Feast of the Holy Name of Mary posted by American Catholic.org

11 Sep
September 11, 2009

This feast is a counterpart to the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (January 3); both have the possibility of uniting people easily divided on other matters.
The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and in 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. In 1683, John Sobieski, king of Poland, brought an army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies loyal to Mohammed IV in Constantinople. After Sobieski entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he and his soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims. Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to the entire Church.

Mary always points us to God, reminding us of God’s infinite goodness. She helps us to open our hearts to God’s ways, wherever those may lead us. Honored under the title “Queen of Peace,” Mary encourages us to cooperate with Jesus in building a peace based on justice, a peace that respects the fundamental human rights (including religious rights) of all peoples.


“Lord our God, when your Son was dying on the altar of the cross, he gave us as our mother the one he had chosen to be his own mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant that we who call upon the holy name of Mary, our mother, with confidence in her protection may receive strength and comfort in all our needs” (Marian Sacramentary, Mass for the Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

..This entry appears in the print edition of Saint of the Day. Posted by American Catholic.org

Caritas in Veritate Benedict 16th

11 Sep
September 11, 2009

To more fully understand our Holy Father’s teachings in CARITAS IN VERITATE we need to see this new letter as part of his overarching set of teachings.

In the years after Vatican II, Cardinal Ratzinger was known for his critique of liberation theologies and his condemnation of what came to be called securer humanism. In Caritasin Veritate, he clarifies his insights on our Christian call to social justice within a radical commitment to the Gospel of Christ. The Holy Father insists that Love, Mercy and Justice are the parameters of the Christian life and what he most essentially describes as “Christian humanism”. (Humanism with Christ at the Center, Justice that flows from the teachings of Jesus and his church)

Our great theologian the late Avery Cardinal Dulles titled the messages of John Paul the Great –“prophetic humanism.” The years of John Paul were influenced greatly and vice versa by the relationship with Cardinal Ratzinger

It’s been said that both John Paul and Cardinal Ratzinger -our present Benedict- have been accused of possessing an optimistic, even idealistic view surrounding the future of our world. John Paul would call it an, “an evangelical optimism” as recognized in the overarching themes Joy and Hope in the Vatican II, document Gaudium et Spes or Church in the modern world.

His first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est—God is love.

His second Spe Salvi—we are saved in hope.

The church and recession

06 Aug
August 6, 2009

The church and recession
Local conference shows ministers eager to try to meet challenge of tough fiscal times
The Lake Oswego Review, Aug 6, 2009

Dr. Cecilia Ranger served as moderator for “Blessed Are The Poor” at Marylhurst University on July 30. Twenty-four local church representatives talked about how to make their ministries more effective.

Food, clothing, shelter, financial advice, healing of the poor in spirit. Conquering fear.
In ways both basic and unusual, the church community of Lake Oswego and West Linn is rising to meet the demands of economic hardship not seen in the U.S. in 70 years.
This was made quite evident at the conference “Blessed Are The Poor,” held at Marylhurst University last Thursday.
Sister Carol Higgins of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary “called every church I could think of” in Lake Oswego and West Linn, and the response was heartening: 24 representatives of local churches gathered to talk about how they are dealing with the recession.
They did have some sad stories to tell. But the overwhelming feeling that emerged is that this is a time of blessing. The response of the church to the economic emergency has been quick and strong.

“We have a shelter ministry,” said Libby Boatwright, associate pastor of Lake Grove Presbyterian Church. “Homeless people were living in their cars in freezing weather, and we provided them motels, food and help to find housing.”
In some cases, it is simply amazing what some local churches are offering to people suffering from the recession. Boatwright provided two sheets detailing 11 programs now available at Lake Grove Presbyterian, while Julie Messenger, representing Riverwest Church of Lake Oswego, had an elaborate brochure called “the brown book” that details an extraordinary missionary effort right here at home.
It helps not only those in need but those who are giving.
“Our pastor Guy Gray said our outreach to people in poverty has helped us put the current distress in perspective,” Messenger said. “We tend to get inwardly focused, and it helps to reach out to others.

“Our congregation started a donation drive, and donations poured in. People really wanted to help, but they didn’t know how. They want to know, they really do.”
Such programs help eager-to-help church members see the hungry and homeless not as “people way off in the distance.”
The Rev. John Dotson of Lake Bible Church has assembled a 70-member strong team to minister at the Union Gospel Mission in downtown Portland.
“We’re doing more than serving,” Dotson said. “We’re seeing the value of our work to the individual we’re serving. Our volunteers sit down at tables with these people so they can see they are valued.”

Truly opportunities for service are abundant.
Matt Cato, director of the Office of Justice and Peace of the Archdiocese of Portland, said, “Four years ago our food program used to get one guest at the First United Methodist Church. Now it’s packed, and we’ve expanded it to two nights a week. It’s the only place between Beaverton and Hillsboro where you can get a hot meal.”
Hard times can bring churches together.

