Friday, July 11, 2014

Farewell to the Franciscan Brothers, Faithful Sons of Mary

       By Monica Siemer, The Lamb Catholic Worker

      It is with sorrow that we bid farewell to the Franciscan Brothers Minor who have graced Columbus with their presence for the past few years.  They are moving back to Indiana, and our hope is that their quiet yet powerful and cataclysmic model of living the life of St. Francis will return here some day!

Brother Crispin Mary

      Whether seen on the icy or blazing hot pavements in their bare feet, or witnessing their humble prayerful voices alongside them at an abortion mill, or enjoying their contagious beard-lined smiles at dinner, they brought warmth to the heart and the spirit.
      Our community has had the pleasure of fellowship with 8-10 of them here, followed with a talk by Brother Crispin on living the life of poverty.  He eloquently gifted all of us with his knowledge and substantiation, from sacred Scriptures and Church teaching, on embracing a life of poverty.  When I find his notes he gave me I will better relay his wisdom (!)
       To be honest, more than any words could sound, his power and lesson came from he and his companions' way of life -- exuding Christ, His Apostles, and the early Church communities who were often spoken about as having great love, profound poverty, and profound joy.  In these they are all very rich.  These virtues are stated loud and clear in their coarse, patched, heavy, brown, hooded robes worn all year, their rough rope belts, nearly shaven heads and bare feet, and in other aspects and habits of their lives.
       They wear long rosaries that dangle and remind them to pray it.  They never touch money and only eat what is donated to them, clearing the entire refrigerator each night, sharing it all with those around them.  Knowing this last part, I kept pushing second or third helpings on many of them, but they would not take much.  It had become a way of life for them.  I was very moved.
       They are true sons of Mary, as Jesus said to John at the foot of the cross:  "Woman behold your son. John, behold your mother."  All of their middle chosen names are "Mary." Her prayers are special indeed for all, but especially for those who live a consecrated life, which has encouraged me to finally undergo a 33-day "total consecration to Jesus through Mary," as St. Louis Montfort promoted. I had never done this before. Single people and even married ones can make this consecration.  Two people within a year have suggested it for me, and on July 13, I will begin so that I finish on a Marian feast day (a requirement): the Assumption.
       There is a shortened version that is less complicated and allows for far more time to "ponder things in your heart," as Mary did.  Her prayers, those of the woman conceived of by God, or contemplated in advance, even before being conceived, are taken directly to her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, and to her most beloved Son, Jesus.  A person once challenged me that we Catholics worship Mary, and I answered the following: "Do you believe that Jesus had a mother?  (Give long wait time for them to think about and answer yes or no, which is quite a profound role of a human being).  Do you believe that Jesus wants us to honor His mother?"
        St. Louis de Montfort and Fr. Michael Gaitley put it most eloquently:  "'When Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38),' we can see most clearly that she's the spouse of the Holy Spirit for at that moment, she gave the Holy Spirit permission to conceive Christ in her womb.  Thus, at that moment, the already unfathomably deep bond between Mary and the Holy Spirit that had begun at the first moment of her Immaculate Conception [when she herself had been conceived in an immaculate manner, planned in advance by God] was revealed as nothing less than a two-become-one marital union... As a result of that union [unique to no other human being but Mary], the Holy Spirit is pleased to work and act through his spouse, Mary,..." (Booklet: "33 Days to Morning Glory, p. 5).
        Another thought-provoking message of Fr. Gaitley in this booklet was that even God entrusted Himself  to Mary.  That Jesus, who existed before the world was even made, came down from His heavenly glory to become a human being - of a few extremely fragile cells - entrusting  Himself to her body, her soul, her very being to nurture Him and put into motion His plan for salvation.  Fr. Gaitley put it this way:  "We should give ourselves to Mary in imitation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  After all, didn't Jesus give himself to Mary from the moment of the Incarnation?  Yes he did" (p. 9). If God entrusted Himself to Mary to that degree, we can trust in her intercessory action as well.
       Msgr. Reuf gave a stirring homily on Mary recently and explained how Mary freely decided to conform her will to God's will, and so began God's transformation in her that continued her whole life.  Mary also pondered things at length in her heart, a worthy trait and virtue for us all.
Mary Mother of the Eucharist
      Today I had to wait in line for an hour and a half at the BMV where there seemed to be not a single adult without one or more gadgets that monopolized their time, continuously.  These had complete power over them, keeping their minds and attention occupied (captive) the entire time.  It seems at the level of an alarming addiction now in society, with people having grown up with cell phones and somewhat with smartphones.  It appears to be almost a Satanic grip on all of society, choking up any hint of time for pondering and reflecting, or even conversing face-to-face with people beside them.

