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Hope in the Darkness - Monday, December 31, 2012

I am about to leave the year of 2012 more heavy of heart than I started it; yet I have more hope now than the beginning of the year. It seems the more we experience the dark side of life the more we see the light at the end.

Tonight Pat and I went to see the movie “Lincoln”. It left me feeling sad. The historical aspect of the movie I question but if it is to be believed hundreds of thousands of young men died in a civil war over an economic issue, slavery, disguised as a human rights struggle. As we know now, that even after the civil rights struggle of 20th century all men and women are not treated equally under the law. Witness the high unemployment of the ‘endangered species’ of the young black males victims of homicide and who crowd our prisons. Cries of being the land of equal opportunity seem to be fading aware.

The homicide rate in Chicago was over 500 in 2012, 80% African American, with most murders using guns. The number of men, women, and children killed in wars in Afghanistan, US, Yemen, Pakistan, Palestine, Yemen by war, starvation, natural and human-made are increasing.

The darkness and death of the movie “Lincoln” made me more convinced that there is no such thing of a ‘just war’ any longer and that violence never brings peace or equality but just more violence.

The Hope out of the Darkness are the children of America, Haiti, Pakistan and Palestine who despite all odds remain full of unfulfilled opportunities and dreams. Many they will have their dreams crushed and killed by violence but all keep the spark of imagination alive.

Only if we can learn from history. When will we ever learn from the civil war or the many wars that followed? When we ever learn from the violence on our streets, over 100 killed in Milwaukee, 500 in Chicago? My prayer is that we can see into the darkness of violence with the eye and imagination of a young child, not accept violence and war as a way of life and have the courage to sacrifice and struggle for peace. Only than will hope will come out of the darkness.


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Political New Year Resolutions - Sunday, December 30, 2012

My political New Year resolutions are clear and simple:

1) To do all in my power to eliminate the teaching of war and killing at Marquette Jesuit Catholic University.

2) To do all in power to direct the 1.1 million dollars from the closing three Catholic Churches in North Central to the people in need in this area.

3) To work for equality and human rights for all people.

4) To work at the causes of violence and crime, like the availability of guns.

These four political resolutions are in order of priority. However, there are other personal resolutions that take priority over these political ones. For example, I hope to do a better job at St. Francis of Assisi words to his followers: “Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words.” In this light I hope, on the pretense that pictures and style often communicate better than words, to do more graphic presentations on this web site and with other publishing efforts. Research and facts are still important but experience,stories and pictures communicate better.


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God Is Not a Liberal or Conservative - Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tonight Pat, our friends Janice and Joe and I watched the documentary Soldiers of Conscience, about the dilemma of individual U.S. soldiers in the Iraq War. It profiles eight American soldiers, including four who decide not to kill, and become conscientious objectors. Joe and I both own the DVD and have seen it four or five times. The first time was at a national peace conference held a few years back at Marquette University. We have tried, without success to get the Center for Peacemaking at Marquette to show it for students and faculty. The more I watch it the more powerful it hits me about the sin of reflexive killing that is taught in the military departments at Marquette.

The documentary was made with the cooperation of the military so it shows how men and women are taught to kill without conscience. When I wrote my public letter to the Provost at Marquette University I quoted from the ethics teacher at West Point who believes that reflexive killing, killing without conscience should be taught as morally okay.

I sent a copy of the letter to the Provost to him, since I extensively quoted him in that part of the letter about reflexive killing. He wrote back saying how he was a Catholic and I should study my bible and Catholic catechism. He did not challenge any of the information or principles that I wrote about. I wrote him back just telling him I had been a long time religious educator, had studied the catechism and quoted from it and had a Masters degree in pastoral studies. That was the end of our dialog.

I have noticed that both liberals and conservatives have forgotten about the art of dialog and creative discussion on matters of conscience and value. If your opinion of the truth does not agree with their opinion of truth that feel personally attacked and rather than enter into a dialog attack you back personally. Often the people who talk about creative dialog on the issues are the last to seek it.

A case in point was President Obama’s recent backing n of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. A liberal, long time friend of mine sent a petition around to peace groups supporting this possible nomination. I thought that was strange so I checked out Chuck Hagel voting record in the Senate on Issues. I was shocked that Senator Hagel’s voting record on nearly ever issue that my friend supported, education, war, civil rights, military money, was just the opposite of my liberal friend. I wrote back to the same peace groups just pointing out how Senator Hagel’s stand on nearly every issue was the opposite of what they said they stood for. My old friend as the other liberals on the peace site just ignored me. One had the courage to personally attack me, the messenger, but ignored my message. I decided not to respond to this friend.

I was glad to see an article in theCommon Dreams newsletter called Six Weeks After Reelection, Obama Sells Out Liberal Democrats in which the author makes the same point about Hagel’s nomination as I did.

I still remember Jim Wallis of Sojourner’s subtitle of one of his books: “The right has it wrong and the left just does not get it.” The one bumper sticker on my car, also from Sojourner’s says: “God is not a Republican or a Democrat. “ These days it needs to be said God is not a liberal or conservative.”


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Precious Are The Elders - Friday, December 28, 2012

Bill Brennan S.J.

Tonight five of us, went out for the famous Friday night Fish Fry. There was Pat, our friend Janice, woman priest, Jerry Zawada, a Franciscan priest, Father Bill Brennan, a 92 year old Jesuit priest friend and myself. We thought we try a new spot for fish fries, a restaurant at the Lakeside Brewery. Jerry needs a cane to walk and Bill needs a walker. After we got to the top of a long line on a ramp we found out there was an hour and half wait. That was too much and rather than try our fate on a new place we went to a place where we knew we could get an excellent fish fry without a wait, the Italian Community Center.
I describe the above as background to a comment the 75 year old Jerry made to me about the 92 year Father Bill: “Look how sharp he is” It is true, his mind is clear and his thinking right on. Recently Father Bill got in trouble with the official Catholic Church for saying mass at a public event with Janice, a woman priest. He took the accolades and admonishments while keep his peaceful perspective on life. In his conscience he knew his decision was the right one so could handle the insults and praise that came his way. He embraces his new found fame and shame while keep his same temperament, sensitivity, compassionate and peacefulness as he does everything.

