Skip to main content

End Forever Wars, pray for us St. Joseph and St. Oscar Romero

 [long read] "Mom, Dad, the doctor said I should call you. This is her phone. I'm in a hospital in Guatemala." Four hours later a phone was pressed into my hand. "Chris, oh good, hold on." It was my mother's voice. "Your father is boarding a flight. I just told him we reached you."

Twenty years ago I participated in a delegation to El Salvador. In many ways that's where lessons I had started to get exposure caught up with me in full force. A few years before, the global campaigns for justice  first pierced my bubble in Seattle during the successful shut-down, sit-in to stop the World Trade Organization. Only two months before the twin towers created a national mnemonic for my generation, I was trying out broken Spanish and freshman microeconomic theory in a meeting with the Mayor of Nueva Trinidad. The community had formed in Honduran-based refugee encampments during the 1980s and maintained its identity, then ten years since the conflict had begun to end the 1992 peace accords. 

Over thirty years ago, a sister-parish relationship began to confront the weight of the world's sin, covertly, as the check-point of young soldiers believed they passed on a worker's truck loaded with unimportant, poorman's stuff, while underneath the covering lay a dedicated parish priest, Fr. Craig Boly, SJ and George Hofbauer, St Joseph parish school principal on their way into Chalatenango, a stronghold of the anti-oligarchic guerrilla fighters among whom practitioners of liberation theology were considered anathema by the Reagan Administration, who deemed the movement a force of Communism. 

Forged during the years of civil war the parish of St. Joseph in Seattle, WA had networked Jesuit relations to send peacemaker teams to la parróquia de san Bartolomé de las Casas, in Arcatao, El Salvador.  On the Feast of St. Joseph, yesterday, that bond remained as strong, four to a bench, as the decorated church was filled, all wearing masks, enjoying the special occasion for youths' speeches about saints Romero and Joseph, prayer and song, followed by a troupe who danced foklorica.

Last December, Pope Francis issued Patris Corde, which commemorates St. Joseph. The celebration last night coincides with the upcoming 41st anniversary of St. Romero. Among the many prayers, I would like to highlight one which I sent to friends who just had their first child: Liz and An, an Asian-American, multi-racial couple replete with joy and love of music, passion for accompaniment to the needy, by their respective vocations to law and therapy. While the full document of Patris Corde was helpfully summarized last evening, a prayer further boiled down essential qualities of Joseph in its sense of the many moments we might respond as Joseph did. 


Maybe it's...Moments of silence--to hear the angels speaking to us.


Or....Moments of discernment--being able to know God's will for us.


Moments that demonstrate justice to each person who touches our lives.


Moments of openness to change--to have humility in recognizing our imperfections.


Or...Moments of courage--to take action in the face of fear.


So, St. Joseph is an example for us, and let us try to follow him; quietly, humbly with obedience and love in our hearts. The prayer thus ends, and while I find it a useful examine, let me turn to my day.

A lay-leader of the rosary group reached out with an almost request--only to then say that as soon as he had posted the supplication for help on facebook he received an answer. A response that an outgoing mother was on her way to mail items. 

clothing migrants who have come seeking asylum in our country.  Sr. Ann Connolly is a Sister of Mercy heading up Mercy at the Border, and they are in need of clothing.  

Here is her request: 
We need Underwear for:
Women size medium,
Men size medium
Children size 2,3,4,5,6
Women’s simplest tops, size medium
Men’s simplest tees, size medium
Leggings for women, medium or one size.

All best sent to
Anne Connolly, RSM
336 Cohune Palm
Alamo, TX. 78516

The border migrants in need include children who wear sizes my daughters wear, or outgrowing, 2 and 3. That's where I stopped on this list and it struck me, again, the plight of children separated from their parents, daily, hundreds, while the same systemic flaws remain--I'm thinking of the 545 children of whom in October last year NPR reported cannot be returned to their parents for a host of failures.

Two years ago, the "Senate passed a resolution to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen." Trump's veto was left to stand.

Kathy Kelly spoke stirringly for this afternoon's Mass Peace Action Assembly on the 30th and 18th Anniversary's of war in Iraq. To quote her at length drawing connection to Catholic Worker Carmen Trotta incarcerated for his plowshare disarmament action. "We make wars to sell weapons"--Carmen Trotta writes from prison.

 "This is hell," David Beasley said when he saw the Yemeni children in the hospital who cannot cry. They cannot, because, every ounce of strength must insist on survival. 400,000 close to starving to death of starvation. Will they lift the blockade, the US has the ability to pressure Saudi Arabia, whose blocade has combined, over the seventh year, bludgeon it for control of fisheries, oil reserves in eastern and western, and the strategic port. Meanwhile, reports of Houthis, blocade or no, they have gained control in the north. They have themselves engaged in human rights violations, but nothing to touch what Saudi Arabia. If the weapons arrive to the Houthis regardless of blocade, is the purpose punitive. May increased aid be given, stop all sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia led coalitions, departing from Baltimore, the Merrimack shipyard in Wisconsin, and from Chicago, the Boeing 650 laser-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia, this is wrongful and we can work hard to stop it. --quoting Kathy Kelly at length.