Mary Brunette of Our Lady of the Lake in Lake Oswego said, “We’re working with six or seven churches to provide houses for families in transition and let moms and kids get back on their feet. It’s a great collaborative effort.”
Perhaps no story at the conference brought home the need of the times like one told by a member of West Linn’s Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, co-pastored by Paul and Cathy Quackenbush.
“We probably would not have had our home in the summer if it hadn’t been for Paul and Cathy,” she said. “I knew we weren’t going to make it. My husband had been trying so hard to find a job and just could not.”

The woman had been interviewed by OPB about her family’s experience, and she vividly expressed the worst aspect of sudden financial crisis.
“Before I hadn’t experienced the type of fear that pours into people,” she said. “It starts in the morning when you brush your teeth. When you’re doing laundry, you ask, ‘How can I buy laundry soap?’ It’s a constant fear all of the time.”
It is a fear that is new to the Lake Oswego and West Linn area. As Father Rick Ganz of the Society of Jesuits, pointed out, these are not the “professional poor” of areas less well off, who know “the agencies and nice places to go.”
This is a condition that makes reaching out to them especially difficult.
“What I’m seeing is families who don’t look like they’re in trouble,” Messenger said.

Boatwright said, “It’s a point of shame for them to say, ‘I have to admit I’m in trouble.’ This experience pours them into a lower strata of society. Part of the problem is they didn’t see it coming.”
“The major challenge in Lake Oswego is that people are in need, but they won’t come forward,” Brunette said. “They’ve been successful, but something has happened to them.
“This is something that is really very hidden. There is more than meets the eye when you’re driving down the street in Lake Oswego. But when you help people who are gun-shy about being helped, it builds on itself.”
“The shame element, the silence,” said Laura Howard, who is seeking a master’s of divinity degree at Marylhurst. “That’s our culture. You don’t let people know you’re in trouble.”…

“This isn’t just physical poverty,” Boatwright said. “It’s poverty of the spirit. People don’t know where to ask for help. But the church is a place of hope. We’re here to do something different. We’re trying to organize a whole new thing. How can we get people away from the humiliation?”
“With people in Lake Oswego and West Linn there are many professionals who have lost jobs,” said Higgins. “The whole issue is shame. Confidence is really critical.”
One thing local people suffering from financial hardship can be confident about is that the church is willing and able to help. In fact, right at the conference tables, plans were made to meet again to talk about ways to make the church more effective.

“My first goal is to bring hope back,” Messenger said. “I want to bring back a fighting spirit.”
“The church might be the last straw for people,” Boatwright said. “Our job is that we’re not going to let you down.”
The Blessed Are The Poor conference was organized by Dr. Sheila O’Connell-Roussell of Marylhurst University Ministry.

Prayer Requests

01 Jul
July 1, 2009

Your needs in prayer are placed before the Spirit for blessings, healing and for graced filled opportunities to come your way. And Jesus said, “If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18:19-20)

Your Marylhurst Prayer Team members commit to pray for you everyday, and to place your intentions for health, happiness and holiness in our prayers and liturgies. Please feel free to email or call me with your confidential prayer requests. Or stop by our meditation room to write your need in our Book of Intentions. Whether you include your name or not, your needs will be added to the University Prayer Request Log, included within our liturgies and your intentions placed before Jesus and Mary within our private prayers.
Also please let me know if you’d like to join our prayer mission.
Dr. Sheila O’Connell-Roussell
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
University Ministry — Marian Hall 104
Meditation Room — Marian Hall 110
Marylhurst University
17600 Pacific Highway (Hwy 43)
PO Box 261 / Marylhurst, OR 97036 – 0261
Voice Mail: 503.534.4021
Fax: 503.636.9526
Phone 503- 636- 8141 (ext 4021)
Toll Free: 800- 634- 9982

The Lake Oswego Review, May 28, 2009

06 Jun
June 6, 2009

Ministries program starts new era here
Effort reaches out to other religions
By Cliff Newell

Ready to lead Marylhurst University Ministries into a new era are directors, from left, Father Rick Ganz, SJ, Dr. Cecilia Ranger and Dr. Sheila O’Connell-Roussell.

Marylhurst University has made great strides in recent years, and now its ministries program is stepping up to keep pace.

“Marylhurst University has been changing ever since it started,” said Dr. Cecelia Ranger of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, the order that founded Marylhurst. “It has continually evolved to meet the needs of people. The ministries program needs to evolve, too.”

Ranger will be directing this evolution, along with Father Rick Ganz, SJ, and Dr. Sheila O’Connell-Roussell. They are heading up a ministries program that formerly was sort of like Marylhurst campus buildings before they were recently so beautifully renovated – somewhat shabby and worn.

But the blueprints are ready for some great work:

n Major emphasis on interfaith relationships.

n Reaching out to the surrounding community.

n Provide religious instruction to students, no matter what their faith.

n Confront “real world” issues with spiritual insight.

It will be new energy and new methods devoted to a mission that has been the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, from the start.

“The Sisters have always taught anybody who came to their door,” Ranger said. “Whatever their denomination or age. We want to help them develop to their fullest capacity possible.”

Perhaps the most eye-catching aspect of the re-invigorated ministries program is the emphasis on reaching out to other Christian denominations and other religions.

“Things have changed so much already,” said Ganz. “When I was growing up in the 1950s it was considered a sin to even go into a Protestant church.”

