September 09, 2017
Author: Christopher Cox
Currently, Pope Francis is visiting Colombia. One of his stops will be Cartagena and the shrine of St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit priest, on the day after his feast day. In fact, his final public event in Colombia is a Mass in the evening at the seafront in Cartagena, during which the remains of St. Peter Claver and St. Maria Bernarda Bütler, a Swiss Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, who also worked there, will be exposed.
Peter Claver was born to a prosperous family in Verdu, Spain, and earned his first degree in Barcelona. He entered the Jesuits in 1601. When he was in Majorca studying philosophy, Claver was encouraged by Alphonsus Rodriguez, the saintly doorkeeper of the college, to go to the missions in America. Claver listened, and in 1610 he landed in Cartagena, Colombia. After completing his studies in Bogotá, Peter was ordained in Cartagena in 1616.
Cartagena was one of two ports where slaves from Africa arrived to be sold in South America. Between the years 1616 and 1650, Peter Claver worked daily to minister to the needs of the 10,000 slaves who arrived each year.
As soon as a slave ship entered the port, Peter Claver moved into its infested hold to minister to the ill-treated and exhausted passengers. After the slaves were herded out of the ship like chained animals and shut up in nearby yards to be gazed at by the crowds, Claver plunged in among them with medicines, food, bread, brandy, lemons, and tobacco. With the help of interpreters he gave basic instructions and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity and God’s love. During the 40 years of his ministry, Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves. Claver said, “We must speak to them with our hands before we speak to them with our lips.”
In the last years of his life Peter was too ill to leave his room. The ex-slave who was hired to care for him treated him cruelly, not feeding him many days, and never bathing him. Claver never complained. He was convinced that he deserved this treatment.
In 1654 Peter was anointed with the oil of the Sacrament of the Sick. When Cartagenians heard the news, they crowded into his room to see him for the last time. They treated Peter Claver’s room as a shrine, and stripped it of everything but his bedclothes for mementos. At the age of 73, Claver died September 7, 1654.
St. Peter Claver was canonized in 1888. His memorial is celebrated on September 9.
When we look upon today’s slaves as anything else than fellow human beings and gifts of God, we view them as commodities to be bought and sold. We deprive them of their dignity. These are the poor and vulnerable who are forced, coerced, or by economic choice enter into a very dark underworld that enmeshes at least 21 million people on our planet today.
Like Saint Peter Claver, let us see the “Christ” within each and every person, especially those who are the world’s modern slaves, like many who make our clothes. Indeed, St. Peter Claver, a patron saint for victims of human trafficking, is a saint for garment justice.
O God, who made Saint Peter Claver a slave of slaves and strengthened him with wonder charity and patience as he came to their help, grant, through his intercession, that, seeking the things of Jesus Christ, we may love our neighbor in deeds and in truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
August 08, 2017
Author: Christopher Cox
With sadness, we share the news that our founder, Fr. Mike Crosby, O.F.M., Cap., has died. In December of 2016, a CT scan and subsequent testing resulted in a diagnosis of cancer of the esophagus. In April, just after Easter, Fr. Mike underwent surgery after a course of radiation treatment and chemotherapy. While the initial prognosis looked positive, another CT scan in June revealed that the cancer had returned with force, and Fr. Mike entered hospice care in Detroit early that month.
Michael Crosby died on 5 August 2017 at the age of 77, after suffering with cancer.
Michael Crosby was born on 16 February 1940, the son of Hugh and Blanche Crosby of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He was invested in the Capuchin Order on 31 August 1959, perpetually professed his vows on 1 September 1963, and was ordained on 6 October 1966.
A writer and speaker, Michael was also the executive director of the Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment, which focuses on social ministry and activism through investment. Michael did pastoral ministry at St. Elizabeth Parish (now St. Martin de Porres Parish) in Milwaukee from 1968-1973. From 1973 until his death, Michael ministered in the area of corporate responsibility. Additionally, he was a collaborator for the canonization cause of Capuchin friar Solanus Casey.
Michael is survived by his brother Daniel (also a Capuchin friar), as well as his many Capuchin brothers with whom he lived, prayed and ministered during the past 58 years.
Thurs., Aug 10: St. Bonaventure Monastery, Detroit, 5-8 pm,
with service at 7 pm.
