This blog is an attempt to ‘keep alive the memory of the Passion’ of Jesus, as Passionists say. It is an attempt to ‘blow the dynamite of Catholic social teaching’ as Peter Maurin, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, used to say. The Passion of Jesus Christ continues in our world today in the crucified of today, the crucified people and the crucified earth. Our crucified God continues to suffer with them and in them. Jesus the non-violent revolutionary showed us and taught us what it means to love and suffer as God does.
My hope is that this blog will inspire and challenge. That it will communicate what I’ve been up to and why. That I will be able to share with those who read it my thoughts on what the world, the Gospel and the God of Jesus Christ call us to.
“If they take you to court and take your outer clothing, take off your underwear as well” (Jesus)
Some Christian Climate Action (CCA) and Extinction Rebellion (XR) members have been “disobeying in the dock”. Some of those who have livestreamed have been sent to prison for between seven and fourteen days for ‘contempt of court’. Some have superglued themselves to the glass front of the ‘dock’, where defendants have to stand when they are in court, while displaying signs charging the courts with failing in their duty to protect life and property in the face of the climate and ecological emergency. All these acts risk a charge of ‘contempt of court’ and prison time. Today, CCA members Rev Sue Parfitt and Ruth Jarman to that risk. You can watch their livestream on Facebook here .
Why have they been doing this, and what are the Christian and Biblical justifications for Christians to do this?Continue reading →
“We have caused a climate emergency that gravely threatens nature and life itself, including our own” 2019 World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
“Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain.” (Laudato Si, n161)
“I call on all leaders world wide to declare a state of climate emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached” António Guterres, UN Secretary General, Climate Ambition Summit, December 12th 2020
“Mind sets are shifting. Climate action is the barometer of leadership in today’s world” António Guterres
( I would be interested to know what is the reaction to this article, whether it makes sense to you. It may need some more work)
I think most of us know by now that we are living in a time of climate and ecological emergency, and that Catholics and Christians are called to an ‘ecological conversion’ as Popes John Paul II, Benedict XIV as well as Francis have said. We are living in a moment of crisis, a kairos moment for God’s human family. It is, as Antonio Guterres has said, a moment of truth. It is a moment not just of threat, but of opportunity. We are crucifying God’s Creation. But Resurrection is always possible, if we can but see. For there is a bigger picture, a bigger story. A new discernment is called for, new approaches to incarnating Love.
The new Eco Community at Minsteracres, currently Lya, Michael and Scott, have just published their first newsletter.
“It could be quite mysterious having a group of people working behind high walls, seemingly closed off from the wider community. Knowing a little about the three of us, there may be a temp-tation to fill in the blanks!
What are we doing here in the walled garden?
Firstly we are a Christian/Passionist response to the suffering of the earth.
We wish to complement and support the ministry of hospitality and wel-come at Minsteracres.
We are forming a Chris-tian Community in the mould of the new monastic communities.
We are attempting to live a sustainable life. Growing as much food as we can, not eating meat, reducing dairy, moving towards a net zero carbon emissions lifestyle, reducing our waste and recycling and re-using where possible.
We are outward look-ing. We are interested in the wid-er community and the wider world.
We take time to discern how we might respond to the needs of others, crea-tion and the environment.
We are a place of welcome for all those in need of rest, a listening ear, nour-ishing food, quiet space, engagement with nature, whilst nevertheless seeking to have a contemplative element to our community.
A talk originally given on May 30th 2020 as part ot the Christian Climate Action series on “Our Biblical Mandate for Civil Disobedience”
This talk is going to be mainly based on part of a book by John Dear, “The Sacrament of Civil Disobedience”, pp 33 – 37 . It is also influenced by Daniel Berrigan’s book “Daniel” , as well as adding my own reflections.
