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Monday, July 16, 2018

July 16, 2018

   I cannot resist having some say in the event that is taking place today, e.g. the Trump-Putin meeting. But first a quick picture of this last weekend. Friday, world cup. Croatia lost, but they played a great and spirited game (not quite David and Goliath but something like that). They outplayed the French with most of the possession of the ball, especially in front of the French goal. But their defence had big holes as the 4-2 score tells you. There was some weirdness, also, regarding the goals that were scored—an own goal that cost the Croats. A penalty shot in front of the Croatia goal, a sure shot usually. Another big cost. However, they, the Croats, should be praised for the fantastic fight they gave to the former world champions.

     Saturday, we joined the CPS sisters for the celebration of their jubilees. Margaret-65yrs. Casiana-65yrs. Regina-60yrs. Lucas-50yrs. (Lucas has been dying of cancer for several months now and it is by God’s grace that she managed to live out the time to be present for her jubilee with her community. Add that up, that is 24yrs. Of service to the Christian community. Wow. They worked hard.

     Sunday, another Zulu mass at Savannah Park. The leader, Mike Pillay (an Indian leading a Zulu community, nice) harangued the congregation for not playing a bigger role in trying to raise funds for the building of the new church which we hope will happen by the end of this year. Fingers crossed. This Friday will be the second fund-raising dinner dance. Tickets were R250 for ordinary people, R600 for corporates. The corporates are not interested in supporting religious bodies but because Mariannhill has a reputation for big input in the community trying to uplift the local community, they are willing to contribute.

     Today, I was watching the news about Trump and Putin. The journalists were making me sick. They seemed to be waiting, breathlessly, for Trump and Putin to emerge and hear what Trump has to say. Did he raise the issues he should have. We will never know, unless we can get the translators to tell the story. Ha. Fat chance. With Trump’s casual relationship with the truth, whatever he says will be, in my mind, doubtful. Of course we can all predict that he will praise himself (as he blamed the US, and Obama in “particular) for putting the relationship between Russia and the US on the proper footing that is should have had, and that now he has re-established a positive relationship with his friend Putin, we can move forward on more friendly grounds. Do you think I am wrong?

     He should be impeached for bad-mouthing and blaming the US and his own Intelligence community for telling, as it were, lies,  he calls it fake news. He is putting our national security in grave danger. He is going against the oath he took to support the constitution. We all know Putin. He in KGB in his DNA. He is clever and is pushing his agenda all the way. Of course he is going to deny that he interfered in our 2016 elections, although our own deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, waved the 29 pgs of details regarding the indictment of the 12 Russian Military attachees in his face as proof positive that this is no “witch hunt”.

That he should be making decisions with a foreign power in the name of the whole US, including his own administration and there is no record of it except his (doubtful) word is unconscionable. I am really angry. How far can he go to running our country into the ground before someone stops him. Holy Moses.

Enough for now.

Friday, July 13, 2018

July 13 (Friday, oh my!) 2018

What Putin has been trying to do  for ages Trump now accomplishes in a few quick tweets and bleats. The dissolution of the EU, and NATO, which protects the security of Europe, has been the target of Putin for ever. Now it becomes not only possible but real. Hooray for Trump. Maybe he can move in with Putin and run the world from Moscow, visiting, of course, his golf courses here and there from time to time. Holy Moses.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

June 30, 2018.06.3

   This is too good to pass up. From the 19th to the 24th I was back in Mthatha. Visiting friends, bringing old clothes to the poor in the village next to Landsend, getting to know our new postulants, 2 from Nigeria and one from Togo, and having a talk with my provincial, Fr. Chikadi. But the main reason was for the meeting of the Board of Management of Sabelani Home, Fr. Guys guys and their ongoing living out of his mission, to reach out to the poor kids who have no chance to get and education, and try to make them aware of their role in society as bringers, especially through their education, of love and hope and good values. That was on the 23rd. It usually closes with an evening meal with those who are still in the house as well as those who are friends or are part of the extended family of Sabelani. In this instance, after the meeting, at the meal, I was introduced to the new girlfriend of Musa and also a girlfriend of Odwa. We concluded the evening (after the meeting) with our usual respect to the ancestors, usually with a bit of Jack Daniels, which has become very expensive, but this time we satisfied ourselves with a bit of Johnny Walker. I don’t think the ancestors were upset. It was too late for me to travel back to Mthatha at that time of night so I slept at Abbot Francis Home intending to head back to Mariannhill after Mass at the convent the next morning.

     After the Mass on Sunday morning, I said goodbye and hopped in the car for the trip back to Mariannhill. I won’t go into details here but when I got back home I realized that the small missal that I use for Mass at the hospital every day, was left behind, and the daily prayer book (breviary) too. Damn. Getting old. I organized another small missal here and was given an alternative prayer book by Bishop Lobinger, my neighbour, so I survived. However, on Friday the 29th, I had a memorial service for a lady who had passed away at the sisters guest house, Tre Fontane. Ha. Of course, I forgot to take my garb (Alb) with me.

