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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mother Mary, Contemplated Before Conception

Our Lady, Mother of the Word Made Flesh,
in a Gold Montrance of the Holy Eucharist, Christ

     By Monica Siemer, The Lamb Catholic Worker, Columbus, Ohio
       I must share a miraculous picture of Mary that my aunt Joannie Finneran took twenty years ago this past week, on October 12, 1995.  She took two pictures of the same statue, back-to-back, even with a date printed on them. I do not remember where she said she was, and have been told that it is from the tradition of Our Lady of Pillar (correction, most think it is Our Lady of Medjugorie), the first Marian apparition (even while she was still alive in a different location).  It is below.  The first picture is of the statue and the second picture is what appeared on the film, when the flash did not work.  A priest asked, "So, what's the miracle?"  A man standing next to him said, "The first is of a statue and the second is of a woman."  You be the judge!

Mother of the Word Made Flesh

By Monica Siemer

What can we offer you, Mary,
Conceived of
And contemplated
Before being conceived?
Great elbow nudger in the sky,
Who, at Cana, urged onward
Your Son,
Our Lord and Savior,
To take a leap of faith
For His first public miracle

Our Lady Undoer of Knots
O Mother of mothers,
God's choice
For a feminine,
Approachable being,
Grasped by our limited
Human minds.
Pray for our knots, snarls,
And tangledness
In our souls
And in our lives

Oh, true Ark of the 
Covenant Word,
You have gathered
so many
Entwined sorrows
To bring to your Son, Jesus,
And to your Spouse,
The Holy Spirit,
For love of us.
May we love you in return
And trust in your sweet, gentle
And firm prayers
As you tenderly help to
Make our ribbons smooth

Our Lady Undoer of Knots

 Mother Mary by Fritz Eichenberg, Catholic Worker Artist

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Full Text: Pope Francis' Speech, Dorothy Day's Name Mentioned FOUR Times, Gracias!

By Monica Siemer, the Lamb Catholic Worker, Columbus, Ohio
Below is the full text of the speech of Pope Francis given to Congress 9/24/15.  In it he sites four Americans for their virtue, two of them Catholic, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, Brother Louis (a Trappist).  He spoke Dorothy's name four times.  Thanks to Time magazine and others who posted the entire text (some state it is the entire text and it is not, even among Catholic periodicals, God forgive us).
 I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.
Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.
Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.
Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and – one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.
I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.
My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self- sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality. In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.
I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.
This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”. Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.
All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.

Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.
The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.
In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.

Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this 
effort.Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.
In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).
This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.
This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.
In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.
How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.
It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129). This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3). “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).
In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139). “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.
A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”. Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.
From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past. It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all. This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 222-223).

Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.
Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.
Four representatives of the American people.
I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.
A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.
In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!

Merton and the Dalai Lama
Dorothy Day

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I May Be the Miracle to Help Get Peter Maurin Canonized

    By Monica Siemer,  The Lamb Catholic Worker, Columbus, Ohio
       Many who strongly desire to have Dorothy Day canonized want Peter Maurin, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, canonized alongside her.  She always said that HE started the Catholic Worker not her, that it was his vision, his dreams, his everything, and that she simply went along.  He only lived 15 years to see it bear fruit, while she did for nearly 50 years.
      It dawned on me, after saying so many, many times to people on my return from the Mayo hospital and the Gift of Life Transplant House that I was supposed to die.  Nearly all the cases of people donating part of their liver to a loved one (I gave 59% of my liver to my nephew Nick), that had need of a second emergency surgery 3-5 days out, died.  I was the worst case the Mayo, who has never lost a patient in the 215 live liver donor surgeries in 15 years, has ever seen.  At the other places that do these rare surgeries, nearly all have died that needed a second emergency surgery 3-5 days out.
       I offered everything up for Nick, for the canonization of Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day together, for the purification of the Catholic Worker Movement back to the diamond of its founders, and for the Lamb Catholic Worker to begin here in Columbus, Ohio.  I was 17 days in the hospital and a month in the Gift of Life Transplant House.  I constantly asked for Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin's intercession (along with Mother Mary, of course).  Dorothy is in the late stages of the beatification process but I believe that Peter is not at all.  In the Catholicism 10-CD series, Fr. Robert Barron introduces the Catholic Worker Movement with the wide grin of Peter Maurin, not Dorothy Day.
      Please Dear Papa, Holy Father, consider canonizing Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin together!  Pray for us too!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Archbishop Oscar Romero, Official Church Martyr, Presente!

