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Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Spirit is Moving! Fr. Daniel Berrigan, Pacifist, Presente!

       The Holy Spirit is blowing in sweeping mountainous strokes within the Catholic Church and in our world with several amazing and awesome (in the true sense of the word) happenings!
       I applaud the Catholic Times here in Columbus for printing the Catholic News Service release of the life and legacy of the famous 94 yr. old Jesuit priest, Reverend Daniel Berrigan, who, more than anything else in his life, adored his Jesuit priesthood of 54 years.  I spoke with him about 9 years ago about a movie screenplay I wrote, and about the Lamb Catholic Worker and the gentleness and sweetness of his little holy disposition came through the phone!  He said, "Oh God bless you for what you are trying to do!"
Monica took this picture of Rev. Richard McSorley, S.J. and good friend,
Rev. Daniel Berrigan, S.J. at Rev. Berrigan's  Pacem en Terris award of the 
Georgetown University Center for Peace Studies in the early '80's.
         These were some of the words of his nieces and nephews at his death:  "Dan taught us that every person is a miracle, every person has a story, every person is worthy of respect...  And we are so aware of all he did and all he was and all he created in almost 95 years of life lived with enthusiasm, commitment, seriousness and almost holy humor."  "The 'heavy burden' of peacemaking will continue among many people,' the family added, saying, 'We can all move forward Dan Berrigan's work for humanity.'"
        With Brother Louis, the famous Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, as his mentor, Dan Berrigan engaged in several acts of civil disobedience that landed him in jail and prison for years, even with arthritis in his spine.  It began with his outrage of children and many innocent Vietnamese civilians in huts and villages being burned alive with napalm during the Vietnam War by U.S. soldiers.  He joined others to break into a government office holding draft files of those having been drafted and forced against their choice, to napalm others in Vietnam.  They pulled out draft files to the parking lot  outside, and napalmed them.

 

     The following is part of my very favorite poetic writing of Dan, which was part of the Catonsville 9 statement in their defense of burning the draft files of those forced to kill.  This was at a time when the idea of a priest breaking the law and going against law and order seemed a terrible witness to many. The lawlessness was too much to bear. This was part of their (his) reply:
Our apologies, good friends,
for the fracture of good order,
the burning of paper
instead of children, 
the angering of the orderlies
in the front parlor 
of the charnel house. 
We could not, so help us God,
do otherwise.
For we are sick at heart,
our hearts give us no rest
for thinking of the
Land of Burning Children.
And for thinking of that
other Child, of whom
the poet Luke speaks. 
It is in Him that we put
our trust, and in no other.
     Fr. Berrigan went on to confront the evils of creating, investing in ($ multi-billions), manufacturing, and potentially using, again, weapons of mass destruction, or nuclear weapons. He began the "Plowshares" movement based on the Old Testament quote from Isaiah:
 "And they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
            Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
            And never again will they learn war."
       On Sept. 9, 1980, Fr. Berrigan and six other demonstrators were arrested after entering the General Electric missile plant in Pennsylvania, and beating on the nose cones (without the weapons inside), of intercontinental ballistic missiles. They then poured blood over classified defense plans there.  I was at the courthouse outside on sentencing day praying with fellow Catholic Workers for them.  It was quite a sacrifice on their parts, and Fr. Berrigan spent years in prison for it, even with painful arthritis of the spine.
        There have been many other Plowshares actions done around the country against not only weapons of mass destruction, but also exposing the direct link of nuclear energy and power plants to weapons of mass destruction.  The "spent" radioactive rods of the core can be converted into weapons grade plutonium and into weapons of mass destruction against entire cities of innocent people.  Even the term of the man-made element on the Periodic Table, Plutonium, had to be named after the god of hell in ancient Greece, Pluto.  This is used in weapons of mass destruction.  To think that it was not part of God's plan of creation, we brought "hell" to earth with our own hands.
       At Hiroshima, Japan, he wrote the following poem.

Shadow on the Rock

At Hiroshima there’s a museum
and outside that museum there’s a rock,
and on that rock there’s a shadow.
That shadow is all that remains
of the human being who stood there
on August 6, 1945
when the nuclear age began.
In the most real sense of the word,
that is the choice before us.
We shall either end war and the nuclear arms race
now in this generation,
or we will become shadows on the rock. 

     

Fr. George Zabelka in the middle with white beard, Dad, right.