Still, if there has been great progress in improving contact and creating empathy between persons of different faiths over the past 50 years, in some ways things have stayed disappointingly the same.

“We have worked so hard over the last 100 years to achieve unity – Anglicans, Lutherans, Greek Orthodox, Catholics,” Ganz said. “But most people don’t know that. We have got to get going to heal our world and not sit back in our camps.”

“Reaching out to others does not obliterate my Catholic calling,” Ranger said. “We aren’t asking people to change their religion. We want to help a Presbyterian be the best Presbyterian he can be.”

To that end, Marylhurst recently has become the scene for some impressive ecumenical gatherings, including “Partners for Peace” on March 15, which attracted Jews, Muslims, Sabeel (a Palestinian Christian group), Catholics, Buddhists, all praying together for peace in the Middle East.

These are efforts that Marylhurst, with its history, seems uniquely qualified to achieve.

However, the main impact of the new ministries program could be in reaching people one-on-one, students who are burdened by the problems of the real world.

O’Connell-Roussell sees them all of the time.

“Twice in my own classroom there have been episodes involving Iraq veterans,” she said. “There have been deaths in families. These are real issues we must deal with.”

It is a unique challenge that the three ministries directors face at Marylhurst. Looking around at the campus on a typical spring day you see some students sunning themselves or throwing a Frisbee.

But most Marylhurst students are “non-typical” college students. As Ranger put it, “They’re not here for summer camp.” They’re at Marylhurst to achieve more education and better their lives.

In meeting Ranger, O’Connell-Roussell and Ganz, you are impressed with their vast credentials. In fact, one of Ranger’s accomplishments was hiring O’Connell-Roussell in 1992 when she was dean of the religious studies department at Marylhurst.

But what really wins you over is their incredible enthusiasm.

With a big smile, Ranger said, “It is an exciting time to be alive and to be here and walk with people down these paths.”

To read more about Marylhurst University Ministry, go to the site http://universityministry.blogspot.com .

Mary in the Early Church from Earlychristians.org

12 May
May 12, 2009

The Virgin Mary has been honored and venerated as Mother of God since the first centuries of Christianityhttp://earlychristians.org/docs_interest/Mary.html


Recent Mariological studies give evidence that the Virgin Mary has been honored and venerated as Mother of God and our Mother since the first centuries of Christianity.

During the first three centuries, the veneration of
Earliest representation of the Virgin Mary
(Catacombs of Saint Priscilla)
During the first three centuries, the veneration of Mary was essentially included in the rites of adoration of her Son. A Father of the Church summarizes the essence of this primordial Marian cult using these words (referring to Mary): “The prophets announced you and the apostles commemorated you with the highest of praises.”
During these first centuries, only indirect testimonies of the Marian cult exist. Among them are archaeological remains of the catacombs that demonstrate the cult and veneration of the first Christians toward Mary. One of the paintings in the catacombs of Saint Priscilla represents the Virgin with her Child in her arms and a prophet, probably Isaiah, at her side. The other two paintings correspond to the Annunciation and to the Epiphany. All of the paintings mentioned are of the second century. In the catacombs of St. Peter and St. Marcellinus, one admirable painting of the third or fourth century represents Mary between Saints Peter and Paul. There, Mary is portrayed praying with her arms extended.
One magnificent demonstration of the Marian cult is the prayer “Sub tuum praesidium” (We fly to thy patronage) that dates back up to the third to fourth century, and that illustrates the intercession of Mary.
The Fathers during the fourth century praise the Mother of God in many and diverse ways. Saint Epiphanius, after combating the error of adoring Mary practiced by a sect in Arabia, writes: “Let Mary be held in honor. Let the Father, Son and Holy Ghost be adored, but let no one adore Mary.” St. Ambrose expresses the same sentiment who after giving praise to “the Mother of all virgins”, is at the same time clear and emphatic in saying that “Mary is the temple of God and not the God of the temple” to put the Marian cult in its rightful position and to distinguish it to the adoration of God.
It can be proven that during the time of Pope Sylvester, in the Roman Forum, where the Temple of Vesta used to be located, a structure was constructed bearing the advocation to “Santa Maria Antiqua” or Ancient St. Mary. In the same manner, Bishop Alexander of Alexandria consecrated a church dedicating it to the Mother of God. Moreover, it is known that Mary was being honored together with our Lord in the Church of the Nativity in Palestine since the era of Emperor Constantine, in remembrance of the miraculous conception of Christ.
Reliable ancient texts dated 225 A.D., used in the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist, mention the veneration of Mary. They also honor her during the feasts of the Incarnation, Nativity, Epiphany, etc. of our Lord. Towards 380 A.D., the first Marian feast, identified as “Memory of the Mother of God”, “Feast of the Most Holy Virgin”, or “Feast of the glorious Mother”, was instituted.

