Thursday, January 30, 2014

of Mercy

A few days ago, i received this as a thought accompanying a daily biblical quotation, from some sisters near Boston College. I don't know how they started appearing but they did.
     How can one ask for mercy
    when one refuses to give to another;
    If we expect to receive mercy, we should give mercy.

    --St. Caesarius of Arles, 6th century
For many, a famous and  memorable utterance on mercy comes from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Portia speaks to Shylock in Act IV, scene i:
The quality of mercy is not strain'd.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the heart of kings;
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.
Now, Shakespeare was Catholic and very well versed on the theology. There are seven corporal (bodily) works of mercy. Six are presented together in Matthew's quotation of Jesus’ Judgement of the Nations:
For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.
The seventh is to bury the dead, which is repeatedly mentioned in the Book of Tobit. Tuesday, i attended a Funeral Mass. The Gospel reading was Jesus' Judgement of the Nations. The man was very active in charitable works, he acted as the giving Christian. He worked with feeding the hungry and homeless, at the parish* and Public Square. He joined in peace groups, and anti-death penalty vigils. He volunteered for his high school as a tutor, and on the phone banks.

On Wednesday, i went to breakfast with a friend.  There was a big pickup truck in the lot with hand lettered signs, one was a statement saying as a vet he did not fight for ‘illegal immigrants’.  A few days earlier, i had watched an early episode (Smoke Screen) [John Kennedy was president] of the The Fugitive. While working as an agricultural harvester amongst mostly Mexicans near San Diego, he was suspected of being an undercover police agent, and was badly treated therefore. The laborers were then impressed into forest fire service, and the fires were engulfing. As the story turned out, one of the ‘illegals’ had a pregnant wife. They came expressively to have the child born in the US. As a surgeon he was needed, but the story became picked up by the press, and his pursuivant, Lieutenant Gerard was informed. Richard Kimble (here Joseph Walker) and the braceros change the story to hide Kimble. The local sheriff phones Gerard, and says the ‘doctor’ was a Mexican vet. Gerard at the end of the episode, then wipes the tracking path, of grease pencil off his glass outline map, of his pursuit. 

The Fugitive is a television series that would not be produced to-day. There are a myriad of series on more networks than i know where crime is celebrated, or far, far, more often the relentless successful prosecution of people. David Janssen was innocent, but on the run, he was a ‘fugitive’ from justice; but wherever he went, he did good deeds. He was a saint. He had mercy for others, while the law was merciless towards him.

Saint Faustina Kowalska was a twentieth century visionary. She gave the world the Devotion to the Divine Mercy of Jesus. In her Diary, she wrote the words Jesus said to her. In one passage, Jesus says:
Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God.
Canonised saints are not the only people with understanding of the nature of Jesus.  The comic satirist and Catholic catechist, Stephen Colbert, spoke on Jesus and Our Christian Nation:
If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus is just as selfish as we are or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition. And then admit that we just don’t want to do it.
*The last time, i had been inside that parish church, was the day of Bishop Richard Gerard Lennon's Mass of  Eviction. Jim had worked there, and his newly assigned parish, and then back again at his parish. The parish is a community that has hold on its members. It is an extended family. It is the basic christian unit.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Snow Mass

Over three winters i photographed St. Casimir-in-exile. This is a photograph that could not have been taken then.  Cars inside the parking lot fence firstly and foremost; and secondly, the piled shoveled snow.
The lower striations on the snow reminds me of a gathered stage curtain. This is another shot i would not have been in position for whilst on the street. This corner of the hall/gym/cafeteria/auditorium is not visible from off the property.

Another note, to-day, i think, was the first time i heard the whistling of St. Casimir's bells. They are unused, and boarded over in the towers; but a wind got inside and was at periods audible in the balcony.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

mourning dove

zenaida macroura
How does one stay alive in the open and cold (11°F)?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

'S' is for Squirrel

I find myself encountering squirrels when i am out and about. In the city, amongst the trees, there the squirrels play. They are photogenic and have a joyful, attractive charisma. This i noted as a child, outside my bedroom window they would skirt about the porch roof. Other people enjoy them too, Christy Hargrove of Asheville North Carolina invented Squirrel Appreciation Day in 2001.