        Fr. George Zabelka, the military chaplain over Paul Tibbits of Columbus, Ohio who was the main pilot of the "Enola Gay," the plane that dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, had a milestone conversion of heart to Christian nonviolence (of our early Church history of the first 300 years).  At first he was as gung-ho as Paul Tibbits, long after the incineration of so many innocent lives.  It was Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy who helped bring about his change of heart.
      He explained how our earliest most pure roots had been 100% pacifist for a very very long time. He also explained how most of the destruction of lives and cities of Europe in World War I and II was mostly Christians upon Christians - many times Catholics upon Catholics!  He spoke of how Christ taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves (all outside of oneself is one's neighbor) as well as even to love our enemies (!).  It is not possible to love and kill the same person at the same time.  If God can make His sun and rain fall on the good and bad alike (as in Scripture), so great and equal handed is His love for ALL, made in His own image and likeness, then who are we to be above God?
       Once converted, Fr. George Zabelka went on the be an outspoken advocate for Christian nonviolence and nuclear disarmament.  He and my father marched across Ohio together in the early 80's.  
       My father, peace activist Tom Siemer, a Navy veteran, has spent the past 40+ years working tirelessly against weapons of mass destruction and for Christan nonviolence. He had previously spent 23 years working as a defense contractor in the military industrial complex (money-making with war products).  He nearly died of cirrhosis of the liver, and given only a short time to live, from his guilt-ridden alcoholism over his part of the war machine.   He asked God to spare him and promised to dedicate the rest of his life working for peace. 
      The dynamite inventor/maker had the same crisis when he was thought to have died, and his obituary praised how he brought the explosive and destructive power of weapons to such a higher degree.  He spent the rest of his life working for peace as well.  His name was Arthur Nobel.  My father has worked very hard for the past 40+ years to make up for his past.  In fact, I have filled two thick binders with many of the newspaper articles and stories of protests, arrests, marches, and even a documentary centered around him called "Gods of Metal."  
     He was more recently arrested for throwing red paint on the above mentioned "Enola Gay" airplane at the National Air and Space Museum on Washington, D.C.  to symbolize the massive loss of innocent human lives at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.  Fr. McSorley, S.J. had taught him (even though he knew this): "He who chooses the lesser of two evils soon forgets he chose evil in the first place."  There is always a third choice.  Dad made a statement with the following:  "...B-29 bombers were used to firebomb all other cities in Japan, killing over three million Japanese civilians.  To praise the technology of the B-29 [and that of nuclear warheads] is like praising Hitler's poison of the gas chambers."
       My father saw the Enola Gay more recently in an exhibit at the Dulles Airport and the tour guide explained, "And this spot is where a protester broke a glass of red paint to symbolize the massive loss of innocent life that day."  There is hope!  While Dorothy Day did not herself believe in nor participate in civil disobence involving the harm or destruction of persons or possessions belonging to another ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," and that the end never justifies the means, the means and ends are equally holy), she came to respect people with the mentality who would say, destroy the Nazi files of those Jewish people that they are about to remove from their homes and send off to work (death) camps.  All that was done to Jewish people in Catholic Germany was completely legal, even though inhumane, unethical, and immoral.


       Fr. Daniel Berrigan said in an interview for The Nation in 2008 the following:  "Dorothy Day taught me more than all the theologians."  Bravo to Cardinal Timothy Dolan for stepping up her cause for canonization in his April 19 article on the Archdiocese of New York website!  He wants to press for interviews through the end of this year with those who knew her, attesting to her holiness of life.        
      This was one month after I sent the medical records of my two surgeries with a cover letter to the priest collecting Dorothy Day information stationed at the New York office.  We cannot find another survivor besides myself of anyone who has undergone this dangerous and risky procedure (of donating 59% of my liver to my nephew), requiring a second emergency surgery 3-5 days after, surviving.  I relied on Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin's intercessory prayers.  Hopefully it helped.
       
Abby my niece took this of me at the Mayo last
year (I only saw it yesterday).  She and my sister Lisa were my
main amazing caregivers. The sunshine refreshed my soul!

              Why is The Lamb Catholic Worker taking so long to begin?  The intercessory prayers of Moses and Abraham have been added to that of Mary, St. Joseph, Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin and many others!  Abraham had to wait approximately 15 more years, in old age, for Sara to conceive after being told he will be the father of many nations and peoples as numerous as the stars.  Moses had it the worst though!  He had to wait 40 years to get to the promised land, through harsh desert conditions involving many deaths, thirst, hunger, serpent bites, fatique, and most of all, doubt of many around him (and probably at times, of himself).  I presume that was hardest of all with decades of time passing.  I would have given up after 3 months in so dreadful of conditions with little provisions.
          What Fr. Schalk always says, to encourage me, is "Persevere!"  What Fr. Denis Kigozi says is, "the Will of God is in the present, is only right in front of you. Looking back at regrets or forward with doubts and fears, this is not the Will of God.  He puts right in your path and in your heart, what you are to do right here and right now." 
          I will say that Benedictine crosses and Benedictine medals, blessed in the proper way with Benedictine prayers and holy water, are powerful!  It is what our Vatican trained exorcists use against the evil one.  St. Benedict tried to bring the level of holiness of higher levels of monasticism to the world and all the powers of hell tried to stop him.  He was given these prayers, this medal and the Benedictine cross for special added protection.  I recommend it!
          Many happenings give hope though!  The fact that Dorothy Day is in the spotlight again, and we may have an answer after the end of this year about her moving forward to "Venerable" from "Servant of God" in the steps of canonization is marvelous.  Also, the fact that it was a unanimous vote to open her cause for canonization of every U.S. Catholic bishop, archbishop, and cardinal in the United States a few years ago shows that the Spirit is moving strong.
        I gave my first talk at St. Mary Magdalene Church on Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement in March, with great encouragement. I have had priests over the years ask me to come and give a talk on her, but I decline because we are not doing it yet. I said yes only to see many faces at my alma mater.
Monica giving a talk at St. Mary
Magdalene, Columbus, in March
      Moreover, people ask me about the progress all the time, wanting to volunteer once it gets going (a list of about 100 people!).  The fact that our Catholic Times included this article about Fr. Daniel Berrigan gives much hope too!  Many people do not know that Pope Emeritus Benedict talked of Dorothy Day two different times of day in his last day as pope, so badly did he want her name (and cause) remembered into the next papacy.  This did not make it into many Catholic papers.  The Holy Spirit is indeed moving, through the intercessory prayers of Mother Mary, St. Joseph, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.
      Another sign of hope: the Spirit has also been moving in the secular world!  At one of the schools I have taught at, during the Winter Concert and to honor Martin Luther King Jr, the Columbus City School children (K-5 grades) belted out at the top of their lungs an anti-war song from the Isaiah quote above.  Some day these songs will be sung at Catholic school functions too!  
Gonna layyy dowwwn my sword and shield,
Down by the riverside,
Down by the riverside,
Down by the riverside.
Gonna layyy dowwwn my sword and shield,
Down by the riverside,
Ain't gonna stuuuuudy warrrr no morrrre.
I ain't gonna study war no more.
I ain't gonna study war no more.
I ain't gonna stuuuudy warrrr noooo morre.
I ain't gonna study war no more.
I ain't gonna study war no more.
I ain't gonna stuuuudy warrrr noooo morre.
     A final note of hope for the world is the Holy Spirit moving strongly through my family, extended family, and especially through the Catholic Church in Columbus!  In 2017 it is the 50 anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and much of this outpouring and outgrowth of faith in younger people's lives stem from their "old time charismatic" parents and grandparents, myself included!  I am 43 years in the Charismatic Movement and it is far from dead!
    Pope Francis was fairly neutral on this movement until he went to a mass where tens of thousands broke into intense, spirit-filled "tongues" at the consecration.  He felt, "Whooaa, there really is something to this!" He has been very supportive.  Just like when the Apostles and Mary in the upper room called out to receive the Holy Spirit, and His swooshing rush came through, so He does again and again and again.  Dorothy Day had even encouraged to become a part of a charismatic group, as Msgr. Marv Mottet, overseeing this Catholic Worker.
     One last example of hope for the world: the holiness of life of many of my nieces and nephews and children (and their friends).  These are people who love to get to daily mass, like Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, who get to Eucharistic Adoration at least once or twice a week, who pray many rosaries each week, have a fair amount of religious reading, pray a lot, and are very helpful to others. Most have gone several times in the summer to a rural poor Appalachian area in Kentucky/Portsmouth, Ohio with the Appalachia Project for a week.  They build room additions for needy families, fix plumbing, paint, even chop wood for the winter.  It is sort of a mini-Peace Corps right here.
     Nine have served for a 10-month stint with NET, the National Evangelization Team, and one additional one with Christ in the City in Denver, being one with the homeless people on the streets at night.  They are excited for the possibility of this Catholic Worker getting started, to help where they can.
     Six high schoolers have contacted the vocations office to become priests from the east side church where my son, Josh, and my niece Abby (my main caregiver at the Mayo) have been youth ministers for a while.  Heidi and Jotham (niece and nephew) have also been youth ministers there.  Abby recently got married (April 15). Her first date with her husband was last year, at a morning daily mass, followed by a rosary at Eucharistic Adoration.  Rumor has it that their first real kiss was on the altar a year later.  Abby and Matt were recently blessed by Pope Francis, their dream of dreams for a honeymoon.  The Holy Spirit is moving!



