Monday, July 28, 2014


s long as we continue to claim that our recent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, ... were just and good projects of who we are as a people, we condemn ourselves to repeat tragic unnecessary violence. The war we left behind in Iraq rages on, as it will in Afghanistan.  Violence once again burns out of control in the Middle East. In Libya, where all our bombs and bullets intervention have left only lawless militias in charge, we've just had to evacuate all our embassy personnel and their Marine guards.  They went to Tunisia, the country that initiated Arab Spring's nonviolent movement for change that succeeded there.  After Tunisia all the weaponeers of the world rose up to nip that Spring in the bud, as it tried to reach neighboring countries.  We reap only bad harvests from this conviction, might makes right, guns are like gods.

There is another way.  The way that follows Jesus in his nonviolent love of friends and enemies, the solving of conflict by the belief that death is not the end, only love conquers evil.  We have many heroes of faith to remind us of this eternal life and love.  One is Blessed Franz Jagerstatter.  A Novena of prayer for his intercession to help end all wars begins at our Holy Trinity parish this Friday, August 1st, till August 9th, a day that also commemorates his execution by the Nazis because he wouldn't fight for them.

More of his story is included below.  Please join in the Novena [prayer at this site] for the conversion of the world to Jesus' way of courageous nonviolent peacemaking.

Blessed Franz Jagerstatter – The Family Man Who Wouldn't Fight in Hitler's Wars
Franz Jagerstatter, an Austrian Catholic who was executed on August 9, 1943 by the German Reich because he would not fight in Hitler’s unjust wars, has been recently recognized as on the path to sainthood.  Franz was beatified on October 26, 2007 in Linz, Austria.  He was a loving husband and father of four small children, a peasant farmer, and a sacristan at the local church.  He knew the wars of Hitler were unjust, and that faith in the Fatherland was taking the place of faith in God.  He couldn’t understand why more German Christians didn’t see this danger.  Pope Benedict XVI who is from the adjacent Bavarian region of Germany, neighbor to where Franz grew up in Austria, has met with Franz’ widow Franziska, helping to shepherd this beatification.
Franz was born in the small farming village of St. Radegund near Linz, Austria on May 20, 1907.  Due to the poverty of his parents {servants too poor for marriage}, he was raised during early childhood, in the home of his grandmother who had 13 children of her own.  He was as hungry for learning as for food, both which were limited in those days.  His natural father died in World War I.  When his mother did marry in 1917, he found more opportunity for learning, with a good library in the farmhouse.  From early on a lover of books, Franz later advised his godson, "People who don't read will never be able to stand on their own feet and will all too easily become a football for the opinions of others."

The driving lessons were a welcome interruption of the army basic training. Winter 1940/1941 under extreme weather conditions.
Franz Jagerstatter in basis training--deployment he later refused.

As a young man he is remembered as fun-loving and popular, went to dances and the pubs, owned the first motorcycle in town, sometimes a “Raufer” [brawler], and also took part in the yearly Passion Play.  In his Catholic region this play was thought equal to Oberammergau’s.  He’d had a child out of wedlock, the mother’s family wouldn’t allow marriage, but he remained a supportive loving father, very unusual for those times.  Franz went then to mass regularly and attended social events at church, where he met his wife Franziska. She was a great joy and inspiration for him. They had three small daughters to whom he was dearly devoted, and they together operated the family farm.

he Jagerstatters continued attending daily mass and were well respected in the village. Yet some thought they were carrying things too far in their criticism of the Third Reich.  The family rejected the state’s social aid payments, and then Franz refused to report for army duty, when called up, after basic training, a second time.  For this he was jailed in March 1943 and sentenced to death that summer.  He could see clearly that Hitler’s wars were unjust, and knew that he was one of those given the grace to resist this evil.

Franz had been in prayer constantly the six months he’d been in jail, praying the scriptures and the rosary.  On the day of his execution, a priest at the prison, Fr. Jochmann, offered spiritual readings. With an unforgettable joy in his eyes, Franz replied, “I am completely bound in inner union with the Lord, and any reading would only interrupt my communication with my God.”  The priest later stated, “I say with certainty that this simple man is the only saint that I have ever met in my lifetime.”

On August 9, 1943 he was beheaded in Berlin.  His consolation was his trust in God, and the promise that his family would be reunited in heaven.  Now in our time of terrible war without end, Franz is a shining example of faith in the Gospel life, conquering death by refusing to kill.

