Shown below is a poem by Sister Dominga Moore, OP, after the political murder of one of her fellow sisters, Augustina (or Aguchita) Rivas, A Good Shepherd Sister, in Peru, in 1991.


by Sister Dominga Moor

Too much blood to believe! Too many blown to bits in our plazas.

Sor Aguchita’s dead. What trouble did she cause? Only followed your word. Invited a machine-gun-toting woman commandeer to join her class in making toffees.

Aguchigta’s dead, brains blown out. Living your life into death.

The machine guns, pointed her way, didn’t stop that seventy year old servant of God from admonishing her young accuser that she tell the truth. Nor did the machine-gun fire that laid her peasant brothers in pool of bloods stop her from pleading for their lives.

It was to you, un-answering God that she cried unheeded. It was you, Silent One, deep-planted in the soil of her being, of whom she gave faith’s testimony, as over and over she signed herself with the sign of the cross.

Aguchita’s dead, she and thousands more. How, oh God, can I stand with the power of the crucified, when all through the Andes, the machine-gunned crucifiers win? People tremble weak kneed. Resistance withers before the strong. In the black of night, it’s not your power that triumphs!

War wears down our spirit, blasts icy winds on our hope and questions our fragmented faith. What do you mean, 'Life comes through death?' God, that’s nonsense. Only death triumphs.

We say, 'We’ll lay down our lives for the Gospel.' But our enemies reply 'We’ll mow down your lives as we please. The Maoist dream will conquer.'

But fragmented and fragile though faith may be, Crucified God, you live like the unquenchable fire in the story of our lives. Flaming up when most we’d quench You out. You remain quiet, resilient power, more subtle, long-enduring and life-begetting than the enemies that snuff out our lives. In the mystery You are God, stronger than death.

In the dark night of blood and weeping I see your glory shining. Didn’t Aguchita, formed in the pattern of your death, lay down her life over and over, and over again, in a million simple ways, until your way was hers to the marrow of her bones?

In the terrifying moment when death approached unbidden, hurried on by the impatient, gun wielding girl, Aguchita’s life was Yours.

With cheek turned and hand outstretched, Your voice was heard in hers.‘To the plaza’ was the ominous command. ‘But won’t you come in?’, she responded. ‘We’re making toffees here. We’ll teach you too.’ The toffee lesson outlives gun-power in the plaza.

Peace maker God. By Aguchita living your life into the place of death, I know you were there, subtly, quietly.

In the shaky terror of my unbelief, I believe. You are, God, stronger than the terror of the night. Into whose hands I commend my life. Into whose death I entrust the future’s risk.

Oh Crucified One, risen from the dead and living still among us still, may You be praised forever.

May your enemies one day sit down at your banquet table of peace, and may I, with Aguchita, serve them.


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