 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Touching the Foot of Christ on the Cross: Spring 2016 Newsletter, Special Lenten Issue


 The Lamb Catholic Worker
Touching the Foot of Christ on the Cross
Spring 2016 Lenten Issue

 By Monica Siemer, LCW, Columbus, Oh.  Please pass this along to people!
     I had an out-of-body experience at the Mayo Clinic in early June of 2015 that has taken me this long (almost 8 mos.) to try to capture in words, to attempt to clarify, or even to understand. This intense and alarming experience cannot be subjected to words or boxed into words, which has been part of the delay, as well as illiciting a horror in me of its memory, equaled to a memory of simultaneous intense, agape-love ecstacy, in an almost mystical sense.  I am glad to have delved deeply into St. John of the Cross before (The Ascent to Mount Carmel and Dark Night of the Soul) 3 yrs ago on a 3-week silent retreat, to begin to grasp and digest this incident. 
      Having been nudged for quite a while by the Holy Spirit to try to write about it, the final push was at mass at St. Patrick’s today where we perch on the edge of another beautiful Lenten season.  The Dominican priest, on celebrating the feast of Blessed Catherine Ricci, reminded us of the power of meditating at length on the passion of Christ, particularly of Him on the Cross (one Gospel has this being for six hours, not three) in excruciating, writhing agony, suffering for all of our sins and sinful living, that of the whole world, to set us free.
     Basically, I believe that God allowed me to touch the foot of Christ on the Cross, and for 8-10 seconds, maybe 15, as long as I could stand without letting go, I was allowed to share in SOME of the intense swirling conglomerate of pain and love that enveloped Him during His hours of “defeat” and triumph on the Cross.
     I had once seen a detective show where there was a gory graphic scene of a 20 year old woman who had been nailed to crude cross beams with large nails in her hands and feet, and was found the next day.  It was shocking.  I realized then how I had become somewhat numbed or used to seeing Christ on the Cross and had lost the true sense and appreciation of the intensity and torture of Christ’s torment on the Cross.
     For those who have not read past articles, I had donated 59% of my liver to a relative in end-stages liver disease in a surgery on June 9.  There were complications, then a fully ruptured bowel (technically the secum leading to the colon) and a second emergency surgery performed 4 ½ days later, having to be left somewhat open for several weeks.  The convalescence has been long, with almost six months off of work with many complications, and is still taking place (hence another reason for the delay in this newsletter and writings).
     I will admit that I went to the Mayo as a coward.  I was terrified and did believe that God was possibly asking my life for the sake of The Lamb Catholic Worker to begin here and for Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin’s canonization, besides saving a relative's life.  While I said “yes,” I was more and more scared the closer the date came.  It was not until the very day before surgery that this lessened some, when the Gospel was the same as what I had planned for my funeral, the beatitudes.  This felt as a a gentle nod to me that all was in His hands totally and I could be at peace.  This is not the life anyways, the real life is to come!
     In my weeks leading up to leaving for the Mayo, the fear had become so intense (certainly tangled in  and magnified by menopausal hormones) that I went to The Book Loft in German Village to find any kind of relief in the religious section.  I had gone to MANY Eucharistic Adorations, and they helped to appease it while I was there, but as soon as my foot was outside, it all came flooding back.  More than anything, I was ashamed at how scared I was and wanted to pretend to be brave, or to REALLY BE brave.
     Only two things caught my eye in the few minutes I stayed at the bookstore.  One was simply a book cover that said, “Living Courageously:  You Can Do Anything, Just Do It Afraid.”  That was it!  It IS courageous to do something anyways, even as a scaredy-cat, so I convinced myself. I just wanted to take a big straw and suck His strength and His braveness into me.
       The second thing I found was truly amazing and perfect.  It was a short story of an orphanage during the Korean War.  It had been hit directly by bombing and corrugated metal and parts were everywhere.  Underneath everything was a 4 year old girl with a severed leg, bleeding to death.  The doctors asked all the orphan children that were her blood type if one would come forward and give them their blood or she would die.  A little 6 year old boy finally stepped forward.  They began taking his blood and he started to cry.  He was asked if it hurt and he said no.  They continued and he cried so hard he was wailing.  They stopped and said he did not have to if he was afraid or if it hurt, and he said, “I am NOT afraid, keep going.”  They did and he screamed and screamed. 
     When finished they asked him why he was crying so hard if he was not afraid and it did not hurt much.  He said that he thought he had to give her all his blood, and that he would die instead.  They asked him, “WHY would you do that?!  Why would you be willing to give her all of your blood?”  He said, “She is my friend.”
      I felt God’s grace pour over me that it is okay if I am not this perfect martyr, but a big baby.  As I walked out of the bookstore, a beautiful sight unfolded before my eyes.  The trees, I think Magnolias, were shedding their white, pink-lined blossoms like snow, with no breeze to cause this.  I sat down on the benches to soak it up, the petal-covered ground and pedestal bird feeder looking as a beautiful wedding.  As petals fell on my clothing I thought of the Scripture, from Revelations, that goes something like, “the wedding feast of the Lamb has begun; the bride has made herself ready, adorned with the finest of linen glistening and pure..”
      At the Mayo, I lay in bed one day in particularly excruciating pain.  My memory was after the first surgery but before they had found and acknowledged the perforated secum (ruptured bowel). The pain meds were not cutting it much at all.  I couldn’t pray or use words well in my head.