The Virgin and the Child (Murillo)
The first Father of the Church who wrote about Mary is St. Ignatius of Antioch († c. 110). He defended the veracity of the humanity of Christ against the docetists by affirming that Jesus pertained to the line of David because he was born of Mary. Jesus was conceived by Mary – He came from her – and this conception was virginal, and pertains to the most hidden mysteries in the silence of God.
In his book “Dialogue with Trypho”, St. Justin († c. 167) insists on the reality of the human nature of Jesus and, as a consequence of that human nature, he insists also of the maternity of Mary over Jesus. Like St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Justin emphasizes the virginal conception. Saint Justin bases his Marian reflections on the Eve & Mary parallelism as the passage of Genesis 3:15 suggests, and this perspective which is incorporated in his theology, will serve as the basis of the Marian reflections of the later Fathers of the Church.
St. Irenaeus († c. 202), focuses on the reality of the human corporeality of Jesus and that he really came from the womb of Mary to combat the prevailing Gnostic and Docetic beliefs. Moreover, he bases on the divine motherhood his Christology: it is the human nature assumed by the Son of God in the womb of Mary that gives to the redemptive value of the death of Jesus its universality, i.e., its applicability to all men. He emphasizes also the motherhood of Mary in relation to the new Adam (Christ) and her cooperation in the work of redemption.
The north African Father, Tertullian († c. 222), during the dispute with Marcion, a Gnostic, affirms that Mary is the Mother of Christ because Jesus was engendered by Mary in her womb.
During the third century, the use of “Theotókos” (“Mother of God” in Greek) became more widespread. Origen († c. 254) was the first to apply this title to Mary. Among the prayers of supplication, the title first appeared in the prayer “Sub tuum praesidium” that, as mentioned earlier, is the oldest known Marian prayer. During the fourth century, in opposition to the doctrine of Arius, the confession of faith of bishop Alexander of Alexandria contains the same title. Since then, it gained universality and many were the Holy Fathers who reflected and studied in depth the truth that Mary is the Mother of God. Among them were St. Ephrem, St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, Proclus of Constantinople, etc. Because of these, “Mother of God” became the most frequent title applied to Mary.
The truth of the Divine Maternity of Mary was proclaimed as a dogma of the Church in the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D.


The account of the devotion to Mary throughout history would not be complete if not for a third basic element: the exceptionality of the person of Mary. The affirmation of her “exceptionality” forms part of her mystery and is rooted in her sanctity which leads one to her so-called “privileges”. The bases of these “privileges” are founded on her Divine Motherhood and her cooperation in the work of redemption. In reality, these “privileges” are gifts endowed by God so that she can carry out her unique and universal mission.
The existence of these privileges or prerogatives is not a “superfluous” doctrine nor a theological opinion. They are necessary to preserve the integrity of the Christian faith.

St. Ignatius, St. Justin, St. Irenaeus and Tertullian wrote about the virginity of Mary. Similarly, in Egypt, Origen defends the perpetual virginity of Mary and considers the mother of the Messiah as a model and help of Christians. In the fourth century, the term “aeipathenos” – ever-virgin – was introduced by St. Epiphanius in his confession of the Faith. Later, the Second Council of Constantinople proclaimed it as a Dogma of the Church.
With the affirmation of the perpetual virginity of Mary becoming more and more widespread and universal, another privilege, the absolute holiness of the Virgin was also given emphasis. Although it had been always believed that she was incapable of sin, the possibility of Mary having had imperfections was considered at first. St. Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ephraim, and St. Cyril of Alexandria held this belief while St. Ambrose and St. Augustine did not accept it. After the dogmatic proclamation of the Divine Maternity of Mary in the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., the consideration of the privilege of absolute holiness of Mary grew stronger and was disseminated with the title “most holy” or “panagia” in Greek.
Since the fourth century, together with the privileges already mentioned (ever-virgin and most holy), the affirmation of her other privileges proceeded. Concretely, themes about her Dormition or her Assumption, her preservation from all sin including original sin, her task as Mediatrix, and her Queenship were developed. Along these lines, St. Modest de Jerusalem, St. Andrew of Crete, St. German of Constantinople, St. John Damascene, and the Fathers of the last centuries of the patristic period who studied in depth these privileges merit special attention.

Holy Week

03 Apr
April 3, 2009

Holy Week is the most priceless week of the Catholic Christian Liturgical Year, as well as that of most Christian denominations. Through the celebrations of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday we re-live what we call the Paschal Mystery of Jesus the Christ. On Palm Sunday Christians remember the celebrated Jesus as He rode triumphant into Jerusalem on a donkey while citizens lay palm branches in His path. Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) recalls the institution of the Eucharistic Feast, at which Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. The tables of triumph were over-turned when Jesus was humiliated and asked to carry the Cross, only to be put to death on that Cross, between two thieves. Holy Saturday brings Christians together to recall their Baptism and to baptize catechumens, to light the New Fire and to celebrate on Easter the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ (anointed one). We call the three days, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday the Easter Triduum.

We invite you to celebrate Eucharist with us on Thursday April 9th 5:30-6:30 pm – Wiegand Recital Hall,- BP John Bldg.
Presider: Fr. Rick Ganz, S.J.
If you do not have a spiritual family or congregation with whom you celebrate, the Sisters’ Chapel at Mary’s Woods, on the second floor, has services at at these times: Palm Sunday 11:00 a.m.; Holy Thursday 4:00 p.m.; Good Friday 4:00 p.m.; Holy Saturday 4:00; Easter Sunday 11:00 Eucharist and 12:00 Ecumenical Service. You will be welcomed warmly.
Have a Blessed Spring Season, and feast on the sights of the bright lavish yellow daffodils, the pink camellias, and all the new blossoms on the trees which line our streets.
(Cecilia A Ranger, SNJM, PhD, University Ministry)

Welcome Fr. Ganz, S.J.

