This was the question that came to me in prayer and out of the blue the story of 47 year old Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon, Randy Pausch, came to my mind. As you may know, Randy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer with 10 metastatic tumors infiltrating his liver, and he was given 3 to 6 months to live. He had small children and wanted to give his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon to leave it as a form of advice for them who would grow up without him. The lecture was given on December 20, 2007. He died on July 25, 2008.
Once this idea suddenly came I decided to listen to the entire lecture via Internet. He seemed not to have any religion since at the beginning he said, “Do not expect me to come and say that I had a religious experience before I die.” He brought some points to have in mind as we go through life, and for course, this intended for his little kids. He said, “There will be brick walls in your life but always show dedication; brick walls only stop those who do not want it bad enough. Show gratitude. Do not complain – just work hard. Find the best in everybody. How you live your life if in the right way, your karma will take care of the rest. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. Never lose the child like wonder. Help others. Loyalty is a two way street. When it comes to man – ignore what they say and pay attention to what they do! Tell the truth. Apologize when you screw up. Be earnest. Focus on others, not yourself.”
As you can see, there are a few items in the previous list worth pondering upon. At this point, I realized that God was calling me to write a blog as if I had 3-6 months to live. What would I say to my grandkids that are little? And of course, God exploded with ideas through the entire month. I was amazed… I learned so much! So, this time around, I am going to basically show you day by day in a calendar sequence how He came with different topics. At the end, I will write a summary of what I think would be the POINTS learned and as Randy did. However, I am doing it this way because you may want to read all the stories as the Lord sent them and come to your own conclusions as to what would you say if you knew that you are going to die soon. The blog will be long… Again? Sorry!.
But before I continue and as you will see in this particular blog I take many notes as God leads me to, and at the end I must summarize what I learned. However, these notes come up at all different times and by the time I review them all, I could miss some good ones. For example, in the last blog I enumerated many things that God has done since the times of the creation of earth and galaxies, as examples of what God can do with His infinite Power since for Him all things are possible. Yet, I missed to write about something that was in my notes, and which is very comparable to the parting of the Red Sea or the Jordan River in the times of Moses and Joshua, and it is the Eternal Word Television Network. God put it together. Yes, He found the right servant who said yes and showed dedication to the Word that needed to be spread in a Catholic context. However, I am sure that she did not know when she started the height, breadth and width of such enterprise.
Miss Rita Rizzo known now as Mother Angelica today trusted that He would do it. Her faith moved mountains. Yet, God did it because for Him nothing is impossible! In this time of social networking, we needed this bastion of communication to be ready to bring the Good News, but more… We needed to become universal… We know we are a universal Church but never were able to measure it, to taste it at the touch of a button, like having the Vatican events LIVE as they happen; or being part of installations of new Bishops in the U.S.A.; or being up with the latest of the U.S.C.C.B. biannual meetings, with reports that are exactly what they said and not what the pagan media wants to print. Also, the lives of the Saints are not just stories in books but they are “images” that we can remember better in our brains whose memory sites work better with images….!
So now that I have done this correction, let’s start with a summary of my notes jotted daily and the learning experience of this past month of February! Since there was an event from last month that I did not add on purpose either in order to shorten the previous blog, I will mention it first. As it turned out, it is essential to hear again some details of the topic because it belongs to this month’s subject matter. God has sent us all kinds of prophets as you shall see. It is so important to review our past history and use what we learned as a lesson not to be repeated, especially when it comes to our spiritual conversion! What a great world we could have if only we truly learned about the mistakes of the past in order to avoid the future ones!
Monday January 17, 2011.
Oprah Winfrey’s show dealt with racism and Martin Luther King (January 22, 1929 – April 1968 when he was fatally wounded by a bullet). In 1987 she did a show in Forsyth County, 30 miles north of Atlanta, GA where there were no African Americans living in it for the last 75 years. In this sort of town hall meeting, one man said, “I am here to represent this County and keep it white.” Another said, “Blacks and Niger’s are different. Blacks are no so terrible. Niger’s are trouble makers.” A third person said, “There is one God. We should work to unite blacks and whites together.” However, as of January 2011, there are 7,329 African Americans living in Forsyth County, which is one of the richest counties in America! Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) non violence message stood the test… God won!
MLK said in 1965, “The time is always right to do what is right.” The program started showing photos of the 9 black students who in September of 1957 were sent to integrate Little Rock High School in Arkansas. The Governor called the National Guard not to protect the students but to block their entrance. They finally entered through a side door and their calvary just began. Their fellow students mistreated them in many ways. The nine students appeared in this 1987 show and recounted the horrors. They remembered that some teachers were helpful; others were indifferent and yet others were beyond indifference. (How important it was for me to realize that we in our Church can also do the same to Christ the King.)
President Eisenhower sent more than 1,000 members of the Air Force to escort the nine students because a white mob had formed starting a riot… Some of the white students had ropes around their shoulders signifying that they were ready to hang a Niger. They chanted, “2-4-6-8 we do not want to integrate.” Three of these students came to apologize in 1987. The recounted how their families had placed these ideas in their brain. (For us today, this is a huge lesson in parenting… Parenting should be an action of the Holy Spirit in our families… Do we pray for it?)
They showed the clip where MLK was talking at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 and as he said, “I have a dream that my little children one day will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” He also said, “God created one race, the human race. Humans created racism!” Another of his sayings was, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
The show continued recalling that on March 3 of 1991 (exactly 20 years ago) a jury found L.A. policemen not guilty in the beating of Rodney King. The show then rehashed more words from MLK that could connect with this event. “We have some difficult things ahead. We must forever conduct our strength with a high plane of dignity and discipline. We must never allow our protests to degenerate into physical violence. The most powerful energy available to oppressed people as they struggle for freedom and justice is the weapon of non violence. I am tired of violence. I have seen too much of it.”
In another story but in the 2011 show, a man came to talk about how he was devastated when his daughter became pregnant with a biracial child. When the baby was born he was sure he would not even look at him. In time, this child who was not a racist, loved his grandpa very much and his grandpa loved him back (notice how the innocence and love of a child can move mountains). His grandson is now 26 years of age, married and with children. In recent years, grandpa and grandma decided to adopt 2 black teenagers because their racism had been healed by the love of a child…
They quoted MLK with statements that relate to the above story. 1967: “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” (Please keep this in mind. It struck me profoundly that it is the same imagery of a child like the Bambino Jesus who came to heal the world with His love… Later, I will tell you a story in my own life related to this point. It also reminded me of St Francis of Assisi prayer: “Where there is hatred, let me sow love…!)
MLK. February 4, 1968. “Recognize that he who is the greatest among you shall be your servant; by giving that definition of who is the greatest, it only means that, everyone can be great because everyone can serve. You do not need a college degree to serve. You do not have to know about Plato or Aristotle to serve. You do not have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You only need a heart full of grace solely generated by love. You can be that servant.”
The Revered Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prophet. Had he been a Roman Catholic he would be canonized today. His message is universal and the Truth applies to all of us. This entire story can be translated into our daily lives, to our biases, to our tendency to dislike those who disagree with us. It also defines the character of our Mother in heaven who was all those things that MLK underlined. It applies also to our need to become children who normally give love and expect love back from whomever. Jesus was clear about it, “Unless you become like little children, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” MLK’s words are even louder right now where violence reigns in several countries east of us. In some cases, the protests were non violent but the autocratic governments incited violence.
Sunday, January 30.
Egypt continues in turmoil. It started in Tunisia and has spread to Yemen.
Monday January 31. While praying the Rosary at home I was led to read X page of the Bible: John 20. Mary Magdalene was chosen to alert the Apostles about the Resurrection of Jesus just because she PERSISTED and on Sunday morning she had gone to the tomb and found the stone gone. After telling the Apostles, Peter and John came and entered the tomb to find only His clothing. They left in a hurry. She persisted again and stayed and this allowed her to encounter the person of Jesus…What about if Mary Magdalene had quit her persistent attitude and left after Peter and John? What about it? Of course, empowered by this encounter, she ran to them again and said, “I have seen the Lord.” It is also interesting that Jesus makes a point with Mary Magdalene. He announced His upcoming ascension into heaven but says, “I am going to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.” Wow! He wants Mary Magdalene to truly feel part of His family. If we only always believed that our Dad is our Dad and truly our Father in heaven as the Our Father says…!
I went to midday Mass and in church I was sent to my little Bible: Luke 2… The Shepherds were told about this baby born in Bethlehem… They could have remained informed, but instead, decided to act… and they WENT and found Him. Once they met Him in person, they ran to tell others… Wow… This day I had a clear picture about evangelization and right from the Scriptures. Mary Magdalene encountered Jesus as an adult; the shepherds encountered Jesus as a child and both parties ran to tell others. So, PERSISTENCE in seeking God led to meeting the person of Jesus… If this were my last blog I should write: “Persistence is one of the most important ingredients to encounter Christ and to be equipped to run and tell others about Him and about His message, because we all are a family of the Trinity and all have been sent forth to say, ‘I have seen the Lord.’ ”
Tuesday, February 1.
On this day I made a conscious decision to attend a 10 AM funeral of someone I knew briefly in order to avoid the parking lot crowds before the daily noon Mass. Later, I will write about our parish daily Masses attendance. Of course God had another agenda for me. The person in question was a 54 year old woman and housekeeper of the Rectory and Church in my parish. She died suddenly after minor surgery and was always so accommodating when I needed to use the bathroom if she was cleaning them. She would immediately stop what she was doing and allowed me to use one of them. Some 3 months before, I told her that I would offer the upcoming daily Noon Mass for her because of her generosity. She started to cry. I learned at her funeral that she was a wonderful religious person. Five other priests were concelebrating with my Pastor who had returned from India the day before from visiting his family.
During the sharing’s done at the end of the Mass about her life, I realized that God was actually calling me to reflect in the possibility of my own death at any moment. Would I be prepared for s sudden death? I also comprehended one more time how much I desire to go home… While meditating in all these possibilities, I suddenly realized that Diane Huerta’s funeral and sudden death were tied up with the title of this blog.
Saturday February 5.
A. On this date EWTN aired the Mass of Dec. 8, 2010 in Green Bay, WI. This Mass was celebrated by Bishop David O. Ricken to declare the apparition of Our Lady to a lay woman on October 19, 1859, Adele Brice from Belgium as true. I was doubly interested since the following day we were to have the Super Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers… It turned to be a message I needed to hear from this apparition, which would relate with the story I was ready to watch that same day as you will see in part B.
Our Lady dressed in white said to Adele: “I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners and you should do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well, but you must do more. Make a general confession and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners. Gather children of this wild territory and teach them what they should know about their salvation; teach them the catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross and how to approach the Sacraments. That is what I want you to do. Go and fear nothing. I will help you.”
Since 1859, there have been many conversions and physical cures. They erected a chapel in the area for Our Lady of Good Hope as she was recognized. Now they have a beautiful Church and many pilgrims come to visit it. Little did I know that in this same day, I was going to receive a spiritual healing after watching the following movie…
B. The Turner Classic Movies (TCM) channel had been showing movies who earned Oscar’s in past years. One of my delights is the art of acting. I normally do not care about the story as much as the way it is portrayed… I feel comfortable with this attraction to this art because of my actor hero, John Paul II… And this day, I noticed that the movie Ghandi was going to be shown at 10 PM. I felt drawn to watch it for the third time in my life. I finished this day my chores in the kitchen and came to my room at 7 PM. I turned on the TV and there was Ghandi’s movie starting… They had moved it and since the channel had been left at TCM, I did not miss it. I realized that God was truly after my watching of this movie.