          By Monica Siemer, Mayo Clinic Gift of Life Transplant House, Rochester, MN
         In the spirit of Archbishop Oscar Romero, especially in light of Pope Francis' recent declaration of his actual martyrdom and the status of an official Church martyr,  I reprint a section of the LCW newsletter covering our family experience, of mostly my father, peace activist Tom Siemer, and myself at the Center for Peace Studies at Georgetown University (with Rev. Richard McSorley, S.J.) of either Romero or El Salvador in an era of grave genocide against the Salvadorean people.  This is our testimony.  New information and pictures are added.  Gracias Pope Francis!

          My father actually had a conversation with Archbishop Oscar Romero less than a year before he was assassinated. We were at a synod, Celam III, of all latin American bishops and cardinals of the world in Pueblo, Mexico, outside of Mexico City. I believe it was January, 1979, when I was 16 yrs old (and I was there but standing away from him). We were appealing to Pope John Paul II and the hierarchy of the Church for Catholics to be told to have no part in weapons of mass destruction (nuclear weapons and their making, handling, potential use, etc), purposely designed to solely be used against entire populations of innocent civilians, or entire cities.  Archbishop Romero thought my father was from the press (with his "Press" badge) and begged and begged him to go back and tell the president (Carter at the time, who gave $5 million per year in "military aid") to stop funding the government with military money, which was being used against the people. 
       He explained that the money went into armaments and training of the soldiers in the military and in the juntas of the oligarchy who were terrorizing the campesinos, killing and mutilating many of them. 
        My father called over both Roy Larson, of the Chicago Sun and Ken Briggs of the New York Times to talk with Archbishop Romero.  Ken told my father later that Romero would not live long by talking like that, and my father replied, "They would never kill an archbishop!"  Our government not only did not listen, but when President Ronald Reagan became president, shortly after, he quintupled the military funding to El Salvador, giving a huge green light to those committing atrocities.  Archbishop Oscar Romero was martyred within a year. The U.N. reports that over 75,000 people, many poor women and children, were killed over the course of the next decade or so in El Salvador.   
In front of the Celam III Synod, Pueblo, Mexico, 
outside Mexico City, 1979, with a group of 
protesting mothers of the "Disappeared" in El 
Salvador.  I am at the right and my mother, 
Dorothy Siemer, at the far right in red pants.
Salvadorean mothers of the "disappeared," those
whose bodies were never found.  I am on far
right, with literature for the Pope, cardinals,
 bishops, and press against weapons of mass
 destruction (nuclear)
Mothers of the "disappeared" (sons, husbands, 
brothers, etc) desperate for help from the Church
My father, Tom Siemer, and I in Mexico City 
outside Pueblo, Mexico, 1979
         A year or so later, I worked at the Center for Peace Studies at Georgetown University with Fr. Richard McSorley, S.J.  At that time another Georgetown professor, Dr. Jean Kirkepatrick, who was a campaign advisor to President Reagan then cabinet member, blamed the murders (Dec. 2, 1980) of the three religious sisters and an American lay worker on themselves for even being there with the poor: Jean Donovan, Sr. Maura Clarke, Sr. Ita Ford, and Sr. Dorothy Kazel.  Kirkpatrick believed that, according to Noam Chomsky, "traditional authoritarian governments are less repressive than revolutionary autocracies," and so her views were put into use "most clearly in Central America, by supporting the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, and the military juntas in Guatemala and El Salvador, all of which perpetrated massive human rights violations while countering a perceived communist threat." (Chomsky, Turning the Tide, 1985).  She was not too thrilled when the United Nations Security Council came down on the United States and she talked of withdrawing much of the monetary support to the U.N., as well as for the United States to withdraw completely. This would have been quite an example of genuine virtue, Christian values, and peace to the world.
Sr. Dorothy Kazel, Presente!

Sr. Maura Clark, Presente!

Sr. Ita Ford, Presente!

Lay Worker Jean Donovan, Presente!

