Tag Archives: Alberto Hurtado

Prayer of St. Alberto Hurtado SJ

Today is the feast of the Chilean Jesuit Alberto Hurtado who lived between 1901 and 1952.

img-Saint-Alberto-Hurtado-CruchagaHe combined in his life a deep spirituality, a commitment with the poor, and participation in the struggle for justice, based in his faith.

He founded El Hogar de Cristo for homeless and abandoned children; he helped found a Christian labor union movement; he started a periodical to explain Catholic Social Teaching.

I have written about him in earlier posts here, here, and here. Fr. James Martin, SJ, has a reflection on St. Alberto on the America magazine blog here.

I came across a prayer of his that I think deserves sharing. My English translation is followed by the original in Spanish.

Lord, help me to speak the truth in front of the strong
and not say lies to gain the applause of the weak.

If you give me fortune, don’t take happiness away from me.
If you give me strength, don’t take reason away from me.
If you give me success, don’t take humility away from me.
If you give me humility, don’t take dignity away from me.

Help we always see the other side of the medal.
Do not let me blame others of treason
for not thinking like me.
Teach me to love people as myself
and to judge myself as others.

Do not let me fall into pride if I triumph
nor in despair if I fail.
Rather, remind me that failure
is the experience which precedes triumph.

Teach me that forgiving is the grandest for the strong
and that revenge is the primitive sign of the weak.

If you take away my fortune, leave me with hope.
If you take away success, leave me with the strength
to triumph from the defeat.

If I fail people, give me the courage to ask pardon.
If the people fail me, give me the courage to forgive.
Lord, if I forget You, don’t forget me.

Here’s the Spanish:

Señor, ayúdame a decir la verdad delante de los fuertes
Y a no decir mentiras para ganarme el aplauso de los débiles.

Si me das fortuna, no me quites la felicidad.
Si me das fuerza, no me quites la razón.
Si me das éxito, no me quites la humildad.
Si me das humildad, no me quites la dignidad.

Ayúdame siempre a ver el otro lado de la medalla.
No me dejes inculpar de traición a los demás
por no pensar como yo.
Enséñame a querer a la gente como a mí mismo
y a juzgarme como a los demás.

No me dejes caer en el orgullo si triunfo,
ni en la desesperación si fracaso.
Más bien recuérdame que el fracaso
es la experiencia que precede al triunfo.

Enséñame que perdonar es lo más grande del fuerte,
Y que la venganza es la señal primitiva del débil.

Si me quitas la fortuna, déjame la esperanza.
Si me quitas el éxito, déjame la fuerza para triunfar del fracaso.

Si yo fallara a la gente, dame valor para disculparme.
Si la gente fallara conmigo, dame valor para perdonar.
Señor, si yo me olvido de Ti, no te olvides de mí.

The danger of charity

Marx said that religion was the opium of the people.
But I also know that charity can be the opium of the rich.
St. Alberto Hurtado, S.J.

St. Albert Hurtado was a twentieth century Chilean Jesuit who was an apostle of the poor.

Born poor, he entered the Jesuits and soon became known for his care of the poor, involving his university students in working with the poor. He founded centers for the poor, El Hogar de Cristo, where poor children, and later adults, were sheltered and also trained in various skills.

He also sought to spread the message of Catholic Social Teaching, even starting a periodical and writing several books.

He died on August 18, 1952 of pancreatic cancer.

For St. Albert it was not enough to care for the poor, though charity is essential:

Christ stumbles through our streets in the person of so many poor who are hungry, thrown out of their miserable lodgings because of sickness or destitution. Christ has no home! And we who have the good fortune to have one and have food to satisfy our hunger, what are we doing about it?

One should also seek to make the changes on society that will bring about greater justice.

This morning, I thought about St. Albert’s quote that charity might become the opium of the rich, as I read the Gospel of the rich young man in Matthew 19: 16-22.

If you want to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor – and then come and follow me.

That quotation of Jesus is a continual challenge to me and all of us who are rich – in comparison to two-thirds of the world. Am I willing to let go of what I have?

But thinking of the teaching and example of St. Albert Hurtado, I see not a way out of the dilemma, but a way to start responding to the dilemma of riches and the inadequacy of charity.

Be present to the poor and struggle for justice.

Share what you have with the poor and challenge the structures that keep them poor.

Give away as much as you can – trust in the loving providence of God and live in solidarity with the poor.

Above all, follow Jesus.

 

Alberto Hurtado, saint of the poor

Today Chile and the Jesuits celebrate Father Alberto Hurtado, who is revered as a great advocate of the poor who lived from 1901 to 1952.

He knew poverty from his youth and though he had the fortune to get a scholarship at a Jesuit school he continued to spend Sunday afternoons in a poor barrio. He had thought of joining the Jesuits but put it off, studying law at the Catholic University in the mornings and working in the afternoons and evenings; but he still found time on Sundays to work with the poor.

He entered the Jesuits and was ordained in 1933.  He continued to work among the poor and soon, with the help of some women, founded the Hogar de Cristo, the Hearth of Christ, for children.

As Father James Martin, S.J., notes in a blog entry on him, he told the women who helped him:

Christ roams through our streets in the person of so many of the suffering poor, sick and dispossessed, and people thrown out of their miserable slums; Christ huddled under bridges, in the person of so many children who lack someone to call father, who have been deprived for many years without a mother’s kiss on their foreheads…Christ is without a home! Shouldn’t we want to give him one, those of us who have the joy of a comfortable home, plenty of good food, the means to educate and assure the future of our children? “What you do to the least of me, you do to me,” Jesus said. 

But helping the children was not enough for him. He insisted on the necessity of social change and justice. Charity is not enough:

 Marx said that religion was the opium of the people. But I also know that charity can be the opium of the rich.

He established a publication that promoted Catholic Social Teaching, Mensaje.

He died at the age of 51, of pancreatic cancer.

In 1941 he had published a provocative work,  Is Chile a Catholic Country? As José Comblin noted,

“Padre Hurtado asked himself how it [Chile] could be a Catholic country which leaves the masses of the people – campesinos and workers – in misery.”

A good question for all of us.