Oh Jesus!

Oh Jesus, the One who can walk through closed doors, yet you knock, that we may open our doors to you and choose you of our own free will, thus participating in your love and grace!

Choice Matching

Choice Matching

Dear Rep. Terri Sewell, and Sen. Richard Shelby,

I write to you as a citizen of your district who has operated a business in Tuscaloosa, AL for 45 years, first known as Cooper Cabinets. I passed the business along a few years ago to a younger person and am now in private practice as a Spiritual Director, promoting Ignatian Spirituality. Although I have participated in many community organizations and faith based groups, and helped found some of them, I have all my life tried to be apolitical until last year when I registered to vote and voted for President Biden as a matter of conscience, believing he would better bring unity to our country than the main alternative, Ex-President Trump, and believing our nation is in serious decline and moral failure. I write to make a suggestion:

In view of the clear and present division in our country, I suggest that we attempt a program as a part of the 1.9 Trillion Dollar proposal President Biden is putting forth that may help heal our nation. One of the main dividing points of our political conundrum is the issue of abortion. I suggest this program be called “Choice Matching.” I regret that the previous administration has allowed so much national debt to pile up to the tune of 27 Trillion Dollars from the previous 19 Trillion Dollars of all other administrations combined in U.S. history. If I were to be seriously political, I believe my personal leanings would be somewhat Libertarian in nature. I personally believe in a small national government and a non-interventionist policy, although I try to be free to see the good in all types of governance’s including those of other nations.

To this end, I suggest that this program be promoted as a matching funds program whereas our government matches the funds “put up where their mouth is” of certain faith based groups, like the Catholic Church, Evangelical Churches, Mosques, and Synagogues, and in addition, Planned Parenthood, and other non-profit groups who would actually administer the program on a local level AND maintain a low percentage administration budget.

The goal would be to give young mothers a choice by having the host organization become a host family to see after their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, not the United States Government. As to the spiritual needs part, I could suggest some ideas in more detail at another time. I feel many young mothers feel they do not have a choice regarding abortion and have nowhere to turn for physical, emotional, and spiritual companionship.

Making this a part of the new assistance program with President Biden, a Roman Catholic who should not believe in abortion as a solution, promoting the idea himself and our Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle joining together on this particular matter should bring healing and unity to our nation as never before. One might say this is an interreligious proposal and an interpolitical proposal. This is already too long, but I think both of you can see the vision behind this seed I am trying to plant and get this to President Biden and VP Harris and others more qualified to develop the idea than I.

Respectfully,

John Cooper

Tuscaloosa, AL

I am the Possum you Killed

It was an invigorating Spring day, and I had just crawled up from the creek between the 20-acre and 15-acre McCulley fields where I saw you last Fall, hand picking the outside rows of corn to make way for the John Deere corn picker. You were working with your Uncle Bill last Fall. I have good hearing, and I heard you coming. Stepping in the crisp leaves, your feet crunched along the path leading to the larger creek. You often went this way, crossing the creek to reach the lower fields for hunting.   I could smell you. Humans have an odd smell to possums like me.

I saw your 22-caliber semi-automatic rifle and recalled that many times you shot sparrows on the electric high wire, “just for the fun of it.” Oh no! I didn’t have time to crawl back to safety. At least rabbits have a chance. They can run fast and jump and dart around, but my only defense was to lie there, helpless, playing dead among the fallen leaves.

But you saw me and decided it would be “fun.” I heard a “crack” and instantly felt searing pain engulf my body. I think you thought I would just die instantly, like on Gunsmoke, like when Matt Dillon shot the “bad” men. Pain seared through my body, pain like I had never felt before, even birthing my new litter, my eight joeys, hidden in my pouch.  What would happen to them?  I realized they will die too, after suckling the last of the milk from my dead body.  Please take care of my babies!

I was still playing dead when you poked my hairless stomach with the barrel of your rifle. I squirmed with the intense pain. You shot me again, you evil monster, with your weapon of destruction, towering over me with your testosterone-laden teenage body. Your power was absolute. As life seeped from my body, my spirit rose, and, for an instant, hovered over my lifeless body, and over you~~you heartless boy.  Don’t you know that creatures suffer too?   What have I ever done to you?  Why? I have always done my duty in life, eating ants and ticks and taking care to offer balance to the environment.

As I watched you from above, I saw that you had tears in your eyes. You had seen my babies when you poked me in the stomach. I could see guilt and remorse on your face as you realized that they would die too, from starvation or prey to another of God’s creatures. I heard you moan, “Oh, no! What have I done?”  I believe that you felt badly for taking my life for no good reason. But, why didn’t you bury me? You just left me to rot… I hope that my death will influence you to put away your rifle and live peacefully in this world with all of God’s creatures, and that we will meet again someday.

God told me I will be resurrected when you are, just at the right time, the same time as you, and I will be your pet possum, with my little babies again too, and with Pal, your boyhood dog, and Ossie, the cat you loved, and all your ancestors, your father and your mother, your brothers and sisters who have died, Faith, Hope, Paul, David, all of them, and we will live in peace in a Peaceable Kingdom, for evermore.

