Monday, June 25, 2012


Cover of biographical pamphlet by Dr. Erna Putz

At the suggestion of our pastor, Fr. Brian, this year's Jagerstatter Novena coincides within the U.S. Bishops' "Fortnight for Freedom" which will end July 4th.  There is a need to balance the church's stance on freedom of conscience and personal morality, with our moral responsibility in a society so much dedicated to violence and war.  Please join in praying the novena with us.  Below are the two sides of the parish bulletin insert for this year 2012.

Side 1
Yearly Novena of Prayer, begun at our Holy Trinity parish Port Huron, MI in 2008, this year June 24 to July 2, moved from August to occur within the Fortnight for Freedom.  The prayer below is prayed at every parish gathering and liturgy for the nine days.  In addition to praying for our religious freedom from political mandates relating to our healthcare and immigration ministry, we pray Jesus to free us from our mandates that support the disastrous violence of war. 

Lord Jesus Christ,               
You filled your servant Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter
with a deep love for you, his family and
all people.
During a time of contempt for God and
humankind you bestowed on him
unerring discernment and integrity.
In faith, he followed his conscience, and
said a decisive NO to the Nazi regime
and unjust war.
Thus he sacrificed his life.
We pray that you may glorify your
servant Franz, so that many people may
be encouraged by him and grow in love
for you and all people.
May his example shine out in our time,
and may you grant all people the
strength to stand up for justice, peace
and human dignity.
For yours is the glory and honor with
the Father and the Holy Spirit now and
forever. Amen.

(Prayer from the Diocese of Linz, Austria)

We choose June 24, feast day of St. John the Baptist to begin our Novena  He prepared the way of the Lord, preaching truth to power and repentance to all, and was beheaded as was Franz.  The Novena ends on July 2, feast of St. Oliver Plunkett, an Irish bishop of the 17th century persecutions who had brought the Gospel to the poor and was executed.
Side 2 
{This is a short history of Franz' life, a family man's refusal to take part in Hitler's unjust wars.  It can be read in my July 29, 2011 web article --- K of C version of this linked here.}

Franzisca Jagerstatter, Franz' widow, 95 years old, with his ashes at beatification ceremony in 2007

"People who dont' read will never be able to stand on their own feet , and will all too easily become a football for the opinions of others."  -- Blessed Franz Jagerstatter
In this election year 2012, let us not be lead into the temptation of becoming political footballs.

In reality -- it is.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Marie Joseph spiritual Center -- Biddeford Pool, ME
Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy is a remarkable man, priest of the Melkite {Eastern rite} Roman Catholic church, from Irish South Boston, Notre Dame scholar, former lawyer, husband to his wife Mary, father of 13 children, and studious persistent preacher of the full Gospel of Jesus Christ—nonviolent merciful love of friend and enemy.  Ande and I are blessed and challenged having known him for some 35 years.  Last week we made a retreat with him and about 50 others including my brother Dan, at a seaside old-time resort center now run by a community of              sisters.  We were just up the coast from Kennebunkport, Maine, the Presidents Bush family compound nearby, where an aircraft carrier was being dedicated to the elderly President Bush.  The two messages, from celebration of sophisticated technical floating firepower, to belief in the eternal power of unconditional love and mercy, couldn’t have been much farther apart.

ere below are some sample ideas of what we contemplated and discussed, supported by daily Eucharist and Scripture.  For an online short overview, see Fr. McCarthy’s video, Introduction to the History, Theology and Spirituality of Gospel Nonviolence. Also spend some time on his website.  The article, Abortion and War has particular resonance for the politics of the day.     ***      God is rich in mercy.  Mercy saves.  Jesus is God's mercy and love incarnate.  May we continue to learn, live and spread this good news, in our times a new evangelism,  putting away the swords of violence throughout our world.

I give you a new commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  Jn 13: 34
In discussions of whether ends justifies means, loving as Christ loved is the only means available for Christians.   -- Fr. ECM

Christ’s love is--the willingness to serve without desire for reciprocation, the willingness to suffer without retaliation, the willingness to reconcile without domination.  -- Fr. ECM
One act of Christ-like love is worth more than all other acts combined.  -- St. John of the Cross

If you cannot say on the basis of the New Testament that Jesus was nonviolent, you cannot say anything about Jesus.  It is the clearest of teachings.  – Fr.  J. L. McKenzie, scripture scholar
No one has presented a practical plan for peace on earth, other than Jesus of Nazareth.  – Fr. JLM

The single greatest impediment to salvation is wealth.  – Fr. JLM
Jesus came to save all.  – St. Edith Stein

When you love, with Christ-like love, you participate in the eternal.   -- Ande Gaines McCarthy,   ------ summation of the week's retreat.

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Of course, this is a graph ending last July. I've not seen the update.  Money = jobs?  Would be nice to have more investment from the truly private sector.

This isn’t written so much direct to you, but you’ve gotten me thinking with your facebook correspondence, so I’m working this into my webpage.  Thanks for the thought-provoking dialogue, and let me know any further ideas on these money matters.
            Just getting back to you on the business-of-banking issues.  I’m glad you have Vanguard funds, and hope you’ll take the time to read the founder, John Bogle’s book, Enough.  The moral difference between longer term investment, and rapid trades focused solely on short term gains must be considered.  He emphasizes this.  It’s a short book but worth a look.

