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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 few years 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 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 sales 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 be a 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.  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.  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

Saturday, April 11, 2015

St. Patrick: 'Killing is not of Christ' Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy to Lead a Retreat, 'The Nonviolent Jesus: His Nonviolent Way of Love, ' April 17-18

       Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, an Eastern right Byzantine priest, is coming to Columbus to give a retreat entitled "The Nonviolent Jesus: His Nonviolent Way of Love'" on April 17 and 18, Friday and Saturday, at St. John Crysostom Catholic Church, 58582 Cleveland Avenue, Columbus Ohio.  Contact Samuel at (614) 286-0921 or samueldean9@yahoo.com.
      He is the author of the multi-series tapes given to me by a former priest at Christ the King Church to be put to good use entitled, "Boldly Like God, Go Against the Swords."  He was also the one, according to my father, peace activist Tom Siemer, who completely "converted" the heart of a military chaplain over those who obliterated the entire cities of innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan during World War II.  That chaplain was Fr. George Zabelka, a very dear friend of my father's, who marched with him across Ohio in the early 80's for the Nuclear Freeze Movement (I will post a picture of my father and Fr. Zabelka when I find it!).
      The story goes that Rev. McCarthy explained how many modern wars were Christians killing Christians, which is detailed in another article on this site.  What is our mark that sets us apart in the world?  The only time in the entire New Testament that Jesus used the wording that this particular act will make you to specifically be called children of God is to love our enemies (at the personal, and country level).  The single most popular article on this site of nearly 30,000 viewers is a shortened repost of McCarthy's famous article written at the 25 anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., at the 45 anniversary.  It is called: "Christian Nonviolence (MLK): Rabbi Heschel Implored to Heed the Prophetic Voice of Dr. Martin Luther King."
      What a blessing to Columbus Catholics and others!  Thank You, Jesus!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Purify the Catholic Worker, Jesus, to be the Diamond of Its Founders

By Monica,  The Lamb Catholic Worker, Columbus, Ohio

The "Collect" of the Divine Office in the Lauds for yesterday was:

"True light of the world, Lord Jesus Christ,
as you enlighten all men for their salvation,
give us grace, we pray,
to herald your coming
by preparing the ways of justice and peace."

