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Monday, July 11, 2016

Pacifist Scripture: Convicting and Compelling on the Feast of St. Benedict

Summer Newsletter 2016,  Lamb Catholic Worker 
                                                     By Monica,  The Lamb Catholic Worker, Columbus, Ohio

     In the Divine Office Liturgy of the Hours for today, on the feast of St. Benedict (Dorothy Day was a Benedictine Oblate) is the following prophecy from Isaiah - the build-up lends to its power and truth:

"In the days to come,
the mountain of the Lord's house
shall be the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.

All the nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
'Come, let us climb the Lord's mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.'

For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against 
nor shall they train for war again.

O house of Jacob come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!"
                                  - Isaiah 2:2-5

 The link below is partly an interview with Tom Siemer (Monica's Father) promoting beating our drone "swords" into plowshares:         

       On this feast of my beloved St. Benedict, the "Father of Western Monasticism," there is so much to be appreciated in his message and way of life.  A key snippet on the walls of most Catholic Worker Houses is his concept of "Ora et Labora," the balance between work and prayer.

       In preaching at Christ the King this morning, Fr. Sylvester spoke of how St. Benedict wanted all to not only live this balanced life but to remove distractions of all kinds in order to do so.  We have to nurture our inward life, nurture the love we have for Jesus and our devotion to Him. In the Benedictine Oblate booklet mailed to me during Lent (in preparation for my oblation) entitled, "Clothed, in the New Self, Christ is All in All," Fr. Adrian Burke, OSB, also adds to be true to your true self in part, by stripping off the old self with its practices (becoming dead to sin), being "renewed in knowledge according to the image of the Creator," and putting on Christ, or as he quotes Thomas Merton: putting on our "true self in Christ."

       Some of the subtitles speak of Benedictine spirituality in this powerful booklet, "Benedictine Life is Life in Christ" are the following:" "Prayer in Solitude," "Praise and Thanksgiving," "Detach, Detach, Detach!" "Humility -- Our Truth," "Benedictine Self-realization," "The Pattern of Our Life," "Retreat to Prayer," "Return to Service," "Blessed are the Peacemakers," "Pax," "and "If You Would be my Disciple."  Also, our "motto" for Benedictine Oblates is: "Seeking God in Everyday Life," and I would add, all day long. During a recent confession with an older wise priest, he told me to: "Cultivate serenity and staying always in the presence of God, every minute of every day, in everything."  These traits and virtues are more than evident in Dorothy Day, a Benedictine Oblate.

      Here is a gem under "Pax": "Devout Christians don't go out to make peace, ... Rather, we go inward to receive it, to find it, and then having found it, to share it outwardly with the world by radiating that peace ..." (p. 15). Our dear Fr. Meinrad Brune, Director of Benedictine Oblates out of the St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana, described in a lenten letter a beautiful tradition that he shared with neighbors while growing up that seems to me analagous to the spiritual (and material!) clearing out necessary.

     "When my two older brothers and I were boys, there were three families on our block who would help each other to do 'spring cleaning.'  We would spend a day at each of the three houses.  Mothers and children would all have to help.  The fathers (before they left for work) would move out all the mattresses, carpets, and rugs to be aired out in the fresh air.  Once those things were removed, we began a thorough cleaning of the entire house....  cleansing and simplifying [and I would add organizing and freeing ones life!]." 

        I cannot imagine that openness to allow others to experience the inner clutter, grime, and science specimens in the deepest recesses of each others' homes, amazing!  How accepting and freeing this whole experience must have been! How HOLY!  It would be a great annual tradition.

             In the spirit of Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, St. Francis of Assissi, and Pope Francis, my teensy attempt at becoming more poor is to try, to TRY, to go a year without a car.  I have already gone about two months, borrowing cars to drive at times.  I am stopping this as well.  If I cannot get a ride somewhere, I simply will not go.  I look forward to the day of embracing "Lady Poverty," as Peter Maurin called it, or "voluntary poverty" as it is sometimes called.  Dorothy always said, "If you can get used to bedbugs and lice, you can do the Catholic Worker!"  I don't want to go that far yet!

