Thursday, September 28, 2017

In Honor of My Father, Tom Siemer, My Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Tom Siemer Self-Portrait with Greek Sailor Hat

Another Self-Portrait, Tom Siemer 

Dad put this in the paper Summer 2017

     You may copy this, sign it, and send it.  This is my father's last big hurrah, for those who have known him in his peace work for the last 40+ years!  He already has gotten this out to the Catholic world this summer, but I am helping him too!  Thanks Dad!  Pray for us!

One of Dad's many protest signs

Tom Siemer's painting of Dorothy Day

Added to this article Oct. 7, 2017  :  
        A group ICAN (the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) won the Nobel Peace Prize, announced yesterday, Oct. 6, see below.  Also, this group has begun a campaign to ban nuclear weapons in the world, and on Sept. 21, a high level Vatican diplomat at the United Nations signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in the name of Vatican City (and country), one of three countries to endorse or sign this.  This was after my father had a paid advertisment in a large Catholic paper!  Thank you, dear Holy Papa, for sticking your neck out for peace in the world!  Thanks, Dad!! Our daily rosaries that Mother Mary asked at Fatima "for world peace" are working!
       THIS FRIDAY there will be a BEAUTIFUL mass at St. Catharine Church (503 S. Gould) and procession of Mary to Christ the King Church.  That will last about 45 minutes and will be in Spanish and English. This Friday is the anniversary of the "Miracle of the Sun" at Fatima in Portugal.  Over 70,000 people witness the sun dancing and swiftly moving in the sky!  This procession is on the 100th anniversary of that day, so look up to the sky everyone on October 13th!

      After the section on the Nobel Prize will be a video on my favorite Spanish song to Mary.  It asks Mary to please come and walk with us.  

OSLO/GENEVA (Reuters) - A campaign group seeking a global ban on nuclear arms won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday [Oct. 6, 2017], given the award by a Nobel Committee that cited the spread of weapons to North Korea and said the risk was growing of nuclear war.
The award to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was unexpected, particularly in a year when the architects of the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran had been seen as favorites for achieving the sort of diplomatic breakthrough that has won the prize in the past.
Supporters described the award as a potential breakthrough for a global movement that has fought to ban nuclear arms from the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945.
“Nuclear weapons are illegal. Threatening to use nuclear weapons is illegal. Having nuclear weapons, possessing nuclear weapons, developing nuclear weapons, is illegal, and they need to stop,” she told Reuters.
My father, Tom Siemer, has been working on this for over 40 years, lobbying and praying at most of the U.S. Catholic Bishop Conference places, driving his van around the country with signs, making his way to gatherings of Church leaders, giving talks, protesting, and discussing with all who would listen, the nonviolent cross and teachings of Christ, especially in regards to weapons of mass destruction of which he was a part for many years. 

Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Pray for us!

Here is the song!  Come, walk with us, Mary, walk with us!  We love you!

One of Dad's many paintings of Our
Lady of Guadalupe

Mother Mary bothered to come six times to earth to warn the world to pray the rosary daily for world peace in 1917.  May we work for peace as hard as we pray for peace!  Thanks Dad for all you have done!

Monday, September 4, 2017

New Blog to Continue Ministry Beginnings for Battered Women and Children of Foreign Descent