01 Apr
April 1, 2009

Jesuit priest to help lead Marylhurst University

Fr. Rick Ganz
As published in The Catholic Sentinel on April 1, 2009

MARYLHURST — A longtime Jesuit educator has been named to a top post at Marylhurst University.

Father Rick Ganz, a member of the Oregon Province of Jesuits for 36 years, is new special counsel to Judi Johansen, Marylhurst’s president.

Ganz will help oversee long-term planning, teach classes and support university ministry. He’s also been charged with enhancing Marylhurst’s presence in the community.

Father Ganz served as a high school and college teacher and administrator. Most recently, he served as the director of campus ministry at Gonzaga University in Spokane, where he became known for trying to link education and spiritual lives. Before that, he served as a teacher and administrator at Jesuit High School.

“The depth and diverse expertise of Father Ganz will add a new dimension to our leadership team,” Johansen said. “Marylhurst will benefit from the wisdom he has gained through his dedicated years of service as an educator and spiritual guide.”

Johansen credited the priest for his “wonderful ability to inspire mission-focused institutions to understand their unique purpose.”

Marylhurst, Oregon’s oldest Catholic university, was founded in 1893 by the Sisters of the Holy Names. In recent years, it has sought to reach out to non-traditional students via small classes offered on weekdays, evenings, weekends and online.

The presence of Father Ganz on campus continues a long partnership between the Holy Names Sisters and the Jesuits.

“We are both forward-looking, and we are both apostolic communities,” Holy Names leadership team member Sister Jane Hibbard told the Sentinel for a 2008 story about the connections.

“We all value continuing education and continuing spiritual development. There is a real sense of nothing being finished yet.”

Welcome Father Rick Ganz, S.J.

01 Apr
April 1, 2009

Jesuit priest to help lead Marylhurst University

Fr. Rick Ganz

MARYLHURST — A longtime Jesuit educator has been named to a top post at Marylhurst University.

Father Rick Ganz, a member of the Oregon Province of Jesuits for 36 years, is new special counsel to Judi Johansen, Marylhurst’s president.

Ganz will help oversee long-term planning, teach classes and support university ministry. He’s also been charged with enhancing Marylhurst’s presence in the community.

Father Ganz served as a high school and college teacher and administrator. Most recently, he served as the director of campus ministry at Gonzaga University in Spokane, where he became known for trying to link education and spiritual lives. Before that, he served as a teacher and administrator at Jesuit High School.

“The depth and diverse expertise of Father Ganz will add a new dimension to our leadership team,” Johansen said. “Marylhurst will benefit from the wisdom he has gained through his dedicated years of service as an educator and spiritual guide.”

Johansen credited the priest for his “wonderful ability to inspire mission-focused institutions to understand their unique purpose.”

Marylhurst, Oregon’s oldest Catholic university, was founded in 1893 by the Sisters of the Holy Names. In recent years, it has sought to reach out to non-traditional students via small classes offered on weekdays, evenings, weekends and online.

The presence of Father Ganz on campus continues a long partnership between the Holy Names Sisters and the Jesuits.

“We are both forward-looking, and we are both apostolic communities,” Holy Names leadership team member Sister Jane Hibbard told the Sentinel for a 2008 story about the connections.

“We all value continuing education and continuing spiritual development. There is a real sense of nothing being finished yet.”

Reflections from Our Partners in Peace Events

24 Mar
March 24, 2009

We want to thank everyone who participated in the Partners in Peace Lenten Events. Many of our participants requested further information to help us understand the crisis in Palestine, Gaza and Israel. We gathered as a community of Christians, Jews and the faithful of Islam to share our common humanity.

The beautiful art we share is a gift from Vicki Shuck. She calls this peace, “In the Beginning”. We’ve chosen this as a prayerful reflection that the sad situation in the Middle East will recreate itself into a new beginning for all of God’s people.
Many asked our panelists and participants to share ideas for Just Social Action responses to further peacemaking. What you will find below is our opening prayer, followed by Sister Elaine Kelley’s open sharing. You will find the 25 social Action Response suggestions provided by Mira Almukarker and finally Dr. Masoud Kheirabadi, Ph.D’ select bibliography that many have requested.

Blessings to your all and may peace fill our world.

Prayer for the Decade of Nonviolence written by Sister Cecilia Ranger, SNJM Ph.D.

I bow to the sacred in all creation.
May my spirit fill the world with beauty and wonder.
May my mind seek truth with humility and openness.
May my heart forgive without limit.
May my love for friend, enemy, and outcast be without measure.
May my needs be few and my living simple.
May my actions bear witness to the suffering of others.
May my hands never harm a living being.
May my steps stay on the journey of justice.
May my tongue speak for those who are poor
without fear of the powerful.
May my prayers rise with patient discontent,
until no child is hungry.
May my life’s work be a passion for peace and nonviolence.
May my soul rejoice in the present moment.
May my imagination overcome dearth and despair
with new possibilities.
And may I risk reputation, comfort and security
to bring this hope to the children.

