The battle at home now is to conquer the bitterness, the sense of futility and despair that grows among the young and turns them to violence, a violence which is magnified by the press, the radio and television. We lose sight of the poor people’s cooperatives and boycotts, the conquest of bread, as Kropotkin called it, which goes on daily in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, not to speak of California, Texas, and all the states where Mexicans have been imported for agricultural labor.
God of justice and mercy, we ask your blessing upon those trapped by the world’s sin
For those who live in the terror of war …
Place peace in the hearts of those carrying out violence
For those who live shackled and trafficked …
Grow mercy in the hearts of those who hold them captive
For those who bear the weight of poverty …
Create generosity in the hearts of those who can help bear the weight
For those whose life and livelihood are affected by our changing climate …
Place prudence in the hearts of those in positions of power
For those who continue to be pushed to the margins of society – the elderly, immigrants, addicted …
Grow compassion in the hearts of those who might welcome them into its center
And for all of us, grant the strength to continue working for justice in this world and the faith to believe in the justice of the world yet to come.
Chasusa.org Feb 2016
“So long as we talk and argue and busy ourselves on the plane of this world, evil seems the stronger. ….The thing is to enter on another plane, to find that fourth dimension which represents the kingdom of the Spirit…. – Henri de Lubac, quoted by Dorothy Day, Catholic Worker, 1978
Injustice is easy to see. When black men are targeted, when rape is dismissed as a prank, when gays are murdered, when families struggle for food and shelter, we see injustice in the flesh.
But what is justice? Is it simply the absence of injustice? Revenge is a kind of justice; it is the desire to rebalance the scales. The image of Justice is a woman with a blindfold holding a scale. When one man murders another, the world is thrown out of balance. By killing the murderer, some think, the world regains its balance. The forces have been equalized again. The family of the victim, the community can be satisfied. The value of the death penalty is not as a deterrent to murder; it is the restoring of balance from chaos.
Then along comes Jesus. “You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil.”
We’re being told to keep the scale unbalanced. We are being told not to attempt to purge evil by killing. He’s talking about another kind of justice.
What does this justice look like? smell like? feel like? An abstraction like justice or hope or love, stays uselessly abstract until we give it form.
“The legal battle against segregation is won, but the community battle continues.” Dorothy Day The Catholic Worker, November 1956
On December 12, 2014, friends and neighbors stood in the cold in Greenfield to declare the obvious truth that black lives matter.
Afterwards, thirty people came together in the Upper Room at church to celebrate Our Lady Of Guadalupe, or Tonantzin, the Mother. The 12th is her “birthday.”
In December 1531 at the hill of Tepeyac, Mexico, Mama Lupe appeared to the First Nation peoples. She spoke to the peasant, Cuauhtlatoatzin, (Juan Diego), in his original language, Nahuatl. She demanded that the Spanish conquerors build a church on the place where people had come for centuries to honor her as Tonantzin, the Mother. Cuauhtaltoatzin, a devout Catholic, repeatedly brought her demand to the Spanish authorities until, after she miraculously spread roses at their feet, they relented.
And so a Presence of Love and Protection appeared on the hill, in a country where people lived under the oppression of an occupying army.
In celebration, we placed images of Mama Lupe on a table with roses and candles. We lit candles to bring together all who call for justice: for parents of slain young men, for black children, for racism’s end. We prayed, sang, listened. We called down justice to live among us.
Praying gives justice voice. When evil seems overwhelming, sounds and images springing from the creation of ceremony can crystalize peace and freedom, allowing us to hear and touch it, and each other. And give sustenance to action.