Amongst the western and Jugoslavs the word for squirrel is a form of veverice, veverka. A Slovene child's poem begins,
Veverica, veverica,
skoči sem, skoči tja,
ko pa na vrh smreke spleza
z repkom pomahlja. ...

Squirrel, squirrel,
jump here, jump there,
when on top of the spruce you climb
with your tail you wave . ...
Amongst the Croats a child's toy is a squirrel with an umbrella that is formed after a nursey rhyme. There is an air of humour about this clever, vivacious rodent.
Diše, diše, kiša, kiša
Vjeverica kišobran drži
Kiša pada, trava raste
Breathe, breathe, rain, rain
Squirrel an umbrella holds
Rain falls, grass grows
In an episode [# 110 The Most Unforgettable Characters 4 January 1977] of the television series M*A*S*H, Radar takes a correspondence course from the "Famous Las Vegas Writers' School". His second assignment has him asking Hawkeye about an amusing personal anecdote.

Hawkeye: This happened while I was in my first year of medical school. I was taking an exam in anatomy. It was really tough. They ask questions like "How many bones are there in the hand?" I was stymied. I kept saying to myself, "How many bones are there in the hand?" Then I heard this little voice that said "24." I looked around the room and there sitting on the window sill of the classroom was this little grey squirrel with a very intelligent face. And he pointed at his hand and said "24." So I wrote it down. And then after the exam I rushed over to the library to look it up. And would you believe it? That stupid squirrel was wrong by four bones. I went looking all over the campus for him. I wanted to kill him. I finally found him over on a bench by the psych department. "You were wrong!" I screamed at him. "There's 28 bones in the human hand!" "Oh," he said pointing at his hand, "I thought you meant a squirrel's hand."
There are 27 bones in a human hand.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

the kittiwake returns, photobombing gulls

fotobombing coot
fotobombing kittiwake and goose
fotobombing merganser
 notice the distinctive 'M' pattern of the juvenile kittiwake in flight
The splash is where a companion merganser had been a second ago. These are diving ducks. Sometimes there is one, sometimes a dozen, and then in an instant, they disappear from the viewfinder.
Wrangler, a street rescue five years ago, is fit and handsome. Upon being given to his present owners, he was a malnourished, scrawny wretch. To-day, he is on his first birdwalk. Sunday, 19 January. East 72nd. Cleveland lake shore.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Another trial, another reprieve

From Caiaphas to Pilate and back again...
In a tumultuous few afternoon hours, one of the many police agencies (ICE--immigration) of the federal government terrorised, played with, and spat out a family. Only very instant and intense concerted action by friends, a legal eagle, and a public informed by the press prevented a tragedy.
ICE (immigration and customs enforcement within the dept. of Homeland Security) demanded Ricardo Ramos to appear in Cleveland's Federal Bldg. by 3 o'clock for immediate processing for deportation. Friends and supporters, led by Veronica Dahlberg, came to the most impromptu of rallies across the street from that building, near the Free Stamp sculpture on East Ninth and Lakeside. At 2.30, Ms. Dahlberg gave background to several press mediums on the situation. She spoke of the Ramos family, and the government. The figures for 2013's deportations were recently released, of the over 300 thousand, over 80% were of Mexicans and Guatemalans. This is far more than proportional. Why has the government gone after these particular nationals? The government is not concentrating its efforts on criminals, terrorists, and that sort. They are going after those people who are doing the most humble of jobs, for depressed wages. These undocumented foreign nationals, immigrants, gather the nation's food, and often prepare it. They labor so others can eat.

Yesterday, a stay of appeal was pending. Late this morning deportation was ordered. Mr. Ramos gathered his children from school, and friends accompanied him downtown. It looked as the only thing that mitigated was the weather, for a handful of minutes a brilliant backlighting shone upon the people, and no hawk wind off the lake blew on them. Later during the conference a falcon flew over. Later still, when people were to go home, a flurry of snow hit.

Friends carried signs, including those imploring Congressional Representative Marcia Fudge (D) to keep a promise for help. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D), and David Joyce (R) have intervened on the family's behalf. Mr. Joyce's staff received grief and negative feedback from his erstwhile supporters. But, this is an action of the executive branch of government; they have the option of leniency; they have instead been most capricious, and often dismissively insulting, and hard hitting. If not for so much intervention by others, Ricardo Ramos would be long gone.