As we can older there are less and less persons that we can look to as “elders”. Bill at 92 is old enough to be my biological father, being 23 years older than me. Jerry is only five years older but has lived life full so that he has the wisdom to be my elder.

Being old does not make one an elder. An elder must be wise, insightful, see deeply into life and be a person of peace. Precious are the elders.


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Hard To Get Down With Friends - Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best Friends

Christmas time can be tough and depressing for many. I think it is like the dark cloud around the true spirit of Christmas that prevents us from feeling the joy the season. This dark cloud is, I think, like the one I have been calling the ‘shadow of death’ since the death of my son Peter. What has helped me to cut through the dark cloud and experience the joy of life has been friends.

Today I talked with a number of friends by phone, drove a friend for a doctor’s visit and a friend came over to visit and stay the night. My friends, like me, struggle with the holidays and the woes of our country. However, being in the same situation with same values, hopes and dreams gives us sight though the dark cloud into the joy of each day.

My best friend is my wife of 43 years. I appreciate her friendship more and more each day as I see others friends who do not have this type of long lasting and intimate friendship.

I too feel down during these holiday times but when this happens a friend calls, a friend drops by or my best friend is there with a smile and helping hand. It is hard to get too down with good friends.


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Seeking Peace and Common Good - Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Today I read a quote from Gandhi that says much of what I feel about Christmas: “When real peace is established…it will be echoed in our life, not only in individual life, but in corporate life. Then we shall say Christ is born… Then we will not think of a particular day in the year as that of the birth of the Christ, but as an ever-recurring event which can be enacted in every life…” I also came across another quote today that sums up many of my feelings about life: “This is the rule of most perfect Christianity, its most exact definition, its highest point, namely, the seeking of the common good … for nothing can so make a person an imitator of Christ as caring for neighbors” —John Chrysostom (ca. 347–407)

My philosophy of life includes finding the birth of Christ in every life and always striving for the common good. The first quote reminds me of “finding God in all things” of St. Ignatius in the spirituality of the Spiritual Exercise and the second quote reminds me of my studies and reflections of the ‘historical Jesus’ where the Beatitudes and the Judgment of Nations in Matthew 25.

If we look for God in all things and seek what is good for others we will not avoid suffering but, I believe, can find peace in everyday life and be true to our conscience. If fact, in my opinion, suffering is as central to peace and the common good as joy.

St. Ignatius says in the Spiritual Exercise that we should pray for suffering, rejection and insults for the sake of Jesus and working for the “common good” often means sacrifice. I having difficult for praying for suffering and insults but pray to accept it. Sacrificing for the common good is also not easy. However, seeking peace and the common good is the right thing to do.


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Blessings of Christmas Overflowing - Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Blessings Overflowing

Last night at his Christmas eve Mass Pope Benedict XVI gave a homily some have titled “What would happen if Mary and Joseph were to knock at my door”. In it the pope talks about how the “great moral question of our attitude towards the homeless, towards refugees and migrants, takes on a deeper dimension: do we really have room for God when he seeks to enter under our roof?” He talks about “The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God?” I jokily said to my wife he had probably read my parable If Joseph and Mary Would Come to Milwaukee Today.

Of course find God in all of nature especially the poor, outcast and marginalized is not my idea or even the Pope’s. Once when I was accused of pushing this idea I wrote back to the person saying to blame Jesus for the idea not me. Maybe if the local Archdiocese of Catholic Church continues to avoid the question of giving the 1.1 million dollars it acquired from sale of Catholic church properties in to poor and needy of the area we should ask the Pope, Holy Father, for help. As the Bishop of all the Bishops, the leader of the Catholic Church he might be interested in carry out his word, message of Jesus Christ, in action in this situation in Milwaukee.

I told the five members of the Corporation Board that owns the 1.1 million dollars in question that we would expect an answer by Jan. 1 to our request to dialog which we have persistently pursue for months. The Archbishop has responded putting the burden of dialog on the three of the five members of the board who are at St. Catherine’s parish were the money for the poor and need is deposited. But these three are silent.

Today I asked these three to play the role of the three Magi bringing the newborn Jesus gifts, in this case monies for vouchers for beds, refrigerators and stoves for those in need. 1.1 million dollars could go a long way in the hands of the parishioners of the three Catholic Churches that serve this area of Milwaukee, the poorest in the fourth poorest city in the USA and the most segregated neighborhood in the number one most segregated city in the USA.

Words are a beginning; now if we can get action on the words the blessings of Christmas will overflow to all of us.


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Chances at Christmas - Monday, December 24, 2012

Graf Family after Christmas Liturgy

Before coming home this Christmas eve we went to a Christmas liturgy with son’s family at their church. My oldest grandchild, now 15, was one of the lectors at mass, my other grandson was an altar boy server and my young granddaughter was in the children’s choir that let the music. Due to children’s role in the liturgy we had to be at Church early. While waiting for Mass to begin I started to think about the joy of Christmas and my son who was sitting next to us. I started praying a litany of names of good persons I have known who are deceased. The litany ranged from Dorothy Day, my young sister, Pat’s young brother and a wide range of family members and friends. Of course on the top of list was our son Peter, my son’s younger brother and in childhood day’s good friend. I pray that through the intersection of these saints my son and his family would enjoy the blessing of Christmas in their daily lives.

I remember being in the basement of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and seeing the small cave tradition says was the birth place of Jesus. Like in my modern day story of If Joseph and Mary came to Milwaukee today, the place at the time was simple shelter for animals to stay out of the rain and cold of night. Yet this baby was God’s heir, a mirror to all of us of the love and image of God, our mother and father. God emptied self to be one of us is a mystery we cannot comprehend but shows a love beyond all understanding.

I tried to find the silence of God in myself and transfer a bit of that love to my son sitting next to me via the intersection of these great persons who, like Jesus, walked the earth.

Tomorrow I will make our formal request to dialog with the three members of the Corporation Board the Archbishop asked us to dialog with in our Cry of the Poor Petition. Will they listen and give the money from the three closed Catholic Churches to God’s blessed ones, the poor, marginalized and segregated? I do not know. But I do know all the saints full of God’s love will be pulling for them to say yes to this petition. I like our chances at Christmas.


