Archives for the month of: December, 2011

An interview on NY NET’s show Currents:

Every year on Christmas Eve, NORAD satellites track Santa’s Christmas Eve flight as the man in red delivers gifts to girls and boys across the globe. Now, that may be a few weeks away, but Jolly Old Saint Nick was already on the minds of Catholics today (December 6) – his feast day. And while you may think he’s from the North Pole, St. Nick’s origins lie in what is now Turkey.

During this Advent season, St. Nicholas has also taken on a new role – he has become the symbolic patron for Catholics who want to have their voices heard as part of the “Occupy” movement. According to the group’s website, “Occupy Catholics” are the “99 percent, made in God’s image, seeking God’s justice.” “Occupy Catholics” is still in its early stages, our Matt McClure spoke by phone with one of the men behind it: Jeffery Nicholas, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon.

Watch the video here.


WBUR reports on a mass, co-led by a Womanpriest, that followed the eviction at Occupy Boston:

The eviction of Occupy Boston protesters from Dewey Square early Saturday morning didn’t stop a small group of protesters from gathering in the square once more to celebrate Mass as they had each Sunday over the past few weeks.

“We wanted to be here today anyway to celebrate the possibilities and celebrate all that they’ve been and hope to be in the future,” Rev. Jean Marchant said. Marchant presided over the Mass with her husband, Rev. Ron Hindelang. Both are pastors at The Spirit of Life in Weston, Mass.

Occupy Boston protesters are in the process of deciding what is next for their movement.

“The spirit of Occupy Boston continues and this message of trying to get the one percent to share more of their resources with the 99 percent, I think that their message goes on and continues,” Hindelang said.

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. ~ Psalm 24:1

Gracious Creator,

We pray for a miracle and for the end of the heartless, abusive, destructive carbon footprint that is being left by the boot of corporations on the neck of our Mother Earth.

We pray that everyone in the world, and particularly in the United States, a nation so vastly asleep, wake up to the fact that, together, we must come to an agreement to commit fully to reduce greenhouse gases and to understand that the earth truly is the Lord’s.

We pray that the United States government will not make decisions on the care of the environment based on concerns about the next election.

We pray that all nations and corporations will stop worshipping the false gods of money and power and will stop grasping for ways to avoid true commitment to the care of God’s creation.

We pray that the governments of all nations will care for God’s creation instead of caring for the special interests of  the polluters that lobby continuously for the right to sinfully destroy our Mother Earth.<

We pray that all nations and peoples will wake up and stand up. We must be concerned for the future generations of this planet and for the poorest of the poor, “the least of these,” who suffer daily from sinful, violent, environmental destruction. Dear Lord, help us to realize that action is needed now to protect the precious gift of this planet that You have left in our care.

We pray that, as Catholics, we understand that we are called to a responsible stewardship of this planet, and global cooperation concerning the protection of our environment must be achieved. Gracious Creator, please do not allow us to miss the opportunity to be responsible stewards of Your creation.

Sr. Joan Chittister in the National Catholic Reporter:

A newly organized, independent group of leaders from many of the defining American social justice movements of the 20th century a veritable who’s who of social change in the United States over the last 60 years has risen up anew, this time in solidarity with OWS.

You know these people; if not by their names, certainly by the breadth of their hearts. You have heard their cries for justice, seen their protests for peace, followed their steady, steady demonstrations of care for the dispossessed everywhere.

The Organizing Committee of the Council of Elders includes Rev. Vincent Harding, Rev. James Lawson, Rev. Philip Lawson, Dolores Huerta, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Dr. Grace Lee Boggs, Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah, Marian Wright Edelman, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Rev. Dr. George Tinker, Rev. John Fife, Rev. Nelson Johnson, Joyce Hobson Johnson and, because of their generous spirits, me, as well.

Their statement of solidarity reads: “As veterans of the Civil Rights, Women’s, Peace, Environmental, LGBTQ, Immigrant Justice, labor rights and other movements … we are convinced that Occupy Wall Street is a continuation, a deepening and expansion of the determination of the diverse peoples of our nation to transform our country into a more democratic, just and compassionate society.”

To be clear that they are about more than writing statements, this group of leaders — seasoned by all the social justice movements of their day — started a Facebook pagelaunched a websiteuploaded a video to YouTube and sent a delegation of older people to Zuccotti Park in New York City, to Justice Herman Plaza in San Francisco, and to Los Angeles, Oakland and Washington, D.C., to speak with demonstrators. They went to encourage this generation’s young people, who are bringing to consciousness a national awareness that our wealth is in our people and our resources, well developed and well used, not in our banks. They went to bring the flame of peace and economic justice from one generation to the next.

The elders are going to be among the Occupiers, they say in their public statement, to “applaud the miraculous extent to which the Occupy initiative has been non violent and democratic, especially in light of the weight of violence under which the great majority of people are forced to live, including joblessness, foreclosures, unemployment, poverty, and inadequate health care.”

Jeff Dietrich of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker shares his story at the National Catholic Reporter, about risking arrest with Occupy LA after being moved by Advent readings and a special appeal for help at Mass:

I had not planned on coming here but someone stood up at church on Sunday and pleaded with the congregation to join him at 12:01 a.m., the police deadline for dispersal of the LA Occupiers of City Hall Plaza. The readings for that Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, were from the Gospel of Mark: “Stay awake, don’t fall asleep for you do not know the hour or the time of the master’s return! I say to you what I say to all, stay awake!” It occurred to me at that moment, like a flash of lightning: Where are people staying awake? Where are people not sleeping? Where are people keeping vigil? Certainly not in this church and mostly not in any church for that matter. The readings have nothing to do with keeping vigil in quiet candlelit spaces of sacred sanctuaries. The readings are about being awake to the historical moment; the readings are about discerning the movement of the spirit in the present.

