Day 20: Prayer as Sacrifice
BY KATE TROMBLE | March 5, 2018
“Arrest a nun, not a Dreamer.”
“Paul, Paul . . . why do you persecute us?”
“They are our students, our parishioners, our friends, and neighbors.”
With these remarks Sr. Elise Garcia, O.P. and Fr. Tom Reese, S.J. rallied the faithful during last week’s Catholic Day of Action for Dreamers in Washington, DC. Along with about a dozen other Holy Trinity parishioners and approximately 200 other Catholics, I rose early, attended mass at St. Peter’s on Capitol Hill, and then processed to the Capitol. There we listened to several Dreamers talk about their lives and experiences and to allies like Sr. Garcia and Fr. Reese. Then we began praying the Sorrowful Mysteries.
The Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying the Cross. Hail Mary, Mother of God we prayed over and over. It was a beautiful, comfortable ritual and love filled us.
The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion saw us praying in the Senate Russell building rotunda. Here was where the nuns and a few priests were to be arrested. There was fear, there was anticipation, but there was also so much love and grace. You often hear people talk about how an emotion was palpable. But I had rarely experienced such a feeling. On Tuesday morning, however, love was palpable. The simple act of praying was also to be a sacrifice – their physical bodies in jail instead of our Dreamers.Today’s readings are hard. They are quintessentially old school. I don’t often deal with lepers or kings. But I did spend a day with a group of people who understood that an act doesn’t have to be grandiose to be powerful. Prayer and sacrifice, like washing in the river, can be an agent of change.
We can all take a lesson from the women and men who prayed themselves into jail for their beliefs that all children are loved by God, no one is illegal, and our system of immigration must be changed for these young people and their families.
Kate Tromble is the pastoral associate for social justice at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, a Jesuit parish in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the Holy Trinity staff, Kate was Director of Legislative Affairs at the Education Trust and as Legislative Counsel to Senator Paul S. Sarbanes. Kate is an attorney and a graduate of Georgetown University and Vanderbilt University School of Law.
I meant many lepers while a missionary in Papua New Guinea, but I doubt if the leprosy mentioned in the reading today was what we know as leprosy today.Leprosy is much more than just a spot as stated in the reading. There were many skin problems in the tropics, scabies was one. There was another which the people called grille, fish like scales all over the body. Both scabies and grille could be cured by washing in the ocean on a regular basis. After bathing in the ocean one had to leave the salt water dry on your skin and not rinse it off. I doubt that the Jordan had the same property.
I read this not so much as praying to be jailed (they offered themselves in place of the Dreamers), but praying that those who persecute the Dreamers can soon be freed from their own prison of hate. Indeed, very difficult readings! The Sorrowful Mysteries call us to prayers that deeply reveal Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, and perhaps our own flawed sense of individual service. I believe the Mysteries do much more. I am convicted by the physical movement of the nuns and priests as they calmly, but steadfastly placed themselves in public places of modern sacrifice. The very same places where unjust decisions are made and people’s lives are torn apart. How much more is the prayer of justice heard in a public place? Do my simple home prayers evoke such rich response, or do I pretend to take comfort in my solitude, my single prayer of sacrifice? I don’t believe there is one answer to this, but the question deserves my present attention. Thank you for your observations as they inform our journeys of sacrifice.
Thanks Di, how did you go?
Lord teach us to pray.