Monday, December 30, 2013


Many blessings to you all in this holy season.  I'm on vacation visiting my daughter's Bluhomes startup company in California with my brothers and dad.

From our liturgy at Holy Trinity Port Huron this past weekend --

“Rachel weeps and will not be comforted for her children are no more” Jer 31:15
Yet there is hope in the following verses, Jer 31:16-17

Our prayers for the feast of the Holy Innocents this year concur with the Feast of the Holy Family

Those who so choose, immediately following the 11 am mass on Dec. 29th at St Joseph Church, will process around one block of our church neighborhood, while others remain in prayer in the church. We make special intention this year for peace in the Middle East.

Herod feared the coming of the Prince of Peace, so he killed the innocent babies of Bethlehem {Mt 2: 13-18}. We strive together to convert from this age-old fear-filled recourse to violence to protect worldly power.

We commemorate all those who have died in war and violence. We pray for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Darfur, Libya, Syria, all wars. We pray for an end to abortion, for an end to all disrespect for life.

The Holy Family then inspires us, as they heeded the angel’s warning, escaped into Egypt, and made their way back to Nazareth where they grew in wisdom and grace.  May all of our families follow their holy example, and grow in love, courage, and mercy for each other.


There is something disconcerting in Jesus evading the murderous troops of Herod while many infants perished.  Inscrutable the ways of God in known history.  The ongoing problem of the terrible bad that can happen to innocent people.   But we are given the overwhelming hope that with the coming of the Prince of Peace all death and suffering is conquered, Herod’s wrath banished, by the love of the cross—God’s Son taking it all on in the end, eternal life the promise become reality.



Monday, December 23, 2013


For the fifth time our local Pax Christi group has sponsored a billboard in Port Huron calling for the courage of peace and nonviolence in our all too violent land.   Pax Christi means Peace of Christ in Latin-- a living peace, brought by faith in God rather than faith in guns.   This is an international movement started by the bishops of France and Germany right after WWII to heal the wounds, and convert the hearts of Christians on either side who’d been through the hell of killing each other, in God’s name.
This year’s billboard, as last year’s, has the message “CHOOSE NONVIOLENCE, CHRISTMAS INVITES THE MERCIFUL AND THE JUST.”   The pictures of Mother Theresa, and Dr. Martin Luther King appear over the words “merciful” and “just” respectively.   You can see it lighted, facing north, across from the Pine Grove Mall, near the Garfield and Pine Grove intersection, starting December 23rd  for one month. 

ur Blue Water Pax Christi group put its first similar billboard up in 2003, just as the Iraq War began, as part of our plea, and that of many Christians, to replace strategies of war, with the works of justice and charity, as did Dr. Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa.  MLK’s call to follow the way of Jesus, “NONVIOLENCE IS A WAY OF LIFE FOR COURAGEOUS PEOPLE,” {King’s first organizing principle}, was the sign’s centerpiece, framed by both of their pictures.

 We did this also in 2006 and 2009 with Gandhi’s picture paired with Martin Luther King’s, as part of the non-denominational “Season for Nonviolence”, 64 days  of programs presenting nonviolence, in Port Huron [and nationally] which begin Jan. 30th [day Gandhi was killed] and end on April 4th [day Dr. King was killed].  This active prayerful celebration will happen again this year in our town.
This current Christmas centered message was developed last year and involved copyright arrangements with the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta, and the cooperation of Sr. M. Callisita [western hemisphere motherhouse of the Missionaries of Charity in Tijuana, Mexico].  It was a bit more work than in the past.  We had to change the wording, and came up with the Christmas theme.   Providentially, it came to be just after the nation suffered the violence of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. 

There is a price tag, about $850.  Generous sponsors from our churches and the Season for Nonviolence have helped pay for years to advertise the message of nonviolent love to replace violent hate.  Local Knights of Columbus councils have made a special contribution this year.  It has become a Christmas prayer message and New Year’s resolution, coinciding with Martin Luther King Day, to cast out violence and invite in, Mercy and Justice.  We would hope that this one billboard in Port Huron, could become a nation-wide public service ad campaign, to choose active, engaged, prayerful nonviolence.
A sign of hope, a bright sign of God’s inspired nonviolence—mercy and justice to bridge the polarized elements of our society, our world.