       Many have believed, in recent years, that we are near Judgment Day (a concept believed by all Christians and Muslims of the world), or the end times, just after the rapture as Jesus described. It will come like a thief in the night. He explained that at this point, it will be sudden and two men will be working on the roof; one will be instantly taken, one will be left.  Two women will be making bread; one will be taken, one will be left.  This is to precede and spare His followers from the terrible things described by Christ in the Gospels (wanting the mountains to fall on us ...) and by St. John in his visions as told in the book of Revelations.
       Whether the time is soon or whether we have another thousand years, we are to live as if each day were our last in service to our sweet Savior, Jesus.  As I ponder the Collect above from yesterday, what comes to mind is, if we are nearing the end or even not, how exquisite a diamond Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin created, lived, and ushered into the world this last century - and to the Catholic Church especially - "heralding your [Christ's second] coming by preparing the ways of justice and peace" in the Catholic Worker movement. To sum it up for those who are not familiar, how they envisioned, dreamed and modeled the Catholic Worker ideals is as close to living the loving life of the early Church, on fire for Jesus, enflamed by the Holy Spirit, and engulfed in "profound poverty and profound joy", as you can possibly get.  And this is done mostly by lay people!
       Peter always said not to call him radical, but simply Catholic.  To him to be Catholic means to be radical, meaning going back to our roots ("radish" has the same stem) closest in timeline to Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church as possible, where the Way of Jesus was lived out most purely. It was an era  closest to Truth itself, which is Christ, and closest to those people who lived it out most fully.  Just as the Church has recently been moved by the Holy Spirit to correct, or embrace the actual wording of prayers and responses more accurate to what they were (and were always meant to be) in revising our modern liturgy to make it more authentic, so Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin redirected the living out of what it means to be Catholic, focusing on authenticity to Christ, His Apostles, and the Early Church.  Fr. Robert Barron emphasizes this as well - to be radical as Jesus was radical - in his Catholicism series (where he highlights the Catholic Worker in one of the CDs).
      My prayer this lenten season is for a purification of myself, as a marshmallow over flames, to become a more loving, gentle, kind, and compassionate Catholic Worker attempting to always do His bidding.  It is also for a purification of all Catholic Workers as well as of the Catholic Worker Movement, all those trying to live out Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin's vision: embracing Lady Poverty, intertwining with the poorest of the poor in a loving vibrant community, and promoting the TRUE sacredness and sanctity of ALL human life and lives in their pacifism (as the early Church did for the first 300 years, unbroken).
      Both founders embraced their Catholicism whole-heartedly and passionately, Peter having lived with the Christian Brothers for years before, and Dorothy becoming a Benedictine Oblate.  Daily both strived to receive consecrated bread and wine - Jesus' own real flesh and real blood, of the holy sacrifice of the Mass to feed and invigorate them; as well as to be fed on the Word there, which is Christ, in order to daily direct their paths.  They prayed the rosary daily for the powerful intercession of Mother Mary, strived to get to confession often (Dorothy once a week), and to meditate, read, pray, and converse in a multitude of other ways - focused on God, on community, on the poor, and on peace.
     As quoted in the lenten issue of "The Word Among us," Dorothy's top theme in all she strived for is of profound love, lived out in community:
"True love is delicate and kind, full of gentle
 perception and understanding,
 full of beauty and grace ....
There should be some flavor of this
 in all our love for others.
We are all one.
We are one flesh, in the Mystical Body,
as a man and woman are said to be
one flesh in marriage.
With such a love one would
 see all things new;
we would begin to see people
as they really are, as God sees them."

       Pray for me as I offer any and all suffering associated with a live liver transplant I am undergoing for a very dear close relative!  I offer it up to purify the Catholic Workers' witness to the world, for the Lamb Catholic Worker here in Columbus to begin, for intentions toward a child of mine, for women and children of foreign descent especially with nowhere else to turn, and especially, for the canonization of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.  It is also for several other people who need sacrifices for bigger problems.
      True story.  My spiritual director, Msgr. Marv Mottet, has had to listen to my laments about why God is not sending workers in the field, or the funding, or the properties, or support for this vision of a multi-house Catholic Worker community in Columbus for battered women and children of foreign descent (mainly but not exclusively). About three years ago when lamenting, he answered:  "Do you know the story about St. Charles de Foucauld?" He went on to explain that he wanted to found a
St. Charles de Foucauld
Hermitage of St. Charles de Foucauld

  new religious community in a certain spot, in Algiers, Northern Africa.  He worked hard toward it, prayed hard, wrote often about it, solicited support, and spoke to anyone who would listen.  Eventually, he was martyred before it came into being.  Afterward, three opened, forming the "Little Brothers of Jesus," from the writings of St. Charles de Foucauld.
     I asked Msgr. Mottet if I had to then get hit by a bus before this can begin (!). The seeds of the blood of the martyrs are one of the most powerful means for God to work.  Soo, as one could guess, I tried every other possible way to help God to get this going.  I will not go into it all, but when I hit a point in late November/early December, 2014, I lamented again why did God say to ask the harvest master for more workers in the field if He was not going to send them -- for years -- even after praying, trusting, asking, pleading, etc.?  That St. Charles de Foucauld story came to mind immediately.  I almost as immediately said, "Yes, I say yes to even this, now." A rush of great peace and grace flooded me, unexplainably, at that moment.  I feel this may be His plan. I voiced my "Yes" to Fr. David Schalk at the time - that I fully say yes if this is what is being asked of me by God.  About one month later I found out about this live liver donor program for me to give up to 69% of my liver to a family member in end stages liver disease.  It will most likely go very well, with a 100% survival rate for donors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.  For all other hospitals that do this newer procedure, I was told by the Mayo clinic, there is a 1 to 200 to 1 to 300 ratio of dying for the donor.  Either way, it is a win-win for my relative and for The Lamb Catholic Worker!  Pray for me, please, and especially for my nephew.
      Here is a gift before signing off.  It the Sonia Salas version of "Shepherd Me, O God":