       Social networking online at the home computer and with a cell phone (Facebook, etc), and especially the feedback from others, can have a powerful effect on young minds too.  I have heard that it sometimes feels as though one's popularity and "worth" are directly tied to how many responses one gets to one's posts.  I am wondering if it contributed to a recent suicide of a mid-20's handsome, college grad here who posted his new picture 2 days before he killed himself.  One Catholic Worker supporter said that he had to get off of Facebook altogether because it was affecting his self-esteem somewhat.  Good for him.  He cut himself free.  I have even had to pull away from this website some, because, even though we are above 21,000 viewers, I will think that it should be much higher, and doubts creep in at times.  It is only the Evil One trying to pull downward.  It is good though, to step back from gadgets, even ones used for good intentions, and take a spiritual and psychological pulse.
       So, does this radical (meaning going back to one's roots) and counter-cultural Franciscan lifestyle look primitive and boring?  Talk about an adventure when one does not know if he will eat the very next day or not!  How exciting when God comes through for them, when Mary's prayers for them are answered!  What a thrill, each day, on how the prayer will be answered, who the Holy Spirit will place in their paths, and for what reason.  Every day would be unpredictable and quite a new adventure, but the greatest aspect of all seems to be the grace that comes with it in the joys, trials, and even sorrows.  What a brotherhood of support!  This is also very Catholic Worker, in the spirit of trust and adventure one must have to take up the call to live radically poor.
       On this feast of St. Benedict (who began monasticism), I can vouch for even those holed up in an abbey, whose entire life is dedicated to prayer - seven evenly-spaced scheduled chapel times per day, in addition to other prayers and reading!  When I had to end my 3-week silent retreat two years ago - the last 8 days being at Thomas Merton's Trappist abbey, Gethsemane, in Kentucky - I was so sad and could have gone for 4 more months.  It was exhilarating!! So much went on in my spirit, in my soul!
        I believe my spiritual life raised to such a higher level (hopefully) because of that very aspect of removing oneself from society, like the desert fathers.  There is little to distract you and to hold your time and attention captive - except for God and a rhythm of prayer and openness and listening constantly.  You can pick up that still small voice, that is God, in that wisp of communication here and there that would normally be very hard to catch.  Msgr. Mottet said that most of his active early priesthood he would take a whole day retreat every month just for listening to the voice of God all day, in a quiet, removed retreat to think and pray over all the typically social justice-oriented projects and people in his life.  He always says that he went in with questions and came out with answers.
       Most profound was an intimacy with God that I had not experienced since my youth.  I had focused mainly on the Carmelite spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila (Interior Castles) and St. John of the Cross with The Ascent to Mount Carmel and Dark Night of the Soul, which could be summarized with the first reading on the very last day of all three weeks (a recent reading as well):  "I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert where I will speak to her heart... On that day, says the Lord, she shall call me 'My husband,' ..."I will espouse you to me forever ..." (Hosea 2:17-21).
       It was actually quite a honeymoon in nearly every modality, not just interiorly too.  Strange and beautiful songs kept being put into my heart like the refrain of the Moody Blues song, "Knights in White Satin," that goes, "yes I love youuuu, ohhhhhh how I love you..." It was a very touching time with the ultimate Bridegroom.  Even the details or special touch of awe-inspiring European castle-looking architecture and windows of the massive Our Lady of Consolation Shrine and Basilica in Carey, Ohio (the first week of the 3-week retreat) late at night with its changing lights - it is open all night - was almost too much.  The exact same can be told of constantly meditating along the medieval-looking monastery and many high stone walls of the Abbey of Gethesemane, where I felt placed back in the time of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.  This was exhilarating since they fought hard to reform the Carmelite order back to its roots, back to holiness, back to its Bridegroom, that may also be in the works for the Catholic Worker movement.
