Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Be not afraid—join a movement

October 19, 2016

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matt.14:27

The contemporary Catholic church says,”Be not involved.” Do not sully yourself by diving into history. There may be a cross for you. You may lose friends. Instead be part of the clean up crew, the charity givers, the cheque writers, the historically disengaged. Stay out of coalitions which fight injustice—like Kairos. Go to church and use prayer as a substitute for action.

There is seldom a response to Come follow me. After all it might lead to a cross. Very uncool.
Jim Wallis the great American evangelist many years ago gave the clue to Catholic churches.
Ask yourself if this parish meeting is linked to an outside movement. if not you are wasting your time. More navel gazing, more evading a historical commitment.Take the exit ramp on the way to Jerusalem.
Show me a Catholic parish which openly joins the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the Suzuki Foundation, all organizations addressing the greatest moral issue of our time climate justice. There are none. Too risky. Besides we would not be in control.Instead we have some cheap grace, prayers from the pulpit which evade our historical responsibility.


Was the Catholic Church there?


How do we stay compassionate in the face of constant global tragedy?” Presbyterian writer Chris Hedges replied that he tries to maintain a constant relationship with the oppressed; this, he believes, keeps him accountable, despite his own privilege as a white male American.
Hedges said we are watching the rise of fascism through neoliberalism in America. Trump is “imbecilic, idiotic, self-destructive, morally repugnant,” he said, and it says something about our country that Hillary Clinton “is only four points ahead” in the polls. Clinton, he said, “is basically Mitt Romney in drag.”
So how does the average American combat neoliberalism, if our current political process is such a shambles? For Hedges, it comes down to large-scale movements—such as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, the Dakota Access pipeline protestsand social justice movements that originated in Ferguson, Mo. “We can’t underestimate the power of living in truth,” Hedges said, “even though it’s outside of the formal mechanisms of power.”
Add to Hedges’ list Kairos Palestine. Catholic churches have turned a deaf ear to the 2009 request from all the Christian churches to fight Israeli occupation.
These movements have the power to influence the political elite, he continued. “The only things they have to offer you in this election is fear,” Hedges concluded. “The moment you stop being afraid, they become afraid.”


Join a movement. There is both strength and solidarity in numbers. Every parish has great people waiting to be set on fire. Don’t wait for father’s permission to act. A wet match can’t start a fire. History is changed by movements. The Lone Ranger died years ago and in the words of Ben Franklin,”We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Prayer of gratitude: teachers!

September 12, 2016




In several Anglican parishes there is the blessing of the back packs for the young ones going back to school .I do not know if RC parishes do this.

A nice liturgical overture. It got me thinking.
At mass on Sunday my prayer was for the gratitude of teachers who more and more find themselves in loco parentis. The highest pratyer is always one of gratitude.
Teachers today are faced with heavier burdens than other generations and in particular God bless those marvellous elementary teachers who step up when divorce rates have skied. More and more kids are acting out in classes because they demand the attention they do not get at home.Into the breach,teachers adding what is not on the curriculum TLC.


A few years ago the teachers’ union in New Zealand reported that of those 80 percent, 64 percent spent up to $200 a year, 22 percent spent up to $500 and 14 percent spent $500 or more per year. Similar results in Ontario.


There is an apartment building a block north of our Catholic community and here I pointed it out . There was no plaque honouring Mary Sheehan my grade six teacher, a woman way ahead of her time. No Walk of Fame for teachers but a lot of low level gratitude all over the world.
Not only did she pound out that Note Dame Fighting song on that old piano
Cheer cheer for old Notre Dame
Wake Up the echoes cheering her name

This was a time when Notre Dame gave Catholics a sense of pride when Toronto was Little Belfast. Miss Sheehan also taught us our Latin after school so we could become altar boys.

Mary Sheehan presenté. Never forgotten.

Man, St. Pete’s was rundown when my dad went here. No matter . Great teachers  like

Mary Sheehan thrive everywhere.


Paul Ryan the Man who Never Learned

September 9, 2016

Earlier this week, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Ron Johnson, both of Wisconsin, penned an op-ed stating—once again—their belief that charity and individual responsibility are the key to fighting poverty.

What is it with this guy and his Catholic cred?