"We would have no poverty in the world,
if everyone tried to become the poorest."
                            -- Peter Maurin
       The frustration level has been high and this in my summer off as a teacher! It will be much more of a challenge in the school year but I work probably less than 2 miles from home, and most of my world is this far away as well. There are bus lines though, and a spectacular sturdy bike my sister Lisa gave me last year.   Already I feel so much more healthy, more alive and one with nature all around me, and more spiritually hungry.  We'll see if it lasts!

        The spiritual clearing is even more critical for an Oblate or for anyone. A very Benedictine thing to do is to draw oneself inward, where God truly is, to attempt to catch that wisp of smoke, deliberate attuneness to that still small voice of God as described in the Old Testament. Eucharistic Adoration before our actual Savior Himself is one of the greatest quiet, holy places for this, going into the desert with only God, as Christ did. 

        I am not talking about reading or praying set prayers during this time.  Challenge yourself to have nothing to read (bring pen and paper to write!) and of pouring one's heart out, one's deepest longings, fears, praises, desires, inspirations, ...  If you have never stayed for two or three or more hours (my favorite), it is sooo worth it!  This is not wasted time!  Also, it is much more of a "Desert Father" experience when so much can truly, truly come from the deep recesses within, bubbling up to the surface perhaps for the first time.  "Be still ..."

      In the Divine Office book of "Christian Prayers," pp. 2028-2029, St. Augustine writes the following: 

      "To pray for a longer time is not the same as to pray by multiplying words, as some people suppose.  Lengthy talk is one thing, a prayerful disposition which lasts a long time is another.  For it is even written in reference to the Lord himself that he spent the night in prayer and that he prayed at great length [off before dawn, going alone by the wayside]. Was he not giving us an example by this?"  and "To spend much time in prayer is to knock with a persistent and holy fervor at the door of the one whom we beseech.  This task is generally accomplished more through sighs than words, more through weeping than speech.  He places our tears in his sight, and our sighs are not hidden from him ..."

       I admit that I have been perplexed at exactly how the Holy Spirit wants me to pray for exceedingly important things, when surrender, receptiveness and submission to the Will of the Father feels the opposite of pressing or begging God for this or that.  These yearnings, pleading, and crying out seem indeed, acceptable, though when we always end the sentence, as Jesus modeled, with  "not my will but Thy Will be done." 

      St. Padre Pio put it this way:  When we die, we will be presented, in a gold chalice, all of our tears."  He also said that when he dies, his real mission will begin!  So I ask about 30 people from heaven to pray with me and for me every  time I sit down to pray at length in any way (even mass).  He's working for my prayers, calling down the Holy Spirit upon me, to pray in the manner that God wants, and not through my feeble attempts. 

     A final note on passionate prayer is from St. Claude de la Colombiere in the book, Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence (p. 117-118)

       "If after a year we find  that our prayer is as fervent as it was at the beginning, then we need not doubt about the success of our efforts, and instead of losing courage after so long a delay, we should rejoice because we can be certain that our desires will be all the more fully satisfied for the length of time we have prayed."

      And "...it took St. Monica (;) sixteen years to obtain the conversion of Augustine, but the conversion was entire and far beyond what she had prayed for. ...Think what would have happened had she given up hope after a couple of years, after ten or twelve years, when ... her son grew worse instead of better (118) ... " Your every word is numbered and what you receive will be in the measure of the time you have spent asking.  Your treasure is piling up and suddenly one day it will overflow to an extent beyond your dreams (119).."  She had prayed for Augustine to stop being promiscuous and he embraced chastity.  She begged that he come back into the Catholic Church and witnessed him  becoming a bishop!  She was desperate that he turn from his heretical ways and he became a pillar of the Church, defending it in numerous ways. 

