Peace be with you!

My name is Nader Ata. I am a Conventual Franciscan Friar of the Our Lady of Angels Province, USA. I am a transitional deacon preparing for Priesthood Ordination in the fall.

Seeking to live with Franciscan Joy each and every day!

*All of photos on this blog were taken by me unless noted otherwise. Please ask permission before using them. Thank You!*

*Also I am not the greatest speller or writer in the world, so please let me know if something is misspelled. Thank you!"


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Roses in December

Tonight Andy and I watched the film, Roses in December. This film tells the story of four US churchwomen: Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and Cleveland Maryknoll Lay Mission Team Member Jean Donovan. They were abducted, abused, sexually violated, and eventually shot in the head on December 2, 1980 in El Salvador National Guardsmen. This film focused mainly on Jean Donovan with stories from her family, friends, and mentors, yet speaks of the martyrdom that was experienced for the sake of Christ's people.

So many things touched me about the film. What struck me most was not the faces of the children they helped, not the poverty, not the violence, not that fact they there murder was sanctioned by the government, not that they were good people doing good work, not that three consecrated religious were sexually assaulted, nor that Jean was either - what struck was that Jean knew that she was going to die. On her last trip to London before her tragic death in El Salvador she knew that she would not come back alive and even knowing that she went anyway. What a powerful witness! It is like Christ who on his journey from Galilee to Jerusalem he knew that he was going to die and he went anyway. Jean's drive to go to El Salvador again even with understanding the fact that she would die there makes me wonder about the amount of faith, trust, and hope she had in God.

I just finished reading Spe Salvi the Popes last encyclical letter On Christian Hope and after watching this film hope was all I could think about. I mean you would think I would be sad after remembering such a said event, yet I was driven to hope. Driven to the hope shown by our ancestors, like Jean Donovan and Sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, and Dorothy Kazel. Driven to the hope present in our world today we come more and more aware that every single human being is our brother and sister, father and mother, son and daughter in Christ. And driven to the hope of a future in heaven.

I am unsure where I am going but if anything I beg you never to lose hope. For in a world so desperate to find meaning, we are not called to find hope, rather we are called particularly as Christians to be bearers of hope. In relation to Mary, the Mother of God, Pope Benedict writes "When you hastened with holy joy across the mountains of Judea to see your cousin Elizabeth, you became the image of the Church to come, which carries the hope of the world in her womb across the mountains of history (54)." Take this for what it worth but in defining hope I see it as a virtue and gift from God that gives us the grace to know that we are not alone and there is a future ahead of us, which is rooted in the past and the present, is amidst the community, and is the longing for fulfillment. Be the hope that endures not because everything is great or going well, but because of your trust in God and God's promise.....


tabbi said...