    When I got up this morning, I had prepared some stuff for the postulant where I was to have Mass and on the way to the car, I wanted to pick up my alb (which usually hangs next to the front door, but it wasn’t there. I thought that I might have taken it to the chapel, but when I checked, it wasn’t there either. So, it was then that I realized that I had forgotten it at the Tre Fontane, in the sacristy there. OK, we will forget it since it is too early to find sister who has the key to the sacristy. (it was about 5:30 in the morning).

     On my way to the garage where my car sleeps, I pressed the remote but didn’t hear the usual squeak, and wondered why. When I opened the garage, I realized that there was no squeak because the battery was dead …again. Damn again (excuse the French). I had left the lights on for the whole night after I put the car in the garage before supper. The model is too old to remind you that you left the lights on . So, off we go, marching to the postulants, a hefty walk for a guy my age, but still possible. So we had Mass with the postulants, a bit late, with no alb, just a stole. No problem. I think the Mass was valid in any case.

    After Mass, I walked back to the Old Folks’ Home and, as I walked in the door, felt a call from the Lord to have a quick sit down session. So I just hung my jacket on a rail as I came in the door and headed for the throne room. After that I went to breakfast and explained about my dead battery and Bishop Lobinger volunteered to use his car to jump start mine. I have jumper cables. But then when I want to go out the door to push my dead vehicle out of the garage to a place where he can connect with me, I discover that I don’t have my keys to the house. Did I leave them in the door by mistake when I came in. I retrace my steps and to no avail.

    So we get the car started and I head for TreFontane to pick up my forgotten alb (it is, by now, a reasonable 9:45am). Hooray, it is there. On the way back, I get a phone call from Sr. Nokwanda that the sisters gave my small missal and breviary to the Father are Abbot Francis Home. So I phone Fr. Urs to ask him to fetch these things (his is presently in Mthatha, but is in charge of the Retreat House here at Marianhill) and bring them back when he comes back on Monday. Hooray. Three things accomplished. 1) battery charged.  2) Alb returned 3) the forgotten books will be returned on Monday (keep you fingers crossed). Now, the last things, the bloody keys. Where the heck could they have gone. Then, I check where I had quickly discarded my jacket and there they were on the floor right where they had fallen out of my pocket. So that is number 4. All accomplished. Thank you Lord.

     Bad start to the day, but it seems to be improving. Do some of you have similar experienced. Some call it AAADD. Age Activated Attention Deficite Disorder. I will explain that another time. Enough for now. I have an evening Mass in English at 5:30pm and it is now almost noon. And tomorrow, I have my usual 8am Zulu Mass at Savannah Park. A fancy name for a  spread out housing project, all hills. Have a great weekend if you still read this on Saturday.

Love and Peace, Cas.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

June 14, 2019

     Trump’s triumphant meeting with Kim John Un. Some thoughts. I am glad that, now, our attention will be turned to the World Cup in Russia, and he won’t be seen in the news with the frequency he has been the last weeks.

   First, I remember when I was released from prison in 1987, I spent almost a month in DC, mostly out of the office of our Michigan senator, Karl Levin, now retired. One of the visit I made was to the State Department to emphasize to them that no matter how they chose to see it, the fact was (as it turned out) that the ANC would be the next government (it was listed, at the time, as a terrorist organization). So, they had better start planning to meet the leaders and plan together for the future.

     I think it is out of the negotiators text book, that, one way or another, you have to meet your enemy, and do your negotiating. Shouting at each other, insulting each other, making fun of each other, brings no results. Getting together, as uncomfortable as that may be, is necessary.

     Trump likes to drive home to his fans, and to all those who are subjected to his photo ops, that he is the one who is responsible for forcing Kim (Rocket man) to the negotiating table, with his constantly increasing sanctions. However, he must have forgotten that the sanctions, no matter how heavy they got, didn’t stop Kim for testing his ballistic missiles, and trying to  miniaturize his nuclear bombs, until he was able to target any place in America. AS I see it, it was then that Kim could say, OK, now I am ready to meet and talk…in spite of all the sanctions and threats. Once he had this ace in his arsenal, he had some bargaining power and could afford to agree to a meeting with the very enemy who had threatened to annihilate him and the whole country (remember, we had an even bigger, nuclear button).

     There is no doubt that Kim won big in that meeting (nice words….they had all been said before…. But no real substance) since he (cold-blooded dictator that his is, with the blood on his hands of many, including members of his own family, and millions in prison, and millions more suffering starvation, etc. etc. etc.) was now seen by the whole world as an equal to the American president, unbelievable three weeks ago. What his father and grandfather only dreamed of, he managed, by pushing his nuclear program and ballistic missiles program.

