April 24

Today (4/24/2013), in a gathering called the “Spiritual Day Hike” at St. Margaret’s we listened to a man of Armenian heritage talk about the Armenian Genocide (1915-1918). It is estimated that 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children died in those years because, ‘official’ denials aside, they were Armenian. This man’s mother, father, and uncle were all directly impacted by this event prior to arriving safely in America.

The Episcopal Church has provisionally designated April 24 as a commemoration called Genocide Remembrance. It acknowledges that on April 24, 1915 over 200 Armenian men and boys were arrested and killed by authorities signaling the start of the genocide. Our prayer gives you an idea of why we remember, why we call out to God, and how we hope God will bless us in our day:

Almighty God, our Refuge and our Rock, your loving care knows no bounds and embraces all the peoples of the earth: Defend and protect those who fall victim to the forces of evil, and as we remember this day those who endured depredation and death because of who they were, not because of what they had done or failed to do, give us the courage to stand against hatred and oppression, and to seek the dignity and well-being of all for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, in whom you have reconciled the world to yourself; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Collect for the Day (April 24) in Holy Women, Holy Men emphasis added

On a pilgrimage to Armenia in 2001 Pope John Paul II also prayed in remembrance and in hope:

O Judge of the living and the dead, have mercy on us!

Listen, O Lord, to the lament that rises from this place, to the call of the dead from the depths of the Metz Yeghérn, the cry of innocent blood that pleads like the blood of Abel, like Rachel weeping for her children because they are no more. Listen, Lord, to the voice of the Bishop of Rome, echoing the plea of his Predecessor Pope Benedict XV, when in 1915 he raised his voice in defence of “the sorely afflicted Armenian people brought to the brink of annihilation”.

Look upon the people of this land who put their trust in you so long ago, who have passed through the great tribulation and never failed in their faithfulness to you. Wipe away every tear from their eyes and grant that their agony in the twentieth century will yield a harvest of life that endures for ever. We are appalled by the terrible violence done to the Armenian people, and dismayed that the world still knows such inhumanity.

But renewing our hope in your promise, we implore, O Lord, rest for the dead in the peace which knows no end, and the healing of still open wounds through the power of your love. Our soul is longing for you, Lord, more than the watchman for daybreak, as we wait for the fullness of redemption won on the Cross, for the light of Easter which is the dawn of invincible life, for the glory of the new Jerusalem where death shall be no more.

O Judge of the living and the dead, have mercy on us all!

PRAYER OF JOHN PAUL II at the Memorial of Tzitzernagaberd Yerevan
26 September 2001

The conversation around the table (our ‘day hike’ is more of a spiritual wandering than an actual hike) centered upon our responsibilities as followers of Christ to work in the ways we can, according to our abilities and with God’s grace, so that such horrors cease. We have a long way to go, but we have started.

For further information

Armenian Genocide on Wikipedia

Armenian National Institute (ANI) “Dedicated to the study, research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide”

An encouraging word

For the first 30 years of my life I identified myself as “Roman Catholic.” I continue to claim my Roman Catholic roots. I have a great love and respect for the Roman Catholic Church. But I am happily being prodded along by the Holy Spirit in The Episcopal Church. With 1.2 billion members, the Roman Catholic presence in our world is significant. The Pope as leader of this church is a powerful voice on the world stage.

To hear today what he said about Vatican II, the Holy Spirit, stubbornness, and the courage to go forward is therefore, ‘an encouraging word’ to me. Some excerpts from his homily yesterday (4/16/2013):

“the Holy Spirit upsets us because it moves us, it makes us walk, it pushes the Church forward.” He said that we wish “to calm down the Holy Spirit, we want to tame it and this is wrong.” Pope Francis said “that’s because the Holy Spirit is the strength of God, it’s what gives us the strength to go forward” but many find this upsetting and prefer the comfort of the familiar.

Nowadays, he went on, “everybody seems happy about the presence of the Holy Spirit but it’s not really the case and there is still that temptation to resist it.” The Pope said one example of this resistance was the Second Vatican council which he called “a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit.” But 50 years later, “have we done everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council,” he asked. The answer is “No,” said Pope Francis. “We celebrate this anniversary, we put up a monument but we don’t want it to upset us. We don’t want to change and what’s more there are those who wish to turn the clock back.” This, he went on, “is called stubbornness and wanting to tame the Holy Spirit.”

View the post on Vatican Radio

He concluded “by urging those present not to resist the pull of the Holy Spirit. ‘Submit to the Holy Spirit,’ he said, ‘which comes from within us and makes go forward along the path of holiness.’”

Very encouraging words to me. What does it sound like to you?

A Great Cloud of Witnesses – 8 Feb 2011

Courage has been on my mind and heart over the last several days. Here is a virtue, a mystery, which our word courage tries to contain. Like many mysteries, much can be said about courage (and has been said). Yet, in the end, we will never exhaust the mystery that is courage. We will recognize it in ourselves and others, we will celebrate it, we will draw inspiration from it, but we will never be able to speak the final word about courage. As always, I give thanks for those witnesses in my life who have demonstrated and today witness courage to me. They inspire and have inspired (by invitation rather than command) courage enough to face my fears. I offer several quotes today (found on Wikiquote) to help you find the witnesses to courage in your own life, and give thanks for their presence.

Courage and Fear

Today’s quotes:
Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.

G. K. Chesterton (1)

Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men … have lived. The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he must—in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures—and that is the basis of all human morality…. In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience—the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men—each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient—they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.

John F. Kennedy (2)

Invitation

  • be still
  • let the cloud of witnesses envelop you
  • find your witness or witnesses who lived/are living this truth
  • give thanks for their presence in your life
  • when ready, go with encouragement and renewed energy
  • go and witness this truth in your own life

Explanation and purpose

Introduction to my occasional series A Great Cloud of Witnesses

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(1) Orthodoxy, Ch. 6 (1909) – under “courage” in Wikiquote accessed 8 Feb 2011
(2) Profiles in Courage (1956) – under “courage” in Wikiquote accessed 8 Feb 2011
Image: from the internet