I just ordered the DVD "Roses in December" I have seen the 1983 movie "Choices of the Heart." That is a movie about Jean Donovan. Melissa Gilbert played Jean Donovan. That movie really opened my eyes. Since I saw that movie...again I have been trying to find out more about them, Jean Donovan in paticular. What You are about to read is on my blog on myspace.....
My definition of brave is doing what is right even though you are afraid. Doing what is right even though you are faced with violence, fear and death.
My definition of disciple or discipleship is sacrificing all that I have, all that I am, to respond to and follow Jesus. To do His will.
Mark 10:17-22 Tells the story of a rich young man who runs to Jesus, fall to his knees, and ask Jesus "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Verse 19 Jesus says "You know the commandments: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother" "Teacher," the rich young man says in verse 20, "all these commandments, I have kept since I was a boy." verse 21 Jesus looks at the him and loved him then says, "one thing you lack, go sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven. Then come, follow me." In verse 22 we read, "at this the mans face fell. He went a way sad, because he had great wealth."
He was sad because he would not give up his career, money or his life in order to follow Jesus. A woman, named Jean Donovan, did just that.
One of my favorite movies, "Choices of the Heart," tells the story of how, in 1977, A woman named Jean Donovan left behind a good job, a nice home, her money, her family, and her friends and first moved to New York to learn how to become a lay missionary, then in 1979 she flew to Guatemala, where she lived for 3 months, learning to speak Spanish.
In August of 1979 she moved to Labertad, El Salvador. There she partnered with Sister Dorothy Kazel, who had been living there for 8 years. She was also friends with Sister Ita Ford and Sister Maura Clark.
A brutal Civil War had broken out in El Salvador. During this war the government often targeted those working with the poor but, Jean felt her calling was in that war torn country.
During the next several months she helped the people in Santa Cruz. She also worked with the Lay Preachers, arranging the Bible readings.
She fell in love with the poor people of El Salvador and they fell in love with her. She shared her faith in God with them. She followed Jesus wholeheartedly. She followed Jesus bravely, even in the face of violence and fear. All around Labertad, mutilated bodies began to show up every day. The government death squads practiced a reign of terror over the people.
Jean Donovan also worked with Archbishop Oscar Romero. In early 1980 the violence had gotten so bad that the people fled their homes. The Archbishop opened the doors of his seminary in San Salvador, to people who needed a place to stay.
Hundreds of homeless people stayed in the seminary. His life was threatened many times because of the help he was giving the people. On Monday, March 24, 1980, while performing Mass in the Convent of the Good Shepard the Archbishop was shot and killed by an assassin standing by the door. Over one hundred thousand people attended his funeral. They crowded the plaza outside the Cathedral. During the funeral, as bishops from around the world stood outside, bombs and gunfire exploded from the top of the National Palace. They opened fire on the crowd. Thirty people were either killed or stomped to death. Many more were injured.
In May of 1980, Jean wrote a friend telling him the the violence was growing, that people were being killed daily where she was. There were 3 men from her area that were taken out, tortured, and hacked to death.
On June 6th, 1980,Two of Jeans close friends, Armando Avelae, and Carlos Hernandez, walked Jean home down main street in La Libertad, after seeing a movie together. As Jean was about to go into her house she heard the gun fire. She ran back to the street to find her friends had been shot and killed. Their deaths devastated Jean. They were also a message from the death squad to the missionaries----get out or your next.
In September, 1980, Jean decided to take a six week vacation. She first went to Miami to visit her family, then to England to visit a friend, then to Ireland for the wedding of another friend, then to New York, Cleveland and back to Miami.
All of her family and friends tried to convince her not to go back to El Salvador but to no avail. Jean confessed she was very afraid of dying but she had to help the people in El Salvador, help the refugees, knowing there was a strong possibility she would be killed. But she confronted her fears and apprehensions and through prayer, decided to go back and serve the poor. She felt at peace with her decision. She placed her trust in God and her calling. Her mother once said of Jean "She had somehow reconciled herself to what was happening and what she was to do, and had made peace with whatever frightening thoughts she had.
On Friday, October 17, 1980 Jean flew back to El Salvador and began working with the refugees again. Her friends noticed a change in her. "She had achieved a degree of peace that we all struggle for," one of her friends commented.
On December 2, 1980, She drove to the airport, with Sister Kazel, to pick up Sister Ford and Sister Clark. They were flying in from Managua. As they were driving back to Labertad, soldiers, dressed in civilian clothes, stopped them at a toll booth. They got into the mini-van and drove to a dirt road where they were sexually abused then killed. Their bodies were found 2 days later in a shallow grave.
Why am I telling this long story? I am hoping it touches someones heart. I am hoping that people will read this and understand that life is short and what you do with your life can make a difference. We live in our comfortable homes, sit on our comfortable furniture and turn on the T.V. to watch one of a thousand shows. Sometimes we turn on the news and hear about the war in another country, about the genocide that is going on in Darfur, Africa. And when we get "uncomfortable" watching this we either turn to a different station or turn the T.V. off. Jean Donovan, and others like her, believed they could make a difference in the lives of people who were hurting, poor, and afraid. They went out and helped the wounded, gave food to the poor, and gave comfort to those who were afraid.
I am not saying that everyone has to become a missionary or go out into these war torn countries and "save" everyone. But why can't we help the hurting, feed the poor, and give comfort to those that are afraid, right here in our own communities?
Help one another, be more friendly to others. When you're in the store smile at some one and say "hi." Or as you are walking into the store and you see an elderly person unloading their cart of groceries, stop and ask them if you could help. Take their cart back to the store for them. Go to church, learn more about God and His love for you. Show others Jesus lives in you. Be a blessing to others, just as Jean Donovan, Sister Kazel, Sister Ford, and Sister Clark were to the people of El Salvador.
Matthew 5:10, Jesus said. "How blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them!
My life here is short, just a blink of an eye, but I want to do all I can to help God and bring His children back to him. Yes I know I will be and have been made fun of because of my beliefs in God, but I stand strong because God's got my back. He loves you and waits for you. Go to him, talk to him, tell him of your struggles. He longs to hear from you.
anybody that wants to see more of my blogs, go to myspace and look up the name tenaann2222. God bless

Friar Nader Ata, OFM Conv. said...

Thanks for your Post. Very moving!