     To see how Trump, who flayed his allies, especially Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron, not to mention the former presidents and their advisors (they were all stupid and he, genius that he is, used his super intelligence to accomplish what they were never , to accomplish), on the one hand (still fresh from the G6 +1 meeting) and then praising Kim to the skies and inviting this great young man to the White House. Holy Moses. I was getting sick watching all this.

     However, as I said in the beginning, I always believed that it is the only way to resolve anything, by sitting down and discussing with your worst enemy. I would have done it in a different way, though. I would have had private meetings with him, not covered by the news, so that things could be discussed and hammered out outside the glare of the cameras. Later, if something came of it, there might be some open news, but without a lot of fanfare (but I doubt of Trump would even think of that…he needs fanfare, and drama, and attention).

    It is ridiculous that, once the meeting was over, and he had taken credit for, unilaterally have engineered this meeting (you remember the on again, off again approach) that has now made the world safe from nuclear war. (Wow, what a jump forward.) It was also quite amazing that he could now quote, almost verbatim, Kim’s words that the military training exercises were provocative, by even calling them “war games”. Hey, whose side are you on? And besides that, his two Asian allies, who have most to lose if there is war between N.Korea and US, were never even consulted when it came to cancelling these training exercises, which keep their troops in tip top shape in case something happens, since they will be the first ones to experience the damage.

     From Kim the terrorist rocket man to Kim the hero for all the world to see, made possible through the unbelievable intelligence of Genius Trump.  Don’t you think that they both deserve a peace prize?


Otherwise, I have been busy with pastoral work, work in the garden (jungle),  and other odds and ends. Believe it or not I have been reading a book called “Saving Capitalism…for the many not the few” by Robert Reich. th he says that the more money you have (big companies and big banks, etc.) the more power you have to make new rules that will help you to get even more wealth, at the expense of those who don’t have money, and therefore, don’t have the power to make the rules of the game that lead to the obscenely rich and the increasing number of those in one or other degrees of poverty. Interesting.

    But I have to go now. I will continue when I get another break. See you later. Cas.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

May 29, 2019

     I received an update letter from a friend who is an actively retired Grail member (an organization that is dedicated to uplifting the status of women worldwide, based on Gospel values). Among other things that she shares, is a few words about the situation here in South Africa that she lives in an a few comments about some of the rural women that underwent her training and how they have thrived. Have a look:

“This is the world I live in. The world I work in is very different. South Africa’s ranking as an Upper Middle Income country, masks the fact that it is the most unequal, in terms of wealth distribution. SA’s developed North (cities and commercial farming areas) has built its wealth on the cheap labour of the underdeveloped South (rural, traditional, former Bantustan areas). The North continues to suck up the lion’s share of the country’s resources leaving the South almost as poor and undeveloped as it was in Apartheid times. SA’s Middle Income status, has development agencies leaving, including five of WLTP’s former funders. 

Irwin believes that we have spent much time trying to eradicate poverty without equally addressing wealth. He is a medical doctor who has worked for many decades on development and health issues. The real challenge, he says, is to focus on the role of the rich in creating poverty. Why do the very wealthy find it so difficult to share their wealth? He is presently consulting for the Atlantic Philanthropies Tekano Project. The founder, Charles (Chuck) Feeney has given away all his wealth while he is still alive. His biography, “The Billionaire who Wasn’t,” is waiting to be read

I work in a microcosm of the global economy in the Women’s Leadership and Training Programme (WLTP) which is based in SA’s underdeveloped Global South. We are trying to redress specific dimensions of inequality, including patriarchal oppression, by working with girls and young women. We have done well, opening up a very different world of knowledge, and possibilities for girls who now remain in school and continue on to tertiary studies. We are being recognised too. Our director, Sbongile Mtungwa, my friend and former house mate from way back, is an Atlantic Fellow. Two other staff members, Nqobile Masuku and Ntuh Xaba, are (Climate) Adaption Network Fellows. A third, Nomusa Mkhungo, did a presentation at the International Hornbill Conference in Sarawak, Malaysia last year. (This gave her a chance to connect with Samkele Mhlanga (Grail member) in Kuala Lumpur where she is the SA Ambassador.) Girls have travelled to the UN to talk at events organised by the Commission on the Status of Women and have attended UN Climate Change Conferences of Parties. Ntuh represented the Adaptation Network at the Climate Change COP 23 in Bonn last year (This gave her a chance to connect with German Grail members). Seven of us, four staff members and three girls recently travelled to the Birdlife SA “Flock on the West Coast” at Langebaan, north of Cape Town. During the Learning About Birds (LAB) conference, we won the prize for the best 5 minute speed talk. (See the attachment) All of these trips are fed by and in turn feed into our work on the ground in the Global South of Centocow, Hlokozi and KwaMashu.” 

