Sunday, December 25, 2011


                                 Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it – because he is out of place in it, and yet must be in it – his place is with those others who do not belong, who are rejected because they are regarded as weak; and with those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, and are tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst.

                                     By Thomas Merton                           
Rembrandt -- Adoration of the Shepherds

Goria in excelsis Deo {Glory to God in the highest}—Shepherds first invited, Magi can come too—Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis {And on earth peace to men & women of good will}.

They can come work for us to give us our daily bread, but there is no room at Inn USA

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Monday, December 19, 2011


Patrols by American soldiers in Iraq will soon end with the scheduled troop withdrawal---Maya Alleruzzo--Associated Press
May 1, 2003--Mission Accomplished in Iraq-- President Bush on flight deck
December 15, 2011 marked the most recent official end to the Iraq War [remember May 2003 with Pres. George W. Bush looking buff, but certainly at-sea, on an aircraft carrier declaring victory]. Nine years of war that never had to happen, a pre-emptive non-defensive morally unjust war. No national clergy called it just, the U.S. Catholic bishops had “grave doubt.” Then Pope John Paul II and our current Pope Benedict XVI both stated that this war did not meet just war criteria. Yet the leadership and people of the USA have pressed on--with casualties of 4,487 American lives, with another 32,226 Americans wounded in action *, and Iraqi civilians dead in the hundreds of thousands [our government never counted]. Nor were Iraqi enemy combatants killed ever tabulated, their being hard to distinguish from the rest of the population. Few of us have been able to speak the simple truth. This was at best a bad mistake. Moreover, this was wrong. We can all prayerfully respond, “mea culpa” as in the Latin from the penitential rite of the mass-- “through my fault.”
The Holy Innocents by Giotto di Bondone
So much death and destruction leads to no real celebration at war’s declared end. Only a slight sigh of relief on both sides, as we emerge with an economy crippled by two major wars, and they deal with the escalated violence between religious factions, and a decimated infrastructure—the bad fruits of this war of choice. The tenor of the 45-minute farewell ceremony [Dec. 15th], officially called "Casing the Colors,” was likely to sound an uncertain trumpet for a war that was started to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction it did not have.” * This final, low key, passing of the torch to the Iraqis was in a Baghdad area fortified courtyard, in what has been our major airbase in their country. The tenuous security atmosphere in Iraq was underscored by helicopters that hovered over the ceremony, scanning the ground for rocket attacks.” * I’m reminded of my father-in-law’s dry parting shot for the not-so-welcome guest, “Don’t let the door hit your behind on your way out.”
A boy sits in debris from Speicher Base near Sokur, Iraq, which housed American troops until they left the site on Oct 20--Photo from NYT, 11-16-2011
What we’ve left behind is a country without a dictator [as we “decapitated” Saddam] but also without a democracy--with 4 million internal and external refugees [a good number from Iraq’s ancient Christian community], and many of their talented workers and professionals fled or dead. The leadership has been transferred from Sunni to Shiite, more bad blood shed between them in this war than ever before. The Iraqi Shiites are closer allies to Iran, the most powerful Shia country in the region, than they are to the U.S. And Iran [a designated axis of evil] is our probable next target in the interminable Wars on Terror.

ow do we, the most militarily mighty of the worlds’nations, stop this marching to war after war? The first step is to confess the sin, to admit we were wrong, from the leadership down to each and every one of us. Those who were for this Iraq War either operated from false ulterior motive, or allowed themselves to be mislead. Those who were against did not do enough, or slaked their consciences with, “there’s nothing I can do.”

I place myself in the class of those who did not do enough. Seeing the grave importance of avoiding this unjust invasion a group of us circulated the Iraq Peace Pledge at our local churches. In one weekend early October 2002 here in Port Huron, nearly 400 signed against the war, with 41 of us pledging,“If the U.S. sends combat troops, invades by proxy, or otherwise significantly escalates its intervention in Iraq, I pledge to join with others to engage in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience at U. S. Federal facilities, Congressional offices, military installations, or other appropriate places.”

