Epiphany2012-2013 Advent - Epiphany Calendar
Here's Hope!
Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House
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Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

R. (cf. 11) Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

O God, with your judgment endow the king, and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice and your afflicted ones with judgment.
Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts; the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
All kings shall pay him homage, all nations shall serve him.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save.

R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Day 9 Novena to the Magi in Anticipation of the Epiphany
O holy Magi! whose gifts manifested the glory of God, pray for us that we will be Epiphanies of the Lord to all that we meet, showing by our words and deeds the glory of the Lord. Glory be to the Father. . . Our Father.

Traditional Epiphany Blessing of a Home
Make the Sign of the Cross, read the first verses of John's Gospel, pray the Lord's Prayer,
then write this inscription with chalk over the principal door of the house -

20 + C + M + B + 13

while all pray this prayer:

Bless, Lord God Almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity,
the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of Your law,
the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the holy Spirit.
And may this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

The "C M B" in the inscription has two meanings. The traditional names of the Magi are Caspar, Melchoir, and Balthasar. It is also the initials for the words "Christus mansionem benedicat" which mean "May Christ bless the house." It is customary to leave the chalk inscription over the door throughout the year.   

Twelfth Night
Memorial of St. John Neumann

Beloved: This is the message you have heard from the beginning:
we should love one another, unlike Cain who belonged to the Evil One
and slaughtered his brother. Why did he slaughter him?
Because his own works were evil, and those of his brother righteous.
Do not be amazed, then, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.
We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers.
Whoever does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother
is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.
The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us;
so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and
refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?
Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.
Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and
reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn,
for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God. 1 John 3

Day 8 of the Novena to the Magi in Anticipation of the Epiphany
O holy Magi! who, when warned by an angel not to return to herod, traveled back to your country by another road; pray for us so that having found Christ in true repentance, we may avoid all danger of losing Him again. Glory be to the Father. . . Our Father. . .

The Eleventh Day of Christmas
The Memorial of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, patron of schools

Khaled El-Masri, a German national, was seized by Macedonian security officers on 31 December 2003, at a border crossing, because he had been mistaken for an al-Qaida suspect. He was held incommunicado and abused in Macedonian custody for 23 days, after which he was handcuffed, blindfolded, and driven to Skopje airport, where he was handed over to the CIA and severely beaten.

The CIA stripped, hooded, shackled, and sodomized el-Masri with a suppository – in CIA parlance, subjected him to "capture shock" – as Macedonian officials stood by. The CIA drugged him and flew him to Kabul to be locked up in a secret prison known as the "Salt Pit", where he was slammed into walls, kicked, beaten, and subjected to other forms of abuse. Held at the Salt Pit for four months, el-Masri was never charged, brought before a judge, or given access to his family or German government representatives.

The CIA ultimately realised that it had mistaken el-Masri for an al-Qaida suspect with a similar name. But it held on to him for weeks after that. It was not until 24 May 2004, that he was flown, blindfolded, earmuffed, and chained to his seat, to Albania, where he was dumped on the side of the road without explanation. . .

. . . El-Masri's subsequent search for justice has repeatedly been thwarted. The United States succeeded in getting el-Masri's US lawsuit dismissed on "state secrets" grounds without even responding to his allegations; in 2007, the US supreme court declined to review that dismissal. The Macedonian government resorted to bald-faced lies, claiming that it played no role in his detention or abuse, despite overwhelming evidence confirming his account. The German government refused to disclose what it knew about el-Masri's case, and apparently caved to US pressure not to seek extradition of CIA officials involved in el-Masri's rendition.

Today, the European court of human rights delivered a measure of justice to el-Masri. It vindicated his account of his ill-treatment, and unanimously found that Macedonia had violated his rights under the European Convention, including by transferring him to US custody in the face of a risk of ill-treatment, and facilitating and failing to prevent his being subjected to CIA "capture shock" at Skopje airport.

This is the first court to comprehensively and specifically find that the CIA's rendition techniques amounted to torture. The decision stands in sharp contrast to the abject failure of US courts to deliver justice to victims of US torture and rendition.

More at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/13/european-court-human-rights-cia-abuse-khaled-elmasri.

Day 7 of the Novena to the Magi in Anticipation of the Epiphany
O holy Magi! who offered to Jesus Christ gold, incense, and myrrh, thereby recognizing Him to be at once King, God, and Man; pray for us that we will never present ourselves before Him with empty hands, but that we may continually offer to Him the gold of charity, the incense of prayer, and the myrrh of penance. Glory be to the Father. . . Our Father. . .