Oh yeah, big C “pro-life Catholic but not when it comes to post-fetal life in the poor or his constant voting for bloated war budgets.
“This is how you fight poverty: person to person,” they write.

Ryan loves The Joseph project an admirable Milwaukee outreach which provides vans

Claire Markham described this:
To illustrate their point, they tell the story of The Joseph Project, a job assistance program run by the Greater Praise Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee. Ryan and Johnson praise The Joseph Project for providing vans that drive Milwaukeeans to Sheboygan County, where they can earn $15 an hour working a factory job. In Milwaukee, by contrast, these workers would likely earn just $8 or $9 an hour.  The drive is an hour commute each way, but Ryan and Johnson assert: “That van represents the difference between poverty and opportunity.”

Yes, but no support for $15.00 per hour minimum wage.

and no understanding of the quality time lost taking thee workers out of town.

In Sunday school classrooms across the country, young Catholics are taught the simplest versions of the Catholic Church’s complicated theology: God’s love is represented by loving parents, Bible stories are boiled down to picture books, and stewardship of creation is taught by tending to one’s own little plant.  And one Sunday school classic, “The Two Feet of Love in Action,” makes it clear that larger systemic solutions are integral to fighting poverty.
“There are two different, but complimentary, ways we can walk the path of love,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops explains. “We call these ‘The Two Feet of Love in Action.’” One foot is charity: direct service to help meet the immediate needs of individuals. The other foot is social justice: structural change to end the root causes of poverty.
The van is charity; the minimum wage hike is social justice.

In April 2012 Ryan was taken to the woodshed when as a VP canmdidate he dared use Catholic Social Teaching, in particularly subsidiarity, as the basis of his budget proposal. 50 Catholic theologians and leaders blasted his proposals out of the water.

“Simply put, this budget is morally indefensible and betrays Catholic principles of solidarity, just taxation and a commitment to the common good. A budget that turns its back on the hungry, the elderly and the sick while giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest few can’t be justified in Christian terms,” argue the signatories.

Give Ryan credit, he is not short of chutzpah he then marched over to Georgetown, the Jesuit university to defend the indefensible. Here he was met by a petition of 90 faculty members and administrators basically telling him he was totally out to lunch. They asked Ryan to justify  cuts to social programs which benefit the poor and no cuts to the shocking bloated military budget
Former America editor  Jesuit Fr.Tom  Reese, one of the organizers of the letter bluntly stated . “This is nonsense. As scholars, we want to join the Catholic bishops in pointing out that his budget has a devastating impact on programs for the poor.”

You can bet Ryan never heard of America Magazine

But he sure loves Ayn Rand, the high priestess of capitalism.



Here are a few choice bon mots of Ryan on his literary heroine:

•    “I just want to speak to you a little bit about Ayn Rand and what she meant to me in my life and [in] the fight we’re engaged here in Congress. I grew up on Ayn Rand, that’s what I tell people.”

•    “I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are.”

•    “It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. We start with Atlas Shrugged. People tell me I need to start with The Fountainhead then go to Atlas Shrugged [laughter]. There’s a big debate about that. We go to Fountainhead, but then we move on, and we require Mises and Hayek as well.”
•    “But the reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”•
“It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are.”
•    “Because there is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works.”

Lots of Ayn Rand little of Jesus and Catholic Social Teaching

Church: thermometer or thermostat?

August 31, 2016

Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.

ML King Jr “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” April 16,1963

One of the sad developments over the years has been the loss of power and agency in the institutional Catholic church.

While it is inevitable that large institutions run down and in uber-capitalist countries will be co-opted by the culture, there will always be counter-movements fighting against such lassitude. History is full of examples beginning with the early church in the Roman Empire, then the Beguines, Francis of Assisi, Wesley’s challenge to high church Anglicanism, the Catholic Worker. the examples are too numerous to mention. The Church at Vatican ll stated that it was “ecclesia semper reformanda”, a church always in need of renewal.
Today a Vatican ll pope has arrived, a man who understands that the church must be thrust into society as leaven.his theology is focused on Jesus’s call to God’s reign. Too many bishops are still locked into the church as the heart of the gospel. Sadly they resist Pope Francis.  The world today ruled by corporate power will always resist the gospel. Vatican ll reminded us that “we to must shoulder the cross which the world and the flesh inflict on those who search after peace and justice.” As King reminded us the church should not be a thermometer

In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.
Birmingham Jail

All of the above and below reminded me of a remarkable student I had in the 80s. John Popiel went on to do significant development in the Dominican Republic and today coordinates the Jesuit Volunteers in Canada.