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Christmas for Children - Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cousins for Christmas

Spending the day with my three grandchildren and three of their cousins I realized that Christmas was designed for children of all ages. This may sound obvious, but with the technology of TV, IPods, tablets and computers it may be hard to see. When the TV is on it tends to dominate everyone‘s attention; when it was off the two young girls put on a dance performance with my grandson playing the drum.

Oops now the TV is off so it is time for the children in us to come out and play. Maybe I will watch the football game later on when I am tired of being a child.


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Thank You Friends - Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Friend, Ella,with County Award

My oldest grandson, Carson, turned 15 today. It is hard to believe and reminds us mortality. My friend Tom’s mother was taken to the hospital last night from the home she lives in. She fell and broke her hip. She is old, with severe dementia and has been in and out of hospice care. To operate on the hip or not is the question my friend and his brother are facing tonight. Signs of our family curse, mental illness or brain disorders have been experiences this last week. With the illness comes the terrible stigma.

During this time of birthdays, dying and sickness one thing has stayed consistent; friend, by phone calls, dropping by the house, emails or mail have expressed signs of concern and love. I thank Dawn,Brian, Jerry, Joe, Bill, Janice, Dan, Don, Janis, Bob, Don, Ann, Don, Roberta, Marna, Ann, Ella and the many others for their kind words and gestures the last week. I feel so blessed to have such quality friends. From my friends I learn how the new born spirit of Jesus lives in all of us. Thank you friends,


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Evil is a pot of firery water - Friday, December 21, 2012

How to think about evil, like the evil that visited Newtown last week has been a question many have pondered and I have thought a lot about. How a God who is love can allowed evil like killing in this world. The image that comes to me is pot of boiling poison fire water that keeps being added to when someone rejects God by an act of violence or ill word to another. The pots keep being added to with large and little acts against nature and God until the pot boils over with fiery water, like lava, flowing over the side injuring life of any form, even the innocent. The more we act against God and nature the more flowing lava and the more evil gets into the world.

The fiery water hurts all it touches and the only way to lessen it is to do the right thing, will of God or good act of nature. Greed, Senseless acts of violence, guns designed to kill human beings add to the pot of evil. We humans put these toxic items into the pot and then seem somewhat surprised when the pot overflows.

We can resist acts of evil, like teaching reflexive killing, killing without conscience by actions and good deeds. When my friend Ella shares her patch quilts, skills, homemade corn muffins she is adding good to culture and cutting back on toxic atmosphere around the pot. Sometimes people like Ella are recognized for the good they do and often people are not recognized and ignored.

What I do know that you cannot fight evil with evil. Evil means makes for evil ends. More persons with guns means more people killed with guns. We might never understand the why of evil but we do know how to increase and decrease it. Evil is pot of fiery water. The more there is the more evil flows in the world. The less there is the less evil there is in the world.


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Flying Standby & Gun Violence - Thursday, December 20, 2012

Flying Standby with Killer Drones

The terrible tragedy in a small town in Connecticut should lead us to question the American obsessions with guns, not meant for hunting but to kill people. 12000 deaths in the USA every year should cause us to wonder if more guns mean more gun violence. Instead it has led to more gun purchases, record amounts since the killing of the 20 children which can only lead to more gun violence.

It has led to more stigmatizing of persons with mental illnesses or brain injuries, which can only lead to less access to treatment and less willingness to accept treatment because that means accepting the great Stigma.

I had some family members who were flying standby on an airline. They got here as planned but returning had a problem. It led to checking computers and going back and forth to the airport waiting for an available seat. What was planned as a brief fun trip has turned into a problem of returning home and back to work.

I mentioned this because it relates, in some strange way in my mind, to gun violence. People purchase a gun to protect themselves and often in a moment of passion or anger they become the perpetrators or victims of gun violence. They have easy access to guns, as a standby flyer might have to airplane, but often like the stand by flyer they are left holding the luggage of their ‘free’ trip as the plane flies away. But in the case of easy gun purchases the consequences are greater. They end up killing or being killed.

Guns in the hands of Americans kill more Americans than airplane crashes, more Americans than in our present endless wars each year. Yet like the more access we have to ‘standby flights’ the more access we have to guns leaves to more frustration and fear, and in the case of guns more death.

More guns mean more gun violence. When will ever learn? Maybe someday we will learn that as flying standby leads to risks of not flying, purchasing guns leads to risk of death and suffering.


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Be Not Afriad To Follow Conscience - Wednesday, December 19, 2012

“But God chose the foolish things
of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of
the world to shame the strong.”
1 Corinthians 1:17

All the effort to label the person in the Connecticut school killing of 20 children as a person with a serious mental illness, or as some would say a ‘mentally ill’ person or ‘crazy’ person is started to disturb. On one hand I am glad to see attention brought to the one of five persons in this country who suffers from a mental illnesses or brain illnesses as I would say. However, the emphasis seems to be preventing them from getting guns rather than treatment of the illness. Some are using it to distract from the deadly illness of violence and the issues of easy availability of guns in our society, only meant to kill human beings.

As I pointed out in my posting the other night Guns With People Kill People on the same day as the Connecticut shooting a ‘crazy’ person in China attacked 22 children in a school in China using a knife and not one of the children died. Also today we had three prayer vigils for four young men who died of gun violence in the last week of Milwaukee. Without handguns these young man may be alive today. More guns mean more gun violence.

The president is calling for another commission to study gun violence in the USA. I think we all know deep in our hearts some of the answers:

1. Treat so called ‘mental illnesses’ as other illnesses like cancer. No one would say a person with cancer is “cancerous” as they say a person with a mental illness is ‘mentally ill.’ This means the money to research and treat these types of brain disorders as any other disorder or illnesses as well as making it available for all not only the wealthy.

2. Control guns in this country that are only meant for one purpose, to kill human beings. Hunters do not need assault weapons or handguns to hunt.

3. Rethink the culture of violence we live in with violence used in movies,TV, video games and other media.

4. Stop using weapons of death, like killer drones, in countries like Pakistan that we are not at war with. How can a president comfort and lead us when he is responsible for a CIA kill list that will result in deaths of so many children. We must remember all the children, adults, young adults (particular young adult African American men). See last night’s posting in Remember All the Children.
5. The Catholic Church, as many others, is rightly concerned about the life of the unborn; however they are silent about the lives of those born, especially if they are not Americans. As we were reminded yesterday by the article by Bill Quigley 16,000 children “die each day around the world from hunger.”