In Love,

Your possum, Mercy

p.s. Don’t think yourself better, dear Reader, you who pay other people to do your killing for you.  You who go to Church and pray to your God. Your God is my God.  He is in you, Brother or Sister just as God is in all things, and in me too.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

I was that teenager who thought shooting animals was “fun,”  whose  life changed forever that Fall day, as I stood over Mercy’s lifeless body and heard her pups mewling for milk. I have confessed my sin to others. Mercy was one of my greatest influences. I am thankful that Mercy had some little part in my putting my gun up for good.  Mercy had a little part in my becoming a Conscientious Objector to killing and war. I am satisfied Mercy had some influence in changing my life. Thank you, Mercy, for all you have done for me. I think of you often and will always remember you, Mercy!

In Love and Mercy,

John Cooper

Contemplation on Spiritual Banquets

Let us eat together (Pix: Canva.com)

Contemplation on Spiritual Banquets…

(A Spiritual Exercise)

I make a gesture of reverence like a bow, folded hands in prayer, or the Sign of the Cross.

I enter a period of silence and meditation…

I think about what I desire, that I desire to be invited to and share in a Spiritual Banquet…

I take an item or symbol of life giving food, touching it, like a piece of bread, rice, or whatever I have to offer, and hold it in my hands. I remember a special family meal where all family members gathered in harmony.

I enter into silent meditation for two minutes, holding the item and if I am in a group, sharing the item I am holding with others. If what I hold is consumable, I break off a portion and give it to another and we eat together.

I read the Prayer Texts below:

Luke 14: 15-24

15 When someone sitting at table with him had heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is he who will eat bread in the kingdom of God.”

16 So he said to him: “A certain man prepared a great feast, and he invited many.

17 And he sent his servant, at the hour of the feast, to tell the invited to come; for now everything was ready.

18 And at once they all began to make excuses. The first said to him: ‘I bought a farm, and I need to go out and see it. I ask you to excuse me.’

19 And another said: ‘I bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to examine them. I ask you to excuse me.’

20 And another said, ‘I have taken a wife, and therefore I am not able to go.’

21 And returning, the servant reported these things to his lord. Then the father of the family, becoming angry, said to his servant: ‘Go out quickly into the streets and neighborhoods of the city. And lead here the poor, and the disabled, and the blind, and the lame.’

22 And the servant said: ‘It has been done, just as you ordered, lord, and there is still room.’

23 And the lord said to the servant: ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel them to enter, so that my house may be filled.

24 For I tell you, that none of those men who were invited will taste of my feast.’ ” (CPDV)

I meditate in silence, thinking about the prayer texts above.

  • If doing this exercise in a group, (for instance, a Zoom interreligious on-line Spiritual banquet) I gently share my thoughts and express my love for a person of another culture, race, or religion, saying, out loud: “I love you!” I share any spiritual or other needs I have as appropriate. I ask to be included in the other person’s thoughts and prayers, and I ask out loud, “Will you please pray for me?”
  • I am silent again, this time hoping to enter a state of thoughtless contemplation, allowing God to do His work silently and passively in my heart and mind and satisfy my spiritual needs…
  • I and others, if I am in a group, express thanks for this Spiritual Banquet, saying “Thank You, God!” I breathe in the Spirit of thankfulness and breathe out the Spirit of thankfulness and satisfaction for others to receive…
  • I read the prayer, the Suscipe, from Spiritual The Exercises of St. Ignatius, (234) myself or in my group in communion with others:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O Lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

  • I am silent, slowly breathing in the Spirit of thankfulness without comments or additional discussion, but I will if needed, discuss what I have experienced with my Spiritual Director, Pastor, or counselor or friends and I resolve to take this exercise again as often as needed and share it with others as appropriate in person or via electronic means.

Go in Peace, take time out of your life to receive this Exercise, as well as taking additional time to enter ino thoughtless silence, to connect yourself with the inner image of God present in all mankind. When you see three dots…, it means to pause at that part of the Exercise in reflection.

John Cooper

Tuscaloosa, AL

Inner Peace and the Encyclical

I am inspired today to say something about the need for deep inner peace in relationship to Pope Francis latest Encyclical, Fratelli tutti. See: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-10/fratelli-tutti-pope-fraternity-social-friendship-short-summary.html for a brief summary which contains a link to the original document.

In conjunction I would like to share a Spiritual Exercise one can pray by themselves or with others written by Fr. Michael Hansen, S.J. of Australia. I have been sharing these Exercises on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Let-God-In-One-Ignatian-Journey-108638330545262. I credit Fr. Hansen and the FSE Field Hospital for the adapted picture and text.

Praying this Exercise will help you breathe in deep inner peace which is needed to understand Pope Francis’ Encyclical.

John Cooper, Tuscaloosa, AL

THE CPR OF PEACE                            First Aid

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Col3:12-16

See, Open my mouth; the tongue in my mouth speaks.

My words declare the uprightness of my heart, and what my lips know they speak sincerely. The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:2-6

I touch the Heart of Peace.

I take a slow breath, in and out-a breath in to receive the Spirit of Peace, and a breath out to breathe out all the anxiety, agitation, fears and burdens I carry within me. This breath of body and Spirit, is life in every sense. I repeat, feeling peace settle in me.

