Ottawa. On May 25, along with 44 other recipients, Laurence Freeman received one of the highest honours in Canada from the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, at Government House. The Order of Canada recognizes recipients for a lifetime of outstanding achievement dedicated to the community and service to the nation. Membership is accorded to those who exemplify the Order’s Latin motto: desiderantes meliorem patriam, meaning, “they desire a better country”, a phrase taken from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews 11:16.
I began my meditation journey in my late teens, but gave it up almost completely as an adult with a demanding job and a family of four young sons. By the grace of God, about 20 years ago I found meditation again, and, along with my wife, I am now part of the Houston WCCM community.
My meditation practice has helped me to see that of the many things the Gospels teach, the most important are social justice and prayer. In his teaching Jesus puts great emphasis on feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger (read “immigrant”), clothing the naked, and visiting those in prison. He spent many all-night vigils in prayer and meditation, and He encourages us to meditate: “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6
There are few pious devotions that also address social justice. However, for at least two decades Pax Christi groups have been walking the Stations of the Cross while reflecting on issues of social justice. Pax Christi is the international Catholic peace organization. As such it strives to create a world that reflects the peace of Christ. The members witness to Christian nonviolence, rejection of war and every form of violence and dominance. The small group of Pax Christi members in Houston has been sponsoring the Walk for Justice in downtown Houston for at least two decades.
“Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.
John F. Kennedy
“Of course people don’t want war. Why should a poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best thing he can get out of it is
Pilgrim and peace activist Donna Mulhearn is part of the Australian Christian Meditation Community. She has been meditating for 14 years and an active Young Christian Meditator. She is an anti-war activist, human rights campaigner and storyteller inspired by the Prayer of St Francis of Assisi, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” She was worked various war zones including Iraq and plans to return this year. She explains the mission that calls her there and how you can be involved.
Iraqi Babies dying from wounds of a war they never saw
Imagine a town where the cycle of life has stalled; where the earth is contaminated, the drinking water heavy with toxins and the air itself like a poison. A place where the dreams of young women, dreams to be mothers of healthy children, will not be fulfilled. Imagine a process of slow violence stealing fertility, deforming babies and strangling the city in which you live. Picture this is not a natural process, not an accident; but rather the result of a planned and systematic, modern-day sacking of a city.
It seems the only news from Afghanistan is bleak, so it's not surpising we ask the question, is their any hope for this country?
Australian Christian Meditator and peace activist, Donna Mulhearn visited Afghanistan last year at the invitation of the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, an amazing group of young people exploring nonviolent solutions to the situation around them in the spirit of Gandhi and Jesus.
Frei Betto is a one of the major voices for social justice in Latin America. A Dominican friar from Brazil, he has been a political prisoner and lived as an activist with the poorest of the poor. He is the author of 34 books, some of which have become bestsellers in Brazil and other countries of South America. He has been chosen Intellectual of the Year by the Brazilian Writers Union and won the national literary Jabuti Award. This dialogue with Dada Maheshananda, a yoga monk, was held in the Dominican Seminary in Sao Paulo.
DADA: Your role in the Catholic Church is a bit unusual. You trained as a priest, but decided not to take the vows and have instead remained as a friar, a monk. What is your perspective about your role?
FREI BETTO: I think that my role is to help people awaken to a holisitic spirituality that does not separate the body from the spirit, a kind of political spirituality. I also like to work with cultural groups and to write. What about you? Are you celibate or can you marry?
I read Father Laurence’s March 2012 essay in The Tablet (http://www.wccm.org/content/tablet-march-2012) about the Polish Catholic man (Bogdan Blalek) who was instrumental in (and deeply moved by) the construction of the Kielce Menorah in Poland, a Holocaust memorial, and I emailed Father Laurence to share my thoughts. In consideration of Father Laurence’s suggestion that my perspective may be helpful for this community, I would like to share my thoughts on victimhood, guilt, and love as a form of rescue.
NEW YORK -- The man who for decades has stood against the powers that be needed the arm of his niece Frida Berrigan to steady him in the front-row pew of the Church of St. Joseph in Greenwich Village, and he needed help from sister-in-law Elizabeth McAlister to get to the pulpit, but once there, the power of his words filled the assembly.
Almost 91, Jesuit Fr. Daniel Berrigan -- author of 50 books, 18 of them volumes of poetry, and more than double that number of arrests for civil disobedience -- looked frail and walked haltingly, but he still commanded attention from the more than 200 people gathered here Jan. 29 for a tribute to his life and work.
The event was organized by Pax Christi Metro New York. Berrigan’s brief remarks followed a host of speakers who remembered his life in words. They were mostly his words during a two-hour tribute that included segments of his poems, essays, sermons and court testimony.