       Every split second was beyond any pain level I had ever experienced, including five childbirths with no painkillers or epidurals.  I couldn’t even hold up one hand by itself toward God, so I took my hand I was trying to hold up and barely held it up at the wrist, with my other hand. 
       We had been listening daily to a song Abby Evans, my niece and caregiver, kept playing for me called “I Surrender,” by Hillsong (the 12-minute concert version on Youtube is the best).  It goes:
I surrender,
I surrender,
I want to know you, Lord
I want to know you, Lord.
Like a rushing wind,
Jesus breath within,
Lord have your way,
Lord have your way,
Innnn Me.
Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul,
LORD, HAVE YOUR WAAYYY,
LORD, HAVE YOUR WAY,
INNNN, MEEEEEE.”
It gets pretty intense!
       I was trying to sing this song with intensity in my head, and then praying: “Have your way in me, have your way in me, have your way in me, have your way in me,...  You could stop this if you really want to; you must be willing this.  Have your way in me, have your way in me, I say yes, have your way in me. I offer this for the canonization of Dorothy Day!  For the canonization of Peter Maurin!  Then almost screaming in my head too – “I do this for ______’s SALVATION!” (one of my five children who is an atheist).
      That’s when it happened. Eyes closed, with my hand barely pointing upward from my abdomen, I was suddenly touching something warm, round, and slimy, with a sharp-edged metal piece coming out of the top.  I opened my eyes in my mind and it was the foot of Christ on the Cross.  I couldn’t see the other foot, I was in such close proximity.  I looked up and could not even see His knee, the bright blinding light from above was so intense, completely swallowing the entire room.  I was almost instantaneously drawn into an inferno of pain, like fire all over my whole body, wracking, and boiling my skin. Later when I was remembering, I recalled that the most intensity was in my palms and feet.
      Simultaneously, there was a burning in my heart for Christ as I have never experienced, equally as intense as the pain. I felt this ferocious love for me as well, my direction. I could only hold on for probably 8-10 seconds or so, maybe 15, before letting go.  THIS had been 100 times worse than my pain.  When I “came back,” although still in a GREAT deal of pain, I took a nap!  It was NOTHING, nothing in comparison, not even in the same galaxy, as this pain Christ led me through.  Nothing in my life from this point on will ever compare, even if I were to be crucified somehow.  Christ had had the “sins” of the world rip through His wounds and His torture - not just metaphorically, but physically. 
      My love for Him was forever changed, transformed to heights I did not think possible.  It was a gift, a gift. Just brace yourself if you say or sing that you want to really know Him, as in the song, and to have His way in you. It is almost too much for us to bear, his level of love for us. Those who wanted to walk closely right up with Christ, his beloved Apostles, to know Him, love Him dearly as a friend, learn from Him, and follow Him closely, were all martyred, except for Judas Iscariot and John (although his "martyrdom' may have been the worst if he touched Christ's foot as support, but even if not, witnessing what he did!).  These grueling deaths though were after living incredible lives of great joy in the Spirit, building His Kingdom on Earth. Better yet, now they are at His side forever, seeing His beautiful beautiful face, laugh, Spirit.
      In this Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy, perhaps it is a very good time to undergo a genuine and thorough examination of conscience with the following list I created mainly from the 10 Commandments and the 7 deadly sins.  Pope Francis asked each bishop to designate a Holy Door to pass through in this special year, to gain unfathomable mercy.  Fr. Schalk said to try to get to mass, confession, pray for the Pope's intentions, and the rosary (?) all in a five-day window before or after passing through the door.  Fr. Denis Kigozi suggested to make it a "pilgrimage" by going to the 11:45 daily mass at St. Pat's, go to confession there, walk to the cathedral and go through the Holy Door, and walk back to St. Pat's.  It is the door at the far left once inside the front at St. Joseph's Cathedral.
      St. Teresa of Avila, in her book, Interior Castles, humility was needed in all the chambers of our castle, our soul.  We need to revisit it at every room. Self-examination of conscience and constant re-examiniation of conscience (true humility) are at the heart of all virtue.  As St. Teresa said, Humility must always be doing its work like a bee making its honey in the hive:without humility all will be lost […] 
      I think of St. Paul, and after having had a particularly torturous scourging, was singing praises to God even after midnight in the jail, chained heavily (against his wounds in dirt and skin agitation), when the walls shook and the chains fell off everyone.  He stopped the guard from killing himself, and was “cleaned up” at the guard’s house before baptizing him, showing he was quite a mess.  Wow, singing praises in this situation, not knowing his fate too. 

