Archive for September 6th, 2020

Solitude and Compassion


Written by James C. Fenhagen, a contemporary Episcopal minister and theological educator. This is an excerpt from his book “Mutual Ministry.”

One of the fruits of solitude is an increased capacity for compassion – the ability “to suffer with” another’s pain. It comes about as the result of an increased sense of solidarity with the human family of which we are a part. When Paul talks about “suffering with those who suffer,” he is talking about compassion, that supreme gift without which we are less than fully human. It might well be that the greatest threat to human survival now confronting us is not the loss of energy or the increase of pollution, but the loss of compassion. We are confronted daily with the pain of human tragedy—the breakup of the family or the sunken face of a starving child—to such an extent that we soon learn to turn off what we see. In order to cope with our feelings of helplessness, we teach ourselves how not to feel. The tragedy in this response, which is probably more widespread than we dare believe, is that we also deaden our capacity for love. For Christians, the cross stands as an ever-present reminder that love and suffering are two sides of the same coin.


Written by Desmond Tutu, a contemporary South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop who actively opposed apartheid in the 1980s.

O God, all holy one, we are your children. Open our eyes and our hearts so that we may be able to discern your work in the universe and be able to see your features in every one of your children. May we learn that there are many paths but all lead to you. Help us to know that you have created us for family, for togetherness, for peace, for gentleness, for compassion, for caring, for sharing. May we know that you want us to care for one another as those who know that they are sisters and brothers, members of the same family, your family, the human family.

Help us to beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks, so that we may be able to live in peace and harmony, wiping away the tears from the eyes of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. And may we know war no more, as we strive to be what you want us to be: your children. Amen.

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