On Martin Luther King, Jr. and Justice

“Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth-century prophets left their little villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Greco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.”
“IN ANY nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive, negotiation, self-purification, and direct action.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from Birmingham Jail

Most often we equate justice with law. Actually, justice is prior to law. To do justice is not to do so because some law demands it of us. The deeper understanding of justice can be found in the historical root of that word. Its origin comes from a word that means a “sacred formula!” Justice, then, is a formula for doing what is truly and purely right.

Laws exist because injustice has come into our world, i.e. we do things that are destructive as opposed to doing those things which create, enrich and fulfill. Laws are correctives but would not be necessary if we understood the true nature of justice and lived our lives according to the prescripts of justice. Law doesn’t have a soul. Justice does!

On this day to honor a man who knew the true nature of justice we are all asked to consider:
Justice…towards G-d
Justice…towards family, friend, “neighbor,” and even enemies
Justice…towards ourselves [yes, toward ourselves!]
Justice…towards whatever lives, e.g. is it “just” that some aspect of creation cease to exist because of our “want” without regard for the implications beyond ourselves?
Justice…towards the earth, the air, the water….

As to our Community of St. Vincent de Paul, each and every time each of you does more than fulfill an obligation or comply with a regulation you bring the full force of justice to life with its genuine power to create and transform. For each of your acts of justice, we all owe you our deepest gratitude.

— Fr. Ray

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Happy New Year!

Attending to one’s spirit in the celebration of New Year’s Eve and Day 2019…and beyond!

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

This quote by the mystic Meister Eckert seems to fit well as we begin this New Year especially in the context of the various resolutions we may make. We all have our personal histories with New Year’s Resolutions! We all seek to start something new. But in a few weeks or months many of us will be joking or lamenting about how quickly those resolutions are forgotten or given up. And the question is raised, seriously, why we weren’t successful with our “new” we began with such hope.

For as frustrating as this can be for us it does provide each of us who encounter the poor and homeless regularly here at St. Vincent’s with some real insight to those who seek us out with their dreams and hopes of change and yet so often repeatedly fall back into the same old patterns that are so dissatisfying. This insight offers us the opportunity for gaining wisdom.

There are many pundits who offer their perspectives and insights as to why so many of us give up on our resolutions. It occurred to me that one of those reasons may actually be we simply have not made the right resolution! The root of any change in one’s life lies somewhere within one’s own heart. If we can’t sustain our resolutions perhaps it is due to the reality that there is some aspect of our own hearts that need our attention…our understanding…our “resolution” to care for tenderly. I suspect that if we can each attend to our own hearts and our hearts’ needs then those “other” resolutions we make on New Year’s have a greater chance of success.

Again, such attention to our own hearts will provide us with an important and practical wisdom that will enable us to be even more helpful to those who seek us out for assistance and companionship here at St.Vincent’s. It may be that in the revealing of our hearts – ever re-newed –we might enable those who come to us, so often hopeless, to discover they, too, must and can allow their own hearts to be carefully examined and changed.

Happy New Year to all!!
Fr. Ray

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St. Vincent’s Response to the Crisis in the Church 2018

The parishioners of St. Vincent’s share a deep concern over the
crises of abuse and lack of accountability in the Church, and the culture that contributed to this terrible situation. Committed to healing, justice, and peace, we call for,
and work towards, the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need.  Read information and updates on the work of the Parish and St. Vincent’s Ad Hoc Committee on Church Reform 2018.

Vision Statement

We, the People of God, are birthing a more transparent and collaborative Church.

Mission Statement

    • We show up to initiate and grow transformative, reciprocal, and engaged relationships among laity, religious, and clergy.
    • We hope to create and sustain meaningful change in the power dynamics and the structure of the Church.
  • We will work toward the restoration and healing necessary due to the sexual abuse of children by priests and its cover-up.
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Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to the People of God

August 20, 2018

“In recent days, a report was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims. We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity.”

Read the rest of Pope Francis’ letter here. 

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Community of St. V Dedicates Homeless Jesus

On July 15, 2018, the community of St. Vincent, joined by Bishop Denis Madden, blessed the bronze of Homeless Jesus by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz.  The statue, an anonymous gift to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, was installed in St. Vincent Park among the benches where many homeless people rest. See photos of the dedication and installation.

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Baltimore’s Homeless Jesus to Rest Among Those Experiencing Homelessness

The life-sized bronze statue by Ontario artist Timothy Schmalz, which can be found in more than 60 cities across the globe including the Vatican, will be installed on the grounds of St. Vincent. In other cities, the statue has been placed in an area where it serves as a reminder to securely housed people that Jesus was himself homeless and that He called for Christians to care for “these least brothers of mine” (Mt. 25:40). In addition to that message, this one will serve as a reminder to those who are experiencing homelessness that they are like Christ. Continue reading

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Sign Up for St. V’s Weekly Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter! Weekly issues feature news about St. Vincent, communications from staff, events at the parish, a reflection or prayer from Fr. Ray, and the readings for the upcoming Sunday.  If you wish to receive This Week @ St. Vincent, use this subscription link to sign up. You can see all the past issues of the newsletter here.


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