EVENT: Get involved in the Peace & Planet mobilization in April

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Pax Christi USA is an endorsing organization of the Peace & Planet Mobilization scheduled for April 24-26. The mobilization will use the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference to demand immediate negotiations for total nuclear disarmament and to strengthen and connect our movements that are working for nuclear abolition; economic, racial, and environmental justice; and an end to wars.

For our regions, local groups and individual members based in or near New York City, we hope you’ll participate in the Mobilization on April 26 as you are able. For those farther away, you can plug in by organizing a local event for the Global Wave, which will start in NYC on April 26 and make its way around the globe (going west), with actions at 1pm in each time zone.

For more information on Peace & Planet, click here.

MILITARY SPENDING: Pax Christi USA signs onto letter regarding Pentagon spending

Last week, Pax Christi USA signed onto a letter addressed to Members of Congress regarding military spending. Here are the opening paragraphs of the letter with a link to the full letter.

bar-chart-defense-spendingDear Representative: When faith groups come together in Washington we find that we share many deeply held values that influence our common life as a nation. Some of these values relate to how our country spends and invests our common treasure and how we seek security.

These values, such as a commitment to the common good of all people, right sharing of resources, priority for the poor and marginalized, and compassion in resolving conflict will be relevant to the decisions you will be making very soon in the House Budget Committee. We hope that these values resonate with your own beliefs and your own concerns for the well-being of our country as well as for the broader human community.

We believe that the federal budget should meet the actual needs of the nation.Each dollar that we hold in common should be well used to meet identified needs. Our common treasure should not be squandered on excessive private profits, cost overruns, or unacceptable levels of waste. The Pentagon budget does not meet this commonly shared standard…

Click here to read the entire letter.

LENT 2015: Reflection for Palm/Passion Sunday, March 29

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by M. Shawn Copeland, Ph.D.

Mark 11:1-10 | Isaiah 50:4-7 | Philippians 2:6-11 | Mark 14:1-15:47

palmsun_4038cWaiting is one of the most common and daily experiences of ordinary human living. If we awake before the alarm, we wait for it; if a spouse is in teh shower, we wait. We wait for the coffee to drip, the bread to toast, the egg to boil. We wait for the bus or train to pull in, the meeting to begin or to end. By being attentive to our attitudes, such ordinary events can, quite literally, teach us something about waiting.

Waiting can be a time to anticipate joys to come. How happy we are awaiting the arrival of a beloved friend. How eagerly we anticipate the first notes of a favorite concerto. What tender delight touches our hearts when we hear a child’s first and long awaited word.

Yet waiting can also be an experience of frustration and disquiet. How anxious we feel awaiting the report of medical tests. How nervous we feel awaiting the results of an arbitration meeting.

William Lynch, a Jesuit psychologist and theologian, writes of waiting as “one of the great human acts” which often includes “acceptance of darkness,” of obscurity and failure, of “fortitude and endurance beyond the merely rational.” In such instances, our very existential, moral and spiritual potential, indeed our very selves, are at stake in the waiting time.

The Christian Church takes that potential and weaves it into the texture of its liturgical life. From Advent to Christmastide, from Lent to Palm Sunday to Good Friday to Eastertide, from the Ascension to Pentecost through the long stretch of Ordinary Time, we Christians are taught to wait. These holy seasons, these waiting times test and stretch, purify and transform us. Our ability to wait forms a crucial link to our experience of Christian hope.

Passion, or Palm Sunday, initiates that week in the Church year that Christians cherish as no other: we name it Holy. Passion Sunday leads us into the solemn high feast of God’s dark glory and dreadful grandeur; it inaugurates the most awesome and terrifying time of waiting in the Church year. The liturgies of these days form the core of the Church’s self-understanding and set forth for us the meaning and nature of Christian life.

Yet during Holy Week we waver in waiting. Our zealous straining to catch a glimpse of the rabbi riding on the colt turns into tedium, then dulled belief. Perhaps this is so because the narratives of Jesus’ suffering and death intrude upon our notions of God, of God’s place, power and presence in our lives. Perhaps this is so because we know the end of the story that Palm Sunday begins. Technical rationality has dulled our reception of the resurrection. We already know that when the women arrive at the tomb on the third day, the stone will be rolled away, the grave will be empty, an angel will stand pointing to folded grave clothes; we already know that a resplendent Christ will pass through walls and show himself to cowering disciples. Because we already know, it is difficult for us to wait through Holy Week. But wait we must, for the very realization and meaning of our Christian identity is recapitulated in the waiting-time Holy Week demands.

Holy Week teaches that while nothing is impossible with God, we must wait for the realization of that possibility. This is difficult in an age that so values activity over waiting. We moderns are happiest when we have something to do. We plan and plot, work and produce. Through technological sophistication, we contrive to control the uncontrollable–future and destiny, success and defeat, history and mystery.

Passion Sunday counters this; it slows us down. The man who comes seated on the colt is a sign of contradiction. He is a threat to the God whom we have made over in our image, a God of high achievement and performance, majesty and power, triumph and transcendence. God in Jesus of Nazareth unnerves and disturbs us. His crucifixion and death disclose the chosen vulnerability of God, the willingness of God to come among us, to share our ordinary lot, to suffer with us, to suffer for us, to teach us to suffer suffering. Jesus refuses all power to determine the choices of those who decide his fate and relinquishes all authority to overturn the vicious trajectory that fear and anger have conceive. He stands before us messiah and king, but not the kind of messiah and king for which we, too, so long have waited. Rather, Jesus of Nazareth stands before us not as omnipotent sovereign, but bruised and battered, exposed and vulnerable, worn out in love to lead us to his beloved Abba God.

