What is Catholicism (outside of its doctrines)? Most people would associate Catholicism with a monomaniacal focus of promoting a socially conservative agenda and being confrontational in the “culture wars” while preaching to others on how their lifestyle is “sinful”. Some may see Catholicism as emblematic as organizations such as Opus Dei and Communion and Liberation.
I would if Jean Donovan and Dorothy Kazel (and Maura Clarke and Ita Ford) could seem seen as individuals who were representative of Catholicism and the Gospel. In contrast to other Catholics, I do not see many Catholics present them as a model.
While in El Salvador, I traveled to the exact site in La Libertad, El Salvador where Jean Donovan, an American lay missionary, was raped and murdered, alongside Sr. Dorothy Kazel, Sr. Ita Ford, and Sr. Maura Clarke, by a Salvadoran military death squad while volunteering during the Salvadoran Civil War. These women have my utmost respect and are great sources of inspiration as I, myself, attempt to make a small dent in the realm of seeking and implementing social justice in this vastly mistaken world. These women, four of my greatest inspirations, chose to live lives of discomfort as opposed to ones of material satisfaction and ease. My journey in El Salvador challenged me to question how I, in my faith and spirituality, can live a life of “discomfort”, restlessness, and goodness. How can I live a life that is selflessly and wholly dedicated to my brothers and sisters?
I admire Jean and Dorothy because they dedicated their lives to other human beings and loved in a way that reaffirms the importance and meaning of love and human connection. As human beings, we are programmed to love; we are programmed to be religious to love. It is in the examples of Jean and Dorothy that this HAS to be true.
Kazel’s five step process of worldly discernment was to:
- See-see the issues of society in relation to the effects it has on the poor and marginalized.
- Feel-feel the pains of the oppressed by being in solidarity and faith with them.
- Judge-discern these societal injustices.
- Act-after judging the issues, look inside yourself to personally bring about the greatest amount of change and goodness, PEACFULLY!!
- Celebrate-after taking action, return to the poor and oppressed, in solidarity, faith, justice, and goodness.