       I witnessed firsthand large graphic close-up glossy photos being sent to the Center for Peace Studies at Georgetown University (that I helped Fr. Richard McSorley, S.J. run in the 80's) from El Salvador.  Neutral brave witnesses and groups were trying hard to provide evidence of  the atrocities and sent these pictures to several places as documentation, including to ours.  Prior to the Reagan Administration, the bodies of the dead at the hands of the military and juntas had one form of killing done to them (besides the women always having been raped).  As Fr. McSorley always said, "When you choose the lesser of two evils, you soon forget you chose evil in the first place."  There is always a third choice.
       When Ronald Reagan became president, and particularly after the stepped-up "anti-communist counterinsurgency training," or terrorist/guerilla warfare training ("terrorist" in the true sense of the word) at Ft. Benning, Georgia of "Latin American personnel" from El Salvador at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (formerly called, the SOA), now called Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), things drastically changed.  To describe,  murdered victims appeared with three or four types of torture performed, acid in the eyes being one of the favorites. This spilled over to Honduras. Guatemala, and Nicaragua as well, sadly. 
        Many Americans turned a blind eye to all of this because of the fear whipped up by those who would even sell their soul to the devil against the "Communist scare."  One cannot say that President Reagan and others did not know because we at the Center for Peace Studies and the St. Francis Catholic Worker protested numerous times at the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon, which made it in the Wasthington Post. My favorite sign I made and carried at the time of the martyrdom of the sisters read, "U.S. Guns Kill U.S. Nuns." It fell on deaf ears for nearly a decade though, even with the hierarchy of the Church, sadly.  Many brave priests, sisters, and religious stepped up for peace though, in the spirit of Dorothy Day, Archbishop Oscar Romero, St. Francis of Assisi, and of Christ, the Prince of Peace.  Thankfully Pope Francis is balancing the scales of God's justice in deeming a martyr, Archbishop Oscar Romero, living out the call of a martyr in a very dark era in El Salvador's history and in that of the United States.  Gracias Pope Francis!
       Most of the refugees at our Catholic Worker in D.C. witnessed much of this firsthand, and yes, it was the country's military doing much of it. Huge Carlos witnessed a savage group murder from a corn field, and when he tried to run, they caught a visual of him and hunted him down.  He and his wife Maria (pregnant) got their six other children to another part of the country and ran to the U.S. where they were the first Salvadoreans to be granted political asylum.  Their baby Leonardo was baptized with my first son, Shamus, at our Catholic Worker, St. Francis Catholic Worker, in Washington, D.C. (now the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker), in a Catholic worker soup pot.  It had been the former mother house of the Trinitarian order, and they had a fully functioning chapel in the basement.

The Six Jesuit Professor Martyrs of 1989, University of El Salvador, Their Housekeeper and her Daughter,  Presente! :

     Fr. Richard McSorley, S.J. said that over 200 Jesuits in the highest of Ivy League-type schools put in their resumes to take the place of these martyred university professors in El Salvador. 

My father, Tom Siemer, and Dom Helder Camara
         Pope Francis has preached so passionately about not being part of two great evils in the world today:  "the culture of indifference and the culture of distraction."  May we set aside our computers and cell phones for much more time spent in prayer and meditation.  They say, "Satan doesn't make you bad, he makes you busy." May all of us intervene on behalf of  wartorn areas and peoples of the world, in our prayers and in moral responses, pleasing to the Lord.   
       A final note is from the bulletin here at St. John the Evangelist Church across the street from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota where I am currently.  I am still here trying to recuperate from the live liver surgery (I gave 59% of my liver to my nephew, Nick Evans in end stages liver disease) and emergency second one 4 days later for a ruptured cecum (leads into the colon) and weeks of infections.  I am at the Mayo's Gift of Life Transplant House.  Please see the Lamb Catholic Worker article, "Purify the Catholic Worker, Jesus, to be the Diamond of It's Founders," to see the main reason why I did this transplant besides trying to help save Nick.  The day before surgery Abby Evans and I went to a daily mass at St. John's and the following was written by their pastor, Fr. Jerry Mahon, about Archbishop Oscar Romero (in their June 7, bulletin we had found):
      "The recent Beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero is a call for me to live with courage and speak the truth as I discover the presence of Christ. This martyr was speaking the truth and confronting the violence of the government towards the poor, but not with a sword, but a heart of conviction with the One he loved and proclaimed Jesus Christ. The certainty of his walk, path was founded in a profound belief that Christ was present in the reality of the poor and even though he had been warned to stop speaking, he lived as so many Christians do today, with a clear desire to be faithful, and was assassinated while celebrating the Eucharist. As we have heard over the centuries, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of faith for the world and this witness of his life is a sign of being alive with certainty in Christ. There was no room for being a cynic even though there was good reason, but a fullness of life in the Spirit is full of freedom for Another."
       If you wish to follow Nick and I's progress you can go to caringbridge.org under the "search site," "monica siemer."  We try to update it from time to time.  Here is a gift to all of you who have been praying so hard for Nick and I.  Please keep the prayers coming as we are still dealing with challenges and surprises.  Here is a long praise and worship song to edify your soul:      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcnfT4arZtI
      If the link does not work, please go to YouTube and put in "I Surrender by Hillsong 2012 concert version" that is about 10 minutes long, with 43 million hits.  It has saved me here through the worst of this ordeal, as we listened and prayed it almost daily while in the hospital.  Enjoy!
      Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us and for people of all kinds!  Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, and Archbishop Oscar Romero, please pray for us!   

