Monthly Archives: March 2014

Faith and Resistance Retreats in D.C.

Annually three times a year, Jonah House and the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker of D.C. organize Faith and Resistance Retreats: one during Holy Week, the second on the anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the first week of August, and the third during the Feast of the Holy Innocents in December. These retreats operate on the praxis of reflection/action/reflection. Inspirational and informational presentations lead to public witness, prepared by the community that gathers, at the White House, Pentagon, and other sites in D.C. The presentation and the action are evaluated and the community moves to the next stage of retreat. Everyone is welcomed to join.

Should Catholics join the military?


Laurence Vance has many excellent articles and blog posts at on why Christians should not join the military. Here is a quote he posted from a Navy officer who wrote to a young man who asked for advice:

“I would strongly discourage any good man from joining the military. In the Navy, particularly, it is extremely difficult to remain faithful to Christ’s teachings. You live day in and day out in the company to immoral people. Drunkenness is extremely common, as is theft, pornography, fornication, and adultery. Brothels in foreign ports make their wages for the year when American ships arrive. The Navy is also extremely damaging to family life. 6-month deployments as well as numerous other underway periods steal a man’s time from his loved ones. Even while in port, 12 hour work days are the norm. I missed about 9 months of my first born daughter’s first year because I was out to sea. The stress and strain that puts on a spouse is, in my opinion, irresponsible of a husband. Please realize that joining the military is not serving a ‘greater good.’ … It will jeopardize your principles, your marriage, your children, your life, and likely your soul.”

If you’d like to read the entire post, go here:

Don’t Listen to Me Again

Among the Righteous (2010)

I found this PBS documentary just a bit hard to follow, but it is unique in that it focuses on the plight of Jews in North Africa during the Holocaust and tells the story of Arabs who rescued them or hid them. You can rent Among the Righteous on Amazon or watch it free here.   


Left: Si Ali Sakkat; Middle: Khaled Abdul Wahab; Right: Hamza Abdul Jalil

Left: Si Ali Sakkat; Middle: Khaled Abdul Wahab; Right: Hamza Abdul Jalil

A quick search of “Catholic” in the Righteous Among the Nations database appears to yield thousands of results. I believe it was when he was visiting the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations in Israel when Robert Satloff recognized that there was not one Arab listed among the righteous. He found this conspicuous and set off to find the stories that he knew must be out there but must have remained hidden, for one reason or another, all this time.

Dirty Wars (2013) — Now on Netflix!

This is one of the most thoughtful, poignant, and insightful documentaries I’ve ever seen about the War on Terror. “We” started with a kill list of 7 when “we” invaded Afghanistan. Then “we” had a kill list of about 50 in Iraq, all represented on a deck of cards. Now: thousands. It will never end. The War on Terror creates the enemies it was supposed to eliminate, like a perpetual motion machine.

Jeremy Scahill investigates the covert operations of JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command, the paramilitary branch of the executive office that operates outside the traditional military, in secret, and is not subject to oversight or, apparently, the law.

One quote that stands out to me from the film, which was nominated in 2013 for an Academy Award, is when Scahill is interviewing a local warlord that JSOC has “outsourced” their killings to in Somalia, or Mali — I don’t know, one of those countries where “we” haven’t declared war, yet “we” are killing people anyway, routinely. When asked how he knows what to do, the local warlord says:

“Americans know war. They are masters of war. They are teachers. They are great teachers.”


Veterans & Suicide Hotlines: Combined

In the year 2000, a nine million dollar federal grant funded the national suicide prevention crisis hotline. Good timing, as a year later a handful of people in the United States government would start a war in Afghanistan, and two years later those same people would decide to invade Iraq, a country which had not been in any way responsible for 9/11. The result would be disastrous in many ways, not the least of which was, or is, tens of thousands of men returning from war physically, emotionally, and spiritually crippled.

By 2007, the national suicide prevention line was combined with the veterans crisis line, providing “special suicide prevention service for U.S. military veterans through an agreement with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) and U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). When dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255), veterans, active military, and their families are prompted, during the automated greeting, to press one to be connected to a veterans suicide prevention hotline specialist located in the VA call center in New York.”

This is a national travesty and there is no better indication that America is waging “Unjust Wars” than to have so many men and women returning and wanting to take their own lives.

Reporters and talking heads continued to express surprise and bewilderment over the fact that that the Culture of Death that we call “war” leads to suicides. They scratch their heads and act like it is some kind of grand anomaly. Of course the deaths of these men and women, deaths which are also casualties of war, will not be counted among the heroes, though they too paid the ultimate price, as Matthew Hoh explains;

As Matthew Hoh wrote in 2013: “If we were to build a memorial to the Afghan and Iraq Wars today, over 6,500 names of those killed would be enshrined. What is so very shameful not to face is the many thousands upon thousands who have killed themselves after coming home and not counting or including them in remembrances and memorials. Will we cling to old narratives and falsehoods about the honor and glory of war or will we finally admit the bitter, dirty and brutal truth: the Afghan and Iraq Wars did not kill 6,500 Americans, but rather 13,000 or 20,000….”

“Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.” – St. Augustine of Hippo

I wish that one of the little flyers in the back of Catholic Churches was for veterans returning home from war. I wish next to the pamphlet that says “Are you thinking about having an abortion?” there was a pamphlet that said, “Are you thinking about joining the military?” I wish Super Bowl commercials would call for a moment of silence to grieve for those who have lost their lives in war, both soldiers and civilians. Instead we have idolatrous garbage like this in the churches and Super Bowl commercials that paint a Norman Rockwell picture of what it’s like to come home from war. Maybe after another decade we will tire of all this.

We Did A Lot of Bad Things

On the Humans of New York Facebook page, where they publish photos of everyday New Yorkers alongside a short snippet of conversation with the subject.