Holy Week leads us into deeper relationship with God and with others. We have become a people who value doing over being. Passion Sunday invites us, quite literally, during the coming days of the week to stop doing and be with God. This week is a time to wait with in simple silence, offering our presence, our very selves; a time to express our love in acts of compassionate solidarity with the poor and excluded who suffer concretely and unbeautifully. This week is holy for the One whom it lifts up before us: the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the power of God, the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:25).

Today we pray with Thea Bowman: “Let us resolve to make this week holy by claiming Christ’s redemptive grace and living holy lives. The Word became flesh and redeemed us by his holy life and holy death. This week especially, let us accept redemption by living grateful, faithful, prayerful, generous, just and holy lives.” 

[Quotations from William F. Lynch, Images of Hope: Imagination as Healer of the Hopeless; and Chritian Koonntz, ed. Thea Bowman: Handing on Her Legacy.]

* This reflection appeared in To Live the Passion and Compassion of Jesus: Reflections for Lent 2003, published by Pax Christi USA.

POVERTY: PCUSA signs onto InterAction’s FY2016 funding recommendations community sign-on letter

Interaction-LogoPax Christi USA has signed onto this letter (link below) supporting funding in FY 2016 for poverty-focused international development and humanitarian assistance as outlined in the InterAction FY 2016 recommendations.

PCUSA thanks InterAction for the opportunity to partner with them and other peace and justice organizations to reduce world wide poverty.

Click here to read the letter.

LENT 2015: Reflection for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, March 25

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by Linda Ballard, osc

Isaiah 7:10-14, 8:10 | Hebrews 10:4-10 | Luke 1:26-38

annunciationiconDo not be afraid … How can this be? ~Luke 1:30, 34

As our knees bend to Creed this day, it is good to remember that even Lent sings God’s willingness to be part of us.

In the five-thousand one-hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world, Jesus Christ, desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and nine months have passed since his conception, was born … of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh (Christmas Proclamation).

It is a two-fold celebration today. God asked. Mary answered. God wants us as a partner. God wants us to birth God before peoples and generations. Nine months from today is Christmas. In the midst of our desert wanderings, in the midst of our refusal to see, in the midst of our search for water, God came to a woman bound by death and asked her to bring forth LIFE. And she said yes. And so do we.

For today, it is that simple. Mercy is coming. The world is made sacred, and God is PRESENCE from us and for us. Our timing may be faulty, but God’s timing is always right. It is okay to wonder. Do not be afraid.

* This reflection appeared in Wrestling With Presence: Reflections for Lent, published by Pax Christi USA in 2006.

LENT 2015: A reflection for the anniversary of the death of Archbishop Romero

by Jean Stokan and Scott Wright

Romero mural

Today we commemorate the life of one of our contemporary witnesses, Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was murdered at the altar while celebrating the Eucharist. Like the martyrs of the early church, Archbishop Romero gave his life out of love rather than worship and serve false gods. Romero’s life bore witness to the truth that sets one free to lay down one’s life out of love for enemies and friends alike, as his own words and life testify:

We believe in Jesus who came to bring life in its fullest and we believe in a living God who gives life to humankind and wants all to live in truth. These radical truths of the faith become truths–radical truths–when the Church inserts herself in the midst of the life and death of the people. It is there that the Church is presented–as it is presented to every person–with the most fundamental option of faith: to be in favor of life or in favor of death.

There is no doubt whatsoever that here there is no room for neutrality. We are either at the service of the life of Salvadorans or we are accomplices in their death. And it is here that we are faced with the most fundamental reality of the historical mediation of faith: either we believe in a God of life or we serve the idols of death.

We believe with the apostle John that Jesus is “the Word of Life” (1 John 1:1), and that where there is life, there God reveals himself. Where the poor begin to live, where the poor begin to liberate themselves, where men and women are able to sit down around a common table and share, there is the God of life. hat is why when the Church inserts itself in the sociopolitical world in order to cooperate in bringing about the emergence of life for the poor, she is not undertaking a mere subsidiary task or something outside of her mission, but is witnessing to her faith in God and is being an instrument of the Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life.

  • What is the deepest truth upon which we stand as followers of Jesus Christ?
  • How do we protect the inherent dignity of those who are the targets of hatred and racism? What does the gospel compel us to do when their lives are at risk?

For additional reflections on Archbishop Romero, click here.

This reflection was adapted and excerpted from Living as Resurrected Beings in the Midst of the World’s Crosses: Reflections for Lent 2010, by Jean Stokan and Scott Wright. 

IRAN: What you need to know about the Iran nuclear negotiations

from The Huffington Post

Iran-nuclear-deal-1024x576International negotiators in Geneva have just over two weeks left to bring years of talks between Iran and six world powers to fruition by reaching a framework for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

Representatives of Iran and the so-called P5+1 group — the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany — have set a March 31 deadline to reach a basic understanding for a nuclear deal. The parties then have until the end of June to hammer out the remaining details.

The talks stem from international powers’ concern that Iran is using its nuclear enrichment program to build a nuclear weapon. Iran insists the program is only for peaceful purposes.

The WorldPost spoke with Ali Vaez, the International Crisis Group‘s senior analyst on Iran, about the ongoing talks…

Click here to read the interview.