Ignatian News Network: Fr. Ciszek

Dear Campus Ministers,

Warm greetings from the Jesuit Conference! This week, we are pleased to unveil a short mini-documentary from the Ignatian News Network on Fr. Walter Ciszek, available
now on our Jesuit Vocation Promotion Month website at www.jesuit.org/ciszek.
The video showcases the Ignatian News Network’s extensive archival research on
Fr. Ciszek and features an interview with Jesuit Father Daniel Flaherty, Fr.
Ciszek’s co-author on his two autobiographies. A brief post on the video is
currently the lead story on our blog, National Jesuit News.

Please continue to watch for updates from the Conference as Jesuit Vocation Promotion Month progresses, and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

Kind regards,

Doris Yu

Highlights of Obama’s plan to cut carbon

President Obama unveils a broad plan aimed at curbing climate change and its impacts in a speech Tuesday at Georgetown University.

Curbing carbon pollution

• Directs the EPA to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.

• Promises $8 billion in loan guarantees for fossil fuel projects.

• Directs the Interior Department to permit 10 gigawatts of wind and solar projects on public lands by 2020.

• Expands the president’s Better Building Challenge, helping buildings cut waste to become at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020.

• Sets a goal to reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 through efficiency standards set for appliances and federal buildings.

• Commits to developing fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

• Aims to reduce hydrofluorocarbons, highly potent greenhouse gases.

• Directs agencies to develop a comprehensive methane strategy.

• Commits to forests and other landscape protection.

Preparing for climate change

• Directs agencies to support local investment to help vulnerable communities become more resilient to the effects of global warming.

• Establishment of flood-risk reduction standards in the Hurricane Sandy-affected region.

• Will work with the health-care industry to create sustainable, resilient hospitals.

• Distribution of science-based information for farmers, ranchers and landowners.

• Establishment of the National Drought Resilience Partnership to make rangelands less vulnerable to catastrophic fires.

• Climate Data Initiative will provide information for state, local and private-sector leaders.

Leading global efforts to address climate change

• Commits to expanding new and existing initiatives, including those with China, India and other major emitting countries.

• Calls for the end of U.S. government support for public financing of new coal-fired power plants overseas.*

• Expands government capacity for planning and response.

Read!

The Cross and Resurrection Always Intermingled

In the fall of 2010, one of the women in our Love & Lunch support groups, Cecilia, was dying. She was our translator. Because our support group which had sustained her through years of an abusive relationship was located in a church, she joined that church. In the two years of her life, Cecilia had gone through RCIA and been confirmed, attended every retreat we had and translated it into Spanish, and was a quiet spiritual force in our lives. She fought cancer for 9 years, and then it went to her brain. We supported her through the end or her life, helping her get into the same Extended Care Center as her mother,  moving the support group to her bedside, giving her the first birthday party she ever had in her life, and loving her to death. We paid for her funeral, and housed her sister, Rosita who came in from out of town. Rosita made the rounds of all Cecilia’s support groups, meeting all her friends and hearing their love for her sister.

The Tuesday after Easter 2013, I got a call from Cecilia’s sister, Rosita. She told me their mother, Blanca, was now dying. I arranged for her transportation from the airport to the hospital, and waited for her call to bring her to her place for the night. She called once, left no message and when I tried to call, a weird busy came on. When she couldn’t contact me, Rosita resurrected her contact with her long lost brother to stay with him.

I also contacted the various people who supported Cecilia and Rosita 2 and ½ years ago. Their relationships are being resurrected, and their friendships renewed. The times we shared with Cecilia are always with us, and Rosita’s presence reminds us of Cecilia’s journey from the cross to her own resurrection.

When Rosita went to visit her mother on the first day, she looked at the whiteboard where they listed her mother’s caregivers. Imagine Rosita’s surprise when she saw the name of the Nurse’s aide (see picture) written just the way her sister used to write it. Sign of resurrection!! Cecilia is still taking care of their mother.

