This whole past Holy Week was an unusual experience for me personally. If I may, I’d like to share bits of it with you.
Wednesday is what we call Tenebrae here at St. Francis. We have a service beginning with Light–7 candles which one by one- as different readings are shared- are snuffed out and just a bit more darkness suffuses the church space. The readings concentrate on the horrid sufferings of our world today.
Finally the last candle is blown out, the huge bang clangs out, and it makes everyone jump who isn’t expecting it. This is the rending of the temple–a climatic point which officially starts the journey of the Triduum–Thursday, Friday, Saturday and then gloriously… Easter breaks forth.
Holy Thursday we washed each other’s feet in a sign of humility. It is a moment to express service, gift of self to the other person and to the community.
On Good Friday, the Passion was read with breaks as symbols of the passion found room under and around the cross. The whole service spoke LOVE and HOPE beyond death.
Easter services exploded with LIGHT. Jesus the Light of the World broke boundaries, reached into the hearts of people on the margins, shored each of us up with HOPE and JOY.
Perhaps the death of my brother Den brought such added sentiment to all these journey marks of Jesus and of each of our lives…I don’t know for sure, but I’m happy and grateful.
Yesterday in solidarity with the 500-1,000,000 young people marching for “their lives” in D.C. we here in Tiffin tried to rally a group together almost at the last moment. There were, at the most, 20 of us at one time. Thanks to the 3 young women Kirsten and Lauren and Kate wanted to be there, we had a fine remembrance of the 17 students killed in Parkland, Florida. The Sisters of St. Francis “gun statement” was also read to the group and a person who had been an aide in a school spoke as to how horrible it is for parents who send their kids to school not sure anymore if their kids are safe. We stood for an hour getting lots and lots of toots from area people who also want safety for their children in school without the use of guns.
Be sure to check out this amazing, honest speech of Gideon Levy on Israel’s Influence on our U.S. government and the American people’s consciousness.
Wednesday Feb 14 is Ash Wednesday, but the next day Feb 15 is the anniversary of the death of Ben Salmon, World War I Catholic War Resister & Martyr.
I met Ben’s daughter, Maryknoll Sister Elizabeth Salmon, in 2007, when i was at a workshop w Ched Myers in 2007 at Maryknoll. z
I was talking w Sr. Elisabeth, who was attending the workshop, about herself and then my involvement in the Cleveland Catholic Worker, and our work against war-making. Sr Elisabeth then mentioned that she was the daughter of Ben Salmon and his life.
I knew of Ben Salmon through various sources, especially All Saints book by Richard Ellsberg. We talked further and she told me how much her father’s story was suppressed in her own family, because of the ostracism that the family had experienced due to her father’s witness.
I told her then that her father, Ben Salmon, was a powerful witness to many of us. And that his sufferings and death (and his family’s sufferings) spoke to us from beyond death into an eternal witness.
Ben Salmon died in 1932 at age 42, having suffered for many years from the beatings and affliction during his imprisonment.
He had originally been sentenced to death for his refusal to participate in WWI, due to his beliefs as a Catholic and follower of Jesus’ teachings.
REad selected stories from Ben Salmon himself and as well others.
His witness has been suppressed, but now is receiving the attention and power it deserves.
http://www.jonahhouse.org/archive/BenSalmonltr.htm by Ben Salmon himself
http://www.jonahhouse.org/archive/BenSalmon.htm by Daniel Berrigan
Leading the Way for Peace – Maryknoll Sisters
We woke up to a very cold day in D.C.–about 20 degrees. I dressed in about 5 layers and then off to the Pentagon where the Catholic Worker vigils every Monday morning on behalf of this institution changing into a place where peace is learned, where a spirit of militarism and war are changed into feeding the hungry and educating and feeding our children better. We pictured each of the five wings of the PEN-tagon devoted to a different human need here and in the world. We each got a chance to speak and I spoke on behalf of our family–our brothers locked up in Guantanamo without a charge and without a hearing for 16 years now. 26 of the 41 men still there have been cleared but continue to be deprived of reuniting with their family. I’ve included some pictures of our event. We stood there for an hour with men and women galore passing us by on their way to work. Some of them looked at us, a few smiled, but we addressed them all as brothers and sisters, as family. We said to them that we’d work as hard for them if they were treated like our brothers in Guantanamo.
After that event, we ate our last breakfast together this week and then joined together for prayer and reflection. We had a chance to hear where the 20 of us came from and what passion we’re involved with. Some are retired professors, some are just plain activists who are in positions to raise their voices a lot; some are students in college; are are Catholic Worker people, some are justice people working in Cleveland or Chicago. One person–Kathy Kelly–spoke of the huge concern of the children in Yemen who are starving to death because of the Saudi, United Arab Emirate and U.S. provision of bombs and dropping the bombs. There are 18 clandestine prisons where torture is going on against the Yemenis.
You can see that we’ve already conducted quite a bit of action, and this afternoon we’ll be planning the actions for the next couple days.
Please pray that all this helps make a difference on behalf of justice. Every little part any of us accomplishes on behalf of justice aids the whole situation. Thousands of steps make up 500 miles.
My sincere love goes out to you.
These shopkeepers have been delightful and so willing to incorporate posters made by Tiffin Middle School, by Crossweah, and by Calvert Catholic to help bring greater awareness to the opioid crisis here in Tiffin and elsewhere. The Nonviolence Cities Campaign here in Tiffin is seeking to help all citizens in Tiffin take on the responsibility to raise their voices on behalf of their kids, their family members and friends and to really assume a moral responsibility in getting help for them before it is too late.
Tomorrow at Tiffin Middle School we will explore how words can be used as bullets. This will be the 5th. nonviolence skill the students will try to make as practical as possible in their day to day life. Generally the kids agree that “stupid” “ugly” and “worthless” are the three most ugly words that someone can call them.
Wish us well.