“The Peace Corps left today and my heart sank low. The danger is extreme and they were right to leave… Now I must assess my own position, because I am not up for suicide. Several times I have decided to leave El Salvador. I almost could, except for the children, the poor, bruised victims of this insanity. Who would care for them? Whose heart could be so staunch as to favor the reasonable thing in a sea of their tears and loneliness? Not mine, dear friend, not mine.” – Jean Donovan
On this day in 1980, those known as the Four Church Women of El Salvador were martyred. Ursuline Sister, Dorothy Kazel, Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, and lay missioner, Jean Donovan ministered to the poor in El Salvador, during a most treacherous time in that land. For their efforts, uniting with the very least of God’s people, who were apparently a threat to those in power. For this they were summarily executed.
The opening quotation, from Jean Donovan, sums up a powerful theme of Advent. Patience and hope in the face of the worst times. We tend to associate this kind of thing more with Lent, but make no mistake, this what Advent calls us to.
Following Christ is often the most unreasonable thing we can do, yet we are called to follow him. Perhaps you will reflect on the words that Donovan left for us, reminding us to look at our conscience before we turn away from the challenging, the uncomfortable, and other difficult moments we face.
Today, let our Advent prayers root us in prayerful hope, patience, and witness, a time of Holy Waiting in the darkness, knowing that the Light will come.