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Pray for Monica and Nick's Surgeries June 9

     Monica is going to give close to 60% of her liver to her nephew Nick in end stages liver disease.  They will both have surgeries this Tuesday,  June 9, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  Please pray God's Will be done for them both, nothing more and nothing less!  Monica is offering it up mainly for the start of The Lamb Catholic Worker, for the canonization of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, and for the Catholic Worker Movement, in addition to other intentions.
     You can follow progress on caringbridge.org under the "site" "monica siemer."  You don't have to sign up, log in, or pay any money, unlike how it appears.  We are praying Pope francis' favorite, " Our Lady Undoer of Knots" novena.  We especially need the prayers after!  The liver parts missing will grow back in both of us if all goes well.  As will the half bile ducts in both of us from mine.  This process is only 15 years old but there is a 100% survivor rate at this Mayo for the donor.
      Also, see the Lamb Catholic Worker article, "Purify the Catholic Worker, Jesus, to be the Diamond of Its Founders," concerning the main reason I did this surgery, besides trying to help save Nick.  Please pray!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

LCW Spring 2015 Newsletter

 The Lamb Catholic Worker
Spring 2015 Newsletter

       The greatest news we have, that should be proclaimed from the rooftops, is that in March Pope Francis declared a year of Jubilee coming, beginning this year on December 8, 2015, instead of at the traditional 25-year mark (2025), calling for a Holy Year of Mercy. It is of no surprise though, from the pontiff of great mercy, love, and humility.
Blessed Pope John Paul II opening the Holy Door
 (which is opened for the Jubilee year alone, the door to the right of the
 main doors at St. Peter Basilica) Christmas Eve 1999
       We recently celebrated the feast of Divine Mercy on the Sunday following Easter, instituted by Blessed Pope John Paul II at the inspiration of St. Faustina. This amazing feast day is an entire day of pilgrimage and of atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world.  We Catholics pray fervently, typically all in the same day - with mass, confession, Eucharistic Adoration silence, the rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and singing - all calling down God's mercy upon everyone everywhere, especially those who need it the most. And Jesus, who said that from now on, we not only cannot kill, if we even grow angry at another we will be liable for judgment, so great is His mercy and modeling, shows us how critical it is to not harbor anger and hostility toward another person.  It is such an exquisite event that Pope Francis has announced to continue this theme of an outpouring from God and from Christ-followers, of genuine mercy to all, and raise it to a level of Jubilee!  Thank you, Dear Papa!  
        Another smaller miraculous movement of the Holy Spirit happened recently when attempting to announce online a retreat given by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, a world renowned spiritual leader especially in the area of Christ's nonviolent modeling and way in the world.  A quote from St. Patrick was used on this LCW site, "Killing is not of Christ," which had nothing to do with the retreat specifically, since it had not taken place.  There was no knowledge that he would even use this quote at all, which put into question using it.  Well, at the retreat the only gift given to all the retreatants was an icon picture of St. Patrick with this quote!  The picture below is the holy card given.
On Back:  Violence is not the Christian Way,
violence is not the Holy Way,
violence is not the Apostolic Way,
violence is not the Way of the Gospels,
violence is not the Way of Jesus.
Saint Patrick,
Pray for us.
     Some of the most powerful words of Rev. Charles McCarthy:
  • ... Jesus has to tell us how to live among evil and death and to conquer it.  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God, ... all things were made through him... the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  God incarnate becomes one of us and lives among us to tell us how to live, how to reach eternal live, ... Not just for ourselves but for everybody
  • Why do you say that "Jesus is the way?"  Because Jesus said it!  "I am THEEEE way ..." Jesus is the Son of God [not the relativism of various religions, "prophets," etc, but He alone is God's Son]
  • Jesus' words and His deeds cannot be separated from His person.  They are INSEPARABLE. His actions are the same as His person and deserve exactly the same level of adherence as His person and His words
  • If Jesus calls God, "Abba," then that is what God is, not something else.  Nothing can be truer than the Word of Truth.  Jesus is not only the Word Incarnate, but Truth Incarnate
  • The only time in Jesus' words that He uses the emphasis that this particular act will PROVE, or be the proof or mark, that you indeed are children of the heavenly Father is if you love your enemies. This will call you children of God, as opposed to children of this god or that god of various beliefs.  It is what singles us out in the world as different. We must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, who makes his sun and rain shine on the good and bad alike
  • Jesus said that if you want to get it right, to live in Truth, it is summarized as Jesus said it is summarized:  Love God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind and your whole strength and to love your neighbor as yourself - neighbor being everyone outside of oneself
Rev. Charles Emmanuel McCarthy Retreat on the nonviolent
love and modeling of Jesus