       By Monica   The Lamb Catholic Community    Columbus, Ohio

        This is a repost to be the final or top article (as far as we can see).
         In this year of the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and the 100th anniversary of Our Lady appearing at Fatima, and on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, September 14, a new community will begin online at first, here in Columbus, Ohio.
        With much soul searching, prayer, reflection, rereading of Dorothy Day's books and history, and with spiritual direction of a priest, involving myself with many newer charismatic events, activities and empowerment, and after having become a Benedictine Oblate, I believe that God is leading me and others who are joining, down a different path in name, even though most of what has been worked toward is identical.
        September 14 will launch The Lamb Catholic Community, with the simultaneous refurbishing of The Lamb Catholic Worker, which never truly began in deed anyway.  Consider it to have been part one, and the new blog/site to be part two, because the old will still be kept intact for reflection and historical background.  As a subtitle to this new community credits Dorothy and Peter: "... in the spirit of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin."
       It was an amazing dream, with no regrets.  All was meant to happen in the timing it happened -- the earlier community beginnings and mistakes, our legal nonprofit status and board with four priests, the many articles given by the Holy Spirit and always in the wee hours of the morning, the offering of my life for Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin's canonization in the live-liver donation to my nephew and second emergency surgery, the waiting and waiting for Dorothy's eventual moving up in the canonization process.
       We had lost our nonprofit corporation status (and thus, the official board with three of the four original priests, one now in heaven), full-time live-in community members never came, funds did not pour in, and much agonizing speculation, and humble introspection was undergone.
       I was schooled under two stellar Catholic Worker priests in my earlier days, Fr. Richard McSorley, S.J. and Msgr. Marv Mottet at the Catholic Worker houses we began in D.C. in the early 1980s.  I lived it for three years and believe it was the closest to living like the early Church as you could possibly get in this country back then -- in "profound poverty and profound joy," one with the poorest, in communal living in the Spirit as mentioned in the New Testament.
       I firmly believe in Dorothy Day's sainthood (and obviously Peter Maurin's) and that they lived out the mandates of Christ and the early Church better than any other Catholic in this country at that time.  I understand her need to be a concrete and visible Catholic response to that era in which she began -- the early 1930's at the beginning of the Great Depression where 13 million people were unemployed (within a far lesser total population, over 80+ years ago), and those barely employed were treated horrifically, with terrible working hours, sickness and disease with no medical care, with unionizers being beaten to death, with squalid impossible living conditions due to subhuman level wages, etc, etc.
      While Dorothy mainly named the paper and movement after St. Joseph the Worker, the patron of the Catholic Worker and feast day on which it was begun, her first six issues were almost entirely directed to the worker, the labor movement, Catholic social encyclicals on social justice (like Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XII, in 1891, about the rights of workers and the right to unionize), news items about mob bosses, about specific living conditions in areas, working conditions, dangers, etc. This was their focus, their bright light on a hill to such injustices to the working class and unemployed.  Dorothy and Peter were so necessary and critical at that time, that I do not doubt any of it, and have great admiration for what they were trying to do.  Four popes praised her as well!
      As I reread and reflected on how the Catholic Worker was lived out, about philosophies, activities and world views involved, and events and circumstances that had happened in the houses and farms written about, as well as other things, I realized how little I really knew about the Catholic Worker living in regard to its comparison to how I had lived it out before and plan to in this new community in the future.
      Dorothy and Peter responded in a saintly and heroic manner to their era and the rights of the workers, and living out the Gospels within newer world views of the day, but much of that I do not understand, have never written about, and probably never will. I wish to take the bullets from any and all guns directed toward this newer vision because of its ties to something in the past that I was not a part of, and most likely will not be.
      One of those is the personalism/anarchy mode of the goodness of people governing themselves and no need for governance from above.  Rules then, were light, if any and not enforced to the level of having to ask someone to leave, especially if they became dangerous. Some unstable people were allowed to stay that were a harm to others.  We cannot have this with little children.  Stability and order are very important with children -- particularly after having become a Third Order Benedictine in the past couple of years (after the time of having begun this initial dream).
      Dorothy even expressed in later years regrets over the name Catholic Worker, which I had never known either.  It truly was based somewhat on the worker and worker rights, even though it has branched in inumerable directions.
      While there are many many differing kinds of Catholic Workers, with different types of missions or translations of Catholic Worker, in general, one can honestly say that there are some measuring sticks that are baselines of what an authentic one would have, in my opinion, true to Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.
      One of those elements would be hospitality to the homeless and/or the destitute as being the highest priority of any given house.  This was a huge battle that Dorothy and Peter had with others over the years, who wanted the word to get out, or message, more than undergoing the "harsh and dreadful" time-consuming love of actually serving the homeless.
      The highest number of residents in the home then, would be in this category - of homeless or destitute - and not just a home mostly filled with social justice or peace-minded people, or a Jonah House, which is different in this aspect.
       The few Catholic Workers that I have actually had contact with in the past 7 years or so sort of fall in the category of putting far less time, energy, resources, SPACE, numbers, and focus into hospitality for the poor than into actions, demonstrations, arrests, newsletters, family, etc.
       The break from the Labor Movement and beginnings, as well as from any Catholic Worker communities that are not living out Dorothy and Peter's main vision, will free The Lamb Catholic Community to have a much more simple focus of Christ alone, the perfect unblemished Lamb of God -- His actions, His words, His message, His Way, and His thinking.  Just that.
       His words and actions will be our "rule." The living out of this by His Apostles, those who heard His physical voice with their ears, saw everything He did with their very eyes, and others in the earliest Church who did so as well (as described in the Book of Acts and the epistles), will also be frequently revisited for holiness of life and accountability.
      This community is far more simple in general.  A major inspiration that brought about so big of a change is to bring people together in Truth.  To have nothing that could rule out the exquisite diamond of Truth that this community will be because of some little flaw of the past or present that has no part of this community anyways!  To sum it up, it is Truth with a capital T that is Christ, the unblemished Lamb, who called Himself the Word made flesh, Truth itself.  He also pushed that we attempt to "be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect."
       Thus, one requirement will be a promise to read an entire Gospel from beginning to end yearly, in one of the holy seasons of the year -- Lent or Advent.  This is to reground ourselves into Christ alone and not ways of old that even He contrasted, and definitely not in "human tradition," that Jesus accused some of clinging to instead of His newer commands.  In other words, this community is to bring people together, not divide them because of this or that questionable item to some.
      The beauty is in its simplicity.  There are a few other newer components as well, in this year of the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.  We want to combine the spiritual and corporal Works of Mercy to an equally high level.
      Dorothy and Peter's living out of the Catholic Worker is probably the highest level you can get in this country in terms of the corporal works of mercy.  Even St. Teresa of Calcutta's sisters are volunteers by day, and pull within themselves at night (which is fine with all they do by day!).                   Living out of the Catholic Worker ideal for Dorothy and Peter was hard core -- twenty-four/seven living as one with the poor, as in the early Church.  We desire to do the same, living as one with the poor and the forgotten, but equally offering the spiritual works of mercy to them as well!
      Here are the traditional spiritual works of mercy:  instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish the sinners, bear patiently those who wrong us, forgive offenses, comfort the afflicted, and pray for the living and the dead.
      Beyond this solid base of spiritual works of mercy above, we want to help our entire community to live a life filled with the Holy Spirit, healed of many hurts and injuries, sicknesses, addictions, habitual destructive life-patterns, generational bondage, etc, and living the full life in Spirit and in Truth.
      In addition, we would hopefully be facilitating the reception of other gifts of the Holy Spirit (if they are wanting this), empowered to have lives lead by the Holy Spirit in great joy, peace, and freedom as in the early Church, especially in the Book of Acts.  Jesus had promised the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, to lead us and guide us in all things, and this we wish to have for all consenting guests to experience -- a life in the Spirit!
     And this even under great persecution and threat (which you most likely will have in the inner city), as in the early Church.  Msgr. Mottet always said that the Holy Spirit puts a protective shield and zone around Catholic Worker houses (and we believe this community's houses), even in the most dangerous of neighborhoods.  Come, Holy Spirit, come!
     Another parting from more recent Catholic Workers is the expectations of our core community members.  Dorothy and Peter were warm and welcoming to all, but for themselves, personally underwent very rigorous prayer lives typically with daily mass and rosary, praying the Liturgy of the Hours of the priests, and other spiritual readings in their daily routine of "Ora et Labora," a balance of work and prayer that St. Benedict promoted.
     Even the newer Christ in the City program in Denver requires the reading of the Liturgy of the Hours in the morning and at night!  Beautiful!  And these are teenagers right out of high school mainly.  Why not have this at a Catholic community of very committed people?
     I have only praise of the great good that Dorothy and Peter brought into the world, and firmly do support their canonization!  Dorothy Day's book, Loaves and Fishes, is a requirement in some seminaries.  Dorothy and Peter still call all of us to embrace "Lady Poverty" as St. Francis of Assissi called it, live more simply, sacrifice until it hurts for the poor and forgotten in terms of time and money, and especially, to open your home to the poorest and forgotten.
      Four popes praised her, so please, continue to pray for her canonization.  We will give Dorothy and Peter acknowledgment as part of the inspiration for this community, "... in the spirit of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin..."  She has always and will always continue to be dubbed, "Dorothy Day, friend of the forgotten."
     What will The Lamb Catholic Community look like?  It will look the same as the ideal/model of before, so it is somewhat a continuation of what we have built upon.  Eventually, when complete it will consist of a three- or four-house community for battered women and children of foreign descent, with inner city gardens for farming and hopefully, a sister farm in the country.
      It would be nice to have a fourth house, "Loaves and Fishes House" for a variety of purposes: a meeting house for hospitality to the neighbors with a light meal in the day, coffee or tea, conversation, and fellowship.  It would be a collecting house/area to tackle massive food donations for the three other houses -- for collecting, storing, canning produce, and refrigeration.  It could be a wonderful place for a Eucharistic Adoration chapel, for a public event, talk, a reunion, or large place for praise, worship and prayer ministry.  Finally, and most importantly, part of it could be a proper place for preparation/clean-up and celebration of daily masses.
      One last note is that this community will not shy away from the power of Mother Mary's intercessory prayers!  There is a reason that this new community begins in this year of the 100th anniversary of Fatima and the 50th of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.  She is spousal to the Holy Spirit.  There is no other person on earth who was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and conceived with Him to bring Christ into the world.  We go to God first, as always, and rely on her intercessory prayers in between!  The daily rosary will then be a must as well, as Mary asked us to do at Fatima "for world peace."  Being peacemakers, this will be a very high priority for world peace!
     Pray for us!  We will give information about the new blog soon!  It will be at:

Mother of the Word Made Flesh

By Monica Siemer

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

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

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

Bishops Speak Out on Trump's Policies Against Immigrants and Refugees

                          By Monica     LCW  Columbus, Ohio

         We want the world to know, since views come from so many countries, that our Ohio Catholic Bishops, in one voice, raised concern for the policies put into place by President Trump against immigrants and refugees.   We are soo proud of our Roman Catholic bishops right here in little old Ohio, USA!  We are thankful to God too, who looks out for the widow and the orphan, the stranger, and the least.  Jesus repeatedly spoke out and warned all about protecting the most vulnerable and lowliest who have no rights and no one to speak for them.  The actual statement of our Ohio bishops cut and pasted from their website is below my comments.
       We are a nation of immigrants too!  Our very ancestors were in this position and our lives would be very different now, most likely much worse, if they had not been welcome.  Many of us are descended from immigrants who more often than not came freely for a better life and were at least allowed entry - with the exception of our Native American citizens who were here first, and our African Americans brought here and forced, against their will, into slavery.
       One would think that we would have a deep appreciation and gratitude instead of condemnation and mistreatment, ripping families apart after they have already worked painstakingly to make a new life here like our ancestors, contributing greatly to society.

      It is neglectful for me not to have spoken out before now, not only from
my strong social justice roots of being a Roman Catholic (with our amazing social justice papal encyclicals, teachings from our U.S. Catholic Bishops, pastoral letters, etc), of being a staunch Catholic Worker which stands for Christ's peace always and justice for the poor, but mainly there is no excuse because I have seen firsthand the terror in my families of mainly Hispanic and Muslim descent that make up the majority of my ESL students (I am an English as a Second Language teacher in a public school).