   This is my new motto for 2016, from my niece, Bernadette Rodgers, “Make my sacrifice perfect.”  It goes hand in hand with the Old Testament reading today (Feb. 4), of advice from King David on his deathbed to his son, Solomon: “Take courage and be a man.”  Fr. Schalk shared at the Christ the King Women's Retreat mass how we women are to play that role of Mary - to help men be real men, or man-up.  She nudged Christ to perform His first public miracle at Cana, and to the burly stone jar carriers (that held 20-30 gallons of water) to be ready and "Do whatever He tells you." 
    I hope to no longer be a whining, complaining gal this year, but to be a grown woman in the Lord, ready to act and do His most perfect Will as best as I can, no matter how difficult. Like a Dominican at St. Thomas, my New Year's Resolution is to let God be God and do exactly what He is going to do anyways before I start complaining.  And to try to do it with praise, joy, and peace in my heart, in love and in admiration for Him.  Nothing in this life is more difficult than His suffering on the cross.
In the Benedictine "Collect" prayers for Feb. 6:
"Lord God,
the Cross reveals the mystery of your love:
A stumbling block indeed for unbelief,
but the sign of your power and wisdom to us who believe.
Teach us to contemplate your Son's glorious Passion
that we may always believe and glory in his Cross."
      Why is this taking so long - both for this city to have a bona fide Catholic Worker community and for the Canonization (and recognition) of Dorothy Day (and hopefully Peter Maurin)?  The answer seemed to come to me through St. Thomas Aquinas, and Fr. Blau, at St. Pat's.  St. Thomas pondered why in the world God took so long to come to earth, when he noticed the genealogy of generations before Christ (during Advent readings).  
     Aquinas came up with three reasons for the delay.  First, God wanted to teach His statues, to write His law on their hearts (you know how Christ didn't want everyone blabbing about the miracles for everyone to come running for the show and not for the message and teaching). 2. He wanted to purify His people through long-suffering, endurance, perseverance, etc, and 3. He wanted to herald many times through prophets because it was such a BIG deal. They would know He was from God (and is God).  Who better finally than St. John the Baptist to do this through?
       On that note, I thought, first, God wants to teach people about the Catholic Worker - and people have been given a lot of misinformation.  It is so beautiful, so pure, so modeled after the Early Church!  Second, He wants to purify the Catholic Workers, myself included, back to the original charism, mission, holiness, and living out, of Dorothy Day and Peter Maruin's vision.  This is just as St. Francis and St. Dominic had to call back into focus what it means to be Catholic during their era; moreoever, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross had to call Carmelites back to their original beauty and holiness. 
      Finally, God seems to want to herald this ahead of time for it to truly flower even more in this country, and definitely in this diocese.  FOUR popes praised Dorothy Day from Paul VI who invited her to the Vatican for a special visit and blessing, to Pope John Paul II who opened her cause for canonization, to Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus who spoke of her two different times of day in his final day as pope; and now His beloved servant, Pope Francis in his speech to Congress (when he mentioned her name four times).  So to teach, to purify, and to herald Catholic Worker, according to His most perfect Will, timing, and plans.  God's Will be done, nothing more and nothing less.
           That Harry Hagan! He is a Benedictine monk (so this is his legal name, not his monk name) out of my abbey, the St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana.  He wrote the following hymn in my "Liturgy of Hours for Benedictine Oblates" page 192:
My prayer window at dawn
Resplendent Light  
1. Most splendid and resplendent Light, O Brilliance overwhelming night, You bring to light all things concealed; In You is all the world revealed.
2. True Light and bearer of the Light, True Galaxy beyond our sight, O Morning Star announcing day, Revealing all in just one ray.
3. More glorious than the sun's bright light, And more mysterious than the night; You shine within the inmost heart, Revealing all its secret parts.
4. May our desire with love unite, Our love reveal your purest light. Make us glad temples of your praise, Our lives a mirror of your ways.
5. O Christ, the uncreated Light, To you be glory, praise, and might;  the Father's sole begotten Son, The Spirit's Word: God Three in One.   (c 1999)
GOING   INTO  THE  DESERT WITH CHRIST THIS LENT
There is something about going deep into the desert with Christ this Lent, for forty days and nights, to wrestle with our own demons, head on, like Christ
 To face our temptations and weaknesses squarely,  and bring them all out in detail, as Christ. To sort through them, deal with them, and conquer them, with Christ.
  Demands of Immediate Prayers Answered -  If you are the Son of God, command these stones to turn into bread, Satan said to Jesus.
  Power  and Greed  - I will give you the "world" you want, in power, glory, and grandeur, if you will bow down and worship me, Satan said to Jesus.
  Invincibility and Testing/Doubting of God's True Providence - If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from this high pinnacle of the Temple, for  you claim God will save you, Satan said to Jesus. 
  One must remove oneself from all the noise, people, activity, and distraction of the world and of everyday life this special time of year to go into the harsh conditions of the desert, for a short while.  To hear the voice of God alone, the direction of God alone...
When I was young, and deciding to marry, I went on a 6-day silent retreat to make sure I was not going to become a sister (nun).  On that retreat were two women in their early 50's who had similar early paths.  Both had been asked to marry and both had been in the convent.  One felt called to the religious life and the other, to that of a wife and mother.
  While picking their brains at lunch, quietly of course (they only sat with me once :), they were both insanely contented and happy.  This was the first two-week silent retreat of the sister, but was about the 30th of the mother of nine!  Her husband knew her disposition toward the religious life and agreed to give her a 2-week silent retreat every year of their marriage!  It was an amazing witness to me!  What a witness it is to our own adult children.  What is more important, our health?  Fixing our homes?  A vacation at the beach? 
   Some people dynamite will not even get to a silent retreat, but if you feel the tug by Jesus, 30 minutes away from CK in Columbus, Ohio is the Children of Mary Mother House near Newark.
   If you cannot get away to a deserted place and rest with the Lord, "cultivate silence" as Fr. Schalk always says.  Try to read an entire Gospel each Lent, to truly truly enter into Christ's spirit, Christ's way and manner, His opinions, teachings and even commandments.  He is the Word Made Flesh.  It is Him you embrace when you embrace His Word wholeheartedly.  
     My Grandma Naomi always taught my father from a young boy to be certain to live this, if you live anything in the Bible: "The 10 Commandments and the Red Print."  In her Bible, Christ's words were in red print, when His love ran red. Having been raised Methodist, she knew the words of Christ like the back of her hand, long before Catholics were encouraged to read them on their own and know them.
      In the spirit of Lectio Divina, a deeper way of delving into the New Testament is to read the Gospel each day slowly three times.  Let it, let  Him, seep deeply into your soul.
       
