JOINING THE STREET PEOPLE
Reading the letters of Henrique, Pilgrim of the Trinity, was a great joy. Barely into the prologue I already felt the need to share his odyssey with many readers.
This pilgrim of our own time carries on a tradition hallowed by Russian pilgrims for centuries. It is also in the tradition of Francis of Assisi; whose poverty and whose love of God and the whole human family Henrique mirrors.
Besides showing us a Francis of our age, Henrique also incarnates the spirits of Dorothy Day, a woman who trembled with indignation at every injustice.
It's a fascinating combination at work in our pilgrim: a life of profound prayer so closely knit to solidarity with the world's discards (who, unfortunately are the majority!) that prayer and action become one.
And, though he joins no "movimentos", no organizations to struggle for a life of dignity for the poor, yet his spirit, like yeast in dough, is giving social activists every where new life, life which is grounded in the mystery of the Trinity.
In the multitude of "encontros" each day, year in year out, it is the self-revealing and the self-sharing of the Triune God that Henrique imparts.
The Portuguese word "encontro" cannot simply be translated by "encounter". Henrique describes "encontro" as "gift and welcome; it is sharing and communion. A genuine meeting becomes a parable of the mystery of the most sweet Trinity, an invitation to be seated at the table of the great encounter with the three sojourners that Abraham met and welcomed."
My hope is that the Pilgrim's letters to the world will be read and discussed in small groups every where in the English speaking lands.
I hope is that the parish ministers in particular will use these letters in their monthly or weekly meetings as a springboard for prayer and for life-giving action in the community. Were that to happen then many of the complaints about parishes would vanish. No longer would those who "tremble with indignation over every injustice" have reason to say their parish is a do-nothing and therefore useless. And no longer would traditionalists say of those who try to carry the gospel into the marketplace, " but they don't pray!"
Henrique concludes a set of three letters in which he relates the work of these Brazilian groups as examples; a small religious community in a big-city slum; an alive parish in a drought stricken small town in the Northeast; and a group of young people ministering to people in difficulty.
"Jesus is here, the Kingdom is being born. The church is living here anew spring, the hope of tomorrow. The signs are small and fragile, just a little handful of men and women of faith in the midst of multitudes, in a slum of 30,000. But that's how the signs of the Kingdom are, humble, simple, even "innocent". If the eyes of our souls could capture these signs, each a tiny flame of hope, then five continents would light up with thousands upon thousands of these lights, each a springtime flower, a sign of the "Resurrection".
Go with joy little book, just as the Pilgrim, and help us see the "tender Trinity" as Henrique does, and to love all people genuine charity marked by welcome and sharing.
This hymn for Lauds in the church's liturgy expresses well what Henrique is about:
Amid our anxious cares today, We praise you Father, for the word Revealed in Christ, our daily bread, Who make our life your sacrament.
In prayer we ask the help of grace, Your Spirit's life inspires our love, As pilgrims now we onward move The way Christ walked to bring good news.
Our efforts hymn our rising hope, Your kingdom's glory in us dwells. May we be one in lasting love And sing your praise eternally, Amen.
If you need more information contact Vicki Gerwing at: email@example.com