The trust and reliance of this family on God for sustenance is inspiring, and the response of the community to Rosita’s bravery in coming to be with her mother with no place to stay and no plan except to see and be with her mother all put me in mind of the community of believers that were present at the first resurrection. They were challenged to trust God in their fear.

Jane, one of the women in our Love & Lunch group called during Rosita’s visit with the Love & Dinner group to say that she needed prayer for her son’s back pain. Earlier today Jane had expressed her pain around the death of her younger son many years ago, and we were able to listen and pray for God to be present in her memory. She was able to receive that grace, experiencing that painful memory in a new way. At the meeting this morning Jane had spoken about Simon of Cyrene and how he had been forced to help Jesus to carry the cross, and how we joyfully and lovingly play Simon for one another.

Always intermingled, the cross and the resurrection. Daily we are volunteer Simons helping those we serve to carry their crosses, knowing that our service is to be escorts to the resurrection, and in escorting those we serve, to experience our own daily resurrection, new life, and deepening love. We do what we can to follow in those precious footprints left on the trail to Calvary so many years ago, leading to the Kingdom not of this world.

Please pray for Blanca as she enters her final days, and for Rosita as she escorts her mother to her sister Cecilia’s side. And remember our women and myself who are being Simon to Rosita and her mom. And yourselves as you escort those you serve to the place God is calling them to be.

Louise M. Sandberg is a IVC Spiritual Reflector and Volunteer, as Director of the Mary & Elizabeth Center which reaches out to women in need on Long Island, NY.  She is a pediatric home care nurse, and facilitates Wildflower groups for women healing from childhood abuse, praying for healing of feelings and memories.

Posted April 23rd, 2013 by <!– & filed under Uncategorized–>

Extending the Table

A fantastic blog post on April 30th by Vicky Risacher jumpstarted my thoughts around what it means to “come to the table” in terms of faith. Ms. Risacher’s story perfectly encapsulates the unexpected places and people who bring us hospitality in much the same way our Christ did.

The most obvious metaphor of a table we have in our faith is our sacrament of communion. Much could be said here about the different ways that different faith groups within Chrisitianity celebrate communion, or about the tradition-breaking ways in which Christ changed the Seder, or about transubstantiation. Ok, maybe not transubstantiation, but you get the point.

I have just begun the process of ordination in the United Methodist Church as a candidate for deacon. Though not charged with administering the sacraments, deacons are authorized in the Methodist church to assist in their administration. Now, that can sound pretty second class on first glance. My mentor, however, forced me to think of it in an incredibly empowering way when last we met: We should always be asking the question, “Who’s not at the Table?”

By extending the Table into the rest of the world, deacons are called to bring God into every messy, dark, powerless, and rejected place we can find. In fact, I would venture to say that it is in those places that we find the most need for the Table. If we think of the Eucharist as something that doesn’t just happen at the moment we take the bread and the cup, what does that require us to do in the world? And even if we do think of the Eucharist as that moment during our worship when we queue up and take the Elements, what do those people look like? Do they all look like each other? Are they the people who need God the most? And if they aren’t, why have they not found their way into the place in our communities that are supposed to be the most welcoming imaginable?

I sit front and center at my church every Sunday. I was hesitant to sit there the first few times my wife and I did so, but she plays music at our church and I wanted to sit next to her during the rest of the service. So, when we take communion, I’m always one of the first couple of people in the congregation to do so. I pray at the rail in front and then I sit down. Over the years, then, the most rewarding part of my communion experience has been watching everyone else in the church pass by and take communion. Right there. A few feet in front of me. Every single person. “The body of Christ broken for you.” “The blood of Christ shed for you.”

I can silently judge people all I want. I can inflate my own ridiculous ego. When each and every human being comes to the Table, he or she is exactly as loved, forgiven, and washed as I am. That completely reshapes me every week.

As our Christ reached across lots of culturally divisive lines (and angered the religious authorities in the process) so must we. Who is not at the Table, Church? Why aren’t we letting them eat and drink?

Kenneth J. Pruitt is a teacher by trade, and the Director of Volunteer Management at Kingdom House, an IVC partner agency focused on social services and founded during the settlement house movement. He is proud of St. Louis, his adopted home. His wife is far more attractive and intelligent than he. He loves what you’ve done with your hair.