I WILL PRESENT A LONG DESCRIPTION OF GHANDI’S EXAMPLE FOR US IN THE WEST… Please be patient. I know it will give you so many ideas for your own spiritual journey. It is worth the time spent and if not written in detail, many of us and as I remained before this date, know of Gandhi, respect him much but never learned actually how he accepted martyrdom throughout his life to change an entire country. I suspect that it is a clear message for our Church regarding the new evangelization. We need to change the culture but we need to start with ourselves, within the Church goers, and for that we need to see that it can be done through penance, fasting, sacrifice and prayer and by doing this, allow God to transform us into believable witnesses of the Gospel. At least for me, this film finished the healing of animosity I had against Indians in general. I had commented that my Pastor had been influential in giving me an open receptivity to all that is Indian… His manners, his kindness, his usual smile gave me that spark of healing united with several healing Masses we had in the last two years in my parish. Yet, there was much to be healed that I did not know…
Since this same Saturday February 5, I now love the 7 Indian doctors and one priest in another parish who had produced so much discomfort in my soul. It was not enough not to dislike Indians in general… It was necessary to love those whom I resented… and after seeing this movie I felt like a jerk. How violent I had been against people who had scandalized me in several ways. So, I repented and I found myself healed… Hinduism will never be my religion, ever. Yet, I love India and the Hindu Religion as never before… Amazing grace! God keeps showing me that for Him nothing is impossible! Diane’s funeral was a sign about how I had to prepare for such an event… And God proceeded to show me one of the areas that needed to be conquered for that moment when I will breathe my last…! This is called the love of God for me! He brought me to the right parish and slowly brought me to repent for disliking some of His children and Ghandi ended up being the witness I needed to find my sin, repent and be healed by my God!
Mahatma Gandhi’s Biography.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar, India. He became one of the most respected spiritual and political leaders of the 1900’s. Gandhiji (notice the two letters at the end – ji -. One of my priests said that it is term of honor added to the last name of a person) helped free the Indian people from British rule through nonviolent resistance, and is honored by Indians as the father of the Indian Nation. The Indian people called Gandhiji ‘Mahatma’, meaning Great Soul.
At the age of six Gandhi went to school in Porbandar and had difficulty learning to multiply. The following year his family moved to Rajkot where he remained a mediocre student, so sensitive that he ran home from school for fear the other boys might make fun of him. At the age of 13 Gandhi married Kasturba, a girl the same age. Their parents arranged the marriage. The Gandhi’s had four children. But Gandhi was still a rebellious teenager, and once, when he needed money, stole a bit of gold from his brother’s jewelry. The crime haunted him so that he finally confessed to his father, expecting him to be angry and violent. Instead the old man wept.
“Those pearl drops of love cleansed my heart,” Gandhi later wrote, “and washed my sin away.” It was his first insight into the impressive psychological power of ahimsa, or nonviolence. Gandhi was sixteen when his father died. A friend of the family then advised him to go to England where he could earn a law degree in three years and equip himself for eventual succession to his father’s post as prime minister. Though he would have preferred to study medicine, the idea of going to England excited Gandhi. After he vowed he would not touch liquor, meat, or women, his mother gave him her blessing and his brother gave him the money.
Leaving his wife and their infant son with his family in Rajkot, he went to Bombay. There he purchased some English-style clothing and sailed for England on September 4, 1888, just one month short of his nineteenth birthday. Gandhi studied law in London and returned to India in 1891 to practice. During Gandhi’s second year in England, two English brothers asked him to study with them the Bhagavad Gita, a part of the sacred Hindu scriptures. A long poem of some seven hundred stanzas, written several hundred years before Christ was born, the Gita is a dialogue between the Hindu god Krishna and Arjuna, a warrior about to go into battle.
At about the same time he was searching through the Gita, a Christian friend persuaded Gandhi to read the Bible. The Old Testament set him dozing, but the New Testament, particularly Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, evoked a spiritual recognition. "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man takes away thy coat let him have thy cloak too." The seeds of Gandhi’s philosophy of renunciation and nonviolence were thus planted almost simultaneously by sacred Hindu and Christian texts.
On the choppy passage back to India, twenty-one-year-old Gandhi was sick with doubt. He had learned some laws, but he had not learned how to be a lawyer. Besides, the laws he had learned were English; he still knew nothing of the Hindu or Moslem law of his own country. The despair he felt was doubled when his brother met him at the dock with the news that his adored mother had died while he was away. Gandhi returned to his family at Rajkot. He quarreled with his wife and played with his son, but he was unable to earn money to support them. Friends advised him to go to Bombay to study Indian law, but when he finally got his first case there he was too shy to cross-examine the opposing witnesses. He returned the fee and told his client to find another lawyer.
Desperate, he tried to get a job teaching English in a high school, but he was rejected as unqualified. Defeated, he left Bombay and returned to Rajkot. Gandhi’s brother, who was also a lawyer, routed enough paperwork to him to pay for his keep, but Gandhi hated the petty tasks, the local political intrigues, and the arrogance of the ruling British. Bitter and bewildered, he longed to escape from India. His opportunity unexpectedly came in 1893 when a large Indian firm in Porbandar asked him to go to South Africa to assist in a long and complex legal case in the courts there. It would take about a year and he would be paid all his expenses plus a salary. Gandhi accepted with joy. A second son had been born to Kasturbai since Gandhi’s return from England almost two years earlier. Gandhi bade his growing family farewell and in April, 1893, not yet twenty-four years old, he set sail "to try my luck in South Africa." He found more luck; he found himself, his philosophy and his following.
(So far, notice how God reigns in our lives. He has created us uniquely. We are not repeatable, and if we only act right and seek peace and love others, He will unfold in our lives the path He had when He created us out of love, and will equip us to live our destiny for the sake of others and our own salvation).
The movie starts with Ghandi traveling in South Africa in 1893. There were approximately sixty-five thousand Indians in South Africa at the end of the nineteenth century. The first had come as serfs bound to five years of plantation labor and to work in the mines. When their term of bondage ended they were either shipped back to India or permitted to stay as free laborers. There were also thousands of free Indians of all classes, who had emigrated to South Africa. Some of them became wealthy and powerful. This outraged and frightened the Europeans, who would not consider colored men equals, and who contemptuously referred to the Indians as "coolies."
About a week after Gandhi arrived at Durban, in Natal, his business took him to Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal. His journey was an odyssey of discrimination and it set the direction of his life. He bought a first-class ticket and dressed, as he did then, in impeccable European clothing, traveled first-class until the train reached Maritzburg, the capital of Natal. There, a white passenger protested to railroad officials, and Gandhi was ordered to a lower-class compartment. He pointed to his first-class ticket and refused to move.
A policeman threw Gandhi and his luggage off the train, which continued its journey without him. He spent the night in the station’s unlit, unheated waiting room. It was bitterly cold, but Gandhi’s overcoat was in his luggage and his luggage was in the hands of the railroad authorities. He sat shivering through the endless night, asking himself one question: “Shall I fight for my rights or go back to India?” By dawn he had made his decision. He would fight for his rights and the rights of all people.
He sent telegrams of protest to railroad officials and to his employer. The following evening he was permitted to take the train to the end of the line. The next portion of the journey, to Johannesburg, was by stagecoach, and the man in charge refused to permit Gandhi to sit inside with the white passengers. Gandhi agreed to sit beside the driver, but that night he wrote to the company’s agent, firmly insisting he be seated inside the coach the following day. He was. When he finally reached Johannesburg he was refused a hotel room. He spent the night with Indians who warned him he would have to ride to Pretoria as a third-class passenger, because better tickets were not issued to colored people. But Gandhi was adamant. He wrote the station master requesting a first-class ticket and received it only because the man was not a local Boer but a Dutchman from Holland.
When an astonished train guard found Gandhi in a first-class compartment with a first-class ticket he ordered him out. But the other occupant, an Englishman, told the guard to leave Gandhi alone. The Boer was astonished. "If you want to travel with a coolie, what do I care?" he muttered. Gandhi reached Pretoria that evening but no one met him and he knew he would be unable to get a hotel room. An American Negro helped him by taking him to a small hotel run by an American who offered to let him stay for the night if he would agree to eat in his room. The proprietor later relented and, after polling his guests, permitted Gandhi to eat his vegetarian dinner in the public dining room.
In 1896, with victory nowhere in sight, Gandhi returned to Rajkot to bring his wife and children to Natal to live. While in India he traveled extensively, drumming up sympathy for the plight of the South African Indians. Outrage conquered shyness, and he gave newspaper interviews, made speeches, and wrote a pamphlet which was widely distributed. A summary of the pamphlet was sent to England by the press, and a summarized summary was cabled to Natal, where the Europeans raged because Gandhi had attacked them outside of the country.
In December of 1896, Gandhi sailed for South Africa. With him, their toes squirming in unaccustomed shoes and stockings, were his wife, two sons, and an orphaned nephew. Another ship left Bombay for South Africa at the same time. Together, the two vessels carried some eight hundred Indian passengers. They reached Durban on December 18, but no one was permitted ashore. The ships were put in quarantine, not for fear of disease, but for fear of Gandhi.
No matter what Gandhi did for humanity he felt it was not enough. "To serve is my religion," he once said. He wanted to free men politically, restore them spiritually, and heal them physically. When plague erupted in India during his brief visit there, he inspected the quarters of the poor and sick for cleanliness and nursed his dying brother-in-law. When a leper came to his door in Natal he dressed the man’s sores. He worked in a hospital for two hours every morning, and when his third son was born in South Africa he cared for the infant himself. He even delivered his fourth and last son because the midwife was late.
In 1901 Gandhi decided that if he remained in South Africa he would simply become a prosperous attorney and so the time had come for him to go home to work for India. He left Natal promising that if the Indians needed him within a year he would come back. He was showered with costly jewels and ornaments as farewell gifts but he put them in a bank to be used as a trust fund to meet community needs.
Back in India, Gandhi traveled a great deal and attended the annual meeting of the Indian National Congress, the only national political party in the country. He found the delegates indifferent, the sanitation insufferable, and the movement lacking vision or direction. Nevertheless, he had decided to settle in Bombay, practice law, and enter politics when a cablegram came from South Africa. "Chamberlain expected here," it said. "Please return immediately." Gandhi left his wife and children in Bombay and returned to South Africa to resume his crusade.
He committed himself to a course he had long considered. “I could not live both after the flesh and the spirit,” he wrote. If all humanity was to be his family, he could spare no special attention to his own; if he was to serve the world he could not serve his senses as well. In 1906, not quite thirty-seven years old, he took a vow of celibacy which he never broke, and the bride of his childhood, Kasturbai, became not so mucho a wife as the most devoted of his followers.
In Johannesburg an ordinance had been proposed requiring Indians to be fingerprinted, registered, and to carry identification cards at all times. Failure to do so was to be punishable by prison, heavy fines, or deportation. The purpose of the ordinance was to prevent more Indians from entering the country by having the present residents clearly identified. But Gandhi’s reaction was, "Better die than submit." (Notice that it would take some 23 more years for MLK to be born in the U.S., but African Americans were already suffering the same than Indians in South Africa in the times of Ghandi! Yet, God knew about it and had a plan to send us these prophets and saints).
Having spawned a movement, Gandhi now sought a name for it. He disliked the term "passive resistance." To him it signified a weak and defenseless minority which would use arms if they were available. At the suggestion of a cousin he finally called his campaign satyagraha, a combination of two words meaning truth and force. Gandhi’s battle was to be fought with force born of truth and love. His soldiers were to be known as satyagrahis.
The ordinance, which the Indians called the Black Act, was passed and went into effect in July, 1907. Indians picketed the offices at which they were supposed to register, and when only about five hundred of the thirteen thousand Indians in the Transvaal complied with the new law, the authorities decided to act. They arrested one Indian as an example to the others. To their amazement he instantly became a hero and others clamored to join him in jail. The authorities obliged by arresting the leaders of the satyagraha movement, including Gandhi, thinking this would intimidate and disperse his followers. But Gandhi, pleading guilty in the same court he had often appeared as counsel, asked for the maximum sentence; the others followed his example.