In the nuclearized 80s I sent out students 2X2 to knock on doors and join the resistance to Canada  testing the Cruise Missile. Johnny came in with  a harrowing tale of some guy running him off his porch , telling him to eff off , saying he was all for testing.

I just laughed and had John read the gospel for that day in home room class.The gospel was Luke 10:5 ff

When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.'”If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Earlier the Jesus of Luke gave this advice If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

John was stunned. The gospel had leapt off the page as it always does when we turn it into action. It’s like putting on 3D glasses—you see a new reality.

Chris Hedges recently wrote (below) about an Anglican bishop who basically asked the church to become the leaven, stop mirroring the corrosive culture and take a stand for God’s reign of peace and justice.
Carrying out sustained acts of civil disobedience is the only option left to defy the corporate state, says retired Anglican bishop Packard, who over the years has been arrested at an Occupy Wall Street protest and other demonstrations. It will be a long, difficult and costly struggle the decorated Vietnam vet says. But there are moral and religious laws—laws that call on us to protect our neighbor, fight for justice and maintain systems of life—that must supersede the laws of the state. Fealty to these higher laws means we will make powerful enemies. It means we will endure discomfort, character assassination, state surveillance and repression. It means we will go to jail. But it is in the midst of this defiance that we will find purpose and, Packard argues, faith.


This is the renewed presence of the church, people of spirit wandering around in the darkness trying to find each other,” Packard said to me before he was taken into custody by police during the Montrose protest. He stood holding one corner of a large banner reading, “We Say No to Spectra’s Algonquin Pipeline Expansion.” “When you find a cause that has spine, importance and potency you find the truth of the Scripture. You find it inside your gut. There is an ache in the culture.” Gesturing toward his fellow demonstrators, he added: “These are a few of the people who are speaking to it. This is what the church used to be. It used to be standing in conscience.”

Church needs a dose of humility

May 10, 2016


Not everyone who says ‘Abba Father’ gets into the kingdom but he or she who does the will of God.
Matt. 7:21

One of Europe’s top prizes for humanitarian work is the Charlemagne Prize awarded for “ efforts to promote the European values of peace, tolerance, compassion and solidarity.” The winner this year Pope Francis.The award ceremony on May 5 was preceded by a Pontifical mass at St.Peter’s.


Bear in mind this is not a religious prize. However European Commission president Junker stated that  Pope Francis personifies the idea that “solidarity and compassion are not just fine-sounding words but values that require us to take a stand and act.” He warned that peace cannot be taken for granted and called on all Europeans to face up to their difficulties in order to overcome them, and to shape history rather than be swept along by it. The way to do this is through coalitions “cultural, educational, philosophical and religious,which calls for more unity and more solidarity as the continent confronts its many crises.”

Andrea Ricciardi of the San Egidio lay Catholic community of Rome pointed to the radical differences between Francis and his 2 predecessors whose bete noire was always “secularism and its discontents.”


Both JP ll and Ratzinger consistently lectured secularists about Europe’s failure to embrace its Christian roots.They were insistent on a “God clause”for a European constitutional document. Francis has cut the legs out from both former popes. Instead of seeing Catholicism and Christianity as unique and sole purveyors of The Truth, the heroic defenders of “an embattled subculture, whose task is to preserve self-enclosed pockets of faith within a hostile secular milieu”, Francis more or less heads off in another direction—dialogue and encounter.



The Church especially here needs to hear this. Get out of our bunkers, have some humility, recognize that gospel values are already present in the thousands of the unchurched who are attempting to fashion a better world.



In the pope’s acceptance speech he never mentions “secular “ or “secularism” the favourite whipping boys of the last two pontiffs.



Ricciardi, a sophisticated European Catholic wrote “According to the pope, Europe … today is in decline due to a fear of encountering other people and other religions, hiding behind borders and crystallized identities,”

This is a stunning volte face.