I remember a small story of someone who gave me deep peace when I was afraid and lost in the demands of ever-changing distress. If praying alone I hold that memory, if I am praying in a group, I share it with them, listening in turn to their stories, feeling touched by the Spirit of Peace … I begin to understand how such peace

is so desirable in these unsettling times.

I desire the Gift of Peace.

I slowly and prayerfully read the prayer texts above.

I name all the places in my life where I desire the gift of peace …

I ask the Spirit for peace, serenity and harmony in my heart, and for the breath that gives me Life.

I breathe in the Spirit of Peace.

I imagine and feel the Spirit of Peace breathing deep, harmonious peace into me. I breathe it in deeply, wait, then breathe it out to into my agitations and worries, into my spiritual life, desires and relationships. And I pray this peace spreads far.

I repeat as desired – breathing, peaceful, in harmony …I conclude in thanks, considering two questions. Firstly, if possible, how might I make contact and reconnect with the one who brought me great peace? Secondly, to whom and how do I pass on this exercise – who urgently needs peace now?         ·

PRAYER TIME: Go gently, using the generous time you have put aside for this prayer.

The three dots … indicate the places to pause.

If you are specially moved at any of the steps, remain there for the rest of the prayer.

 

FSE FIELD HOSPITAL © Michael Hansen SJ

Contact: field-hospital@fsecloud.life    •  www.fsecol ud.life  •  JISA ministries www.jisa.org.au

Vatican II – Genius of the Heart

Vatican II – Genius of the Heart, VHS 1

Originally written 6/25/2017 as a summary of a course at Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL

Vatican II – Genius of the Heart, VHS 1

Preface:

I grew up attending the Roman Catholic Church in the small town of Marshall, IL called St. Mary’s Church. (See https://www.facebook.com/stmarysmarshall/). I still have lifelong friends who attend that church.  My mother, Charity McCulley Cooper, took us there with our large family of 7 children.  Our family took up about a whole pew.  I was the oldest of the living children.  I still have fond memories of Monsignor Donahue, and I probably burned his ears off in the confessionalJJ as well as fond memories of all my friends and my family’s friends.  I don’t think there are many left now, but there are a few.  How we merited a Monsignor in the little town of about 3,000, I do not know.  I went through all the Catholic rites there.  Also, I cannot recall the exact timeline about when the Vatican II changes all filtered down to our little Parish, but my viewpoint is from someone who left the Roman Catholic Church as a matter of conscious in 1969.  I became a conscientious objector to all war at that time, something that was widely discouraged still in official Catholicism.  Nonviolence was at that time promoted by such Catholic figures as Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, and Fulton J. Sheen, for instance, whose non-violent beliefs were unbeknownst to me back then.  I joined an historic peace church.  About a year and a half ago, I was called back to the Catholic Church, partly as a result of Pope Francis and his worldwide influence.  I understand that Vatican II has a section that allows for conscientious objection to war, but that has not been covered yet in the tapes I am reviewing.

Above is a brief preface to what I am studying in companion with taking courses for a Certificate in Spiritual Direction, (CSD) under the auspices of Spring Hill College, in Mobile, AL. See: http://www.shc.edu/.  I remember Pope John XXIII and his successor, Pope Paul VI as I was growing up.  This assignment of looking back into Vatican II via listening to old VHS tapes entitled, The Faithful Revolution, is a joy.  There are five VHS tapes, and I will list notes about each as I view them.    

The first tape is entitled Genius of the Heart.  It is 60 minutes long.  This tape speaks of Vatican II as being a direct spiritual calling for Pope John XXIII to implement, or a call from the Holy Spirit to speak prophetically regarding the Modernization of the Roman Catholic Church.  To this end, he invited Bishops from all over the world to come together in a council, the first since 1817.  There have been about 20 councils in the Catholic Church since its inception, about one every 100 years, but many of them were in early church history.  I don’t know if the Acts 15 council regarding circumcision and unclean meats is included in this number of councils. 

Pope John XXIII called bishops from all over the world in order to offset the power of the Roman Curia, which would like to have had things continue along as has always been.  Vatican II was an unexpected movement, because the cardinals thought they were electing a “transitional” Pope, not one who would bring about such widespread changes. The changes began with the liturgy.  Now the priest was to face the congregation and look them into the eyes.  The congregation was to share the same cup as the priest.  The Mass was to be in native languages, as well as Latin, occasionally, in place of Latin only.  I well remember the days of Latin only.  Pope John XXIII was “attacked” by some of the prophets of doom in his own church for making such changes. He claimed it was like a flash of light, a divine inspiration that motivated him to bring this council together. The changes concerning the Liturgy overwhelmingly passed, like 2/3 or 3/4 vote. 

The Genius of the Heart VHS includes videos of Our Lady of the Universe Catholic Church, (https://www.facebook.com/ourladyqueenoftheuniversebirmingham/) a predominately black church in Birmingham, AL and shows how they implemented Vatican II.  From 1967 to late 1969, when I attended the Catholic Church in Birmingham, AL, I attended Our Lady of Sorrows, (http://www.ourladyofsorrows.com/) in Homewood, right up the road from Samford University, where I attended school.  In reviewing the first tape, I have a desire to go to Our Lady of the Universe Church sometime and experience the rich cultural heritage this church must have.