Gandhi’s first jail term was brief. He was soon summoned by distraught officials to a conference with the Boer leader, General Jan Christian Smuts. Since there had been no time to change his clothes, Gandhi faced Smuts in his prison uniform. Smuts offered Gandhi a compromise. If the local Indians registered voluntarily to prevent more immigrants from "flooding" the country, Smuts would repeal the offensive Black Act. Gandhi agreed, and he and the other political prisoners were released.
At a mass meeting in Johannesburg, Gandhi was asked what would happen if Smuts betrayed him. "A satyagrahi bids good-bye to fear," he replied. “Even if the opponent plays him false twenty times, the satyagrahi is ready to trust him for the twenty-first time, for an implicit trust in human nature is the every essence of his creed.” (Wow!)
A more painful blow awaited Gandhi, however, for Smuts went back on his word and refused to repeal the Black Act. In reply, the Indians met in the Hamidia mosque in Johannesburg on August 16, 1908, and burned over two thousand registration certificates in a giant cauldron. British reporters who were present compared the event to the Boston Tea Party. Nearly thirteen thousand unarmed Indians were boldly defying the government of the Transvaal.
The next step in Gandhi’s civil disobedience campaign was to challenge legislation barring Indian immigration. He had a group of Indians cross from Natal to the Transvaal. When they were jailed, sympathizers in both colonies tried to get arrested with them. Gandhi was imprisoned for the second time and served as cook for seventy-five prisoners, for whom it was a special hardship since he cooked without condiments. "Thanks to their love for me my companions took without a murmur the half-cooked porridge I prepared without sugar," he wrote. Gandhi was freed in December, 1908, and rearrested for a three-month term beginning in February, 1909. He spent most of his time in prison reading, and Smuts generously sent him two religious books.
However the volumes that greatly influenced Gandhi at this time were Henry David Thoreau’s Essay on Civil Disobedience, which Thoreau had written after being jailed for refusing to pay taxes to a government he would not support, and The Kingdom of God Is Within You by Leo Tolstoy, in which the great Russian writer demanded that men live as Christ directed. Gandhi and Tolstoy corresponded until the Russian died in 1910. In his last letter Tolstoy wrote the Indian leader, “That which is called passive resistance is nothing else than the teaching of love…”
Seeing no end to his struggle in South Africa, however, he searched for a home for his disciples when they were not in prison. His movement was generously financed by wealthy Indians, but one of the most faithful of his followers was a German industrialist named Hermann Kallenbach. Kallenbach bought eleven hundred acres of land near Johannesburg and gave them to Gandhi, who founded a settlement called Tolstoy Farm.
Men, women, and children, Hindus, Moslems, Christians, and Jews, lived at the farm with equal rights and equal responsibilities. Smoking and liquor were banned, and the few meat-eaters voluntarily became vegetarians. Anyone who had to go to Johannesburg walked over twenty miles each way. This saved a fortune in train fares and provided ample exercise, which pleased Gandhi, who in his medical views was a self-confessed quack. He believed a light diet, plenty of exercise, and a mud pack would heal anything.
On November 9, Gandhi was arrested for the third time in four days. The following day the marchers were halted, put aboard trains, and shipped back to Natal. On November 11, Gandhi was sentenced to nine months at hard labor. Three days later he was found guilty on another charge and sentenced to another three months. His chief aides were imprisoned with him.
The news of Gandhi’s jail terms and the vicious treatment of the miners rebounded around the world. The chief British representative in India, the Viceroy, attacked the South African government and demanded an inquiry. All over South Africa Indian serfs struck in sympathy with the miners. At one time there were fifty thousand men on strike and thousands more in jail. Soldiers who were sent to force the strikers back to work fired on the mobs, killing and maiming. The world watched with horror, and money and help for the oppressed Indians began to flow in.
The South African government, observed Gandhi, was in the position of "a snake which has taken a rat in its mouth but can neither gulp it down nor cast it out." A thoroughly discomfited Jan Christian Smuts appointed a commission of inquiry. The Indian community demanded that the satyagraha prisoners be released, and Gandhi and some of the others were freed. But when the Indian leaders asked that the commission include at least one Indian or pro-Indian member, Smuts refused.
In reply, Gandhi announced he would lead a massive protest march from Durban on January 1, 1914. By coincidence, however, there was a major railroad strike that paralyzed the nation. Gandhi refused to take advantage of it. He postponed the march and by his forbearance won more than by continued pressure. One of Smuts’ secretaries said to Gandhi, “You help us in our days of need. How can we lay hands upon you? I often wish you took to violence… and then we would know how to dispose of you. But you desire victory by self-suffering alone… and that is what reduces us to sheer helplessness.”
(There is no question that Gandhiji knew the Bible well…)
Smuts now agreed to see Gandhi. There were several meetings and several letters were exchanged. The satyagraha campaign was suspended as the major Indian grievances were eliminated. The annual tax was abolished and non-Christian marriages were recognized. Other minor matters were also resolved. Gandhi had won his crusade.
The Indians in South Africa wanted Gandhi to stay until all their demands were met, but Gandhi felt he had done all he could. After twenty years in South Africa it was time to return to India. He had gained specific relief for the Indians, but more important, he had evolved a new means for dealing with evil. He had proved that under certain circumstances the force of truth, or satyagraha, was a priceless and matchless weapon. In South Africa it had eliminated the worst of the anti-Indian abuses. In India it was to crumble an empire and create a new nation.
Just before Gandhi left South Africa he gave Jan Christian Smuts a pair of sandals he had made while in prison. Years later Smuts said, "I have worn these sandals for many a summer … even though I may feel that I am not worthy to stand in the shoes of so great a man."
In July, 1914 Gandhi and Kasturbai sailed for England, on their way home to India. They arrived two days after England entered World War I. Again Gandhi offered to organize an ambulance corps. Many Indians opposed this plan, arguing that a slave should not cooperate with his master, but make his master’s need his own opportunity. Now was the time to demand home rule, they said. But Gandhi had demonstrated in South Africa that he would not exploit his enemies. Cooperate with the English first, he said, and then convert them by love. The ambulance corps was formed, but Gandhi was unable to serve because of a severe attack of pleurisy. When the illness persisted, Gandhi’s doctors advised him to leave England’s chilling climate and return to the warmth of India.
Gandhi and Kasturbai arrived in Bombay on January 9, 1915. He was forty-five years old, and in some parts of the country he was already spoken of as Mahatma for the work he had done in South Africa. It was a title often bestowed on exceptional men but Gandhi disliked it. "The woes of Mahatmas are known to Mahatmas alone," he once wrote.
When Gandhi returned to India the drive for independence had an end but no means. Tiny Britain ruled a giant two thousand miles long and seventeen hundred miles wide, with a population of 275 million that swelled another five million annually in spite of unabated disease and famine. Most Indians were Hindus, but there was a large Moslem minority, as well as Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, and countless other religious groups.
Over the centuries the Indians had known many foreign rulers, and the British, who came in the seventeenth century to trade and stayed to conquer, were only the last in a long series of oppressors. They ruled through colonial administrators who could never accept the Indians as equals, or through local princes who were British puppets. The nation’s wealth flowed toward Britain or to a few favored Indians, and the distance between indecent poverty and indecent opulence was as high and as insurmountable as the Himalayas.
As early as 1906, India’s only political voice, the Indian National Congress, demanded self-government but the words did not carry all the way back to London. Oppressed peoples often turn to terrorism, and in 1912 an Indian tried to assassinate the Viceroy. But terrorism, wrote Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru, “was a bankrupt’s creed.” Yet how was freedom to be gained? "History … showed us," Nehru said, "that peoples and classes who were enslaved had won their freedom through violent rebellion … [but] unarmed people could not rebel and face armed forces… There seemed to be no way out of the intolerable conditions of a degrading servitude … And then Gandhi came."
Gandhi first spent time reacquainting himself with his homeland, where he had not lived for two decades. He established his followers at Sabarmati, near the city of Ahmedabad. In India a religious retreat is called an ashram, and Gandhi’s cooperative community came to be known as the satyagraha ashram. But it was as political as it was religious. “Men say I am a saint losing myself in politics,” Gandhi once commented. “The fact is that I am a politician trying my hardest to be a saint.”
His first Indian campaign of any significance was in 1917 in behalf of the sharecroppers of Champaran, a remote area at the foothills of the Himalayas. Deceived and oppressed by their British landlords, the sharecroppers needed a champion. They found Gandhi. He went to Champaran to investigate their complaints and was advised by the British commissioner to leave. When he ignored the warning, he received an official notice ordering him out of the district. He refused to go and was summoned to court.
On the day of the trial masses of peasants appeared in town in a spontaneous demonstration of sympathy and solidarity. The officials were bewildered and a little frightened. They were even more perplexed when Gandhi pleaded guilty. Judgment was postponed, and in a few days the case was withdrawn. It was the first victory for civil disobedience in India.
Gandhi and several of his associates remained in Champaran for seven months putting together a case against the landlords. While he was there he established schools and brought in volunteer teachers. Kasturbai came to teach the women cleanliness and sanitation. Finally the local authorities set up an investigating commission which found the sharecroppers’ claims were just. The landlords were ordered to return part of the money dishonestly gained. But Gandhi later said the most important thing about Champaran was that he had proved the British could not push him around in his own country.
From Champaran Gandhi went to Ahmedabad, where textile workers were fighting for more pay and shorter hours. Gandhi argued their case before the mill owners, some of whom were his friends and supporters. He suggested the issues be submitted to an arbitrator, but the owners refused and he advised the men to strike. After two weeks the strikers began to weaken and talked of going back to the mills. Encouraging them to hold out longer, Gandhi spontaneously said, "Unless [you] rally and continue the strike … I will not touch any food." To make his intentions unmistakable he added, "My fast … will be broken only after the strike is settled."
Throughout this period, the butchery of World War I continued indecisively. In July, 1918, Gandhi attempted to recruit Indian soldiers for the British army. "If we serve to save the Empire," he argued unconvincingly, "we have in that very act secured home rule." But he won few recruits and instead was stricken with a protracted case of dysentery. Certain he was dying, he had verses of the Gita read to him. Doctors recommended milk to restore his strength but it would have violated an anti-milk vow he had taken.
During Gandhi’s slow recovery, World War I ended and a fresh chapter in English oppression began. During the war, many Indian nationalists had been jailed for criticizing the British, and the Indian press had been censored. The Indian people expected to have their civil liberties restored at the end of the war; instead, a British commission headed by Sir Sidney Rowlatt went to India to study the situation and recommended that measures suppressing free speech, free press, and the right of assembly be continued.
The Rowlatt proposals became law on March 18, 1919. The following morning Gandhi said to a friend, "The idea came to me last night in a dream that we should call upon the country to observe a general hartal." A hartal is a strike. An epic satyagraha campaign was about to begin with Gandhi as its undisputed leader and freedom from Britain as its inevitable consequence.
The date of the hartal was April 6, 1919. "It was a most wonderful spectacle," Gandhi wrote. "The whole of India from one end to the other, towns as well as villages, observed a complete hartal on that day." To the astonishment of the British, India was paralyzed for twenty-four hours. Millions of Indians marched in the streets and many, including Gandhi, courted arrest by selling books banned by the government. (NOTICE HOW WE ARE LIVING SIMILAR MOMENTS IN AFRICA… Egypt, Yemen, Lybia!!!)
They were not imprisoned, but Gandhi had unloosed forces he could not contain. He never understood that all men were not as saintly as he, and was horrified when the Indians followed the hartal with violence, looting, and murder.
Gandhi headed for the province known as the Punjab to quiet disorders there, but on the way he was arrested and sent back to Bombay. From there he returned to his ashram at Sabarmati and listened in horror as the reports of violence flowed in. "A rapier run through my body could hardly have pained me more," he said. He fasted three days in penance and called off the satyagraha campaign. He had made a "Himalayan miscalculation" he explained candidly. "I had called on the people to launch upon civil disobedience before they had qualified themselves for it." (It reminds me of our efforts of evangelizing others without the proper qualifications of ongoing inner conversion!)