"Jesus' words and actions are inseparable, with the same
 expectations of adherence"


     There is no real news to tell at this time, besides the live liver donor surgery coming June 9.  Monica is giving up to 69% of her liver to a needy relative in end stages liver disease.  She will offer any discomfort or pain associated with this for God, the Harvest-master, to send workers in the field, willing to embrace voluntary poverty and live in community in the Catholic Worker tradition of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.  She also offers it up for purification of the Catholic Worker Movement, of houses and communities, and for the canonization of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin together.
     God-willing, once she heals, she will begin taking in battered women and children of foreign descent into her home, beginning on a small scale.  The plea is out for more workers in the field, dedicated to the mission and vision of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.
     We are still seeking donations to obtain the properties for this 3-house Catholic Worker model, with abandoned city lots in between for city gardening.  Happy feast day of St. Joseph the Worker yesterday, the patron of the Catholic Worker! Mother Mary, St. Joseph, Dorothy Day, and Peter Maurin, please pray for us!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ellsberg On the Canonization of Dorothy Day, May, 2015

The Lamb Catholic Worker, Columbus, Ohio, Reprint

"Why I Support the Canonization of Dorothy Day" by Robert Ellsberg,
America Magazine. May 2015 also May 2015 NYC CW

In the early years of The Catholic Worker, the newspaper was largely
illustrated with Ade Bethune’s images of the saints. This was not just
for pious decoration. Depicted in modern dress, engaged in the works
of mercy, these figures literally illustrated what the editors were
trying to communicate through words and actions. The saints, as
Dorothy spoke of them, were our friends and companions, examples of
the Gospel in action. She devoted many years to writing a biography of
her favorite saint, Thérèse of Lisieux, exulting in the incredible
speed with which the Little Flower was canonized—a sign that she was
truly “the people’s saint.”

In discussing the saints, Dorothy always acknowledged their humanity,
their capacity for discouragement and sorrow, their mistakes and
failures, along with their courage and faithfulness. There is no doubt
she wished to take them off their pedestals, to show them as human
beings who nevertheless represented in their time the ideals and
spirit of the Gospel.

She was quite aware of the dangers of sentimental hagiography—the
“pious pap” that makes saints seem somehow less than fully human. She
quoted a text about the eating habits of the saints, which read,
“Blessed de Montfort sometimes shed tears and sobbed bitterly when
sitting at table to eat.” To this, she commented, “No wonder no one
wants to be a saint.”