      Even action-packed physical adventure was part of this retreat, beginning on day 1 at the Abbey of Gethsemane with the death of the most beloved Trappist, Brother Ambrose.  He had quite a large crowd of Kentucky locals come to pay tribute to the man from Mexico who could fix any of their tractors, knew and helped constantly on their farms, and was always there in other ways for their families.  The many stories reminded me so much of Peter Maurin, especially the monks' stories about him being so talkative (which was ironic!).  Retreatants at that time were able to join in for the funeral in a part of the chapel no outsiders were ever normally allowed to go. Later, I helped with shovel to bury him deep in the ground on a bed of Juniper (yes, it is true!), getting to further know the personalities of the monks and brothers.  This life for Christ is not boring!  I conversed with and asked Brother Ambrose's prayers for our Catholic Worker, as I sat at his gravesite many hours, having made a small flower bed on the tall pile of dirt that will eventually sink down even with the ground.  I did the same at the gravesite of Thomas Merton (Brother Louis), where I placed many natural, beautiful things.
       As Columbus has lost quite a witness to living the life of radical poverty in these austere Franciscans leaving, I pray that the Catholic Worker community here will take up that baton valiantly, even to a World Cup level, or even, to the early Church level, of living out the call to embrace "Lady Poverty." I pray that, like St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, those drawn to this life become truly consecrated to Jesus, to Truth itself, through the intercession of Mary and her simple, immaculate heart.  I am certain that these Franciscans have had a lasting effect everywhere, especially to other seminarians and faculty at the Josephenum.  It is a call to all in living more simply in this world, and to solely be channels of love and of peace, as St. Francis preached and lived.  They are a great inspiration for other Franciscans too, I am sure.
     The shorter version of total consecration to Jesus through Mary is in a booklet called, "33 Days to Morning Glory," a "Do It Yourself Retreat."  There is also a bestseller book (same title) explaining it in full depth, but for those who feel nudged by the Holy Spirit to do this and wonder when they will have enough free time to read a whole book, this large booklet makes it accessible to everyone right now. It is also for those who cannot give up 33 days at a retreat center.  In addition, it's also for those who do not have a great deal of time figuring out the flipping back and forth with daily, building prayers, given the complexity of their lives in de Montfort's book (which I also have as a resource and plan to read fully), but who still feel very called to undergo this.  You can call and order the booklet at 1-800-462-7426 or online at ShopMercy.org. You must begin in 33 days before a Marian feast day, and some start dates to come are: start on August 6 - with Fr. Schalk - to end on Sept. 8, the Nativity of Mary; start on August 13 to end on the September 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The cover is the Mary picture above (although she was probably dark-haired and dark-skinned).
     *For those who are pacifists, like the Christ-followers of our Church for its first 300 years, the comments on the first day can be disturbing, with the analogy of having the zeal of nearly crazed, slashing, passionate Celtic warriors.  I see it more as the even higher passion and zeal of the Apostles who gave all, their very lives, passionately, to be martyred brutally as Christ had been.  That one sits much better in this world that justifies participation by Christ-followers in modern war killing - the ending of another sacred human life (even children), for whatever reason the secular government at hand orders, even if it is against our Pope (as in the Iraqi War).  
       One can also see it more along the lines of the disciplined, self-sacrificing passion of a Brazilian soccer player, or those rugby players in the movie, "Forever Strong."  Pushing oneself in an over-the-top strenuous manner, in body, mind, virtue and soul, is always a good thing from time to time.  The harder one strikes out for God, the harder Satan strikes back at him or her.  One needs spiritual readiness, preparedness, for what comes his way in his personal life and in the world, putting on the armor of love and self-sacrifice. 
       Mother Mary and St. Francis, pray for us!  Brother Ambrose, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, we need your prayers too!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Join the Franciscan Brothers Minor in Their Talk on Living the Life of Poverty, April 5

