Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 40

FAST FOOD: Fortieth Helping

August 9 – Behold the Nonviolent Lamb of God

Shrine of Our Lady of Knock

Shrine of the Lamb of God
Knock, Ireland

Please follow the link to the homily delivered at the close of the Forty-Day Fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence, at the Shrine of the Lamb in Knock, Ireland, August 9, 1988.

Lest we forget


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FAST FOOD: Thirty-Nineth Helping

Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 39

FAST FOOD: Thirty-Ninth Helping

“The hand that held the Eucharist must not be sullied by the bloodstained sword.”

-St. Cyprian

Insignia of US Army Training School

Insignia of the U.S. Infantry Training School Fort Benning, Georgia, worn by military personnel assigned there, including Christian chaplains

The Constantinianists in the Church have turned it into just another religious public relations arm of the state. No level of logical or theological or interpretive absurdity is beyond the pale for them. They have turned the institutional Churches into schizoid operations. “Follow Jesus,” “Follow Jesus,” “Follow Jesus,” “Don’t follow Jesus,” “Don’t follow Jesus,” “Don’t follow Jesus,” is their daily discordant and cacophonous proclamation of the Gospel—Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Evangelical. 

Follow me,” “Follow me,” “Follow me,” brazenly broadcast their bishops, priests, ministers and pastors to the Christian Community, “and I will permit you to morally participate in the cruelty and carnage of war. If you follow Jesus no such permission is available to you. Follow me and I will also give you the macabre word-play you need to quiet your Christian conscience and to believe in the preposterous idea that you are following the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies by following my way of holy, moral, necessary, justified, Christian homicidal violence.

Who will you follow? Choose. But don’t kid yourself, do not deceive yourself, these are logically and operationally contradictory alternatives before you. To say, “Yes,” to one is to say, “No,” to the other. There are two masters here vying for the commitment of your will and your time on earth. If you are a Christian there is no choice not to choose. If you are a Christian, if you have encountered Jesus as the Word of God Incarnate, as your Lord, God, Saviour, this is a moment of decision, a moment of judgement, a crisis moment in your short life on earth. ( Greek krisis is judgement). Whether you are a bishop, priest, minister, pastor or lay person, don’t kid yourself. “X” and “not X” cannot both be true.


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FAST FOOD: Thirty-Eighth Helping

Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 38

FAST FOOD: Thirty-Eighth Helping

A True Story from Church History

Don Lorenzo Milani

Don Lorenzo Milani (1923-1967) was an Italian Catholic priest who unambiguously and undauntedly proclaimed the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Nonviolent Way. “It is all too easy to demonstrate,” he wrote, “that Jesus was opposed to violence and that He did not accept even legitimate self defence, per se.

Lorenzo was brought up in fascist Italy. He was ordained a priest in 1947. His first priestly assignment was to the parish of San Donato in Calenzano, a run down urban neighbourhood in an industrial zone. He caught on immediately with the younger parishioners, but not all the adults. He noticed that many young people left school in their mid-teens to work in the factories in order to eke out a borderline subsistence living.

To respond to this Milani proceeded put together an after-hours institute for them to learn. To learn not only, or even primarily, how to pass the National School Exam, but how to think and judge and make decisions that always had the good of the community in mind. He regularly invited artists, labour union leaders, politicians, farmers, professors, artisan, scientists, technicians etc. to speak to and to be questioned by the students. These dirt-poor drop-outs were—as many said later in their adult years—surprised that they had such an appetite for learning and such an ability to learn.

Don Lorenzo Milani teaching

Don Lorenzo, however, was not wise in the ways of the curia. Being liberal, being well liked by the young, being exceptionally competent in his undertakings, being the bearer of an aspect of Catholic orthodoxy, Gospel nonviolence, that was not understood, apparently cause the arrival of many dark spirits among his ordained colleagues, who made sure that negative words concerning him were born back to higher-ups in the archdiocese. By the grace of God he had two highly respected priests in their seventies who protected him.