Vatican II is considered to be not a council of crisis, as other councils may have been, but a council of opportunity. This was in the time period of 1962 to 1965 and satellite TV communications were just available, and Vatican II had a 10 minute window of opportunity for live coverage each day.  Also the new venues of the day widely covered it, and it was on the front page, excepting the days when warfare took priority over what was happening in Rome.  Irving Levine was a well know reporter who daily covered the story of Vatican II.

Pope John XXIII knew he had a tumor, and was to soon die.  I like his words, “I am nothing.  I am your brother, because we are all children of God.”  This is a prophetic statement we need to look into today, in view of all the suffering and polarization in the world.  How is it we are to understand that all human kind, even our enemy, is to be our brother?  I submit it is through the eyes of Jesus, and the prophetic voice of Pope John XXIII, and others, who say, “I am your brother.”  Also, the eyes of Vatican II are still very useful eyes from which we see.

End: Genius of the heart.

Begin: Inspired Awakening, a 60 minute VHS video.

  June 21st, 1963, Cardinal Montini was elected Pope to succeed Pope John XXIII.  He chose the name Pope Paul VI.  The Roman Curia did not like Pope Paul VI, although he had been on the Curia itself, and served as the Vatican Secretary of State for many years.  He was viewed by the Curia as too progressive.  Pope Paul VI wanted to continue the Vatican council which was started by Pope John XXIII.

These were the years of the 1960’s.  It was a time of worldwide change and also change in the Catholic Church.  Women were rising in respect, also rising in respect in the Catholic Church.  These were the years of the Civil rights Movement, and the beginnings of “gay” rights.  Vatican II let about 15 women attend as observers, both religious and lay women.  Sr. Mary Luke Tobin attended from the United States.  Women just wanted to be treated as “human persons.” The video covers some of the events of the women’s movement of the time which I will not get into right now.

Pope Paul VI was very well educated, – a progressive thinker.

The three big revolutions of Vatican II were Liturgy, Laity, and Humanism.  Peace, reconciliation, and human dignity, humanism of Vatican II attempted to help reconcile and heal the wounds of the 1054 schism in which the Orthodox Church split from the Western Catholic Church.  Also, Vatican II aimed to heal the divide of the Protestant Reformation of about 1500.  Admittedly, the Roman Church needed reformation itself.  At the time of the reformation the Inquisition was going on, people were being burned at the stake for perceived heresy, and even St. Ignatius was imprisoned for 40 days for perceived heresy.  (John: St. Ignatius’ movement served as a type of counter-reformation within the Catholic Church itself.)

Orthodox and Protestant observers were also invited to attend the council.  These observers also had input into the council and were invited to review the documents and offer suggestions before the documents of the Second Vatican Council were finalized.  The council was like watching the Catholic Church step into the 20th Century from out of the middle ages.  The Humanism of the council was meant to open doors for dialog with other Faiths.  For example, both Lutherans and Catholics can now find common ground to express the truth of Justification by Faith.   Other belief systems were now viewed as “separated brethren,” NOT heretics.  Vatican II found this common ground for dialog between other churches and found the same faith was being discussed, and just how this faith is expressed is different.

A number of Catholics could not accept Vatican II and formed a group called “Traditionalist” Catholics in order to hold to their own ways of worshiping, for instance with the priest facing away from the audience, with the Eucharist received on the tongue, with head veils for women, with the Mass in Latin, etc.  The Traditionalist were set opposed to the Humanists of Vatican II.

Important to me is the matter of conscious, which was mentioned toward the end of the tape by Dr. Frederick Franck, founder of “Pacem in Terris.” See: http://www.frederickfranck.org/  Dr. Franck mentioned what John XXIII had said with words like “God’s law is imprinted on the human heart.  It is a law of human life, a human and a divine spark.” (John: This reminds me of what the Quakers have said from time centuries before Vatican II, that there is a spark of God in every man, and that the way to prove it is to ask the person if there is anything they can do that they would feel guilty about.)  I, John, am particularly interested about this matter of conscience, as I heard years later was accepted into Vatican II.  I had left the Catholic Church in about 1969 because of a matter of conscious regarding my participation in war.  I was a Conscientious objector to war and still remain so.

End: Vatican II – “Inspired Awakening,” a one hour VHS tape.

Begin, Vatican II – “Human Dignity,” a one hour VHS tape.

Vatican II freed the Catholic Church for social action.  An example of this is Fr. Luis Olivares of Los Angeles, who protested the U.S. involvement in El Salvador.  He said: “With the poor here, I want to throw in my luck.”  There were many refugees in Los Angeles form El Salvador who were fleeing the U.S. supported war in the mid to late 1980’s.  They sought sanctuary here.  There was civil disobedience in 1989 in which the actor, Martin Sheen, took part.  Mr. Sheen was arrested and someone asked him if he were a Communist, to which he replied, “Far worse than a Communist, I am a Catholic.”