6. Christians can stop hiding behind the “just war theory” that was written for wars where there were no bombs, no automatic weapons and no drones. As a friend of mine once said: The bombing of Hiroshima shattered any remnants of the “just war theory” that were still valid.

7. Catholic Social Justice tells us that “the purpose of government and laws is for the ‘common good.’ Government can pass laws, like making a background check mandatory for all gun sales, that will protect us.

8. Preach and Practice the message of the ‘nonviolent cross’ of the Gospels in the pulpit and on the streets: “Love your enemies”. Do not do harm to those who harm you.

I can go on and on with the simple but effective cures for gun violence in this country. But I am preaching to the ‘choir’ and to myself.

I love the Catholic Church but if I was ever ‘excommunicated’ I would like it to be for three reasons: 1) Standing up for equality of women in the Church, in particular women’s ordination. 2) Resisting the teaching of war and violence particularly in our Catholic Universities like Marquette University. 3) For being in solidarity with the poor, outcast and rejected and struggling to be voice for the voiceless, those stigmatized by society or too poor to have a voice. I am starting to see these three questions of conscience come together in my life and must remind myself of the words of Jesus: “Be Not Afraid.” Be Not Afraid to speak truth to power and to follow our conscience.


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Remember All the Children! - Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Parishioners pay their respects to
the victims of an elementary
school shooting while arriving
for mass at St. Rose of Lima Church
in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 16.
(Photo: Emmanuel Dunand / AFP
- Getty Images)

Today we had snow, not enough to be measured at the airport, thus our record of days without snow continues.

Today I drove a friend to see his neurologist which led to another test of his brain at another clinic.

More talk today about the children killed last Friday but a young man with a military style assault rifle.

A brief email came today from the Archbishop to talk with some people about the 1.1 million dollars the Church made from the sale of Church properties in a the poorest, most segregated part of the city, and using it to provide basic necessities for people who live in this area, North Central Milwaukee.

And yes there was more remembering the 20 children who died in Newtown, Connecticut. A fried of mind wrote a brief article in an online publication Common Dreams asking us to remember all the children who die from senseless violation.

On Election Day I wrote a picture essay of “Why I did not vote?”. It was for the children of Palestine, Haiti and Pakistan. This article below makes the case for my not voting. We must remember all the children and vote with our actions not by talking.


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End Culture of Violence - Monday, December 17, 2012

Today Mayor Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, surround by families of victims of gun violence Launched a campaign against gun violence. He pointed out that we are the only industrial nation in the world with this type of gun violence. Every day 34 Americans are killed with gun violence. He said we are compelled to do something about gun violence and had some practical suggestions to reduce gun violence.

A Catholic Worker Deacon from the Catholic Worker farm in New York, Tom Cornell, gave a homily from the pulpit yesterday that talks about the culture of violence in our country. He talks about our values and our culture of violence. Read, Listen and Act.

Zep 3, 14–18a
(Ps) Is 12, 2–6
Phil 4, 4–7
Lk 3, 10–18

Peter Maurin Farm, Marlboro, N.Y.
December 16, 2012

Deacon Tom Cornell

It’s a challenge to faith, the problem of evil. How can a good and loving and all-powerful God allow such things as happened in Newtown last Friday? On the other hand, how can we bear such loss without faith, and without a community of faith, our church? Our own parish family is still staggering under the loss of our Sarah Saturday before last. Now this, so close to us, ten miles over the Connecticut border, twenty first graders and six teachers. I did my teaching internship at Newtown High School in 1959 and I was student counselor and English and Latin teacher in the next town over, Brookfield, for three years after that, and might well have stayed there but for Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement. You couldn’t ask for, you couldn’t imagine better towns, better public schools, peaceful, orderly, safe. And yet….

No one is safe. Every breath we take may be our last. Be prepared! And remember the words of Julian of Norwich, “The worst has happened and been repaired.”

This is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for rejoice! Rejoice? How rejoice? We are more than half way through Advent, the period of waiting, waiting for the repair. The worst has happened? The Fall! And been repaired? How repaired? Jesus Christ, Christ himself, Christmas, Emmanuel, God with Us, come to suffer, die and rise again.

Evil entered that classroom in Newtown, but God was in that classroom too, and he is the stronger. He has taken the little ones to himself. We weep for ourselves! They are our children too. All children are our children. Their families have only their memory. They will not see those beautiful children grow and learn, see them at First Communion, Confirmation! There will be no grandchildren! It is for ourselves that we weep. They are in bliss, eternal bliss, forever innocent, to rise in glory on the Last Day. That’s a Promise!

Last week a similar number of children in Afghanistan were killed by a bomb blast near their school. Was it unexploded ordinance? There have been so many more. Drone strikes are not surgical, as we have been led to believe. Many children have been killed by these fiendish weapons, nearly two hundred in the Afghan-Pakistan border area. Afghani mothers and fathers feel the same anguish, pain and loss as American mothers and fathers do. Does this in any way diminish our loss, our grief? Of course not! Are those kids our children too? God’s children? Of course they are. So why do we let these things happen?

The Popes have spoken of a culture of death that pervades our society, a culture of violence, violence against the most vulnerable among us, the unborn and the elderly, against the poor, against immigrants, against children. We will balance the budget they say, but not by pulling out of unnecessary and unwinnable wars paid for on the credit card. Let the old, the sick, wounded war veterans and the children pay. We have been lied to by politicians as long as I can remember, consistently, by Democrats as well as Republicans, and that’s a form of violence in itself. I refer also to child pornography, widespread and easily available to feed unnatural lust and loathing.

Too many guns, too little mental health evaluation and care in this country. The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in his first address to the diplomats assigned to the Holy See, announced that the Church’s first priority in the field of international relations is the building of a culture of peace, a culture of nonviolence, a culture of life. Do we need any more evidence that this is what we need in our country today?