Then while the growing group of eighty individuals, many whom left work in Lorain, Painesville, and Akron to be there and wait for the the witching hour to tick off, David Leopold [center] came with the news of the new reprieve. He spoke for a quick couple of minutes to Ms. Dahlberg and Mr. Ramos, and told them of the latest peril averted. He then spoke to the press.
Immigration counsel, David Leopold explains that an Immigration reform bill is moving through the United States Senate. Its provisions would cover Ricardo Ramos's case. "It would be patently unfair for the government to remove Mr. Ramos at this time".
Ricardo Ramos spoke softly, while a noisy bus passed by. His emotional whirlwind affected him toward tears. His family has been tossed to and fro by a capricious prosecution.
 Michelle turned twelve yesterday, she was asked how was this birthday present.

 This is a warm, united, and loving family in danger of needless disruption.

And after the press left, they prayed in a language that God recognised. Many would attend Mass at Saint Casimir Sunday, and retrieve a statue of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe they brought with them at the end of a twenty mile peregrinación.
addenda, Saturday 18 January: perhaps, in astronomy the word is conjunction

Yesterday, the thought occurred to me, while outside next to the Free Stamp of proximity and involvement. I was there with the press, and the friends and family of Ricardo Ramos. East Ninth and Lakeside is interesting. Across the street is the Federal Building, a 32 storey piece of Bauhaus Brutalism, with scaffolding and barricades, almost to resemble some alien bunker outpost from a science-fiction space flick. Across the street is a building with a sign "Jones, Day", which i hear, is the largest and most powerful law firm in the Middle West. I have heard they are, or were, the legal counsel of choice for the diocese.

I was wearing an oversize sweat jacket with Notre Dame letters and colors. Some of the campesinos from Lorain held a bandera with Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. One of the reporters mentioned to me, that the cathedral/chancery was very near by. Where was their representative?

To-morrow, there is to be an Immigrant's Mass at the Irish cathedral (Saint Colman's) with episcopal participation. Perhaps some notice can be given to these illustrious personages.

Christmas actors

so young and she knows the look
Two of the actors in the Pastorałka performed at the Opłatek at St. Casimir Cleveland on the 12th of January. Tomasz Jr. and  Liz Mary Citak.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

a petition for mercy

Ricardo shouldn't be torn apart from his family!

To be delivered to Rebecca Adducci, Director of the Detroit ICE Office
Please grant deferred action to Ricardo Ramos (A# 88-138-442). Ricardo is a loving father of three U.S. citizen children. He's been a hardworking American and deserves a chance to stay with his family. Please exercise prosecutorial discretion and stop Ricardo's deportation!

Petition Background

Michelle will be forced to spend her 12th birthday saying good-bye to her Dad, instead of spending it with him and the rest of her family like most kids her age.

That's because immigration officials in the Obama Administration have decided to deport Michelle's dad, Ricardo Ramos. He has until Thursday to leave, the very same day as her birthday. Ricardo has called Ohio his home for nearly two decades and has three U.S. citizen children, yet ICE officials want to tear his family apart by deporting him.

If ICE officials go through with Ricardo's deportation, Ricardo's family will be devastated. He's a loving dad and is the sole breadwinner in the family, recently taking on a second job in a restaurant in addition to the 16 years he's spent working in local nurseries.

When police pulled Ricardo over for driving without a license, they sent him to ICE officials. Friends and supporters got Ricardo's initial January 1, 2014 deportation date postponed, but now ICE officials have set a new date to deport him just a few days away. We need your help returning him to his family!

Ricardo would likely qualify for the path to citizenship in the Senate immigration bill and President Obama's Administration shouldn't be pushing hardworking, taxpaying Americans like Ricardo for Speaker John Boehner's inaction. In fact, because President Obama supports the Senate's bill, he shouldn't be deporting immigrants like Ricardo at all.

Please help Ricardo by asking ICE officials to exercise "prosecutorial discretion" and let Ricardo return home to his family where he belongs. They need you to act right now!

Michelle shouldn't spend her birthday being torn away from her dad. Help Ricardo stay where he belongs, at home!
postscriptum: 10.09 p.m. 15 January 2014--the petition at this moment has 1,183 signatures.
postscriptum: 08.56 a.m. 16 January 2014--the petition at this moment has 1,223 signatures.
I don't know when the document will be delivered, but office hours must be approaching.
postscriptum: 3 p.m. 16 January 2014--"ICE [immigration police] has informed David [Leopold, attorney] that they will not be picking up Ricardo, as the decision is pending. We don't know how long it will take. It could be tomorrow, or next week."
postscriptum: 12.01 a.m. 18 January 2014--the petition at this moment has 2,290 signatures.