Meanwhile, agitation continued in the Punjab, and martial law was proclaimed. In spite of this, a meeting was held at about 4 P.M. on April 13, 1919 in the city of Amritsar. Between ten and twenty thousand persons were packed into a square almost entirely enclosed by buildings. While the meeting was in progress, a British officer, Brigadier General Reginald Dyer, entered with fifty armed native soldiers. He stationed them on either side of the main entrance and without warning ordered them to fire. They fired 1,650 rounds of ammunition and struck over fifteen hundred persons; almost four hundred died. The event became known as the Amritsar massacre. General Dyer epitomized the colonial mind at its thickest when he explained, "I thought I would be doing a jolly lot of good." (Is this what Moammar Gadhafi thinks?)
Ghandiji was finally permitted to visit the Punjab in the autumn of 1919. The crowds which received him were "delirious with joy." He conducted his own inquiry into the massacre, and as the people came before him their trust turned to worship. With no official title or office he had become the most important man in India. In November he was invited to a Moslem conference, where he used the term "noncooperation" to describe the next phase of his campaign. A special session of the Indian National Congress was held in September to reaffirm Gandhi’s plan.
The Congress at this time also affirmed two other Gandhi ideals: it condemned the laws of untouchability and supported the use of homespun clothing. In Gandhi’s first pamphlet on home rule, written ten years earlier, he said the spinning wheel could solve the problem of India’s dehumanizing poverty. At Sabarmati he obtained a wheel, and he and his disciples began to wear homespun cloth called khadi. Its value was twofold. If everyone wore khadi, the half-starved, unemployed women of India would have an occupation; and Indians would no longer be forced to wear foreign-made clothing.
Not buying British goods was a form of noncooperation; so was not attending British schools, not paying British taxes, and not serving the British colonial government. "The government rested very largely on the cooperation … of Indians themselves," Nehru wrote, "and if this cooperation were withdrawn … it was quite possible, in theory, to bring down the whole structure of government. It was, in effect, a peaceful rebellion, a most civilized form of warfare … There was a strange mixture of nationalism and politics and religion and mysticism and fanaticism …”
Often Gandhi asked his listeners to remove the foreign clothing they wore. With religious fervor they stripped off the garments and piled them at Gandhi’s feet. Gandhi would light a match to the mound and, as they burned, tell the people not to buy new foreign clothes but rather to spin and weave and make their own, as he did. By September, 1921, he had adopted as his permanent costume the simple loincloth worn by most of India’s peasants.
The British responded to Gandhi’s campaign, first with a carrot and then with a stick. They sent the heir to the throne on a ceremonial visit which was greeted with such rioting that Gandhi had to fast for five days before it ceased. Then the government began arresting in bulk. By December twenty thousand Indians were in jail. When the Congress Party held its annual meeting that month Gandhi was elected "sole executive authority." The following month another ten thousand Indians were imprisoned. The people became explosive. Instead of winning home rule they were receiving further repression. They wanted to move beyond noncooperation, and since Gandhi would not consider violence a massive national civil disobedience campaign was urged. Fearing it would get out of hand, Gandhi agreed to try civil disobedience, or civil resistance as he called it, if it were confined to one small area where he could control it. He chose the county of Bardoli, near Bombay.
But before the campaign began, a crazed Indian mob in a town eight hundred miles away hacked a group of policemen to death. To Gandhi it meant the people were still not ready for satyagraha. He cancelled the campaign in Bardoli as well as all civil disobedience movements in India. Freedom was not worth such a cost. The British concluded that Gandhi was defeated and on March 10, 1922, he was arrested at the satyagraha ashram. Brought to trial the following week, he pleaded guilty to the charge of writing seditious articles and said, “In my opinion noncooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good.” He was sentenced to six years in prison as spectators wept and threw themselves at his feet. He was then fifty-three years old, and those who did not call him Mahatma called him bapu, which means father.
Gandhi was permitted to take his spinning wheel to jail with him. He contentedly spun, read, and worked on his autobiography. In January, 1924, he suffered an attack of acute appendicitis, and the British feared that if he died in their hands India would revolt. They summoned Indian surgeons, but Gandhi was too sick to wait. A British doctor operated but only after Gandhi signed a statement saying he had no objections. The operation was successful, but Gandhi recovered slowly. He was released from prison on February 5, after serving not quite two years of his term. But during that time his movement had collapsed. He himself had forbidden civil disobedience, and the people had abandoned noncooperation. Worse than this, however, the Hindus and Moslems were no longer working together but had turned daggers toward each other. This was a great blow to Gandhi who wrote, "Hindu-Moslem unity means home rule. There is no question more important and more pressing than this."
Dismayed and heartsick, Gandhi withdrew from politics and set about cleansing India of her sins. “My belief,” he said, “is that the instant India is purified India becomes free, and not a moment earlier.” (VERY IMPORTANT CONCEPT)
To purify India and to ease the growing animosity between Hindus and Moslems, Gandhi announced he would fast for twenty-one days, beginning September 18, 1924. He reserved the right to drink water, with or without salt. "It is both a penance and a prayer," he said. "I respectfully invite the heads of all communities, including Englishmen, to meet and end this quarrel which is a disgrace to religion and to humanity." To dramatize his own goodwill he fasted in a Moslem household. While the fast lasted millions of Hindus and Moslems pledged to love each other eternally, but when the fast ended the spell ended as well. Gandhi’s suffering was meaningless, for the great religious bloodbath was yet to come.
For the next few years Gandhi concentrated on uplifting India rather than exacerbating the British. His aims remained constant — Hindu-Moslem unity, the abolition of untouchability, and the use of homespun cloth to build village industries and employ India’s poor. He remained in the Congress party but without enthusiasm for it had returned to the control of the intellectuals who scorned the masses and were primarily concerned with substituting themselves for the British. Nevertheless, he was elected President of the Congress for 1925. He spent the year traveling through India, preaching his gospel and raising money for his cause. He was an enthusiastic fund raiser who charmed and wheedled the wealthy into parting with jewels and gold to support his programs. "It costs a great deal of money to keep Gandhi living in poverty," one of his followers said affectionately.
Wherever he went he was adored by the crowds who often heard not a word he said but huddled close to receive his blessing. To his horror one sect began to worship him as a god, and an old man, with a photograph of Gandhi around his neck, came before him to thank him for a miraculous cure. "It is not I but God who made you whole," Gandhi replied testily. "Will you not oblige me by taking that photograph off?" In 1926, weary with traveling and speeches, Gandhi retired to his ashram for a year of silence. Actually he was silent only on Mondays; the rest of the week he chatted with disciples and visitors. But most of the time he wrote for his newspapers, using them to spread the gospel of truth-force.
In 1927 Gandhi again toured India. To his platform of nonviolence, homespun, unity, and equality for untouchables he added equality for women and abstinence from alcohol and drugs. He suffered a slight stroke that year, but after a few months he resumed his mission. Then, in November, he was summoned by the Viceroy and informed that a British commission was coming to investigate conditions in India and offer recommendations for reform. The commission would be all British and all white. The Indians were incensed. Once again their fate was to be cast for them by their conquerors. They decided to boycott the commission. When it arrived in February, 1928, the streets were hung with black flags and people shouted, "Go back!"
Gandhi decided the time had come to resume satyagraha. Suspended in Bardoli six years earlier, it was resumed in the same place the month the commissioners came. The taxes of the peasants of Bardoli had been increased twenty-two percent. They were told not to pay. The government confiscated their animals, equipment, and farms, and jailed hundreds, but the peasants remained both adamant and nonviolent. On June 12 a sympathy strike was observed throughout India and contributions poured in from all parts of the country. The British gnashed their teeth and shook their fists, but in August they cancelled the tax increase and returned the confiscated land and property. Satyagraha had finally won in India.
Now everyone awaited Gandhi’s next move. At the annual Congress meeting in December, 1928, he agreed that if India did not receive dominion status in one year, he would lead the fight for independence. Most members of the Congress and most Indians believed the final struggle would be violent, but Gandhi would not agree. “If India attains what will be to me so-called freedom by violent means she will cease to be the country of my pride,” he said. Gandhi spent 1929 crisscrossing the country, preparing the masses for the great struggle. When the Congress party met in December, with Jawaharlal Nehru as its president, the year was up. A resolution was passed calling for total independence and secession from the Empire. War had been declared with civil disobedience the sole weapon and Mahatma Gandhi the general of the armies. It was he who would decide how and when the first battle would be fought.
Gandhi said he had an inner voice which counseled him. For more than a month he searched for the way to begin his campaign, and then in February, 1930, his voice spoke. He began to attack the salt laws. The British government had a monopoly on salt; no one could make it or purchase it from any other source. It was a cardinal example of colonial exploitation and the sort of oppression understood by every Indian, from the intellectual who objected to the principle to the peasant who objected to the price. On March 2, Gandhi wrote the Viceroy politely indicting the British for their crimes against India and warning that unless some of the wrongs were righted he would begin his civil disobedience campaign in nine days. The Viceroy’s secretary acknowledged the letter coldly; the British conceded nothing. Gandhi commented, "On bended knee I asked for bread and I received stone instead."
A fever mounted in India and around the world as everyone wondered what Gandhi would do. Local and foreign newspapermen clustered at the ashram and cables flashed to an audience of curious or concerned observers. On March 12, after prayers, Gandhi and seventy-eight disciples, both men and women, left the satyagraha ashram and headed south on foot. "We are marching in the name of God," said Gandhi. Along the way peasants prostrated themselves in the dust to receive the blessing of the Mahatma’s presence and kiss his footprints. Each day more volunteers joined the small army until it swelled to several thousand. Leaning on a long staff, sixty-one-year-old Gandhi led the marchers to a place on the seashore called Dandi. It was a two-hundred-mile trek, and Gandhi, a superb dramatist, covered it in twenty-four days in an atmosphere of mounting veneration and excruciating suspense.
Gandhi reached Dandi on April 5, 1930. He and his followers prayed all that night. At dawn he walked into the sea. Then he returned to the shore and picked up a pinch of salt. This was the signal all India had awaited. Gandhi had defied the salt laws and was telling his countrymen to do the same. This was his chosen path of civil disobedience without violence. "It seemed as though a spring had been suddenly released," wrote Nehru. All over India the war of independence began. The armor of the Indians was the teaching of Gandhi and their weapon was common salt. On the coast they produced it illegally; in the interior they bought and sold it illegally. The exasperated British responded with mass arrests and beatings, but they could not rewind the spring.
The Indians also resumed noncooperation. They quit their government jobs, boycotted English goods, and refused to pay taxes. India was nearly paralyzed, and all the British could think of was to pack the jails. Within a month after Gandhi held his pinch of salt aloft nearly one hundred thousand Indians, including most of the leaders of the Congress party, were political prisoners. But the Indians continued to wage their war fearlessly and nonviolently. Gandhi and his disciples remained camped near Dandi and there, on the night of May 4, thirty armed policemen, two officers, and a magistrate came to arrest the gentle old pacifist.
Gandhi asked for and received permission to brush his few remaining teeth. He was then taken directly to jail. There was no accusation, no trial, and no sentence; he was simply imprisoned. Before his arrest he had planned to lead a march against the Dharasana Salt Works. In his place a woman nationalist, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, addressed the twenty-five hundred volunteers. "You must not resist," she warned them. "You must not even raise a hand to ward off a blow."
One of Gandhi’s sons led the marchers to the salt works, which were guarded by four hundred native policemen commanded by six British officers. An American correspondent who was present wrote, "… at a word of command, scores of native policemen rushed upon the advancing marchers and rained blows on their heads … Not one of the marchers even raised an arm to fend off the blows. They went down like ten-pins … sprawling, unconscious or writhing with fractured skulls or broken shoulders … Hour after hour stretcher-bearers carried back a stream of inert, bleeding bodies."
The world observed in horror. The conquering British were not morally superior to the subjugated Indians after all. Even the British were shaken. No civilized person continues to strike a man who won’t strike back. It was apparent that if the British weren’t violent they would lose and if they were violent, they would lose anyway. Though seventeen years were to pass before India became formally independent,Gandhi and satyagraha – the force of truth – had broken the chains.
