the rich and powerful. 6th Work of Justice and Peace: Celebrate life, goodness, beauty, virtue, responsibility, and joy. Practice peace, non-violence, servant leadership, harmony, community, voluntary cooperation, and the proper stewardship of God's creation. Pray without ceasing.

Prayers: Let us pray together in peace, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Holy Mary, Mother of God, help the helpless, strengthen the fearful, comfort the sorrowful, bring justice to the poor, peace to all nations, and solidarity among all peoples. Open our eyes to see the beauty, joy, redemption, and goodness which comes through obedience to the call of your Son our Lord. Teach us to be a refuge of hope for all who are oppressed by injustice and violence. Give us strength to stand against the demonic powers which prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Our Lady Queen of Peace, mystical rose, Bless those who create and sustain a culture of life and love with endurance, hope, and abundance. May the candles we light glow bright with hospitality and hope, respect and love, peace and justice.

Peter Maurin, Holy Fool, teach us to give and not to take, to serve and not to rule, to help and not to crush, to nourish and not to devour, and if need be, to die and not to live. As we create a new society within the shell of the old, remind us that ideals and not deals, creed and not greed, are what makes humanity humane.

Thoughts for the journey.
Everybody has an idea about what poor people need to do to solve their problems. Rarely do people consider how the behaviors of the rich and powerful must change in order for justice to prevail. People don't necessarily want to speak or hear uncomfortable things. It is never easy to speak truth to power, but this is what we are called to do.

Peter Maurin, one of the founders of the Catholic Worker movement, taught that it was a great blessing to assist the rich in coming to the assistance of the poor. Too often, "never the twain shall meet," and certainly, in this day and age, communication between the poor and the rich is perhaps the worst that it has ever been. Communication requires that each person who wants to be heard and understood must see and hear the "Other" as a human person. It's not easy, and it takes practice.

The program that Peter and Dorothy offered to the world was direct, personal involvement with other human beings. He called us to open houses of hospitality, to engage in clarification of thought, and to found agricultural communities as the seeds of new villages. He was suspicious of the imperial State, and wanted the Catholic Worker movement to be an organism, not an organization. As the empire entered a time of great triumph, he called for establishing the seeds of a new society within the old. He taught that the poor should be fed by Christians, not by large government bureaucracies. He wrote many "Easy Essays" -- short little works, almost poetry in their simplicity, each one packed with intense theological concepts about the human person and how we relate to one another in community. He also reminded us of the nobility -- and the necessity -- of manual labor (something we'd often like to forget in this day of convenience and instant gratification).

Peace is the fruit of justice, as Pope Paul VI reminded us. All people are connected, rich and poor. The Gospel calls us therefore to the work of justice, to the celebration of life, goodness, beauty, virtue, responsibility, and joy. As we practice peace, non-violence, servant leadership, harmony, community, voluntary cooperation, and the proper stewardship of God's creation, we may eventually get good at it, especially if we pray without ceasing.


Sow not in the furrows of injustice, lest you reap a sevenfold harvest. Sirach 7, 2

August 21 - 29, 2003

Our Lady of Victories and Dorothy Day

General Intention: + For the creation of structures of beauty and goodness. 7th Work of Justice and Peace: Ensure fair distribution, subsidiarity, economic opportunity, justice, and food security for everyone everywhere.

Prayers: Let us pray together in peace, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Holy Mary, Mother of God, help the helpless, strengthen the fearful, comfort the sorrowful, bring justice to the poor, peace to all nations, and solidarity among all peoples. Open our eyes to see the beauty, joy, redemption, and goodness which comes through obedience to the call of your Son our Lord. Teach us to be a refuge of hope for all who are oppressed by injustice and violence. Give us strength to stand against the demonic powers which prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant From this day all generations shall call me blessed. The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation. He 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 servant Israel for He has remembered His promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.

Dorothy Day, friend and partner of the poor, guiding spirit for the Catholic Worker, home always open to the unwanted, early, often lonely, witness in the cause of peace and conscience, eloquent pattern of gospel simplicity, Dorothy Day, disciple of the Lord, may we continue your gift of self to the needy and your untiring work for peace. Help us to follow your example and dedicate our lives to the creation of structures of beauty and goodness, wisdom and mercy.

Thoughts for the journey. Dorothy Day was an early advocate of women's rights who wrote for radical leftist newspapers in the early years of this century. She was a bohemian as they said in those days -- but when she looked in her heart of hearts, she found it empty. By the grace and providence of God, she found our Lord and was baptized into the Catholic Church. Thus began a journey which led to the founding of the Catholic Worker movement, together with Peter Maurin and the other first Workers.

She worked her entire life to create and live structures of beauty and goodness. In the midst of the slums of New York, they provided hospitality to the poor while working for social justice. They learned that the works of mercy and the works of justice and peace are one and the same, different aspects of the same journey, all going the same direction. Long before it was a theological mantra, the "preferential option for the poor" was a living reality in the life and work of Dorothy Day. She was an informed critic of current events, prophetically looking for the truth in a given situation, and finding Jesus in the poor, rejected, and marginalized.

Her example inspires us today to consider how we can ensure fair distribution, subsidiarity, economic opportunity, justice, and food security for everyone everywhere. First we must see the structures of sin that bind us in poverty, and name the demons which oppress us. As we open our eyes, our minds, and our hearts to the Spirit's guidance, we can discern our response to the signs of these times. We can buy farms and dedicate them for the purpose of raising food for the hungry. We can organize microenterprise co-operatives in every city to provide opportunity for the poor. We can look at our own individual situations, and adopt lifestyles of simplicity and frugality, rejecting the culture of materialistic conspicuous consumption in favor of a life of living simply, that others may simply live. We can buy our food directly from farmers, and stop funding the destruction of the family farm community. We can discern the cry of the widow and orphan in our own neighborhoods, and be the hands and feet of God in relieving distress and creating justice. Dorothy Day used to quote St. Catherine of Sienna -- "All the way to heaven is heaven." May this be our prayer, in Jesus' holy name.


Some closing thoughts from Oscar Romero of El Salvador. . .

It is very easy to be servants of the word without disturbing the world: a very spiritualized word, a word without any commitment to history, a word that can sound in any part of the world because it belongs to no part of the world. A word like that creates no problems, starts no conflicts.

What starts conflicts and persecutions, what marks the genuine church, is the word that, burning like the word of the prophets, proclaims and accuses; proclaims to the people God's wonders to be believed and venerated, and accuses of sin those who oppose God's reign, so that they may tear that sin out of their hearts, out of their societies, out of their laws - out of the structures that oppress, that imprison, that violate the rights of God and of humanity.

This is the hard service of the word. But God's Spirit goes with the prophet, with the preacher, for he is Christ, who keeps on proclaiming his reign to the people of all times. December 10, 1977.