Thursday, July 27, 2017

remembering Father Stanley Rother, martyr

“Nathaniel said to him,
Can anything good come from Nazareth?’ 
Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’”
                                                               ~Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 46

“On the Cross, Jesus felt the weight of death, the weight of sin, but he gave himself over to the Father entirely, and he forgave. He barely spoke, but he gave the gift of life… Christ ‘beats’ us in love; the martyrs imitated him in love until the very end… We implore the intercession of the martyrs, that we may be concrete Christians, Christians in deeds and not just in wordsthat we may not be mediocre Christians, Christians painted in a superficial coating of Christianity without substance—they weren’t painted, they were Christians until the end. We ask [the martyrs] for help in keeping our faith firm, that even throughout our difficulties we may nourish hope and foster brotherhood and solidarity.”

                                     ~Pope Francis, Vatican Radio (10-14-13)

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From my biography of Father Stanley Rother, Oklahoma martyr:

There was nothing “painted” in Stanley, the young man who chose to follow Jesus as his disciple; Stanley, the seminarian who endured difficulties, even failure, yet persevered in his calling to the priesthood; Father Stanley, the young parish priest who put aside his fears, courageously agreeing to serve the People of God in Oklahoma’s mission in Guatemala; Father Stanley, the man who struggled to pass Latin and learn Spanish, yet succeeded in learning the rare and challenging Mayan dialect of his Tz’utujil parishioners.

Father Stanley, the Okarche farmer who believed plowing the fields manually next to the Tz’utujil farmers was part of his vocation as a minister of God’s love. And finally, Father Stanley, the shepherd who chose to face death rather than abandon his flock—the shepherd who didn’t run.

It is my hope and my prayer that in the telling of Father Stanley’s story I succeed in introducing you to one person who loved “to the extreme limit,” as Pope Francis described, in making God’s presence real, tangible to the people in his life—by living, loving, and being himself completely.

To paraphrase the question asked in the Gospels by incredulous people about Jesus of Nazareth: can anything good come from Okarche, Oklahoma? 

I invite you to come and see.

If you'd like to read some of my previous blog posts about Father Stanley Rother, see here and also here.

And to order a copy of my book, “The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run: Fr. Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma,” click here!