Within a few weeks after the second of these two priests died, Don Lorenzo was given a new assignment. He was assigned to Barbiana, a church in the woods on a hillside above Mugello. The area had no water, no postal service, no road, and no electricity. The Archdiocese of Florence had no more remote and no more impoverished church than Barbiana. Don Lorenzo was acutely aware of what was going on, but no longer had any protectors or supporters among the clergy.

He looked about him in Barbiana and saw the obvious. Brutalizing poverty and its inevitable consequence. The educational opportunities available to the children in the area were atrocious, as Milani understood they were intended to be, so that poorly educated poor youngsters would simply have as their only option disappearing into the factories of the large cities and giving their labour for bare-bones wages. He had been, even before ordination, a severe critic of educational opportunities being tied to economic class. So, he did what he did in his first parish, he opened a school in his house. After a few years his “scholars” would journey into one of the large cities and take the national examination. Years passed without a single pupil failing in a single exam or in a single subject.

Don Lorenzo Milani leading children

Lorenzo and his school became famous. His creative, radical approach to teaching and learning were recognized and honoured far beyond Italy. A book that he wrote with his students, Letter to a Teacher, has been translated into forty languages and is considered a pedagogical classic.

Then in February 1965 something happened. At that time Italy had no laws permitting conscientious objection to war. Conscription was universal for teenage males. However, in the previous year or so a few Catholic young men, as a matter of Christian conscience, chose to accept prosecution and imprisonment rather than accept going into the Italian military. This generated some public discussion of the issue of conscientious objection to war. On February 11, 1965, a group of retired military chaplains publicly expressed their indignation at conscientious objection and in particular at conscientious objectors in a statement which was carried in the press. Its concluding paragraph read in part:

“As for what some call ‘conscientious objection’, the chaplains consider it to be an insult to the Fatherland and to the Fallen, as something alien to the Christian commandment of love, and as an expression of cowardice.”

Within less than a month Don Lorenzo and his pupils composed a reply to the military chaplains of Tuscany who signed the public statement. Don Lorenzo signed the statement and sent it to newspapers and magazines. It read in part:

“Tell us military chaplains what you in fact have taught the soldiers. Obedience at all cost? What if orders were for the bombardment of civilians, a reprisal mission against a defenceless village, the summary execution of a partisan, the use of atomic, bacteriological or chemical weapons, torture, the execution of hostages, the drum-head trial of mere suspects, a war of obvious offensive aggression, an order from an officer in revolt against the sovereign people, or the repression of public demonstrations? Let us page through history together.”

[Milani then goes on for pages detailing the atrocities in the name of obedience committed by the Italian military in all of Italy’s wars during the prior hundred years, e.g. Mussolini’s ordering the mass gassing of Ethiopian.]

He then continues,

“These actions and many others of the sort are the bread and butter of war. When they took place in front of your eyes either you lied or you kept silent. Or do you wish us to believe that you have been insisting on the truth time after time, eye-to-eye with your ‘superiors’ in defiance of prison or death? If you still have your lives and your promotions, it is a sign that you have raised no objection at all.

Certainly we owe our Fallen troops our respect. They were hapless farmers and workers who were turned into aggressors by military obedience. The same military obedience you chaplains glorify.

Let us respect suffering and death and pray for those unfortunate people who have, through no fault of their own, been poisoned by the propaganda of hatred. But let us not dangerously confuse the young people, who look to us priests, to learn about good and evil, about truth and error, about the death of an aggressor and the death of a victim.”

Don Lorenzo’s response appeared in its entirety in La Rinascita, the magazine of the Communist Party in Italy. When Pope Paul VI sent word to Milani that he thought it indiscreet to have his response to the military chaplains published in a Communist journal, Milani responded that he did it only because the Catholic press refused to carry it.