“His winnowing fan is in his hand,” John the Baptist announced. Even here in an agricultural setting we may need to explain what a winnowing fan is, and what it means to winnow. Before mechanization, the way a farmer removed the grain of wheat from its husk, or chaff, was to spread the wheat stripped from the talk on the barn floor. He would then take a large fan and stir the air over it all. The dry husks, or chaff, are lighter than the grains of wheat, so the breeze the fan makes lifts the chaff and scatters it a few feet away from the heavier wheat. The farmer can then gather up the wheat for storage and sweep up the chaff to throw away or to burn. That’s what it means to winnow, and the fan used is a winnowing fan. John’s words are harsh. “The chaff he will burn in unquenchable fire!” a terrible judgment. We have to take his words seriously, for we will be called to account.

Think on these words, think on what we have just experienced in that first grade classroom when you are selecting toys for your little ones this Christmas. If you have already bought a war toy, or a violent video game, TAKE IT BACK! Exchange it for a teddy bear, or a chess set! Teach peace!

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace! Peace be with you!

Tom Cornell

When will we finally work to end the culture of violence?


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Do the Right Thing - Sunday, December 16, 2012

When to hear, see, speak?

Do the right thing

When to speak, when to be silent
When to push, when to pull,
When to feel, when not to feel,
When to give, when to receive
When to act, when not to act,
These are questions we all struggle with everyday, consciously or not.
When to speak power to truth,
Even when it is our opinion of the truth.
When to follow one’s conscience,
Even when it may be erroneous.
These are questions we know to be right
And what we must do.


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Guns with People Kill People - Saturday, December 15, 2012

For our children’s sake
Stop selling guns

A few of us braved the rain and cold to witness outside the major gun show at Waukesha Expo center. Hundreds of persons poured in and out of the gun show, young, old and children with parents. Many people when they saw our signs just scoffed at us or made standard responses, guns do not kill people, crazy persons only do these crimes, we are advocating taking away the constitution rights, cars kill more people each year and on and one.

One person had an interesting argument pointing out that there had been a similar incident in China the same day as in Connecticut involving 23 children with the person using a knife. He implied that with gun control that people will just use knives to kill. When I got home I read an article about this attack in China: ‘None Dead’ in China: Sensible Laws vs. Maniacal Attacks. “On the other side of the world and just hours before 20 children were gunned down in a massacre in Connecticut on Friday, 22 children were the victims of a vicious, similar-minded attack at a Chinese elementary school by a man wielding an 8-inch knife.” The man was right but what he failed to say that in China as of this morning none of the 22 children had died. China has strict guns laws making an incident like in Connecticut impossible. The tragedy in China “had an outcome that victim’s families now mourning in Connecticut are only wishing they could share.”

No hunting guns, like assault weapons and most handguns are made for one purpose and one purpose only – to kill people. Yes persons driving cars kill people but transportation not killing is the purpose of a car. Guns with people kill people.


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Enough Is Enough! - Friday, December 14, 2012

Three Priest
(l-r)Jerry Zwada OFM, Janice Sevre
-Duszynska ARCWP, Bill Brennan S.J.

While our Catholic Church worries about women’s ordination as priest and punishes those who support the women ordination our Catholic Church is silent about the violence that rages in our country. There is violence all over our media, killing in our movies, reflexive killing in our video games and taught by our military. The president and our politicians believe it is okay to send drones to Pakistan that often kills children.

Our Roman Catholic bishops at their semi-annual meeting could not, after four years, come up with a statement of economic justice. Yet when a priest, like my Franciscan friend Jerry or Jesuit friend Bill say a liturgy with our woman priest friend Janice, a beautiful moving liturgy, the Bishops take away their priestly facilities to say liturgy in public and cannot wear a Roman collar identify themselves as Catholic priest. Locally the Catholic Church has trouble using the money from sales of three churches in North Central Milwaukee for the needs of the people in North Central Milwaukee.

How many children need to die before we take action to restrict hand guns and assault rifles? This killing, like Columbine and so many more, will be all over the new the next few days. Some will respond by buying guns; some will respond by promoting gun control; some may even try to do something about the violence at heart of our society. However, sadly many more will just take in the news, harden their hearts and move on. Let’s pray and hope this time we can collectively say “Enough is Enough” and move past the talk into nonviolent action.


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Vacation Day - Thursday, December 13, 2012

Today there was nothing scheduled on my calendar but I had a full day. A friend that was visiting and staying here and I went to Amaranth Café, visit my friend Marna of DMZ Gardens in the hospital and went to Goodwill when I was able to purchase a nice winter jacket for about $12. The day was busy in a slow relaxing way.

Tonight with another friend we watched an Italian movie I had recorded from the Sundance channel on TV. It was one of those artistic movies that was slow but we stayed with it making bets on which person in the movie the main character in the movie would have sex with at the end. We followed with more talk as Pat came home from work.

Yes it was a vacation day and the only significant email I sent out was this morning when I sent the Archbishop a copy of the story we wrote: If Jesus and Mary would come to Milwaukee. Vacations do not only happen when you take a trip somewhere but can happen on an ordinary weekday at home.


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Death ToSeedsOf NewLife - Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On 12/12/12 we have three vigils for five homicide victims in the last week. One was for a 22 year old adult who was protecting his sister from a home invasion by some local youth. The father of the 22 was present at the vigil prayer and he talked about his son and his death. He seemed somewhat removed, like I did when my son died a few years ago. After the prayer vigil I talked with the father and told him I understood what was happening. The death of his son, like mine, was so unexpected that the reality of it had not sunk in yet. He said how his son was ready to join the military as he had done when a youth and had his whole life before him. His son’s suffering and death was not in war but in protecting his sister and house.

Tonight I went to a funeral of an elderly Jesuit, religious order of Society of Jesus. He died suffering severe dementia at the end of his life. Talking with his brother, who is also in the same religious order, I could relate to the suffering of his brother in the last days since my father has also died of dementia, Alzheimer in his case. He and his brother spend most of their time in the Society of Jesus on the Dakota Indian reservations in South Dakota. I remember making a private retreat with his brother on the reservation. At the time I was concerned about being outcast or rejected. His brother had walked me through scriptures to show me how Jesus had come for poor, outcast and marginalized.