Posted May 28th, 2013 by <!– & filed under Uncategorized–>.

Pax Christi USA – PSA e-Bulletin (Pray-Study-Act)



Greetings!

One can hardly pick up a newspaper today without reading about our government’s ever-expanding use of armed drones, whether by our military over Afghanistan or by the CIA in countries where no war has been declared by the U.S.  

 

Our country is leading the way in this “video-game warfare.” Drones can be easily deployed, are less expensive than sending troops or military jets, and entail no risk of U.S. casualties. For these reasons, drone warfare is supported by a large majority of Americans. But drone strikes have killed hundreds of civilians, violate international law, inflame local populations, and serve as a potent recruiting tool for extremists.


A lot of good information is available on the Internet on specifics of the U.S. armed drone program, including their legality, morality, and effects (see the information in this PSA for more links, including a link to a bibliography which we have put together).  In the “Study” section below, you’ll also see an insightful article written by Pax Christi Metro D.C.-Baltimore council member Eli McCarthy.  

We hope you will find this Prayer-Study-Action e-bulletin helpful in your own work to put an end to the use of lethal drones. Let us all say together: Not in our name!. 

  

In peace,

 

Members of Pax Christi Metro D.C.-Baltimore

  

 

PRAY: A prayer to end the use of lethal drones

 
We pray for all victims of U.S. drone strikes and call for an immediate end to the use of lethal drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere.  We ask all those who give orders, operate the drones, and manufacture and profit from the drones for military and CIA purposes to search their hearts and consciences, to hear the cries of the victims, to withdraw their consent from this immoral lethal weapon of terror and policy of assassination, to repent and to beg forgiveness from, and make reparations to, the victims’ families.  We give thanks for groups of peacemakers like the Creech 14, the Hancock 38, Johns Hopkins 9, and many other peacemakers who have been arrested, tried, and jailed for their acts of nonviolent resistance to these murderous weapons, these killer drones, our American death squads of the skies. Amen.
 
 

STUDY: What are drones doing to us?

 
by Eli McCarthy
 
On May 23, the President laid out an updated drone policy to the Administration’s earlier legal argument in February for the use of armed drones. The ACLU responded to the February document with legal critiques. On May 21, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops rightly raised “serious moral concerns” about the drone policy and called us to “consider the longer-term social and political impacts.” Academics have been offering analysis as well, such as Michael Walzer and Maryann Cusimano Love. For the most part these analyses consider laws of war, “just” war theory, and civil rights. However, Cusimano Love’s analysis notably mentions a key limit in that “just” war theory does not tell us how to build peace.
 
Focusing on the “just” war theory as the key frame of moral analysis for armed drones also fails to adequately engage our imagination for practices of nonviolent peacemaking. This focus also lowers our capacity to sustain peacemaking practices, and offers little insight into envisioning the just peace which “just” war theory purports to intend. “Just” war theory also depends on, but doesn’t develop, the “just people” needed to interpret, apply and revise the criteria.
 
But even more significant, “just” war theory doesn’t prioritize or illuminate a more important moral question about human habits. I recommend we shift the primary analysis of armed drones from law, “just” war theory and rights to the question, “what kind of people are we becoming by using armed drones?” The following discussion provides an example of where this ethical approach might draw us…
 
 

 

ACT:  Actions to end drone warfare

If not us, then who?  If not now, then when? We are the NATIONAL CATHOLIC PEACE ORGANIZATION. We need to speak out and educate everyone, but especially our fellow Catholics, on the immorality and illegality of the armed drone program. We recommend that PC regions and local groups review the presentation on drones that Bill Quigley gave last November at the Pax Christi gathering at our annual presence at Fort Benning to protest the School of the Americas. We also recommend that you attend the workshop by Medea Benjamin (co-founder of CodePink) on armed drones at our National Conference in Atlanta this June (and read her book, Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control).
 
Familiarize yourself with Bill’s presentation and other materials so that you can speak with knowledge and confidence and educate your local parishes or other groups on the significant evil of the drone program. 
 