(I must comment here that the life of this man was a replica of the life of Jesus Himself… His persistence in loving neighbor against neighbor’s persecution must give us an incentive to use in our Church and in the world… Ghandiji knew well what at the end makes for peace — living the truth)
The harried British had to relent. They had neither enough jails to hold all of India nor enough functionaries to keep the country operating while the rebellion was on. Gandhi and other Congress leaders were freed, and on February 17, 1931, Gandhi met with the Viceroy. A Conservative Member of Parliament named Winston Churchill announced it was "nauseating" to see Gandhi negotiating "on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor." He argued that "Gandhi-ism and all it stands for will have to be … crushed." But Gandhi was far from crushed. After many discussions he agreed to cancel the civil disobedience campaign while the British agreed to permit Indians on the coast to make their own salt, to release political prisoners, and to arrange a conference in London to resolve the central issue of Indian independence.
In the autumn of 1931, with several aides, a goat to provide his milk, and a collapsible spinning wheel, Gandhi attended the London conference. In his declaration to the customs officer he said, "I am a poor mendicant. My earthly possessions consist of six spinning wheels, prison dishes, a can of goat’s milk, six home-spun loincloths and towels, and my reputation which cannot be worth much." He traveled widely in England, calling for an "honorable partnership" for the two nations. His compassion, warmth, and wit won the hearts of the poor, the young, and the press, who reported with glee such remarks about his loincloth as, "You wear plus-fours; I prefer minus-fours." Invited to tea with the King and Queen he wore only his loincloth and a shawl. When someone asked if he had enough on, he replied, "The King had enough on for both of us."
Though Gandhi made many friends during his stay in England, the conference was a failure. Most of the delegates the Viceroy had sent to represent India were there to preserve or extend the rights and privileges of specific minorities. By the end of the meeting India seemed more divided than ever and independence more remote. Gandhi spent some time on the continent before returning to India. When he finally arrived in December, a new and harsher cabinet was in power in London. A number of Congress leaders, including Nehru, were again under arrest; in one area where a civil disobedience campaign was underway all civil liberties had been suspended. Gandhi tried to negotiate with the country whose King had sipped tea with him several months earlier; it reacted by arresting him on January 4, 1932. By February, twenty thousand political prisoners were again in custody.
Meanwhile, the British were constructing a new constitution for India. In addition to providing that Hindus vote only for Hindus and Moslems for Moslems in the provincial legislatures, it was decided that untouchables could vote only for untouchables. Gandhi had always striven to make untouchables acceptable to Hindus; he knew that separate electorates would only drive the two groups further apart.
On September 13, 1932 Gandhi announced that "to sting Hindu conscience" and end the separate electorates he would "fast unto death," beginning on September 20. The British, who always feared that his death would signal a bloody revolt, announced that if the Hindus and untouchables reached a more satisfactory electoral agreement they would accept it. At 11:30 A.M. on September 20, still in prison, Gandhi drank lemon juice and honey in hot water and began his fast. His close friend, the poet Rabindranath Tagore said, “A shadow is darkening today over India…”
India watched the shadow with dread. Millions fasted along with Gandhi the first twenty-four hours, while politicians worked feverishly to reach a compromise. Gandhi was a living god, and no one wanted to bear the guilt for his crucifixion. Although Gandhi usually fasted as easily as other persons ate, this ordeal was especially agonizing. By the fourth day doctors feared he was dying. At last a compromise was reached. Hindus and untouchables would vote together, and a certain number of seats would be set aside for untouchables to guarantee them representation.
It took six days for the plan to be approved by everyone, including the British and Gandhi. Then he broke his fast with a sip of orange juice. He had forced Hindus to accept untouchables not only as citizens with equal rights but as human beings. For as he lay dying, homes and temples were opened to the untouchables for the first time in three thousand years.
In May of 1933 Gandhi fasted twenty-one days for personal reasons. The British, still nervous about his dying in their custody, released him from prison. On August 1, 1933 however, he was rearrested for a civil disobedience act. He was released three days later, rearrested for disobeying a court order, and finally freed again when he began another fast. For the next six years Gandhi stayed out of jail and out of politics, though his influence with the Congress party was so great that it did nothing without his approval and all the members religiously wore homespun.
He was in his late sixties now, slender, toothless, half-naked, with a toothbrush moustache, large round spectacles, jutting ears, and a shaved head. He once protested that a cartoonist had made his ears too big and then admitted he didn’t know how big they were because he no longer looked at himself in a mirror. Still seeking to purify India, Gandhi toured the country tirelessly, denouncing untouchability and trying to restore the peasants’ faith in themselves. He objected to extremes of wealth and poverty and wanted to make every village self-sufficient, producing its own food and clothing its own people. The peasants came to him for his blessings and his advice on food, health, and sex. When he passed, they kissed the roads he trod upon.
But as Gandhi’s shadow glided gently over the dusty paths of India a more brutal image seized the world’s attention. Adolf Hitler was igniting the second Great War. Still Gandhi preached ahimsa, or nonviolence. He would rather be killed than kill, he declared. When the Nazis began to exterminate the Jews, Gandhi advised nonviolence and voluntary sacrifice. "I can conceive the necessity of the immolation of hundreds, if not thousands, to appease the hunger of dictators," he said. For reasons that had nothing to do with Gandhi but were graven in their own heritage most Jews did respond nonviolently. Not hundreds or thousands were murdered, but six million, and the slaughter ceased only when the Nazis were destroyed. If Gandhi had earlier proved that nonviolence is sometimes an effective weapon, the Nazis proved it is effective only against a civilized opponent.
When England went to war in September, 1939, she included India in the declaration without consulting her. This undiplomatic reminder of their subjection offended the Indians. Gandhi and most of the Congress leaders, however, sympathized with the Allies, and when Nehru issued a statement saying "a free India" would willingly associate with other free nations, Gandhi supported it even though it was not entirely consistent with his total faith in nonviolence. "My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statements," he observed, "but to be consistent with the truth." But England refused to take the hint and offered India nothing. Congress then decided not to aid Britain in the war. Some Indian leaders wanted to turn on Britain while she was under assault by the Nazis, but Gandhi said, "We do not seek our independence out of Britain’s ruin."
In 1940 Congress again offered to support England if India were granted freedom. But the Prime Minister, the same Winston Churchill who earlier had said that Gandhi had to be crushed, was adamantly opposed to such a trade. One of the reasons he offered was that he would not turn over power to an Indian government unacceptable to the Moslems. Congress now threatened a campaign of civil disobedience, but Gandhi, unwilling to weaken England while she was under heavy attack, confined it to having Congress leaders speak out against the war and go to jail. Congress cooperated, as did the British, and over twenty-three thousand persons were arrested. When Japan joined the Nazi cause in December, 1941, the situation changed dramatically. India’s cooperation or noncooperation could now seriously affect the war in the Pacific. Britain immediately freed some of the political prisoners, while Gandhi advised the greatest nonviolent resistance campaign in history if Japan attacked.
America wanted India’s assistance in the war against the Japanese and, as a former British colony, was sympathetic to India’s desire for independence. President Franklin D. Roosevelt began to press Churchill to yield on the Indian issue. China and some British politicians added their weight. Churchill grumbled, "I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside at the liquidation of the British Empire," but in March, 1942, he finally sent Sir Stafford Cripps to India with a series of proposals. Although the proposals offered India dominion status, they were rejected by Gandhi and the Congress because they provided special treatment for the wealthy Indian princes, made it possible for any province to reject the constitution and become a separate nation, and put the British in control of India’s role in the war.
Cripps returned to London, leaving the Indians angry, frustrated, and disappointed. Congress renewed its plea for independence on acceptable terms and threatened a civil disobedience campaign led by Gandhi. The night the decision was approved, Gandhi and most of the Congress hierarchy were arrested. India had been tasting independence for about twenty years; she had felt free ever since the war began. When news of the arrests became known, the Indians erupted against the British in acts of violence, murder, and rebellion across the country.
The British blamed Gandhi, who was powerless to do anything because they held him in prison. If he had not been arrested he would have sought a nonviolent outlet for his people similar to the Salt March. Imprisoned, he could do nothing but pray. For a time he was not even aware of the turmoil, because he was not permitted to read any newspapers. Pained by British accusations that he was somehow responsible for the thing he hated most, Gandhi announced he would fast twenty-one days. The Viceroy dismissed the announcement as "a form of political blackmail." Nevertheless the British offered to free him. He refused and fasted in jail.
He was seventy-two years old and everyone, including his wife Kasturbai, who was in prison with him, expected him to die. But somehow he survived, and before he was released it was Kasturbai who died, on February 22, 1944, her head resting in her husband’s lap. They had been married over sixty years, and Gandhi wrote, "I feel the loss more than I had thought I should." Not long after, Gandhi was struck down by malaria, followed by a severe intestinal disease. The British, still fearful of the consequences of his dying in their custody, freed him on May 6, 1944. As soon as he was well, Gandhi began a series of frustrating, fruitless conferences with the Moslem leader, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who, now that India was on the threshold of independence, was insisting that a separate Moslem state of Pakistan be carved out of it.
Hindus in India outnumbered Moslems three to one. Most of the Moslems were, in fact, Hindus who had been converted to Islam by various conquerors. But the Moslems felt themselves to be an oppressed minority; they feared that an India ruled by Hindus would deny them equal opportunities in employment, education, and basic liberties. Their solution was to establish a separate Moslem state and their spokesman was Jinnah.
Mohammed Ali Jinnah was as different from Gandhi as Satan is from God. Where Gandhi’s weapon was love, Jinnah’s was hate. Years before, Jinnah had been a leader of the Congress party but he had abandoned it in disdain when Gandhi took control and tried to make it more democratic. Hating Gandhi and believing himself the victim of countless slights, he became leader of a party called the Moslem League, which was anti-Gandhi, anti-Congress, and anti-India. For the Mahatma there could be no Hindu nation or Moslem nation, but only an Indian nation.
In March, 1946, a British mission went to India to work out the terms of independence. After hearing Moslem demands for a separate state, they advised against partition and recommended a united country with a federal government and special safeguards for the Moslem minority. A provisional government would be established and then a constituent assembly elected to draft a constitution for the new land. Because he was refused the right to veto Congress appointments to the provisional government, Jinnah refused to participate in it. On August 12, 1946, the Viceroy told Jawaharlal Nehru to form the government. Nehru offered Jinnah a choice of positions for the Moslem League, but he was rebuffed. Taking their lead from the Hindu-Moslem disputes at the parliamentary level, the Hindus and Moslems unsheathed their blades in the cities. At least five thousand persons were slaughtered in religious rioting in Calcutta.
Nehru became India’s first Prime Minister on September 2, and Jinnah proclaimed it a day of mourning. "We are not yet in the midst of civil war," said Gandhi, "but we are nearing it." The battle between Hindus and Moslems moved swiftly from the conference rooms to the streets. Gandhi, who cared more for peace than for politics, decided to make a pilgrimage to the most remote and primitive areas of east Bengal, where the religious war had spread to the villages. "I am not going to leave Bengal until the last embers of the trouble are stamped out," he said. "If necessary, I will die here." He was seventy-seven years old, yet he undertook a laborious trek through forty-nine villages, walking barefoot as a penitent for miles each day over roads strewn by his enemies with filth or glass. He stayed in each village long enough to restore calm, and then moved on. But this was one small area and all of India was afire.
In February, 1947, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced that England would leave India no later than June of 1948, and that he was appointing Lord Louis Mountbatten as the last British Viceroy, to prepare for the departure. Mountbatten conferred with Gandhi, Jinnah, and the Congress leaders. Jinnah insisted on partition and threatened civil war if it were denied. The Congress leaders, anxious to avoid a war and hungry for independence, bowed to Jinnah’s demands. Only Gandhi was adamant. He would rather postpone independence than divide India. Though he was overruled, fate was to prove him right. Jinnah, Pakistan’s angry champion, died the following year. If the Congress and the British had waited a little longer, Jinnah’s death would have eliminated the vivisection of India and the bloodshed that followed.