I took a friend today to visit his mother suffering Alzheimer. The son who suffers from some mental illnesses keeps looking at his mom for strength and encouragement. She has minimal recognition if any one and can really not communicate. However, when she smiles or shows some recognition I can see my friend’s face light up. She has been in this hospice situation for a long time. She seems to have a strong will to live.

I talked to another friend today who is only in her fifties but has suffered for another years from a number of serious illnesses. Now she is in the hospital and on the phone seems very weak. Another friend, Dawn, was the D, she, Marna was the M and I was the Z the DMZ in . Last year Dawn started DMZ II and now she says DMZ III is coming up. All the gardens are on vacant lots in Dawn’s neighborhood. Both Dawn and Marna are persons I deeply admire for their strength of character and to dedication to serving people in need, although they both are poor and survivors.

After a day of suffering and death what else can happen to me. The day ended with my wife and me talking with our friend Janice, a woman priest, who is staying here for a few days. The hope that the Catholic Church can recognize the equality of women in the priesthood sparks my faith that all this death and dying can lead to the seeds of new life.


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Letter to Editor Cry of the Poor! - Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Society of St. Vincent De Paul

I have been writing a lot recently about our efforts for the Catholic Church to use money from sales of Church properties for people in need in the areas of the closed Churches. It has been hard to get people in Church to listen to Cry of the Poor. I even tried stories or parables like If Joseph and Mary would have come to Milwaukee Today and What to Give Jesus for Christmas. Last week I even wrote a “letter to the editor” based on some newspaper article. It has not been five days since sending it to the newspaper and I have not heard back from them. So here is is:

December 7, 2012

Dear Editors of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,

I went to bed last night wondering What to Give Jesus for Christmas and woke this morning to read the answer in the headlines of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “Parish funds avoid bankruptcy.”

For some time now a number of us have been asking the St. Catherine Corporation board to use the 1.1 million resulting from the sale of three Church properties in North Central Milwaukee for use for St. Vincent De Paul conferences in the area to purchase vouchers for food, beds and appliances for those in need. The North Central Milwaukee neighborhoods consist of the poorest and most segregated in Milwaukee and many families are lacking basic needs like stoves and refrigerators.

One major obstacle to the St. Catherine Corporation Board has been the possible involvement of these parish funds in the bankruptcy hearings. Now that this obstacles has lessen by the Judge the parish is now free to use this 1.1 million to honor the “intent of donors”, for needs of God’s blessed ones and to give Jesus the Christmas present he dearly desires: “Whatsoever you did for one of my brothers and sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.” (Matt: 25, 40)

May you share in the Blessing and grace God gives to the poor,

Bob Graf

The Cry of the Poor still goes unheard by those in power in the Church. Maybe this letter here will awaken someone.


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What I Believe - Monday, December 10, 2012

For our faith sharing group the leader for tomorrow asked us to write down one page of “What We Believe.” Lightly searching my soul here is what I wrote.

What I believe.

I believe in God
I believe that all human beings are created equal and should be treated as brother and sisters.
I believe that all human beings have right to food, shelter, health care and other basic rights to life.
I believe in the power of nonviolence and truth over violence and non-truth.
I believe in creative nonviolent conflict with dignity and respect to all.
I believe that God loves each person unconditionally and the same.
I believe that relationship of love and respect between persons gives a glimpse of God’s love.
I believe in the Way of Jesus, who is fully God and fully human.
I believe the spirit of God dwells in all of us.
I believe in the “preferential option for the poor, sick, outcast and rejected.
I believe that the ultimate authority is our conscience and we must seek to follow our conscience even if it is mistaken.
I believe the “end does not justify the means.”
I believe that Jesus meant what he taught us in the Gospels and we should try our best to follow this Way.
I believe in honest, practicing what we say, silence and deeds over words.
I believe we should not judge others yet be persistent in following our “opinion of truth.”
I believe in “Swadeshi or the use and service of our immediate surroundings over those more remote or foreign. In economic terms it is the insistence on the use of local goods made by local communities and in one’s own country, and preferably hand-made or home grown.” (Gandhi)

There is more I believe but this is enough. If I could only practice in action these beliefs I would be a better person.


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Unexpected Blessings - Sunday, December 09, 2012

“Swaraj means the ability to regard
every inhabitant of India as
our brother and sister.”

After the liturgy at St. Ben’s today Pat and I went out to breakfast with some friends including Jerry Zwada, a friend and Franciscan priest, who suffered earlier the same fate as our priest friend Father Bill. (See Priest stripped of duties for celebrating Mass with woman priest).

We were all wrapped in conversation when suddenly we noticed that Jerry was slumped over in his chair. He was dizzy and in pain. After a few minutes we called 911 and I drove in the ambulance when he was taken to the hospital. He was given an IV of fluids and started to feel better. Neither the less, it was nearly five hours for them to run test on him and discharge him.

A good friend, Joe, came by car to the hospital and the three of us had some good conversations about woman priest and stuff while we waited for him to be checked out.

After we drove Jerry home Joe and I picked up a bucket of corn muffins made by our friend Ella the patch quilt maker and came to our house for a meal Pat had made for us. My friend Joe and Jerry are not Green Bay Packers football fans so I kept joking with them that I was glad the Packer game was tonight so I would not have to miss the game.

Each day we seek blessings and grace of God. Today his grace and blessing were unexpected given to me with the opportunity to be present with friends in the ER. I could not use my “smart phone” for calls or emails in the ER but Joe’s regular phone did work. When I did check my email I found this daily picture quote from India that was quite apropos to my experience. Gandhi says “Swaraj means the ability to regard every inhabitant of India as our brother and sister.”

Breakfast with Sister Pat, my wife, Brothers Jerry, Joe and Tom]] certainly did turn into unexpected blessings and grace of the day.


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If Joseph and Mary Would Come to Milwaukee Today - Saturday, December 08, 2012

Continuing with the theme of What to Give Jesus for Christmas and the Cry of the Poor Petition for North Central Milwaukee I offer this tale if Mary and Joseph were to come to Milwaukee today?

If Mary, the pregnant unwed young mother, and Joseph, the unemployed carpenter, would have traveled to North Central Milwaukee today, they would find little opportunity for shelter and food. If they could find shelter, it would be some dimly lit empty rental unit or some empty spot in someone’s basement.