      I have Muslim students and families who feel the hate and mistrust, even though they have done nothing wrong and never will.  They often asked me in my school year questions like, "Why does President Trump hate us?" or "What else will he do to us?" and "Is it going to get worse?" I had no answer to give.
      My Hispanic families in general are the most scared ones because people have already been rounded up to be sent back, even after having worked hard here for years.  They are terrified every day and their whole family cries a lot and try to make plans in various scenarios.  My little Third Grader Pedro said his family is moving back to Mexico even though there is not enough work right now.
     In the case of the "Chaldean Catholics" that are being rounded up and sent back to Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries, their very lives are at stake, in addition to Syrian Muslims and others.  My father remembers seeing on the news huge ships and yachts from Germany with Jewish people lining the edges, coming into New York harbor or another U.S. port with hands clasped begging and pleading to be allowed entry, only to be turned around and sent back to their deaths.  Hitler was known to say, "You say we are being hard but you don't want the Jewish rats either."
      I tried to calm my students fears, but what assurances could I give?  I am silently appalled at the lack of basic humanity in our newer laws and actions against immigrants -- and even refugees -- the whole dark mentality.  One would wonder of a change of heart would take place if the lawmakers themselves were thrust into this situation, since they lack the empathy to imagine it.
     It reminds me of how Hitler, little by little over a period of time, imposed difficult and bigoted  burdens, heavy to carry, upon Jewish people for years before finally rounding up this ethnic group for horrific purposes.  At the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.  I was horrified with the MANY laws and prejudices that were acceptable to the German people against the Jewish population, incrementally worsening all the time.  First, they were not allowed to travel (sounds familiar), then ride or own bikes, then be out past a certain time in the evening, then they could not live where they wanted but were rounded up into "ghettos," etc, etc.  As their rights were infringed upon more and more, very few stepped up to fight these laws on their behalf.
     While I believe that President Trump would never agree to create work/death camps, given his verbal defense of our unborn citizens and abortion-mill laws changing one day -- which is important from our president -- he needs to end the terrible laws against refugees and immigrants, as well as slurs against entire populations of Americans.
       If you look up Boston and New York City news headlines and history in the 1800's and early 1900's you view quite an outcry against Roman Catholic Irish, Polish, and German immigrants taking over their cities, taking all their jobs, bringing their Catholic religion, being a menace to society with their heavy drinking and brawling, etc, etc,.. Obviously most of those European immigrants more often than not as a whole did not exude these negative stereotypes, but there were enough of those few to always get into the headlines, creating prejudice and bigotry in weaker minds and souls, as in Hitler's Germany.
     Instead of the "melting pot" image of how all should melt into typically a white-male European bent and language, I think the more exquisite analogy of the United States is the Salad Bowl image of many cultures, maintaining their distinct heritages, customs, dialect, ideas, strengths, etc, and creating a huge conglomerate (salad), better than its individual parts separate.  Beautiful in the eyes of the maker of us all, who created all in His own image and likeness, yet distinctly unique from each other, and all of whom are sacred, no matter who nor from what country.

      It's a good thing that compassionate Catholics - nuns (sisters), priests, laypeople - took some of those that were the young "hooligans" under their wings to help shape them into who they became, with great care and compassion.  Most immigrants though have been responsible, reliable, hard-working, law-abiding citizens building our nation stronger and more just with each generation.  May we ask our immigrant ancestors from the past to please pray for us, pray for our nation, and especially, pray for our immigrant, refugee, and other "stranger" populations who always held a special place within the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
     Below is the Ohio Bishops' Statement on Immigration, April 4th, 2017, at a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Conference of Ohio.  It was sent to President Trump and to Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, and to all Ohio members of the U.S. House.  This is taken from the Catholic Conference of Ohio website.
     Bravo to our Catholic paper here and its editors of  The Catholic Times, for printing it prominently in the beginning of the paper!
     Come to Carey, Ohio on the VIGIL (Aug. 14th) of the feast of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother to spiritually support the Chaldean Catholics living in great fear.  Twenty-five to thirty buslines, multiple campers, etc, etc take over the entire city of Carey!  So beautiful!!  You will never have heard such singing and such gusto in the songs in love of Mary as you will when the Chaldean Catholics are there.  It may not be for long though, if our lawmakers have their way.

News & Press - Catholic Conference of Ohio

Ohio Bishops Issue Letter of Concern regarding Changes to Immigration and Migration

Call for comprehensive reform, support for children and intact families, enforcement efforts that focus on threats to public safety, and maintaining programs for refugees

Letter Encouraging Legislative Support for Immigrants and Refugees
Catholic Bishops of Ohio