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ex-Marine's "American Sniper" Reflections

In the spirit of Pope John Paul II who wrote that "any and all pre-emptive [first strike] wars are immoral," in addition to his words that the Iraqi War was NOT legally nor morally justified, we reprint the article, "Former Marine on Chris Kyle, American Sniper, and Social Implications" posted on January 27, 2015 on Washington's Blog by Robert Barsocchini.

Ross Caputi, a former marine who participated in the US’s second siege of Fallujah, writes that the reason the American Sniper book and film have been so successful is that they “tell us exactly what we want to hear”: that US America is “benevolent” and “righteous”.  That, he says, is why the book and film are so popular; their popularity speaks volumes about US society, and signals more danger ahead for the rest of the world.

The killings for which Chris Kyle is idolized, Caputi notes, were perpetrated during his participation in the second US siege of Fallujah, which Caputi, from firsthand knowledge, calls an “atrocity”.

Specifically of the siege, Caputi notes:

“All military aged males were forced to stay within the city limits of Fallujah” [while women and children were warned to flee through the desert on foot]
“…an estimated 50,000 civilians were trapped in [Fallujah] during this month long siege without water” [since the US had cut off water and electricity to the city]
“…almost no effort was taken to make a distinction between civilian men and combatants. In fact, in many instances civilians and combatants were deliberately conflated.”
“The US did not treat military action [against Fallujah] as a last resort. The peace negotiations with the leadership in Fallujah were canceled by the US.”
“[The US] killed between 4,000 to 6,000 civilians, displaced 200,000, and may have created an epidemic of birth defects and cancers“
“[The siege was] conducted with indiscriminate tactics and weapons, like the use of reconnaissance-by-fire, white phosphorous, and the bombing of residential neighborhoods. The main hospital was also treated as a military target.”
In modest conformity with international law originally flowing from the Nuremberg tribunal, he says that neither he or Kyle should receive any “praise or recognition” for their actions against Iraq.

Further, he notes that Clint Eastwood, director of the American Sniper movie, made many changes to Kyle’s accounts of what happened.  For one, Kyle, in his autobiography, recounts shooting a woman who was taking the legal action of throwing a grenade at invading forces.  Eastwood changes this so that the woman gives the grenade to her child to throw at the invaders.  “Did Clint Eastwood think that this is a more representative portrayal of the Iraqi resistance?” Caputi asks. “It’s not.”  (Caputi gives Eastwood the benefit of our lack of knowledge of his thought process; he could have asked if Eastwood did this to try to dehumanize Iraqi mothers or Iraqis in general, or whip up US American xenophobic hatred of foreigners, a not-so-difficult feat which Eastwood accomplished with flying colors.  See The Guardian’s “American Sniper: Anti-Muslim Threats Skyrocket in Wake of Film’s Release“; many who see the film “emerge from theatres desperate to communicate a kind of murderous desire.”)

The US invasion of Iraq, Caputi concludes, was “the imposition of a political and economic project against the will of the majority of Iraqis. … We had no right to invade a sovereign nation, occupy it against the will of the majority of its citizens, and patrol their streets.”

Caputi “holds an MA in Linguistics and … is working on an MA in English Studies at Fitchburg State University.”

Also see Professor of International Affairs Sophia A. McClennan’s piece, where she says the American Sniper movie is “a terrifying glimpse” of a “mind-set that couples delusion with violence”.