Now and then when the violence in the world seems to rage out of control I find myself drawing inward to that contemplative space where I can re-collect my thoughts and center on the task at hand. Today was one of those times, and I found a suitable meditation thanks to Pax Christi.
The beloved Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara, former Archbishop of Recife and Olinda, Brazil, who died in 1999, is well known for defending the poor and working for social justice. In response to claims that he was a danger to Brazil’s national security he said, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why are they poor, they call me a Communist.”
In addition to being a missionary and prophet, Câmara was a poet. Pax Christi shared the following poem by Câmara in yesterday’s Pray-Study-Act e-Bulletin on Egypt. It is a beautiful and powerful poem , while simultaneously a prayer, that challenges us on many levels. It goes right to the heart of what we believe as people of God, and calls us to dream a beautiful dream – that of “a new heaven, a new earth, where justice reigns.”
Let us dream together.
By Dom Helder Camara
I will not believe in the law of the strongest,
In the language of guns,
In the power of the powerful.
I want to believe in the right of all,
In the open hand,
In the strength of the non-violent.
I will not believe in race or riches.
In the established order.
I want to believe that all human beings
Are human beings
And that the order of force and of injustice
Is a disorder.
I will not believe that I don’t have to concern myself
With what happens far from here.
I want to believe that the whole world
Is my home, the field that I sow,
And that all reap what all have sown.
I will not believe that I can combat oppression out there
If I tolerate injustice here.
I want to believe that what is right
Is the same here and there
And that I will not be free
While even one human being is excluded.
I will not believe that war and hunger are inevitable
And that peace is inaccessible.
I want to believe in the love of bare hands,
In peace on earth.
I will not believe that any effort is in vain.
I will not believe that the dream of human beings
Continues being only a dream
And that death is the end.
But I dare to believe in the dream of God:
A new heaven, a new earth
Where justice reigns.