     Come join us on April 5th at The Lamb Catholic Worker, 531 Brookside Drive, for a humble dinner and talk on "Living the Life of Poverty" given by the Franciscan Brothers Minor.  RSVP for planning, please.  Reservations are not required though, and dinner will be at 5:30, not 5:00 - correction from "Happenings" in the Catholic Times.  Brother Chrispin will lead the talk on "Living the Life of Poverty."
      Also, celebrate with us our new ministry of lunches for family breadwinners who live in the two major East side trailor parks.  Sr. Nary of the Missionary Servants of the Word gives Bible studies in both parks, and now she has something else to offer as well, along with us.  Our hope is to go to most of these Bible studies to learn Spanish and to get to know the Hispanic communities in these.  Hopefully this trust and relationship will flower and we will have communication available for those being battered and abused, if this happens.  If you would like to help or donate just email us at: thelambcatholicworker@gmail.com.  Celebrate with us over 19,000 viewers on this site.  All of you, please pray for us!

Walk the Stations of the Cross with Jesus on Good Friday

The Lamb Catholic Worker, Columbus, Ohio
     Lucky for we Christ the King parishioners, Deacon Pete leads a varying and exquisite meditation of the Stations of the Cross every Friday of Lent.  If you have never done this, or are not Catholic, it is one of the most powerful and life-changing prayers possible.  We at the Lamb Catholic Worker encourage all Christ-followers to find a great publication as a tool to undergoing this most profound "pilgrimage" on Good Friday.  Be sure to include in this Good Friday pilgrimage the first day of the (9 day) novena toward the Feast of Divine Mercy, the Sunday after Easter!
     The traditional 14 Stations of the Cross are as follows (and you can typically find them along the walls of any Catholic Church):
1. Jesus is condemned to death
2. Jesus takes His cross
3. Jesus falls the first time
4. Jesus meets His mother
5. Simon helps Jesus carry the cross
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7. Jesus falls the second time
8. Jesus speaks with the women 
9. Jesus Falls the third time
10. Jesus is stripped of His clothing
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross
12. Jesus dies on the cross
13. Jesus is taken down from the cross and laid in the arms of His mother
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb
     My favorite so far is a new publication, "The Challenge of the Cross," by Alfred McBride, O.PRAEM., by St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, Ohio.  Here are excerpts from some of the stations to give you a sense of this beautiful meditation.  All the words are quotes, and those in quotation marks are from Scripture, quoted from this book as well.
     Jesus is Condemned to Death - They spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head (Matthew 27:3).  When I look at the unfair judgments endured by Jesus... I think of the judgments I have made ... I mistreat innocent people and sometimes, sadly, those closest to me.  I rush to judgment when patience is needed.  Even my own relationship with Jesus is marred by unjust thoughts... I need spiritual purification. I have also been hurt by false judgments made against me.  I have survived, but always need spiritual purification.  Standing beside Jesus when He bore my sinfulness  in silence, I experience a mix of regrets and a power flowing from Him into my soul.... I excuse myself too easily, forgive me, Lord. 
Jesus Takes the Cross - Jesus often spoke of the cross.  In effect He said, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).  What He preached, he practiced.  St. Paul writes: "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). St. Paul often preached the cross, as he does again to the Corinthians: "When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom.  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)... like St. Paul's advice about our crosses: "I appeal to you ... to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God" (Romans 12:1).  Facing my pain, disappointments, losses, betrayals, dreams unattained, I need to live my own version of Christ's Passion.  St. Paul says, "I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:12-13).  I do not suffer alone.  Jesus is with me in those who stand by my side.
Jesus Falls the First Time - "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16)." Jesus is now on His journey to Calvary.  In stumbling and falling, He identifies with our difficulties in reaching our destiny...  I won't forget that Jesus arose after each fall.  He is my secret power to do so.
Jesus Meets His Mother - Mary and Jesus exchange glances of forgiveness to those who created their sorrow, I see too that neither Mary nor Jesus shows the least sign of resentment or bitterness.  Both display mercy as the true road to the future.. Mercy is just what I want and need to give others... Lord, don't let Your love grow cold in me because of hurts I feel.  Jesus, help me give true love to those who harmed me... Through meditating on the gentleness of Your humanity, may I expand my capacity to love.
Simon Helps Carry the Cross - Simon would be the first man to carry the cross of Jesus, who had taught, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; ... for my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:29-30)... I know times when I have been asked to give care to a loved one, a neighbor, a coworker, a stranger.  This role of caregiver can drain me in many ways -- straining my finances, patience, time, and energy.  I find sometimes that I want to say "no" when asked to give care, but soon I say "yes," [like Simon] and get on with doing what is needed.  I try to see the image of Simon .. [who] made it possible for Jesus to accomplish the final act of salvation at Calvary..."Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galations 6:2)... Lord, give me the courage to be a caregiver.  Jesus, show me the wisdom of the cross in being a caregiver... Lord, I pray for the graces I need to serve the poor, the hungry, the naked, the sick, the elderly, the dying.  Open me to accept the challenges of the cross You wish me to carry.  Forgive me for my reluctance to bear your cross. Grant me the joy that comes from loving service to You in the needs of others.