     It continues: "Why he should ask us to pray, when he knows what we need before we ask him, may perplex us if we do not realize that our Lord and God does not want to know what we want (for he cannot fail to know it) but wants rather to exercise our desire through our prayers, so that we may be able to receive what he is preparing to give us.  His gift is very great indeed, but our capacity is too small and limited to receive it.  That is why we are told: Enlarge your desires, do not bear the yoke of unbelievers.  The deeper our faith, the stronger our hope, the greater our desire, the larger will be our capacity to receive that gift, which is very great indeed. ... We pray always with unwearied desire. ... The more fervent the desire, the more worthy will be its fruit.  ... The Apostles tell us 'pray without ceasing'."
Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of St. Teresa de Lisieux
(far right) cultivated deep prayer lives in their many daughters
 - five became religious sisters- getting up at 5:00 for daily mass 
         One risks, like Christ, in quiet time of solitude with Christ in Eucharistic Adoration, the stark aloneness, nothingness but our thoughts, our being, with our Maker.  One also experiences the appreciated immense filling up of the soul, as a driving thunderstorm in an arid desert. The contrast lends to the experience, the seeking God's face, God's voice, the voice of the Beloved. 

        Dorothy Day seems to paint eloquently what happens when one emerges:
    "...the seeds in the desert, the seed scattered by the solitary, Charles de Foucauld, those who go out into all the poverty-stricken places in the world and work for their daily bread and live the life of a contemplative in the world....and the greatness means the overcoming of temptation and laying down one's life for one's fellows ... the victory of love over hatred and mistrust." (from a column of Dorothy's reprinted in "The Catholic Radical," Worchester).

       One cannot speak of poverty without the life witness of the saint of whom our beloved Pope Francis is named after:  St. Francis of Assissi.  His life legacy of living in poverty is well-described in his article on the Catholic Encyclopedia website.  From a former seminarian who nearly became a Franciscan Brother Minor, he said that Francis, like Dorothy Day, was torn between the contemplative life with his intense communion with God (ecstaties that would render him like a corpse, the stigmata, or actual physical wounds of Christ in the hands, feet, and side, etc) and with the active life, going out to preach, take care of the sick, etc. 

      The story goes that he was so torn that he asked God for two different people from different places to give him an answer to this question for his life, because he was far more drawn to the contemplative life than to the active one.  Sure enough, God sent two separate people to say the same thing to him clearly - that he is to have the active life among people, among the wider Church, so in dire need of his way of holiness in that era. St. Francis' way of life so surpassed what was known that even members in his own order tried to have him kicked out of it! He was pressed and pressed to have a rule, and he finally came up with this: "Yes, here is my rule - the folly of the Cross."   

    One reason why the picture above is one of my favorites is because, like Christ, his life was not easy at all as shown!  It was far far more stressful and challenging than we can imagine.  It even looks as though he has an eye infection, his clothes are very tattered, there is a certain sadness in his eyes.  Yet, like Christ, his radical love and humility was and were so far beyond those around him, that he was misunderstood, rejected, and sometimes even hated.  This, we would say, is what we are seeking most at The Lamb Catholic Worker:  contemplatives reverently loyal to their Catholic Church (Bride of Christ) and to the Chair of St. Peter, Pope Francis, willing to embrace voluntary poverty in the deep inner city (and/or on a Catholic Worker sister farm).  Like Dorothy Day, we are hoping for those willing to look beyond the judgment and flaws of others to see only Christ, to have eyes and ears for His voice alone in the poor. 

    Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta once put it this way:

"We have done
so much with so little,
for so long,
we now deserve
to do everything
with nothing."

 Happenings of the Lamb     

    Well, nothing to tell in terms of taking in the homeless yet.  There are very interested people though, more so than in a while!  Come Lord Jesus.  St. Francis of Assissi once said, "Sanctify yourself and you sanctify society."  That's what I am sticking to right now as I go back to D.C. for another few weeks to take care of my Dad.

      On a very positive note, more and more people are beginning to take on as part of their way of life, besides daily mass and rosary, the Divine Office of the priests.  Eleven people were praying it together in the Guadalupe Chapel at Christ the King after the 7:00 mass a week and a half ago.  Fr. Coleman encourages every single person to do so in many many homilies, that we are a priestly people needing this to keep us following Christ faithfully.  It also has a beautiful prayer for every single morning, the Gospel Canticle of Zechariah (St. John the Baptist's father) which ends: ".. and guide our feet into the way of peace."  It's right there!  Some who pray this still guide our feet into the way of war, but perhaps if many more people do so, we will indeed create more "John the Baptists" (the Canticle of Zecharia is one addressed to the infant John the Baptist), heralding Christ and guiding "our feet into the way of peace."