Dr. Sheila O’Connell-Roussell – University Ministry
We open our discussion, “ Seeking a Just Peace for Gaza, Palestine and Israel with prayer. We the children of Abraham stand together today, believing that what we hold in common is more essential than that which alienates us from one another. We are bonded by our commitment to justice and our belief that the Lord our God is One, the Same Creator of all. With St. Paul we offer that all our attempts to image and articulate God ‘fall short”(Romans 3:23). With St. Anslem we image God as that ‘which nothing greater can be thought.” In humility, we recognize with the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas, that, our “God remains beyond our intellect and thus is unknown to us in the full glory of Divinity (Aquinas, De Potentia q. 7, a. 5).
What is essential here is the new level of faith, a faith understood by the house of Israel, offered to their adoptive children of Christianity, and revealed to the faithful of Islam. This Abrahamic faith was -and is- based on the belief that the Lord is a “righteous” God (Psa 119:137) who demands ‘ justice for the oppressed (Psa 103:6).
Today, we invoke the blessings of the God of All who is unconditional mercy, ‘ fidelity, compassion, and liberating love’ articulated by Moses, the prophets, Jesus and Mohammed.
Dr. Masoud Kheirabadi, Ph.D – Marylhurst Professor
We pray in the name of Allah the Most Merciful, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds. Give us your grace, your mercy and show us the way to justice and peace (based on Surah 1).

Sr. Elaine Kelley, Friends of Sabeel–North America
Creator of All, give us a hunger for mercy and a thirst for justice so that all people of earth can be one.

Mr. Robert Abramovitz- Marylhurst M.Div student and Rabbi to Business
Holy One, lead us to understand the sufferings of all your people. Teach us to walk in each others shoes and irrevocably bind our own success to the lives of our brothers and sisters.

Mr. Joe Hastings- Catholic Relief Services
God of All, lead us in your ways of compassion, of mercy and justice for all. Fill us with your grace to heal the wounds of war and the courage to speak up for the peace we profess: a safe and secure home for all built on human dignity and a shared common good.

Meditation: Students Jenny Pixler, William (Billy) Perry
and Crystal Larson-Farr will offer a musical meditation and liturgical dance on Peace.

The following is the sharing offered by Sister Elaine Kelley from Friends of Sabeel Her website is http://fosna.org/content/mapcards

I lived in Bethlehem on the West Bank for four years and have seen Gaza’s squalor and misery. I work with Friends of Sabeel–North America, a grassroots movement started by Palestinian Christians working at the Sabeel peace center in Jerusalem. Sabeel is an Arabic word meaning “the way” and it refers to a path to peace through nonviolence. The People of the Way is what first-century Christians in Palestine were called. Sabeel teaches that this way must be rediscovered by Christians if we are to transform our world and that a Palestinian theology of liberation will lead us to truth and reconciliation. Sabeel believes that a just peace must be based on international law, human rights and existing United Nations resolutions that call for an end to Israel’s 41-year military occupation. Our theological, moral, and legal principles are outlined in the Jerusalem Sabeel Document, which is available at our table. In the U.S. we put on regional educational conferences featuring Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers. We also sponsor witness trips to the Holy Land. These are a combination of traditional pilgrimage and opportunities to see the separation wall, checkpoints, demolished homes, settlements, refugee camps, and other details of Israel’s military occupation.

I speak from my own personal faith experience as a Catholic Christian and from an understanding of what Jesus is asking of me and all those who would follow him–to build the kingdom here on earth, to turn from desires for earthly power and possession, to be alert to all the temptations of security, comfort and control, and materialism put before us as citizens of the most powerful empire the world has ever known. Jesus spoke to these issues consistently in the Gospel.

MAP. This illustration of Palestinian loss of land from 1946 to the present makes it clear at a glance what the problem is. Zionist forces and their supporters from outside Palestine began to invade. Historical Palestine, shown in GREEN, has now all but disappeared under Israel’s policies of expansion and Apartheid. You will never hear the word Apartheid being used in this country to describe Israeli policy because truth is filtered out in what we hear in the news. But people like Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak openly about it. This shows the bantustans where Palestinians are confined. Gaza and the West Bank are separated by Israel proper. The entire West Bank is chopped up into little impoverished enclaves. There is a wall that completely surrounds the West Bank–part of it is a 28-foot concrete wall; other parts are electrified fences covered in razor wire and monitored by the Israeli Occupation Forces. If it were a security wall Israel would have built it along the 1967 border of the West Bank; instead, it snakes deep into Palestinian land, overtaking their olive groves, cutting through towns, separating Palestinians from Palestinians. Even entire towns are walled in, like Bethlehem, with only one entrance/exit through an Israeli checkpoint. I went through that checkpoint recently in November. It’s a surreal and humiliating experience and difficult for the elderly forced to walk the distance in the cold or rain or under the brutal Middle East sun.