Jesus Falls a Second Time - I am slow to recognize Jesus' humility in becoming human, so see Him in the midst of His self-emptying.  In our natural world, what goes up must come down.  In our supernatural world, what does down [humility] should go up... Jesus fell and got up for me.  I know love made Him do this.  Infinite love will do the unthinkable... That's why He experienced falls -- so that He could win for me my risings to carry on with my life... May I see in Your falls Your willingness to endure more self-emptying, even to the end of this life.  Open my eyes of faith and help me to identify the love that made it possible for you to rise after every fall.
Jesus Speaks with the Daughters of Jerusalem - "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children" (Luke 23:27-28). As always, Jesus thinks of others before His own needs.  He worries about the future of these women and their children. 
Jesus Falls the Third Time - "We boast of our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope" (St. Paul to the Romans 5:3-4).  Paul did endure, as he later wrote, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).  In heading for His destiny, Jesus encountered a devastating fall that challenged Him to rise and move on... I remember Christ's last thrust to Calvary when the apostle James wrote, "My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1:2-3).  I tend to focus on the pain and find it difficult to notice the joy that James mentions.  I pray that I may imitate the attitude of Peter and his companions who faced persecution joyfully for proclaiming Christ.  Having just been flogged, "as they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name [of Jesus]" (Acts 5:41)... St. Gregory of Nyssa: "We must sacrifice ourselves to God, each day and in everything we do, ... imitating His passion by our sufferings, and honoring His blood by shedding our own.  We must be ready to be crucified."
Jesus is Stripped of His Clothing - ... Now He identified with the poorest of the poor who barely have anything to wear.  His self-emptying reached yet another level as human beings tried to rob Him of His last shred of dignity... He is vulnerable, a word taken from the Latin vulnus, meaning "wound"... Why does Jesus allow Himself to be so vulnerable?  Because He intends to heal the hurters. I often strike back with insults, betrayals, and slights.  When I hurt Christ, He forgets the wounds and tries to heal me, the hurter.  To Jesus the real wound is in the one inflicting the pain.  Jesus assumes the difficulties of the hurter and offers healing by the therapy of forgiveness and love... Jesus welcomes me as a sinner into the chambers of His heart and lets me thrash about with my unruly passions.  Then He offers me the love that would cure me of irrational evil... Jesus was not completely silent ["...like a sheep lead before the shearers silent" (Isaiah 53:5,7)], that He spoke a few words: "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34)... For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corrinthians 1:18)... Lord, teach us the wisdom you witnessed as a wounded healer... for the gift of healing those who hurt me, Lord hear my prayer.  For the wisdom to love my enemies, Lord hear my prayer.  For the courage not to strike back when I am wounded, Lord hear my prayer... Lord, engrave on my heart the promise of happiness so I may live the words of Jesus, "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven" (Matthew 5:11-12).
Jesus is Nailed to the Cross - To think of the pain caused by the nails in Christ's hands and feet is almost too much to bear... Poor, sick, oppressed, and crushed people find comfort in the Passion of Christ... I hear and sing of the Passion of Jesus in the spirituals of the African slaves.  The pain of Christ symbolized the slaves' own sufferings. Jesus could understand their despised condition in an unfriendly and inhuman world...They were there with Jesus.  The slaves sang, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  They sang their own reply, "Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble"... The most distant object I can see on a clear day is the sun.  But on a dark night I can see the stars millions of miles farther away.  Darkness has its spiritual value.  I think of that in my own times of trouble, when I tremble, tremble, tremble... I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)... Let us pray to meet the challenge of the cross. Lord, deepen my faith in the power of the cross in my life...for patience in times of personal pain..
Jesus Dies on the Cross - As the ninth hour approached on Good Friday afternoon, the sacrifice of the Passover lambs at the Temple concluded.  The high priest in Hebrew said,"Kalah" ("It is finished."). At that moment, Jesus the Lamb of God, said, "Kalah" ("It is finished") (John 19:30a). Jesus bowed His head and rested it on the cross.  A  great silence enfolded that moment, the silence of the Lamb of God.  In His death Jesus completed the perfect sacrifice needed for the forgiveness of all the sins of those who repent and seek His divine mercy.... When I think of Christ's death, I linger on my own future death.  I will not be able to choose the time and place of my death, but I can choose my way of life... My death will ratify the kind of life I have lived and the choices I have made.  If I have lived with love, that is how I shall die.  If not, that will be a tragedy.  As He was dying, Jesus gave His life calmly and lovingly to God, for that was how He lived.  He didn't leave any money.  He left an incomparable testament: divine mercy, future life, and sustaining hope... "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps .." When he was abused, He did not return abuse; when He suffered, He did not threaten;... He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:21, 23-24).
Jesus is Taken Down From the Cross (and layed in the arms of His mother) - He placed a grown man in a woman's lap [we cannot picture the sword to Mary's heart as she holds her baby boy for the last time, seeing and touching up close, the immensity of His suffering that took place right before her eyes]. Blessed John XXIII [formerly Pope John XIII] was fond of quoting an old Italian proverb, "Sotto la neve c'e il pane" ("Beneath the snow there is bread").  Rural wisdom remembers that the seed under the winter snow will rise in the springtime.  Blessed John XXIII applied the saying to those overwhelmed by sorrow and unable to see beyond the pain. Using his picture I see the snow.  I do not see the bread of love growing quietly underneath the white blanket... For the gift of consoling those who mourn lost ones, Lord hear our prayer... Console me when I will need to grieve the death of a loved one while I retain belief in eternal life.