April 2017
Welcoming refugees and immigrants is a significant aspect of our American heritage and a fundamental character of Ohio faith communities, including the Catholic Church. Ohio is blessed to have many refugees and immigrants in our parishes, schools and ministries. The Catholic Church in our state operates numerous programs that directly sponsor and support these newcomers.
As we listen to our pastors, principals, program directors, and more importantly, to the refugees and immigrants served by our Church’s ministries, we know of many good people who are deeply concerned for their personal safety and fearful about separation from their families. These are ongoing concerns, but recent changes in federal policy have heightened such fears.
At both the state and national levels, our Church has long spoken out in favor of policies that ensure safety and compassionate treatment for immigrant and refugee persons and families in need. We continue to call upon Congress to address our broken immigration system through a comprehensive reform that improves security and creates more legal and transparent paths to immigration.  As for enforcement, we do not advocate for the breaking of laws.  Yet, we do urge for a more humane enforcement of these laws in a way that distinguishes between actual criminals and otherwise law-abiding, undocumented immigrant family members.  We believe immigration officials should prioritize removal to those who are real threats to public safety. Likewise, most local law enforcement agencies we encounter are highly concerned about increasing trust between police and immigrant communities.  Their work for public safety relies on trust between immigrants and local police and sheriff departments.  We oppose efforts to pressure our state and local law enforcement to proactively enforce immigration regulations, unless public safety is truly at risk.
Ohio does not benefit from separating good families and traumatizing children in our schools who each day live in fear of finding that their mothers or fathers are no longer at home to greet them. In these instances, justice should be sought, but the punishment should be commensurate with serving the good of the family unit, which is the fundamental cell of all society. In January 2017, the chairman of our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, echoed our concerns over policy shifts created by recent presidential executive orders that increase the detention and family separation of many immigrants. He wrote:
"The announced increase in immigrant detention space and immigration enforcement activities is alarming. It will tear families apart and spark fear and panic in communities. While we respect the right of our federal government to control our borders and ensure security for all Americans, we do not believe that a large-scale escalation of immigrant detention and intensive increased use of enforcement in immigrant communities is the way to achieve those goals. Instead, we remain firm in our commitment to comprehensive, compassionate, and common-sense reform."
In Ohio, our Church’s refugee resettlement network includes diocesan offices in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Dayton. In 2016, we resettled over 1000 refugees. Catholic parishes and diocesan offices also work in collaboration with other refugee resettlement programs in Ohio. These programs have safely and compassionately resettled refugees from all over the world, including a small number from Syria. Measuring by the immense outpouring of support from parishioners and others in our communities towards these refugees, we believe most Ohioans who know migrants and refugees welcome newcomers with open arms and wish to see Americans offer acts of mercy. The refugee program is one of the most vetted processes for entry into the United States.  We do not oppose efforts to improve on the system, should there be a need.  However, the temporary shutdown of all refugee admissions, and the more than 60 percent reduction in the number of refugees who can be resettled, create a chilling effect on our ability to maintain programs and ongoing assistance.  Refugees who have languished in camps for years will continue to find no relief, and a sudden temporary halt for our own agencies will likely result in significant downsizing of resources and staff.
We encourage your support for the following:
1.  A comprehensive reform of our immigration laws, not just enforcement-only measures, but a reform that provides more paths for legal entry and a rational and clear cut separation of duties among federal and local law enforcement officials which does not compromise the community character of local law enforcement;
2.  The BRIDGE Act: S.128/H.R. 496. (This Act will protect the dignity of DACA-eligible youth by ensuring that these individuals, who were brought to the United States as children and are contributing so much to our nation, can continue to live their lives free of the anxiety that they could be deported at any time.);
3.  Efforts to persuade the administration to reestablish enforcement priorities, so that they focus more on true criminals and threats to public safety;
4.  Maintaining the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program with adequate funding while further improving the vetting process.
As Pope Francis said, "To migrate is the expression of that inherent desire for the happiness proper to every human being, a happiness that is to be sought and pursued. For us Christians, all human life is an itinerant journey towards our heavenly homeland" (February 2017 Address to Participants in the International Forum on Migration and Peace).
Thank you for this consideration.
The Catholic Bishops of Ohio
Most Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr
Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Chairman, Board of Directors, Catholic Conference of Ohio
Most Rev. Joseph R. Binzer
Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati

Most Rev. Frederick F. Campbell
Bishop of Columbus

Most Rev. William Skurla
Apostolic Administrator of Byzantine Eparchy of Parma

Most Rev. Jeffrey M. Monforton
Bishop of Steubenville

Most Rev. Daniel E. Thomas
Bishop of Toledo & Apostolic Administrator Diocese of Cleveland

Most Rev. George V. Murry S.J.
Bishop of Youngstown

Most Rev. J. Michael Botean
Bishop of Romanian Catholic Eparchy of Canton

Most Rev. Bohdan J. Danylo
Bishop of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Eparchy, Parma
Letter Catholic Bishops of Ohio (PDF)


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Touching the Foot of Christ on the Cross

                                                      By Monica  LCW, Columbus, Oh.
     Please pass this partial repost of last year's Lenten newsletter along to people.  There is no regular way to get to it on Bing; so perhaps this will help.  Pray.
     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,
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.  The exceptions were 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.

           My Sweet Savior, Jesus Christ, through constant prayer and the intercession of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, and through the loving care of my family, Lisa, Abbie, and Dory are mainly what got me through this ordeal.  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.
       I was not always singing God's praises at the Mayo, but hope to if I am ever in another situation of intense physical suffering for Christ. My heart goes out to our modern martyrs in dangerous places. As my niece Bernadette Rogers, young Catholic mother of eight has tattooed on her, "Make my suffering perfect."

    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



Pray for the canonization of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, please!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Pope Francis' Good Shepherd Cross, Finding the One Lost Sheep

By Monica,   LCW,   Columbus, Ohio

This post is simply to convey the choice of crucifix, designed and worn by Pope Francis, that represents his papacy.  It is of the good and brave shepherd, Christ Himself, who out of unspeakable love, will go to great lengths to find, and coax, and bring in the lost sheep, carrying it tenderly on His shoulders.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

St. Francis, Proud of Pope Francis' Peace Message!

