Letter from Matthew Killian to MLK



Matthew Killian shares his outrage with the unjustified suffering that violence creates. Mr. Killian continues by providing support to Dr. King in an interpretation of a scripture concerning Peter and the woman at the foot of the cross. In closing, Killian wishes blessings upon the Reverend for his efforts to complete his work.

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Letter from Matthew Killian to MLK
Tuesday, February 6, 1968
Transcripts & Translations


[Stamp: Mar [March] 4 1968] Ermitage N-J de Mt. Repoo Le Bourgonce 88 St. Michel S/Meurthe France February 6, 1968 Rev Martin Luther King Jr. 454 Dexter Avenue Montgomery, Alabama Dear Reverend King I read an account in the January 26th issue of [Underlined: Time] that you plan a massive march on Washing around April first as a last desperate try at non violence and an outlet for the rage in the ghetto. For eighteen years I have been a contemplative monk, the last two of which have been spent in this French heritage. I would like to share with you the following reflections as a mark of my humble esteem for you and humanity of spirit in your effort. Rage is caused by the contemplation of unjustified suffering about which we feel helpless. In a frantic grasp at violence one wishes o break the spell of that meaningful experience. However in the situation in which one is really powerless to effect a change the resort to violence is based upon an untruth. Precisely because it is untrue it proves [inefficiency?] and only each is spreading the suffering a little further. On the other hand if one is willing not to turn away over gaze from the painful anticipation [Page 2] he has effect some good. This is beautifully illustrated in the Gospel when one compares the reaction of Peter to the women at the foot of the cross in the face of the sufferings come upon Jesus. In unsheathing his sword Peter was typically impulsive and unrealistic. The women, however, hand ministered to Jesus when they had the opportunity, get at the time of the passion then were conscious of their helplessness [and] accepted it by simply standing on Mount Calvary and watching Jesus die. Work that is was not indifference that rendered them inactive, for indifference turns away the gaze from which is painful. Rather the compassion that flooded their sands grew as their gaze remainder fixed. His sufferings were truly reflected in them. how is it they were able to pursue in their sorrow filled watching? I think it is because the sane upon the aros presented them with the TRUTH about themselves. They saw in his helplessness their own. And then knew that his love in freely choosing that destiny was mirrored by their own choice to remain painfully present there until the end. How was this contemplation [effective?]? Certainly it formed the first instances of the resurrection but even while they remained upon Calvary we can say it was they who first realized to what an extent God is love. They glimpsed then the ultimate truth in all of God's self revelation. It seems to me these reflections can be applied to the present suffering Negros. While all true Christian concern will do what is possible, there is no need to [Page 3] rage against a barrier that is temporarily rendered impossible. The after notion is [Underlined: Not] indifference; it is Christian contemplation that X-ray vision which sees our self and ones God in ones suffering brother. This brings meaning unite a situation, viewed beforehand agonizingly absurd. It produces precisely that understanding which is required to overcome the barrier. Its not the barrier, after all, an impenetrability of spirits? Suffering seen in this faith becomes the grand incentive force between brother + brother and between God and man. It accounts the compassionate society. And this was that for which Christ prayed before he embarked upon it himself. May God bless your work [and] bring it to completion. Fraternally in Christ [Closing Signature: Matthew Killian] P.S. Sorry to impose my poor handwriting upon you but I have no type writer in my heritage.
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