Two other great Stations of the Cross meditation publications are:  "The Franciscan Way of the Cross," by Teresa V. Baker, S.F.O., St. Anthony Messenger Press, and "Mary's Way of the Cross" by Richard G. Furey, C.Ss.R., Twenty-Third Publications.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One Cannot Choose Life or Death for Another

By Monica Siemer, The Lamb Catholic Worker, Columbus, Ohio
     How pro-life is the Catholic Worker?  There are very few groups, even religious groups, who uphold the absolute and unequivocal sacredness  of all human life and lives - of all people everywhere, all the time, in every situation, even in the womb -as the multitude of Catholic Workers  from around the world. We believe unequivocally that all people, no matter how small, are sacred,  "made in God's own image and likeness," as Scripture tells us, having the "indelible stamp of the Creator" on each and every one, according to Pope Benedict Emeritus.  Celebrate with us over 18,000 viewers on this Catholic Worker website, sharing the same vision.
     Translated, this means that we are committed to never ever putting ourselves in any position to kill one other sacred human life, whether through abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, severe economic exploitation of the world's poorest and war.
     Dorothy Day put it most eloquently when she simply stated: "No one has the right to choose the life or death for another person."  It also follows from the Old Testament reiteration that God alone is the sole author of life and death, not us.  We usurp His supreme role and take matters into our own hands in any of these situations, deciding the very life or death of another person.
      It is a concept "so old it is new," going back to the first 300 years of the Catholic Church, particularly on not killing sacred human life in the Early Church's staunch stance on pacifism.  Peter Maurin wanted to originally call the Catholic Worker the Catholic Radical, because "radical" means going back to one's roots.  Dorothy wanted to name it after St. Joseph the Worker, and so it was.  Pope Francis has also repeatedly spurred all Christ followers in the world to become radical, to stir things up as Christ did, where there is complacency, where there is suffering and darkness, especially at the hands of others. His words on peace, on the preferential option for the poor, on the forgotten, and on being a great light to the world remind of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. Thank you, Pope Francis!

Monica and sisters: Lisa Evans + Maria Horn

Monica with son Josh

Monica's nieces and nephews: Joseph Horn, Maria Evans, Jotham Allwein, Josh

Monica's Nieces Maria Evans and Dorothy Allwein

Monica's nephews Jotham Allwein and Tom Horn (with Josh)

      This was the first time I marched in almost 30 years at this witness for life, and seeing at least 200,000-225,000 people based on the MLK 25th reunion and other large marches in which I participated.  The procession alone at the Shrine of the Immaulate Conception was over 40 minutes long of Cardinals, bishops, priests, and seminarians, with many many religious orders represented.  Every nook and cranny floor space was filled with mostly young people on fire for the Lord and strongly desiring to stand up for this injustice against our unborn fellow citizens. 
     Most moving were the brave, teary-eyed groups with signs that said, "I regret my abortion," and "I am an abortion survivor."
     Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of the Americas and of the Unborn, please, please intercede for us! Your appearance is the only one, worldwide, of a pregnant Madonna, as shown in your black band around your waist. Protect these Holy Innocents and help Americans know that they have created a soul forever when they have conceived, that even if cut short here, will "dart about like sparks in the sky" in Heaven.
      Here are the walls of the side chapel at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. where Dorothy Day poured her heart out to our Blessed Mother to help her know the way God had in mind for direct service to the poor and marginalized.  Peter Maurin was on her doorstep on returning to New York.  Intercede for us, please, Our Dear Mother!
     


