Monday, May 25, 2015




Memorial Day Prayer

In the quiet sanctuaries of our own hearts,

let us call on the name of the One whose power over us
is great and gentle, firm and forgiving, holy and healing…

You who created us,
who sustain us,
who call us to live in peace,
hear our prayer this day.

Hear our prayer for all who have died,
whose hearts and hopes are known to you alone…

Hear our prayer for those who put the welfare of others
ahead of their own:

give us hearts as generous as theirs…

Hear our prayer for those who gave their lives
in the service of others,

and accept the gift of their sacrifice…

Help us to shape and make a world
where we will put down the arms of war
and live in the harvest of justice and peace…

Comfort those who grieve the loss of their loved ones:
in our hearts let your healing be our hope.

Hear our prayer this day
and in your mercy answer us
in the name of all that is holy.


By Fr. Austin Fleming, Concord, MA


Monday, May 18, 2015


A couple of weekdays ago at mass I heard a sermon that concentrated on the great pain and suffering being visited on Christians in many places around the world recently, particularly in the Middle East.  The emphasis was not on the evil of the perpetrators, but on the need for courage in the faith, and to become more conscious of the real threats of evil around us.   The need to inform ourselves, and to pray.  Yes, amen.
The reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, during his first public appearance at a mosque in the center of Mosul, Iraq, on July 5, 2014, in this still image taken from video - Reuters

I looked into the source for much of the information, mentioned as Open Doors.  Visiting the website and it's map is revealing.  They are sounding an alarm that Christianity is facing lethal challenge in many countries.  This is certainly so, but the numbers are small when compared to the total carnage and misery being inflicted.  There is no analysis of the fact, that in most all of these worst countries, the worst wars since World War II have been fought on their soil, and the deepest poverty continues to reside.  War and persecution are deadly partners.  You can be persecuted for your faith, you can be persecuted for just being in the way.

Taking the terrible example of Iraq [one of the red zone nations], the total new number of all refugees displaced in 2014, alone was reported 2.2 million in the current conflict with ISIS.  And no one knows the total casualties in Iraq since our first Gulf War there to the present, but it is certainly in the millions, with more than 6 million displaced.   Back at the end of that first war there, in a Mar. 311991 National Catholic Register article, “Chaldeans See Cost of Gulf War,” Christians and experts expressed grave concern as to what would be the fate of Christianity in their country if Saddam Hussein was removed.  He was, by our Iraq War, and the 1.2 million Christians who lived in Iraq at the start of that war, were down to 600,000 by estimate of their Catholic Chaldean Bishop Audo in the 12-7-2007 Michigan Catholic report, “Bishop: War may have caused end of Christianity in Iraq.”  His prediction becomes daily more true, as estimates of Christians still in Iraq now are some to 300,000 to 200,000.
Muslim scholar, "the man behind the hood" Ali Shalal - tortured at Abu Ghraib, Iraq - 2004

The casualties of protracted war in Iraq are in the millions for all, and in the hundreds of thousands for Christians.  War is no respecter of person, war is no respecter of faith.   It is the same in all of these nations that are high on the persecution of religions list.  They are ravaged by war and poverty.  And those countries not on the list, like many in Europe, Russia, the USA and Israel, they are major exporters of weaponry and military expeditions to the theaters of war, persecution, and misery.

hose of us who are Christians, irrespective of our countries, are persecuted brothers and sisters far and wide—persecuted by our own reliance on war and violence.   Let us pray for healing of our blindness to the parts we all play in persecuting each other, in persecuting our enemies, in persecuting the all-encompassing body of Christ.   Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful—enkindle in us the fire of your love and mercy.

Monday, May 11, 2015


150510-People fleeing in Sana on Sunday after [Saudi coalition] airstrikes hit the home of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's former president--photo- Mohamed Al-Sayaghi--Reuters

The May 6, 2015 WSJ headline stated, Saudi Arabian City of Najran Hit by Mortars.   This was a minimal reversal, of a concerted bombing campaign by the Saudi coalition supported by the USA, against one of the factions in Yemen {Saudis next door neighbor}, a country already devastated by recurrent war.  This threat of mortars flung by desperate people contributes to a Saudi desire just announced, that mirrors similar historical actions taken by the USA, and Israel.  Saudi Arabia Considers Nuclear Weapons to Offset Iran, WSJ, May 8, 2015.  Will we help our friends the Saudis acquire nuclear bombs, as we did Israel, and this now after having fought a terrible war that persists in Iraq, ostensibly to rid an Arab state of weapons of mass destruction?

The message of the nation states with the deepest pockets: if one doesn't think one is powerful enough to withstand conflicts with other nations, then go get more and bigger weapons.  The country with the most lethal armaments wins.  Go nuclear, if you have to [that manner of thinking has already brought Iraq, Iran, and even Israel lots of trouble, and is endemic in our own society].  But wins what?  The kingdom of God?   The all loving, all merciful God sent His Son to say—every violence brings meaningless false victory.
There is no Jesus the Warrior.   The Son of God has already won the eternal battle, defeated all evil, with the cross of merciful forgiving love, and not with the sword.

ow do we Christians teach the Middle East world this way of Jesus’ nonviolent love, creative generative work, and respect for all life, if we don’t yet truly believe it?   