Establish (or join an existing) a presence at a local Air Force base, federal building (Justice, FBI, etc.), drone manufacturer, or university working on drone research. Pax Christi Metro D.C.-Baltimore has been holding a monthly witness in front of the CIA in Northern Virginia, where we witness truth to power.
 
Advocate and lobby your local Representative and Senators about the realities of the U.S. armed drone program, its immorality and illegality. We hope to have a sign-on ad in the National Catholic Reporter this summer to reach more Catholics about the armed drone program. We hope that you will sign on with us, both individually and as organizations.
 
We have the opportunity as the National Catholic Peace Organization to proclaim: ARMED DRONES: NOT IN OUR NAME!

Honesty

We can say of most of the people we know that they are honest. Depending upon the context, we expect that those we trust will say what they mean and will act justly. We value honesty in others. How important is honesty as a quality in our own lives, in its various meanings and levels?

We are familiar with one basic meaning of honesty: that of not lying or cheating, whether on taxes or on tests, in speaking or in text communications. We might be especially solicitous about honesty in financial matters as one level of honesty, but less so when telling stories about some of our experiences. Honesty has more than one narrow meaning, and is not, in our experience, an absolute. To deliberately fail in honesty is to be dishonest. But honesty is sometimes our primary focus and guide, and at other times not, as when love for another requires keeping silence rather than “being honest” in an uncaring fundamentalist manner.

No matter how much we value honesty, we do not share equally with everyone all of our internal matters of mind and heart. When we are honest with others about some of our thoughts and feelings, opinions, judgments and decisions, we choose carefully what we share with whom. Though we learn to deeply trust some people, God is usually the only one with whom we can become completely honest about our innermost thoughts and feelings, our desires and doubts, our beliefs, hopes and loves.

Complete honesty with God might seem quite reasonable, because God knows everything anyway. But most of us have to negotiate honesty with God as carefully as we do with others, because trusting is not automatic, and is not primarily a result of logical reasoning. No matter how much we trust, we take a risk whenever we freely open ourselves to anyone, even to God. We do not know what the consequences will be within ourselves once we freely bring into a relationship some of our innermost thoughts or feelings, decisions or impulses, fantasies or judgments.

Although being honest entails some risk, our growth as a person requires honesty as much as plants require water. When we are honest with ourselves, we gain self-respect and confidence; when we are honest with others, relationships of mutual respect and love become possible. When we choose to share appropriate personal beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and aspirations with God or with others, two things happen simultaneously: we become more deeply aware of those particular aspects of ourselves, and we give to those with whom we share, the gift of knowing us as we are. Even though God knows us entirely, and others might know us quite well, when we consciously open ourselves to them, we offer a priceless and unique free gift, one that cannot be coerced.

Fear of being misunderstood or misjudged, or of not having our truth accepted, presents an obstacle to any real relationship. But only in and with honesty can we relate positively with a friend, counselor, family member or God. We can overcome our fears when we focus not only on what we hope to achieve, such as closeness, acceptance or love, but on the movement in our spirit that lets us know – beyond mere reasons – when this is an occasion when we need to open ourselves. With the support of such God-given mini-inspirations, we are able to move through fear to occasions of letting ourselves be known.

Honesty is not entirely something we do, or even who we are, but an ongoing experience of God watering our spirit that we might grow.

Father Randy Roche, SJ, Director of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality, has an M.A. in Theology from Santa Clara University, and an M.S. in Counseling from San Diego State. He has served as LMU Director of Campus Ministry, Rector of the Jesuit Community at Jesuit High School in Sacramento, Director of Studies and Spiritual Director at the Jesuit Novitiate, and as Pastor, Superior, and Director of Diocesan Campus Ministry at the Newman Center in Honolulu.         

Throughout his years of ministry, he has continuously deepened his own experience of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, while also acting as a guide in the Exercises for lay people and religious. Not surprisingly, his specialty is Ignatian spirituality as a tool for discernment in decision-making.

Posted June 11th, 2013 by <!– & filed under Uncategorized–>.

