What Do the Worldwide Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace and the Blockbuster Movie “Black Panther” Have in Common?

By Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

Fr. Norbert N’Zilamba, O. Praem.
Fr. Norbert N’Zilamba, O. Praem.

Last month, Fr. Norbert N’Zilamba, O. Praem.—a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and community member of the Norbertine Priory of St. Moses the Black in Raymond, Mississippi, since 1996—was visiting St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere. At one point he shared how difficult it was to find balanced news about his homeland in the United States.

A few days later, Pope Francis encouraged all of us to devote one day to fasting and prayer for peace, with a particular emphasis on South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With his proclamation after the February 4 Angelus, Pope Francis put Fr. Norbert’s homeland in the international spotlight:

And now an announcement. Faced with the tragic prolonging of conflicts in various parts of the world, I invite all the faithful to join me in a Special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on 23 February, the Friday of the First week of Lent. We will offer it in particular for the populations of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of South Sudan. As on other similar occasions, I also invite our non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers and sisters to join in this initiative in the ways they believe best, but all together.

But it is not just the gravitas of Pope Francis that is providing a sudden surge in the consideration of the history and current conditions of African and African-American people. Black Panther, the first superhero movie featuring a black protagonist (with a black producer and nearly all-black cast), debuted the weekend of February 15. I was especially struck by a National Public Radio story on the film. The film smashed ticket sales for all movies introduced in any third weekend of February.

Sacrament of ReconciliationThe Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey invites our local community to the public praying of the rosary for peace in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and elsewhere, at 3:45 p.m. in our Chapter Room on February 23, 2018.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has also composed a backgrounder and list of ways to participate in this worldwide Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace.

Furthermore, why not watch Black Panther in the coming weeks and debrief your experience with your family, co-workers, friends, fellow congregants, and Africans or African-Americans in your community? These efforts of prayer, fasting, and education can go a long way toward enlightening Americans as we consider issues of multiculturalism, race, and migration in our country today.

DISCLAIMER: This blog represents Br. Herro’s own opinions and experiences. It does not represent an official position or opinion of St. Norbert Abbey or of any other Norbertine.

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