On my part I have been thinking cynical thoughts (again) about our Genius Trump and how he could so casually throw in the garbage the Iran Nuclear Deal. The hard work and sharp intelligence of teams of people from 6 different nations, over a period of two years, were able to come to a satisfactory solution regarding the nuclear program of Iran. But, Genius Trump, knows better than all those silly, stupid minds that wasted their time on this useless and worse decision (so he thinks). He is definitely a special creature of God, but I don’t think that we should blame God.

The on again, off again, meeting with Kim Jong Un, I think was deliberate. It kept the attention focused on him, which he loves, and it makes North Korea look as though it has to grovel in front of him because they really want to have this meeting (take away the economic sanctions). Not to mention the South Korean leader, who was never even consulted regarding several meetings that Trump or his team had. As though it really doesn’t make any difference to South Korea if there is or isn’t a meeting. And, of course, if there should be an outbreak of war, guess who would be the first target. Diplomacy 101 would be beyond him.

But let’s take a look at some other things that Cas has been up to during this month of May.

May 5…There was a mens’ Braii ( a cookout) to which I was invited at St. Paul’s parish where I help out from time to time. It was a good time for informal questioning and answering of questions that are on these guys minds, with, maybe a bottle of beer or a glass of gin or scotch in hand to loosen the tongue. Is marriage fading out of the picture? What about divorce and re-marriage and taking communion? How about our teaching about abortion? ( actually, I don’t support abortion at all, however, I challenge those who march against abortion on the premise of being respectful of all life. Why is it that there is no follow up after the non-aborted child arrives on this earth, only to die before the age of 5 because no one cares after the child is born. Malnutrition, diseases, etc. things that could easily be tackled, but most anti-abortion activists end their respect for life there. There is no follow up for those children, many if not most of whom (in our part of the world) will be dead, after suffering a lot before they die. There must be a follow up if we are truly pro-life. Lots of other things also came up like the kids today who don’t bother much with church any more. They don’t see it’s relevance. They are good kids and want to make this a better world but don’t think that it is necessary, or maybe even desirable to be part of a church. What would you answer?

    We have been following up with our fund-raising efforts with several meetings trying to get a more accurate estimate of what this building will cost (bricks, blocks, cement, doors, roof, costs of the municipality approving plans, etc. etc. etc. ) we had the contractor and some others come out for an onsite visit to be able to see what has to be done as a preliminary before the building itself. We will need a bull dozer to do some levelling and a Back Hoe for some serious digging for pipes and foundations. How are we going to pay for this? Where are we going to connect the water and sewage and electricity? Etc. etc. etc. I am taking a guess that the cost in the end will be somewhere around R700,00 to R800,00 Rands ( that is about $80,000). Actually it is beer money in America, if you think how much it costs to build an ordinary house. This church is going to hold about 150 people and will have some toilets, a room for a caretaker, a couple of spare rooms, and a small kitchen. Anyway, as daunting as it seems right now *( we are a very poor community) we soldier on putting our trust in the Lord. I hope he notices.

    I have been taking the Masses at the hospital every Mon to Fri. even though the government had taken over the administration of the hospital. Some of the sisters and nurses come at the 6 am Mass. During the day, others pop in for a time for some quiet prayer, not just Catholics, but anyone.

     May 11

 I attended a meeting, workshop at the Botanical Gardens in Durban of soy bean farmers. What used to be the monastery farm, has been taken over by a soy bean project with the hope that Africans can benefit from the very healthy Protein source that soy beans are, especially as they will be forced to eat less and less meat (most Africans are carnivores, like me) because it is just getting too expensive. Some of you have heard of Edamane. Well, that’s what they are producing and they are encouraging local African farmers to grow the soy beans, sell them to the project, which in turn will find a market for them, or use them (seeds) themselves processing them for the market in stores around here. I listened to presentations by African who explained how to grow soy beans, what fertilizer to use, best time to plant, how to use the project to make some profit, etc. etc. etc. and the complicated procedure to prepare the seeds for sale in the stores. Very interesting.

   ( I just heard my cell phone making funny noises and checked to see what it was all about. It was a story about a priest who was having an affair with a nun, who decided to end the affair, so he shot her. How’s that for a nice juicy story. Catholic priest shoots Catholic nun after ending an affair. Wow. Newspapers will be sold by the thousands. And the poor bishop. Now what must he do. While those who are against the Catholic Church will be licking their lips. I am sorry for both of them and will pray for them. As for the priest, his days as a priest are definitely numbered but I hope that his conscience brings him around to asking for forgiveness. Whether or not he asks, and or received, forgiveness, he will be haunted by this action for the rest of his life.