    

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Way of the Lamb

   The Way of The Lamb

The Official Online Newsletter of The Lamb Catholic Worker in Columbus, Ohio                   Winter 2013-14  Issue 2

"We need to bring beauty into the midst of ugliness.  It honors and glorifies God to see such beauty from the dung heaps of a slum."   - Dorothy Day
"We have a 'rule of life' that is easy to follow, provided we listen to the wise counsel of such people as St. Teresa [of Avila] and St. Francis [de Sales].  St. Teresa understood that weariness of the soul.  St. Francis tells us to be gentle with ourselves." - Dorothy Day
Happenings of the Lamb  
        We, at The Lamb Catholic Worker are in a stage of expectant waiting, at one with this advent season encloaked in dark, cold days and nights, yearnings, restlessness, hopefulness.  We seem to take two steps forward and one step back; yet, slowly, steadily fulfilling Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin's vision of a Catholic Worker community here in Columbus mainly for battered women and children of foreign descent.  Our vision has widened two-fold into both the inner-city houses of hospitality with city gardens for the poor, as well as a farm to help support these houses of hospitality (and to possibly provide hospitality to a family here and there who need greater concealment).  Peter, with his "French peasant farming roots," emphasized this agrarian aspect, as has Msgr. Marv Mottet, our spiritual and community director from Iowa, who is also from French farming roots (French parents who were farmers in Iowa).  The good Lord even honored that in Peter by bringing him to his heavenly home forever on the feast of St. Isidore, patron of farmers.  
       This grand vision of ours has gained only one small donation outside of each others' to begin; yet, we wait in eager anticipation for funds, more workers in the field, and support for this valuable service to our city and community! We have flung seeds far and wide, by the grace of God and the intercession of Mother Mary, putting our first fall hard copy newsletter or an announcement into the hands of over 12,000 church-going Catholics through parish bulletins in the Columbus area, and have contacted all of the Cleveland diocesan priests, and some in the Philadelphia diocese, to get them into theirs as well.  Besides carefully placing these seeds, we are patiently giving them time to rest, germinate, and take root. We are encouraged by Fr. McSorley's St. Francis song he constantly sang with his eukele in the D.C. Catholic Worker houses: 
"If you wish to live life freely,
take your time, go slowly.
Do few things but do them well,
simple joys are holy.
Day by day,
stone by stone,
build your secret slowly.
Day by day,
you'll grow too,
you'll know heaven's glory."
We do not worry about our effectiveness, about outcome, all those trappings of modern society that are deemed measures of success, but only doing the Will of the Father.  His will alone is our delight.  And so, 
"Those that sow in tears
will reap with cries of joy.
Those who go forth weeping,
carrying sacks of seed,
Will return with cries of joy,
carrying their bundled sheaves."  (Psalm 126:5-6)
        Two more analogies of this waiting, wanting, advent stage of our community are the compost heap during winter, and the chrysalis.  We still trudge through the snow to the compost heap behind the garage - a giant pile of fall leaves, old weeds, fruit and vegetable fragments, eggshells, coffee grinds, pine needles, and the like, with a thick, snowy, icy roof over it.  We lift the top of a corner of the pile with a pitch fork, throw the new materials in, and put it back.  Some organic changes are happening, but we have them in place for enormous changes when the weather warms.  We cheerfully continue to work with it, knowing it will greatly enhance the soils in the gardens of fruits, vegetables and flowers.  Come Spring, all will explode with robust life - in full color and glory, reflecting the Creator and His wishes and Will. So, we await Spring's coming as we do our Savior's coming, and as we do the full birthing of this Catholic Worker.  The shortest day of the year, Dec. 21, will then begin to turn the tide toward more and more light, warmth, growth, and fulfillment of His designs.