In effect the Church simply needs to become the church, a mustard seed, a humble ginger group which, confident of its gospel values joins with other groups. The attitude here in Canada and the USA has too often been, “if we are not leading the parade we are not in it.”The best example lately has been the embarrassing church response to Francis ecological encyclical Laudato Si. Since the church did not have control of the agenda—the environmental movement already owned it—it refused to play, even though the pope was radically embracing the cry of the earth.
For decades we have been appalled at putative Catholic leaders absent from the social struggle, isolated in their arrogance, thinking they had nothing to learn from “the secularists.”
That day is long gone—much like the young people who left the church to be with the same “secularists” who were taking history seriously. Watching institutional leaders absent themselves from popular movements, the former Catholics moved the gospel outside the walls of the church and the chancery office and put it where it should be, on the streets
Two weeks before he died on August 32, 2012 the eminent Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini spoke this truth:
“The church is tired,. we are 200 years out of date Catholics lack confidence in the church. we need a radical transformation. Our culture has grown old, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our religious rites and the vestments we wear are pompous.”

Pope Francis is  right. the only way forward is coalitions, dialogue and encounter.A modicum of humility would help us realize that we need join with others in the common cause of healing the world.

Remembering Dan

May 9, 2016

StreetMourners on the way to the funeral

Advice to Christians:

Stay focused on the Gospel and let the rest take care of itself.

The formula has been deceptively simple; open the Bible together as a discipline of holy literacy, be attentive to the spirit of the words, see where they lead.’


A certain medical doctor who treated him for a small cyst in a New York hospital. It turned out that this doctor wanted to thank Dan because his was one of the draft cards burned in Catonsville, Maryland. ‘That action spared my life,’ he said, ‘and I used it to get a medical degree. Now I’m here to take care of you, Fr. Dan.’

The thing about Dan and Phil, unlike many pompous clerics, they never took themselves too seriously…their cause, yes, themselves, no.

Steve Kelly sj was the homilist at Dan’s funeral. He held nothing back. His opening remarks were classic. He welcomed the FBI undercivers present and advised them that they coukd now close the book on Dan!

IN  1968 at the  Philadelphia Quakers’ largest gathering, the Yearly Meeting, they invited Dan to be the keynote speaker. Lyle Tatum a recognized Quaker lerader  was chosen to introduce him. In his introduction he said that, several centuries ago, Quakers Ann Austin and Mary Fisher had walked from Northwest England to Rome to try, as Lyle said, “to convert the Pope to Christianity.” At that, Dan laughed as heartily as the rest of us. When he stepped to the microphone to speak, his first words were, “I hope you’ll keep trying.”


Banner near the altar at funeral mass.







Dan Berrigan RIP

May 6, 2016

Leave it to Liz McAlister to cap off the funeral  of her brother-in-law Dan Berrigan in New York’s St.Francis Xavier church Dan Berrigan sj  whom she knew so well.


In a congregation like this there was the heartfelt acknowledgment that Liz was the equal partner of her more famous husband Philip who died Dec.6.2002.
She gave an incredible eulogy surrounded by Berrigan children, those of Phil and Liz and Jerry and Carole Berrigan.
She began with what has become a classic of resistance literature, Dan’s rationale for the burning of the draft card records at the height of the Vietnam War. Nine Catholics including Daniel and his brother Phillip entered a draft board in Catonsville, Md. and removed draft files of those who were about to be sent to Viet Nam.  They took these files outside and burned them with home-made napalm, a weapon commonly used on the Vietnamese.


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 

Luke’s gospel introduces us another child (Jesus) “born to make trouble and to die for it.”


Berrigan like many deeply understood the sickness which still engulfs America, a bloated nation become empire, whose military budget genuflects to the god of war and not human flourishing. The United States still maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad costing between 85 to $100 billion yearly.


The murderous havoc visited upon Vietnam (over 1 million civilians killed ,many more maimed and an ecology in tatters resulted in untold misery at home with more suicides of returning vets than soldiers killed in combat.