May 13..Mother’s day. I said Mass at St. Paul’s parish (mostly so-called Colored and Indian with a sprinkle of Whites). The pastor (parish priest, we say) is not well and joined me but sat through the Mass because his legs are giving him serious problems… several operations, mostly to get some circulation going there). We were invited (we priests—honorary mothers for the day I guess) to join the mothers who were wined and dined by their husbands with a champagne breakfast. Very nice. However, I was wondering if this could possibly be a con, because they do this breakfast act for one day and the other 364 days the wife gets to do the job. Hmmmm.

May 15…I paid a visit to the dentist (Sr. Michael). I have been having some trouble with a couple of upper molars and one of them might need a root canal. But that is very expensive, I think. So she said check and see. There were three options, 1. Root canal   2. Antibiotics to calm down the infection at the root of the tooth   3. Get rid of the tooth.

Hmmm. I am trying to hang on to what I have got and don’t want to lose any if I don’t really have to .

So a friend talked to his friend who is a dentist and I saw him a week ago and again yesterday (May 28) and he decided that the full cost of a root canal would be R2500, that would be, at current exchange rates, about $230.00.

And that would include 3 sessions to check out what was possible and how to go about it before actually doing it. He decided to try an anti-biotic first and, after a week, have another look and see where to go from there. I saw him yesterday and he filled anther tooth and decided that there was no rush to do a root canal, if it would be necessary at all. If it doesn’t give any more trouble, let the sleeping dog lie. I agree, but I want to make sure that all is well before I head for the States next year. I don’t want any surprises along the way.

May 18…. The Cardinal (Wilfed Fox Napier) came to the hospital for a special thanksgiving Mass for all the years that the St. Mary’s Hospital, as a Catholic hospital, served this community (now numbering more than a million people.)

I was told to sit in front with the cardinal in the middle and the provincial on the other side. The Provincial gave a very good talk going back over the history of the hospital and the many challenges they faced and overcame to the point where the government now takes over.  Many of the speakers (health dept., chief, hospital administrator) had either been trained as nurses here at St. Mary’s (their tutor was also sitting in front) or, like the chief, was actually born here, or had been treated here for one reason or another. It was gratifying to hear this, but I doubt if there will be much follow up if I judge by what happened when the government took over other hospitals. Somehow the spirit goes out. I was given honorary mention since I come almost every day for a service (Mass ) to pray for the patients and staff. Don’t want to lose the connection with God. I am not ready for canonization…..yet.  Ha.

Quite a few people have come for help of one kind or another (fixing the house, roof, or whatever, school fees, no money for food (the social welfare dept. just didn’t give the grant this month and maybe won’t give the grant again next month---I would like to shoot those guys) or transport, or funeral expenses, etc. etc. etc.  They thank me profusely but I tell them that I will thank those who put some change into the socio-pastoral purse to be used for just such things, e.g. you guys. So please accept the thanks and gratefulness for the help you offer them when they are caught in a serious pinch.

I also visited a few families in the evening. I call it “informal evangelization”. We talk about a lot of things and thank the Lord for the friendship that we celebrate when we come together. Thanks to the good work of our community leader at Savannah Park, Mike Pillay, he organizes communion  to the sick (maybe 5 or 6 people), who are house bound and who are soooo grateful that someone thinks to bring the Lord to them in communion since they are no longer able to walk to church.

May 25…. We celebrated the 80th birthday of Sr. Agnes who has a ministry to the German community. She had cancer ( I think around the throat) and was not able to talk for some time but is seems that it is gone and she continues her work. We sang happy birthday, and may she have many more.

I also visited several people in the hospital. Sometimes there is no priest to visit and people feel a bit abandoned. It is always nice to be remembered, especially when you are so vulnerable.

I have not been cutting grass with the weed eater lately, since the grass has not been growing so much, but I have been working for a couple of hours a day in our “garden”, for lack of a better word. Lots of thorn trees that grow like crazy and come over the fence so that you can hardly walk there. I attack them viciously and they counter attack just as viciously. I have to be careful when I take a shower not to get blood spots on the white shower towel.

In between, I have also prepared a brochure for the wedding I will be taking in CapeTown in early November, and have been doing some remote preparation of my itinerary for next year’s home leave. I plan a year ahead of time so that I don’t miss anyone un-nececessarily.

I think that that is enough for now. Let me say “bye!”  Take care and and know that I love you all and you are ever pleasant on my mind. Cas

Sunday, May 20, 2018

May 20, 2019

The announcement of the canonization of Archbishop Romero, long over due, has finally been made. Amen!

ROME - Pope Francis has chosen the date for the ceremony that will see the Catholic Church officially recognize the sainthood of Pope Paul VI and Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, who was martyred as he was celebrating Mass: They will be canonized on Oct. 14, 2018.

The highly anticipated announcement was made on Saturday, during an ordinary public consistory, meaning a meeting of the pope, cardinals and the promoters of sainthood causes.

The October ceremony, to be celebrated by Francis, will be in Rome, during the Synod of Bishops on the youth that will take place from October 3 to 28, 2018.