Your concern about the rapid traders moving off shore, if too regulated here, and taking their business with them doesn’t bother me so much.  The trades they do are non-productive, except for individual winners of wealth who rarely invest in real productive society-building enterprises, and they’ll not contribute much, except their astounding risk, in the off-our-shores markets to which they would flee.  Let them go.  The risk-takers who trade just to make money should be allowed their own spaces, but even Europe and China are fast hemming them in with new regulation.

major issue for me is that fast-trading “investment” banks {dealing in commodities, securities, derivatives, etc.} are leveraging and hedging their risky bets with the money of many people who have their life savings in mutual funds and commercial banks which now have been merged with these big wheeler-dealer investment banks.  For instance of course, J.P. Morgan—Chase.  Chase branches can be found throughout Port Huron and America.  Why should my money be connected to bets that lose $ 2 billion plus?  It may be that such bets sometimes improve JPM—Chase’s bottom line {overall balance sheets are not commonly available}, but my belief is that this gambling with money for money’s sake, and not putting it into productive industry, is damaging our society.  For a play by play of the 2008 debacle my daughter Maura recommended The Big Short.  {Her startup Bluhomes, a green factory built homes company, has a chunk of our savings, and is the opposite use money--a long term investment.}

So calling for a renewed Glass-Steagall law, “to prevent too-big-to-fail Wall Street banks from taking huge risks withpeople's life savings -- and then expecting taxpayer bailouts,”  makes sense to me.  It was enacted in the 30’s and helped keep us out of this trouble until the two big burst bubbles of 2001, and 2008.  It was revoked in 1999, just before these financial disasters.  Coincidence?  It had kept the two types of banks separate up till then.  Certainly even our most conservative investments, no matter where they're held, are brought down by huge irresponsible profiteer speculations.  Hard to design systems against this, but not impossible.

Money is not the real root of all evil, but how we engage it, day in and day out, does have a lot to do with the our real quality of life, especially the deeper spiritual aspects.  The scripture, “what does it profit a person if they gain the whole world but lose their own soul?” has a message for each and every one of us.
              Your friend, Sam’s dad,

Blue links to articles and pages of reference.

Also good on the issue--differing opinions,
For Catholic viewpoint--teachings on financials--

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Monday, June 4, 2012


Pope John XXIII who dared open the doors and windows of the church he loved to the contemporary world

My church has blessed me bountifully.  I’ve grown up with the grace of reciting Latin at mass as an altar boy.  The first 12 years of my education I was well taught by the nuns, Dominicans and IHMs. Then there was the inspiration of Spanish-speaking activist-for-the-poor priests commissioned by the Detroit diocese at the time of Vatican II, to renew the face of the church, making it open to brothers and sisters all. 

Archbishop Romero - Martyr - El Salvador

We have begun to move away from Blessed Pope John the XXIII’s {feast day yesterday} humble opening of the church’s windows and doors out to embrace God’s living presence in the people’s of the world's gentle breeze from all four corners.  “Pacem en Terris” – the way of salvation is open to all, and depends on the haves embracing the have-nots in common dignity, mercy and justice—following Jesus’ mandate to do something personal and direct for the least among us—as equals.  From the “preferential option for the poor,” our church begins to follow society’s contrary mandate—“The Lord helps them who help themselves.”  Inequality enshrined.  Darwinian spirituality.
 certain meanness ensues.  In a parish bulletin column entitled Formation of Conscience, an area Catholic church {not Holy Trinity} reprinted an article, Illinois Bishop: Obama 'intent on following a similar path' as Hitler, Stalin.  Our first black president is painted as in the company of recent history's most diabolical leaders.   I've been interested in politics since Eisenhower,  and never heard such calumny of any previous president in my Catholic church.
We find ourselves in league with powerful politicians like Paul Ryan * who claim to represent our faith by working against Obamacare and some of its morally problematic mandates, while pushing federal budget measures that further impoverish the disadvantaged, yet ask no sacrifice from the wealthy.  [And as for Obamacare, it does cover the poor as never before, and does not cover surgical abortions as do all the other major private health insurance companies most of us are insured by.]**  The temple of Wall Street replaces the temple of the Holy Spirit mercifully alive in each one of us, and our living Holy Trinity [feast also celebrated yesterday].

This is My Body.  This is My Blood.  Where is my church?  We’ve come in my lifetime from a time of true devout individual sanctity in the 1950’s, to sharing Eucharist as a Kumbaya community and a cup of water given freely to the needy, on through to the Gospel mature recognition of the just rights and dignity of the poor and least among us.   Now church leadership and many amongst us seem to stumble:  

·         investigating religious women who’ve taken on the challenge of serving all with justice

·         troubling over minute liturgical language changes that still often ignore the female gender

·         erring on the side of male clergy in cases of child abuse, in some measure pressured by the shortage of male clergy vocations

·         ignoring our unjust wars [while continuing to tolerate a never-ending excess of first fruits of our tax dollars to kill reputed terrorists and their families in remote villages, build high our borders, and keep our war machine on top of every aspect of our international interests]

·         supporting those who would balance our national budget on the backs of the poor and middle class while favoring the position of the most wealthy among us

·         pretending that some national leaders respect life more than others while rates of abortion, and war expenditure, proceed unchecked irrespective of political party in charge.

I go to mass often, much more than Sundays, seeking the spiritual nourishment that meeting-becoming one with, the Creator and Savior of the world in Scripture and Eucharist, can give me.  Most of my life, with some lapses, it’s been this way.  I find gentle, merciful faithful people there, from opposing political backgrounds.  Our God brings us together, and commissions us to teach all peoples everything that Jesus has taught us.  Red and blue we worship in the same pew, and this leads often to deepened respect for each other, and deepened understanding of the truly radical call of the Gospel to unconditionally love both friend and enemy.  My church {esp. Holy Trinity parish} is right here, and the world cannot prevail against it--but clever powerful elements will certainly try to divide and conquer.

** See a previous entry --

Illumination by Kathy Brahney