The war came with “shock & awe” on March 20, 2003, and none of us to my knowledge responded to our pledge. No civil disobedience arrests here. As a nominal leader of the pledge, I had a few ideas, received no call from other leaders, found no inspiration catch hold, was busy with other things, and did nothing except go to a Pax Christi conference to present a talk against the war. A number of us resisted federal income tax for this war, redirecting some tax in an “Iraq Peace Bonds” campaign for a while, but this was minimally effective, and lost momentum.
Iraq Peace Bond [in place of income taxes for war] presented to St. Clair Co. Library on May 2, 2007

We did pray for an end to this unjust war, and continue to. For four years now our Holy Trinity Church has held a Novena of prayer nine days before the August 9thanniversary of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter’s death by execution. He was an Austrian Catholic who wouldn’t fight in Hitler’s unjust wars, and we ask his intercession with the Almighty to help end this Iraq war, and Afghanistan, all wars. The almost complete pullout of our troops from Iraq this month is certainly an answer to many prayers, and courageous actions, at home and abroad.
God bless us with the faith to be inspired in new swords-into-plowshares ways, to follow your infant Son as we await His birth in a stable, all-powerfully vulnerable. Help us to make present Jesus the Prince of Peace, in our hearts and in our nation.

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

* These citations, quotations, from U.S. Ends Mission in Iraq” NYT, 12-15-2011. This article, plus all those on Iraq in the NYT that day, are worth reading.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Today we sang las Mañanitas at la Guadalupe Center in Port Huron, in celebration of the Mother of God recognizing the beauty and holiness of the indigenous cultures in Mexico and the Americas—the only certain apparition she has made to this western half of the world.  She gave the gift of a picture of herself on the woven cloak of Juan Diego, Cuauhtlatoatzin his native name, to him.  Also as a sign to the Hispanic bishop that the indigenous people were close to her, special to her the Virgin Mary Madre de Dios.  Most of us, descendants of conquistadores, should keep this in mind this day, as we approach the birth of the Savior born in a stable, and as we make ongoing decisions as to how we bear the gifts and treasures of our lives.
This is our last studio photo of our kids.  As may have happened to some of you, life got very busy as they grew, and Bridget youngest now 24 [left of Maura, Sam & Kath] makes it in as a cut and paste--all great blessings to us.
Here, in Spanish and English, is a prayer from a holy card to La Virgen de Guadalupe we have said often with our children as they were growing up. “Do whatever He tells you,” as we are urged by Mary’s words at Cana.  It was written by Fr. E. C. McCarthy, our priest friend who has made it his life work to preach the heart of the Gospel--the nonviolent unconditional all-merciful love of Jesus. 


         Santa María de Guadalupe, señal del Poder y La Misericordia, no hecha por manos humanos, tu, que estas levantada por La Sabiduría de Dios, al centro de las Américas, en la tilma milagrosa para que todos los de la América puedan verte, le pedimos  a tu Hijito, curar la mordedura  de la serpiente ardiente que quiere destruir  nuestro cuerpo y nuestra  alma.

          Mientras, mirándote  a ti, Madre de lo Imposible, te pedimos quitar nuestras aflicciones, como tu quitaste las enfermedades del tío de Juan Diego, para que la victoria sobre ellas, puedan testificar el Amor de Dios, el Poder de Dios, y el camino de Vida de Jesús, El Cristo.

          Querida, cariñosa Señora de Guadalupe, nos arrepentimos de todo los pensamientos, palabras y obras que no habían sido según la Vía que Jesús nos enseña, dar  la Vida—el Sermón del Monte.  Prometemos, tratar sinceramente seguir tus ultimas palabras en el Evangelio:  “Hagan lo que Él les diga.”

 Ahora, Clemente, Madre de Humanidad, quien está mas  profundamente unida en Cristo Dios, que intercedes con tu Hijo, para que escuches   los gritos de nuestro pequeño corazón 
(Aquí se hace la petición)

Virgen Inmaculada de Guadalupe, mientras  miramos tu rostro de bronce, por favor danos La Paz, con  una mirada de Amor, una sonrisa del Paraíso, un beso curativa de Dios.

                                                        Gracias – Amen

                                                        Salve María......

                                                        Toda Santa Trinidad,

                                                        Ten piedad de nosotros.