      I will also say that any parts of the Old Testament within the Divine Office that seem to contradict Christ's message and way (as he contrasted many ways of old with His new way - "...before it was an eye for an eye,.. but now I say love your enemies..."), I substitute in my heart what Christ would say consistent with His words and actions.  For example instead of praying, "... in the Lord's name I crushed them," I pray "in the Lord's name I pray for them" as Jesus commanded and modeled to do with our enemies.

       Keep the prayers coming strong for The Lamb Catholic Worker!  I feel we are on the brink.  Pray for Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin's canonization too!  Also pray, on this feast of St. Benedict, for more Third Order Benedictines, or Benedictine Oblates, like Dorothy Day.  Amazingly, you can be as young as fifteen and it is inter-denominational (it's true!).  St. Benedict, pray for us!

       When I get to whining about all the walking and trips by bike I have to make, I think of the Montgomery Bus Boycott which entailed well over a year of walking almost everywhere for people who had to perform hard labor each day too.  This was bravely undertaken in order to end the discrimination laws on buses.  Women older than myself would sometimes walk for almost two hours to work, clean all day, and walk home again!  The task was daunting amidst deaths and many many threats.  They pushed onward though, healthier, stronger, and more determined with each passing day partly because they walked so much!

          I also think of Harriet Tubman, the Moses of the people, who went back into the deep south 17 times - mostly by foot - to bring people to freedom, to "set the captives free." This was with a $50,000 bounty on her head, a serious ankle issue from youth and black outs from a heavy weight that had been thrown at her head while defending a young  man about to be whipped. She said, "I freed a thousand slaves and I would have freed a thousand more if they knew they were slaves."  Pray for us Harriet!  We, like you, want to "set the captives free," especially those who only know captivity (who do not realize they are enslaved).

      By the way, my ESL student Michael and I wrote a compelling letter, dated Dec. 18, 2014, to President Barack Obama to have Andrew Jackson removed immediately from the twenty dollar bill.  Three months later a new organization sprung up called Women on the Twenty.  I believe it was Michael's letter and push that someone saw and ran with, personally, and we are excited, even if he never gets the credit!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Orlando: Nonviolent Readings Amidst Violence and Media Coverage

By Monica  The Lamb Catholic Worker, Columbus, Ohio

     Today, there was an article buried in the ninth page of the Washington Post at the bottom of the page that most people would not necessarily read.  At first I did not want to read about the mentality of sometimes sociopathic people entitled, "Displaced Hatred of Self Can Push People to Massacres, Psychologists Say."  Yet I did read it and was shocked by several details or actual evidential dialogue of this gunman that have somehow been left out of the nearly continuous repetitive coverage of this horrific evening.

     Patience Carter, a survivor of Sunday's early hour shootings, held hostage by Mateen in the club bathroom, "heard him talking to 911 saying the reason why he's doing this is because he wants Americans to stop bombing his country."  Most Americans have never and probably will never see this statement.  CNN did report this briefly as well, but nobody has seemed to inquire, "What bombings?  Isn't the war over?"

     Nothing can justify this grisly massive crime in Orlando - the end never justifies the means when it comes to murdering, or killing, any person for any and every reason.  Dorothy Day put it this way:  "No person has the right to choose the life or death of another person."  Sacred Scriptures emphasize that God alone is the sole Author of all life and death.  Moreover, we Catholics and those of most Christian churches believe that all human life is genuinely sacred, even from the first second we are conceived.

     This man seemed to demonize a collective group of people, for whatever reason he had conjured in his self-righteous mind, crossing the line to kill many.  In the midst of this, another piece of evidence was left out from the many broadcasts and coverage.  Carter also said he asked, "'Is there any African Americans in the club bathroom?' When one man answered yes, the gunman responded back to him saying, 'You know, I don't have a problem with black people.  This is about my country.  You guys have suffered enough.'" These pieces of courtroom evidence (what was done, said, what weapons were used, etc.) are valuable in truly understanding the complicated mind of this man who chose to kill and hurt over 100 people.