A Thought for Kevin O'Brien

January 15 2014's  A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way. -Martin Luther King Jr., civil-rights leader (1929-1968) 

I subscribe to  A.Word.A.Day by Anu Garg. [click, and].  He presents a word, and at the end, often, his "thought for today" is a humanitarian one.

The last few posts, that i have presented, were on Ricardo Ramos. This thought for today should be sent to Kevin O'Brien of the management of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Some few years ago he vented his spleen on protestors of the 2006 Air Show, and people responded with a small book containing some of the letters that were sent to O'Brien's paper. He has been a guest on the Feagler show several times, and he looks like a mild-mannered, soft-spoken fellow. Appearances are sometimes deceiving.

And Kevin O'Brien [click] continues to be a contemptible jerk, and hypocritical fascist. He quotes from the News-Herald because his paper's management (which he is a member of) did not write an article on the pilgrimage; although Gus Chan did photograph, and well, the pilgrimage. It is very common in the United States to see a glaring discontinuity between reporters, and photographers compared to the editorialists of management. The Cleveland Plain Dealer often publishes good reporting in articles and pictures, and then a brake is applied to those journalists, so that the editorial writers can present a Fox-like "balance" of contradiction as authoritative consideration.

It is time for a new book that has been inspired by Kevin O'Brien.

Monday, January 13, 2014

pilgrims and friends

Elizabeth Wood Perez is a wife and mother. She is wearing camouflage pants, because she is a veteran of ten years of the United States Marine Corps. She is a daughter of St. Margaret Mary's of South Euclid. This was one of the fifty-eight parishes that Bishop Lennon closed, and its appeal mysteriously vanished, and there has been no answer given.

In many ways Mrs. Perez is remarkable. She has been apportioned grief, bother, and sorrow; and yet she is of a most fervently cheery and approachable demeanor. At the time of the parish's eviction, and suppression, her husband was arrested. She turned to the pastor of the open St. Gregory's and was rudely, and insulting rebuffed. She quoted Catholic theology of mercy to the priest, and this caused him to snap at her. This is mirrored in the lives of many Catholics, officious priests called on their neglect of pastoral duties and contradiction of teaching whom instead of correcting their errors reply in snide umbrage. Sometimes people do not lose faith, and leave the church, but are actively pushed away. Asking a priest of St. Clare's parish for help for her jailed husband, she was told, that "we don't do that anymore". Her husband is a deportee.

She attends St. Ann's now. A priest from there gave her the crucifix to carry during the pilgrimage.
When the word came that the pilgrims had made the turn from Euclid Ave, people gathered to greet them. A retired attorney, Joseph Meissner (rear right with pocket phone), called the bishop of Cleveland, and the mayor of Cleveland to ask them to be at St. Casimir's to also welcome the pilgrims. To do so would show that the Church welcomed the émigrés, and to remind the public that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were strangers and immigrants in Egypt; and to do so would show that elected leaders cared about residents; and both would make a political statement of forthrightness to expose the onerous, unjust, and unfair policy that is inflicted on humble people. Joseph did not get through to the men, although he did speak to female subordinates. No one would come from the chancery, nor from City Hall.

One block away from Saint Casimir, on Kosciuszko, they rest and listen to the last directions before arrival and entry.
John approachs the open doors of St. Casimir's and a cadre of welcome.

Arrival, and a joyous profound piety

Llegada, y una profunda piedad gozoso

The two adults (foreground), David Leopold and Lynn Tramonte, are immigration advocates and arrived as a vanguard of the pilgrims. They arrived before the estimated finish of 4 p.m.
John Niedzialek lidera el pelotón y el tren de los peregrinos
John Niedzialek leads the peloton and train of the pilgrims through his old boyhood streets to his family's parish of St. Casimir. The marchers left at 8 a.m. (an half hour late) and arrived just on the other side of 4 o'clock. Twenty miles in eight hours, this is a special episode in the history of the parish, and of the entire diocese. Such pilgrimages are not uncommon in the old country, whether in Europe or Latin America; but this is in Cleveland's cold.

