Christian unity week: Doing good; seeking justice

In observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, churches in the Fergus Falls area — including Our Lady of Victory Parish — are joining together to hold daily prayer services followed by a lunch open to all. On Friday, Jan. 27, Our Lady of Victory hosted the service. Deb Forstner wrote and delivered the following remarks. 

By Deb Forstner

As we’ve heard throughout this Christian unity week, the 2023 theme is to “Do good; Seek Justice.”

In that light, the Gospel reading chosen for this Friday is the poetic words of Mary, whose goodness led her to accept and follow God’s will for her. As Christians, we can share in our gratitude that she said yes to God and gave birth to our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Mary clearly recognized that it is the power of God who lifts up the lowly.

Thus, these words, the Magnificat, can be heard today as a song of redemption for those in need. Theologian Sister Elizabeth Johnson wrote, “People in need in every society can hear a blessing in this canticle.  The battered woman, the single parent without resources, those without food on the table or even a table, the homeless family, the young abandoned to their own devices, the old who are discarded — all are encompassed in the hope Mary proclaims.”*

This is the poster for the 2023 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25.  (OSV News illustration/Fuzati, courtesy Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute)

Because of the goodness and strength promised to those who are without power, in some political climates the Magnificat has been banned from being sung or read. As examples, this ban occurred in India during British rule and in Guatemala in the 1980s.*

When children were disappearing during a period of military dictatorship in Argentina, known as the Dirty War, mothers put up signs with the words of the Magnificat throughout the central plaza. Such public displays of this profound passage from the Gospel of Luke were destroyed and outlawed by the ruling class. They truly were threatened by God, who has scattered the proud and brought down the powerful.

Here in the United States, and certainly here in Fergus Falls, we are blessed with many churches and many ways to freely come together and worship. However, our prayers are with people today who do not have this freedom. Many throughout the world are kept from doing good and are not treated justly.

Right now, in Nicaragua, a Catholic bishop is under house arrest, being accused of spreading false news. For reasons that they have just been explained to Father Alan [Wielinski] as being ”complicated,” we have recently welcomed to the St. Leonard Catholic Church Community in Pelican Rapids Nicaraguan refugees. How interesting it would be to better learn their stories of the complicated lives they have led.

The Magnificat proclaims that God will fill the hungry with good things. Certainly, we think of the refugees, but also consider those suffering from untreated mental illness, those who can’t pay the rent, those without friends or family ties — these and more are all hungering for good things, both physically and spiritually.

We are the hands and feet of God in this world. How can we “Do Good?”

Being a fan of the wonders of Google, I did a search for simply those two words: “Do Good.”

Here is some of what I found:

  • Do Good Foods — a company that is committed to reducing food waste;
  • Do Good Clothing — which prints messages about acceptance and social accountability on their hats and shirts, with 20% of each purchase going to the Center for Visually Impaired; and
  • Do Good Restaurant and Ministry — which has the mission of spreading God’s Word through service and food, feeding people’s bodies, minds and souls.

With a sign over their door in Ohio that simply says, “Do Good,” the owners had felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit to open a restaurant that serves God. They heard, “There are many good people in the world, but they are not coming to my churches. … They don’t have time for me, but they go out to eat. … I will show you to do things that will draw people back to me.”

This restaurant includes exercise classes with Scripture and Christian music, Bible studies and a sewing ministry that makes baby blankets and clothing marked with a “Christ Covered Child” logo.

So let us clothe ourselves in creativity like these ventures do.

It is right and just that everyone on earth knows that they are a child of God, that they were created and are loved by him. That they trust that there is salvation through his son, Jesus Christ, and that each of us has faith that the Holy Spirit will guide us to do good things.


Deb Forstner is a former school psychologist in the St. Cloud Schools and was a chaplain, certified by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains, at Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls. She is currently serving in Fergus Falls as elementary faith formation facilitator at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church.

* Source: “Mary’s Magnificat — Luke 1:46-55,” Kairos Center for Religions, Rights & Social Justice

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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