The Tenth Day of Christmas

Fears of new Dust Bowl form in central U.S.
Residents of the Great Plains states fear a new Dust Bowl may be on the horizon.

The recent devastating drought, along with ongoing climate change, overuse of underground aquifers and current farm policy, experts say, is leading to storms reminiscent of the 1930s ecological phenomenon.

"I hope we don't talk ourselves into complacency with easy assumptions that a Dust Bowl could never happen again," said Craig Cox, agriculture director for the Environmental Working Group, a national conservation group that supports converting more tilled soil to grassland. "Instead, we should do what it takes to make sure it doesn't happen again."

A dust storm is covering 150 miles of land, from southwestern Oklahoma, to the Texas Panhandle, to eastern New Mexico, according to a Dec. 19 satellite image. These storms were common during the 1930s.

According to the latest Drought Monitor, nearly 62 percent of the continental United States is in a state of drought, with "exceptional" drought covering parts of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.

In addition, heavy use of the Ogallala Aquifer, a network of underground water under the Great Plains, has made the land more vulnerable to dust storms. The aquifer is nearly dry after nearly 70 years of water being drawn out for irrigation.
More at http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/2013/01/02/8.

Day 6 of the Novena to the Magi in Anticipation of the Epiphany
O holy Magi! who, entering full of faith into the stable of Bethlehem, prostrated yourselves on the earth to adore the newborn King of the Jews, though he appeared to in poverty and weakness; pray for us that we may receive a lively faith in the real presence of Jesus in the blessed Eucharist, the true spirit of poverty, a Christ-like charity for the poor and suffering, and zeal for justice. Glory be to the Father. . . Our Father. . .

The Ninth Day of Christmas
The Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen,
Bishops and Doctors of the Church

Now, someone who takes a man who is clothed and renders him naked would be termed a robber; but when someone fails to clothe the naked, while he is able to do this, is such a man deserving of any other appellation? The bread which you hold back belongs to the hungry; the coat, which you guard in your locked storage-chests, belongs to the naked; the footwear mouldering in your closet belongs to those without shoes. The silver that you keep hidden in a safe place belongs to the one in need. Thus, however many are those whom you could have provided for, so many are those whom you wrong. St. Basil the Great

When we perform an act of kindness we should rejoice and not be sad about it. If you undo the shackles and the thongs, says Isaiah, that is, if you do away with miserliness and counting the cost, with hesitation and grumbling, what will be the result? Something great and wonderful! What a marvelous reward there will be: Your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will rise up quickly. Who would not aspire to light and healing.

If you think that I have something to say, servants of Christ, his brethren and co-heirs, let us visit Christ whenever we may; let us care for him, feed him, clothe him, welcome him, honor him, not only at a meal, as some have done, or by anointing him, as Mary did, or only by lending him a tomb, like Joseph of Arimathaea, or by arranging for his burial, like Nicodemus, who loved Christ half-heartedly, or by giving him gold, frankincense and myrrh, like the Magi before all these others.

The Lord of all asks for mercy, not sacrifice, and mercy is greater than myriads of fattened lambs. Let us then show him mercy in the persons of the poor and those who today are lying on the ground, so that when we come to leave this world they may receive us into everlasting dwelling places, in Christ our Lord himself, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. St. Gregory Nazianzen

Day 5 of the Novena to the Magi in Anticipation of the Epiphany
O holy Magi! who were gladdened by the star which led you to Bethlehem; pray for us that we will receive grace to always remain faithful to God during afflictions, and be consoled in time by His grace, and in eternity by His glory. Glory be to the Father. . . Our Father. . .

The Octave Day of Christmas
The Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

From Blessed are the Peacemakers, the message of Pope Benedict XVI for the celebration of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2013

In effect, our times, marked by globalization with its positive and negative aspects,
as well as the continuation of violent conflicts and threats of war, demand a new,
shared commitment in pursuit of the common good and the development of all men,
and of the whole man. It is alarming to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism.
In addition to the varied forms of terrorism and international crime, peace is also
endangered by those forms of fundamentalism and fanaticism which distort
the true nature of religion, which is called to foster fellowship and reconciliation among people. . .