They sang three songs, including Pescador de Hombres (which the Casimiri often sang on the streets in the Polish version, Barka, which was John Paul II's favorite hymn. The Poles were surprised that it was not originally Polish. I mentioned this to Wojciech, one of the prayer leaders. He gave me an odd puzzling look, and was shocked). They recited a decade of the rosary, and Father Eric Orzech, pastor of St. Casimir led the Benediction. The Host was displayed in a monstrance, and a pleasant fragrant cloud of incense hung in the air.

The feeling of warm spirituality flooded the physical space of the nave of St. Casimir's parish church to-day upon the arrival of the pilgrims. They had walked twenty miles in eight hours. An initial group of sixty-five left Mentor, and along the way they were joined by others, and welcomed by people waiting outside the church. Some two hundred souls sang, prayed and celebrated Benediction. They marched with an intention for Mary, the Mother of God, to intervene on behalf of Ricardo Ramos. But not only for Ricardo, but his family, and many individuals and their many families. Some people have had their families forcibly torn apart already, and others fear that their family will be so ripped. Too many hundreds of thousands have to live in shadow and fear. Currently the United States has aggressively executed a deportation policy that is cruel, and by very little is interrupted by mercy.

They had the good fortune, and the gift of benevolent providence to have their pilgrimage of supplication on, perhaps, the most hospitable day that this January has to offer. A week before, the temperature was sixty degrees colder, and snow drifted about.

Thursday is another day of demarcation, that will burden a family's nerves, and hearts, to breaking. The government is functionary in a thoughtless manner. Most of the public is ignorant, and uncaring. The last hope is a belief in the Goodness of God. It is a sad comfort, but true: the Crucifixion of Jesus was legal, his Resurrection was prohibited and illegal.
  por favor salvar a nuestras familias, please save our families

postscriptum: 15 January. for another presentation with audio-visual clips and fotos [click]

Inicio del Camino de San Casimiro

The start of the Pilgrimage to Saint Casimir
(pictures first, words later) (imágenes primero, las palabras más adelante)
 before dawn in the parking lot of a shopping center in Mentor Ohio
  Rosario Chavez, Juana Sanchez, Veronica Dahlberg, San Juana Montes, Ivonne Pinera
 dawn begins, the 7.30 a.m. start will be a few minutes late
 the leaders of the pilgrimage Marisela, Veronica, and Elizabeth stand before the HOLA banner
(HOLA, defines itself as a "small, grassroots Latino organization based in NE Ohio focusing on Latino Outreach, Advocacy and Community Organizing")
 part of the local press corps, with members of the Ramos family and friends
The patroness of all Mexico, and all her children is Our Lady of Guadeloupe, Mary, the Mother of God. A statue of her accompanies the pilgrims. La patrona de todo México, y todos sus hijos es la Virgen de Guadalupe, María, la Madre de Dios. Una estatua de ella acompaña a los peregrinos.
Route 20, Mentor Avenue (which becomes Euclid Avenue) is not completely bordered by sidewalks. Originally, the pilgrimage route was to be along the freeway, and therefore longer. This would have made for some more problems. The path they chose is of some local historical note. Just a wee bit east before the start, in Mentor, is the home of James Garfield, who had been president for a few days in 1881. The road becomes Euclid Avenue, at that time Euclid was Millionaire's Row. Catholics and the poor were forbidden there, unless they were servants or other workmen. The Cleveland city limits had been at E.79th at one time. That is where the turn north of the pilgrimage route would be. Back in the Robber Baron/Gilded Age their churches were on Euclid, and no Catholic churches were built there. St. Agnes later was built on E.80th, and now after a fire, only the campanile remains. A little later still, St. Philomena[extant] was built in East Cleveland. While, on a parallel street closer to the Lake, Superior Avenue, there were several Catholic churches (SS. John[extant], Peter[extant], Columbkille, Andrew Svorad, Francis, George, Thomas Aquinas). People were expected to know their place.

Dora Acosta, Laura Mendez, Rosy Ramirez
Laura holds a picture of Saint Toribio Romo González [click, click, and click], a Cristero martyr, and a patron of immigrants. Rosy is carrying a picture of Fr. Nicolás Aguilar Copado of Guadalajara, Jalisco, 2004†.