for Phil Berrigan Oct.5,1923-Dec.6, 2002

Christmas 2002

For all the boots of the trampling warriors

and all the garments rolled in blood

shall be burned as fuel for fire

for a child has been born for us, a son given to us

authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named…Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9: 5, 6

Mass during the Night December 24, 2002

You first torched paper instead of human flesh as the B-52’s

poured napalm down in the land of the Burning Children.

Next, you wielded Isaiah’s hammers with single determination,

swords into ploughshares,

spears into pruning hooks.

Each blow you hoped to recast the molten metal of empire

back into God’s order and design,

a newer Jerusalem of sisterhood and brotherhood.

Tossed into Caesar’s stocks, you waged peace in prison-

organizing, teaching, fasting, counseling.

There was no tug of the forelock, no genuflection

to a state which resembled Mars, a Church resembling upper management.

Ripped from family, friends, you never blinked, did your hard time

and returned to the fray more gentle than ever.

Once again you picked up the hammers and sparks flew;

some flashed briefly, disappeared as quickly.

Others took flight and scorched our faces as we turned away

like Peter in the courtyard, frightened of the price we might

have to pay in Christ’s nonviolent army.

Some sparks lit dry faggots and other resisters picked up your hammers.

And so it went till the end and on the feast of St Nicholas

you gave your life back, Christmas wrapped in righteousness, to

the God of Peace



  1. 1

    Dec. 11 2009
    Cape Breton

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    publication avenue?

    All the best,

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