(Daniel in italics in this article, refers to the Book of Daniel)
The book of Daniel is the only apocalyptic account in the Old Testament. John Dear quotes David Daube as saying it is “a veritable charter for civil disobedience by a minority”. He says it is “The most explicit account of nonviolent civil disobedience in the Hebrew Scriptures”. That “Mark’s Gospel cites every Chapter of this book”  and that Jesus modelled Himself and His ministry on Daniel. Jesus certainly uses the title of the ‘son of man’ or ‘the human one’ that is prominent in Daniel, and quotes this scriptural text before the Sanhedrin. For example: “You shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mk 14:62).
According to John Dear, Daniel is “one of the most revolutionary works of ancient literature” and “next to the Gospels, [it] is one of the strongest manifestos ever written on nonviolent resistance and loving disobedience to ruling authorities”. He quotes Daniel Berrigan, “We have in Daniel, a book about worldly power – and about the powerlessness of the believing community – revealed (ironically) as a new form of power… It is a story of providence, not success. A story of obedience [to God] and it’s risks.” For John Dear, “Daniel… is a parable of nonviolence”.
(This is the text of a talk I gave on Saturday June 13th, for the weekly Christian Climate Action online study of our ‘Faith Mandate for Civil Disobedience’. It will also be posted on the CCA website at https://christianclimateaction.org/ )
On Moseley Road a couple of weeks ago…
I am starting here from the assertion that we are in a ‘kairos moment’. A climate kairos. We are facing a moment of choice, an urgent invitation, a time of promise or threat. Can we read the signs of the times. Do we know what time it is?
I am reproducing an article by James Martin, S.J. , posted on America Magazine website here on June 14, 2012 . Yesterday would have been his 99th birthday. This morning it was my turn to lead the Christian Climate Action morning prayer. I used these and some of his most challenging and inspiring words, and was asked to share these for the help and encouragement of others. So, here they are.
Of course as someone who has written on the Old Testament (particularly the Prophets) Daniel Berrigan, S.J., age 92, the Jesuit priest, poet and peace activist, understands the centrality of the original Ten Commandments. But thanks to Jim Forest, himself an apostle of social justice, for pointing me to these ten spiritual rules from Father Berrigan’s book, Ten Commandments for the Long Haul (1981). There’s a personal interest in this for me, too. Once, several years ago, I wrote to Dan when I was frustrated about something in the church and was tempted to, as Thomas Merton used to say, “blast off,” i.e., speak my mind in not the most sensible way. In response to an agitated letter, Dan, who had himself known Merton, wrote me to counsel patience, and reminded me that I’m in this “for the long haul.” I think his “Commandments” are useful in the church today. (Photo also thanks to Jim Forest.)
On February 2nd, I was invited to address the Archdiocesan Day for Religious on the subject of “Discipleship in a Time of Climate Emergency”. After the talk, I was asked if I could make the talk available.
A long time ago, someone said that to understand John Sherrington, you always have to remember that he was an artist first. And then of course he was a Passionist. And then an ordained priest. As a Passionist, the image that John seemed most fond of was that of Mary, the mother of Jesus, standing at the foot of the Cross. For John, his Passionist vocation was first and foremost about standing at the foot of the Cross, standing with the crucified of today, in solidarity and with love, and finding God and Jesus with them, among them and in them. It was about finding, in his own phrase, ‘sites of suffering’ and standing there, staying there, being with those in whose wounds we can see the cross of Christ. And in whom, especially, we can see Jesus.
But John perhaps brought a particular artists way of seeing this, of living it.
This is the text of a talk I gave to an ecumenical group of ministers from a wide variety of church traditions in Birmingham in 2016, which was followed by lively discussion. Most of the pastors were from churches in deprived inner city or other urban areas. It is just as relevant today.
Whose discipleship are we reflecting on today? Our own, or that of our church members, or our neighbours? I am not a pastor of a particular church, although I have recently been getting more involved with my local Catholic parishes in Sparkhill, Digbeth and Balsall Heath. I have been celebrating the Eucharist with them, and preaching, so I have to reflect on this question too. Of course we have to reflect on our overall context to also reflect on our place within that, and that of our neighbours and church members.
I want to mention in passing two issues that we can come back to later: