Friday, May 28, 2010

A Catholic Memorial Day Reflection on St. Maximilian who chose death over military service

St. Maximilian: Jerry Holsopple, iconographer
St. Maximilian, Martyr (A. D. 295), Commemoration on the Church calendar: March 12

The passion of St Maximilian is one of that small collection of precious documents that is an authentic, contemporary and unembroidered account of the trial and death of an early martyr. It runs as follows:

In the consulate of Tuscus and Anulinus, on March 12, at Theveste in Numidia, [note: Now Tebessa in Algeria. It is suggested that this is a copyist's mistake, and that the martyrdom was really somewhere near Carthage. Cf. the penultimate paragraph."] Fabius Victor was brought before the court, together with Maximilian. The public prosecutor, Pompeian, opened the case, and said, 'Fabius Victor is here with Caesar's commissary, Valerian Quintian. I demand that Maximilian, son of Victor, a conscript suitable for service, be measured.' The proconsul Dion asked the young man his name, and he answered, 'What is the good of replying? I cannot enlist, for I am a Christian'; and added when the proconsul told the usher to take his height,
'I cannot serve, I cannot do evil. I am a Christian.' The proconsul repeated his order, and the usher reported that Maximilian measured five feet ten inches. Then the proconsul said he was to be given the military badge, but Maximilian persisted, 'Never! I cannot be a soldier.'

DION: You must serve or die.

MAXIMILIAN: I will never serve. You can cut off my head, but I will not be a soldier of this world, for I am a soldier of Christ. [Footnote: "It was this insistence of the early Christians on being soldiers of Christ that gave us our word 'pagan': paganus=a civilian. Cf. Shorter Oxford Dictionary, edition of 1936."]

DION: What has put these ideas into your head?

MAXIMILIAN: My conscience and He who has called me.

DION (to Fabius Victor): Put your son right.

VICTOR: He knows what he believes, and he will not change.

DION (to Maximilian): Be a soldier and accept the emperor's badge. [Footnote: "A leaden seal (bulla), worn around the neck. Cf. the modern identity disc."]

MAXIMILIAN: Not at all. I carry the mark of Christ my God already.

DION: I shall send you to your Christ at once.

MAXIMILIAN: I ask nothing better. Do it quickly, for there is my glory.

DION (to the recruiting-officer): Give him his badge.

MAXIMILIAN: I will not take the badge. If you insist, I will deface it. I am a Christian, and I am not allowed to wear that leaden seal around my neck. For I already carry the sacred sign of the Christ, the Son of the living God, whom you know not, the Christ who suffered for our salvation, whom God gave to die for our sins. It is He whom all we Christians serve, it is He whom we follow, for He is the Lord of life, the Author of our salvation.

DION: Join the service and accept the sear, or else you will perish miserably.

MAXIMILIAN: I shall not perish: my name is even now before God. I refuse to serve.

DION: You are a young man and the profession of arms befits your years. Be a soldier.

MAXIMILIAN: My army is the army of God, and I cannot fight for this world. I tell you, I am a Christian.

DION: There are Christian soldiers serving our rulers Diocletian and Maximian, Constantius and Galerius.

MAXIMILIAN: That is their business. I also am a Christian, and I cannot serve.

DION: But what harm do soldiers do?

MAXIMILIAN: You know well enough.

DION: If you will not do your service I shall condemn you to death for contempt of the army.

MAXIMILIAN: I shall not die. If I go from this earth my soul will live with Christ my lord.

DION: Write his name down....Your impiety makes you refuse military service, and you shall be punished accordingly as a warning to others.

[He then read the sentence]
Maximilian has refused the military oath through impiety. He is to be beheaded.

MAXIMILIAN: God liveth!

Maximilian's age was twenty-one years, three months and eighteen days. On his way to death he said to the assembled Christians, 'Beloved brethren, make haste to attain the vision of God and to deserve a crown like mine with all your strength and with the deepest longing.' He was radiant; and, turning to his father, he said, 'That cloak you got ready for when I was a soldier, give it to the lictor. The fruits of this good work will be multiplied an hundredfold. May I welcome you in Heaven and glorify God with you!'

Almost at once his head was cut off.

A matron named Pompeiana obtained Maximilian's body and had it carried in her litter to Carthage, where she buried it close to the holy Cyprian, not far from the palace.

Victor went home joyfully, thanking God for having allowed him to send such a gift to Heaven, whither he was not long in following his son. Amen.

The text of the passio is in Acta Sanctorum, March, vol. ii., and Ruinart, Acta sincera. *See Allard, Histoire des Persecutions, vol. iv; Delehaye, Les Passions des martyrs... pp. 104-110.

In the Third Century the Roman army was recruited chiefly from volunteers, but the sons of veterans were under obligation to serve.

In the Roman Martyrology, St Maximilian is called Mamilianus, and the place of his martyrdom is erroneously given as Rome.

Student demonstrators arrested at Senator Feinstein's Los Angeles office

Photo credit: Twitpic posted by @amjamd shows students being arrested at Feinstein's office.

Los Angeles, CA May 27, 2010

Three young women staged a sit-in at Senator Feinstein's office to underscore their commitment to their request that she champion a stand-alone DREAM Act bill before June 15th.

The students act was an attempt to highlight the urgency of legislative action in Congress, and catalyze a grassroots mobilization toward passage of the DREAM Act. Conservative estimates suggest 65,000 undocumented immigrant youth graduate from U.S. high schools annually. Many of them struggle to attend institutes of higher education and/or serve in the military.

The DREAM Act would grant youth who emigrated to the United States without authorization before the age of 16 a path to citizenship contingent on continuous presence in the country, good behavior, and the attainment of at least a two-year university degree or a two-year commitment to the armed forces.

Group member's statements follow:

Kimberlee - "I chose to participate in this sit-in for a number of reasons. First and foremost, to pressure Senator Feinstein to resume her position as a progressive leader of California and push for the DREAM Act as a stand alone bill. Second, I do this for all my undocumented student friends, and their friends and families who contribute to American society but are not allowed to fully participate in the American Dream. They work hard, and excel academically, and then are shut out from using their education in the best way possible. And finally, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther, King Jr. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Jessica- I am doing this because I want to see my friends remain in school. It is extremely hard to see the daily struggles my undocumented friends go through as they struggle to pay for school and the fear of their status. Undocumented students are amazing and highly motivated individuals who deserve the opportunity to a higher education, legalization, and the opportunity for a better life. I am taking part of this civil disobedience because I believe in equality and justice. I want to see my undocumented friends live without fear and have the opportunity to pursue their dreams without any limitations. The DREAM Act will help my friends have a better life. We need to pass the DREAM Act as a stand alone bill.

Kim- Education is a human right, and no one should be denied their education simply because of their status. I fight for the DREAM Act as a stand alone bill for my friends who simply wish to use their diploma. this is for those who are the first in their family to go to college. This is for those who are undocumented and unafraid.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"I'm Proud of Torture. It's the American Way!"

A guest post by Leslie Harris, CodePink

Despite the wind, rain, and cold in Dallas, dedicated peace and justice activists rallied to hold Karl Rove accountable on Monday [May 3, 2010] for his part in crimes committed by the Bush administration.

Without accountability, what will prevent the same things from happening over and over again?

CODEPINK showed up early to greet attendees of the exclusive (expensive) pre-show reception. At first, we stood right next to the doors, with our companion banners that read, "WE SEE A WAR CRIMINAL" and "ARREST HIM!", and we wore big pink bug-sunglasses to go along with that theme. Codepink uses farce to point out farce...and what is more farcical than a war criminal trying to legitimize his acts?

After most attendees were inside, we turned around and lined up in front of the glass-fronted lobby where the attendees were milling around, waiting to get into the reception. Noses-to-the-glass, we peered in with our bug-glasses and messages. They took lots of pictures, which we hope will be shown to their friends & family so that eventually someone - maybe several someones - will have a light-bulb moment.

Then the police came out and informed us that we'd have to move to public property, which, happily, just happened to be right where people were pulling in for valet parking and couldn't miss our messaging.

A man from an adjacent apartment building came over and shook all our hands and said, "Thank you so much for what you are doing! This needs to be done and I'm so glad to see that someone is doing it!" Later, he returned with hot tea and coffee for us!

We stayed until it was time for Rove's talk to begin and then un-donned our glasses & boas, picked up our tickets, and went into the auditorium. We sat quietly during the whole talk, waiting for the opportunity to ask questions during the "Q&A period," but it turned out that the moderator, Mike Gallagher, a conservative talk-show host and frequent FOX News contributor, was the only one slated to ask questions.

As soon as he mentioned CODEPINK by name, made fun of our lovely outfits, and said that a little rain must have scared us off, we took that as our cue. Two of us dropped a big banner that read, "MR. ROVE - PLEASE TURN YOURSELF IN," and waved handcuffs at him. We called out, "Mr. Rove - Waterboarding is torture; torture is illegal! Would you please turn yourself in...or at least agree to be waterboarded?" and "Karl Rove - How can you in all good conscience say that water-boarding is moral?" We were "escorted" out and rejoined the protest outside, which was now being held down by some awesome students from the U of N TX Campus Antiwar Network.

Moments later, two more dropped a second banner that read, "PROUD OF WATERBOARDING? REALLY??" Who wouldn't love the clip of Intrepid Nel being escorted out, with the banner still unfurled, in this video by Josh Smith.

Two people who weren't "banned" yet went inside, got into the book-signing line, and waited for the opportunity to point out, directly to Karl Rove, that he is, indeed a war criminal. More escorting-out.

Outside, we regrouped and rejoined the student activists. As the crowd poured out, we all lined up facing the auditorium, right next to where the valets were pulling up. As people got into their cars, they blurted out their own messages for us. Most lacked originality. There was the age-old, "Get a Job!" of course.

One woman said, as she was giving us quite a bit of attention, "If you didn't look so ridiculous people would pay more attention to you!" As for attention, Mr. Gallagher was nice enough to put us on his website. Thanks, Mike!

Another said, "I suppose you're all pro-abortion!" To which some of us replied, "No!" She ignored our explanations about a woman's choice, and yelled, "Killing is killing!" She scurried into her car, ignoring the irony of her own words.

Brandishing Rove's book, Courage and Consequence, a woman said, "You should read this book!" Some of us replied that we had. She had a Ron Paul bumper sticker, so we pointed out that Ron Paul was vehemently against many of the misdeeds of Karl Rove. She jumped in her car as fast as she could and sped away.

We invited commenters to stay and dialogue with us, but it seemed they all just wanted to call out their one-liners and run away.

The piece-de-resistance remark came from a woman who walked right up close to us, and, responding to our sign that said "PROUD OF TORTURE? REALLY??" she exclaimed, "The answer is, YES! I'm proud of torture. I'm very proud of torture! It's the American way!!"

Wow. The American way?! What can you say about that?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fed response to immigration boiling point: Enforcement or reform?

As the constitutional and civil rights consequences of Arizona's punitive new immigration law become more apparent, proponents and opponents of the law seem to share only one area of agreement: America's immigration laws are broken and must be repaired. The proposed solutions however, are as different as night and day.

Supporters of the law champion federal and state enforcement-only solutions premised on the belief that we must secure the borders before taking any other action to reform the system. Opponents of the law know that a border-first strategy is short-sighted, has failed in the past, and cannot provide a solution to the larger immigration problem. As these two forces mobilize for yet another immigration debate, the stakes grow ever higher and the need for accurate information increases.

Although it may be politically popular to call for additional border and interior enforcement, the real solutions and the facts call for a comprehensive approach. In order to truly solve the problem we must address the root causes of illegal immigration:

  • inadequate legal means for working and immigrating to the United States,
  • a deportation-driven strategy that focuses on numbers rather than genuine threats to national security, and
  • failure to enact a consistent, balanced federal plan for regulating immigration.

Pouring billions of dollars more into border enforcement alone or venting frustration through questionable state laws will not solve the problem.

Turning off the jobs magnet, expanding effective worker verification programs, providing a legal and regulated flow of workers, and getting millions of workers right with the law - paying taxes and contributing to our nation's recovery - is a recipe for reform. Throwing billions at enforcement-only has been the modus operandi in Washington for nearly two decades, and the results have been an increasingly dysfunctional system.