“It took me getting into a lot of fights before I was diagnosed with PTSD. I have something called ‘hypervigilance.’ I get really nervous around people. Especially people from the Middle East.”
“What were some traumatic things that happened to you?”
“I was in a vehicle when a mortar round exploded in front of us, and we fell into the crater and got trapped. There was a burning oil rig near us, so it was like being in a microwave. And we couldn’t get out. And I also saw a lot of hanky shit. Mostly from our side. Everyone was really revved up from 9/11. We did a lot of bad things. I saw decapitations, and that was our guys doing it.”
“What happened?”
“We were supposed to bring POW’s back to the base. But instead we gave them a cigarette to calm them down, and told them to get on their knees. One of our guys was 240 lbs, and he’d taken this shovel we’d been issued, and he’d sharpened one of the sides until it was like an axe, and he could take off somebody’s head with two hits.”
“How many times did you see that happen?”

Photo credit: Humans of New York

Photo credit: Humans of New York

Omni die dic Mariae

St. Casimir died at the age of 23 in 1484 from lung disease. He was buried with his favorite song, a Latin hymn to Mary called “Omni die dic Mariae” which we know as “Daily, Daily Sing to Mary.” Because of his love for the song, it is known as the Hymn of St. Casimir though he didn’t write it.


A copy of this hymn by Bernard of Cluny was found beneath the right temple of St. Casimir’s incorrupt body when his grave was opened.


Daily, daily sing to Mary, Sing, my soul, her praises due: All her feasts, her actions honor With the heart’s devotion true.
Lost in wond’ring contemplation, Be her majesty confessed: Call her Mother, call her Virgin, Happy Mother, Virgin blest.
2 She is mighty in her pleading, Tender in her loving care; Ever watchful, understanding, All our sorrows she will share.
Advocate and loving mother, Mediatrix of all grace: Heaven’s blessings she dispenses On our sinful human race.
3 All our graces flow through Mary; All then join her praise to sing: Fairest work of all creation, Mother of creation’s King.
Sing in songs of peace unending, Call upon her lovingly: Seat of wisdom, Gate of heaven, Morning star upon the sea.

St. Casimir, March 4


Casimir (1461 – 1484) grew up in a world where his life was not his own. As a prince of Poland, the second son of King Casimir IV and Elizabeth of Austria, his life was scheduled to cement his father’s authority and increase Poland’s power. Casimir realized from an early age that his life belonged to someone else, but to a much higher King than his father. Despite pressure, humiliation, and rejection, he stood by that loyalty through his whole life.

Though his father must have wondered about him, he must have seen and admired Casimir’s strength. He showed that he misunderstood this strength when he sent Casimir as head of an army to take over the throne of Hungary at the request of some nobles there. Casimir felt the whole expedition was wrong but was convinced to go out of obedience to his father. He could not help but feel at every step that it was disobedient to his other Father. So when soldiers started deserting, he was only too glad to listen to the advice of his officers and turn back home. His feelings were confirmed when he discovered that Pope Sixtus IV had opposed the move.

His father, however, was furious at being deterred from his plans and banished Casimir to a castle in Dobzki, hoping that imprisonment would change Casimir’s mind. Casimir’s commitment to what he believed was right only grew stronger in his exile and he refused to cooperate with his father’s plans any more despite the pressure to give in. He even rejected a marriage alliance his father tried to form. He participated in his true King’s plans wholeheartedly by praying, studying, and helping the poor.

He died at the age of 23 in 1484 from lung disease. He was buried with his favorite song, a Latin hymn to Mary called “Omni die dic Mariae” which we know as “Daily, Daily Sing to Mary.” Because of his love for the song, it is known as the Hymn of St. Casimir though he didn’t write it.

St. Marinus, March 3

In the first three centuries, there was an almost constant persecution of Christians. It did happen, however, that some emperors, more benevolent than others, revoked the severe decrees against Christians, but this did not prevent local governors from bringing them to trial – if not directly for their faith, then for insubordination. For example, when a soldier entered the army or received a promotion, he had to take an oath, invoking the names of pagan gods, and sometimes he had to take part in pagan rituals. Christians could not agree to this, and they were given over to punishment for disobedience. There were many such cases under Emperor Gallienus (ruled 260-268), who forbade persecuting Christians for their faith.

St. Marinus and St. Asterius, Feast Day March 3

St. Marinus and St. Asterius, Feast Day March 3

St. Marinus belonged to a noble family of Caesarea, in Palestine and had been an excellent soldier in the army. He was about to be honoured with the new title and position of Centurion. Suddenly another soldier who was eager for the same position, rushed forward, crying out, “Marinus is a Christian, and he would not sacrifice to the Emperor!”

Marinus lost his new position and was immediately questioned by Achaeus, the Governor. Marinus spoke up “Yes, I am a Christian and it is true, I did not sacrifice to the Emperor.”

Achaeus was very bold, “Then I give you three hours in which to change your mind and give up your beliefs.”

As Marinus left the judgment hall, he met Bishop Theotecnus of Caesarea. The Bishop led him to the Church and made him stand close to the altar saying, “Choose between the sword that you carry by your side, and the book of the Gospels.” Marinus immediately stretched out his hand and took the book of the Gospels, holding it firmly. “Hold fast then to God, commanded the Bishop, that strengthened by Him you may obtain what you have chosen! Go in peace.”

Marinus returned to the judge stating firmly, “I am a Christian and I wish to remain so!” He was immediately led away, to be killed.

St. Astyrius (Asterius), a Roman Senator, was present at the martyrdom. Taking off his cloak, he wrapped up the body of Marinus. Astyrius carried the body away on his shoulders and buried it with great honour. Later, in the year 260 A. D., Astyrius also became a martyr.

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