Monday, July 11, 2016


For the readable story go to the Michigan Catholic newspaper site.
It is a companion piece to the story of Orchard Lake Seminiary's celebration of 1050 years of Polish Cathoicism.

                     Otto at 17

Otto Schimek a 19 year old Austrian soldier, under pain of his own death, refused to fight for Hitler in southern Poland.  After almost three years of research, this story ever more necessary in our world of increasing violence, begins to be told in the U.S. media.  It is just one of many similar stories of the faithful courage not to kill, that I find as I look further into the period of WWII, and all the decades of war since.  May we all find more of this courage.
        Deo gratias.

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

P.S.  This may become weekly again this fall.

Monday, March 21, 2016

What St. Patrick was preaching about the Triune God

"Non occides. Homicida non potest esse cum Christo." 
-St. Patrick, Epistola ad milites Corotici

Irish Catholic & protestants have begun to listen--will the rest of us?

Monday, January 4, 2016


My wife Ande moving through one of our many travel connections
 {with her daughter's snowboard}

Travel throws one into the present moment, alert attentive to every change of color, sound , and place—but in a foreign land, at the mercy of people’s good will.  Here in Europe, out of my Spanish-French language zone into unknown German, I’d forgotten how vulnerable one is.

Planning one’s journey is necessary, but always incomplete, dependent on each person you meet, and whether they are paying attention to you.  And your own touring goals are transient, mutable, difficult to formulate in real time, and easy to lose track of as time flits by like towns on the many trains.  Where to get on, where to get off?  We’re fortunate when we travel with good guides.

My daughter Kathleen now working in Basel Switzerland, and her boyfriend Eric with his German skills, were that for us in our trips into the high Alps, they down-mountain skiing, Ande and I hiking and cross- country skiing.  As we tramped around, and through, but not over a glacier area [crevasse risk too dangerous in this unseasonable warm weather], Herr Beat was our capable snow-shoe guide, urging us on with gluwein [hot spiced wine] and his insightful lament on the demise of his Saas Fee glaciers, less than 50% what they were when he was a boy just 50 years ago.  He could easily point down these high ridge valleys to where they no longer were.

Anatol, and his daughter Laura, were wonderful hosts to us just before Christmas in Vienna, as we continued the search for the story of Otto Schimek, a young Austrian who refused to kill for Hitler’s army [more on Otto].   We made progress, visited the bishop there who gave some support to our project.  There is hope that back in the USA we will move into a New Year, where Christians begin to truly renounce violence, turning towards the courage of peacemaking.

Ande, with Laura & Anatol Rathbaur in front of
Vienna Town Hall

                                                                                     Ande and Laura {reminds me of our Maura}

Short visit to Otto's family church in Vienna, St. Leopolds--Christmas trees on sale in front

On the steps of St Bridgittas in Vienna, where Otto was baptized

Monday, December 7, 2015


A sand tornado passes through as thousands of Kurds stream into Dikmetas, Turkey, from Syria in September 2014. Years after rural residents fleeing drought poured into Syria's cities, helping to spark a civil war, the region remains in turmoil.  {Millions of refugees having already arrived from our war in Iraq}  PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN STANMEYER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

 From today's NYT

As the world gathers in Paris, facing the challenge of climate change to life on earth, recent war and terror are intermingled with the threat to climate.  The terrorist attacks on civilians in Paris on Nov. 13th, and many other places, from Beirut to Mali to San Bernardino.   Millions of refugees from Syria’s and others wars and a failing ecology in the Middle East, moving towards Western Europe.   Tens of thousands in similar fashion flee war and climate disaster in Central America and Mexico, heading for our borders.

To see this situation more clearly in its wider implications, what happened in Syria must be looked at in a larger than political perspective.  {a short superficial video on this}
“Climate Change Helped Spark Syrian War,Study Says  - National Geographic – March, 2015
Research provides first deep look at how global warming may already influence armed conflict.”
It should not be hard to understand the catastrophic cascade of crop failure, scarcity of food, un-alleviated destitution, and war.
Nor should it be difficult to see that war itself compounds and propels the damage to the land and the inhabitants.   Nov. 12 News article - Amidst the debris- Environmental impact of conflict in Syria could bedisastrous - from PAX.

At its beginning and end, war ensures a deepening destruction of a population and their surroundings.
We must put away the petrochemical sword of war, before it displaces, chokes, bombs, or beheads all of us.
 Gul, 22, rests with her children at a gas station in SuriƧ, Turkey, after fleeing violence in Syria in 2014. While scientists acknowledge that many factors contributed to the conflict in Syria, a new study documents how mass migration influenced by climate change appears to have played a role.

From Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si --
“There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees…”
"It is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars."

From today’s scripture readings – Yet hope abounds this Christmas season.
     IS 35:1-10

Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
With divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
Then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water;
The abode where jackals lurk
will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus.
A highway will be there,
called the holy way;

      Kuwaiti oil well afire during our first Gulf War

Flight to Egypt- by Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn


Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015


A rising tide of fear and reactionism has become the routine response to terrorist acts, near and far.

But the rush to war is opposite to the way of Jesus.  War is hell, therefore from the devil, just or unjust it doesn’t matter to him.  Stir it up and God’s children inflict terror, lethal pain upon each other.   That war can lead to peace is a lie—the intrinsic evil of justified violence, killing in the name of God & country.   Never has, never will.  War leads to the next war.  God sent his only begotten son Jesus to bring us the living message that is the opposite of war—truth, justice, mercy and reconciliation.  