The Houses of Worship of their ancestors most likely would have moved out of these neighborhoods; without insurance, health care for mother Mary would be limited. Joseph might find food from the food pantries and a few nearby churches of various faiths might supply some clothing.

After Jesus was born, they would return to an empty house. If they were connected to a social service agency, they may have gotten a Pack ‘N Play to use as a crib for Jesus, while they slept on the floor. If Joseph contacted neighbors and phoned 211 for assistance, to secure a stove, refrigerator and beds, the operator would tell them to call the St. Vincent De Paul central office, at 414 000 000. If he got through to a human person at the central office, he might have heard the message: “We do not serve your area at this time.” If he was blessed to get through and be in the right neighborhood on the North side, he would have gotten the message that someone would visit him in six to eight weeks!

If Joseph traveled the streets looking for a job, he would find few available jobs in an area where there was over fifty percent (50%) unemployment. With no stove or refrigerator, Mary would have to take the new born baby out each day with her in the winter cold to find some food so they could eat that day.
Soon, the children in the neighborhood would discover a new baby on the block and come around, welcomed by Mary and Joseph, to see the newborn child. The joy on the children’s faces, seeing the infant, would be matched by the smiles of Joseph and Mary, and all would light up the dimly lit room.

After some weeks, if they were fortunate, two visitors from a St. Vincent De Paul conference would pay them a home visit. They would welcome them into the empty house and the visitors would ask them what they needed. They would probably need everything but would simply say they needed a bed for themselves, a stove and refrigerator so they could preserve food and drink, prepare it and cook it. The visitors might say, “We are sorry but we are limited in funds for vouchers and can give you vouchers for only two of the three major items you need.” Mary and Joseph would look at each other, then both look at Jesus and say: “we will take a stove and refrigerator,” knowing that sleeping on the floor was not as important as having a stove and refrigerator to preserve and cook food for the three of them.

The visitors would then give two vouchers, of $125 each, to be used for a stove and refrigerator at a particular used appliance store, explaining that the store would probably charge more for the appliances and they would need to pay the remaining balance. Mary and Joseph would graciously thank the visitors for the vouchers and show them the baby Jesus sleeping in his Pack ‘N Play.

The visitors would leave and Mary and Joseph would then pray in thanksgiving to God for these two gifts. However, they would probably ponder how they could possibly get the rest of the money to purchase the stove and refrigerator, let alone a bed and other necessities. Feeling down they, nevertheless, would look over at the sleeping baby Jesus and smile, during His first Christmas, knowing in their hearts that God would take care of them.


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One of Those Days - Friday, December 07, 2012

Today was one of those days. When I woke up I looked at my calendar on my phone and saw that I had nothing scheduled. Alleluia I thought. This was not to last for long. By phone and email I found out that misleading information and rumors were rampart about an elderly friend. I tried not to react but to calmly quiet things down and get the truth as I know it out. It took a lot of time but it finally took hold, I think. Rumors are hard to contain but with proper use of smart phone, email and computer they are as easy to resist as to spread. With the rest of the day I got a few things done but not all I thought I could do with an open day.

Technology, TV, smart phones, email, computers can either was lots of time or be useful in saving time. Today I thought I used these technologies more effectively the for most part. Technology can make “one of those days” more difficult or easier.

The key to using technology effectively not wastefully I think it to use it nonviolently in words and images, be ready to speak the truth, listen, follow conscience, not react and be willing to suffer.

The way to focus using technology as with all of life is to remember the Gandhi mantra “Do or Die.” In the book “Gandhi and the Unspeakable” by Jim Douglas the mantra means: “Resist injustice with one’s whole life. Do it lovingly. Resist nonviolent, openly, fearlessly. Suffer the consequences with joy to the point, to the point of death: “Do or die.” (p. 37)

The lesson here is that a “free day” can become busy fast and if it is “one of those days” careful use of technology can help stop rumors and get back on track.


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What to Give Jesus for Christmas! - Thursday, December 06, 2012

A gift for Jesus, washing his feet

This is the season of gift giving. Many people are busy purchasing gifts for family and friends. Since I am blessed with a wife, Pat, who takes on this task in our household, I am left free to wonder about giving and thought today about what to give Jesus. When Jesus was a baby, the Three Kings gave him Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Now that Jesus has grown up, died and been resurrected and we know him as the Son of God, one of three persons in the One God, others gifts are in order. Now that we know more about Jesus we can see what he would want as a gift.

Reflecting on the Gospels, it becomes clear what Jesus wants for Christmas. In the story, Jesus tells us in Mathew 25, about the Judgment of Nations and he is quite explicit of what he wants. The nations and an organization that gave food to the hungry, comfort to those sorrowing, shelter to the homeless and other corporal works of mercy are told by the King that on Judgment Day that: “Whatsoever you did for one of my brothers and sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.” Jesus said clearly throughout his life on earth that he came especially for the poor and those in need.

As I look around at the blessed ones of Jesus today (Blessed are the poor!), I see they need beds to sleep on and refrigerators and stoves to preserve and prepare food. Many landlords no longer offer a stove and refrigerator with a rental and there are so many requests for beds that we need to buy new, inexpensive ones. We give $125 vouchers for appliances and are blessed to have a used appliance dealer that will give anyone with a voucher a decent appliance for $150 or less. New beds cost our conference around $100 when we purchased them via the St. Vincent De Paul (SVDP) store. When a parish conferences runs out of money, as I heard today one just did, we need to stop making home visits and giving vouchers.

The Archdiocese is sitting on 1.1 million dollars realized from sale of Church properties in North Central Milwaukee. The donors gave to these closed Churches for the mission of the Church in these neighborhoods. Perhaps Jesus is saying to Archbishop Listecki and other officials who control the money, please give it to those who need stoves, refrigerators, beds and food in these neighborhoods of greatest need.

I know what to give Jesus for Christmas, 1.1 million dollars from the Archdiocese for appliances, beds, food and other necessary items for survival for God’s Blessed ones. I will ask the Archbishop, the Corporation Council and the parish advisory group of the parish where the money is being held, to help to give Jesus the gift he most desires. If the Church gives Jesus this gift, I cannot wait to see what he gives us.


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Answer is Blowin in the Wind - Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Protest today against easy gun sales

It is the eve of St. Nicholas day, the first official Santa Claus, a day of childhood joy, and I am wondering:

Why is there so much gun violence on streets and yet a man was yelling at us while we today in front of a gun shop protesting the easy sale of guns?

Why do we not hear the cries of the people of Honduras when they are suffering the repression of the military overthrow of their electoral government four years ago with the aid of USA government and military training at School of Americas?

Why do the people of Palestine and Israel have to suffer and die when the majority of people seek peace and want to live together in peace as they had for thousands of years? Why do the politicians not allow them to live in peace?

Why does the Catholic Church and Jesuit religious order punish my 92 year old priest friend for saying a liturgy with women and yet show no equal concern for the poor and suffering in USA and world?

Why do people we visit in North Central Milwaukee go hungry and have no refrigerator or stove to prepare and cook food and often need to sleep on the floor while the Church stores 1.1 million dollars in funds it received from closing churches in the area.

Why the children at the family homeless shelter are so happy and full of joy and can play while their older brothers and sisters and parents feel the shame of being homeless?

Why does Marquette University, a Catholic Christian University teach war and reflexive killing, killing without conscience, on campus?

My wondering questions can go on and on and all I can hear is “the answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind, the answer is blowin in the wind.”

A mother taking care of her grandchildren of her son who died in a car accident said the best therapy and answers to ‘why’ she found was in prayer. Yes, the answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind.


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“Do or Die” - Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Birth and death are not two different
states, but they are different aspects of the
same state.” M.K. Gandhi CWMG, Vol. XXV, p333

I often marvel how quotes from the past from Gandhi, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King Jr. are so relevant today. Every day I receive a picture with a quote from Gandhi from Mumbai, India and most days it is an inspiring and a relevant quote. The Gospel writers also had this quality of using universal quotes for Jesus.

Reading today a book by my friend, James Douglas, “Gandhi and the Unspeakable: His final experiment with truth,” I was struck by a mantra Gandhi used with his followers to be persistent yet nonviolent: “Do or Die.” “Do or Die” became his mantra to the end of his life. Resist injustice with one’s whole life. Do it lovingly, Resist nonviolently, openly, fearlessly. Suffer the consequences with joy to the point of death: “Do or Die”. (Gandhi, Satyagraha in South Africa, p. 150).

In May 1930, while Gandhi was imprisoned, his movement was determined to occupy the salt factory. Although they were beaten back, heads smashed they kept advancing on the salt factor, without using violence. An AP correspondent called it an encounter with British police and satyargrahis, creative force of nonviolence.

This mantra “Do or Die” is one we need to learn in the struggle in our times, be it with the hierarchical Church denying equality to women or with a Catholic University like Marquette teaching killing with conscience on campus. We must resist but not resort to violence of action or words. We may not face life endangerment but we will face death of insults and being marginalized.

Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr., Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day and many others throughout history practiced “Do or Die” and now after they have died we call them great persons or ‘saints.’ We ordinary persons can and, I believe, must practice “Do or Die” in order to live and find true freedom.


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Breaking the Silence on Women’s Ordination - Monday, December 03, 2012

Fr. Bill celebrates Mass with woman
priest, Janice

My friend Father Bill Brennan S.J., 92, was penalized after celebrating an Eucharistic liturgy with a woman priest, one penalty is taking away his facilities to celebrate Mass in public. The woman priest who is also my friend and with others has helped understand that as the National Catholic Report wrote in his editorial today Ordination of women would correct an injustice

Someone told Father Bill that his action was a “sacrilege” and a friend of mine said it could lead to “schism” in the Catholic Church. I was planning to focus on the 1.1 million dollars of sales from three closed churches going to minister the needs of the poor in North Central Milwaukee were the Church was located and where the donors intended the money go. However, this question of woman’s priesthood gnaws on my conscience and I will need to address it as best as I can.

Actually I view the issue of closing Churches in North Central Milwaukee and using money for people in need in these neighborhoods be similar to the issue of women’s ordination. Catholic teaching is for equality of men and women and for “preferential option for the poor.”. However, the followers of the way of Jesus in the Roman Catholic tradition have developed a hierarchical male priest system. The hierarchy, teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church some call the Magisterium, is all male priest. According to the Catholic male hierarchy women are not called by God to be priest and thus not fully equal to men. The all male hierarchy, all white male in Milwaukee, preaches equality of races and the option for the poor but in the past has made decisions in Milwaukee that has resulted in ‘institutional racism’ or segregation of the poor and African Americans in North Central Milwaukee.

The Magisterium, male hierarchy, has also made decisions, like considering gay and lesbians born with a “moral defect”, or keeping silence on wars, that in my opinion have harmed the Catholic Church and with the sexual abuse scandal has threaten the authority of male priest.

The truth will ultimately win out as it did when the Catholic Church considered slavery as morally okay. However, this is not an excuse for any of us to be silent on questions of conscience and faith. We need to Break the Silence on Women’s Ordination.


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Be Bold, Live In Present - Sunday, December 02, 2012

At Church this morning our pastor gave a talk about living in the present moment. I think we all strive to live in the present moment but I t is hard to do and takes a lot of discipline. Living in the present moment means dying to the past and forgetting about the future. It is especially difficult these days when there is so many stimuli coming at us all the time. To live in the present takes a certain amount of quiet and silence. Noise in our lives distracts us from the present moment.

Gardening is a good exercise to live in the present for spring through fall but in the winter there is nothing to do except maybe some shoveling. What would be a good physical exercise for living in the present for the winter?

There is suffering living in the moment since facing death and pain is all around us. The flip side of this suffering is how more exciting life becomes when one lives in the present moment. Each moment is a new adventure and without expectations the future is a mystery.

Be Bold Live in the Present


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Silent Eve - Saturday, December 01, 2012

by David Gawlik


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Living With Pain - Saturday, December 01, 2012

(:redirect [[DiaryOfAWorm.20121301-LivingWithPain]]:)


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Do the Right Thing - Wednesday, December 31, 1969

(:redirect [[DiaryOfAWorm.20121216-DoTheRightThing]]:)


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