Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.
An article in the magazine U.S. Catholic speaks about how Martin Luther King Jr.’s prayer life moved him to act for justice, and it has something to say to all those who are part of Parishioners for Justice. The article was published on Friday, January 12, 2018, and was written by Father Bryan Massingale. In part, the article said the following:
“In April we will mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. He was killed in Memphis while supporting sanitation workers on strike who were protesting for a living wage. He died while actively planning for a massive Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, D.C. to dramatize the cruelty of poverty for a complacent nation. He was martyred for his uncompromising advocacy of equal rights for all.
He also died shortly before he was to make an extended retreat at the Trappist monastery at Gethsemani in Kentucky under the direction of spiritual master Thomas Merton. This retreat receives little attention in celebrations of King’s life. But it points to something essential for understanding his importance to Christian believers….”
“One of King’s spiritual disciplines as a young pastor was carving out significant time each week for prayer and meditation as a part of his sermon preparation…. King never advocated “pray-it-away” solutions to personal or social problems. He was deeply realistic about the intransigence of evil and how it yields only in the face of determined action and persistent challenge. He knew that prayer alone is insufficient for social change and is too often used as an excuse by Christians to avoid facing difficult social issues. Yet he insisted that prayer is an essential dimension of social engagement and never a secondary force in the quest of justice…. King’s own prayer life is a witness against opposing spiritual maturity and action on behalf of justice.”
“King would remind us that only a mature spirituality and deep prayer enabled him to dream and act for justice. He provides a model for the kind of socially engaged holiness that our nation [our parish!] so desperately needs.”