The Vatican Holy Door (left) at St. Joseph's Cathedral, the
other is an outer door there symbolizing the doors we
must go through to get to the Holy Door, like the chambers
 of our soul in St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castles

        I happened to go on an amazing retreat a couple of weeks ago put on my Christ The King, involving about 50 women.  It was entitled "Forgiveness."  In this Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy there comes a time that to receive this amazing mercy from God, you have to know your sins, confess your sins (in a thorough confession), and promise to sin no more, and to FORGIVE OTHERS, extending to others this theme of mercy as well.  
        One cannot receive mercy unless one knows one's sins, admits to them, and makes a conscious effort to "Go and sin no more," as Christ beckoned the woman caught in adultery.  One also cannot expect forgiveness if he or she does not forgive others.
      Here are the ones ("sins") I came up with, similar to the ones on the CK retreat.  They had been cut into individual strips, folded over and stapled so that we could not read them ahead, prayed over, blessed with holy water, and put at the tabernacle table for us to come up and be lead to the one that was meant for us.  Just see which ones jump out at you on the list, you'll know where you are being prompted by the Holy Spirit. 
       The forgiveness stretches to yourself as well.  We can sometimes be the most hard on ourselves and our own mistakes.  While humility is a very good thing, beating oneself up over things can be harmful to our soul.  Sorting through our lives, our priorities, our sin to conquer is difficult and confusing alone, so if you have never had spiritual direction from a priest, this is the year!  This would be a sit down appointment kind of like a confession.  Typically a priest wants to know the whole story of your life, summarized, to begin being your spiritual director.  He will help you toward forgiveness, of others and of yourself - and to receive mercy and direction.  Don't wait.
Holy Door Poster at the Cathedral
Pope Francis asks bishops to deem a
Vatican Holy Door in each Diocese
Lenten Examination of Conscience
Hold. Your. Tongue. A forest fire is begun by one spark of the tongue, as Jesus said.
Careful what you view online or on your cell phone.
Watch gluttony.  Do you eat healthily?  Do you eat too much? Do you waste money on fast food?
What are you lazy with spiritually?  Do  you study scripture daily? Do you pray a couple of regular times per day?  Do you want God to answer your prayers according to His Plan?  
Wrath.  Do you have anger issues -  Even in your thoughts, against people?  Do you harbor grudges and judgments, even little ones?
 Envy/Jealousy - You need to watch and stop harboring jealousy against others.  It is poison. The Pharisees and Sadducees were full of it , as was Saul of the Old Testament and others.  It leads one to hate.
You envy others' abilities and talents.  Stop.  You have just as many and need to manifest them!
Pride - What must you control?  What do you take so much pride in that you have overstepped the bounds of allowing the Holy Spirit to do HIS main part?
Vain Glory - Do you do your part for recognition and praise?  Or do you do it for Christ?  Humility is one of the very best of virtues! Can you take the lowest place and pass the limelight to another?
Do you have a lying tongue?  Do you paint yourself as great and others as less than good?  You ARE great, and so are they!  Gossip creates judgment and disdain in your heart and in the world.
You are stepping too close to sin at times.  Jesus said if you even come near sin it will spring and bite YOU before you know it.  Avoid all near occasions of sin.  It is easy not to sin, just avoid the near occasions.
Sloth - How much time do you lay around or watch TV?  You could live in total grace and freedom by using more time in Scriptures, religious books (like of saints), and at Eucharistic Adoration. (There are at least 3 perpetual adoration chapels 24/7 any day of the week).
Do you honor your father and/or mother?  Grandparents?  Do you visit them and make them feel loved?
Do you covet your "neighbor's" goods, neighbor meaning anyone's? Do you long for material goods you see and do not have, more than you long for a close relationship with God.  Do you work for them more than you work on your relationship with God, spending time with Him?
Beware not to harbor Wrath.  Do you have anger issues -  Even in your thoughts, against people?  Do you harbor grudges and judgments, even little ones? 
"Covet" means only to want. Beware not to covet another's spouse or encouraging the covetousness of yourself by someone else if you and/or they are married to another in the eyes of the Church.
Keep holy the Sabbath. Rest.  Refrain from all work and activity as God commands. Learn from Orthodox Jewish people.
Guard against greed. Risk using and giving more of your income for God, like the poor widow who's last donated coin was the greatest gift to Christ.
Parable of the talents.  Are you hiding yours under a bush?  What gifts and desires do you have that you could use to build the Kingdom for Christ? Do not hide them anymore!
Do you help bring friends and family to holiness in your speech, actions, humor, work place recreation places, home, and faith life?
You're perfect.  You don't have any sin.  :)  Do you have self-deception as to sin in speech you do yourself or participate in?  Does it uplift or bring down?  Does it bring others closer to Christ?
Do you need to forgive more?  Think of the Our Father as saying this: "Forgive me, O Lord, only as much as I forgive everyone."
Stop judging so harshly.  They have issues you know nothing about.  I love them as much as you.
Do you lust after anyone in your heart?  Jesus said that he [or she] who even looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. It could be a man if you are a woman.