Escrito por Padre Emanuel Charles McCarthy

Trad. por Padre José G. Herrera Alcala.
For more of Fr. McCarthy's writings see his webpage--

Sunday, December 4, 2011


We should never sacrifice life for our country, just one among many nations, all are merciless, demanding more than God-- but we should constantly prepare to live and die for the one true God, who embraces all.   
We in the abundantly blessed USA must make a good examination of conscience this Advent.  “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths,” we are told in this Sunday’s Gospel.   John the Baptist has called everyone out of their comfort zones, out of homes and courtyards into the desert, to occupy sites near the river Jordan.  Be baptized by water, and then the spirit.  We have been fighting two unjust wars, one for more than a decade.  Neither was of last resort—a major one of the 9 conditions, each of which has to be met for those who seek to call a war just. 
John the Baptist--a voice crying in the desert
Now Jesus comes to forgive sins—repent, change your mind and heart.  None of us has done enough to reverse Iraq & Afghanistan, all of us too complicit in wars fought by misguided leaders for oil, money, & power.
A boy sits in debris from Speicher Base near Sokur, Iraq, which housed American troops until they left the site on Oct 20-- NYT Photo Nov. 16, 2011
final point for contemplation for Christians who are to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, in this Holy season, within a world wracked by wars.  Where in the Gospels, or in your deepest heart, does Jesus tell you—“Kill your enemies before they kill you” ?  Where does the One who lived and died in expiation of all the world’s sins, plant the seed for a justified war?

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Monday, November 28, 2011


One Democrat who made some good difference during a difficult time
Democracy has always been under duress from powerful interests tying to dominate U.S. politics, but the system is now at the breaking point.   The Citizens United decision of the U.S. Supreme Court has opened up the campaign season to a flood of corporate money—corporations now have the rights of individual citizens, to use their money as their free speech.    And the concerted actions of a corporate-funded national think tank, the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, has sent laws restricting the right to vote, through the legislatures of crucial states, that will further turn the tide towards their brand of conservative candidates in the coming national elections.   A powerful private foundation writes and provides laws to our state lawmakers.
Also included in ALEC’s packaged portfolio are laws that push emergency  financial managers on local governments, mandate changing their contractual obligations to teachers and public service employees, and shift tax burdens from corporations to regular citizens. [See the links for some of this story below].

t’s not about the will of the people, but about bending the people’s will to do the plutonomy’s* bidding.  Plutocrats can now enlist their corporations as mega-persons.  Giant vote-mastering media machines, that now keep our politics, the exclusive game of the super rich.  Our politicians are now, more than ever, chosen on country club golf greens and in corporate board rooms.  Persons truly representing the poor and middle class need not apply.

There’s too much money involved for we-the-people’s voice to be heard.    But call on each other we must -- to be faithful to the value of real freedom, inclusive not exclusive.    Occupy Wall Street, and communities of faith, have begun to sound the trumpet as we enter the cold but holy season.  May we cast off the selfish machinations of Scrooge, from the towers of financial wizards to the bedrock neighborhoods of common folk.  True democracy, and our faith, demands a place for everyone at the table. 

I have voted for many different party candidates since my first franchise exercise in 1968.  Also I’ve created my own write-in candidates when those offered were inadequate {most all of them}, and felt best about voting for competent intelligent Bill Moyers-- journalist, egalitarian, ecumenical Texas Baptist preacher.   The people should be able to raise up candidates for these national offices from amongst themselves, and then get a real look at what they stand for, instead of how they spin.  More on this method next week.
Please take the time to read some of these.

*  "plutonomy" – origin in paper by Citigroup Bank in 2006, explanation found in this review,  but I haven’t accessed the paper itself—though this is an apparent transcription of part 1

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.  Mt 19:21-22

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Monday, November 21, 2011


Free marketeers by Pat Bagley
I started writing this at the beginning of last summer.  The problem of mounting corporate greed and its politics continues to assail us.  How long, O Lord, how long…? Psalm 13

