S A L T is a company, a fellowship, of Christians being formed by members of Saint Augustine’s Ecumenical Catholic Communion, who take seriously issues of war and peace, social and economic justice, human rights, poverty, environmental sustainability, and racism, as moral questions directly related to Christian spiritual practice.
To participate in events that will give you the opportunity to live this spiritual practice,
see the events and links at the bottom of this page and subscribe to the Saint Augustine’s weekly newsletter.
“S A L T” is an acrostic rather than an acronym:
|Soul-force is that active power and energy for peace and justice that
comes from having consecrated one’s heart and mind to the Jesus Way.
|Ahimsa is an attitude of universal good will, compassion, and kindness.|
| Love is nurturing the life of others in all of its forms — physical, intellectual,
emotional, and spiritual; it is meeting the legitimate needs of others where we
are able to do so without seeking to fulfill our own personal desires or agenda.
| Truth is that which accords with reality as found in the person of Christ who
“is the light of the world.”
S A L T seeks peace, within and without, in every situation, in every circumstance, and in every relation. SALT therefore supports an end to the insanity of the nuclear arms race, and unrestrained military expansion in the face of national and global hunger, homelessness, and disease.
S A L T believes that all prisoners should be treated humanely and that torture is never justified. Recognizing that unfairness and injustice, in addition to inequities in the economic and legal system can become a kind of violence themselves. SALT advocates for economic justice for the poor. To that end, SALT advocates for the justice of a sustainable minimum wage for all workers – one that assures the basic necessities of life, including equal pay for women for equal work.
S A L T believes that Christians should be involved in the battle to end human trafficking and that a reform of the criminal code that is not based on race or income.
S A L T advocates for the strict regulation of “Wall Street” and an end to the unlimited funds corporations provide candidates who favor the wealthy at the expense of the rest of society.
S A L T supports fair and humane immigration reform, National Voter Rights legislation, universal health care, and sees sustaining the environmental integrity of the planet as a moral issue.
The Staurogram or Tau-Rho
It is used in the SALT logo, is a Greek tau (T) combined with a Greek rho (P), and was used in the early church as an abbreviation for “the cross.” So for Christians has a deep meaning. The tau symbolizes the cross itself, and rho could function as a symbol, meaning “help.” The tau, or tav, is the end of the Hebrew alphabet and represents, completion, fulfillment, and infinity. In the visions of Ezekiel, the Tau is the sign placed
upon the foreheads of the poor of Israel, it saves them from extermination. The Staurogram, has many meanings, which include: a reminder of the Cross of Christ; our help is in the cross; Christians are concerned with being instruments of Christ’s love, peace, and help; and that ultimate fulfillment is in the Cross.
A Short Catechism of Liberation
Q: Who are the oppressed?
A: Those identifiable social groups who are used or manipulated by others for the sake of greed, self-gratification, power, or the need to control are the oppressed.
Q: Who are the oppressors?
A: Those leaders, groups, governments, or established authorities of any institution who use, manipulate, or control the well being of others, especially through the use of power or wealth, are the oppressors.
Q: What is the oppressed consciousness?
A: The oppressed often adopt the consciousness of the oppressor and even admire and envy their oppressor. The self-justifying point of view of the oppressor is thus internalized by the oppressed contributing to their own difficulty and suffering. It is true: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But, the opposite is equally true: “Powerlessness corrupts, and absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely.”
Q: What happens when oppression becomes unbearable?
A: When their suffering becomes unbearable the oppressed may, as happens at times, rise up and overthrow the oppressor, but this is nearly always done in order that they might themselves become the oppressor. As Reinhold Niebuhr once observed, “The problem with revolutions is that they change who holds the power but not how power is held.”
Q: What, then, is the goal?
A: The goal is not to overthrow the oppressors, but to liberate the whole world so that no one oppresses another.
Q: How is the world to be liberated?
A: The problem is essentially spiritual and, therefore, intractable to all efforts other than those which are essentially spiritual. Love and ahimsa are the gifts of the spiritual life which make possible the creation of a new and liberated humanity.
Q: Does this mean that only Christians can can bring about liberation?
A: No, of course not. Christians must, therefore, be willing to join with and work with men and women of wisdom and purity of heart whatever their distinctive spiritual practices, as long as those spiritual practices are bent toward compassion, nonviolence, and the good of all. The ordinary saints and satyagrahas of every faith, as well as humanists committed to the principle of gemeinschaftsgefuhl (community feeling) will have a natural affinity and appreciation for one another in this work.
Q: What are the liberating practices of the Christian community?
A: Those practices of prayer, meditation, contemplation, devotion and “charity,” which lead to an awareness of communion, of at-one-ment, with the Mystery we call God, and in which Christians experience Christ as our peace, are, for the Christian, the means by which human consciousness may be transformed and the despair of oppression rendered null.
Q: Are these individual or communal practices?
A: Spiritual reality, mystical reality, is inherently paradoxical. We are both many and one. Christians see themselves as individual members of one body; therefore, while spirituality is intensely personal it is never purely individualistic.
Q: How far does this unity extend?
A: Since “God is above all, through all, and in all” (Ephesians 4:6), Christians will seek the flowering of that unity in peace. Which itself has to do with what is complete and harmonious and results in respect for the dignity of every human being, reverence for all life, and a physically, economically, politically, culturally, emotionally, intellectually, environmentally, and “ecologically sustainable global civilization.”