Check out “Occupy Advent and the Vatican: A Revolution of Hope” by Alex Mikulich at NCR:

“As I prepare for Advent in this time of impasse, I suggest reflection upon the unlikely congruence of two divergent resources: the Occupy movement and the Vatican’s recent statement on global financial reform, “Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority.”

“In the words of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the authoritative office within the Vatican with the highest responsibility for Catholic social teaching, ‘the gap between ethical training and technical preparation needs to be filled by highlighting in a particular way the perpetual synergy between the two levels of practical doing (praxis) and of boundless human striving (poiesis).’

“That is a theologically sophisticated way of emphasizing the need both to integrate spirituality and ethics, individually and collectively, and restore the primacy of spirituality and ethics over capitalism and finance.

“How do we begin this work in Advent?”

Check out this fascinating trailer for an upcoming documentary on the spiritual community emerging at Occupy Boston’s Sacred Space tent and the participation of Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Jews, and Muslims.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council writing at CNN:

“He called his ten servants, and gave to them ten minas, one mina each (a mina today would be worth around $225), and he then told them to ‘Occupy till I come.’ ” (Luke 19:13, King James Version)

But just what does Jesus’ order to occupy mean? Does it mean take over and trash public property, as the Occupy movement has? Does it mean engage in antisocial behavior while denouncing a political and economic system that grants one the right and luxury to choose to be unproductive?

No, the Greek term behind the old English translation literally means “be occupied with business.” As with all parables, Jesus uses a common activity such as fishing or farming to provide a word picture with a deeper spiritual meaning.

From a spiritual perspective, the mina in this parable represents the opportunity of life; each of us is given the same opportunity to build our lives, and each of us shares the same responsibility to invest our lives for the purpose of bringing a return and leaving a legacy. Jesus gave equal responsibility and opportunity to each of his 10 servants.

The fact that Jesus chose the free market system as the basis for this parable should not be overlooked. When the nobleman returns, after being established as king  a stand-in for Jesus  he calls all his servants together to see what they had accomplished in his absence.

William D. Lindsey writes about us on Bilgrimage:

For those interested, an Occupy, Catholics! group has been formed.  Its website is here, with a helpful set of links to various other sites that tie into the Occupy movement.  And it also now has a Facebook group.

I gather that the primary goal of Occupy, Catholics! is to muster Catholic support for the Occupy movement, and to demonstrate that Catholics can play (and already are playing) a key role in supporting the movement.  And that’s very good.  If I had my druthers, though, the group would also focus intently on Occupying the Catholic church itself.


My point: much of the analysis of the malaise of our church right now among centrist Catholics comes nowhere near recognizing how dire the pastoral situation is for many of their fellow Catholics, for whom the key questions are no longer whether we should be intoning “consubstantial” or “one in being with,” but for whom the key questions are about finding and sustaining any sense of divine presence at all in a church that has revealed such a savage face to many of its own followers and to the world in general.  Many centrist Catholics have not yet caught on to their own complicity in the savagery–and so they are doing far too little to reverse it, as the savagery consumes alive the souls of many of their fellow Catholics.

It’s time to Occupy our own church, and perhaps then we’ll have some effect when we join Occupy movements that call for greater justice in society as a whole.  I’m really tired of having going-nowhere one-way conversations with fellow Catholics of the center, who lament the “new” liturgy while informing me that I must be crazy to imagine the church shows a savage face to gay folks, when their own parishes  in places like suburban New York City or Yale are full of the gays.

Total denial that simply annihilates the witness of thousands and thousands of wounded gay and lesbian Catholics (and thousands and thousands of other Catholics wounded for equally serious reasons): this will do absolutely nothing to heal a badly wounded church, while we chatter at our comfortable centrist Catholic blogsites about the shortcomings of the new liturgy.

Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino at his blog, Good News for the Digital Pews:

Much is made about the opportunity in America to go as far financially as your hard work, intelligence and determination can carry you. This is a great ideal but the workings of the economy must make it true. If the system is conducive to wealth for some at the expense of many others, this great statement of opportunity is not being lived. Those who have joined the Occupy Movement are telling us that such an imbalance may have come to pass.

This dovetails with our Catholic teaching that policies, laws and systems are created to serve the common good. We are not concerned just about individual opportunity but how the economy enhances community life.  Whether or not we choose to become part of the Occupy Movement, we are called as Catholics to exercise Faithful Citizenship, raising our voices when we see moral failure in the public policies and government actions that shape our lives. We do this not to side with a particular political ideology or to follow a cultural trend. We do it for the same reason every time – to protect and promote human dignity. We believe that every life has value – regardless of economic status, race, age, health or any other factor. This is the love to which our Lord Jesus Christ calls us.

Twenty-five years ago, a time that seems prosperous compared to today’s economic climate, the Bishops of the United States issued “Economic Justice for All,” a pastoral letter that applied Catholic Social Teaching to the U.S. Economy. It remains remarkably relevant today. As a reference for Catholic thinking about the Occupy Movement, I highly recommend a revisiting of this letter. It can be found at:

Regardless of your opinion about the Occupy Movement I urge you to continue to pray for those who find themselves in the margins of our society because of these difficult economic times, and to come to their aid in whatever way that you can.   This time of Advent is a time of hope.  It is a time for reflection and action.  We prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s coming.  May he find us waiting in hope; attentive to each other’s need; and sharing with one another the gifts He has given us.