Today the Catholic Church celebrates Saint Martin de Porres, a Dominican lay brother, who lived in Lima, Peru. His was a life of prayer, devotion to the poor, and care for the animals.
There are stories of his commitment to the poor, even challenging his superior who wanted him to stop bringing the poor into his room to care for them. There are stories of his care for animals where cats, dogs, and mice ate together. His life was a sign of the peaceable kingdom.
San Martín de Porres was the child of an African slave-woman and a Spanish soldier. He has also been proclaimed the patron of social and racial justice.
Today is also the anniversary of the death of the French author, Leon Bloy, in 1917. He once wrote:
“One does not enter into paradise tomorrow, nor in ten year; one enters it today, when one is poor and crucified.”
Today is also the anniversary of the birth of a Mexican bishop who exemplified justice, and identification with the poor, especially the indigenous peoples of his diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas. Born in 1924, Don Samuel Ruiz died on January 24, 2011.
In his 1994 Lenten pastoral he wrote:
“The church, when faced with this violence of the ‘established order,’ cannot remain silent lest it condone by its silence the sin of the world. With the energy that the spirit of the prophets has given us, and with the power of the Gospel, we have called — in season and out of season — for the conversion of persons and of social structures. But it would seem that we have been ‘a voice crying in the wilderness.’ ”
May all these witnesses awaken in us a deep passion for Christ in the poor and lead us to identify with their causes for justice.