School violence continues.  War continues, and was threatened to escalate in Syria.  There were certainly many factors, but Pope Francis’ call for a world-wide vigil of prayer and fasting surely contributed to averting deeper war.    Prayer is effective.
To repel the gathering violence we need to unite the social justice [MLK] and devotional charity [Mother Theresa] aspects of our churches, conservative and liberal sides of our community, which have too often been at odds, especially with the changing political seasons. Yet both sides must work and pray for each other—repent of cliff-hanger politics, and commit to the common good.

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney

Monday, December 16, 2013


From War Resisters League
In a Dec. 7th AP article appearing in our local paper, I finally see in print what I’ve been calling attention to every April 15th Tax Day for the last 40 plus years. “The bipartisan defense authorization bill typically enjoys overwhelming support…a measure that represents more than half the nation’s discretionary budget.   The point of the article is that the Pentagon is worried that it’s not getting enough, and not according to its schedule.   As we approach with gifts the Baby Jesus in the stable this Christmas, it’s important to think of where our major government “Gifts of the Magi” are going, and remember that this Child is the promised Prince of Peace.

This “more than half” of our national yearly treasure is a truer statement than the pie chart [a lesser percent going to the military] the IRS includes in its 1040 booklets, as it doesn’t dilute the total income tax distributions with Medicare and Social Security funds which are independent tax trusts for those purposes only.  And regrettably those trust funds have been severely borrowed/robbed from to prepay off budget, for recent preemptive wars, a major cause of the projected shortfalls in these social insurance programs. 

Why do we have to have such gigantic expenditures on our military?   Because we are the richest country in the world with one of the most inequitable distributions of the wealth, even amongst our own citizens.   This big money must be protected no matter what the cost.  There are many who think we can ignore what Mary says, as her family awaited the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus, “He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and he hath exalted those who were humbled.  He hath filled the hungry with good thing, and the rich he hath sent empty away.” Lk 1:52-53

On the same Tuesday as the above article I went to see the film, “Inequality for All” at our local community college.   Their biggest auditorium was packed to overflowing so I had to view it at a packed second site.   People of all political stripes know that something is not right.  The economist and former U.S. Labor Secretary, Robert Reich, made the case that our middle class is under attack from an economy stacked against them, to the benefit of the few most powerful.  His perspective is that this is almost as bad for the rich, as for the middle class and poor—see his website for some suggested actions to bring fundamental change.
From Robert Reich website
question I had for him that didn’t make it in the video conference Q & A:
Since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision favors the rich so heavily in politics, shouldn’t we become united citizens this next April 15th, and give our tax money to local education and infrastructure projects, instead of to the IRS, until the rich are again required to pay a progressive tax, and there is again the chance for real democratic progress in the USA?  The rich freely speak with their money—so should we.

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Monday, December 9, 2013


Just google “worst Congress ever” [and see references below] to review the state of our nation as the 113th Congress ends and a New Year approaches.  Its remarkable how combative and obstructionist our lawmakers have become, since a black man became President of the United States.   It has passed the least amount of laws, and filibustered the most times, in U. S. history.   Corporate carpetbaggers are upon us.
…Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in an October 2010 interview that "single most important thing" he needed to achieve was making Obama a one-term president…  The voters have spoken in re-electing President Obama in 2012, but the powerful in Congress, and their unchastened-by-the-crash financial industry backers will not listen.  The people want healthcare and jobs, but these obstructionists want a dead-in-the-water president unable to make any legislation that would spend money on people’s needs.  

The President is forced to ride a Congressional horse with a broken leg.  The opposition party did not concede it lost in 2008, has given no support to a winning president’s agenda, but instead kicked up like a loco bronco, fighting him on every measure, into a spasm of increasing gridlocks.  They appear to have no concept of loyal opposition, the basic concept of a functioning democracy.  Differences are put aside somewhat between the four year election cycles, so the winners gets to put their program, promised to the people that elected them, in place.  This Congress should go back and read its high school civics books.
The current controversy over the Democrats having used a “nuclear option” to change long standing filibuster rules that preserve some opposition party clout, must be put in context.   Filibuster bombs of mass destruction had already been launched by Republican obstructionists.   Of President Obama’s executive appointments, 79 have been blocked by the opposition thus far, compared to a total of 68 during all other presidencies in the history of our republic.