Berrigan and the other 8 Catholics were among the first of our tribe to break with an empire run amok.He named government policy as

a massive institutionalized disorder
We say:  Killing is disorder
life and gentleness and community and unselfishness
is the only order we recognize

Dan’s question still rings out:

How many indeed must die
before our voices are heard
how many must be tortured dislocated
starved maddened?
How long must the world’s resources
be raped in the service of legalized murder? When at what point will you say no to this war?
We have chosen to say
with the gift of our liberty
if necessary our lives:
the violence stops here
the death stops here
the suppression of the truth stops here
this war stops here

Daniel the prophet like his favourite biblical prophet turned his judgment on a church become silent in face of such human suffering

They embrace their society with all their heart
and abandon the cross
The times are inexpressibly evil
Christians pay conscious  indeed religious tribute
to Caesar and Mars

As always unto our own age, despite the rule of institutional silence, fear and the substitution of charity for justice

And yet  and yet  the times are inexhaustibly good

Because there is always a strong minority

solaced by the courage and hope of many
The truth rules  Christ is not forsaken
In a time of death some men
the resisters   those who work hardily for social change
those who preach and embrace the truth
such men overcome death
their lives are bathed in the light of the resurrection
the truth has set them free
In the jaws of death
they proclaim their love of the brethren
We think of such men
in the world  in our nation  in the churches
and the stone in our breast is dissolved
we take heart once more. 

This poem should be studied in every Catholic school where crucifixes continue to hang.

Berrigan gave Scahill his cue

May 4, 2016

“I may not be here if it wasn’t for Dan Berrigan,” said journalist Jeremy Scahill , the outstanding journalist who peeled back the layers on the US mercenaries in Blackwater and has used his skills to uncover the lies and deceit at the heart of the American empire .His other books are The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield

Scahill’s story is instructive. his parents grew up on the south side of Chicago both were nurses. His father, an only son of irish immigrants was on his way to be a priest studying theology when the Vietnam war became front and centre in the USA. It was at this time that three moral giants arose within Catholicism, prophets who made the gospel tangible and the prophetic dynamite it was meant to be. They were Dorothy Day, the legendary founder of the Catholic Worker who made the radical link between war and poverty; Thomas Merton the activist Trappist monk who preached a radical pacifism in his voluminous correspondence with Catholic movers and shakers meeting during Vatican ll, one of whom was Canada’s cardinal George Flahiff. The third turned out to be Fr.Dan Berrigan,sj . The latter got his cue to come on stage from both Day and Merton.

Scahill’s ffather heard Dan Berrigan give a talk, a voice of New Testament sanity mid the war making clamor of the time. The Scahills moved to New York and became part of the Catholic Worker family. Young Jeremy born in 1974 grew up, grounded in resistance to war making and, like thousands was transfixed by two priests, Dan and Phil Berrigan hauled off to jail after burning draft card records in a Baltimore suburb on May 17,1968.


The gospel joy of the resister.

In the mid 90s Scahill ended up at Jonah House with Phil Berrigan and his extraordinary wife, war resister, Liz McAlister. Talk about “an alternative education.”

Again, here’s the message, crafted so well by Norman Alcock yesterday. We all need cues, invitations to come into history and play our part. Rabbi Heschel says “By whatever we do, by every act we carry out, we either advance or obstruct the drama of redemption.We either reduce or enhance the power of evil.”

Nobody arrives without an invitation. Parents of course are the prime motivators but there are always others. Sometimes the calls are subtle, often below our threshold of understanding. The most powerful are those best expressed by the great philosopher Martin Buber, “All real living is meeting.” Significant people show up in our lives– a teacher, a friend, a significant other. Sometimes the invitation is more direct like, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” Most times however the cues are less direct.Too often the most powerful invitations are from the capitalist culture of excess—to have rather than to be, to own, accumulate, have power, perennial seductions we need to resist. Merton’s advice resonates here: ”You’re not going to survive America unless you are faithful to your discipline and tradition.

All of us can say about somebody, “I would not be here if it were not for…” For Jeremy Scahill it was Dan Berrigan

Gratitude for those who showed up in our lives, who showed us the way.

Dan Berrigan:”Nothing is ever lost”

May 3, 2016

Chris Wallace, is the Fox News Sunday host and son of the legendary 60 Minutes journalist .In 1981 Wallace interviewed Dan Berrigan. the following clip says it all aboutAmerican celebrity culture and its almost total inability to fathom the life of the spirit, in this case the depth of a man such as Dan Berrigan. The interview was at the time of the Ploughshares action when Dan and Phil and six others broke into a nuclear plant a General Electric factory in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. They invoked the prophet Isaiah’s words as they hammered on an inert Mark 12 A nuclear warhead.