On June 3, 1947, Mountbatten announced a partition plan that had been approved by the Congress and the Moslem League. Jinnah and violence had won. India’s official independence day was August 15, 1947, but Gandhi refused to participate in the celebrations. Instead, he was in Calcutta, where there had been brutal rioting, fasting and praying in a Moslem household. When the frenzy went so far that he could no longer cool it and he was attacked in his bedroom by a mob, he decided to fast until "sanity returns to Calcutta." The fighting ceased immediately, and before three days had passed civic leaders pledged it would not be resumed. They kept their word, even while terror raged through the rest of India.
The partition of the country into India and Pakistan initiated one of the most calamitous religious wars in history. No matter how the lines were drawn, some Moslems remained in Hindu territory and some Hindus were trapped in Pakistan. In both places the majority turned on the minority. It is estimated that as many as seven or eight million persons were butchered. Another fifteen million were displaced as they fled their homes to seek shelter in the opposite country, and their numbers were reduced only by murder, famine, and disease. "Both sides appear to have gone crazy," said a heartbroken Gandhi. He was then in Delhi, the nation’s capital, and even there the Hindus were shamelessly slaughtering Moslems in the streets.
On October 2, 1947, Gandhi was seventy-eight years old. Unable to halt the violence in the capital, Gandhi resorted to his ultimate weapon. On January 13, 1948, he began a fast for peace in Delhi. When the leaders of the Hindu community pledged they would cease persecuting the Moslems, his heart lifted and he broke his fast. "Come what may," he said, "there will be complete friendship between the Hindus, Moslems, Sikhs, Christians, and Jews …" While he was still recovering from the fast he announced at a prayer meeting one evening that he hoped to go to Pakistan to work for peace. As he spoke there was an explosion. Someone had tried to kill him with a crude bomb. No one was hurt and the assassin was caught. He was one of a group of fanatic Hindus who wanted total war with Pakistan in order to obliterate all Moslems. Because they felt Gandhi stood in their way, these Hindus had decided to kill him.
On January 30, 1948, as was his custom, Gandhi held his outdoor prayer meeting. In the front row of spectators sat another member of the fanatic group, a thirty-five-year-old newspaper editor named Nathuram Vinayak Godse. In his pocket was a small pistol. As Gandhi walked through the crowd toward the platform where he would sit, he raised his hands to his forehead in the traditional Hindu blessing. It was about 5:10 P.M. Suddenly Godse rose in front of him and rapidly fired three times. “As for me,” Gandhi had once said, “nothing better can happen to a satyagrahi than meeting death all unsought in the very act of satyagraha, that is, pursuing truth.”
At the first shot Gandhi faltered. At the second shot his hands dropped to his sides. With the third shot he crumbled and died. His last words were Hey Rama, which mean, "0 God." That night Prime Minister Nehru told the Indian people and the world, "The light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere … The light has gone out, I said, and yet I was wrong. For the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light… A thousand years later that light will still be seen … for that light represented … the living truth
Interesting sayings from Mahatma Ghandiji –
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy? (Wow!)
As soon as we lose the moral basis, we cease to be religious. There is no such thing as religion over-riding morality. Man, for instance, cannot be untruthful, cruel or incontinent and claim to have God on his side.
We must be the change we wish to see.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.
A Truth, which is permanent, eludes the historian of events. Truth transcends history.
Truth and nonviolence demand that no human being may debar himself from serving any other human being, no matter how sinful he may be.
Truth without humility would be an arrogant caricature.
The quest of truth involves self-suffering, sometimes even up to death.
Suffering cheerfully endured, ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into an ineffable joy.
To say that a single human being, because of his birth, becomes an untouchable, unapproachable, or invisible, is to deny God.
Anger, lust and such other evil passions ranging in the heart are the real untouchables
There is no occasion for women to consider themselves subordinate or inferior to man.
A person who has realized the principle of nonviolence has the God-given strength for his weapon and the world has not yet known anything that can match it.
It is not a disease of the body; fear kills the soul.
12. Philosophy of life
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever
An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind
When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall — think of it, ALWAYS. (End of biography)
I am quite certain that God chose to bless me with the stories of MLK and Ghandi in order to SEE the present times with a new perspective. As always, history repeats itself. Every time it seems that the roles of oppressor and oppressed change to different countries and we as Christians simply choose to do the same: we enter the world of information overload and learn about it but we simply ignore how to take the bull by the horns. Non violence has produced great fruits, united to prayer, fasting and seeking the truth and living that truth. As of now, we have a major chaotic uprising of cultures in Africa and we watch and watch and hear opinions and do nothing else!
February 6 – 9, 2011
Daily we had many TV stories about the trial in Egypt. At daily Mass, I felt great love coming from Jesus in the Tabernacle. I had Mohandas Gandhi in my mind. At church I was led to read in my little Bible, Luke 12: 41-43. It was about the old widow who gave all what she had to the Temple’s treasury and Jesus commented how great her gift it was. I felt a deep call to give it all. There are things that I have understood I must do in my last years of life, and have said yes many times, but a reticent yes… since it will curtail my freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want it, especially now in my retirement days. What Gandhiji did kept bugging me. It was a call to a total yes to everything… since Mohandas did it all the way into old age.
On February 7, at Mass I understood that I must also give all my sufferings in atonement for the sins of the ministerial Roman Catholic Priesthood and asking for God’s mercy for them. I had to give it all for them as the widow did. And again, my freedom would be the most costly gift for the Temple’s upkeep of God’s Priests.
On February 8 and by pure chance (or so I thought) I turned on the television when EWTN was showing the story of Our Lady of Vailankanni… Since the mid XVI Century she has been venerated under the name of Our Lady of Good Health because of the many cures she has interceded for in this city of Vailankanni in the south of India by the sea. About 8 million Indians per year from all religions come as pilgrims to this Shrine. This devotion started when this city was a tiny village of fishermen, 450 years ago. Three miracles are attributed regarding Our Lady with Jesus in her arms appearing to two children at different times and saving a Portuguese ship from being destroyed during a violent storm at sea.
I found myself astonished to see my God driving this country of India into my head. First He showed me a holy Hindu. Now, in this report shown in EWTN, Moslems reported how they come to pray to her every year. Even when in 2011, 85% of India is Hindu; 12 % Moslem and 3% Catholic, Our Lady reigns in India… as in Tepeyac. Wow!
And from February 9th on, I started feeling much better regarding my POTS illness and it is so to this date… I imagine that dear friends and family are praying for me! Standing for longer periods of time without feeling uncomfortable and going to 2-3 places in a row to shop, have become much easier.
February 10. After expecting Egyptian President Mubarak to depart for several days, today he gave the reigns to Vice President Omar Suleiman, or so it was reported, only to find out that at 10:30 AM local time, 7:30 PM in Cairo, Mubarak announced that no decision had been done regarding his departure. I turned to the Lord and said, “Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ and my illness sufferings in atonement for the sins of Mr. Mubarak and of the whole world. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on them. I, as a widow, ask for Your justice for all Egyptians. As You parted the Red Sea, open Your ocean of mercy for them.” I went to Mass and offered the Mass for this problem.
I prayed much during the afternoon. At 9 PM locally (7 AM Cairo’s time on February 11), I heard this: “She lived in Egypt when she herself was oppressed by a dictator (Herod)… and she also appeared in the 1960’s in Zeitun…” I asked Our Lady of Lourdes whose feast day was already happening in Egypt, to help them. I then remembered that I carry in my purse a piece of cotton given to me in Cleveland by a Coptic Egyptian doctor with the oil from the face of her statue in their local church. She produced these oily tears for a few months…
At 11:35 PM, CNN showed how Mubarak had given powers to Omar Suleiman but retained three important powers. I asked my Lord what to do and I understood that I had to pray and fast my fears and worries because for Him all things are possible… I was asked to pray asking to love the Egyptians in order to ask Him for His mercy for them. I heard, “You can stop wars. You can make peace, if you pray but out of love for them. Without love, prayer has little effect. Never fear or worry because you will doubt the love of God for them. Go to Mass tomorrow and ask your Mother to help them. She will be prompt to intercede.”
On February 11 I went to 6:30 AM Mass because this Mass was to be celebrated for my Pastor for his birthday. Before my departure, CNN reported that Tahrir Square was still full of people rejecting the decisions made by the Government. I offered the Mass for my pastor and in atonement for the sins of all parts involved in this Egyptian uprising: Mubarak and entourage, the Army, the Police, the thugs and the protesters and asked for God’s will to be done. I came back and shortly after 8 AM (6 PM Cairo’s time), they had just announced that Mubarak was gone and that the Army had taken over. The crowds were soo happy. I realized that all along people were praying everywhere in the world, and that our Mother was all ears… and the Father allowed this miracle precisely on her feast day.
TV stations were reporting many saying in Egypt that “fear had been defeated.” EWTN was reporting a short summary of the 18 apparitions to St. Bernardette. In her 8th apparition she asked for PENANCE three times. In 1858 she started her visit to this part of France. In 1859 she appeared to Adele Brise in Green Bay, WI and asked to pray for the conversion of sinners.
February 15. During the evening again and again, God continued to make me look into our world’s affairs. A PBS series called Front Line, reported at length about the sexual slavery of Ukranian young girls from Odessa sent to Istanbul, Turkey to be sold for $1,000 to local pimps and used in hotels as sex slaves. I learned that 80% of Ukrainians’ live at a poverty level. Many young women choose to leave family behind and go to Istanbul to make some money. 70% of them know what it is all about. 20% think that they will be dancers only. 10% are totally unaware that it is a sex trade.
In this report they showed how 23 girls are kept in one apartment and work most of the 24 hours. Each one services 8 to 15 men per day. In some cases they are moved around and sold to another pimp and to another, etc. In this 2006 report, Turkey had about 20 to 25,000 sex slaves. Germany: 80,000. The Netherlands: 40-50,000. Italy and Spain also figure in this sex trade in Europe. And where is the United States in this sex trafficking? On February 18, I decided to look it up…
In 2009, a University of Pennsylvania study estimated nearly 300,000 youth in the United States were at risk of being sexually exploited for commercial uses – "most of them runaways or thrown-aways,"
In 2009, a Kansas City man pleaded guilty in federal court to child sex trafficking involving the sale of at least five minor victims for prostitution in Chillicothe, Missouri.
In December 2007, research by the U.S. Department of Justice based on interviews with pimps and sexually exploited children in several U.S. cities found that most pimps manage one to three girls at a time and operate as follows:
1) At least half appear to operate at the local level only.
2) At least one quarter may be tied to city-wide crime rings (often engaged in drug sales as well as prostitution) and are constantly looking for new recruits.
3) About 15 percent are tied to regional or national networks that are well financed and organized, in which the pimps communicate easily with one another electronically; provide support services such as recruitment, selection, indoctrination, and movement of new girls; and occasionally assist in locating and disciplining girls who escape from other pimps.
4) About 10 percent appear to be tied to international sex crime networks and, through them, actively participate in the international trafficking of children. Some pimps also are part of international drug networks and may use children to move drugs in to and across the U.S.
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 11, 2010
About 1,000 American-born children are forced into the sex trade in Ohio every year, and about 800 immigrants are sexually exploited and pushed into sweatshop-type jobs. Ohio’s weak laws on human trafficking, its growing demand for cheap labor and its proximity to the Canadian border are key contributors to the illegal activity, according to a report by the Trafficking in Persons Study Commission. Also, Toronto’s airport is an arrival destination for international victims who are trafficked in Canada and transported to other cities, helping make Toledo, about 55 miles southwest of Windsor, Ontario, rank fourth in the U.S. in terms of arrests, investigations and rescue of domestic child-sex victims, the report said.