Friday, Aug 11: St. Francis Parish, Milwaukee, 5-8 pm, with service at 7 pm
Liturgy of Christian Burial:
Sat., Aug 12, St. Lawrence Seminary, Mt. Calvary WI; 10:30 am, with viewing beforehand.
Burial in Capuchin cemetery, Mt. Calvary WI
Fr. Mike’s reflections, and those of his brother Fr. Dan, are found on a Caring Bridge site.
June 06, 2017
Author: Christopher Cox
“The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”
Few priests may recall more than this one quotation from St. Irenaeus, and it is a gem. St. Irenaeus comes a distinguished family tree of disciples. See, St. Irenaeus, as a lad, heard St. Polycarp preach in his hometown of Smyrna (in modern day Turkey). In fact, St. Polycarp was his bishop. Polycarp, as a young man, was a disciple who cared for St. John the Evangelist in his old age. St. Irenaeus then was born somewhere around the year 130, raised in a Christian home, a rather uncommon occurrence in that era. By the time of the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor from 161–180, Irenaeus was a priest in Lyons (now modern day France). While Irenaeus was away delivering a letter to Pope Eleuterus, the bishop of Lyons and others were killed. Upon his return, he became bishop of Lyons, a position that he would hold until his death. Though the details are unclear, St. Irenaeus died around the year 200, most likely as a martyr himself.
Adversus Haereses (Against the Heresies), St. Irenaeus’ theological masterpiece, is much more than a refutation of the major objections to Christian faith in his time. Alongside De trinitate of St. Augustine and the Summa theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas, it is one of the most impressive expressions of Christian doctrine in the history of the church. That oft-cited quotation from St. Irenaeus is from the fourth book of the Adversus Haereses: “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”
Martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero added:
Gloria Dei, vivens pauper.
The glory of God is the poor person fully alive.
Why is such a phrase so significant? Every person—regardless of gender, race, age, nationality, religion, or economic status—deserves respect. Enshrined within Catholic Social teaching, our dignity does not come from what we have or what we do; it comes from being God’s special creation. When a person is fully alive God shines through. The person lives as a child of God – a person who is to be loved as we love God. The human person fully alive lives with joy, with dignity. Contrast that “human being fully alive” with the conditions within which so many garment workers struggle: illegally low wages, intimidation, and abuse (verbal, physical, sexual, among others). Yesterday’s release of the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report from the U.S. State Department says that we have much to do. For example:
If we genuinely believe that “The glory of God is a human being fully alive” then we must act for full human flourishing. We cannot be satisfied with cheap clothes at the expense of suffering garment workers. St. Irenaeus made that clear a long time ago, and, for that reason, St. Irenaeus is a saint for garment justice.
It is not you that shapes God
it is God that shapes you.
If you are the work of God
await the loving hand of the artist
who does all things in due season.
Offer Him your heart,
soft and tractable,
and keep the form
in which the artist has fashioned you.
Let your clay be moist,
lest you grow hard
and lose the imprint of his fingers.
– St. Irenaeus
April 04, 2017
Author: Christopher Cox
For a fourth time, people around the world will commemorate the anniversary of history’s deadliest garment industry disaster. On April 24, 2013, near Dhaka in Bangladesh, the eight-story Rana Plaza building collapsed taking the lives of 1,134 workers and injuring more than 2,500. Littered among the rubble were labels for American brands, as much of the clothing produced there was destined for the United States. At the time, Pope Francis remarked, “Living on 38 euros ($50) a month – that was the pay of these people who died. That is called slave labor.”
The Human Thread offers the following prayer service as a way to commemorate the tragic events at Rana Plaza. We do not simply mourn those who died. We see that it calls us to something new. We will only know an abiding joy when our guilt and overwhelming unease yields to a compassionate solidarity with those whom we have exploited. To lament is to wrestle with difficult questions through suffering and conversion. Gradually, we become more aware of our complicity in the violence of global supply chains and no longer seek to hide it. Our exultant Easter Alleluias can only be born of Good Friday’s lamentation.
Hence, we hope that you will find this prayer service helpful and fitting for remembering those who lost their lives at Rana Plaza: http://www.humanthreadcampaign.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/RanaPlaza.pdf