Obama’s presidency is under siege.  He’s far from perfect, but come on, give the guy a chance.  Instead we have Congressional stonewaller gridlockers of both parties.  No adequate spending to stimulate local economies allowed; no return to the pre-Bush administration slightly more progressive tax rates which had been keeping us solvent, with the rich paying a fairer share.  This by order of the corporate superintendents of congresses’ “super committee.”    All chance for economic success denied, except for the bankrupt “trickle down” {from the rich to the rest of us--you think?} method.  The concept of a “loyal opposition” is dead and buried.  The practice of hardball politics is in full swing.
The loyal opposition -- by Oliphant
All tactics are fair, no matter how despicable.  Our black president is portrayed as a Hilter.  Every day media racism rears its ugly talking heads.  Voting rights are under attack in multiple legislative schemes, devised by preserve-the-wealth think tanks.  Fiscal crisis is upon us – and will be maintained-- until the new corporate personhood effects its regime change.   The three headed monster, racism-militarism-poverty, Martin Luther King warned about is freely roaming our world seeking the ruination of souls.
Cerberus, guardian of Hades 
{incidental name choice?--Cerberus Capital Management, L.P one of the world's leading private investment firms}
Corporate countries are enslaving, worldwide, the displaced legions they’ve caught in the global web of their war profit schemes.  Kingdom-makers who’ve lost touch with the real people they depend on for their survival.  They try to rule from lonely tall walls of lofty prosperity—their self-directed proclamations wrecking havoc on the people who form the base of their strong-holds.  
The financials industry and their politicians create fear as part of political policy.  Real well-informed democracy is dangerous to their interests, they believe, so everyone is to be kept off balance, clutching to their pocketbooks.  Expeditious asphyxiations of consumer confidence are the rhythm of the marketplace.  A wobbly Wall Street helps keep popular aspirations in check.  The Occupy Wall Street movement sees this clearly, and tries to sound the alarm for everyone, the 100%, to hear.
The Battle of Jericho
It will all come tumbling down, if we can find the way to blow horns of Jericho together, marching round in the right spiritual harmonic.  The system of fortress America cannot stand.  Isolated individualists at the top towers inside, have laid siege to themselves.  The dark dust of collapse will cause labored breathing for all within, and without, our castle walls.  Survival depends on the walls being breached with strong open arms, allowing our interconnectedness with fresh air from all directions—winds borne from the earth’s four corners.  This is how our nation was formed we must remember.

he freedom to plunder each other with a free hand and without remorse, must be put to flight as the Great Deceiver it is.  We are a global community that in learning to serve each other equally, will come to receive the sustaining breath of the Creator, the atmosphere and solidarity, of truly blessed sons and daughters of God.

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of Christ the King, and the Gospel of his Last Judgement, Mt 25: 31-46.  Congress should take heed this holy judgment—those who will be favored, chosen for salvation, are those who generously serve the least of the brethren, not those who protect the war-coffers budget of the rich.
The Last Judgement by Michaelangelo

By the next day, 11-15-11, after eviction--The Occupy Wall Street folks are back in full swing at Zuccotti Park [NYC]— even bringing back the food line- Photo, Aaron Showalter - New York Daily News

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Monday, November 14, 2011


Headline---“'Call of Duty' Sales Hit $400 Million”--- Activision Blizzard Inc. said its "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" had the biggest launch of any game ever.* Thus salutes the Wall Street Journal 11-12-11, a couple days after this video game’s release, just in time for Veteran’s Day 11-11-11.  While veterans know better than anyone, war is not a game.
A customer takes a number to reserve a copy of Activision's 'Call of Duty-Modern Warfare 3' videogame at a GameStop in New York on Monday 11-11-07 -  photo Bloomberg News
Contrast this commercial success, with the final words Jesus said to his gathered church, in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The apostles did not understand these words then, and we still stumble through repetitive, uncomprehending wars, and their glorification, 2000 years later.

Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  Mt 26:52-53  {The weapons we wield now go disastrously way beyond the sword.}  Shortly after this, in his life and death dialogue with Pilate, Jesus continues, "My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world."  Jn 18:36 
Jesus and Judas, Peter and Malchus {servant of the High Priest} in the Garden of Gethsemane

Our central cultural story of honor has become the glorification and weaponization of our trained-to-kill commandos who can inflict terrible death, and die, for this world’s current number one kingdom.  Our kingdoms are of this world, and they are more important to us, in blood and treasure, than God, and His Word.  That puts our country, and many others, squarely in violation of the First Commandment.  Add to this our nation’s adoration of Wall Street wealth, and we have social sin enough to sink the ship of state, before even considering the anti-life cannonballs we shoot ourselves with--abortion and state sanctioned executions.

ring Veterans Day back to its origins in Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918, a celebration of the end of WWI, that was to “end all wars,” and bring a conversion to truly do what Jesus commanded by word and deed—terminate all justified violence, by loving one another as he loves us.