I have included these statistics in this sacred document because we are allowing this violence to go on… O yes… We are guilty of sex trade as the pimps. More later on how to curtail this violence. Days later EWTN would run a program of how the Greek Catholic Church in the Ukraine is trying to build herself up from the ruins and destruction of the Russian Communist occupation. Most of the population lives under poverty level… On February 25, they reported that Gadhafi is using thugs that he has brought from the Ukraine to attack the Libyans who are revolting against him… Satan is as alive as he was in the times of Adam and Eve.
February 16. My Holy Hour before Mass was a dream. With my audiocassette full of Taize songs I adored Him. I kept bugging Him about getting me to be closer to my parish, or at least, without a very busy 6 lanes expressway in between. I recalled my glorious hours that I would spent in my last parish in Toledo. I clearly understood that it is not to be, to spend tons of hours at one sitting just looking at Him while He looks at me. I understood that now I have to go and seek Him in my daily life in my brothers and sisters everywhere. He keeps showing up and moving cashiers in supermarkets to appear out of the blue to invite me to their spot instead of waiting in line. There are many stories to tell from this month but I do not want to make this blog excessively long. I can tell you that He is soo alive… He is a lot of fun…
February 17. The Media is relentless. On this day I had said the Rosary with EWTN’s Mother Angelica and Nuns and wanted to check the local weather because it was raining cats and dogs. During ABC’s Good Morning America, the local station speaks about any accidents or problems with expressways. I went to this program and Lady Gaga was talking about her charities… She is a pianist and writes her own songs. She came dressed with a tight suit made of the same product than condoms. I do not have to say anymore… except that she presented herself as an activist for equality and social justice (gay rights). She gave us her counsel: look inside for your validation! I immediately started to feel “violent” against my sister… At noon Mass, I asked for the grace to love Lady Gaga as my own daughter. Since, I feel closer to her. I added her name to my community Rosary list of names.
AOL in this same day had an article where someone wrote, “Today’s American families come in all shapes and sizes. The cookie cutter mold of man and wife plus 2.5 kids is a thing of the past as it becomes quickly apparent in the bird’s eye of ABC’s new half hour comedy, ‘Modern Family,’ which takes an honest and often hilarious look at the composition of the modern family life.” This comedy is about two moms and one dad and twin boys. Of course, the Oscar’s for Feb. 27 will decide if a movie that talks about a “modern family” wins a statue!
I went to noon Mass to repent for my sin of not truly paying attention to the times. I truly felt like a dummy… By now I knew these two men, MLK and Ghandi in great detail and they did change the world. Hello? Why have I wasted my life and not addressed my own need to be like them? My non sense had to stop right on this February 17, 2011.
But God was not done… Oprah’s program showed 82 year old African American twin sisters Helen and Ellen, who have worked in Tennessee for years, keeping a café who distributes food to the homeless… They never know where the money will come from… A millionaire, Dani Johnson posed to them as a volunteer in their work and helped out without revealing her secret. In due time they learned about it and Oprah and this millionaire brought them to the show in Chicago. They clearly stated that their mother always told them three things. 1) We only have one Father. 2) There is only one race: the human race. 3) They were never to throw the last piece of bread away because someone may be hungry and need it. At the entrance of the café they have their motto displayed for all to see: “EVERYBODY IS GOD’S SOMEBODY.” This made my day… I felt like loving Lady Gaga even more, because she was God’s somebody!
Friday, February 18. This another huge topic that I have discerned if to place here or not, and the more I prayed, I became more and more convicted that it was the Holy Spirit who led me to it, and again by chance, and that it has a lot to do with the main topic. I report it in case you have not heard about this movie, IRANIUM…It is a movie just released in early February, a documentary on the threat of Islam for the world. The program offered stories about the movie and FOX News had Sean Hannity, producer Raphael Shore and Lebanese Walid Pheres explaining important issues.
The Shah of Iran introduced secularism and capitalism in this Islamic State of Iran and by 1978 there was revolt, a public outrage for the way the Shah was directing the country. He left in February of 1979 and two weeks later, the Ayatollah Khomeini arrived triumphantly. Those who started the revolt had expectations of a democracy. He came saying, “Those who think there is something about the west, they must be aware that there is nothing in the west but villainy.” There was a clip shown with this Imam saying so. However, the New York Times was all for it and compared Khomeini to Gandhi… The point is that nobody saw it coming!
(Here I want to call your attention to the present times and as you read this report in case you did not see it, decide if we are in the very same moment of denial… You may not agree with all the points of view but some historical points cannot be denied.)
From February of 1979 on, America was seen as Satan and therefore, the enemy of God. A crowd was seeing chanting, “Death to America.” An Iranian appears in the movie clip explaining how as a child going to school, he had his teachers daily leading them in this chant.
By November of 1979, Americans were held hostage for 444 days in Tehran. In general, Americans at the time believed that there was no threat coming from Islamic fundamentalism. This Islamic Republic became a theocracy and with the other Jihadists like the Islamic Brotherhood, the Taliban, Hezbollah, they saw the world like an apple. Half is made of the caliphate and the other half are made of infidels. There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and thereabouts 5-7 % are radical believers. When the Shah left, a religious war had started in the world.
Khomeini: “This movement (the Islamic Revolution) is for the sake of Islam and cannot be limited to solely Islamic countries either.” In the movie, crowds chant in the streets: “Islam is victorious in the world. God is the greatest.”
By the mid 1980’s, Iran had reached the eastern Mediterranean Sea through Syria and in the 1990’s with Hamas in the Palestinian communities. In the 1990’s as well, it reached northern Arabia, northern Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia. Now we have it in west Africa and in Latin America (Caracas, Venezuela, Argentina and Central America – Nicaragua). When recently Egypt started a similar situation as in the times of the Shah in Iran, they are not all looking for democracy. A poll taken in June of 2010, 67% of the people wanted Islamic reform; 20% wanted liberal reforms. 85% supported the death of apostates. Iran’s intentions have been clear to bring down 21 Arab governments, 15 Moslem States in the entire world and to set an Islamic Caliphate in Tehran.
What needs to be understood is that this is not the case we had during the cold war with Russia. Both sides had nuclear weapons and both understood that detonating those weapons would bring mutual destruction. Not so with Islam. With Islam, nuclear weapons are not a deterrent but an inducement because for them real life starts after death.
For the last 10 years, the Iranians have used terrorism to spread Khomeini’s revolution. The Quran is quoted in the Iranian Constitution, verse 860: “Strike terror in the hearts of the enemy.” So Iran pays extremist groups to carry out terrorists attacks with no finger prints looking back to Tehran. April, 1993: Hezbollah attacked the American Embassy in Beirut. Sixty were killed – 16 Americans. In October 1982 (?) – an explosion carried out by Hezbollah in Beirut, detonated in a multinational military peace keeping force site and killed 299 with 241 Americans. The Islamic Revolution was able to get rid of the U. S. installation in Lebanon when Reagan retrieved 1400 marines after this explosion. Hezbollah is a surrogate group founded by Islamic revolutionary guards.
Ahmadinejad was shown when he said, “Our dear Imam (Khomeini), you stated that the arrogant power of the world must be annihilated. The countdown of America’s sinister power has begun. Death to America.”
Known ways to accomplish it:
1. Placing a missile in a cargo ship 100 miles off the eastern coast and cities like Baltimore, NY or D.C. can be eliminated. It is very hard to police this kind of threat.
2. Hezbollah has linked with the Mexican drug cartel not to compete but to use their routes to enter the U.S. with a small size nuclear bomb.
3. A strategic electromagnetic pulse bomb can explode in the atmosphere in the center of the U.S. and bring down the power grid. It sends waves that every wire picks up and burns what it is at the end of the wire. Phones, pacemakers, cars, planes, gasoline pumps, water pumps, sewage system, all transportation can be affected and a study done by the government in 2008 (?) considers that one of every 10 Americans could die from starvation, illness, etc. This country would cease to be as we know it now.
How close are we from something like this? Most experts agree that the Islamic Revolution is working in the delivery system. Iran will not negotiate because this has been said by Khomeini, “This Movement has to stay alive at it. Staying alive depends on those martyrs. Come and bleed for us. As long as martyrdom has this level of esteem in our culture and logic, no power will ever be able to subdue the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation. And which aim is more beautiful, more divine and more everlasting than the act of martyrdom?”
The panel then recalled that Hitler had telegraphed all his intentions, yet nobody acted on it and 6 million Jews were killed! Ahmadinejad has done the same. The Iranian regime can be compared to Hitler or Mussolini, and they are telling their constituents the agenda and all their triumphs. Islam has been at war for 1,500 years but in the last 30 years they ran Russia out of Afghanistan; Israel out of Gaza and Lebanon; America out of Iraq when the U.S. leaves in the near future. They emphasized that we seem not to know all these details because our elite academia is not teaching the students the truth about this war. If they do not know details, they will never think there is a war going on. They said that petro dollars have inundated centers of learning to ignore the subject matter in its entirety.
From Google. Feb. 11, 2011.
Despite suppressing its own opposition movement, Mr Ahmadinejad drew parallels between the protests in Egypt and the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.
"In spite of all the (West’s) complicated and satanic designs … a new Middle East is emerging without the Zionist regime and US interference, a place where the arrogant powers will have no place," he told a rally in Tehran’s Azadi Square to make the anniversary of the Revolution. His comments came before Hosni Mubarak’s resignation.
Tens of thousands of Iranians chanted support for Egypt’s protesters and burned effigies of Hosni Mubarak. The embattled Egyptian president has not enjoyed good relation with Iran, who is highly critical of Egypt’s close relationship with the US and its peace deal with Israel.
My comments later…
Sunday, February 20. After Communion I felt totally convicted to accept a wheel chair in my life if necessary in order to save souls. Remember that as of recent I had written that I was not free yet to accept one. He was funny and in our union of Hearts after receiving Him and soo alive in my body, He clearly stated that He rather exchanged such cross for the work He had announced for me since several years back… and one that will curtail my freedom, but not with a wheel chair but with my going to places to tell others, “Jesus is alive… Come and see Him in the Roman Catholic Church.” However, He left it up to me… I quickly compared crosses and realized He had tricked me… Of course, I want to go places and loose my privacy (cherished forever since I was an only child and love to be by myself). Of course! The exchange was simply great! It was the first time that the yes to the cross of losing my privacy felt soo good… I had all started with MLK and Ghandi, and in His great love for me, He had guided me to this moment… What a God! His love and mercy are simply beyond comprehension!
Monday, February 21. At church and before Mass, I was sent to a page of my little bible. Matthew 7. Paraphrasing the message was, “If you do what I say, you are building your house on rock.” I was sent to another page and it was… Luke 19: 42. I immediately understood this, “Now you know what makes for peace — TO LOOSE ONESELF AND WORK FOR OTHERS.” After Communion I heard, “Are you ready? Because of your yes and acting as a servant ready for all including losing your freedom, your privacy, your own sacrifice will change many hearts and they will be able ‘to see’ as you do now.”
Tuesday February 22. I thanked God for this date. Some decades ago on this day in Ann Arbor, MI I met Sr. Mary Faith, at St. Thomas the Apostle parish office and as I asked her to prepare my then first grader and the son that I live with now, for Reconciliation and first Holy Communion. We were in route to Costa Rica and he did not have full understanding of Spanish. I was afraid that this 7 year old would not understand well what the Sacraments entail in a country where we would be actually foreigners. It meant that she had to bring him out of his class to the second grade class for instructions. She agreed to do it and asked me if I belonged to the Word of God Community because I talked like them. I had no idea what it was. She then proceeded to invite me to a prayer meeting in order to meet some of the members.
February 24. On this date as explained above, years before I attended with Sr. Mary Faith my first Charismatic meeting, and the rest is history. About 500 people were there encountering the power of the Holy Ghost. I felt at home! I did not know it but I had started a personal relationship with the Third Person of the Trinity.
