The celebration of St Charles Lwanga (and his companions) was set into motion a few weeks ago. I was reading another terrible account of the destruction ISIS has wrought on women and children in Iraq. On my couch, with my littles napping away, I read stories of 9-year-olds getting sold as sexual slaves; of nursing mothers running for their lives and having to leave a child behind because not everyone could fit in the escape vehicle. How could anyone have to make such a choice? I bawled right there - in a way I don't think I would have been able to prior to having children. All I could see was my children's little faces - how could I possibly choose if I was in such a position? And so I did all that I could think to do in that moment: I prayed and then I gave what I could to help those women help and protect their families.
Then just a couple days later I was catching up on an episode of the Visitation Project - they one where the hosts shared why they close every show with the words "Ya Rabbi Jesu" (episode #3 - check it out) - and again I was reminded of the terror ISIS is trying to spread but how LOVE is countering that terror.
As is always the case, life crept in and these thoughts went to the back burner.. until I started to look at the calendar for June's feast days. There, on June 3rd, was St Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs. The name was vaguely familiar - and his Ugandan surname certainly stuck out amongst all the European names - so I took a moment to look him up. What a story! Made to march 37 miles to his death by burning at the stake, he is reported to have said, "It is as if you are pouring water on me. Please repent and become a Christian like me.” How does one say something like that? What love did he know that allowed him to show such an amazing grace to his murderers? After reading his story, I sent off a quick message to my friend Rita in Uganda: "How do you celebrate St Charles Lwanga's day?" She replied, "By going to mass and lighting a candle." I figured we could do that - and possibly have a Ugandan-inspired dinner as well. (In retrospect, maybe I should have just stuck with what Rita does and light a candle - but there I go, always having to kick it up a notch!) There was a prayer at the end of the article that I read on St Charles, so I just printed that up without really reading it and focused more on finding recipes to make for dinner.
|Rita: wise woman, she is.|
"Martyrs of Uganda, pray for the faith where it is danger and for Christians who must suffer because of their faith. Give them the same courage, zeal, and joy you showed. And help those of us who live in places where Christianity is accepted to remain aware of the persecution in other parts of the world. Amen."With this one little prayer, all the events of the last few weeks got wrapped up and tied together with a beautiful bow. It seems a small thing: a story here, a radio show there, a feast day - except I can't help but see God's fingerprints on them all. And what He touches, in His love, He makes holy. To be clear, I don't believe that God did this just so I could sit back and say "Wow - what a neat coincidence!" I believe that He weaved together these events so that their lesson would be better impressed upon my heart - and the prayer says it all: "help those of us... to remain aware of the persecution in other parts of the world." And of course, awareness requires action. I need to be love: through giving, through learning and through prayer.
Maybe you'd like to join me? I invite you to click over to Preempitve Love Coalition, or to say the prayer above. It isn't St Charles Lwanga's day anymore, but it is a day to be love to our persecuted family in Christ.