Last month in Santa Fe, Pax Christi New Mexico held its first Assembly Day, and just this past weekend in Albuquerque, held its annual retreat. What a healing time we had, these gathered souls. Together, were building a base-community movement for justice and peace. Therein lies the hope in Pax Christis vision.
On the Road to Peace
I was in Washington, D.C. last week for the opening day of the trial of 35 friends and peacemakers who dared to protest the indefinite detention and torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They did their best over several days to speak in court on behalf of those who never had a day in court.
|On the Road to Peace by John Dear S.J.||Tuesday, May 27, 2008|
|Vol. 2, No. 38|
My friend Sr. Hildegarde Smith died April 25, at the headquarters of the Sisters of Christian Charity in Wilmette, Ill. She and I had served together at the parish of Cimarron, N.M. and its missions for several years. Last New Year's Eve, she suffered a stroke that hampered her movement and left her unable to speak. She never recovered.
Yesterday (May 19) commemorates an historic occasion. It marks 40 years since the shattering gesture of the Catonsville Nine, those illustrious Catholic resisters, including Daniel and Philip Berrigan. With intent and purpose, they entered a draft board center in the Knights of Columbus Hall near Baltimore, and there they hauled draft files out to the parking lot and, in a bonfire of home-made napalm, set them ablaze.
In May 1983 and May 1985, I attended Sojourners' "Peace Pentecost" rallies in Washington, D.C. -- prayer services and inspiring speakers and nonviolent demonstrations against war and injustice. Those were some of the most electrifying Pentecost experiences of my life. The police hauled hundreds away as we proclaimed God's reign of peace. I recall those days as we enter another Pentecost season, and wonder, how do we live out the drama of Pentecost today?
"The trouble with the Catholic Worker," Dorothy Day writes in her newly published diaries, The Duty of Delight, "is that one is so busy living that there is not time to write about it." She wrote a dozen books, nevertheless, and a monthly column for nearly five decades. Plus thousands of speeches and over a thousand pages of journal entries, which we can now read for the first time.
This week, Orbis Books publishes one of its most significant books in years, a labor of some 15 years work by Jim Douglass. JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters tells the painful, hopeful story of John F. Kennedy's efforts to save us from nuclear war, his decision to pull out troops from Vietnam, and his call for nuclear disarmament, a vision that animated shadowy forces in the U.S. government to do away with him and his vision.
Last week, I drove up the mountain to the town of Los Alamos, birthplace of the bomb, along Trinity Drive past Oppenheimer Road near the National Nuclear Weapons Labs. I was there for a very unusual speaking invitation -- to talk about peace and disarmament to a group of students at Los Alamos High School. I approached the doors with a vague sense of dread, but left exhilarated. These bright young students gave me hope.
"We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever-widening circle will reach around the world," wrote Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement. On May 1, the Catholic Worker celebrates its 75th birthday, and to mark the occasion, Marquette University Press will publish Dorothy Day's diaries, The Duty of Delight. Meanwhile, a beautiful new DVD documentary, "Don't Call Me a Saint," has been released, offering rare interviews and footage of the heroic woman whose reach has indeed embraced the world.
There they are, two crestfallen disciples after Jesus' horrific torture and execution. Fearful and grief-stricken, they're clearing out of Jerusalem and drifting toward Emmaus, none of which should bring the reader any measure of surprise. But then the story takes a turn. Jesus (his identity veiled) sidles up to the two and asks, "What are you discussing as you walk along?" They stop and turn. "Are you the only person in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened in these last days?" The risen Jesus then asks one of the most astonishing questions of the Bible: "What things?"