She felt it was important that we tell the stories of “saints as they
really were, as they affected the lives of their times.” But it was
also important to underscore their radical challenge: how St.
Catherine of Siena confronted the pope; how St. Benedict promoted the
spirit of peace; how St. Francis met with the sultan in a mission of

When Gordon Zahn wrote about his discouragement with the bishops and
their failure to address the Vietnam War, she wrote: “In all history
popes and bishops and father abbots seem to have been blind and power
loving and greedy. I never expected leadership from them. It is the
saints that keep appearing all thru [sic] history who keep things

Above all, Dorothy believed that the canonized saints were those who
reminded us of our true vocation. “We are all called to be saints,”
she wrote, “and we might as well get over our bourgeois fear of the
name. We might also get used to recognizing the fact that there is
some of the saint in all of us. Inasmuch as we are growing, putting
off the old man and putting on Christ, there is some of the saint, the
holy, the divine right there.” She acknowledged, sadly, that most
people nowadays, “if they were asked, would say diffidently that they
do not profess to be saints, indeed they do not want to be saints. And
yet the saint is the holy man, the ‘whole man,’ the integrated man. We
all wish to be that.”

One of the things that attracted her to St. Thérèse was that in her
Little Way she showed a path of holiness available to all people and
in all circumstances. Dorothy—who was born the same year that Thérèse
died—wished to make known the social implications of the Little Way:
“The significance of our smallest acts! The significance of the little
things we leave undone! The protests we do not make, the stands we do
not take, we who are living in the world.”

A New Kind of Saint

And what of the meaning of saints for the church? It is important to
recognize that in canonizing a saint, the church is not bestowing a
kind of posthumous “honor.” Canonization has no impact or import for
the saint herself. Canonization is really a gift the church makes to
itself. Through recognition of certain individuals—a minuscule number
compared to all those holy men and women known to God—the church is
challenged to enlarge its understanding of the Gospel, to provide new
models that people can relate to, examples who met the challenge of
discipleship in their own time and thus inspire us to do the same.

But as Simone Weil said, it is not nearly enough to be a saint; “We
must have the saintliness demanded by the present moment.” Early in
her life, Dorothy recognized the need for a new kind of saint. Even as
a child she noted how moved she was by the stories of saints who cared
for the poor, the sick, the leper. But another question arose in her
mind: “Why was so much done in remedying the evil instead of avoiding
it in the first place?... Where were the saints to try to change the
social order, not just to minister to the slaves but to do away with
slavery?” It was a question to be answered with her own life.

In 1932, as she uttered her fateful prayer at the Basilica of the
Immaculate Conception, Dorothy sought an answer about how to integrate
her faith and her commitment to justice and the cause of the
oppressed. She prayed to make a synthesis of “body and soul, this
world and the next.” In effect she was seeking a model for how to
minister to the slaves while also working to do away with slavery.
Many saints had performed the works of mercy and poured themselves out
in charity. By combining her work for justice with the practice of
charity, Dorothy made an enormous gift to the church. No one coming
afterward would have to imagine what such a saint might look like.

But there are other gifts. By far the overwhelming majority of saints,
both in history and in recent times, have been priests and members of
religious orders. Of the 1,000 or so saints beatified or canonized
under Pope John Paul II the majority—apart from martyrs—were founders
or members of religious orders. Arguably, this reinforces the
stereotypical notion that religious life is a prerequisite for

Dorothy, in her deeply disciplined life of prayer and participation in
the sacramental life of the church, her embrace of voluntary poverty,
and her spirit of self-sacrifice and loving service, resembles many
saints who went before. Yet as a layperson, as a woman, as an
unmarried mother, as the founder and leader of a lay movement that has
always operated without any official authorization from the church, as
the publisher of a newspaper that presumed to take social positions
far in advance of the magisterium of her time, Dorothy Day represents
quite an unusual—and significant—candidate for canonization.

In her ecumenism, her commitment to liturgical renewal, her
affirmation of religious freedom and the rights of conscience, her
resistance to racism and anti-Semitism, and her prophetic
implementation of the church’s “preferential option for the poor,” she
anticipated so many themes of the Second Vatican Council and the
postconciliar church. And if there is now real thought about her
canonization, it is in part a reflection of how far the church has
traveled in catching up with her witness. That is something to

But there is more. Dorothy was inspired by the Gospel and the lives of
the saints to respond to the needs of her day—both the needs that
everyone could recognize (the Great Depression) but also the needs
that were overlooked by almost everyone else. Dorothy, more than
anyone, helped the church recover the forgotten peace message of
Jesus. She confronted war and violence in all its forms—not just in
words but in prophetic actions. In the purity of her vision and by her
courageous witness she continues to walk ahead, beckoning the church
to follow.