A few months later a criminal complaint was filed against Don Lorenzo by a veterans’ organization demanding prosecution of him for his response to the military chaplains. The Magistrate accepted the complaint and instituted criminal proceedings against him for incitement to criminal activity, advocating criminal activity, subversion of the constitutional system and endangering public order.

On February 15, 1966 the Fourth Criminal Division of the Tribunal of Rome acquitted Don Lornezo Milani of all charges.

However, under Italian law the acquittal is subject to appeal by the prosecutor. The prosecutor doggedly appealed until, over a year and a half later, the Court of Appeals in Rome handed down its decision on October 28, 1967, in the case of the Republic of Italy versus Don Lorenzo Milani: “Guilty.” The verdict came four months after Don Lorenzo had died of leukaemia on June 26, 1967.

Grave of Don Lorenzo Milani


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Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 37

FAST FOOD: Thirty-Seventh Helping

SCIENCE AND SCIENTISTS IN THE SERVICE OF HUMAN DESTRUCTION:
EVER NEW HOMICIDE GIMMICKS GALORE

OUR LADY OF NUCLEAR SORROWS

Icon of Our Lady of Nuclear Sorrows

“Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.” Mt 25:40

“I studied in moral theology an ancient principle of Roman law: the principle of responsibility in solido. The public knows it in term of a proverb: ‘The one who holds the bag is as much a thief as the one who steals the money.’ When two persons commit a crime together, e.g., an assassin and the one who hires him, you hand down a full prison sentence for them both, and everyone understands that the responsibility may not be cut in halves.

A crime like that of Hiroshima required thousand of people sharing direct responsibility: politicians, scientists, technicians, workers, aviators. Every one of them quieted his conscience by telling himself that the total responsibility was divided among them all. Remorse reduced to the third or fourth decimal point won’t keep any modern man awake at night.

And so we have come to this absurdity. A caveman gives someone a blow with his club, knows that he has done wrong and repents of it. A pilot in the atomic age fills the bomb bay of his plane with what in a short period of time will liquidate 200,000 Japanese, and he does not repent. [He is just obeying orders. He is not responsible.]

If I understand the theorist of military obedience and certain German courts correctly, they would have us identify Hitler as the only person responsible for the extermination of six million Jews. But Hitler was irresponsible because he was mad. Therefore the crime never had an author and no one is responsible.

There is only one way to extricate ourselves from this macabre word-play. We must tell youngsters that obedience is the subtlest of temptations… You (military chaplains) should educate our soldiers for objection rather than obedience. Throughout these past one hundred years of history they have known all too little objection. To their shame and that of the world, they have known all too much of obedience.”

-Don Lorenzo Milani, (1923-1967), Italian Catholic priest, unambiguous and undaunted proclaimer of the Nonviolent Jesus and His Nonviolent Way


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FAST FOOD: Thirty-Sixth Helping

Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 36

FAST FOOD: Thirty-Sixth Helping

Principle of Non-Contradiction

Two contradictory propositions cannot be true at the same time and in the same sense. Between two logical and meaningful propositions “X” and “not X” there is no middle ground. If one is truth the other is false.

Benedict XVI

Without the principle of non-contradiction morality would be impossible…Contradictory things cannot be means to salvation.

If in kataphatic Christian systematic theology, moral theology and pastoral theology antithetical statements could be true, it would mean that the statement “Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, Lord and Saviour” and the statement “Jesus is not the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, Lord and Saviour” would both be true. It would mean that “Thou shall not commit adultery,” and “Thou shall commit adultery,” are both true. “I exists,” “I do not exist,” both true. Jesus teaches, “Love (agape) your enemies;” Jesus does not teach, “Love (agape) you enemies.” “Put up your sword” and “Do not put up your sword”, “Love your enemies” and “Do not love your enemies,” “Love as I have loved,” and “Do not love as I have loved” are all teachings of Jesus, are all not teachings of Jesus, but all of the aforementioned are true or are not true. Chaos! Sheer chaos!

