Saint Jerome, a 4th-century priest, said:

“Someone may ask, ‘How is justice greater than all the other virtues?’ The other virtues gratify the one who possesses them; justice does not give pleasure to the one possessing it, but instead pleases others.”

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God of Zion, to you even silence is praise. Promises made to you are kept— you listen to prayer— and all living things come to you. When wrongdoings become too much for me, you forgive our sins. How happy is the one you choose to bring close, the one who lives in your courtyards! We are filled full by the goodness of your house, by the holiness of your temple.

Psalm 65:1-4

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“To you, even silence is praise.” Recently, I’ve been thinking about the ways that my faith calls me to be silent.

When it comes to matters of justice, our impulse is usually to do the opposite – speak out, resist! Stand up for equality, undo racism, advocate for a world that our children’s children can live in. But the trouble with speaking up is that sometimes we speak too loudly, and we drown out the voices of other people. This is especially true in contexts where we hold privilege, where our voices are given more importance than others' voices – than those whose voices most need to be heard.

Sometimes pursuing justice means being silent and bravely considering the ways that we personally are involved in systems that do harm to others (and ourselves). Sometimes pursuing justice means recognizing our own wrongdoing, repenting, and committing to change. Sometimes pursuing justice means being silent – and listening for the word of God in the prophets among us.

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

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Gracious God, help me to know when to stay silent and when to speak out. Forgive me for the ways that I have prioritized my own words and experiences over the words and experiences of other people. Help me to listen for your word today in the voice of someone else. Amen.

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The present form of the world passes away, and there remains only the joy of having used this world to establish God’s rule here. All pomp, all triumphs, all selfish[ness] ... All of that passes away.

What does not pass away is love.

Saint Oscar Romero, bishop and martyr, from a 1979 homily

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

Heidi Thorsen Oxford is a hospital chaplain, the Outreach Coordinator for Chapel on Green, New Haven, and a candidate for ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Things that bring her joy include: her husband, two cats, painting religious icons, and drinking tea.

Piano Sonata No. 14 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2

Garry Bailey

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