Today the church celebrates the Jesuit priest, Pedro Claver, who ministered to slaves in Cartegena for many years. He is a patron of social justice and of racial justice.
As I sat down to pray this morning, I found that the current missal has no proper readings for Saint Pedro Claver. I have an old Saint Andrew Daily Missal with Franciscan Supplement, from 1962, here with me in Honduras. In the “Proper Feat of the U.S.A.”, there is a complete special Mass, with the epistle from Isaias 58. 6-9, 10 and the Gospel of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10.29-37.
The first lines of the epistle are particularly appropriate:
“Loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundle that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden.”
The Introit is Psalm 106 (107). 9-10, 8:
“The Lord hath satisfied the empty soul: such as sat in darkness and in the shadow of death: bound in want and iron.”
How appropriate for Saint Pedro Claver who went down into the holds of the slave ships when they arrived in Cartagena to serve those bound in iron with fruit, brandy, tobacco, and medicine – and, also, to preach and baptize them (as was the sacramental understanding of his time.)
But as I prayed the official US Collect for St. Peter Claver, the prayer seemed all too bland:
“…grant, through his intercession, that, seeking the things of Jesus Christ, we may love our neighbor in deeds and in truth.”
But then I looked at the prayers in Misal Romano Diario, published in 2015 by Midwest Theological Forum, the Oración Colecta for the United States is much more pointed:
“…fortalécenos, por el ejemplo y las oraciones de San Pedro Claver, para vencer todo odio racial y amarnos como hermanos y hermanas.”
“…strengthen us, by the example and prayers of Saint Peter Claver, to conquer all racial hatred and love each other as brothers and sisters.” (my translation)
The Oración Colecta of Colombia (where he lived and died) is also more pointed:
…”concédenos por su intercesión y ejemplo, que superadas todas las discriminaciones raciales, amemos a todos los hombres con sincero corazón.”
“…grant us, by his intercession and prayers, that, overcoming all racial discriminations, we may love all persons with a sincere heart.” (my loose translation)
I don’t think there is any agenda here, but I prefer the older collect and the one from Colombia, especially in light of the problems of racism in our world – and in the US.
May we conquer all racial hatred and overcome all racial discrimination, through the intercession of St. Peter Claver.
As I wrote this I looked for an image of St. Peter Claver in the ships with the slaves. I found this one:
I also found one on the website of St. Mary’s Press. It is copyrighted but you can go to the web page here.