Category Archives: Pray

Fr. Mike Crosby greets “Sister Death”

August 08, 2017

Author: Christopher Cox

Category: Pray

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.

Saint Irenaeus: A Saint for Garment Justice

June 06, 2017

Author: Christopher Cox

Category: Pray

St. Irenaeus

St. Irenaeus

“The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”

St. Irenaeus

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:

  • Look at the labels on the clothing you are wearing right now. Write them down in a list.
  • Now, compare that list with the following list. I’d be surprised if you are not wearing any item made in a country from the tier two watch list or tier three.
  • Our clothes are made where they are for a reason.

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.

Prayer of St. Irenaeus

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

A Lament for Rana Plaza

April 04, 2017

Author: Christopher Cox

Category: Pray

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:

St. Patrick: A Saint for Garment Justice

March 03, 2017

Author: Christopher Cox

Category: Pray

St. Patrick

St. Patrick

For St. Patrick’s Day, as they say, “Everyone is Irish.” We put on our green clothing, great cities have wondrous parades, and some among us may use the opportunity to drink to excess. Perhaps this March 17th we might recall another aspect of St. Patrick’s life.

Of the rough contours that most Catholics might recall of his life, most know that St. Patrick evangelized Ireland. Not through force or deception but through his living witness, Ireland became a deeply Catholic island. Some may even add in that he drove all the snakes from Ireland. Hence, Irish descendants around the globe celebrate kinship with the missionary bishop.

Nonetheless, others also have a special connection with St. Patrick. Like more than 21 million people worldwide today, St. Patrick was a victim of human trafficking and slavery.

Born in Great Britain, at 16 years old, St. Patrick was captured by raiders and brought to what is now considered to be the County of Antrim in Northern Ireland.  Sold into slavery, a chieftain forced Patrick into service as a shepherd. Patrick’s voice, that drew so many to the faith, was the voice of a trafficking victim. In his biography, Confession, we find this evocative phrase:

I, in my smallness, am now to be found among foreigners.

Eventually, amid an escape and recapture and another escape, St. Patrick returned to his family. In thanksgiving, he studied for the priesthood. Embedded within St. Patrick’s biography is a story of grace, healing, and reconciliation. No longer a slave, he returned to Ireland, the place of his slavery, to evangelize. Based on the success of his evangelization, his return to Ireland was not as an accusation but forgiveness. He did not tell the old story of “goodies” and “baddies” or hero and victim. St. Patrick was a herald to a new story which was good news for his former oppressors.

Similarly, St. Patrick’s hopeful experience suggests not only that it is our task to liberate those enslaved in human trafficking, but that, indeed, those persons who have been trafficked can be a moment of conversion and a gift to us in the dominant culture.

I first encountered “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” in a television show about an inner-city parish, “Nothing Sacred.” No longer “bound” in slavery, St. Patrick freely chooses to “bind” himself to Christ. Watch this video clip and recall that the words come from a former slave.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever,
by power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
his baptism in Jordan river;
his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spicèd tomb;
his riding up the heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet “Well done” in judgment hour;
the service of the seraphim;
confessors’ faith, apostles’ word,
the patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven
the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken, to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort
and restore me.
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of
all that love me,
Christ in mouth of
friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

A special thanks to CRS, that recognized St. Patrick as a victim of human trafficking. I also recommend John Richmond’s post: St. Patrick’s Day: A View on Suffering & Slavery.