Are you impatient or inhospitable at times with people?  At work, home, with friends and family?  Do you show impatience?  Jesus said that you are nothing but a noisy gong or clanging cymbal if you do not have love, which is first and foremost, patient and kind.
      
         This retreat (on Forgiveness) was amazing for those of us who have suffered greater hurt, pain, and scarring than the average person.  The best one-liners I found are below.  I hope they help you!
Forgiveness
Christ the King Women's Retreat  Jan. 15-17  2016

Forgiveness is the basis of every relationship.
We do our forgiveness alone; what happens to the people we forgive is up to them.
The 1st person to benefit from forgiving is the one who does it.
We forgive what they do, the sin is what they do and not for what they are.
Choosing forgiveness is a decision.
One definition of forgiveness is willingness to abandon one's right to resentment, revenge, grudges, etc..
WE DO THE FORGIVENESS IN OUR HEARTS -- WE DON'T EVEN HAVE TO TELL THEM.                   [This was very very freeing for me!]
FORGIVENESS IS A JOURNEY:
 --- THE WORSE THE PAIN AND HURT, THE LONGER IT TAKES
--- THE DEEPER THE WOUND, THE LONGER IT TAKES
WE DON'T FORGIVE BECAUSE WE ARE SUPPOSED TO,
WE FORGIVE BECAUSE WE ARE READY TO BE HEALED.
IT DOES NOT MEAN WE HAVE TO TRUST THEM.  [Freeing!]
WAITING FOR THEM TO SAY THEY'RE SORRY TO BEGIN TO FORGIVE IS SURRENDERING THEM POWER.  WE DON'T WANT TO GIVE THEM THAT.             [Freeing!]
When we forgive, we set a person free - us!  we walk in stride with a forgiving God.
When we forgive we rediscover humanity.
When we forgive we surrender our thought to get even, and we wish them well.
Forgiveness is for you, not the person you are forgiving.
You become a hero instead of a victim.
Forgiveness does not let anybody off the hook, does not excuse poor behavior.
Forgiveness does not mean denying or minimizing the pain.  You don't have to give up your feelings.
To forgive does not mean you have to get back into a relationship with them.    Reconciliation is different than forgiveness.        [whew!]
It's okay to avoid those who cause us to sin, or at least lead us at times toward sin.  We can steer around them, when possible.  We can forgive them and avoid them, and this is a loving and faith-filled thing to do.
Grievance Story - We all have one.  Something we tell ourselves over and over again about what a person did or what we did.  A gripe or complaint. Some for decades.  Let it go!  They don't even remember it. 
Grievance Stories are blame stories of when we get frustrated that certain things don't or didn't happen. We don't let it go.  Do you have a grievance story?
We have many assumptions that people can't or don't live up to, unforseeable rules.  What unforseeable rule are you living by, that really isn't fair?  People commit things you consider a mistake by your rules, but it is not always a mistake at all. 
forgiveness shows strength,
it is not a weakness.
Someone else is not responsible for our feelings: "You made me so mad," this is not possible.  we make ourselves mad over something.  Instead of saying, "I want this_______ or this person to be different!" We can say, "I hope and pray this _______ will be different."  We have to pray more for them, with hope.
If you are in disagreement with someone in your family and wish to reconcile, each of you should write a letter to the other.  "I forgive you for ____," and "Please forgive me for ______."
Forgiving ourselves: We need to practive self-forgiveness before we can offer forgiveness.  We can be hardest on ourselves. Do we have to be perfect?
If we can accept the truth that we are forgiven, and not live with guilt and shame, we would really be free, and our freedom allows us to forgive others.           Henri Nouwen
YOU CAN'T GIVE AWAY WHAT YOU DON'T HAVE.
Jesus said, "Let anyone who is without sin cast the first stone," and "neither do I condemn you now go and sin no more."
Holy Door Experience and the Miracle at this retreat! Hold Your Tongue.  
St. Maria Goretti, brutally stabbed to death at 12 by a young worker on the farm who was attempting to take advantage of her, chose, before her death two days later, to forgive him.  He had no remorse until she came to him later in a dream and handed him 14 day-lillies, one for each of the stab wounds. Though the rest of her siblings had to be put in an orphanage, the mother also forgave him.  After serving nearly a lifetime in prison, he came out and served a small role in a religious order.  If she can forgive the man who brutally killed her, a child, and her mother forgive him, than you can forgive ANYTHING. 
Prayer Spot Wall Reflection 
 Here is another inspirational lenten gift to you!
Sacred Heart Convocation  Oct. 31, 2015, St. Catharine's
Fr. Stash Daley's Exerpts:
"He wants to enter into the heat and humidity of our humanity.
Silence is the Lord's language.
The Lord is always with us.  He walks with us, runs with us.
Crawls with us.
What fluctuates is our receptiveness,
our listening to His voice,
and our attentiveness to Him.
The one constant though, is that Jesus is always with us.
We need to pay attention to Him.
We need to offer our children up to Him [Hannah in the Temple with Samuel?].
One tragedy:  Thinking that the way we are now is as good as it gets.
He has a love that is COMPLETELY UNCONDITIONAL.
St. Mary Margaret was saddened by how much everyone around her had self-hate,
and that the self-hate was bigger than the love of Christ.
She knew this was wrong.
We have such brokenness.  Overwhelmed with trying to self-diagnose, ...
instead of giving it over to the Lord.
We need each other,
as witnesses,
to help each other.
Blow up at Him before someone else.
I take all the bills and put them at the tabernacle, and say,
'You want this house, you pay the utilities.'
He gave a story about how the gas was turned off for the sisters, but the gas man came somewhat miraculously...
DO NOT WORRY!   LOVE!