Palestinians can’t even travel from one of their own towns to another. They can’t travel on their own roads without going through checkpoints, or on the by-pass roads built for the 400,000 illegal Jewish settlers on the West Bank. The tiny Gaza Strip down and on the left is completely enclosed by the sea on the west, the Egyptian border on the southwest, and by Israeli military walls, barbed wire, and checkpoints all around. Israel controls Gaza’s airspace, territorial waters, and land borders. Israel controls all water supplies and electrical grids and is in complete control of 1.5 million Palestinians locked inside the tiny Gaza Strip (25 miles long by 6 miles wide)–a virtual outdoor prison of impoverished refugee camps. Israel controls transport of humanitarian aid into Gaza, which it denies regularly. The great irony is that the 1.5 million Gazans who live in the strip don’t even want to be there. They want to return to their homes. The first refugees were driven out of their homes and land along the coast of Palestine during the invasion by Zionist forces in 1948 and their population has surged in these six decades. Gaza is now the most densely populated piece of land in the world and one of the most impoverished.

Israel’s most recent barbaric war against the people of Gaza was a major news story for a while, but now it’s all but forgotten in the media. I believe as a Christian that our highest calling in life is to pursue truth and to be a witness to that truth. Truth, not only about current events on TV, but the truth about the Christian faith and the real message of Christ. Sabeel must deal with the ignorance of Christians who believe God said in the bible that the land of Israel is just for the Jewish people and that Christians are obligated to support illegal settlements on Palestinian land, Israeli military incursions, land confiscation, house demolitions and collective punishment. These people point fingers at Palestinian terrorists and their home-made bombs but not at Israel or the U.S. and their death-dealing weapons of mass destruction. Sabeel works hard to counter biblical literalism, which has been so devastating for the people of Palestine. For without the massive support from American groups like Christians United for Israel and the Christian Embassy with their ideological and economic support for Israeli aggression and their Wednesday morning prayer breakfasts at the Pentagon, without this utterly distorted version of Christianity and its powerful influence on US Middle East foreign policy–Israel could not carry out its expansionist ambitions.

We hope things are changing in Washington, but so far it’s the same on Middle East policy. It was announced this week that President Obama will not cut the 30 billion dollars in military aid promised to Israel. And the scurrilous campaign by pro-Israel lobbyists against Charles Freeman, an outspoken critic of Israeli policy and Obama’s choice to head the National Intelligence Council, is a very bad sign for Palestinians. This is the political power of empires; it is not the power of truth that we seek. We cannot continue with this politics as usual. Our violence against each other, against poor creatures and all of God’s beautiful creation has caused so much suffering and death. I believe that a serious Christian will be appalled by what passes as Christian in this world. I believe that serious Jews and Muslims and all people of good will are sickened by this as well.

We need the radical truth of the Gospel and the message of liberation first given to the Jewish people of first-century Palestine who were in the throes of heroic resistance against the brutal oppression of the Roman Empire. That radical truth was almost lost when Christianity became a part of the Roman Empire but has always been accessible to those who seek the truth. It has been rediscovered in the flowering of historical biblical scholarship and liberation theology. That radical truth is something that Palestinian Christians have always known. They are the living stones, descendants of the first Christians who were there during the time of Christ, who drank tea with the Apostles and suffered the Roman persecution for three centuries. Now they suffer the persecution of new empires.

Easter is close upon us and the story of crucifixion and resurrection will be told again throughout the world. When Palestinian Christians go to church this Palm Sunday and Good Friday and Easter they will listen to sermons very different from the watered down stories we hear. They know their own history well. They know that Christ preached a vision about the kingdom of God, “on earth as it is in heaven”, not up in the sky or postponed until death and the next life, but a kingdom Jesus preached for NOW on EARTH, a kingdom of peace and freedom and justice. They know that Jesus’ vision of kingdom was in direct conflict with the kingdom of Caesar, who was worshiped as the Son of God and had many names, like Prince of Peace and Savior of the World. According to Roman history, there were two processions in Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday–(1) a procession of Caesar’s soldiers “on war horses, leather-armored with helmets, weapons, banners, golden eagles mounted on poles, sun glinting on metal and gold” [Crossan], storming into Jerusalem to instill fear and put down the Jewish revolt that rose up every year before Passover; (2) and there was the procession from the Mount of Olives, Jesus on a little donkey, barefoot, with followers singing hosanna and waving olive branches–in a nonviolent demonstration against injustice and against Caesar’s idea of kingdom. Palestinians know that Jesus was not crucified between two thieves but between two insurgents who had much in common with Hamas and Hezbollah. Rome’s own historical documents say that crucifixion was reserved only for political criminals–for insurgents and runaway slaves–those who challenged Roman authority. A more accurate translation of the word we inherited as thieves is better read as rebels. For Christians who take the message of the Gospel seriously, the difference is enormously important.

There is hope and it is almost palpable. There’s a worldwide consciousness growing and we seem to be on the edge of something new. But we have to work for the kingdom of God and never give up on people. We have to be actively seeking the kingdom. Nation states seek power in all its forms. Christians must not take part in it. We have more important things to do. We must go back to our roots in Palestine, experience Jesus in his historical context as one who suffered under the oppression and military occupation of the Roman Empire. If we can understand that history we can understand our own times better.