Human Dignity was to be for all people, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and even unbelievers such as atheists.  The thought was that if a person is living by their conscience, they could live and be saved.  Fr. John Courtney Murray, SJ, in 1966 said that freedom of conscience – Conscience should be free to worship God as each own person freely thinks.  The Vatican Council wanted to affirm religious freedom. 

Dignitatis Humanae: Individual or group is to be left to be free to act in conscience.  To Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, (to become Pope John Paul II) the council was a test case for putting Human Dignity teachings to the test.  Communists in Poland could not break the Church.  June 2nd, 1979 Pope John Paul II returns to Poland.  Solidarity – We are Catholics, we pray – That’s the beginning of Solidarity.

Catholic is an adjective, – universal – The church is meant for all people and for all ages.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – Perfect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican, (was to become Pope Benedict.

There is a section of the video which includes an example of the Church’s Enculturation, and shows how the Church is celebrated differently in Africa.  There is dignity in primitive cultures too.

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue – 1964 – Pope John Paul II

Professor Hans King: “No peace among the nations without peace among the religions, there will be no peace among the religions without dialog.”

Vatican II ridded the liturgy of anti-Jewish statements like blaming the Jews for Christ’s death in the Good Friday liturgy.  Jesus was Jewish, Mother Mary Jewish, the apostles were Jewish, and the scriptures were Jewish.  There were anti-Jewish statements by Catholic leaders before WWII.  Pope Pius XII did not speak out against the dictatorial regimes of Hitler and Mussolini, although he did personally save a good number of Jews.  Pope John Paul XXIII apologized to the Jews for this sin.

(John: One of the things that kept me from returning to the Catholic Church for many years was the terrible and corrupt history of the Catholic Church in such matters as this and the Inquisition.  However, I eventually realized the same is true for most all other churches historically and the same is true for John Cooper too.)

The VHS gives an interesting statement.  “The Image of God was dying in each person who died in Auschwitz.” God kept silence in Auschwitz, and the Catholic Church kept silence too.

Pope John Paul XXIII: We are meant to serve the rights of the human person and not just the rights of the Catholic Church.

Vatican II started repairing the damage and difference between what the Church has stated and what the Church does.  Pope Paul VI condemned anti-Jewish sentiment.

End: Vatican II – “Human Dignity,” a one hour VHS tape.

Begin: Vatican II – “A World Transformed,” a one hour VHS tape.

As a result of Vatican II, the Church is now defined as the people of God, not “the mystical body of Christ.”  Laity, women, all are collaborative in worship, used as Eucharistic ministers, readers, etc.  Priests are to be collaborative, not just ruling over people. 

Regarding birth control – lay people were on the commission – support for change was overwhelming.  This went against the super rigid stance of previous Popes before John XXIII.  Pope Paul VI … 1968, Announcement referred to individual’s conscious regarding birth control, use own judgement. (As I understand it) Pope had advised all acts of sex should be open to recreation, the question was, is this a fallible, or infallible teaching?

Food kitchens for the poor arose, gypsies were fed, – The Community of Sant’Egidio, in Rome, spread to over other communities, taking care of the poor.  There were many such communities as this after Vatican II.  (John:  Also, Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement in New York City preceded this.)  

Mozambique – Pope John XXIII invited two warring sides to the Vatican and advised them to start with what they had in common, not what they had that divided them.  The treaty for Mozambique was created at the Vatican.

VHS mentions Opus Dei, a lay movement.  It had started in 1928 in Fascist Spain. Opus Dei was not happy with Vatican II, or with Pope John XXIII.  (John: I understand this is a Secret Society…, cult like…)

By the time of the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, a time of the Vietnam War Cold War, the Church was becoming more relevant to the world.  How would the Church respond to these crisis?  John XXIII called for nuclear disarmament in 1959 & 1960.

“A world Transformed” section of this series brings up and records words of Jim Douglass, (a like-minded acquaintance of John Cooper.)  Jim was interviewed in this section of the videos.  See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_W._Douglass.

John XXIII was mediator between President Kennedy and Castro.  John XXIII wrote “Pacem in Terris.”  “In any situation, modern warfare is unreasonable,” said that there can no longer be any idea of “just” war.

Phillip Berrigan, Catholic priest, peace activist, and poet, is interviewed at times in this tape.

Jim Douglass wrote to Vatican Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes,” which came out with the only negative view on war mentioned by Vatican II.  This document states that any act of war of complete destruction, of an entire city or area, is a crime against humanity and God Himself.  Pope John XXIII was disappointed with Vatican II on the status of war and peace.  Vatican II still allowed for “just” war.  Vatican II was under pressure from the some in the U.S. – and altered statements so as not to imply condemnation of U.S. policy.

Pope Pius XII, before the Council, had discouraged Catholics from being conscientious objectors… Pope John XXIII – encouraged conscience as a basis for the world of justice.  People like Jim Douglass now can open lives to the power of the Spirit.

Blasé Bonpane – Vatican II – Faith is not just a matter of what you know, what you memorize.  Faith is a matter of what you do.  Are you willing to participate in history?

Cardinal Spellman – very much in support of the Vietnam War.  (John: Dorothy Day & Cardinal Spellman, very much on opposite ends of the social justice menu.  See: http://www.nypress.com/cardinal-spellmans-dark-legacy/.

The video goes over the civilian deaths – napalm of innocent civilians by U.S. (little naked girl running from napalm, attacked, and burned by napalm, one of the historic photos of the world) (John: The same thing is happening today, but on a probably broader scale.  Even as we speak, U.S. backed forces are bombing Mosul with phosphorus laden bombs, killing over 475 civilians just this past month, and over a thousand innocent civilians a couple or three months ago, and no one seems to care, even though these type of things are being chronicled by the United Nations and others.)

In early 1968, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., Catholic priest, peace activist, and poet, helped found with his brother, Phillip, and 7 others, the Cantonsville 9.  (John: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catonsville_Nine) What to do, they asked?  (John: These were the days of the daily body counts in the Vietman War.) They broke into a government facility and took a lot of draft cards and burned them with Napalm.  They were arrested and sentenced to prison, serving about 2 years of a three year sentence.  After being arrested, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, when asked why he was doing this, said something like, we are only doing with papers, (draft cards,) that is burning them with napalm, what was lauded by others to do with human beings.

(John: I am reminded of a house mass I was invited to at the home of Jim and Shelley Douglass, at St. Mary’s House, their Catholic Worker House in Birmingham, AL.  The mass was officiated by Fr. Alex Steinmiller, and was in celebration of the recent death of Fr. Daniel Berringan who had died in April of 2016, aged 94 years old.  I John, was a conscientious objector to war back in these days.  I was not one to be demonstrating, but served my alternative service as a conscientious objector beginning at Spain Rehabilitation Center, which took care of the paralyzed, in Birmingham.  I had left the Catholic Church for matters of conscious in these years, joining an historic peace church, The Worldwide Church of God, while coming to another and continuing conversion experience.  (I grew up on the farm in Illinois, and attended a small town Catholic Church, and I cannot recall how much of Vatican II had filtered down to our small church in the spring of 1967, when I left Illinois to attend Samford University in Birmingham, AL.  I don’t think much of Vatican II had filtered down.)  I certainly did not know of the option for a Catholic to be a conscientious objector.  Pax Christi, https://paxchristiusa.org/, a Catholic Organization that could have helped me with these matters of conscience, which Vatican II finally allowed for in the Catholic Church, did not come to the United States until 1972.  I am afraid most Catholic youth know little of Vatican II, and know little of right of Catholics to believe in non-violence, and object all war, or any war, for that matter.)

VHS mentions Howard Zinn, who said something like “Someone had to do something.” (regarding the wars at that time in history.)

Vatican II’s last paper was unplanned, it was about the Church in the world today.  It was titled “Gaudium et spes,” and freed Catholics to take social action.  (John: See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaudium_et_spes)

Bishop Foley, D.D., of Birmingham, was also interviewed and said that Vatican II stirred many priests, other priests it did not touch, likewise for the Bishops.  (John: I am afraid this remains the case, as I see some movements, seemingly back to pre-Vatican II in the Catholic Church since I have returned to the Catholic Church.)

When out of prison, the Berrigan’s began a movement called “Plowshares,” which was an anti-nuclear weapon movement.  He broke into, with others, a GE facility that made nuclear warheads, and pounded on the fragile ceramic heads with hammers in a symbolic move to turn swords into plowshares, and they poured their own blood on the weapons, and began a worship service until they were arrested.

Bishop Foley – The Civil Rights Movement challenged Catholics to do something about Vatican II.  – Children took to the streets in Birmingham, dogs were set loose, the 16th Street bombing killed four little girls, (John: how much worse is it today in the world?)  Fr. Berrigan said that the Catholics were kind of a ”Johnny come lately” to the Civil Rights Movement.

One more statement from Jim Douglass, “Discern the will of God, and then do it.”

End: “A World Transformed,” a one hour VHS.

Begin: “The Dynamic Hope,” a one hour tape.

Pope Paul VI supervised the implementation of Vatican II.  He seems to have backpedaled somewhat on the birth control issue from what Vatican II recommended.  He was trying to keep both camps on this issue happy.

Pope John Paul I’s papacy only lasted 33 days.  Then, from Polish background, Pope John Paul II was elected.  He combined the names of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI into Pope John Paul II.  He, as Cardinal, Wojtyla, had participated in Vatican II and had substantial input into parts of it.  John Paul II heavily was heavily influenced by Vatican II and the openness of the Church to the world. He was a Pope of the Council.  He helped improve relations with other Faiths.  John Paull II was the great hope of the Catholic Church.  He wanted to unite all Christians and bring the churches together, bringing God’s love to all people.

What is the role of the Church in Politics?  There were to be no religious in political positions of power.  The church was to be the advocate of the poor.  The Church was to strive to be Universal.  The Church in Latin America reinterpreted Vatican II for implementation in Latin America.  There was concern about the indigenous population, the poor Indians.  For Latin America, “Liberation Theology” opposed “Imperial” Theology which derived from the Church’s conjoining with Constantine, and accepting political power, which resulted in terrible programs like the Inquisition. Imperial Theology is a Theology of the sword.  Liberation Theology, on the other hand attempted to connect Charity and Justice for the poor.