    Also, yesterday, was the marriage of Meghan Markle to Prince Harry (now the Duke and Dutchess of  Sussex). I was reminded when Meghan told of the time when she was given a form to fill out asking to which race she belonged. She said she didn’t know what to answer (she was in the 7th grade, probably about 13 yrs. Old) so she left it blank. I had a similar experience when I was asked to report to the Special Branch office in Umthatha some years back. It seems that they had lost some papers and wanted me to fill in some forms again (these government departments seem to have a habit of losing things, Hmmm.). One of the questions on the form was the same as the question they asked Meghan, to what race I belonged. I was a bit older that she, so I knew how to answer. I said: HUMAN. I belong to the HUMAN RACE. They were a bit puzzled by this answer as it was, obviously not what they expected, so they asked why I answered that way. I said it was because in the country where I come from they don’t ask that question (was that a lie?). They said, well, what country do you come from. I said America. So they told me to put “American” race. Which I did. So now it is official, in the archives. I am officially a member of the American Race, whatever that is.

     While I am here, let me comment  on Nikki Haley’s extortionistic warnings to the members of the European Union and others who have dealing with Iran, that, if they don’t vote with America on the issues that are dealt with in the United Nations, they will be punished by having action taken against them perhaps in the form of tariffs, or even cutting off their financial ties with America. What rubbish (garbage). That is out and out bribery and extortion. Who can do that. It reminds me of the saying that we used to have as kids, when we wanted to pick a both sides of a team to play a game (it was usually American football at the time), the one who provided the ball was the one who made the rules. If we didn’t agree with him, he simply said he was going home and taking his ball with him. She is worse than childish. And her support for the Israeli sharpshooters using live ammunition to shoot at and kill unarmed Palestinian people (some of them were throwing rocks, which is terribly threatening as we know to the security of the country of Israel) is sickening. She says she speaks for us Americans. She doesn’t speak for me and I doubt for any fair minded Americans, what she says is true. She speaks for herself and for the powerful Jewish lobby which heavily supports the Republican party with hefty donations. At least that is how I see it.

    There was a program on TV, Al Jazeera, explaining the background of the Palestinian situation. One of the episodes talked of a meeting that the Zionists had, I believe, in New York, where they made it clear that their intention for the planned new country of Israel was to take over the whole of what was then Palestine including the TransJordanian territory. With what it happening in the West Bank, the continuing building of new housing projects, on Palestinian land, and what is happening in Gaza, with the bombing of schools, hospitals, water supplies and electricity supplies, you can see that this is the fulfilment of what they had decided at that meeting. The original intention was to send all the Palestinians to Iraq. But History has gone in a different direction.

     I repeat, Nikki Haley, certainly doesn’t speak for me, as an American, and I think what she says is a lie, except for the Jewish lobby and the right wing Christians who are the base for Mr. Trump. Amen for today.

May 19, 2019

   Another shooting at a school in Santa Fe Texas, 10 dead, others in hospital. More mealy mouthed words from Trump who seems to worship at the church of the NRA. Here’s what Governor Cuomo of New York had to say and I agree with him 200%

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo slammed the President in an open letter shared in wake of the school shooting.

"When is enough enough? How many more innocent people have to die before you act? Cuomo wrote. "You were elected to lead - do something. Your first responsibility is to the people of this country, not the NRA - do something. My heart breaks for the families who have to grieve from this needless violence - DO SOMETHING."

Friday's shooting marks the third in just a week's time. On Wednesday, a 19-year-old from Illinois emerged from the bathroom at Mason Dixon High School and opened fire as students rehearsed for graduation in the gym, nearby. He was arrested after being injured in a gunfire exchange with School Resource Officer Mark Dallas, who has been lauded as a hero for ending the attack.

On May 11, a 14-year-old boy began shooting a semiautomatic rifle before class began at the High School that day. He was arrested on attempted murder charges for the attack, which left one wounded.

At the end of January, two students were killed and 14 were wounded by gunfire when a student opened fire before classes began at Marshall Count High School in Western Kentucky. Gabriel Ross, who was 15 at the time, was arrested and charged with 14 counts of assault. Less than a month later, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz unleashed a hail of bullets at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 and injuring more than a dozen.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

April 14, 2018

      I have been thinking (that could be dangerous) lately about Trumps keeping his promises even if they are hurtful and damaging to our allies and to the world as a whole except to his faithful sycophants.

He like to take credit for anything good, like the stock market when it goes up, but silence when it goes down. He took credit for the release (big public exercise) of the three Americans of Korean descent (Obama had had released 11 Americans but never trumpeted it about). But it was  a bit too much when, in so many words, he thanked and praised Trump for the nice way he treated these prisoners. It was interesting to watch the look on the faces of the other two (one was waving his hands, I am sure, only too happy to be free, no time to quibble now) who looked stony faced in response to this unbelievable statement. Torture is the name of the game, not beautiful treatment.