The current obstruction and manipulation of and by Congress, in league with powerful corporate interests, is unprecedented.   Its being “worst” is guaranteed by its being the “best” Congress money can buy.   The infamous “Citizen’s United” Supreme Court ruling could now be joined by a “McCutcheon’s”decision, which gives further weight to unfettered private/corporate monies controlling our elections process.   Democrats and Republicans have both become commodities.
Racism appears to have upped the ante in the politics game.  Many operators have decided that a black president shall not be allowed to succeed – at anything.   The issues of how our government spends its money have been the same for at least a hundred years.  The government has never seriously threatened to choke off its own supply by self-defaulting, until this activist Congress took the throttle.

ne of the few laws put in place, the Affordable Care Act, has been challenged with repeal votes 40 times since 2010.  Insult to injury—it was Congress’ intentional failure to provide enough funds to implement the ACA that was in good part responsible for the dismal roll-out of the ACA sign-ups and website, so roundly criticized by Congress and the media.   Short memory—the implementers actually had to go begging for contributions, to the health companies themselves, community and church groups, many of whom were certainly less than enthusiastic.
This hubris is causing suffering here at home and round the world.  My Catholic Republican father has always maintained that “you get what you pay for.”  Right now we’re getting nothing – just a cloud of sequestrations and budget default threats.   The common good is not being served—only the 1% are represented by this Congress.

Is this really racism, or just plain greed?  I would argue that the two are devilishly intertwined.
Pope Francis warns us in his recently proclaimed The Joy of the Gospel.  {EVANGELII GAUDIUM}  “Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system.”  “The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise.”   He urges us—we can return to the merciful love of Jesus.  “No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew.”

He ends his letter with a prayer to Mary, and these words: “Mary let herself be guided by the Holy Spirit on a journey of faith towards a destiny of service and fruitfulness. Today we look to her and ask her to help us proclaim the message of salvation to all and to enable new disciples to become evangelizers in turn.”  Good to be mindful of these, Congress and the rest of us, today when we celebrate the feast of her Immaculate Conception.  To be born without sin, as she, is for most of us, beyond comprehension.

Please spend some time reading for yourself --


 Jesus Chases Out the Money Changers - by El Greco

 Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Sunday, December 1, 2013


A quick search online finds them available from about 50 cents to a dollar each {certainly varies with caliber & qualities} and cheaper.   But what is the real cost of their mass availability worldwide?

Memory Becomes Another Casualty of Egyptian Protests [from NYT 11-13-13]—A presumed 900 were killed by the army on Aug. 14 2013 breaking up a peaceful sit-in of supporters of democratically elected, then deposed by the army, President Morsi.  This in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square.   Tahrir [Freedom] Square becomes an even more distant memory, as Arab Spring’s spirit of nonviolence is blown further and further away by the Middle East’s militaries, and their international arms merchant suppliers.  The gun runners and their institutions are clawing back to resume full profits and power—bullets are their ballot box, and must be maintained, sacrificing the lives and real needs of the common people.

“Memories are sharper among the people who live and work in the square. Mahmoud Rizk, who runs a nursery there, remembered spending Aug. 14 on the phone with his brother, who was trapped in a hut in the nursery during the fighting.
From the look of the place, it was a miracle that his brother survived. Bullets struck the hut from two sides, shredding metal on the bunk beds where the workers slept. After the fighting had died down, soldiers came with dogs to search for the bullet slugs and remove them.”

Was this simply cover-up, or was the army planning to re-use the bullets?   As long as the U.S. continues to send a billion dollars to the Egyptian army {despite this violating a Congressional mandate against supporting coups}, the answer is obvious.   Israel, at the center of Middle East conflict, gets more than three times this bullets-plus money from the U.S.

Another campaign, run by a Saudi sheikh based in Syria and close to Al Qaeda, is called “Wage Jihad With Your Money.” Donors earn “silver status” by giving $175 for 50 sniper bullets, or “gold status” by giving twice as much for eight mortar rounds.  {From “Private Donors’ Funds Add Wild Card to War in Syria” - NYT 11-13-13}.  Everybody and anybody with extra cash can be dealt a hand in this game of death proliferation.

Chris Rock, American comedian, has a routine in which he suggests a solution to all the gun violence—just make every bullet cost $5000, too expensive to shoot somebody.   Probably wouldn’t work with all the super-rich players and governments in the world, chasing vengeance, power, and general craziness, and willing to pay for it {with proper returns on investment}. 

But there is promise in this Sunday’s Advent reading from the prophet Isaiah {2:1-5}, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.   When the Messiah the world’s merciful Savior comes, it will not be in a reign of bullets.


Further reference ---