Yet, it is the flagrant violation of the principle of non-contradiction that the Constantinian Churches foist upon their memberships when they justify—as being in conformity with the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels who teaches a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies as the Way of discipleship— war, capital punishment, abortion and enmity. When Gandhi notes that the only people in the world who do not see Jesus as nonviolent are Christians, he is addressing the glaring lack of human and spiritual credibility—not to be confused with political and economic clout— the Constantinian Church has in the minds and hearts of the overwhelming majority of the people of the world. (Only 18% of the world’s population is Christian on paper.)

Honestly, if Jesus had taught and commanded, “Kill your enemies” and “Hate your enemies,” how many of the Church leaders who today are defying the principle of non-contradiction to justify in the name of Jesus Christians engaging in war, capital punishment, abortion and enmity, would be defining the principle of non-contradiction as they are today and saying Jesus taught and commanded, “Do not kill your enemies,” and “Love your enemies?” Zero!

There is nothing more futile and pathetic than bishops, priests, ministers, pastors and Christian theologians, who refuse to accept the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, trying to justify themselves by building an elaborate logical-theological house of cards on the sand of having first abandoned the primordial logical principle of non-contradiction, e.g., “Love your enemies,” is the truth of Jesus and “Do not love you enemies,” is the truth of Jesus.

If only the costs of their trying to put reason’s mask on blatant Christian infidelity were not so horrifying for so many so often.


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FAST FOOD: Thirty-Fifth Helping

Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 35

FAST FOOD: Thirty-Fifth Helping

“The power of perception of people, who live in a system of deception, is darkened… In Psalm 19:12-13, we find the ever worth pondering passage: ‘But who can discern his errors? Clear thou me from my unknown faults.’”

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

FAST FOOD readers may have forgotten by now that this sequence of reflections began with two quotations on memory in FAST FOOD: Helping Twenty-Four, one from Dan Berrigan, the other from Milan Kundera: “The motto of the great ones might well be ‘Winner Take All—Even the Memories.’ The winner owns history and bends it to his will,” and “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetfulness.” The misuse, abuse and/or non-use of memory is all it takes to generate that “initial deviation from the truth that is multiplied later a thousand-fold.” of which Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas speak.

As noted earlier, in most Christian Churches, the mere words “suffered and died,” for the anamnesis, the remembrance of the torture and murder of Jesus in their Eucharistic Prayers, has become an agency for amnesia regarding momentous truths intrinsic to Jesus’ crucifixion; truths that if consistently brought to consciousness at the sacred time of the community’s Eucharist would stand in judgement on a multitude of community activities, past and present. Truths, the absent of which, sow the seeds of deception that guarantee that the “initial deviation from the truth that is multiplied later a thousand-fold” will take place.

Let me present, from another area, how this initial deviation from truth is orchestrated by manipulating the memory of the community. For this purpose I will use an illustration from the writings of the historian Howard Zinn:

Total control leads to total cruelty. Bartolome de las Casas, a priest, tells how the Spaniards “grew more conceited everyday, toward the Arawak of Hispaniola, (the island which today consist of Haiti and the Dominican Republic). After a while they refused to walk any distance and rode the backs of the Indians or were carried in hammocks by Indians.” Las Casas tells how two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys. The Indians, Las Casas reports “suffered in died in the Spanish goldmines and other labours in desperate silence, knowing not a soul in the world to whom they could turn for help.”

When he arrived on Hispaniola in 1508, Las Casas says, “there were 60,000 people living on this island including the Indians, so that from 1494 to 1508 over three million people had perished from war, slavery and the mines. Who in future generation will believe this? I myself writing as a knowledgeable eye witness can hardly believe it.” When we read the history books given to children in the United States about Columbus, it all starts with heroic adventure—there is no bloodshed—and Columbus Day is a celebration.