The attainment of peace depends above all on recognizing that we are, in God, one human family. This family is structured, as the Encyclical Pacem in Terris taught, by interpersonal relations and institutions supported and animated by a communitarian “we”, which entails an internal
and external moral order in which, in accordance with truth and justice, reciprocal rights and
mutual duties are sincerely recognized. Peace is an order enlivened and integrated by love,
in such a way that we feel the needs of others as our own, share our goods with others and
work throughout the world for greater communion in spiritual values. It is an order achieved
in freedom, that is, in a way consistent with the dignity of persons who, by their very nature as
rational beings, take responsibility for their own actions. . .

Peacemakers must also bear in mind that, in growing sectors of public opinion,
the ideologies of radical liberalism and technocracy are spreading the conviction
that economic growth should be pursued even to the detriment of the state’s social responsibilities
and civil society’s networks of solidarity, together with social rights and duties. It should be remembered
that these rights and duties are fundamental for the full realization of other rights and duties,
starting with those which are civil and political. . .

More at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20121208_xlvi-world-day-peace_en.html

The Fourth Day of the Novena to the Magi in Anticipation of the Epiphany
O holy Magi! who were first among the Gentiles called to the knowledge of Jesus Christ,
and who persevered in the faith throughout your lives, pray for us that we will receive
grace to always live the letter and the spirit of our baptismal vows, every growing in our life of faith,
so that like you we may see the God Who now is the object of our faith. Glory be to the Father. . . . Our Father. . .

The Seventh Day of the Octave of Christmas
The Last Day of the Secular Year

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . .

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only-begotten Son,
full of grace and truth.

The Third Day of the Novena to the Magi in Anticipation of the Epiphany

O holy Magi! who regarded neither the severity of the season,
nor the inconvenience of the journey
that you might find the newborn Messiah;
pray for us so that we will not be discouraged
by any of the difficulties which may meet us
on the way of salvation.
Glory be to the Father. . . Our Father. . .

It is customary to sing or recite the great hymn of praise Te Deum on this day.

The Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
The Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas

After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him, they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
"Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety."
And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age
and favor before God and man.

Weaponized drones coming to our friendly domestic skies in 2013.

The Second Day of the Novena to the Magi in Anticipation of Epiphany
O Holy Magi! Who at the first appearance of the wondrous star
left your native country to go and seek the newborn King of the Jews;
pray for us that we will receive grace to respond eagerly
to every divine inspiration. Glory be to the Father. . . Our Father. . .

The Fifth day in the Octave of Christmas
Memorial of St. Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that
he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
"Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation which
you prepared in the sight of every people,
a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel."
The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
"Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce)
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." Luke 2

This is a day to remember all the martyrs of the toxic and criminal politics of this era in history and in prayer.
A litany of remembrance and salvation: 

The First Day of the Novena to the Magi in Anticipation of Epiphany

O Holy Magi! You lived in continual expectation
of the rising of the Star of Jacob,
which would announce the birth of the true Sun of justice;
pray for us that we will increase in faith and charity,
and receive the grace to live in continual hope
of beholding one day the light of heavenly glory and eternal joy.
Glory be to the Father. . . Our Father. . .

The Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs
The Fourth Day in the Octave of Christmas
When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
"Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him."
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through
the prophet might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt I called my son.
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and
its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance
with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled, since they were no more. Matthew 2

ATONEMENT: A troubled Iraqi veteran seeks out the family he harmed.
In the early hours one morning last September, Lu Lobello rose from his bed, switched on a light,
and stared into the video camera on his computer. It was two-thirty. The light cast a yellow pall on Lobello’s unshaven face.
Almost every night was like this. Lobello couldn’t sleep, couldn’t stop thinking about his time in Iraq.
Around San Diego, he’d see a baby—in a grocery store, in a parking lot—and the image would come back to him:
the blood-soaked Iraqi infant, his mother holding him aloft by one foot. “Why did you shoot us?’’
the woman demanded over and over. Other times, Lobello would see a Mercedes—a blue or white one, especially—
and he’d recall the bullet-riddled sedan in the Baghdad intersection, the dead man alongside it in the street,
the elderly woman crying in broken English, “We are the peace people! We are the peace people!”
He’d remember that the barrel of his machine gun was hot to the touch.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/10/29/121029fa_fact_filkins#ixzz2GJ803j1l 

The Feast of St. John the Evangelist
The Third Day in the Octave of Christmas

On this day, it is traditional to ask God's blessing on wine.

