Saturday, July 15, 2006

'Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem'

Another scripture:

"When he broke open the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God. They cried out in a loud voice, 'How long will it be, holy and true master, before you sit in judgment and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?"'Each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to be patient a little while longer until the number was filled of their fellow servants and brothers who were going to be killed as they had been."

--The Book of Revelation, 6:9-11


Orange_Cross said...

I believe pacifism is a Christian virtue. So much so, that I don't believe one can serve as a soldier in good faith as a Christian. What do you think father?

Fr Martin Fox said...

I respect the convictions of those who are pacifists, but I don't agree with you.

If you were walking down the street, and saw someone being beaten up, and you couldn't call police -- what would you do?

Tracy said...

Orange Cross, you need to check the CCC starting with #2307 and read through that section. Yes, in an ideal world we would all be pacifists, but in a real world where innocent ppl are killed without cause... War is a very unfortunate thing but they are a real part of humanity.

Mary Martha said...

Am I bad Catholic because my position on Revelation is basically that it is the "As I lay Dying" of the Bible... and I never liked Faulkner.

I don't read it, I don't understand it and I am wary of people using it in discussion because it seems like you can say it means anything you want.

Yeah, I am hardly Catholic of the year.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mary Martha:

I haven't read As I Lay Dying, so no comment on that. I found Faulkner difficult; I figured the defect was in me, as I find Flannery O'Connor somewhat the same -- I get some from her, but not as much as others.

Revelation is certainly the most difficult book of the Bible to interpret, although I maintain certain broad themes can be clearly drawn from it, when one reads it in light of the whole of Scripture and the analogy of faith.

Sadly, many parts of Scripture can, and are, misused in the fashion you describe.

I don't know if you objected to my citation of it; my purpose was to express a mood (i.e., "How long?"), no more.

Mary Martha said...

I absolutely was not objecting to your citation of it. I don't know enough about Revelation to have the ability to object.

Seriously, my response to any citation of Revelation is of the 'dog looking at a doorknob' variety... basically "Huh?"

You are right, much of scripture can be misused. It just seems in my experience that Revelation is the most often misrepresented.

Actually it seems to often be used like a battering ram by some 'Bible Christians' I know who like to try and 'save' me. 'Cause you know Catholics are all doomed.

I am sure you are citing it correctly. Just it's late and I am bored so I decided to comment.

Orange_Cross said...

If I saw someone being beaten up, and I couldn't call the police, I might step in to try and stop the beating. I don't like beatings in general, so I would probably ask them to stop, and I might step in to defend the person as best I could. I'm not very practiced in fighting, so I imagine I'd be nervous and cautious, ready to flee.

I think Christ would do something different. I think He would have stepped between them, ask them to stop and then deflect their assault as best he could, without raising a hand or in any way actively harming them. I imagine he'd be kind of a bold pacifist, suffering on behalf of the assailed and turning the other cheek to his enemy. I think its a sacred mystery, perhaps less sacred and more mysterious for me because I look at it from a secular perspective. What advantage is there for a man to boldly passively resist, suffering unto mortal death rather than doing harm, a completely altruistic thing.

What is the CCC?

I feel my comment is in spirit with the father's citation of his specific excerpt from Revelations, because I believe it is referring to the martyrs and those whose suffering was most innocent and pure, God's people who loved their enemies and suffered unto death rather than do harm.

I appreciate your comments.

Anonymous said...

Orange Cross,

First the CCC is the Cathechism of the Catholic Church (too long to write each time - so CCC!)

Second - yes - sometimes the answer is restraint (rather than pacifism). You are correct - sometimes the answer is to step between and let the sadness and anger of a person come at you as opposed to whomever they are directing it to - often themselves - and respond with love (that's the hard part!!) Most often - this is all done in word (which are often much more hurtful - long and short term - that a punch to the mouth!)

Third - but the dignity of the person - which is both spirit AND BODY - requires, at times, that I as a brother or sister in Christ and one of God's children - defend the bodies of my fellow siblings. Sometimes this is as a by stander and sometimes it is more official - police or soldier. Yes, this can and has been taken to an evil extreme by a small percentage of the people, but the concept, the idea, the requirement to defend and protect the dignity of the person is still there. This include protecting the dignity of the person committing the assault - a person is not living up to his dignity when he is beating the snot out of a store keeper or little old lady!!

God Bless - you can read the CCC on line in several places - EWTN website is one or google it.

Anonymous said...

Mary Martha,

You might try the Scott Hahn tapes (CD's, etc.) from St. Joseph Communication - he does Bible studies and has done one on Revelation. I found it very helpful as I have several other Bible studies of his that I have listened to!

God Bless

Anonymous said...

People usually apply the concept of pacifism to situations of physical violence. If we could learn that pacificism begins long before that escalation, much physical violence could be avoided.
What if pacificism began with tolerance of others' views? Remember, tolerance does not mean agreement.

Anonymous said...

Orange Cross,

What about the time that Jesus took a whip to the animal sellers and money changers in the outer court of the Temple and drove them out. That sounds fairly violent to me.

Orange_Cross said...

Catechism, thanks.

To Anna,

The whipping isn't very pacifist, Jesus did harm. Perhaps he made a mistake, giving in to wrath. Surely it wasn't necessary that he scourge his fellow man. I think it was inconsistent with his message to turn the other cheek and love one's enemy. I bet there are people out there who think its ok to do violence to their neighbor out of love, but I don't believe love requires violence. Jesus said something about it being better to cut off a body part if it makes one sin than to be condemmed to hellfire for it too didn't he, another reference to violence, aye?

In the end it seems that Jesus wasn't the person I wanted him to be. I wanted him to be someone perfect, someone human but a human who didn't give into wrath (a human doesn't have the privilege of rightous wrath do they?) a human who loved and truly believed that people could wake up and redeem themselves. I've searched for the wrong thing. He might have said something like, they know not what they do; and I sought to have that mean that people could wake up from their calous ways by realizing his example of peace, a peace exemplified by his behaviour (love and suffer rather than do harm, yet he wasn't perfect and did do harm), but perhaps I should give in and realize that that wasn't his intention. Rather, it was a statement of the futility of appealing to man and a prayer to forgive them on a superhuman level.

So much for Christianity. It doesn't seem so different to me from Islam or Jeudaism or Zoroastrianism, put your faith in your choice of each respective God. Will it make a difference? How should we know.

Maybe its ok to do violence. Yeah I like violence even. Lets do violence to one another. Praise the Lord, forgive me that I enjoy sin, I know I will continue to enjoy terrible things, forgive me anyway please. Ah righteousness, I will be powerful with my violence. Bollocks.

Failure, pitiful, futile, we cannot wake, wake and realize? When our case is of a desperate obliviousness to the truth, or just an unassailable ignorance. I've heard that our punishment for eating from the Tree of Knowledge involved losing part of our reasoning faculty such that we couldn't know the truth, though we had gained a knowledge of apparent truths (shame at nakedness, a sense of "good" and "bad"). Is it merciful to expect us to realize anything. As far as I can tell its supposed to be a mystery to us. Who needs that? We know what's good and bad. Lets be good to each other.

Blah, blah, blah

Orange_Cross said...


I should look at the Cathechism.

I think dignity is important too. Though it is undignified for one to assail another, I don't believe it is undignified to absorb an assault
though the assualt may lead to an apparent paradox as the body of the dignified soul is defiled, reflecting the lack of dignity of the assailant. I think there is a dignity to wounds of those who have suffered righteously, while at the same time they show the lack of dignity of those who made the wounds.

Orange_Cross said...

To anonymous,

Ah tolerance, I like it. I also feel that people have enough in common that pacifism and a bold passive resistance in the face of oppression will work for peace.

Anonymous said...

Orange Cross

This is a difficult paradox - be peaceful but defend the weak and poor and innocent.

In one of your responses you say that possibly 'He (Jesus) made a mistake' - when he cleared the money lenders from the temple. NOPE - can't be!! He - Jesus - is God - so the job description is NO MISTAKES!! If He made a mistake - He isn't God and His death on the cross didn't do anything. So - no - He didn't make a mistake.

What it does mean is that He did this and we need to understand it and if it doesn't fit our concepts - then we need to change. What He did would be called Righteous Anger.

Below you said -
"Ah tolerance, I like it. I also feel that people have enough in common that pacifism and a bold passive resistance in the face of oppression will work for peace."

My question - WHEN? Give me an example when this worked. The ONLY two times that you MIGHT say it sort of worked was the Civil Rights Movement in the US and Ghandi in India - but both of these had the person/country of power with a belief in right and wrong - a Judeo/Christian foundation. And even these had more than passifist reactions. So - name one - please.

Orange_Cross said...


I suspect you don't believe in peace, apart from annhilation of one's enemies or divine intervention. I'm cynical myself, but I think that the best kind of peace on Earth comes when people reconcile with one another at the basic level, recognizing one another's common interests (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happyness for example). Part of this most basic reconciliation is forgiving one's enemy for the harm they may have done and loving and assisting them rather than retaliating with harm. I'm not sure that its always effective in the sense that the one who forgives survives, but its still the only way for true peace amongst people.

Terry Nelson said...

Father, I very much appreciate your citation from the Book of Revelations. It appears very timely to me. Pacifist or not, everyone suffers, it seems to me we are rather impotent to change history, as well as the future, yet perhaps not the present - we may hopehowever. Thanks for a great blog!

Anonymous said...

Orange Cross,

I am a warrior, a prayer warrior, who has fought some nasty spiritual battles on behalf on others.

I believe in peace, the peace that passes understanding, where we can welcome all into our homes as brothers and sisters.

I know that we, in this world, cannot expect that kind of peace. Jesus, my commander in chief, says that he comes to bring division, not peace. (Luke 12:52-53).

Since you believe in peace, how could peaceful men and women have prevented the extermination of the Jews before and during WWII?

Anonymous said...

Thich Nhat Hanh tells of a Buddhist monk who gave his student a profound truth in story form:
"There was a pirate who kidnapped a helpless girl. He raped her, then killed her and threw her body overboard. I am the girl. I am the pirate."

The story describes how we are all one humanity, including its failures to love. But Jesus glorified humankind when he became man himself. In John's gospel he prays to the Father that all become one, as he and the Father are one. When we fail to honor Christ's teaching to love, we step outside unity and create discord, placing ourselves at its root.

Understanding, not bombs, is the key to the door that opens on peace. The reason we often don't see this is that we long so desparately for the quick fix.
But even if we can't fix nations, there are plenty of things each single person can do to foster peace right here, right now. Why not begin?

Fr Martin Fox said...


Thanks for your kind words.

Just to be clear: it is the Book of Revelation -- singular, not plural. That helps with the understanding of the book; it's not a series of "revelations" that are frightening and confusing; but about the sole Revelation of God to humanity, Jesus Christ.

Orange_Cross said...

To Anna,

Below are fragments of a post I made in response to Gandhi's tactics compared to Hitler's tactics (in quotes), if you bear with it (and the discontinuity from the missing posts of others) near the end I mention how I feel the WWII holocaust might have been different under certain circumstances.

"Gahndi's philosophy espouses a bold fearless pacifism (an almost militant pacifism), which is different from Hitler's philosophy/role as a murderer. Gahndi's bold pacifism (ahisma) brings attention to the dignity of the person being oppressed and is more likely to humanize the person in the mind of the oppressor, perhaps to appeal to the compassionate part of the oppressor who does ultimately share a common humanity, this common humanity is the source of the most lasting peace and reconciliation between peoples. Hitler's philosophy seeks to alienate one group of people from others, ignoring and denying their common humanity for the selfish purposes of the individual, which is manifested most horrifically in holocausts and genocides.

I thought you were interested in how Gandhi and Hitler's tactics differed.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think Gandhi mobilized his troops to destoy British buildings and mark Britons for death. Whereas Hitler did destroy Jewish businesses and mark Jews for death.

And you know what, if there had been a strong sense of Jewish pseudo nationalism in Germany (I don't believe there was enough solidarity for mobilization) then with the aid of a strong leader such as Gandhi using tactics similar to what Gandhi used (a bold/unyielding pacifism in the streets and in public) I believe many fewer people would have died in the genocide. First, because the German people in general, including police forces, were not exceptionally different from the British forces in India, such that there would have been a similar revulsion on the part of the German people had they been faced with bold non-violent resistance. Second, the population being persecuted was large enough that no amount of mechanization or small force secret infiltration methods that the SS used could have succeeded where there was widespread bold non-violent resistance. Third, there would most likely have still been large numbers of deaths because of the intensity of the dictator's war machine however the nature of the bold non-violent response would have elicited a more active response from Germany's own populace and surrounding countries. The war would not have been as successful for the Nazi's had the intensity of their assualt on their own people been more clearly understood by the world at large.

Gandhi's tactics do work on the conscience, and it is successful because regardless of dogma and socialization there is a common psychology amongst people. It may not unify people along religious lines or any other kind of artificial grouping but it can lead people to recognize the dignity of their fellows and have peaceful accords along artificial divisions. Perhaps there's nothing wrong with a divison of what was once an "India" into a Pakistan and India, the horrible thing is that violent harm erupts inflicted between the groups. If anything will trump their religious differences its going to have to be something more basic to the human psyche, meaning conscience.

Are there any Hindu's out there? Any Muslim's? Any Christians? Jains? Atheists? I don't know where they are, but I know we're all human. We're all born with mortal bodies. We feel pain when we're injured. We also feel joy and revel when there is peace and our consciences are clear."

Does a prayer warrior wear armor?

Anonymous said...

Orange Cross,

Yes, I put on spiritual armor, especially the peace of God.

I, truely wish that non-violent protest worked, but unfortunately many people are not decent people. It failed in Israel, at the beginning of the current infatada (sp). Christian Arab business men tried it, but it was put down harshly.

It failed in China, at Tinammen Square. The students and workers were just mowed down by the army.

Orange_Cross said...


Though you may refer to those non-violent protests as "failed", they are infinitely lesser failures than the failure that is violent recourse.

What is the armor of peace, if not peace? Who is truly injured by violence? Ultimately, wrath destroys only its self.

Is it just, or is it just another human weakness.

Orange_Cross said...

Anne Askew (1521-1546)
The Ballad which Anne Askew made and sang when she was in Newgate

Like as the armed knight
Appointed to the field,
With this world will I fight
And Faith shall be my shield.

Faith is that weapon strong
Which will not fail at need.
My foes, therefore, among
Therewith will I proceed.

As it is had in strength
And force of Christes way
It will prevail at length
Though all the devils say nay.

Faith in the fathers old
Obtained rightwisness
Which make me very bold
To fear no world's distress.

I now rejoice in heart
And Hope bid me do so
For Christ will take my part
And ease me of my woe.

Thou saist, lord, who so knock,
To them wilt thou attend.
Undo, therefore, the lock
And thy strong power send.

More enmyes now I have
Than hairs upon my head.
Let them not me deprave
But fight thou in my stead.

On thee my care I cast.
For all their cruel spight
I set not by their haste
For thou art my delight.

I am not she that list
My anchor to let fall
For every drizzling mist
My ship substancial.

Not oft use I to wright
In prose nor yet in rime,
Yet will I shew one sight
That I saw in my time.

I saw a rial throne
Where Justice should have sit
But in her stead was one
Of moody cruel wit.

Absorpt was rightwisness
As of the raging flood
Sathan in his excess
Suct up the guiltless blood.

Then thought I, Jesus lord,
When thou shalt judge us all
Hard is it to record
On these men what will fall.

Yet lord, I thee desire
For that they do to me
Let them not taste the hire
Of their iniquity.