Samuel Elliot Morrison, the Harvard historian, was the most distinguishes writer on Columbus, the author of a multi-volume biography. In his book Christopher Columbus, Mariner, he writes, “The cruel policies initiated by Columbus and pursued by his successors resulted in completer genocide.” This is on one page buried half way into the telling of a grand romance. In the book’s last paragraph Morrison sums up his view of Columbus: “He had his faults and defects but they were largely the defects of the qualities that made him great—his indomitable will, his superb faith in God and his own mission as the Christ-bearer to lands beyond the seas.”

One can lie outright about the past. Or one can omit facts, which might lead to a different conclusion. Morrison does neither. He refuses to lie about Columbus. He does not omit the story of mass murder, indeed, he describes it with the harshest word one can use: genocide.

But he does something else—he mentions the truth quickly and goes onto other things more important to him. Outright lying or quiet omission takes the risk of discovery, which when made might turn the reader against the writer. But, to state the fact, however, and then bury it in a mass of other information is to say to the reader with a certain infectious calm, “Yes, mass murder took place, but its not that important. It should weigh very little in our final judgement; it should affect very little of what we do in the world.” To de-emphasize the genocide of the Arawak is not a technical necessity, but an ideological choice that serves some interest.

(A People’s History of the United States).

It does not take much reflection to perceive what interests the non-necessary, ideological choice of detail-devoid Eucharistic Prayers—that do not mention Jesus’ new commandment given at the Last Supper, that do not mention His rejection of violence, that do not mention His love of even lethal enemies, that do not mention His prayer for persecutors, and His struggle to overcome evil with good—serve. They serve the function of amalgamating Christianity into the local, national or ethnic violence-ennobling myths, as well as, into the good graces of wealth and political power. Intentional forgetfulness, structured inattentiveness, and a cavalier downplaying and clever disparaging of the Saviour’s teachings of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies have always been part of this process of sowing the seeds for that initial deviation from the truth that is multiplied later a thousand-fold. Without this cultivated liturgical and catechetical blind spot, Jesus could not be drafted as a Divine support person for the home team’s homicide and enmity.

One can lie outright about the past. Or one can omit facts, which might lead to a different conclusion. The Constantinian Churches do neither. They refuse to lie about Jesus. They do not omit remembering the historical event of His passion and death in their Eucharistic Prayers. But they do something else, they mention it quickly, “suffered and died,” and then go onto other things that they consider more important than presenting the historical and Gospel fact of the Spirit of Nonviolent Love of friends and lethal enemies in which Jesus suffered and died. Whatever else this does, this public paucity of memory about that Spirit keeps it from being generally understood as a crucial dynamic in God’s Plan of Redemption in Jesus Christ. The lack of attention to the Spirit in which Jesus suffered and died makes it appear that God’s Plan of Redemption could have been equally carried out if Jesus from the cross was cursing and hating those doing violence to Him. Therein lay the seeds, not only in the anamnesis of the Eucharistic Prayers of the Churches but also in the ordinary catechises of the Churches for the initial deviation from the truth of Jesus and is Way that is multiplied later a thousand-fold. No, not a thousand-fold, but a hundred million-fold—and counting.

It has been said, and with overwhelming historical evidence to support it, that it is primarily the Christian Churches and their leaders, not the secular culture, who keep Christians from responding to violence and enmity as Jesus responded to violence and enmity, and as He commanded His disciple to so do. That is, that it is the Churches—mainline, televangelists, Evangelical— that are the single greatest impediment to the two billion Christians obeying and following Jesus in relation to the diabolical phenomena of violence and enmity.


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Annual forty day fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence – Day 34

FAST FOOD:Thirty-Fourth Helping

The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold.

Aristotle

A small error at the outset can lead to great errors in the final conclusions.

St. Thomas Aquinas


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FAST FOOD: Thirty-Third Helping