       Even though this may cast a hint of a compassionate light on this man who seemed to have a trace of empathy toward a burdened group of people (African Americans), in addition to anger, revenge, and frustration over the continuous drone bombings in his and other Middle Eastern countries by the U.S., the massacre itself is no doubt a terribly tragic event against the gay population that deserves unequivocal condemnation. 

        The timing of this horrific event, especially in light of these two comments of the gunman, is why I am writing this article. Literally hours after my second of two peaceful witnesses in two days, one in front of the White House, and one in front of the CIA grounds, against the bloody continuous drone bombings in the Middle East, this unspeakable massacre occurs.

       When I saw what the gunman's first words were of his call to 911, what came to my mind immediately for some reason was, "Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword." Even though this gunman acted alone, and their maybe no connection whatsoever to his country, etc, I can't help but think of larger scale action against many more people potentially.  Who will be the first to say "NO!" to killing people?

Represent prisoners at our Guatanamo Bay Detention Center
where torture is used.

    Malala Yousafzai, the Muslim girl-turned-peace advocate who had been shot in the head by the Taliban promoting education for girls has begged President Obama to stop the drone bombings that more often than not turn Middle Easterners toward terrorists to get it to stop.  She is obviously not doing this to protect a terrorist group such as ISIS or the Taliban because if anyone would be against them, it would be her, having been seriously injured by them. Many innocent people have been killed along with the questionable targets of our drone program.  It is an undeclared covert war without officially declaring war.  And many people, including the news media, do not know that it continues. These people have nowhere to turn.

     It is only a matter of time before drones will somehow be a threat to all of us in the future, such as with drug cartel leaders, gangs, or any targeted person or people that are in the demonized category and deemed worthy of death. This is not solely if they get into the "wrong" hands, but since it appears perfectly fine to incinerate people with these deadly guided missiles inside the drone aircraft, there truly is no telling what and how they will be utilized in the near or distant future here.

Washington Post Wed. June 15, 2016
       These are not tiny drones floating around stadiums to cover professional ball games, but fairly large jets and rockets equipped with multiple large guided missiles to blow up targeted people, groups of people, buildings, and whole areas, just as in war.   If they do indeed get into the wrong hands, whose to "morally" stop them from their choice of use, since we do the exact same thing arbitrarily?  Should a Catholic ever be part of these deadly "video games" creating genuine bloody carnage, devastation, and desperation?

       The following link or Youtube site is of Hispan TV coverage of drone bombing protests around the world by the U.S., including a June protest at the CIA headquarters, which Monica and her father, Tom Siemer, attended.

 Here is the link/site (if the link will not open):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqXLR0GZrac

We prayed at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C.

            The other notable timing is of the "harder" teachings of Christ on nonviolence and love of enemy that have shown up in the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) of all Roman Catholic Priests and others, as well as in our daily mass readings.  These began literally the day after the shootings as everyone ponders the impact, meaning, and Christian response of this killing spree.

         Monday, June 13 in the Divine Office (in the Christian Prayers, p. 869): Isaiah 2; 2-5 [Note - the build up to the quote lends to its power and truth]:

"In the days to come,
the mountain of the Lord's house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.

All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
'Come, let us climb the Lord's mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.'

For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.

O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!"

Monday, June 13, in the Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:38-40:
"Jesus said to his disciples, 'You have
heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, a tooth
for a tooth.'  But I say to you,
offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right
cheek, turn the other to him as well ..."

Tuesday, June 14, in the Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:43-48:
"Jesus said to his disciples: 'You have heard
that is was said, 'You shall love your neighbor
and hate your enemy,'  but I say to you,
love your enemies and pray for those who
persecute you, that you may be children
of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun
rise on the bad and good alike and causes
rain to fall on the just and unjust ...
... So be perfect, just as your heavenly
Father is perfect."
Tom Siemer (Monica's Father) and Rita Clark D'Escoto
       If this does not inspire, please go on You Tube and listen to "Good, Good Father" by Chris Tomlin.  It describes the love the Father has for us all, for every single unique person the world over, each made in His image and likeness whose soul is  a brilliant rare diamond that no sin can diminish.
     Jesus said that if the Father lavishes rain and sun on the good and bad alike, so great is His love for all then who are we not to love all, even our enemies?