Principle and Foundation

Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this to save their souls. The other things on the face of the earth are created for the human beings, to help them in the pursuit of the end for which they are created. From this it follows that we ought to use these things to the extent that they will help us toward our end, and free ourselves from them to the extent that they hinder us from it. To attain this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things, in regard to everything which is left to free will and is not forbidden. Consequently, on our own part we ought not to seek health rather than sickness, wealth rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, a long life rather than a short one, and so on in all other manners. Rather, we ought to desire and choose only that which is more conductive to the end for which we are created.

A few years ago, Joe Grady, Jesuit scholastic, age 32, was buried at Wernersville. In December 1985, during his second year of regency at St. Joe’s Prep, he was told he had leukemia. The disease progressed and during  his first year of theology, he made the decision to undergo a bone marrow transplant. Later that year he would receive new marrow from his younger sister, Colleen. The transplant was successful, but some months afterwards, Joe contracted viral pneumonia from which he never recovered.

At the cemetery, Joe’s mother read a passage written by another Maryland Province Jesuit, buried only a few feet away from Joe. It was a passage she had read to Joe in the hospital at the point when Joe was no longer able to read- although still very much alert and aware. The other Jesuit was Walter Ciszek. The book – He Leadeth Me – was Father Ciszek’s account of his 23 years in the Soviet Union most of which was spent in proson or slave labor camps in SIberia.

Two Jesuits- two different generations- two very different experiences and worlds- both shared something. Both lived under the same Principle and Foundation… That principle – that we are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save our souls. The other things on the face of the earth are created for us to help us in attaining the end, and we must rid ourselves of them insofar as they prove a hindrance to us.

Therefore we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently as far as we are concerned we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things. Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created.

The Principle and Foundation-a real challenge- Joe Grady knew that. He lived that with real heart, great humor, deep faith. And he struggled as I think all of us do. For are we really meant to believe we should prefer a short life to a long life? Poverty to riches? Sickness to health? Are we able to embrace the Cross? Even celebrate the Cross? Place ourselves with Christ crucified in this world today?

Walter Ciszek appreciated those words as well. He knew the meaning of the Principle and Foundation and certainly lived them out for so many years imprisoned, having little to eat, working for long hours, being forced to say Mass secretly with a few others- secretly taking the crusts of bread at breakfast and saving them until he got back at night. Polish prisoners would make wine out of stolen raisins- a cover for a gold watch would serve as a paten. The chalice a shot glass. Back home in the Maryland Province he would be officially listed as dead and added to the list of Masses Jesuits said for the repose of souls. In those dark days for Fr. Ciszek, when the temptation to give up was so present, he was able to call to mind the end for which he was made- he looked to God’s Providence.

In the last few months of his life, Joe Grady would hear those words of Cisek’s read to him by his mother. She shared one of those passages with all of us that July. From the Epilogue of He Leadeth Me, Father Ciszek wrote: What I have tried to show in the pages of this book, however, is how faith has affected my life and sustained me in all I experienced. That faith is the answer to the question most often asked of me – ‘How did you manage to survive?’ And I can only repeat it, simple and unashamedly. To me the truth says more than that man has a duty and obligation towards his Creator, as many have tended to interpret it. To me, it says that God has a special purpose, a special love, a special providence for all those He has created…It means for example that every moment of our life has a purpose. That every action of ours, no matter how dull or routine or trivial it may seem in itself, has a dignity and a worth beyond human understanding. Yet what a terrible responsibility is here. For it means that no one moment can be wasted, no one opportunity missed.

That was the secret Walter Ciszek came to know. He would say that is was not his alone- Christ spoke of it, the saints have practiced it, and I think Joe Grady came to know that secret in his own courageous suffering.

Prayer of St. Augustine

Give me the strength to seek you as you have made me find you, and have given me hope of finding you more and more.

My strength and my weakness are in your hands; preserve the one and heal the other.

My knowledge and my ignorance are in your hands; where you have been closed to me, open my knocking. Let me remember you, understand you, love you. Increase these things in me, until you restore me wholly.

Amen.