But especially when it comes to his taking credit for bringing Kim Jong Un to the point where he was willing to sit down and talk. I think there must be a lapse of memory when we recall that each time Un fired off another rocket or tested another atomic device, more sanctions were put in him. It didn’t stop him. He fired a few more, and more sanctions, and name calling, but it didn’t stop him. Even when China got in the act and boycotted 60% of the goods that go to NK from China. That didn’t stop him. He kept on testing his missiles until he finally got on that would go all the way to Los Angeles or even Washington DC, and could be fitted with a nuclear warhead. Now he had the deterrent he wanted and felt that he needed, so now he was prepared to sit down and talk. Ha. Maybe that was forgotten in all the praises and plaudits of Trump how he, and he alone, through his tough policies got Kim to the conference table. I am of the mind that it was really when Kim felt that he had some Aces in his hand that he was not prepared to talk. I may be wrong but I feel that Trump is a bit too quick to take all the credit for this upcoming event.

     I also wonder what Trump is going to say to Kim as a guarantee that he will stick with whatever agreement is made. Kim can easily say, why should they trust the US agreements when they have so many recent examples of breaking agreements (NAFTA, PTT, PARIS ACCORD, IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL, etc.  He keeps his promises to his supporters at home, but breaks his promises to all his friends abroad. What the heck is going on. No one, I repeat , no one, will ever trust any agreements that they make with America. We have recent events as proof that America can’t be trusted.  How nice. Thank you Mr. Trump.

   Here is something else that has been irritating me…. The gun control debate. Can you image the proposal that Trump made to the school kids and the school teachers as a solution to the security in schools, that every teacher should have a gun. Holy Moses. Maybe I am mad but rather than being a solution, it seems to me to be pouring oil on the fire. I would probably be afraid to attend a school where I knew that every teacher (some get under stress from time to time) knowing that the teacher who is teaching me had a gun ready to be used. Wow!

    Listen to what Sr. Joan Chittister says.

And a little child shall lead them

Young people are leading the way against US gun violence

Mar 19, 2018

This article appears in the Gun Violence feature series. View the full series.

Students choose to leave class and gather near the U.S. Capitol in Washington to demand stricter gun laws March 14 during the National School Walkout. (CNS/Reuters/Jim Bourg)

Between 1900 and 2018, there have been at least 146 protest marches and rallies, gatherings of people to express their social and political views, in Washington, D.C. It is a time-honored American way of making sure that the government "hears" the people, their passion and their political aspirations. The First Amendment allows this kind of speech, and the government protects it.

Now we have another protest brewing, the national March for Our Lives, which is being led by students. This First Amendment display of complaint is to protest the use of the Second Amendment to protect the widespread availability of military-style weapons on American streets.

It's difficult to tell exactly what is driving the student anti-gun demonstrations that are taking place all across the country: It may, of course, be the actions of the most recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 14 of their classmates and three of the school's staff members dead and another 14 of them wounded.

On the other hand, it may equally be the non-action of adults. Since the shootings at Columbine in 1999, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, and the 50 other mass murders or attempted mass murders at schools since then — 17 of them by children under the age of 15 — not one piece of national legislation has been passed to either stop the shootings or protect the victims, though some has at the state level.

According to an FBI report in 2016, 129 victims, most of them children, died in other schools before Parkland. (Not to mention the more than 1,600 other mass shootings of adult gatherings that left 1,800 dead and more than 6,400 wounded as of 2018.) Certainly, the reason for the reaction in Florida is clear and — we might even safely say — overdue.

Since no one else is doing anything about it, the young people have taken it upon themselves. They lay the responsibility directly at the feet of the politicians who define themselves as the guardians of the democracy. The students' March for Our Lives on Washington, D.C., scheduled for March 24, defines three issues for resolution: age restrictions on gun purchase, a ban on assault-style weapons, and the demilitarization of police forces.

The point is that we now have two tragedies here: the first is the mounting numbers of deaths in classrooms, the second is the seeming political indifference to it. Where being re-elected in a country obsessed with guns is obviously more important than protecting schoolchildren, politicians have refused to regulate the sale of guns by either age or category.

As a result young people can get a gun in the United States before they get a diploma and with it the hoped-for control it takes to decide how and when to use it. Worse, adults argue back at student activists with a straight face that taking military-style weapons off the streets would violate the Second Amendment rights of sportsmen — translation: of deer and rabbit hunters mostly. The adult arguments clearly do not persuade: "Protect children, not guns" one of the protest signs says, as students walk through city streets in protest.


Whatever the reason for ignoring the call for gun control, the disease of indifference is now being compounded by the unwillingness of even some school administrators and state officials to support last week's student walk-outs designed to demonstrate local solidarity on gun issues.

