ST JAMES EPISCOPAL CHURCH
for the week of February 7, 2021
What you need: a watch, clock, or timer; a quiet creative activity; a candle (if it's okay, or an intentional object like a cross); a Bible, if you'd like; paper; something to write with; a snack. Have your class with a sibling or other family members, or enjoy this time by yourself.
1) Begin with a transition time - Peace & Quiet: enjoy a creative activity for about 10 minutes (journaling, clay, Legos, drawing, etc.) - a time to change gears
2) Next, clear that space, or move to another space, and light a candle (or place your intentional object). Settle in, and say a prayer, like: Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105). Offer more prayers, silently, or out loud, if you want.
Our focus for this class =
Bakhita: Monastic; Patron Saint of Sudan and Africa, and against human trafficking
Who was she?
Well, we don't even know her real name - trauma took away her memory of what her parents called her. She was born in Sudan (in Africa, south of Egypt), at the end of the 19th century. She was kidnapped into slavery when only about 6 years old, and called by her abusers the ironic nickname "Bakhita" - "lucky". She was tortured, maimed (including a form of branding with razors and salt), and sold to various slave-traders, all while still a little girl.
When she was 14, she was purchased by an Italian merchant, who in turn passed her along to be the servant for a friend's daughter. That's how she ended up in Venice, Italy, in 1885. She learned to speak the dialect. . . and was introduced to Christianity, at the girl's school, run by Canossian nuns, where the two of them were boarders. Bakhita was baptised in 1890, and given a new name, Guiseppina (Josephine).
The girl's parents decided to take her and Josephine away from Italy and back to Africa, where the father worked. Josephine said no! A court case ensued, with the judge ruling that since slavery was illegal in Italy, Josephine had actually been a free person since her arrival in 1885. It was her right, as a free person, to make her own decision. Josephine chose to remain with the nuns, and in 1896 became a nun, herself.
She was assigned to a convent in Schio, Italy (about 60 miles inland from Venice), where she lived until her death in 1947. Josephine cooked, sewed, and was the community's doorkeeper, serving with such grace that she was given two new nicknames: the patronizing "nostra Madre Moretta" ("our little Black mother") and "our Universal Sister" which she bore, apparently, with her trademark humility and cheerfulness. People remember that, when asked how she was feeling, she always replied, "As the Master desires."
She was encouraged to write her life story. When it was published in 1930, the convent sent her on a speaking tour throughout Italy, in return for donations collected for the order.
Pope John Paul II canonized her in 2000, recognizing her for "leaving us a message of reconciliation and evangelic forgiveness in a world so much divided and hurt by hatred and violence. She, that was the victim of the worst injuries of all times, namely slavery, herself declared: 'If I was to meet those slave raiders that abducted me and those who tortured me, I'd kneel down to them to kiss their hands, because, if it had not been for them, I would not have become a Christian and religious woman'."
Read and pray this collect from the Episcopal Church calendar:
Bakhita (Josephine Margaret Bakhita), Monastic, 1947
O God of Love, you delivered your servant, Josephine Margaret Bakhita, from the bondage of slavery to serve you in true freedom; by her example help us to see those enslaved among us, and work to release them from their chains. In your mercy, give to all survivors healing from their wounds, and joy in their liberation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Can you identify and see "those enslaved among us"?
- what are ways that people might be enslaved?
- who are these people?
- where do they live?
- why might it be difficult to see them?
How might you "work to release them from their chains"?
Is it possible, though God's mercy, for "all survivors (to receive) healing from their wounds"?
- can these wounds heal completely?
- someone once told me, "Ask people about their scars." What might you learn?
And what forms might the "joy in their liberation" take?
- to liberate = to make free from someone or some thing's control. How would you describe the feelings that liberation might bring?
- what next?