Edited from a previously published article in Ligourian magazine, by Michael McCarthy 


Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Monday, July 21, 2014


The map shows the number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border by origin (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras) from January 1 to May 14, 2014. Over 2,200 children, the largest number, came from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the city with the highest murder rate in the world according to latest rankings from Mexico's Citizen Council for Public Safety and Justice.
Recent reader comments in our local paper suggest that Rep. Candice Miller’s approach to the surge of Central American children at our Southern border is best.  Just cut off all aid to those countries until their people stop trying to crash our gate.   I find myself apparently in agreement with Rep. Miller, if she is in earnest—all aid, including the military and drug enforcement funds which are the bulk of what we've offered Central America in the past.   She is not specific in her statement [see her newsletter 6-24-14]   If this were to really happen, at least the violence spurred by military operations in those countries would lessen, and perhaps families in those regions could resume hopes for their children’s’ futures, at home.

She begins with an important point, “Unfortunately, Central America has had a long history of bad economies and violence.”  But she neglects to elaborate on our contribution to the problem.

emember the Iran Contra Wars against Nicaragua, where we even sold missiles to terrorist Iran to raise dollars to fight this clandestine war that Congress had outlawed?   [To try to contravene in some measure this misguided/illegal policy, which included an embargo on Nicaraguan commerce, my wife and I living in Croswell, MI regularly bought our coffee beans from a cooperative in Nicaragua.  They had to come from an intermediate Netherlands vacuum packing company.  The small fair trade operation in Ft. Wayne, IN that arranged this is still in the business of doing good 30+ years later—Friends of the Third World, Jim & Marian will serve you well.]

U.S. military money poured into the countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala [where most of these child refugees now are coming from] in the 1980’s to fight a proxy battle to ward off socialist tendencies in places that had been considered our banana republics.  The weapons and drug violence, and very bad economies created from these wars, have been great aggravating factors to the pain and suffering which now piles up on our border.  Interestingly enough the country we certainly did not give military money to, Nicaragua, although as poor as the others, now has the least violence of these four, and is not sending a wave of refugees to our shores.

Number of deaths by border patrol sector along the U.S.-Mexico border between FY2000 and FY2013.

The number of unaccompanied minors (aged 0–17) taken into custody in the Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas exceeded 42,000 for the first eight months of FY2014.

Another conservative, Senator Ted Cruz, from Texas the state with the most influx of child migrants, wants to completely defund President Obama's Deferred Status for Childhood Arrivals order.   “And so a Canada-born senator whose father fled the communist regime in Cuba to build a life in Texas is the point man for reversing the 2012 psuedo-DREAM Act.”   They mistakenly think this cuts the problem off at its roots, while forgetting that, at the root, almost all of us are immigrants.  We must beware of constantly building our walls taller.
Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” [to Listen] is one of his best-known ballads of all times. First written as a poem in 1948, Guthrie’s song ties a tragic event to the role that Mexican migrants play within the United States’ agribusiness economy

A Cuban √©migr√©, Elise Hilton, [writing for the conservative Acton Institute] was part of the Peter Pan brigade of children during the early 1960’s.  She recognizes better, at least some relationship between her own flight from Castro, when most of the families leaving then had some resources, and these new drug violence refugees from the poorer classes of Central America.  Yet she wonders why they don’t have some more organized setup for their arrival in the U.S., like they did.  Good question.  They were welcomed, these are not.
e must recognize our responsibility for this current exodus, especially when the money from U.S. appetites and addictions for drugs is fueling the fires of these Central American families in despair.   Many communities throughout the U.S., including Vassar here in the Thumb, and Catholic churches near the Mexican border, are not only debating the issue, but stepping up to the plate to offer help to these refugees from violence.  Shouldn't this be our response if we wish to answer positively the challenging words of Matthew 25, “Lord, when did we see you a stranger and welcome you…?” 

See previous mcweekly-pv on this
References you may consult –   

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney

Monday, July 14, 2014


It’s up and down the hill we go in life
gracefully, thankfully if we can
put aside our kicking and screaming.
It will never be the same
as when we were young.
Thanks be to God we go
step by step to the better place
that completes all our yearnings
makes up all our defects
lifts up all we’ve met rich and poor
we wish we could have done, more --
until the end of our brief moment in time.
Then somewhere mystically we go beyond.