Good Good Father
  by Chris Tomlin

Oh, I've
a thousand stories
of what
think you're like
But I've

the tender whisper
of love
the dead of night
And you tell me
that you're pleased
And that I'm
never alone

You're a good, good Father
It's who you are,
It's who you are, 
It's who you are
And I'm loved by you
It's who I am, 
It's who I am, 
It's who I am

Oh, and I've

searching for
and wide
But I

all searching
for answers 
only you
can provide
Cause you know
just what we need
before we

say a word

You're a good, good Father
It's who you are,
It's who you are, 
It's who you are
And I'm loved by you
It's who I am, 
It's who I am, 
It's who I am

'Cause you are perfect
in all of your ways
You are perfect
in all of your ways
You are perfect
in all of your ways
to us

You are perfect
in all of your ways
You are perfect
in all of your ways
You are perfect
in all of your ways
to us

Oh, it's love
I can
Hardly speak
I can
hardly think

As you call

deeper still,
 As you call
deeper still,
As you call
deeper still
into love,

You're a good, good Father
It's who you are,
It's who you are, 
It's who you are
And I'm loved by You
It's who I am, 
It's who I am, 
It's who I am

You're a good, good Father
(You are perfect 
in all of your ways)
It's who you are,
it's who you are,
it's who you are
And I'm loved by you
(You are perfect in all of your ways)
It's who I am,
It's who I am,
It's who I am

       Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, in his book,
Toward the Future describes the "Omega Point
of Man," or culmination of a collective "spiritual
evolution" of mankind that has been building and
growing throughout all of time, heightening higher
and higher, bettering all of us in the area of
conscience, morality, and spiritual
clarity and action.  It climaxes at the Omega Point,
where we will be more like the Father,
more perfect.
     He does believe though that this Omega Point of Man in the continuum will coincide with the Parousia Point of salvation history. This is not to cause one to panic or become afraid, but to know that this level of love and conscious living like Christ will indeed come and it will be beautiful.  If you have never seen the movie, "Ghandi" you should consider it.  We just did here and he makes a strong point placed at the very end of the movie, that resonated what Christ would say as well.  He points out the lesson that throughout history, no matter how cruel, ruthless, and powerful a tyrant or country, they always eventually fade away, and good always, always triumphs, even in this life.  Beyond this life though, which lasts but a blink, the very ending of all, as foretold in Revelations, is also jubilously happy!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

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

       By Monica, The Lamb Catholic Worker, Columbus, Ohio.
       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 9 years ago about both a movie screenplay I had written and 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!"
       The Tablet, a Catholic online magazine, posted this in Rev. Berrigan's obituary:

"Dan Berrigan died on the feast day of St Catherine of Siena. Like Catherine, he had been a warrior against war. 'We do not see how much harm there is to souls and dishonour to God in war,' Catherine would say. 
Rev. Richard McSorley, S.J. (Monica's mentor) and Rev. Daniel Berrigan, S.J.
         [The above picture was taken by Monica of Rev. Richard McSorley, S.J. and Rev. Daniel Berrigan, S.J. at the Pacem en Terris award given to Berrigan at the Georgetown Center for Peace Studies in the early 1980'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.  Fr. McSorley's most famous quote, on posters across the U.S. in Catholic pacifist circles, has been:  "It's a Sin to Build a Nuclear Weapon."  Dad also 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 disobedience 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.  Because they helped me, hopefully this data will help the canonization process for both of them.
   Below is a picture Abby took of me last summer at the Mayo.  She was my caregiver who was truly put through the ringer day and night!  This was especially so when she had to keep a secret that I was to die, I believed, offering my life for Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin's canonization (coming through someone else) and for the Lamb Catholic Worker  to begin in Columbus.  

              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, fatigue, and most of all, doubt of many around him (and probably of himself at times).  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 and his followers.  Yes, these principalities truly do exist and the spiritual battle is going on constantly all around us.  We do indeed need tools as channels of God's protection, to keep us from spiritual harm.  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.

      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!