Q: How are Christians and other spiritual persons to go about such work?
A: Love and non-violence must be a passion. Non-violence also calls for courage, for each votary “must be a messenger, a prophet, speaking truth and exposing lies.” But it is love that makes courage possible for one cannot be loving and afraid at the same time, and passion saves ahimsa from becoming a mere policy. “One with passion expresses it in every act” (Gandhi). The non-violence of the votary arises from having experienced the transcendent which brings peace and wisdom within. Violence is needed to protect what is external, love and non-violence protect one’s spirit, and make service to the anawim possible.
Q: Isn’t all this utopian?
A: Such a perspective assumes a disconnected duality of the “natural” and “spiritual” that is more illusory than real. It can only be good to do good everywhere and always — in life or death, on earth or in heaven. The worldly criteria of success measures nothing. However, even if we were to use the world’s criteria of success and failure, those of the Way, believe it better to fail at love, and compassion, and liberation than to succeed in unkindness, malice, or oppression. There is only one possible way out of violence and oppression, and that is love and non-violence. Should we not pursue that possibility even if at times it sounds utopian or impossible? If the peace makers come to be known as the children of God, and the pure of heart come to see God, then ultimately love cannot be defeated.
S A L T provides the following:
- Training in the core Christian values of peace, justice, and compassion
- Methods and techniques of advocating through:
– Social Media
– Advocacy Marches
- Information as to whom, where, and how to advocate.
- Educational Events
S A L T is grounded not simply in spirituality, but specifically in Christian spiritual practice. Consequently, whether specifically identifying as Christian or not, those claiming an affiliation with S A L T or participating in an advocacy event should do so with a conscious commitment to Christian peace, justice, nonviolence, truth, compassion, kindness and love as spiritual practice.
Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
Thomas Merton Peace Prayer
Almighty and merciful God, Father of all, Creator
and ruler of the universe, Lord of all history, whose
designs are without blemish, whose compassion for the
errors of humanity is inexhaustible, in your will is our peace.
Mercifully hear this prayer which rises to you from the
tumult and desperation of a world in which you are
forgotten, in which your name is not invoked, your laws
are derided and your presence is ignored. Because we do
not know you, we have no peace.
From the heart of an eternal silence, you have watched the
rise of empires and have seen the smoke of their downfall.
You have witnessed the impious fury of ten thousand
fratricidal wars, in which great powers have torn
whole continents to shreds in the name of peace and justice.
A day of ominous decision has now dawned on this free nation.
Save us then from our obsessions! Open our eyes,
dissipate our confusions, teach us to understand ourselves
and our adversary. Let us never forget that sins against the
law of love are punishable by loss of faith, and those
without faith stop at no crime to achieve their ends!
Help us to be masters of the weapons that threaten to
master us. Help us to use our science for peace and plenty,
not for war and destruction. Save us from the compulsion
to follow our adversaries in all that we most hate,
confirming them in their hatred and suspicion of us.
Resolve our inner contradictions, which now grow beyond
belief and beyond bearing. They are at once a torment and
a blessing: for if you had not left us the light of conscience,
we would not have to endure them. Teach us to wait and
Grant light, grant strength and patience to all who work
for peace. But grant us above all to see that our ways
are not necessarily your ways, that we cannot fully penetrate
the mystery of your designs and that the very storm of
power now raging on this earth reveals your hidden will
and your inscrutable decision.
Grant us to see your face in the lightning of this cosmic
storm, O God of holiness, merciful to men. Grant us to
seek peace where it is truly found. In your will, O God, is
Contact Your Senator and Congressional Representative
Below are the mailing addresses and telephone numbers for U.S. Senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harrris; as well as, Congressional Representatives Darrell Issa (49th District), and Scott Peters (52nd District). Information on various topics is included on the events page to assist you in your letter writing. Remember to make your letters and calls concise, clear, and always courteous. If you prefer, you can send emails by going to the website of any senator, congressional representative or government official.
US Senator Kamala Harris
United States Senate
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Phone (202) 224-3553
or State Office
312 N. Spring St., Suite 1748
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone (213) 894 – 5000
US Senator Diane Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone (202) 228-3954
or State Office
11111 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 915
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone (310) 914- 7300
US Congressional Representative Darrell Issa
49th California Congressional District
2347 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone (202) 225 – 3906
or Distict Office
1800 Thibido Road, Suite 310
Vista, CA 92083
Phone (760) 599 – 5000
US Congressional Representative Scott Peters
52nd California Congressional District
1122 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone (202) 225 0508
or District Office
4350 Executive Drive, Suite 105
San Diego, CA 9121
Phone (858) 455-5550
SALT Actions, Campaigns and Events
For SALT actions, campaigns, and events subscribe to the Saint Augustine’s
weekly newsletter, and follow Father Larry’s occasional blogs on:
Father Larry’s Journal of Contemplative Living.
Suggested Books to Read
Obery M. Hendricks, Jr.
The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary
Nature of Jesus’ Teaching and How They Have Been Corrupted
(New York, London, Toronto, Sydney: Doubleday Publishing, 2006).
Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home
(Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 2015
Lawrence D. Hart
Hell’s Abyss, Heaven’s Grace: War and Christian Spirituality
(Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2006).