1988 June 20 – 14th Sun Ord Time (Prison Writings)

1988 June 20 – 14th Sun Ord Time (Prison Writings)

Cycle B

Mk 6, 1 – 6


Dear Friends:



When I was in the seminary at Aquinas Institute in Dubuque, I spent my first summer with a Black and a Puerto Rican Parish in the South Bronx. It was my first real experience of large-scale poverty and social injustice. I was convinced by my experiences that if the only poverty in the world existed in the South Bronx that because of my faith in Jesus Christ, it was too much and that for the rest of my life I must be about changing such conditions. Of course, the South Bronx has only a small fraction of the poverty that exists in the U.S.A. and the poverty in the U.S.A. is only the tip of the iceberg to the poverty and injustice that exist in the rest of the world.

That summer I also discovered I ain’t Black or Puerto Rican. I am a white middle class educated Catholic male from the Midwest. Whatever I was going to do about the problems of poverty and social injustice will be done from that perspective. I left the South Bronx anxious to find a ‘way’ in which l could live out the challenge of the Gospel with integrity and faithfulness.

While spending my January internship with Bishop Dingman, I read William Miller’s book, A Harsh and Dreadful Love. It was the story of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement. I knew after reading Miller’s book that I had found the “way” I was looking for.  Within a year and a 1/2, I was in Des Moines helping to start the Des Moines Catholic Worker.

True prophets do not come from outside the community. They come from within. They are people who have a deep and abiding love for the people and traditions in which they speak.  Prophets aren’t so much seers into the future as they are seers of the present. They are people who can see clearly things, as they are when most cannot see at all or dimly at best. And, they see the world from the perspective of God. Because of this, the communities they serve rarely appreciate them. Phil Berrigan once wrote, “The poor tell us who we are and the prophets tell us who we should be. That is why we hide the poor and kill the prophets.”



Monday we celebrate our nation’s birthday, our Independence Day! We would be hard pressed to find a more sightless age in our nation’s history. Ignorance, hypocrisy, arrogance and corruption have the upper hand in so many aspects in our nation’s life. Now more than ever we are in need of clear-sighted people. We are in need of true prophets.  People from our own ranks who have a great love for their own and the nation. We need prophets who see things as they are, who are close to the poor and know their suffering, prophets who know the mind of God and are not afraid tospeak the truth to the “Powers That Be”.

Such prophets exist today. Each age has their own. The Holy Spirit provides them. Do we know who they are? How well do we treat them?



88 06 20

A LONG HOT SUMMER. As I write this, we are entering the first days of summer – officially. I say officially because we have been feeling the effects of the regional drought for better than a month. The grass is already burnt out and the ground as hard as a brick. Marion is traditionally a hot spot during the summers, being 130 miles southeast of St. Louis. The drought conditions have only added to the heat. With the overcrowded conditions of the camp, it looks like it will be a long hot summer indeed!

Whatever suffering I experience because of the heat I lift up to the Lord for you who are suffering also in one of the hottest and driest summers in 50 years! Lord Send Us Relief!




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