By Monica,  LCW,  Columbus, Ohio

       A riveting defense of Christian nonviolence and pacifism was debuted to the world on December 8, 2016, in anticipation of the Catholic Church's World Day of Peace, January 1st, 2017.  So enmeshed is our dear Blessed Mother Mary within her Son's Church that it was debuted on the Catholic Church's feast of her Immaculate Conception to be celebrated and broadcasted at her Solemnity: Mary, Mother of God, on January 1st.  This year, 2017, marks the 50th anniversary of the World Day of Peace messages from the Pope, another significant anniversary along with the 100th of the Apparitions of Fatima.
     Below is this exquisite and holy lesson to the world from God, penned by Pope Francis of the Chair of St. Peter himself, and meant not only for Catholics, but for the whole world. St. Francis of Assisi, his patron and namesake, must be beaming in heaven over him right now!  This powerful message is even more Franciscan than some Franciscans!
     Please continue reading beyond the full text of Pope Francis' message for more of this article.
     Here are a few bulleted excerpts of key ideas:

-- "... let us respect ... our “deepest dignity”,[1] and make active nonviolence our way of life."

-- "He [Paul VI] warned of “the danger of believing that international controversies cannot be resolved by the ways of reason..."  

-- "I would like to reflect on nonviolence as a style of politics for peace. I ask God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values. May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life." 

-- "Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mk 7:21). But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39)." 

-- "In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts”.[3]

-- "To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence."

-- Pope Benedict XVI:  “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution’”.[5] The Gospel command to love your enemies (cf. Lk 6:27) “is rightly considered the magna carta of Christian nonviolence. It does not consist in succumbing to evil…, but in responding to evil with good (cf. Rom 12:17-21)...

 -- "... my predecessor [St. John Paul II] highlighted the fact that momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about “by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice”.[10] 

-- "I emphatically reaffirm [from St. John Paul II] that “no religion is terrorist”.[13] Violence profanes the name of God.[14] Let us never tire of repeating: 'The name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war!'[15]"

-- "An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics.[18]

--"The Jubilee of Mercy that ended in November encouraged each one of us to look deeply within and to allow God’s mercy to enter there. The Jubilee taught us to realize how many and diverse are the individuals and social groups treated with indifference and subjected to injustice and violence." 

-- "Peacebuilding through active nonviolence is the natural and necessary complement to the Church’s continuing efforts to limit the use of force..." 

-- "Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict." 

-- "Mary is the Queen of Peace. At the birth of her Son, the angels gave glory to God and wished peace on earth to men and women of good will (cf. Luke 2:14). Let us pray for her guidance."

--"'Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace'.[25]


1 JANUARY 2017

Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace

1. At the beginning of this New Year, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious, civic and community leaders. I wish peace to every man, woman and child, and I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity. Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our “deepest dignity”,[1] and make active nonviolence our way of life.
This is the fiftieth Message for the World Day of Peace. In the first, Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed all peoples, not simply Catholics, with utter clarity. “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil order”. He warned of “the danger of believing that international controversies cannot be resolved by the ways of reason, that is, by negotiations founded on law, justice, and equity, but only by means of deterrent and murderous forces.” Instead, citing the encyclical Pacem in Terris of his predecessor Saint John XXIII, he extolled “the sense and love of peace founded upon truth, justice, freedom and love”. [2] In the intervening fifty years, these words have lost none of their significance or urgency.
On this occasion, I would like to reflect on nonviolence as a style of politics for peace. I ask God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values. May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life. When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promotors of nonviolent peacemaking. In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.

A broken world

2. While the last century knew the devastation of two deadly World Wars, the threat of nuclear war and a great number of other conflicts, today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal. It is not easy to know if our world is presently more or less violent than in the past, or to know whether modern means of communications and greater mobility have made us more aware of violence, or, on the other hand, increasingly inured to it.
In any case, we know that this “piecemeal” violence, of different kinds and levels, causes great suffering: wars in different countries and continents; terrorism, organized crime and unforeseen acts of violence; the abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human trafficking; and the devastation of the environment. Where does this lead? Can violence achieve any goal of lasting value? Or does it merely lead to retaliation and a cycle of deadly conflicts that benefit only a few “warlords”?
Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all.

The Good News

3. Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mk 7:21). But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39). When he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11), and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to put away his sword (cf. Mt 26:52), Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross, whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-16). Whoever accepts the Good News of Jesus is able to acknowledge the violence within and be healed by God’s mercy, becoming in turn an instrument of reconciliation. In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts”.[3]
To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence. As my predecessor Benedict XVI observed, that teaching “is realistic because it takes into account that in the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore that this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with more love, with more goodness. This ‘more’ comes from God”.[4] He went on to stress that: “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution’”.[5] The Gospel command to love your enemies (cf. Lk 6:27) “is rightly considered the magna carta of Christian nonviolence. It does not consist in succumbing to evil…, but in responding to evil with good (cf. Rom 12:17-21), and thereby breaking the chain of injustice”.[6]

