Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Magnificat: A Song of Liberation

Almost 25 years ago I had the privilege of meeting Fr. Ernesto Cardenal, a Nicaraguan Catholic priest and one of Nigaragua's most famous poets.  He also founded the primitivist art community in the Solentiname Islands and authored the book The Gospel in Solentiname.

One of the things that impressed me the most was when Cardenal spoke of the power of the Magnificat for the poor.  For them, he said, it was truly revolutionary and a song of liberation.  I remember thinking, "Can we be talking about the same Magnificat?"  "Revolutionary" and "song of liberation" were not words I would have associated with the Magnificat.  It was definitely a new awakening for me.

A few years later I read Unexpected News:  Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes by Robert McAfee Brown (used copies are available at for essentially the cost of shipping).  My copy of the book is now old and musty, but it's one I keep because it continues to challenge me.  And the chapter on "Mary's Song" is like listening to Cardenal once more.

At the Encuentros at the start of 2011 we were invited to write our individual Magnificat and then to compile a small-group Magnificat. How will our Magnificat prove to be revolutionary and a song of liberation, both for us and for all whom we encounter?

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