‘We shall overcome’

Anthony Towey

In the seasonal liturgies covered by this edition of the Pastoral Review, the Church will not only celebrate Holy Week, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost, but beautiful feast days such as Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi and the Feast of Peter and Paul. Rich fayre indeed, and adorned still further by the garlanded pieties of May, the month of Mary.
It was Hans Urs von Balthasar who referred to such things as the ‘Petrine’, ‘Pauline’ and ‘Marian’ elements of the Church. In so doing he identified ‘institution’, ‘mission’ and ‘charism’ as respectively capturing elements constitutive of its nature. Along with aspects such as the ‘Johannine’ (contemplative love) and ‘Jacobine’ (tradition), von Balthasar describes an ecclesiology that connects persons with principles and roots theological imagination in the example of lived lives.

So much for theological depth. Skittered by growing up to the music of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger et al., I can never think of the biblical Peter, Paul and Mary without recalling the popular folk trio of the same name. Along with the aforementioned luminaries, they closed the 1963 Newport Folk Festival with an arms-linked rendition of ‘We shall overcome’. Taken at the height of the Civil Rights movement, the activism and optimism of the musicians is captured in iconic photographs of the finale, a collective non-violent defiance.

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