Nov. 11th is also, by the mystery of God’s grace, the day the Catholic church celebrates the feast of St. Martin of Tours, one of the early churches’ conscientious objectors to war. When he converted to Christianity in his youth he said, "Put me in the front of the army, without weapons or armor; but I will not draw sword again. I am become the soldier of Christ."

St. Martin of Tours divides cloak with the Beggar--by El Greco


For a previous WSJ article with more detail on the video war game marketplace see—

See my July 4, 2011 entry, SUPREME COURT LEAVES CHILDREN'S WINDOW TO THE SOUL, OPEN TO PURVEYORS OF VIOLENCE, in archives, for futher comment on our war video games.
For more on the life of St. Martin of Tours see this article—esp. the first 3 paragraphs.

And to see a little of what the other side of war can be, please view this video sent by Fr. E.C. McCarthy.

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

More on what I term “the sword discourses”, in subsequent web writings. Jesus wrangles with his disciples over taking up the sword to preserve worldly power, at the end of his earthly ministry.  These neglected words [read Mt 26:52-54; Lk 22:35-38,49-53; Jn 18:10-11,36] are His statement on war & violence, as he then consistently offers perfect personal example of death and new life-- permanent replacement for the institutionalized violence of all worldly kingdoms.          

Monday, November 7, 2011


We survive the family and friends who don’t, our parents often the first to go.  I was told as my Mom just passed away, that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Now in friend Sharon and her Dad, Hamilton who died last week, I see once again clearly how that is true.  Praise God for the mysterious plan of vibrant life recycled.  They are the African American family I know best, Sharon a pillar of our Blue Water Pax Christi group, her Dad always supportive of our efforts.

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jn 21:18   Jesus said to young man Peter.
When I met Hamilton more that 10 years ago, he was physically weakening, on his way to wheel chair stage of life.  But he’d come to peace vigils when he could, with big full smile and cogent words of encouragement against war and for justice.  It’s not surprising to learn now at the time of his death, that he’d been a Navy medic during WWII, long term community activist, professor at Wayne State University, co-founder of the Cass Corridor Community Food Co-op, and more.  I find myself an apple close to his tree as well.
 Latin, "Blessed is the Man"
His daughter Sharon is my age, continues her Dad’s style of activism on many fronts, and is a great prod to our Pax Christi group, assuring we’ll never become complacent.  She works diligently for world peace, and, in her persistent personal way, because she’s right-on certain of who she is, works hardest for racial justice—justice for everyone in need.  This starts at home.  Due to family difficulties she stepped in and raised up her sister’s two daughters, from when they were little kids into young adulthood.

  St. Josephine Bakhita
She stands tall while still striving to be servant to all, in family and church community—takes seriously to the point of compulsion Martin Luther Kings’ prime directive:  “Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people,” and Jesus’ new commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  Sharon's seen at nearly every parish potluck, and peace picket line.  Not always first to appear, but often last to leave.  Few hold a candle to her brightness.

Her father was a star in her universe.  Hard to care for sometimes, he often lived with her, and towards the end, she visited him almost every day in the local nursing home.  At his funeral she chose words of W.E.B. Dubois, to make resplendent for us his shining light.

              He sat one morning gazing toward the sea.  He smiled and said, “The gate is rusty on the hinges.”  That night at star-rise a wind came moaning out of the west to blow the gate ajar, and then the soul I loved fled like a flame across the Seas, and in its seat sat Death.

I wonder where he is today?  I wonder if in that dim world beyond, as he came gliding in, there rose on some wan throne a King—a dark and pierced Jew—who knows the writhings of the earthly damned, saying, as he laid those heart-wrung talents down, “Well done!”  while round about the morning stars sat singing.

                --- Excerpt from “The Souls of Black Folk”  p. 161

And a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."  Mt 3:17

Illumination by Kathy Brahney