The Symbolism of Sainthood

There are inevitably symbolic or, if you will, political
considerations associated with the making of saints. There is always
the question, what lesson or message does the church wish to impart
through this canonization? The belated recognition of Oscar Romero as
a genuine martyr, and not just a pious churchman, is a significant
example. In naming Romero a martyr who died because of “hatred of the
faith,” the church acknowledges that he did not die for getting mixed
up in politics, as his ecclesial critics charged, but because he
faithfully followed the Gospel. Perhaps it is meaningful that this
pronouncement has awaited the pontificate of Pope Francis. In this
context, Romero walks ahead, beckoning us to fulfill the pope’s vision
of a church that is “poor and for the poor.”

By the same token, I believe this particular ecclesial season provides
a very special context for promoting the canonization of Dorothy Day.
Pope Francis, it seems to me, is the fulfillment of Dorothy’s dreams.
If she had let her imagination run free, she might have conceived of a
pope who took his name from St. Francis, who set out to renew the
church in the image of Jesus, promoting the centrality of mercy,
reconciliation and solidarity with those on the margins. So often she
criticized ecclesial trappings of power and privilege. How she would
have delighted in Francis’ gestures of humility, his call for
shepherds “who have the smell of the sheep,” his washing the feet of
prisoners (including women and Muslims), his tears on the island of
Lampedusa as he contemplated the deaths of nameless immigrants and
lambasted the “culture of indifference.” With her love for the Cuban
people, how she would have rejoiced in his role in overcoming decades
of intransigent enmity between the U.S. and Cuban governments. How, on
the eve of an imminent war with Syria, she would have eagerly
accompanied him in his vigil for peace. How moved she would be to
learn of his deep friendship with a Jewish rabbi, his love for opera
and Dostoevsky, and his exhortation to spread the “joy of the Gospel.”

Some have suggested that the new atmosphere under Pope Francis has put
wind in the sails of Dorothy’s canonization. But I would put it
another way. I think the cause of Dorothy’s canonization helps put
wind in the sails of the pope’s agenda. Support for her cause, in this
context, means more than keeping her memory alive. It contributes to
the ongoing program of renewal of the church—not for its own sake but
for the sake of a wounded world.

What of the concerns that canonization will cause her witness to be
watered down and homogenized? I think her full story—so inseparable
from her “message”—is clear and widely available. To be sure, there
has at times been a tendency on the part of some to put all too much
emphasis on her abortion, to make that experience a central feature in
the narrative of her journey from “sinner to saint.” In fact, as we
know, the driving force of Dorothy’s conversion was not shame over her
sins but gratitude for God’s grace. The turning point in her story was
not her abortion but the experience of becoming pregnant and giving
birth. In the end, I believe that canonization is the best insurance
that her story and the distinctive features of her holiness will be
remembered—not just in our time but far from now in the future. Just
as the beatification of Franz Jägerstätter lifts up the memory of his
“solitary witness,” so I believe the canonization process for Dorothy
Day will spread the story of her going to jail to protest civil
defense drills and the blasphemy of all preparations for nuclear war.
It will move her witness from the margins to the center of the
church’s memory.

The Making of a Legend

Of course, we regularly witness the domestication of radical prophets.
Francis of Assisi becomes the patron saint of bird baths. Martin
Luther King Jr. is universally remembered for his “dream” of a
post-racial America—but not for his critique of militarism and
capitalism. Dorothy Day is hardly exempt from this danger. Even while
she lived, Dorothy had to confront pious legend-making. She upbraided
Catherine de Hueck Doherty for promoting the myth that she shared her
bed with a syphilitic homeless woman. (Dorothy retorted, “I can’t even
sleep with my daughter, she wiggles too much!”) She was exasperated
with people who asked if she bore the stigmata or enjoyed visions.
(“Just visions of dirty dishes and unpaid bills!”) With or without
canonization, some people will always prefer the myth. The answer, I
think, is not to reject her canonization, but to assume the task of
proclaiming her story with all its radical edges, making sure that
nothing of her humanity is discarded.