Let me now give you a summary of the points I learned from this long presentation and that I would like to write about if this blog were my last one:
If you think I will write about non violence versus violence in these present times, with the Arab world in uproar and our economy at the mercy of the oil industry, capable of succumbing to a collapse, well, it will not be so. What is going on are just signs… Remember this Scripture:
“As He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.’ ” Luke 19: 41-44.
I have another Bible quote for this day: “You should know my brothers, that through Him forgiveness of sin is being proclaimed to you, and in regard to everything from which you could not be justified under the Law of Moses, in Him every believer is justified.
Be careful then, that what was said in the prophets not come about: ‘Look on scoffer, be amazed and disappear. For I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will never believe even if someone tells you.’” Acts, 13: 38-41
My question now is, “Would any of us have fathomed that country after country in the Arab world would have risen to ask for justice or theocracy? Have any one of us predicted the predicament that the State of Israel is in right now, with Islamic regimes around her and rising as it happened in Iran in 1978?
1. Well, it is obvious that we as a Church need to do more. More talks? More information about the enemy? Praying to our hearts content and even offering Masses to stop this violence? Nah! All of the above is part of the treatment but not the heart of the treatment. How can that be? Prayer is not at the heart of it?
I am sorry to tell you but we have to stop first the violence inside our hearts. We are very violent inside.
1) I do violence to my soul when I ignore my sins or address them, repenting only in word and forgetting to reform.
2) The real war is in our hearts, in the hearts of our enemies and in our own. Our outward senses are violent and discredit in the interior of our being the beauty and dignity of every human being, including those around us.
3) I am violent when I disregard the will of God for every moment as the only treatment necessary to stop the violence in the outer world.
4) I am violent when I read the Bible as a thing to do, but not out of the conviction that I must do what it says.
5) I do violence to my soul when I pray as lip service; when I attend Mass as a nice thing to do and come out to do my will.
6) I am violent when my conversion is delaying the termination of the violence in the womb to the tune of 50 million martyrs’ dead in the U.S.
2. What to do to stop my interior violence?
Well, He said, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” Of course, as long as we truly repent and atone with our crosses for our sins on a daily basis … I then must believe that He is in charge and let Him do the rest in my soul as I study His Word and try my best to follow it. However, my attitude must always be one of “persistent” servanthood.
To be a servant cannot be invented all over with new ideas and plans and ministries. Those are great if under the tent of a personal servanthood with the Holy Spirit guiding it. There is only one servant, and He is called Jesus Christ. So, until we submit to serve Him as a disciple, we cannot change anybody. Our Church right now must be in the work of forming servants and in a hurry and God will take it from there. Otherwise, in a few decades we may see the present churches crumble under the Shariah law… He is sending signs from Africa right now like the powers erupting that we could not have fathomed ever to move so fast and in such manner…
Until we love like He did through His mercy, we are simply “stupid.” St. Paul used that word for the Galatians. So, here we get into muddy waters. We cannot talk about loving others day and night before we work hard at it ourselves…
On February 24 I received this understanding as I sought answers for my own soul regarding violence,
“The beginning of my servanthood depends in seeking persistently my inner conversion by begging God for the grace to love Him with all my heart and soul and my neighbor as He loves them. This is the fastest way to give myself to do whatever He tells me. Daily, I could attend Mass in whatever language but if I do not seek to encounter Him daily in my brother/sister, and bow to His Presence in them and no matter what they do or say about me, I am a joke. My encounter with Him alive in each Mass depends on how non violent my heart is when I start the Mass. However, such readiness also depends on how much I desire the encounter with the Crucified. But again, that desire depends on how I obeyed whatever He told me the hours before the Mass. He is always working signs and wonders, and He presents to us many of His children for us to reiterate to Him that we believe in His Gospel by the way we treat them in our hearts and actions. Said in other words, I can come to Mass every day and miss the point! Every day is made of an infinite number of present moments. How I live each one of them will determine the openness to receive Him the following day, and of course, once I touch Him, He can do great healings in my soul. So, each day I prepare for my next encounter.
I have to have clear in my heart that my soul must become little, like the one of the child who is not a racist and who believes all things and expect all things from his parents. As a child I must remember that I trust my Father; He then feeds me His Son, in order for me to walk in the power of His Spirit until our next encounter. In this state of togetherness with the Holy Trinity, I can ask for my brothers and sisters everywhere, and I can stop wars and all kinds of threats. My daily conversion will topple regimes. Our Politian’s who seek re-election will be either convicted by the Truth or will lose the election…
I cannot be a silent carrier of His Sacred Heart! I must live ever pregnant with His Presence and go tell others without words if possible, that He is alive and with us. It is then that I can become an instrument of His peace. I can do all of this if only I give myself to this work. It is in this constant state of repentance and love for Him and others that I can say to all of you, “Do not ask what the Church can do for you. Ask instead what you can do for the Church.”
And what is it that I can do for the Church in definite terms?
1) I have to forgive her human sins now and forever. Gandhi, not even a Christian, did!
2) I have to shine God’s mercy in the midst of the Body
3) I have to be a witness to the Ministerial Priesthood in particular.
4) I must pray for the Church and offer my crosses and Masses and Rosaries in atonement for her sins.
I can do all those things for the Church because in God’s hands, all things are possible!
THE TIME TO STOP THE WORLD IN ITS TRACKS of destruction in the midst of very violent hearts everywhere IS NOW. BUT IT IS UP TO US…!!! Abraham tried very hard to stop the destruction of Sodom and his faith was able to engage God to agree, except that his faith was not enough for God to do it because God demanded other members of the community of his time to be part of it. Abraham’s faith was powerful in the eyes of God and He agreed to do what Abraham wanted if only he could find ten just people in Sodom. Of course, we know that there were not 10 of them. And remember again that his huge faith could not bargain with God to hear his prayer without a community behind.
Are we deaf? Blind? Stupid? We need a revolution in the Church, but not one of more information but of transformation… Our numbers attending Mass on Sundays’ continue to be dismal if compared to the glorious reason to be there. We are dissipated and do not know it, or we do know it and do not care… Ouch! The time is here to do penance, penance, penance. All of us can do it without even telling others. If Ghandi expelled the British from his country with the littlest violence possible, and if MLK with his non violent message opened the hearts of white people and planted 7,000 African Americans in Forsythe County in Georgia, from 1987 to 2011, and not because the county became poor, but actually became one of the richest counties in the U.S., so, we can do it too.
I want to share with you what God can do as an incentive for what I just wrote. This is California and you know all about it… However, in my parish we have two daily Masses. In the morning some 50-75 people show up. At noon, between 150 and 200 people show up!!!!! This last number I checked with one of our priests. No matter if it rains or not, no matter that the parking lots (huge ones but partially zoned for the school children to play) get filled up… people come. Many elders with great difficulty in walking show up. Mothers with infants show up.
This is what appeared in our bulletin of January 30, 2011. From Fr. James Thoppil, Rector, Oriens Theological College, Shillong, India
“Thank you St. Mary… Thank you Fr Paulson! ‘Good things don’t last long’, so goes the saying. It is also true of my vacation, a change of work and routine for me. Every year I look forward eagerly to the annual vacation for two reasons: First, I can get away from 24/7 preoccupations and work in the seminary and relax physically and mentally. Secondly, I really get nourished spiritually by the faith life of a vibrant and active faith community at St. Mary’s. To be honest, I return every year from St Mary’s with greater fervor, Christian faith and spiritual nourishment. …Pray for me. Hope to see you again.”
Well, now you can scratch your head and ask yourself, “Why in California.” I am sure that it is one of those gifts and signs He loves to throw at us… Our Pastor is a wonderful man, and a great dynamic administrator besides, but I met other wonderful clerics in my road to Emmaus and never saw these crowds coming every day no matter what. Besides, he is not saying all those Masses if they came just because of him. They pray loud… They are not noisy before Mass. I can surmise that God is showing off His love for us and possibly for some of us who were summoned to this parish, in order to let you and the entire Internet know that for Him all things are possible if we only believed so!
Corollary: To keep the format faithful to the example of Professor Randy Pausch, I say,
To my grandkids I would like to leave this message:
1. With God at your side you can do all things. Not some things, but all things.
2. Let Him choose what things He wants you to do for His Kingdom.
3. The Catholic Church is equipped to take you there with the Sacraments and teaching.
4. Many men have offered their lives to give those Sacraments to you. Always be a witness of faith to them.
5. Never be afraid. This saying is embedded 365 times in the Bible. Find out why you should not be afraid. Keep His Word with you at all times, in all places. Summon Him often to teach you how to do His Word in your life.
6. No matter how many sins you see in the Body of Christ, it is the norm even since He was on this earth, because we all are humans and we all sin. Therefore, give the Church a vote of confidence since He promised that hell would not prevail against her.
7. The Name of God is LOVE and his greatest attribute after love is His mercy. Aim to be saints but never forget your sins and the need to be transformed from glory to glory thorough His mercy via the trust you place in His love.
8. Combat any violence within your hearts with His Word and the Sacraments. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.
9. My grandma taught me that the best word is the one we do not say against our brother and sister. She also taught me and I learned by heart in Spanish what I will translate into English from St. Teresa of Avila… “Don’t ever be frightened; don’t ever be afraid. If you have God, you lack nothing. He is sufficient.” (Que nada te turbe, que nada te espante. A quien Dios tiene nada le falta. Solo Dios basta.)
10. Do not get super involved in “Marthaism,” doing and doing things for the Kingdom,” before you become experts at being Mary at His feet and adoring Him often in the Sacrament of His Love at the Tabernacle, so you do only those things He wants.
11. Read the lives of Martin Luther King and of Gandhi from time to time and remember that they were made in His image. They were not part of our religion but they show us how non violence can save the world. And then think that we have a greater figure in our Faith, the greatest non violent Man Who ever existed, Christ our King. Follow Him and do whatever He tells you. Read the lives of our Saints who demonstrated the same qualities of these men.
12. Use His Mom who is also your Mother as an intercessor. She is a real character. She looks after us and always, always, takes us to Jesus. Be always a servant like she was when she visited her cousin Elizabeth. Her Rosary is a powerful tool against temptations from Satan.
13. Prepare and celebrate each Mass as it were your last. Always remember that He will come to you by appearing at the Altar, and He does it because He loves you soo much, that you will only know how much when you get to live with Him in heaven. I met Him as alive as ever in that white host after being consecrated when I was a little girl. Ever since, our love grows and grows and has allowed me to write these thoughts for you to read after I am gone to live with Him.
14. Strive to reach your little child within and think like that child, trust like that child, love like that child, without fear of becoming little. He came as a baby precisely to teach us the degree of humility He had by depending on human beings to grow among us.
15. Never ever try to change others even to be the best. Always start with yourselves. You do not need ideas and strategies. There is only one strategy: living our lives doing whatever He tells you, and what He tells us the most is to love everyone as He loves them, including those we want to change, and love can do all things because love never fails… (1 Cor 13). If you do not have such love for them, ask for it and you will be surprised how all things are possible to happen in your hearts because He loves you and can do all things! If you cannot love your enemy, ask for the grace to do it, and also, imagine a baby and place the face of your enemy on this beautiful baby. See how he/she smiles and hugs you with his/her eyes. He/she loves you and as an adult he/she may be confused. It has helped me very much to have learned this trick from God!
16. Finally, when afraid or doubting or lonely, here are some of my favorite Bible verses:
“Yet the Lord is waiting to show you favor, and he rises to pity you; for the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all who wait for him! (Seek Him with persistence). He will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as He hears He will answer you (so pray, ask, knock). The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst (He will provide for everything. You need not to worry about what to eat or wear). No longer will your Teacher hide Himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher (the Eucharistic Christ), while from behind a voice shall sound in your ears (the Holy Spirit): ‘This is the way; walk in it,’ when you would turn to the right or to the left.” Isaiah 30: 18, 19b, 20-21.
“The Lord is my Shepherd and there is nothing I shall want.” Psalm 23.
“For God all things are possible.” Luke 1: 37.