What Can We Do To Bring Peace With Justice In Palestine?Gaza Massacres (27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009)
“More than 1,300 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were killed during 22 days of Israeli shelling from sea, air and land. Palestinians in Gaza had nowhere to flee from Israel’s onslaught as the border has been closed for two years, with disastrous consequences for the 1.5 million in habitants of Gaza — the majority of them children and refugees” (http://electronicintifada.net/bytopic/687.shtml).
On 27 December, Israel began its bombardment on Gaza and then on 3 January began its ground offensive. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in Gaza. Five sisters in one family, four other children in another home, universities, colleges, police stations, roads, apartment buildings were all targeted. The UN Special Reporter on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian areas issued a statement that “The Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.”

Twenty-five Things to Do To Bring Peace with Justice:

1) First get the facts and then disseminate them. Here are some basic background information:
http://www.mepeace.org/forum/topics/the-true-story-behind-this-war The true story behind this war
http://www.unitedforpeace.org/downloads/If%20Gaza%20falls.pdf If Gaza Falls
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10055.shtml Gaza massacres must spur us to action

2) Contact local media. Write letters to editors (usually 100-150 words) and longer letters (usually 600-800 words) for local newspapers. But also write to news departments in print, audio, and visual media about their coverage. In the US http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/media/ you can find media listings in your country using search engines like Google.

3) Pass out flyers with facts and figures about Palestine and Gaza in your community (make sure also to mention its relevance to the audience).
4) Organize and join demonstrations in front of embassies or when not doable in front of your parliament, office of elected officials, and any other visible place (and do media work for it).

5) Hold a teach-in, seminar, public dialogue, documentary film viewing etc. This is straightforward: you need to decide venue, nature, if any speakers, and do some publicity (the internet helps).

6) Volunteer for NGOs in Palestine.

7) Put a Palestinian flag at your window.

8) Wear a Palestinian head scarf (Koufiya).

9) Wear Black arm bands (this helps start conversations with people).

10) Send direct aid to Gaza through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). http://www.un.org/unrwa/

11) Initiate boycotts, divestments and sanctions at all levels including asking leaders to expel the Israeli ambassadors (an ambassador of an apartheid and rogue state). See Palestinian call http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10056.shtml

12) Work towards bringing Israeli leaders before war crime courts (actions along those lines in courts have stopped Israeli leaders from traveling abroad to some countries like Britain where they may face charges).

13) Calling upon all Israelis to demonstrate in front of their war ministry and to more directly challenge their government.

14) Do outreach: to neighbors and friends directly. Via Internet to a lot of others (you can join and post information to various list serves/groups).

15) Start your own activist group or join other local groups (simple search in your city with the word Palestine could identify candidate groups that have previously worked on issues of Palestine). Many have also been successful in at bringing coalitions from different constituencies in their local areas to work together (human rights group, social and civil activists, religious activists, etc).

16) Develop a campaign of sit-ins at government offices or other places where decision makers aggregate.

17) Do a group fast for peace one day and hold it in a public place.

18) Visit Palestine (e.g. with http://www.sirajcenter.org)

19) Support human rights and other groups working on the ground in Palestine.

20) Make large signs and display them at street corners and where ever people congregate.
21) Contact local churches, mosques and other houses of worship and ask them to take a moral stand and act.

22) Sign petitions for Gaza, e.g.

23) Write and call people in Gaza.

24) Work with other groups that do not share your political views (factionalism and excessive divisions within activist communities allowed those who advocate war to succeed).

25) Dedicate a certain time for activism for peace every day (1 hour) and think of more actions than what is listed above.

For support and contacts of people in Gaza or to volunteer, please contact the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between People http://www.pcr.ps/

Recommended Books for Arab-Israeli Conflict
Masoud Kheirabadi, Ph.D

Dan Smith, The State of the Middle East: An Atlas of Conflict and Resolution (Paperback), University of California Press, 2008 (ISBN- 1844076296)

Jimmy Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (Hardcover), Simon & Schuster (November 14, 2006) (ISBN-10: 0743285026; ISBN-13: 978-0743285025)

Charles Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, six ed. Bedford/St.Martins, 2007 (ISBN: 13:978-0-312-43736-7

Rashid Khalidi, The War on Lebanon: A Reader, Olive Branch Press, 2007 (ISBN-13: 978-1566566803)

Rashid Khalidi, Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America’s Perilous Path in the Middle East, Beacon Press, 2004 (ISBN-13: 978-0807002346)

Stephen Sniegoski, et al, The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel, Ihs Press, 2008 (ISBN-10: 1932528172)

Augustus Richard Norton, Hezbollah: A Short History (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics) (Hardcover), Princeton University Press (March 1, 2007) ISBN-10: 0691131244; ISBN-13: 978-0691131245

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007 (ISBN-13: 978-0374177720)

Recommended Documentaries:

CBS 60 minutes on Palestinian-Israeli Relations (January 2009) http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4752349n

A lecture by Professor Mearsheimer (Department of Political Science, University of Chicago) and Professor Stephen M. Walt (John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University) on Israeli lobby and US Middle Eastern policy dynamics: http://www.palestineremembered.com/Articles/General/Story1831.html

The Promised Land at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6hCe6CBwko