The day included a brief address from Mass. state senator Jamie Eldridge, whose SD. 128 is "An Act establishing Massachusetts Freedom Day" and SD. 129, "An Act relative to the divestment of state pensions from nuclear weapons." He spoke of Ft. Debins, closed in 1996, still army training base in Ft. Devins, tour at height of Obama escalating the Afghanistan war. "Some of my residents were struggling due to the recession, yet to see the new facilities, new training grounds for soldiers going to Iraq and Afghanistan, without any regard for our domestic needs, while our funds continue flowing to these"--Eldridge said. I heard words like war-machine to complete the thought. "If we could cut our military budget," he continued, "investing in transportation, combating poverty investing in education, advocate with our congress men and women and US senators, and divest our state pension from companies that build weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons..." Now this is a practical figure in the mold of Joseph's humility in recognizing our imperfection, and courage to speak out without fear of reprisal.


"Please stop bombing this road, it's the only way out for refugees"

In Kathy Kelly's article, "Blood for Oil" published on the Progressive website, she calls for our contrition. While she wrote in advance of Pope Francis's visit to Iraq, and envisioned his meeting President Joe Biden to Iraq to hear his confession. As fathers today, we are all invited to rent our cloak, take sack-cloth and ashes, decrying our country's militarism. 

The ground at the Amiriyah shelter in Baghdad must be the kind of place Sts Joseph and Oscar Romero would bow low to the ground in tears. As Kathy Kelly writes:

"There, on February 13, 1991, two 2,000-lb. U.S. laser guided missiles killed 400 civilians, mostly women and children. Another 200 were severely wounded. 

Kathy Kelly visited Iraq throughout the 90s, dozens of times violating sanctions by delivering necessary medicines. Witnessing in 1998 to the atrocities of sanctions-induced starvation, she recalled a peace team participant's reaction: “I think I understand,” said Martin Thomas. “It’s a death row for infants.” 

"Milan Rai, now editor of Peace News and then the coordinator of a U.K. campaign to defy the economic sanctions, knelt next to one of the mothers. Rai’s own child was close in age to the toddler the mother cradled. “I’m sorry,” Rai murmured. “I’m so very sorry.”


Painting by Sallie Latch, activist with the Center for Global Justice--Latch has sought. to aid those seeking refuge from war.

Quoting at length from Kathy Kelly, who included the above image in her newsletter. To end this evening as a father, grateful to share the planet with soulforce espousing global citizens like Kathy. We men, we fathers, it is in relationship to our greater self-shedding identity that we liken the God of relation, the Trinitarian God who died and suffered. We pray with the saints on this 30th anniversary, or 18th anniversary of Iraq war, teach us O God, to love with courage and humility, that we might offer the future our own creative protection.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-

Kathy Kelly, 2 March 2021 <https://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/03/02/operation-desert-storm-blood-oil> last accessed 20 March 2021.

Brett Wilkins, <https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/03/19/18th-anniversary-iraq-invasion-activists-renew-calls-us-reparations> accessed 20 March 2021.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Dragon's Story

Once she raised two eggs on a cliff on the moor. Word spread the Dragon had not been seen. Was she gone? Had she taken ill? Who would protect them! Armed bandits were the first to plan their raid on the nearby villagers. First they sent out a search party. As they neared, they saw she was in her lair. "Why are you here? I should ask you," the Dragon said. "I am the dragon but I fly no more. I fly no more yet am the dragon still." They thought she said, "I cannot fly now." They reported she was roosting eggs. That she did not fly. "Were they golden?" "How do you know?" "Is it true they have magic power?" On they talked until they believed it must be worth the risk. Now the Captain was a pious pirate, the best of the lot. He had risen as chief of them having some schooling in him before he ran from home and lettered, he added arithmetic, and map reading, and had made himself useful until he knew several of the seven seas. He was

Closing Guantánamo: 2021 in Review

7306 days open--and what are we doing about it? It is a credit to a committed coalition of human rights defenders that we have seen bi-annual attention to the issue since Obama left office. A closer look will show some of the minor victories month by month. This year in review is  partial.  Since a year ago, former prisoners of Guantánamo organized their  open letter to President Biden specifying demands --our role has been to amplify that letter.  Jan 11, 2021 Amnesty International publishes " USA Right the Wrong: Guantánamo Decision Time " Jan. 22, 2021 Ahmed Rabbani, still prisoner at Guantánamo has published in UK Independent a letter to Biden :  When I was kidnapped from Karachi in 2002 and sold to the CIA for a bounty with a false story that I was a terrorist called Hassan Ghul, my wife and I had just had the happy news that she was pregnant. She gave birth to my son Jawad a few months later. I have never been allowed to meet my own child. President Biden is a man who s

Crucified Victims and Desecrated Earth

Photo shared by Art Laffin of Dorothy Day Catholic Worker with banner outside the Pentagon Good Friday, April 2, 2021       Today we mourn to mobilize and disrupt modern day crucifixions. (Revised from original script prepared by Art Laffin for vigil at Pentagon).  Crucified Victim #1--Victim of Torture   Jesus was a torture victim who was condemned by religious authorities and executed by the Roman empire. We remember all torture victims, past and present, who have suffered and died from the effects of torture. We remember those prisoners who died at secret U.S. military black sites, as well as the nine men who died at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo.  Last year Djamel Ameziane, a former Guantánamo prisoner, was legally and morally vindicated as the first complaint related to the "war on terror" in which the US was found responsible to a victim of torture, according to  the long awaited decision May 27, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) .      Let us c