The Lord offers peace to our homes.
Highlight saying, 'Thank You, Lord,' 'Praise you Lord!' throughout your
whole day.
The Lord will provide.
As we draw closer and closer to Jesus Christ there will  be pushback.
We modern Christians have become lame, ...
jump ship to another if everything does not work out the way we thought.
The evil one whispers, 'You are alone.'
Don't preach Christ, LOVE HIM,
 LISTEN to HIM at Eucharistic Adoration.
If you want a home in His heart,  make His heart in your home." 
Happenings of the Lamb:
Martin Luther King III and I at the MLK Memorial Awards
Dinner, January, 2016, Columbus, Ohio
(Great pacifist like his father!)
Fr. Brune and I at our Oblate Epiphany party. If
you had candy in your cake, you became
a "king" and helped pass out presents.
--- Yes, we are still praying fervently for the canonization of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin!  Please, Pope Francis, please!  I was able to hear an amazing talk by Martin Luther King III in January (yes, a full beautiful pacifist like his father!) to an audience of over 700 teachers.  Talk about forgiveness!  His father was assassinated when he was ten (doing beautiful things for the world) and his grandmother was brutally gunned down playing an organ in church when he was 15!  He chose to forgive, in the name of his father and his grandmother who taught him that (along with his grandfather).  He chose only to love and to forgive. What an influence we parents and grandparents have on virtue and holiness!  The opposite is true to - what an influence we have in supporitng "justified homicide" in war, where some human life is deemed not sacred or made in God's image and likeness.  I asked him and he is considering to write a letter to Pope Francis himself to please go ahead and canonize Dorothy Day.  Pray! 
         Interesting how history may be made in the regular activity of going to a normal teacher event, a MLK dinner put on by our union, and by chance meeting MLK III who may help spurn on this canonization.  Great things can be underway in normal everyday circumstances, as Fr. Blau pointed out during Advent - how God Himself came into the world in such an unimpressive way as a little poor baby.  God's big movements are in the ordinary; some small gesture or normal natural event can be God's grandest movement.
         Funny also how I may end up being the miracle needed to canonize both Dorothy and Peter since I relied heavily on their intercession through all of this. Nearly or all of those undergoing this risky and dangerous live liver donor surgery - and require a second emergency surgery - usually die, according to the research of those at the Transplant House.  Part of the reason is that the large right lobe of my liver donated to my relative was sliced from top to bottom, an open-face thin section of it, to grow it back.  I had thought it had to be cut off at the base, or blood vessels, like a bush trunk.  My relative was given the giant piece, open-faced as well, to grow another large right lobe, to have enough to live on (he is much taller than I am). 
      The risk of infection is high without complications, being that bile is produced in the liver, with its own drainage system, and things get mixed that should not be.  I gave him half my bile ducts as well.  If bacteria, etc, and infection do get into the blood stream, more often than not it is fatal. The difficulty though is finding stats on this rare surgery, since they do not need to report as with other medical items.  There is a 1 in 200 to 1 in 300 chance of dying for the donor always, according to the program at the Mayo, in cases with no surgical complications.
---  I want to thank everyone for all the prayers that helped pull Nick and I through this summer and fall!  We could not have without you!  Special thanks to my caregiver at the Mayo, Abbie Evans.  Words cannot describe how amazing and constant her love, kindness, and muscle work was at the hospital!  Especially the big lift to get me out of bed, not splitting open my extensive (11 in.) abdominal stitches when I was massively swollen.  It was grueling for her and there is a special place in heaven for her! She worked off all her Purgatory time!  Also a deep heartfelt thanks goes to my dear sister, Lisa, who went through quite a lot between her son and her sister at the Mayo and after!  
--- I have put together a Lamb Catholic Worker Library of many Catholic Worker, social justice, and peace books, with many also about the lives of the saints, richly Catholic ones, and deeply spiritual books for the borrowing.  If you would like to donate any, please do!  Thanks Egle Weiland!
--- Yes, we are still in need of workers, money, properties, and the like.  Good news, my basement is ready to take in a homeless family as soon as I find a wonderful worker in the field.  Beg the Harvestmaster for more workers, as Christ said.  
--- I am in my final few months of my novitiate to become a Third Order Benedictine (Benedictine Oblate) in April out of the St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana.  Dorothy Day was a Benedictine Oblate, and many Benedictine monasteries and abbeys of monks are praying for her canonization.


Clare Schaefer-Duffy, a life-long Catholic Worker who,
 with her husbnad, Scott, raised four children in their CW
survives a massive limb falling on her small car with her in it!
The split gigantic limb fell around her body, not hurting her.  
Take Up Thy Cross

Take up thy cross, the Savior said,
If thou wouldst my disciple be;
Deny thyself, the world forsake,
And humbly follow after me.

Take up thy cross, let not its weight
Fill thy weak spirit with alarm;
His strength will bear thy spirit up,
And brace thy heart and nerve thine arm.

To Thee, great Lord, the One in Three,
All praise for evermore ascend;
O grant us in our home to see
the heav'nly life that knows no end. Amen

From the Liturgy of the Hours for Benedictine Oblates, St. Meinrad Archabbey, P. 184