Leader: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who has made heaven and earth.
Leader: The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.

Leader: Let us pray. Be so kind as to bless and consecrate with Your right hand, Lord, this cup of wine, and every drink. Grant that by the merits of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist, all who believe in You and drink of this cup may be blessed and protected. Blessed John drank poison from the cup, and was in no way harmed. So, too, may all who this day drink from this cup in honor of Blessed John, by his merits, be freed from every sickness by poisoning and from any harms whatever. And, when they have offered themselves in both soul and body, may they be freed, too, from every fault, through Christ our Lord.   All: Amen.

Leader: Bless, Lord, this beverage which You have made. May it be a healthful refreshment to all who drink of it. And grant by the invocation of Your holy name that whoever tastes of it may, by Your generosity receive health of both soul and body, through Christ our Lord.  All: Amen

The wine is poured into glasses and handed around.

Leader:  I drink you the love of St. John
All: I thank you for the love of St. John.

The Feast of St. Stephen, First Martyr
The Second Day in the Octave of Christmas

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
as a witness before them and the pagans.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will hand over brother to death,
and the father his child;
children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 10

`St. Stephen is patron of all Deacons, stonemasons, and horses.  In some traditional cultures, on this day horses are decorated, blessed and displayed in public. As one of the primary duties of deacons is to care for the poor, it is often a special day for distributing food and other necessities to the poor.

The Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice
before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood, will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David's throne, and over his kingdom,
 which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this! Isaiah 9

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea,
to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house
and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." Luke 2

Christmas Eve: The Vigil of Christmas

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord
appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means "God is with us." When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord
had commanded him and took his wife into his home. Matthew 1

advent 4Fourth Sunday of Advent

O Emmanuel!
O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

Mary set out and
traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
"Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled."
Luke 1

Saturday of the Advent Embertide
A day of (voluntary) fasting and abstinence so that we give thanks for the gifts of nature,
learn to use them in moderation, and remember the poor.

O Rex Gentium!
O King of Nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

Dorothy Day's Advent Examen of Conscience

ADVENT IS a time of waiting, of expectation, of silence. Waiting for our Lord to be born. A pregnant woman is so happy, so content. She lives in such a garment of silence, and it is as though she were listening to hear the stir of life within her. One always hears that stirring compared to the rustling of a bird in the hand. But the intentness with which one awaits such stirring is like nothing so much as a blanket of silence.

Be still. Did I hear something? . . .

. . . Here is my examination at the beginning of Advent, at the beginning of a new year. Lack of charity, criticism of superiors, of neighbors, of friends and enemies. Idle talk, impatience, lack of self-control and mortification towards self, and of love towards others. Pride and presumption. (It is good to have visitors -- one's faults stand out in the company of others.) Self-will, desire not to be corrected, to have one's own way. The desire in turn to correct others, impatience in thought and speech.

The remedy is recollection and silence. Meanness about giving time to others and wasting it myself. Constant desire for comfort. First impulse is always to make myself comfortable. If cold, to put on warmth; if hot, to become cool; if hungry, to eat; and what one likes -- always the first thought is of one's own comfort.  . . .  Enlarge Thou my heart, Lord, that Thou mayest enter in.


Friday of the Advent Embertide
A day of (voluntary) fasting and abstinence.

The Ember Days are liturgical reminders of our dependence upon nature that

encourage moderation in our use of the gifts of nature and remembrance of the poor..

With rapid global warming and climate change, one-fourth
of Earth's species could be headed for extinction by 2050.

Climate change is already beginning to transform life on Earth. Around the globe,
seasons are shifting, temperatures are climbing and sea levels are rising. And meanwhile,
our planet must still supply us – and all living things – with air, water, food and safe places to live.
If we don't act now, climate change will rapidly alter the lands and waters we all depend
upon for survival, leaving our children and grandchildren with a very different world.

Some of the most dangerous consequences of climate change are listed here.
Which one will have the most impact on your life, or on the places you care about?

Read more at http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/global-warming-climate-change/threats-impacts/index.htm.

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

The Woes of an American Drone Operator

When he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser.
The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile.
There were 16 seconds left until impact.

"These moments are like in slow motion," he says today. Images taken with an infrared camera attached
to the drone appeared on his monitor, transmitted by satellite, with a two-to-five-second time delay.

With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have
diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.

Second zero was the moment in which Bryant's digital world collided with the real one in a
village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif.

Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared.
Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.

"Did we just kill a kid?" he asked the man sitting next to him.

"Yeah, I guess that was a kid," the pilot replied.

"Was that a kid?" they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.

Then, someone they didn't know answered, someone sitting in a military command center
somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. "No. That was a dog," the person wrote.

They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?

Bryant posted a drawing on Facebook the night before our interview. It depicts a couple standing,
hand-in-hand, in a green meadow, looking up at the sky. A child and a dog are sitting on the ground next to them.
But the meadow is just a part of the world. Beneath it is a sea of dying soldiers, propping themselves
up with their last bit of strength, a sea of bodies, blood and limbs.

Doctors at the Veterans' Administration diagnosed Bryant with post-traumatic stress disorder.
General hopes for a comfortable war -- one that could be completed without emotional wounds --
haven't been fulfilled. Indeed, Bryan's world has melded with that of the child in Afghanistan.
It's like a short circuit in the brain of the drones.

Why isn't he with the Air Force anymore? There was one day, he says, when he knew that he wouldn't
sign the next contract. It was the day Bryant walked into the cockpit and heard himself saying to his coworkers:
"Hey, what [expletive deleted] is going to die today?"

Wednesday of the Advent Embertide
A day of fasting and abstinence.

The Ember days are three days of fasting and prayer during each
season of the year. In Advent, they are the Wednesday, Friday,
and Saturday following the Feast of St. Lucy on December 13th.
Why do these days follow St. Lucy's feast? Because in the old Julian
calendar, December 13th was the Winter Solstice. An ancient mnemonic to
remind us when the Ember Days are was -- Lenty, Penty, Crucy, Lucy /
Fasting days and Emberings be / Lent, Whitsun, Holyrood, and Lucie.

The purpose of these days is to --

+ thank God for the gifts of nature,
to teach us to use them in moderation,
+ to assist the needy

Unfortunately, the Ember Days are no longer widely celebrated in the Roman
Church in the United States, which is a nation which desperately needs the
message of the Ember Days. They may certainly be observed as private devotions.

From a fifth century sermon by Pope Leo I +
"Dearly beloved brethren, with the care proper to us as the shepherd of your souls,
we urge upon you the strict keeping of this December fast... The fruits of the year
drawing to a close have now been gathered in, fittingly therefore do we offer our
fasting to God as a sacrifice of thanksgiving... By this exercise we draw near to God,
we make a strong stand against the devil... Fasting has ever been the bread of strength...
But since fasting is not the only means to secure health for our spirits, let us add
works of mercy. Spend in good deeds what you draw from your abundance.
Our fast must be turned into a banquet."

The 19th Psalm was part of the Introit for the Mass for the Wednesday of the
Amber Eventide.

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David;
As king he shall reign and govern wisely,
he shall do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah shall be saved,
Israel shall dwell in security.
This is the name they give him:
"The LORD our justice." Jeremiah 23

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king's son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous deeds.
And blessed forever be his glorious name;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Psalm 72

Monday of the Third Week of Advent

Today I simply ask a question.  Could you live on $2/day?  No, we don't mean in
some far off third word country where everybody's poor, but right here in the good old US of A?

Twenty million Americans live on half of the poverty level for a family of four
-- their families are getting by on $11,000/year. That's $7.50 per person per day.
The world measure for "extreme poverty" is $2 day. For a family of four in the United States,
that would be $2,920/year.  The number of households -- in the United States --
getting by on $2/day increased from 636,000 in 1996 to 1.46 million households in 2011.
Those 1.46 million households include 2.8 million children, or 16% of all children in the
US living in poverty.  If we treat food stamp (SNAP) benefits as income, the number of
households living on less than $2/day decreases (2011 figures) to about 800,000 households,
which include 1.4 million children.

In 1996, households in extreme poverty were 10% of low income households. In 2011, it's 19%.

Read a news story about the experience of extreme poverty in Fresno, California,
America's second-poorest large metropolitan area.

Read the report itself at http://npc.umich.edu/publications/policy_briefs/brief28/ .

The Third Sunday of Advent
Gaudete "Rejoice" Sunday

The crowds asked John the Baptist,
"What should we do?"
He said to them in reply,
"Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise."
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
"Teacher, what should we do?"
He answered them,
"Stop collecting more than what is prescribed."
Soldiers also asked him,
"And what is it that we should do?"
He told them,
"Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages."

Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
"I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people.  Luke 3

Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

Advent Credo
It is not true that creation and the human family are
doomed to destruction and loss—
This is true: For God so loved the world that
He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him
shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination,
hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word,
and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God,
the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil
who seek to rule the world—
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth,
and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets
of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and
your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice,
of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the
true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope.
Let us see visions of love and peace and justice.
Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage:
Jesus Christ—the life of the world.

From "Testimony: The Word Made Flesh", by Daniel Berrigan, S.J. Orbis Books, 2004.
Thanks to the Catholic Peace Fellowship for this and to Michael Boover at Annunciation Catholic Worker House who sent it on to me. !

Friday of the Second Week of Advent
Memorial of St. John of the Cross

Oh night thou was my guide
oh night more loving than the rising sun
Oh night that joined the lover
to the beloved one
transforming each of them into the other

Upon that misty night
in secrecy, beyond such mortal sight
Without a guide or light
than that which burned so deeply in my heart

That fire t'was led me on
and shone more bright than of the midday sun
To where he waited still
it was a place where no one else could come
(From Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross, arranged by Lorenna McKennitt)

Thursday of the Second Week of Advent
Memorial of St. Lucy, Martyr and Virgin

The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain,
their tongues are parched with thirst.
I, the LORD, will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will open up rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the broad valleys;
I will turn the desert into a marshland,
and the dry ground into springs of water.
I will plant in the desert the cedar,
acacia, myrtle, and olive;
I will set in the wasteland the cypress,
together with the plane tree and the pine,
That all may see and know,
observe and understand,
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Everyone is invited to help deliver food to low income people this coming Saturday, December 15th, starting at 9 AM, meet at Epiphany Church, 7336 W. Britton Road, park in the west parking lot, enter at the Family Life entrance.  Help is also needed Friday evening 530 PM, at the Dorothy Day Center, 4909 N State, to load the truck with food that we will deliver on Saturday. Please help! Call me at 200-8155 if you have questions.

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent
The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
"Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled."
And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior."

Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent
Go up onto a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
Cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.


Monday of the Second Week of Advent

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
They will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
With divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
Then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing. Isaiah 35

Second Sunday of Advent
Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery;
put on the splendor of glory from God forever:
wrapped in the cloak of justice from God,
bear on your head the mitre
that displays the glory of the eternal name.
For God will show all the earth your splendor:
you will be named by God forever
the peace of justice, the glory of God's worship. Baruch 5

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region
of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.
John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
"Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." Luke 3

Saturday of the First Week of Advent
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

V. The Angel of the Lord brought tidings unto Mary
R. And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.
Let us pray.  Pour thy grace into our hearts, we beseech thee, O Lord, that as have known the Incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by His passion and cross, we may be brought to the glory of his Resurrection; through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen

Alma Redemptoris Mater
Advent Marian hymn

Loving Mother of the Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again.
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
have pity on us poor sinners.

Friday of the First Week of Advent
The Memorial of St. Ambrose

The lowly will ever find joy in the LORD,
and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
For the tyrant will be no more
and the arrogant will have gone;
All who are alert to do evil will be cut off,
those whose mere word condemns a man,
Who ensnare his defender at the gate,
and leave the just man with an empty claim. (Isaiah 29)

According to St. Augustine, Ambrose of Milan was the first to introduce the singing of hymns outside of the liturgy to the western Catholic Church in the 4th century. He and St. Hillary of Potiers (another 4th century bishop) are considered the fathers of western hymnody.

The Te Deum is sometimes known as the Ambrosian Hymn although it is no longer thought that he actually composed it. Be prepared for some grand organ music antiphonal to the chant.

Thursday of the First Week of Advent
The Feast of Saint Nicholas

Trust in the LORD forever!
For the LORD is an eternal Rock.
He humbles those in high places,
and the lofty city he brings down;
He tumbles it to the ground,
levels it with the dust.
It is trampled underfoot by the needy,
by the footsteps of the poor.

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Jesus summoned his disciples and said,
"My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
I do not want to send them away hungry,
for fear they may collapse on the way."
The disciples said to him,
"Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place
to satisfy such a crowd?"
Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?"
"Seven," they replied, "and a few fish."
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,
gave thanks, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over--seven baskets full.

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land's afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra's den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder's lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.

Monday of the First Week of Advent
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again. (from Today's First Reading)

The First Sunday of Advent

People Look East!