The richest Arab state, Saudi Arabia, has been bombing the poorest, Yemen.  The U.S. bombing Haiti, in our hemisphere, would be comparable.   Hearts and minds are never won over by bombs and bullets.  Only tough informed negotiation truly ends the carnage.   The Saudis will have no more success in Yemen than we did in Iraq, and Libya by proxy.   The best they can do is bulldoze over the flaming embers of resentment.  We should stop sending them, and all others, weapons.  We must go learn what it means, "I desire mercy not sacrifice."  Mt. 9:13   East and West, Muslim Jew Christian we've a lot to learn.

 Illumination by Kathy Brahney


Monday, May 4, 2015


{Hoping you can begin something similar in your faith community}

Jesus Washes the Feet of the Apostles
In the summer of 1966, when 19 years old, I came to Capac, MI to work with Fr. Joe Melton from the Detroit diocese in migrant farmworker ministry.   He spoke fluent Spanish having accepted the invitation of Cardinal Dearden to live in Puerto Rico and learn the language to be able to better serve the growing number of Hispanic Catholics.

That first year I made frequent visits to the camps, forming some young adult discussion groups, with the help of members of the local parishes, volunteer groups from Marygrove College, and a Quaker service agency.   It was an ambitious project with high enthusiasm and little experience to guide us—the meeting of different cultures in their small shacks, and the town’s church, was the tortillas y frijoles of the project.  Two and a half months of stretching across language, life style, and economic barriers.  Fr. Joe was a constant encouragement, and I’d come often to daily mass for the prayer with him and other members of the parish, and to then go over our ongoing activities.

It was such a good summer, with great hopes in shared service, just sitting down with young people who were always on the move, learning how we were alike and different.   I returned the two following years.  Those times I lived in the migrant camps, and got up at 4:30 am with them to travel in old school buses to often distant fields to pick pickles, or hoe sugar beets, from the cold dew before daylight to dusk.   I contributed my scant earnings, they invited me into their homes, coffee, warm tortillas, and more always offered.   For me money wasn’t an issue.  Fr. Joe had arranged for support from the local Deanery of Catholic Women, enough to cover my college tuition the following year.   Fr. Farrell and Fr. O’Neill of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pastors of his main parish, opened their doors also to my efforts.
Junior and Paulina - married at St. Nicholas Church, mission of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel,  Emmett, MI -- 1967

By getting to know the people of the camps better, and each other’s needs, there came trust, and some new job training opportunities were created so some migrants could find more stability.  My friends Junior and Paulina after six years common law marriage and four kids [she was one year older than me] celebrated a church wedding.  Ten years later he was dead—someone from a vendetta from an earlier fight or marijuana deal.  It was a very hard, short life for some of them.  My first ventures into disarmament were 2 scimitar pocket knives, handles carved from cows’ horns, and a 10 gauge sawed-off shotgun—going away presents from the few of those that had such things, at end of season.  Fr. Joe was a constant servant of us all, making things possible, from church liturgies, to farmworker and farmers union support, to rummage sales benefiting the migrants.

Cesar Chavez accepts bread from Father Joe Melton to end his 24-day Fast for Justice, Phoenix, Arizona

This opportunity was such a blessing in my life.  I began to have a working knowledge of Spanish—becoming bi-lingual as most of these farmworkers already were.  My faith was strengthened, my horizons were expanded—such an important gift for a young adult to feel the beauty, difficulty, and rightness of service, and Gospel beliefs.  Fr. Joe had shared part of his ministry with me.  It is prayer-study-action Holy Spirit fire that keeps me going to this day.  The hope now is that this experience of service, and similar stories from many others in our local faith community, can invite and inspire a wealth of opportunities for our next generations.  We are asking the many more members of our parish who’ve been on mission and service projects, to tell us their stories, and join in support of this young adult faith formation.

For more information on Youth Service Opportunities, and to help, contact Michael McCarthy [810 982 2870] and this committee under Holy Trinity’s Christian Service Commission.  Our new objective:
 To expand youth service and formation opportunities for the young members of our parish
1.   Form committee within Christian Service, with assistance from Pax Christi and the Youth Ministry groups, to explore the available shorter and longer service projects available to our high school, college and young adult members and their friends.
2.   Investigate the opportunities and make the valuable ones known and available to our young people and their families—helping to vet, choose, apply, and follow through on arrangements.

 {And in the future.}
  1. Begin the process of forming a scholarship fund to aid in the expenses that many service projects entail [assist also in tapping already existing supports as provided for by programs like AmeriCorps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and others listed in the Catholic Volunteer Network manual]
  2. Invite the involvement of as many in our church community and broader community—the youth to serve, and as many as possible to give prayer, financial and mentoring support to young people interested in service, a way to make vibrant the formation of their faith in Christ.
  3. Explore the possibilities of uniting on the vicariate and diocesan levels, and in the interfaith community, with others interested in these efforts.

“It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” – The Cristophers

“Take up your cross and follow me.”  Mt 16:24

Illumination by Kathy Brahney