From Holy Thursday morning to Good Friday, some 25 friends gathered in
D.C. for the annual Holy Week Faith and Resistance retreat sponsored
by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and Jonah House communities. We
were especially blessed to have with us students from Loras College
from Iowa and members of the New Jerusalem Community from
Philadelphia. The theme of the retreat was: “Put Away the Sword.” Holy
Thursday was a day of reflection, sharing, action planning and
Liturgy. Good Friday was a day of public witness.
The retreat began with a communal Gospel sharing of Matthew 26: 36-56,
led by Ted Walker. After lunch, Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst,
peacemaker and founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for
Sanity, gave a powerful presentation about his journey from being in
the CIA for 27 years to becoming a Gospel peacemaker and truth-teller.
His talk, interspersed with song, prayer, stories, video footage, and
Irish wit and humor, included a powerful expose about how government
lies are consistently used to justify its horrific warmaking
ventures—from Vietnam to now. He addressed how the corporate
controlled media manipulates and distorts the news. He also spoke of
the government’s ruthless and vindictive attempts to stifle dissent
and persecute whistle-blowers, like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden,
whom he has personally met with. His insights and stories regarding
state criminality and whistle-blowing friends were truly illuminating!
In the evening, Bill Frankel-Streit from the Little Flower Catholic
Worker, led a Holy Thursday Liturgy which included spirit-filled
singing led by Loras students, a moving foot-washing ritual and
inspiring reflections on the Gospel and its meaning for us today.
On Good Friday, a nonviolent public witness was held at the Pentagon.
At 7:00 a.m. the community processed from Army-Navy Dr. to the police
designated protest zone with signs and small crosses with the names of
different victims in our society and world written on them, and
singing “Let Me Be An Instrument Of Your Peace.” As hundreds of
Pentagon employees streamed into work and numerous police were on
hand, seven of our community remained on the Pentagon sidewalk (where
we are subject to arrest) and held an “adoration of the cross” before
a small cross with the inscription: “2015– Suffering Humanity.” We
prayed: “We Adore You O Christ and We Bless You, Because By Your Holy
Cross You Have Redeemed the World.” Simultaneously, the rest of the
community proceeded into the designated “protest zone.”
A huge banner that said: “U.S. Empire Crucifies Humanity” was displayed on the
grassy slope overlooking the metro entrance. A retreatant, dressed in
a black robe, standing on a crate, with arms outstretched on a large
cross, wore a sign: “Victim of Militarism.” Our leaflet was read and
a reflection about militarism and Jesus being nailed to the cross
today, written by Leonardo Boff, were read aloud. In between the
readings there was silence and singing “Were You There When They
Crucified My Lord.”
After about ten minutes, those who were praying on the sidewalk were
arrested, taken to the Pentagon Police processing center, and released
after several hours. They were charged with “failure to comply with a
lawful order” and have a court date for June 4, 2015.
At noon-time, as a light rain fell, retreatants held a “contemporary
crucifixion” on Pennsylvania Ave. directly in front of the White
House, as many tourists looked on. See below the reflections that were
read for each of the eleven crucified victims as they, wearing black
robes, took turns, standing on a crate, with arms outstretched on the
cross. After each victim came off the cross we sang: “Were you there
when they crucified my Lord.” Our leaflet was also read to begin the
witness, and a reading about how Jesus is being crucified today, by
Leonardo Boff, was offered to conclude it. The Loras students began
and ended the witness with singing “Let Me Be An Instrument of Peace.”
We ended our witness and retreat by sharing a sign of peace.
Let us pray for each other during this Holy Season, and for all those
in our world who are experiencing at this very moment the passion and
death of Jesus. And let us be transformed by the cross and
resurrection of Jesus as we seek to practice resurrection and be
living signs of hope for our world.