More powerful than violence

4. Nonviolence is sometimes taken to mean surrender, lack of involvement and passivity, but this is not the case. When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she clearly stated her own message of active nonviolence: “We in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together, love one another… And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world”.[7] For the force of arms is deceptive. “While weapons traffickers do their work, there are poor peacemakers who give their lives to help one person, then another and another and another”; for such peacemakers, Mother Teresa is “a symbol, an icon of our times”.[8] Last September, I had the great joy of proclaiming her a Saint. I praised her readiness to make herself available for everyone “through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded… She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes – the crimes! – of poverty they created”.[9] In response, her mission – and she stands for thousands, even millions of persons – was to reach out to the suffering, with generous dedication, touching and binding up every wounded body, healing every broken life.
The decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced impressive results. The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten. Women in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.
Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of Communist regimes in Europe. The Christian communities made their own contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action. Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John Paul II. Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 Encyclical Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about “by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice”.[10] This peaceful political transition was made possible in part “by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth”. Pope John Paul went on to say: “May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes and war in international ones”.[11]
The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to build a just and lasting peace.
Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many religious traditions, for which “compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life”.[12] I emphatically reaffirm that “no religion is terrorist”.[13] Violence profanes the name of God.[14] Let us never tire of repeating: “The name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war!”[15]

The domestic roots of a politics of nonviolence

5. If violence has its source in the human heart, then it is fundamental that nonviolence be practised before all else within families. This is part of that joy of love which I described last March in my Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in the wake of two years of reflection by the Church on marriage and the family. The family is the indispensable crucible in which spouses, parents and children, brothers and sisters, learn to communicate and to show generous concern for one another, and in which frictions and even conflicts have to be resolved not by force but by dialogue, respect, concern for the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.[16] From within families, the joy of love spills out into the world and radiates to the whole of society.[17] An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics.[18] I plead with equal urgency for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children.
The Jubilee of Mercy that ended in November encouraged each one of us to look deeply within and to allow God’s mercy to enter there. The Jubilee taught us to realize how many and diverse are the individuals and social groups treated with indifference and subjected to injustice and violence. They too are part of our “family”; they too are our brothers and sisters. The politics of nonviolence have to begin in the home and then spread to the entire human family. “Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures that break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness”.[19]

My invitation

6. Peacebuilding through active nonviolence is the natural and necessary complement to the Church’s continuing efforts to limit the use of force by the application of moral norms; she does so by her participation in the work of international institutions and through the competent contribution made by so many Christians to the drafting of legislation at all levels. Jesus himself offers a “manual” for this strategy of peacemaking in the Sermon on the Mount. The eight Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-10) provide a portrait of the person we could describe as blessed, good and authentic. Blessed are the meek, Jesus tells us, the merciful and the peacemakers, those who are pure in heart, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.
This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their respective responsibilities. It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost. To do so requires “the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process”.[20] To act in this way means to choose solidarity as a way of making history and building friendship in society. Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict. Everything in the world is inter-connected.[21] Certainly differences can cause frictions. But let us face them constructively and non-violently, so that “tensions and oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity,” preserving “what is valid and useful on both sides”.[22]
I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence. On 1 January 2017, the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will begin its work. It will help the Church to promote in an ever more effective way “the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation” and concern for “migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture”.[23] Every such response, however modest, helps to build a world free of violence, the first step towards justice and peace.

In conclusion

7. As is traditional, I am signing this Message on 8 December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is the Queen of Peace. At the birth of her Son, the angels gave glory to God and wished peace on earth to men and women of good will (cf. Luke 2:14). Let us pray for her guidance.
“All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers”.[24] In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”.[25]

From the Vatican, 8 December 2016


[1] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 228.
[2] PAUL VI, Message for the First World Day of Peace, 1 January 1968.
[3] “The Legend of the Three Companions”, Fonti Francescane, No. 1469.
[4] BENEDICT XVI, Angelus, 18 February 2007.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] MOTHER TERESA, Nobel Lecture, 11 December 1979.
[8] Meditation, “The Road of Peace”, Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, 19 November 2015.
[9] Homily for the Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 4 September 2016.
[10] No. 23.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Address to Representatives of Different Religions, 3 November 2016.
[13] Address to the Third World Meeting of Popular Movements, 5 November 2016.
[14] Cf. Address at the Interreligious Meeting with the Sheikh of the Muslims of the Caucasus and Representatives of Different Religious Communities, Baku, 2 October 2016.
[15]Address in Assisi, 20 October 2016.
[16] Cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 90-130.
[17] Cf. ibid., 133, 194, 234.
[18] Cf. Message for the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, 7 December 2014.
[19] Encyclical Laudato Si’, 230.
[20] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 227.
[21] Cf. Encyclical Laudato Si’, 16, 117, 138.
[22] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 228.
[23] Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio instituting the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, 17 August 2016.
[24] Regina Coeli, Bethlehem, 25 May 2014.
[25]Appeal, Assisi, 20 September 2016.

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       I have recently heard wrongful attacks on Pope Francis directed at him for what I believe is his huge heart of great compassion and mercy, such as illustrated in the recent Gospel passage about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. I have heard them say that he makes statements and leaves loose ends that are not clearly reiterated.
       It feels to me, and I could be very wrong, that these Catholics seem like Adam in the garden of Eden, having eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (or arrogance of holding opinions higher to themselves than that of key Church leaders?). Or, they appear like the Pharisees and Sadducees who laid down the letter of the law and miss the whole point of it all -- love.  Love toward God, toward our family, toward even our enemy.

