Hold It All

Tag: Pedro Casaldáliga

Concentration Is Consecration

Sri Eknath Easwaran distinguishes two kinds of spiritual reading: that of instruction and that of inspiration.  Simone Weil’s book, Waiting for God, is an example of the latter, as  it is fecund with material for examining one’s life and path. Reading her brought to mind  the  Buddhists Thich  Nhat Hanh and Chan Khong, Hindu Sri Anandamayi Ma,  and  Catholics Dom Pedro Casaldáliga and José María Vigil who espoused “political holiness.” Her essay “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God” is superb.

I offer a short selection  in what follows…

Method of investigation— as soon as one has arrived at any position, try to find in what sense the contrary is true.

Except for those whose whole soul is inhabited by Christ, everybody despises the afflicted to some extent, although practically no one is conscious of it.  

I love the saints through their writings and what is told of their lives … I love the six or seven Catholics of genuine spirituality whom chance has led me to meet in the course of my life. I love the Catholic liturgy, hymns, architecture, rites and ceremonies.

I fell in love with Saint Francis of Assisi as soon as I came to know about him. Read the rest of this entry »

Not So Random Entries, Commonplace Moleskine/9

400.  If a man reads a book because it interests him and reads in all directions for the same reason, his reading is pure and interests me.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

500.  The poor play a crucial role in the world. They are the ones who really tell us what the world is.
–Pedro Casaldáliga and Jose-Maria Vigil

600. Military occupation is taken as an acceptable given and is scarcely mentioned; Palestinian terrorism becomes the cause, not the effect, of violence, even though one side possesses a modern military arsenal (unconditionally supplied by the United States), the other is stateless, virtually defenseless, savagely persecuted at will, and herded inside 160 little cantons, schools closed, life made impossible.
–Edward Said Read the rest of this entry »

No Time for Literary Criticism

You are the voice of people with adhesive tape across their mouths
This is no time for literary criticism.
Nor for attacking the gorillas with surrealistic poems.
And what use are metaphors if slavery is not a metaphor,
If death in the river of the Dead is not a metaphor,
If the Squadron of Death is not?

–Ernesto Cardenal, from his Epistle to Monsignor Casaldáliga

Scan 43

Dom Pedro Casaldáliga

photo by Mev

Summer Reading, 2009

I recently found this in an old file…



Annping Chin, The Authentic Confucius: A Life of Thought and Politics
David Hinton, Selected Poems of Wang Wei
D.C. Lau, trans. Mencius
Andrew Plaks, trans., Chung Yung
Ivan Morris, Madly Singing in the Mountains: An Appreciation and Anthology of Arthur Waley
Stephen Ruppenthal, The Path of Direct Awakening
Simon Winchester, The Man Who Loved China
Mao Zedong, Little Red Book


Noam Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins
Noam Chomsky, What We Say Goes: Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World–Interviews with David Barsamian
Donaldo Macedo, ed., Chomsky on Mis-Education
Peter Mitchell and John Schoeffel, eds., Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky
Assaf Khoury, ed. Inside Lebanon: Journey to a Shattered Land with Noam and Carol Chomsky Read the rest of this entry »

A Poem by Dom Pedro

for Claire

At the end of the road they will ask me
–Have you lived? Have you loved?
And not saying a word I
Will open my heart full of names.

–Pedro Casaldáliga, Brazil

Taking Sides

Carol, you posted, “Alas, Mark, must we always ‘Take sides’–or is there a middle way?”

You know the Buddha would say there’s a middle way, for sure.

You saw what Dom Pedro did, no “ifs, ands or buts,” he took sides with the exploited against the exploiters.

Thich Nhat Hanh says not to take sides, but help each side see the suffering of the other side. Although when he was living in Vietnam, he and his School of Youth for Social Service did take the side of the war victims in the South, they even distributed peace literature (his poems), which were seen as subversive by the government of South Vietnam. Some of the Buddhists protested the repression and violence of the U.S.-backed Saigon governments, other Buddhists didn’t.

Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Regarding the issue of “always ” taking a side, Fr. Daniel Berrigan said, “What you understand depends on where you stand.”  We can only stand in so many places, understand only so many situations.  We’re limited that way, but these experiences (and relationships) can open us, can even challenge us to gain greater clarity.  So, for example, I am sure you have heard–because you have been friends and have stood with and by her–many stories from Nadia about what systematic oppression the Palestinians have faced for decades at the hands of Israel, with strong U.S. backing. I suspect she would agree strongly with Archbishop Tutu: Palestinians wouldn’t appreciate our neutrality, when they are being dispossessed, bombed to smithereens, and denied their most elementary rights.

We each always have 24 hours a day to apportion among many valuable aspects of our personal and collective lives.  The prophetic tradition, out of which Dom Pedro, Archbishop Tutu, and Fr. Berrigan come, typically disturbs our peace with how we usually allocate those hours.  But then Thich Nhat Hanh would  say if you’re going to work for peace, you have to be peace.

Last thing I’ll mention: In The Book of Mev, I included two chapters on sitting: one on the need to sit still (Thich Nhat Hanh) and the other on the need not to sit still, given the state of the world (the prophetic, via George Steiner).  We each have to figure out this balance of sitting still (being peace) and not sitting still (when others are suffering).

Compromismo, 1983

I came across this excerpt  from a 1983 statement  from Brazilian Bishop Pedro Casaldáliga in response to a request from the Salvadoran Human Rights Commission on behalf of Salvadoran refugee children. This statement reminds me of the commitment of many friends over the years to the people and children of El Salvador…

Let us save the children of El Salvador, to save our very selves!

The least we can offer is money, publicity, protest, commitment. And urgent prayer. We are not doing the Salvadoran Human Rights Commission a favor. We are paying, late and poorly, a common debt.

Those of us who have the nerve to call ourselves Christians and yet stand by unmoved at this tragedy of Rachel weeping for her children or to simply get off a sporadic prayer, an occasional speech, or an indifferent check, will have no answer on our face when the sovereign  judge on that last day with no provision for appeal says to us, “I was a refugee in the flesh of a Salvadoran  child (in Honduras, or in Nicaragua, or Belize or Costa Rica, or Panama or Mexico, or in the caves of martyred Indian Guatemala), I was a refugee in the flesh of a Salvadoran child, and you did not take care of me.”

Brothers and sisters of the Salvadoran Human Rights Commission, you can count on me for anything, to the death.

Books Can Be Subversive

Somoza’s  guards burned
the 10,000 volumes
of the Solentiname library

–from Prophets in Combat: The Nicaraguan Journal of Bishop Pedro Casaldáliga [1986]

“This is, because that is; this is not, because that is not…”

A young Sandinista combatant
Said to Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Miguel d’Escoto:

“If there had been more Christians like you,
there would be fewer atheists like me.”

from Prophets in Combat: The Nicaraguan Journal of Bishop Pedro Casaldáliga [1986]

A Subversive Question

The Military Police have told you that all
The Church should worry about is “souls”
But what about the children starved by corporations?

–Ernesto Cardenal, Epistle to Monsignor Casaldáliga