In Latin America, the implementation of Vatican II concentrated on how to change the system of the lives of the poor, or in other words, the preferential option for the poor.  This seemed to get mixed up somewhat with Marxism.  Bishop Ruiz, was one of the last of the Vatican II proponents in Latin America.  He concentrate on serving the indigoes Indians in his Diocese.  Some complained he served them and left out others.  The Vatican was about to relieve him of his duties, but the Sandinista Rebellion occurred and he was the only one who could help resolve this problem.  Bishop Ruiz position was that since Vatican II, the native Indians now have human dignity. 

In theory, Vatican II abolished the pyramidal structure of the Roman Catholic Church.  WE are the Church.  The Church is everyone.  Collegial and collaborative decision making was to occur.  However, this was not exactly how it happened, and it has not happened yet.  In practice, the Roman Curia ruled over the Bishops.  For instance, in about 1995, 30 years after Vatican II, the Church basically stripped Bishop Gailott in France, of his Diocese, and assigned him to a historic diocese which had not existed in many years.   Bishop Gailoot had taken opposing positions the positions of the Church.  His opinion was the Church was to be a Church to the marginalized of society, but I think he spoke only to the marginalized, and not to everyone. 

Dialog is talking to people in love, and to look for this love in all people.  We still need dialog to discern the meaning of Vatican II and we must recognize the human dignity and equality of each other. 

Msgr. Glenn D. Gardner: “When all is said and done, the real call of the Church is simple, it is to love people as Jesus loved them.”

Msgr. Capovilla: “The only force we can use is the force of love and fraternity.”

In 1995, about when these VHS tapes were produced, about 30 years after Vatican II, many changes were to come as the documents of Vatican II continued to unfold.  Vatican II regenerates one Billion people for the third millennium of the Church.

Conclusion:

 (John: The Holy Spirit is always working to unfold God’s will and will unfold what remains to be understood and implemented of the Vatican II papers.  To me, this is the Hope which remains.  Also, the Holy Spirit is not limited to “just” Catholics, but works or at least can work in every man and women in which She desires to work.  The Holy Spirit is the Universal Power, with the Father and the Son.)

John Cooper, Tuscaloosa, AL

Contemplation on Woundedness

Pix: Public Domain


Contemplation on Woundedness

(A Spiritual Exercise)

  1. I make a gesture of reverence like a bow, folded hands in prayer, or the Sign of the Cross.
  2. I enter a period of silence and meditation.
  3. I think about what I desire, that I desire to discover and be healed of my woundedness.
  4. I remember how God has always been with me, helping me and healing me.
  5. I read the Prayer Texts below:

Hebrews 13: 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.” 6 Let us be bold, then, and say:

“The Lord is my helper,

I will not be afraid.

What can anyone do to me?”                    

John 20:26 A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then stretch out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!.” (GNBDK)

1 Cor 12:12 Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts. 13 In the same way, all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free, have been baptized into the one body by the same Spirit, and we have all been given the one Spirit to drink. (GNBDK)

I meditate in silence, thinking about the prayer texts above.

Are there any physical, mental, or spiritual wounds God can help me with today?

I wonder why Jesus kept his wounds when he could have been resurrected in a perfect body.

I wonder if my wounds are a part of Jesus body and his a part of my body.

6. I enter into silent meditation, touching my healed wounds and scars and if I am in a group. I show my scars and allow others to touch them and touch others’ wounds and scars if appropriate.

7. If doing this exercise in a group, I gently share my thoughts in confidence, and whether alone or in a group, I verbally forgive any who have wounded me. I will write these matters down in my Journal when I am finished for future reflection and action.

8. I am silent again, this time hoping to enter a state of thoughtless contemplation, allowing God to heal any remaining wounds in my heart, body, and mind in the way he chooses.

9. I resolve to share in the sufferings of others, of the world, of those who are dying and the poor, of those alone, and the sufferings of Jesus whom I and others disappoint when we sin.  

10. I recite the Lord’s Prayer myself or in my group together in communion with others.

11. I smile because I know I am healed and forgiven, as wide and long a smile as appropriate, and maybe I laugh because now I know God is big enough to take care of me solve my problems.  I can’t believe I perhaps thought he was not big enough to solve all my problems.

12. If anything is still unresolved I will share the matters with my Spiritual Director, Pastor, or counselor, or friends. I resolve to take this exercise again as often as needed. I will share this exercise with others as appropriate.

John Cooper

Tuscaloosa, AL

Contemplation on the Mystical Roots of Unconscious Prejudice

(Pix: John Cooper)

(A Spiritual Exercise)

  1. I make a gesture of reverence like a bow, folded hands in prayer, or the Sign of the Cross.

2. I enter a two minute period of silence and meditation.

3. I think about what I desire, that I desire to discover and be healed of prejudice.

4. I take an item or symbol of my ancestors and hold it in my hands.

5. I enter into silent meditation for two minutes, holding the item and if I am in a group, sharing the item I am holding with others.