      "There is more value in a little humility and in a single act of it than in all the knowledge of the world."   -St. Teresa of Avila

      It is hard for some, even some of those who consider themselves to be very devout Catholics, to stomach our Holy Father's level of mercy from the Chair of St. Peter, that is not even in the same galaxy as the level of mercy Jesus had for all sinners.  Jesus was by FAR more agitative and radical than Pope Francis!  Pope Francis offers God's mercy, God's love, and God's own wellspring of the Holy Spirit to all, even to sinners.
      If any Catholic would look closely at some of what they consider questionable remarks and who he directed them to they will see a wellspring of mercy intended and of God's own Spirit.

"The Lord is compassion and love." -- Ps. 111, p. 8631 in Lit. of the Hours

      One example was in answering a lamenting mother who had undergone multiple C-sections and who wanted to use natural family planning for life-threatening health reasons with scar tissue.  To ease her mind alone, he told her something like, "you do not have to breed like rabbits."  He said this solely to put her at ease and not make a sweeping judgment about those with beautiful large Catholic families, of whom he has praised.  He looked at her with love and support only. He is human and does make mistakes, going to confession often.  Yet in  but already in his short papacy so far, he has marked out a path very similar to Christ, to St. Francis of Assissi, and to many other holy men and women.
     I recently heard someone denouncing him because he is popular in society. (!)  Jesus came into Jerusalem with the entire city in a great uproar.  Almost wherever He went he was loved and listened to by more than not.  It was only the jealous and fearful Pharisees and Sadducees  who hated Him and tried to bring Him down constantly.
     Please, please read this Gospel carefully.  It mirrors Pope Francis so closely.  This is not one of the many where Jesus states to "Go and sin no more" at the end, perfectly finalizing the message of the sinfulness, conversion, and a new way of life.  Read what Jesus did and said this one time. This was taken from the U.S. Catholic Bishop's website (a Catholic Bible).  Sometimes mercy and love and invitation to share your life with God more closely does not involve things always being sewn up at the end in a perfect package.  It MUST though, have love.  If it does not have love, it is not from God, as Jesus emphasized.
     Who knows though.  If you are in the category of knowing all, and of disparaging Pope Francis, you may harshly judge Jesus as well. 

"The love of Christ knows no limits.  It never ends.  It does not shrink from ugliness and filth."
"All that we do is a means to an end, but love is an end in itself, because God is love."

--  Quotes of Edith Stein, St. Benedicta of the Cross

     Here is the Gospel:
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”8His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.9* The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”b (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.)10* Jesus answered and said to her,c “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”11[The woman] said to him, “Sir,* you do not even have a bucket and the well is deep; where then can you get this living water?12Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”d13Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;14but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”e15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.”17The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’18For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.”f19The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.g20Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;* but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”h21Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.22You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews.i23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;* and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.24God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”j25* The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming,k the one called the Anointed; when he comes, he will tell us everything.”26Jesus said to her, “I am he,* the one who is speaking with you.”l

       In the recent children's movie, Moana, there is a beautiful message that love conquers evil and is actually a great deal more powerful!  Instead of the old-time traditional comic movie where we kill the "bad guy" or gal (evil stepmother, Ursula the octopus, etc,), Moana walks bravely and hopefully straight to Te Ka and declares, "This is not who you are."  She even offers physical affection, showing her love by hugging her before putting her magical heart back that had been stolen by Maui.   Thus, while Te Ka was still acting as the angry, merciless fire monster, Moana offers her only love. 


     As sacred Scripture states clearly, God made each and every human being the world over, in His own image and likeness, and very, very "good."  Those who believe that all human life is sacred no matter how small, also believe that no human being is not sacred and made in God's image and likeness.  We all make good choices and bad choices, depending on who has positively or negatively influenced us.  Yet, as Merton pointed out so eloquently, underneath all the good and sin we have committed, there is this brilliant diamond like no other that is who we are, made in God's own image and likeness, and which no sin or bad choice can diminish in the least.  Who are we to ever play God and kill a sacred human life made in His image and likeness?
      When we do kill a human life, we remove them from God's redemptive love, cutting short His work within their lives.  When we become instruments solely of His peace, of His love, of His mercy, we build the Kingdom on Earth, spreading His good news far and wide.
     We have no worry too!  Jesus said not to worry about those that kill the body but those that can kill the soul - those leading us away from His newer harder commands of love so perfect that they are like the Father Himself.  We know how it all ends!  Just as in the Easter morning surprise -- it ends GLORIOUSLY, SPECTACULARLY, and PERFECTLY  for all eternity in Heaven if we follow only His voice, the voice of God and His way in the world!  Rejoice!!
      St. Francis of Assissi, please pray for our beloved Pope Francis.  In this year of the 100th anniversary of Fatima (beginning May 13!), please, dear Mother, pray for this son who indeed does whatever your Son desires.  He preaches and lives by the words of the Prince of Peace, so please pray for his protection body, mind, and soul, especially against the attacks of others.  
    Please, dear papa, consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary exclusively, to steal the bullets from some of your enemies!  Come Holy Spirit, come!