To deepen understanding of the dilemma that faces us in our response to radical Islam, and the greater Muslim community worldwide, at this time of post Paris terrorism, I add these resources to last week’s posting.

Thoughts in the Presence of Fear
by WENDELL BERRY  A farmer, writer, ecologist born & bred in Kentucky, who knows the value of work close to the land.

I. The time will soon come when we will not be able to remember the horrors of September 11 without remembering also the unquestioning technological and economic optimism that ended on that day.
II. This optimism rested on the proposition that we were living in a “new world order” and a “new economy” that would “grow” on and on, bringing a prosperity of which every new increment would be “unprecedented”.
III. The dominant politicians, corporate officers, and investors who believed this proposition did not acknowledge that the prosperity was limited to a tiny percent of the world’s people, and to an ever smaller number of people even in the United States; that it was founded upon the oppressive labor of poor people all over the world; and that its ecological costs increasingly threatened all life, including the lives of the supposedly prosperous.
    Read the rest of his 27 points.

And by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, head of a synagogue in NYC, who preaches and promotes peace & justice for all, across all faiths and cultures.

After Paris, Where and How?   Sustaining Abundance & Sharing Justice -- Not Imposing War

Dear friends,
We must mourn the dead of Paris. Later in this letter you will see a Mourners Kaddish in Time of War and Terror, in Aramaic/ Hebrew and in English, with an invitation to all of us to draw on it, to use it in our own tongus and teachings..
We must affirm and join the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world in utterly condemning these atrocities.  Below you will also see statements issued by the President of Iran  and by the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of leading national and local Muslim organizations.
And we must also, as quickly as possible, assess what to do now to prevent such atrocities.
In that assessment, we must take into account what terrible mistakes our government and people have made in the past that served to sprout the seeds of terror that already existed in the Muslim world  -- as in other worlds, including some hyper-nationalist and hyper-racist Americans.
There were two such profound mistakes. One was broader than the Middle East, and has not received the focused attention it deserves. It was the failure of the US and other governments to respond to scientific warnings of impending disaster from global scorching. As the NY Times has reported  (March 2, 2015;  see <>),
“Drawing one of the strongest links yet between global warming and human conflict, researchers said that an extreme drought in  Syria between 2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change, and that the drought was a factor in the violent uprising that began there in 2011. …
“They cited studies that showed that the extreme dryness, combined with other factors, including misguided agricultural and water-use policies of the Syrian government, caused crop failures that led to the migration of as many as 1.5 million people from rural to urban areas. This in turn added to social stresses that eventually resulted in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.”
So one urgent lesson for the future is that the US and other governments must take swift and  vigorous action in the forthcoming Paris international conference on the climate crisis. Without such action, we can expect more such civil wars, millions of refugees, and desperate acts of war and terror as food and water vanish in many regions of the Earth.   More ...

  An interfaith prayer card from Pax Christi USA 

In Thanksgiving for abundant blessings received in the USA.  May we share equitably and graciously with all, the many immigrant cultures and indigenous who make us who we are today.
Deo gracias

Monday, November 16, 2015


When our media pundits escalate the carnage of terrorist attacks to the level of full scale war, where we can further unleash our sophisticated air-power and drone assassinations, we only lock ourselves deeper into a war addicted society.   The common U.S. citizen rarely sees what war and violent death really look like up close.   The recent killings by terrorists in France appear to bring it closer to our Western society, but as long as our war industry and homeland security dominant institutions seem to keep it at bay, far away in foreign lands, we are willing to pay protection money federal taxes, and look the other way.
  Perhaps 130 now the recent Paris victims, maybe a Syrian refugee among the ISIS assailants.

Shots start at the Bataclan, a concert hall with a capacity of 1,500 people, three men attacked a sold-out performance of the Eagles of Death Metal, an American band.   89 died – from NYT

People wounded are taken away by emergency personnel near the Bataclan music hall, Paris

Terrible, but also predictable, and now we can mount even more disastrous wars in Iraq & Syria, where sprouts the Islamic State, out of our previous invasions & interventions.   The collateral damage of our war-making response to the 911 attack, spilling from Afghanistan to Iraq and ever onward, continues to mushroom.   We pay attention to Paris, but every day every week, comparable innocents die, at the hands of terrorists, and often times immolated by our own hi-tech weaponry efforts to destroy those we’ve labeled terrorists and their communities.

Forty in Lebanon, the day before the Paris attack—Arab innocents largely ignored by the regular media.   Just try doing a google search of international news stories that focus on the Middle East—the casualties of terrorism & war occurring daily country by country.   You will not be able to keep count.   No one is accurately compiling these numbers.   These deaths are of minimal importance.   In the 15 years since the turn of the Millennium they are most likely in the millions.   And the victims often get blamed, “You lived in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

151112-Beruit attack 40 killed - twin suicide bombings in the Burj al-Barajneh neighborhood of Beirut, Lebanon. Photo - Bilal Hussein-AP

“When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag,” Elie Fares, a Lebanese doctor, wrote on his blog. “When my people died, they did not send the world into mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”

At daily mass today our local parish priest gave a beautiful strong homily, on the need to put Christ in the place of our reliance on war as the solution to terrorism.   He made the practical point that the terrorist attacks in Paris needed to be countered with clear investigations, and rounding up the perpetrators—not by sending attack jets to inflict collective lethal presumptive judgement, on far away villages in the Middle East.   He knew this is not a popular view.
Yet God is father of us all, and the rush to war is opposite to the way of following His Son, Jesus.


And once again global oil dependency enters into the war equation.