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 2: 4


CHRIS WALLACE: Back in the Vietnam days, the Berrigan brothers were big. You attracted tens of thousands of people. Now you’re not as big. You do not attract the same attention.


CHRIS WALLACE: Is that hard for you?

FATHER DANIEL BERRIGAN: No, I don’t think we ever felt our conscience was tied to the other end of a TV cord. I think we’ve tried for a number of years to do what was right, because it was right.

This was a cardinal Berrigan insight, one which points to the belief that nothing is ever lost. In Dan’s words,”If the good is done in the right spirit, the good will go somewhere. I don’t think the Bible grants us to know where goodness goes, what direction, what force. I have never been seriously interested in the outcome.I was interested in trying to do it humanly and carefully and nonviolently and let it go.”

Wallace and too many others were sadly tethered to an observable, immediate outcome.Life is not like that.

Mother Teresa put it well: we are called not to be successful but faithful.

A great atheist friend of mine the late Norman Alcock had a similar response when he quit playing nuclear games at Chalk River the Canadian nuclear facility. Norm gave it all up. His conscience led him in `1961`to open a small peace institute in Dundas Ontario. Like Berrigan, Norm was called a fool and a dreamer.


Why would he give up such a prestigious job as one of Canada’s pre-eminent physicists to work for peace?

Like Berrigan Norman understood that the atomic bomb made war obsolete. “We were just not smart enough to realize it.” Like Berrigan he spent his life challenging nuclear proliferation.

Norms’ line was  similar to Dan’s.

Alcock simply said “I do it because it might give somebody else permission to come on the stage.”

We all need cues to enter history seriously. The Disney culture will give you an abundance of death-dealing cues, tickets to irrelevance, a perennial spectator in the fashioning of a better future for humanity. One needs a deeper grounding to say no to the idols. Dan Berrigan listened to a profound cue-giver the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton who told him, ”You’re not going to survive America unless you are faithful to your discipline and tradition.” Dan was steeped deeply in the best of the Catholic tradition. Norm drank from the wells of a grounded humanism. They resisted the American Kool-aid.

The lives of Dan Berrigan and Norm Alcock went way beyond “the end of a TV cord.” Many of us came onto the stage because of people like them.

Dan Berrigan Catholic prophet

May 2, 2016



Dan Berrigan, Jesuit priest, and Catholic prophet died Saturday just short of his 95th birthday.

For many of us, Dan put necessary flesh on the Jesus story, moved it into conemporary history as a force to be reckoned with. Not everyone followed of course. The culture had its way of bending us, in Augustine’s words making us “curvatus in se”, bent in ourselves.’ But after the Council (1962-65) the Bererigans,Dan and Phil, appalled at the Vietnam War, showed us the way of saying No especially to warmaking as a way of life, peacemaking as the way of Jesus.

Dan had a pixie-like way about him, great sense of humour. In 1981, this prize-winning poet wroie 10 Commandments for the Long haul

1) Call on Jesus when all else fails. Call on Him when all else succeeds (except that never happens).

2) Don’t be afraid to be afraid or appalled to be appalled. How do you think the trees feel these days, or the whales, or, for that matter, most humans?

3) Keep your soul to yourself. Soul is a possession worth paying for, they’re growing rarer. Learn from monks, they have secrets worth knowing.

4) About practically everything in the world, there’s nothing you can do. This is Socratic wisdom. However, about of few things you can do something. Do it, with a good heart.

5) On a long drive, there’s bound to be a dull stretch or two. Don’t go anywhere with someone who expects you to be interesting all the time. And don’t be hard on your fellow travelers. Try to smile after a coffee stop.

6) Practically no one has the stomach to love you, if you don’t love yourself. They just endure. So do you.

7) About healing: The gospels tell us that this was Jesus’ specialty and he was heard to say: “Take up your couch and walk!”

8) When traveling on an airplane, watch the movie, but don’t use the earphones. Then you’ll be able to see what’s going on, but not understand what’s happening, and so you’ll feel right at home, little different then you do on the ground.

9) Know that sometimes the only writing material you have is your own blood.

10) Start with the impossible. Proceed calmly towards the improbable. No worry, there are at least five exits.