But didn’t Dorothy say, “Don’t call me a saint; I don’t want to be
dismissed so easily”? I am astonished that so many people—even those
who would be hard-pressed to come up with another quote—can recite
those words (though their exact source is unclear). A real saint could
hardly have said otherwise. But in Dorothy’s case, this was more than
humility. She worried that people would put her up on a pedestal, that
they would believe her to be without faults, imagining that if she
performed seemingly difficult things, it was because they were not
really difficult for her—she, after all, being a saint. She felt this
was a way for people to dismiss her witness and let themselves off the
hook. She didn’t believe she was better than other people. She didn’t
believe people should set out to imitate her. They should look to
Christ as their model. All Christians were called to “put off the old
person and put on Christ,” to conform their lives to the pattern of
the Gospel, to respond to their own call to holiness—whatever form
that might take.

I once heard her say, “When they call you a saint, it means basically
that you are not to be taken seriously.” But when Dorothy used the
word saint, she certainly wasn’t indicating someone to be dismissed
easily; on the contrary, a saint was someone to be taken with the
utmost seriousness.

Still, there is a natural cynicism that arises in relation to this
process, with all its elaborate bureaucracy, protocol and, yes,
expense. Ken Woodward, in Making Saints, acknowledged this issue in
his chapter on Dorothy Day. Whereas the usual question with regard to
a potential saint is whether the candidate is worthy of the process,
in the case of Dorothy Day there is a suspicion that the process is
not worthy of her. Perhaps, some might say, it is better that she
remain a “people’s saint”—not an officially canonized figure.

Before initiating her cause, Cardinal O’Connor conducted a series of
conversations with people who knew her (sadly, many of them no longer
with us). I was privileged to be part of those discussions. I was
deeply moved by Cardinal O’Connor’s humility in discussing his
admiration for a woman he had never met. He took the discussion very
seriously, noting that if God meant for Dorothy to be called a saint,
he could not live with himself if he had stood in the way. But at the
same time he made it clear what it meant if we proceeded:
canonization, he noted, is a “process of the church.” If we weren’t
comfortable with that, he said, there was no point in going forward.
Those present, who included many of Dorothy’s close friends and
associates, listened to what he said; none of us raised an objection.

Since then it has become clearer that there are in fact significant
expenses involved in pursuing the lengthy process of
canonization—legal fees, the costs of official transcripts and such.
The Archdiocese of New York has made a sizeable contribution; other
funds will be raised by the Dorothy Day Guild, without any impact on
contributions intended for the Catholic Worker.

We may stand aloof from her canonization on the grounds that she is
“too good” for this process. But if we do, we should probably
recognize that this is not an attitude Dorothy would be inclined to
share. She certainly challenged and criticized the church for its
failings. It was, as she liked to quote Romano Guardini, “the cross on
which Christ was crucified.” But for her the church was the mystical
body of Christ, of which she was also a member. She had enough
knowledge of her own sins and failings to include herself among all
those called to penance and conversion.

The story of Dorothy is becoming known around the world. In the United
States she is undoubtedly more widely known and respected than at any
time since her death, or even in her lifetime. In recent years stories
about her have appeared in almost every Catholic magazine, and many
conferences have focused on her thought. Some may worry that Dorothy
is being appropriated by elements in the church that do not share all
her radical positions. It became clear to me long ago that Dorothy did
not “belong” just to the Catholic peace movement, any more than she
belongs solely to the Catholic Worker movement. I frankly welcome the
occasion she offers to unite disparate and sometimes polarized
elements in the church.

But ultimately the question of Dorothy’s canonization is not about
drawing greater attention to her, but whether, through her witness,
more attention will be drawn to Jesus and more people will be inspired
to comprehend and joyfully embrace his message of radical love. I
believe the answer is yes. That is why I support her canonization.

Robert Ellsberg is the editor in chief and publisher of Orbis Books.
From 1976 to 1978 he was the managing editor of The Catholic Worker,
where he served alongside Dorothy Day. This article is adapted from an
article in the May 2015 issue of The Catholic Worker.

Orbis Books
Box 302
Maryknoll, NY 10545
tel: 914-941-7636 x 2210