       The other analogy within each one of us, is that of the chrysalis (or butterfly cocoon).  It appears dead - still, non-moving, dark inside.  Drastic changes are miraculously taking place though, in this full metamorphosis into a new creature.  Such a changing within can only occur by drawing in with the Creator, long spells of time in Eucharistic Adoration with our Lord and changer of hearts and souls. We are trying greatly to do this more and more, even in our busy schedules, with Christ as our role model.  Before beginning His public ministry, even He had to withdraw to the desert for 40 days to wrestle with His demons, to sort out all in His mind before the great leap.  For us, this silence with Him, paradoxically, creates more restlessness to hear His voice, the voice of our Beloved, to be a person after His own heart, like St. John of the Cross; and to let down our defenses and walls to allow Him to come to us and love us.
     Peter Maurin, was in this restless, prayerful state for more than 7 years, grasping the poetry welling up in his heart, getting down scribbles on paper of his "Easy Essays" that he knew would one day fully flower if he could find the right person.  This was all until he could not be contained in his chrysalis any longer - bursting forth to find that person to help begin all this.  He wandered from place to place as the ideas and spirituality germinated, talking to every person put into his path by the Holy Spirit.  He did not give up.  Finally, he met that special person in Dorothy Day.  Msgr. Mottet always said that if/when Dorothy Day is be canonized, Peter should be alongside her. She always said that Peter was the true founder of the Catholic Worker Movement.  This is coming, and we believe, our Catholic Worker houses of hospitality and farm are coming (16,000 hits online).  We wait in joyful hope.  
        We also await the humble, glorious coming of a fragile, vulnerable, helpless newborn once again, to save us.  Our community is in its infancy, and seeing that the Lord and Savior of the world began his earthly presence in so delicate and precarious a state gives us much hope!  Come Lord Jesus.  He speaks most tenderly to a waiting, expectant heart, and so, we encourage all of you to get to Eucharistic Adoration often this holy season.  Have that date with Jesus often.  We are too blessed to be stressed, and all other details truly do not matter as much.  Also, make 2014 be the year that you fully become a daily communicant, even if it means getting up very, very early (and with little sleep the night before). Seek out your Lover in the early morning.  Jesus constantly woke up before dawn to be one with the Father.  My role model is a mother at St. Catherine's who has rarely missed with many toddlers, young children, and babies in tow (and pregnant many of those times).  Yes, she has had to constantly deal with their antics throughout mass and up the communion line, but that never stopped her drive to be one with her Lover. It continues to be a fabulous role model for all of her children, also modeled so well by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.  Whatever you desire for your adult children to do one day, do it yourself right now.  Your Father in heaven wants it for all his adult children who have access to churches.  He multiplies time, then, in your given day, helping you complete all that you should while eliminating the rest.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES!         PRAY FOR US AS WE DO FOR YOU!  Our model is very similar to a religious order - in our level of prayer commitment, of promises to poverty, chastity, obedience (to a Catholic Worker Rule), and to upholding the sacredness of all human life; and in our seeking to fully live together in community when we can get the properties.  Of course at the heart is hospitality to mostly Hispanic and Somali (yet others as well) battered women and children. It is distinct from a volunteer program in this manner - it is a commitment to community in regards to our time, talent, treasure, and being together. It is not to the level of the Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, nor even the Jesuit Volunteer Corps or the Peace Corps, but we are stumbling along, hopefully according to the Will of the Father for this mission. Please, please pray for us!  Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, Mother Mary, and St. Joseph continue to intercede for us!  
"Be sure to draw on his strength, his gentleness, and his patience -- because you will need it.  And remember: not only are you called to be patient with people but also with the Shepherd, who takes no shortcuts.  He has a perfect plan, and he will accomplish it in his own time." (Word Among Us, Dec. 10, 2013).

Do Not Click on "Posts (atom)" or "Older Posts" as Subtitles; Tell Others

THE LAMB CATHOLIC WORKER - Please tell new people to by-pass the "feeds" called "Older Posts" and "Posts (atom)" that are choices before getting on this website.  AFTER getting into the site, and scrolling down articles, THEN push "Older Blogs" to see the 35+ articles. Explain to others to simply type the subject, " The Lamb Catholic Worker," then choose the subject-looking or title-looking, "The Lamb Catholic Worker," again.  Please, especially if you are clergy or from a religious order, pray for us, and help spread the word about this critical mission mainly for battered women and children of foreign descent here in Columbus. We cannot do it without your prayers and support.   Thanks.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Saved By Beauty, A Spiritual Journey With Dorothy Day

     THE LAMB CATHOLIC WORKER, Columbus - This vibrant and vivid picture book (2012, World Library Publications) is written and illustrated by artist, Michael O'Neill McGrath and covers the life of Dorothy Day in a manner that even adults would greatly enjoy.  It truly emits a saving effect through its own beauty, in addition to the exquisite beauty and witness of Dorothy Day's life.  Her life was indeed like that of a Dominican, Franciscan, Carmelite, Peace Corps or Jesuit Volunteer Corps workers, seminary teacher or student, and convent teacher or student.  Who knows?  Perhaps there will someday be a Catholic Worker order!
       Thanks to Austin Schaefer, OSU campus minister, for this author-signed gift to the Lamb Catholic Worker! Below is a glimpse of the pictures. The many quotes from Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, and the saints are just as amazing as the pictures.


















     Our site has reached 15,000 viewers worldwide!  Thank you, Father, and thank you Dorothy Day for your intercessory prayers!  Keep interceding for Hana's continued miraculous healing from metastasized breast cancer into the brain, liver, and spine.  We so desire for you to be acknowledged as a saint by the Catholic Church and thus, your work with and devotion to the most vulnerable poor, acknowledged and honored.