6. I read the Prayer Texts below:

Gen 1:31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (NRSV)

Gal 3:28 So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus. (GNBDK)

1 Cor 12:12 Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts. 13 In the same way, all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free, have been baptized into the one body by the same Spirit, and we have all been given the one Spirit to drink. (GNBDK)

Lev 19:32 “Show respect for old people and honour them. Reverently obey me; I am the LORD.

33 “Do not ill-treat foreigners who are living in your land. 34 Treat them as you would a fellow-Israelite, and love them as you love yourselves. Remember that you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God. (GNBDK)

Deut 5: 9 I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generation. 10 But I show my love to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my laws. (GNBDK)

“…so much is hidden in the unconscious…Below all this is the vast unknown world of corporate memories inherited from our families, our culture and our race…However there is a time for amassing information and a time for letting it go into the hands of God to allow him to illuminate, draw out and bind together what we already know…the works of the memory become in some way divine if they are controlled by the Holy Spirit.” (Door Through Darkness: John of the Cross and mysticism in everyday life, pp. 104-105, 133, Sister Eileen Lyddon, New City Press).

7. I meditate in silence, thinking about the prayer texts above.

8. If doing this exercise in a group, I gently share my thoughts in confidence and confess my sins of prejudice and unconscious inheritances I may have received of which I am now aware.  I speak aloud my pain, my grief, how I have been hurt and how I have hurt others.  If I am privileged, I resolve to give something back, love, prayers, money, or what I may be inspired to pay forward for my future generations.  If I am exercising privately, I write these matters down in my Journal when I am finished for future reflection and action.

9. I am silent for two more minutes, this time hoping to enter a state of thoughtless contemplation, allowing God to do His work silently and passively in my heart and mind.

10. I and others, if I am in a group, moan as if we were dying, perhaps even crying out loudly, AGHH! I grieve. I moan…

11. I recite the Lord’s Prayer myself or in my group together in communion with others.

12. I enter silence for 3 minutes and 29 more seconds, making a total of 9 minutes and 29 seconds of silence and resolve to pray in silence about these matters at other times and the exercise ends without comments or additional discussion, but I will discuss what I have experienced with my Spiritual Director, Pastor, or counselor or friends and I resolve to take this exercise again as often as needed. I also resolve to share this exercise with others as appropriate.

John Cooper

Tuscaloosa, AL

Breath of Life

Our prayer is living our lives in your Presence, oh Lord, every breath in, every breath out, given in all places and at all times for Your praise and glory. Breathe on us, holy Spirit; ignite our hearts with Your love, grace, and mercy that we may be  one with You!

John Cooper

Cats Go To Heaven

Cats go to Heaven!

This short essay is inspired by my friend, Rennie Jones’ post where he shared a link, https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/do-dogs-go-to-heaven.html about dogs going to Heaven.

Some know of my fondness of St. Francis, who urged nonviolence and the love of all of creation, and that I am a Spiritual Director and promote Ignatian Spirituality, one of whose core tenants is “finding God in all things.” See: https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/ignatian-spirituality/finding-god-in-all-things.

Recently our beloved cat, Ossie, passed away. He had quit eating and we took him to the Vet after he had not eaten much for several days. It was found he had a problem in his gall bladder the Vet thought was gall stones, but when we took him to the animal hospital in Starkville, MS, he ended up having E-coli in his gall bladder. For three days he was on intravenous IV and seemed to be doing better and one time seemed to be his old self again and he was released after three days and sent home with plenty of medicine to continue his recovery. We began giving him the medicine but in about a week or so he lost his appetite again. I thought I knew what was happening and begin to make a cat casket for him, although I did not tell Wink until after he died what I was making.

 

We took him to the Vet again and the Vet worked with him and gave him more medicine and we ordered more from the Mississippi hospital for his little gall bladder, but it was too late for him. His time had come to die. When he got home from the Vet, he was so weak. I took him out on our deck where he used to love to be, but he wanted to come back in the house and lay behind one of our sofas. When he came out to go down the hall, he was so weak he walked a little then sat down to rest. He ended up under my Great-Great Grandfather’s chest of drawers which he had made during the civil war period. It came time to give him his medicine and while Wink was preparing the medicine, I went in to get him out from under the chest of drawers. He groaned and rolled over when I awakened him and rolled over again and groaned. I knew he was dying. I called Wink in and I gently slid Ossie out from under the chest and Wink and I watched him die, both of us crying. I told Wink he is dying, but she held out hope to the end. “Watch out.” I said, “Sometimes a dying animal will bite you.” But little Ossie was always so gentle. “He is still breathing,” Wink said. “He is dying,” I said. Ossie let out one last “Ahhh?” as loud as he could and groaned loudly and his little spirit went to heaven. “His eyes are still open,” Wink said. “That’s the way it is after one dies,” I said.

We are still grieving, especially Wink, and we have not yet put his ashes in his casket. Bill Remmert is to come and bless him and the casket when we are ready to experience more closure. Here is a link to where he will rest:

Notice the oil painting of Ossie Janelle Avery did before Janelle died. Both Janelle and Ossie are gone way too soon, but I believe God knows every sparrow which falls to the ground and he can do all things, including reuniting all our loved ones in Heaven.

Rest in Peace,

John Cooper