The problem is a delicate one but one that is easily solved: Yes, children belong in classrooms … unless or until we want them at a larger school event, or a national academic event, or athletic events, or some kind of competition somewhere else. Then they can be easily dismissed and all in the name of education. Or in the name of authority, of course, as in "it depends on who told them they were allowed to go."

In this current situation, over 2,500 schools registered to participate in these public exercises in democracy, civics, social justice and moral development. If there were ever a teaching moment, these schools seem to realize, this is surely it.

But for some administrators, for a few schools, the calendar and the authority questions have taken precedence over education. The question is why? And so what?

Why, when as educators we preach the power of civic involvement, would this not be the ideal time to teach the place of people power in a democracy, the number of times the legislative process has begun in the streets rather than in a committee, a commission, or even a Congress. Enshrined by the U.S. Constitution from our earliest days, protest rallies have allowed people to express opinion and call for action on issues as different as women's suffrage, immigration, public assistance, civil rights, peace in Vietnam, abolition of abortion, equal rights for women, nuclear disarmament, LGBT rights, and an end to gun violence. Among other things. And all of those protests surely took time from the regular schedules, jobs, and educational activities of hundreds of thousands of people of all ages and states of life. They have changed America.

Kira K. shows the shirt she revealed March 14 while standing in silence for 17 minutes by herself during math class in support of the National School Walkout that day at 10 a.m. The shirt lists the names of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida. (Provided photo)

From where I stand, it is clear to me that solidarity with that kind of concern has always been the backbone of this country. In an era when the very foundation of democracy is under pressure, when peace needs a voice in a violent country, when rational protest is meant to precede angry moves toward radicalism, our young people are walking in the best of the tradition. Surely there is a way for education to make both solidarity and public witness, freedom of conscience and moral development possible without threatening, intimidating and punishing students because they have the passion for something we should have but do not.

The memories of young people in anguish over Vietnam — the marches, the drum beats, the reading of the names of the dead — finally awakened the conscience of the nation. It was an exercise, I realized later, in coming to understand the truth of "and a little child shall lead them." I can't believe that class assignments, class discussion, class participation and class schedules couldn't be organized to make that possible again before it spills over into more pain.

Most of all, I am grateful for the schools made that possible before the next shooting comes and really disrupts our children's neat curriculums and nice daily schedules. That kind of education may well protect this country from itself. Again. In fact, it might even make America great again.

[Joan Chittister is a Benedictine sister of Erie, Pennsylvania.]

Editor's note: We can send you an email alert every time Joan Chittister's column, From Where I Stand, is posted to Go to this page and follow directions: Email alert sign-up.

In the meantime, I have been reflecting on the readings for the two feasts we just celebrated, one being a reminder that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. The other is what we celebrated yesterday, the Ascension.

The story about the vine and the branches reminds us that the gardener (God) prunes those branches that are already bearing good fruit to make them bear even more fruit. I thought that maybe when something bad or challenging happens, it is like God pruning that person, a good person, to be even better. For example. I was dancing two Saturdays ago with a young woman (maybe 40 yrs. Old) who was born with disfigured hands and feet. With much perseverance and many ops, she managed to overcome this disability and I was able to even dance with her. If she had been born like any other normal little girl, she would have grown up and no one would have paid special attention to her. But because of her struggle to get herself right, a very painful and challenging struggle, people who observed, where touched and inspired by her, e.g. she was bearing much more fruit than would ordinarily have been the case. Do you get what I am driving at. What may seem to be a disaster, a car accident, a life-threatening bout with cancer, being accidentily infected with AIDS, etc. etc. etc. may be the cause of deep thinking and reflecting, along and with others, that begins to bear much more fruit than if such disastrous things had never happened on ones’ life.

    As for the Ascension, I can imagine what the Apostles felt when Jesus said, I did what I had to do, now I am going home to be with my Father, where I came from. You know what I am all about and how your lives were changed, now I leave it up to you to go out and let others know that this is what life is all about. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. Our world seems to be going in the opposite direction. But what boggles my mind is that he TRUSTS us. He knows how dumb and weak we are, but he gives us, through the Apostles and their successors and the whole Christian community, the task to bringing this good news to THE WHOLE WORLD. Holy Moses. You can imagine their consternation. Us, you trust us with this unbelievable task. Are you mad. And, on top of that, you are leaving us. We counted on you. What are we going to do now without you. Scared to death. Depressed. Overwhelmed. Then, Jesus says, I know how you feel so  I will send you the Holy Spirit who will help you, teach you, empower you, etc. so don’t be afraid. For you who are not believers or who are not Christians, this gives and idea what a good believing Christian is about.

 But that is enough for now for you to chew on. I am having some trouble with my teeth and will be seeing my dentist tomorrow (Sr. Michael Klosson, CPS). I hope that she can continue to salvage what is left. Ha.

Love and Peace, Cas.