"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Army that Sheds No Blood

"If a loud trumpet summons soldiers to war, shall not Christ with a strain of peace issued to the ends of the earth gather up his soldiers of peace? By his own blood and by his word he has assembled an army which sheds no blood in order to give them the Kingdom of Heaven. The trumpet of Christ is his Gospel. He has sounded it and we have heard it. Let us then put on the armour of peace." - Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus XI, 116.

God has armed us with the weapons of peace: open hearts, song, and nothing to protect because all is his gift. We must reach deep to find the sword-points dipped in water, by which we can quench the fire of war.

One of those who has perhaps discovered the waters of mercy is Haj Ali, the prisoner who appears in the most famous Abu Ghraib torture photo, the man in the black hood with wires trailing from his fingers standing on the crate. In a PBS interview, he describes what sustained him, "I put my faith in God. Our strength and our resistance come from our faith in God, especially a person who considers himself not guilty and he is the object of abuse and punishment. There were others who couldn't resist [the torture], and they gave up names of innocent people to trade for their release from prison. But God gave us the strength, and we believe in God. For a truly faithful man, God gives the person the great strength to be patient to endure the pain, abuse and insults that we were subjected to. But keep in mind that not all people are equal in their tolerance. As I told you, there were people who judged others." - "Haj Ali's Story", NOW, April 29, 2005 (http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/hajali.html).

Indeed there are people who judge others. Who in their Christian righteousness judge that Iraqi lives are not worth a gallon of gas in an American Hummer. May we rediscover the faith that sustains our victims and pray that God may forgive our indifference to their torment. Where are the soldiers of peace?

Dies Irae and Marla Ruzicka

In the end perhaps that part of our heart that lives in God will be given a crystal clear vision of our lives and we will render judgement on ourselves and that judgement will be binding. All those who had to die and suffer because of our neglect, because we chose to let the days run on in distraction, our lips firmly wrapped around the nozzle of corporate media, they will hold out their arms to us, but be unable to gather us in just as we were too busy to bother about the war in Iraq. If not for the lives of those such as Marla Ruzicka, who dropped all posturing of the left or right, and died trying to bring help to our "collateral damage", perhaps this judgement would already have come. The hour is late.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Benedict XVI on War

"There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a 'just war.'"

- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, May 2, 2003.

Hope flashes in these words from a man devoted to precision of thought. May he lead us to love life in all its flourishes and will the death of nothing that he has made. May Jesus give us the strength to disarm our hearts.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Burning Flesh

It has now been documented that the U.S. used illegal incendiary weapons in the November assault on Fallujah. See the article by the Iraq Analysis Group: http://www.selvesandothers.org/article9437.html The outrage among Catholic bishops in the United States has been deafening, as I'm sure you're aware.

Protocol III of the 1980 UN convention on ’Weapons Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious Or To Have Indiscriminate Effects’ states that:

It is prohibited in all circumstances to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by air-delivered incendiary weapons.

"Residents who survived the attack reported seeing incendiary bombs used in the city. Abu Sabah, who lived in the Julan district of Fallujah which witnessed some of the heaviest attacks, said:

"They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud... then small pieces fall from the air with long tails of smoke behind them."

He said that pieces of these strange bombs explode into large fires that burn the skin even when water is thrown on the burns.

"Usually we keep the gloves on," said Army Capt. Erik Krivda, of Gaithersburg, Md., the senior officer in charge of the 1st Infantry Division’s Task Force 2-2 tactical operations command center. "For this operation, we took the gloves off."

Some artillery guns fired white phosphorous rounds that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water. Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous burns.

Kamal Hadeethi, a physician at a regional hospital, said, "The corpses of the mujahedeen which we received were burned, and some corpses were melted." - "U.S. Drives into the Heart of Fallujah", San Franscisco Chronicle, Nov. 10, 2004.

Unfortunately, some of our Christian leaders chose to ignore burning human beings alive to focus on the dangers of stem cell research.

Let us pray that our blindness, which becomes more willful with each passing hour, will be healed before we forget what sight is.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

John Paul II on Abu Ghraib

Somehow the U.S. main stream media seemed to miss the following statement by John Paul II during the Abu Ghraib crisis:

"From all continents come endless, disturbing information about the human rights situation, revealing that men, women and children are being tortured and their dignity being made a mockery of. ... It is all of humanity which has been wounded and ridiculed," John Paul II said.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Sacrament of Nonviolence

"The Eucharist is the sacrament of non-violence!" - So pronounced the man who was appointed by Pope John Paul II to be Preacher to the Papal Household during the Lenten reflections before his death. Far from being a justification of violence, the Eucharist is God's absolute No to violence, as Father Cantalamessa says, "the modern debate on violence and the sacred thus helps us to accept a new dimension of the Eucharist, thanks to which God’s absolute 'no' to violence, pronounced on the cross, is kept alive through the centuries." - 3rd Lenten Sermon by Father Cantalamessa, March 11, 2005 (Zenit.org)

May the Pope look down on this battered earth and call upon our Lord to let nonviolence master our hearts. I place all my weapons at your feet, O Lord. In Christ's sacrifice the bond between the sacred and violence is forever broken. In the same way, Lord, let my weapons break.

Faces of Integrity: Pope John Paul II

"Violence begets violence," he said. "War must always be considered a defeat: a defeat of reason and of humanity." He argued that world leaders should seek to root out the primary causes of terrorism, "especially misery, desperation and the emptiness in hearts." - "Pope Opposes Military Response to Terrorism", Sept. 8, 2004.

How many Catholics know that the Pope spoke out against war in general and against the Iraq war specifically in the last year of his holy life? That he made peace among nations one of the most consistent themes of his papacy?

Just before the illegal Iraq invasion, he made the following impassioned plea, ""NO TO WAR"! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity. International law, honest dialogue, solidarity between States, the noble exercise of diplomacy: these are methods worthy of individuals and nations in resolving their differences....,

And what are we to say of the threat of a war which could strike the people of Iraq, the land of the Prophets, a people already sorely tried by more than twelve years of embargo? War is never just another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between nations. As the Charter of the United Nations Organization and international law itself remind us, war cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option and in accordance with very strict conditions, without ignoring the consequences for the civilian population both during and after the military operations." - "Address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Vatican", Jan. 13, 2003.

Please pray that our Holy Father's longing for peace will bear abundant fruit as he enters the heavenly homeland. Let us hope that the voice that was so often muffled by media silence on earth will grow loud in the hearts of those who loved the Pope.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Faces of Integrity: Kevin Benderman

“Killing, the act of it, in any circumstance, is negative. It can’t help but bring negative feelings into a person’s mind. When someone faces his conscience and realizes just how negative he has become, looks deep and admits the reasons, the change is amazing.

“When that person acts on his conscience, and makes a decision to live for life and to seek peaceful solutions to difficult situations even when it goes against the current “norms” of society, it’s a positive change. It is scary for people who still believe that there is a justification for war to face someone who has become positive in their thought process. People who still can’t see the power in turning away from violent solutions will continue to question someone who can. That is what is happening now. Kevin has made a conscious choice to “study war no more.” He has made a statement for himself, and his speaking out about it threatens those who believe war is the answer,” she said." - "Benderman Courts-Martial Moves Forward", Voices in the Wilderness, April 1, 2005.