Report on Holy Week Faith and Resistance Retreat

Eleven Arrested at the Pentagon Good Friday Witness & Report on Holy Week Faith and Resistance Retreat, written by Art Laffin

Focusing on the theme: “Put Away the Sword–Follow Jesus in Nonviolent Revolution,” about 50 people from the Atlantic Life Community,  the New Jerusalem Community in Philadelphia, Loras College in Iowa and other peacemakers gathered in Washington, D.C. from April 4-6 for the annual Holy Week Faith and Resistance retreat sponsored by Jonah House and Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.  Remembering the Last Supper, arrest, torture, trial and crucifixion of Jesus, the retreat included time for prayer, reflection, community building and nonviolent public witness.
To begin the retreat, Cathy Breen, a member of the Maryhouse Catholic Worker in NYC, offered a compelling talk and slide presentation about the plight of Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria since the US-led invasion of Iraq, and how being in Iraq with Voices in the Wilderness during the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign changed her life forever. Recently returned from Jordan and Syria, Cathy reflected on the horrors of war and the seemingly insurmountable challenges facing Iraqi refugees in these countries, especially families, and also shared some of the ways she and others are helping them. She began and ended her talk with reflections on Martin Luther King Jr. as April 4 marked the 44th anniversary of King’s assassination. Following her talk, The New Jerusalem Community offered a powerful prayer/reflection about our need to continue to live in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Holy Thursday, the retreat community engaged in an early afternoon nonviolent witness at the Israeli Embassy to appeal to the Israeli government not to attack Iran. The witness included reading a statement outside the gates of the embassy (see below), a period of silent prayer, an offering of the Our Father in Hebrew, and singing the “Vine and Fig Tree” song. Following some serious and respectful negotiating with the Secret Service and Israeli security about delivering a copy of our statement to Embassy officials, the statement was accepted by an embassy security guard. On Holy Thursday evening a moving Liturgy was held centering on Jesus’ washing the disciples feet, the works of mercy and war, and the Eucharist.

On Good Friday, the community engaged in public witness both at the Pentagon and the White House. At 7:00 a.m. the community, held a “contemporary crucifixion” in a newly designated “protest zone” near the Pentagon metro entrance (see below the reflections that were read for each of the ten crucified victims as they, wearing black robes, took turns with arms outstretched on the cross). Simultaneously, on the sidewalk leading to the Pentagon metro entrance, eleven retreatants prayed in silence around a cross that had the inscription “Victims of War.” They also held a sign “Put Away the Sword,” and another sign that had the names of the 17 Afghan civilians who were massacred by US military violence on March 11th in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan. Chris Spicer tried to deliver a letter to Secretary of Defense (War) Panetta but was denied by police. After the third warning to leave the sidewalk or be arrested, Pentagon police arrested all eleven (see names below). They were charged with “Failure to comply with a lawful order,” and given a May 18th court date. At noon-time, the community, joined by other local peacemakers, repeated the contemporary crucifixion witness at the White House as hundreds of tourists looked on.

Let us pray for each other during this most Holy Week, and for all those in our world who are experiencing now the passion and death of Jesus. And let us be transformed by the cross and resurrection of Jesus as we seek to practice resurrection and be living signs of hope for our world.
*Those arrested at the Pentagon were:
Bill Frankel-Streit, Little Flower Catholic Worker in Virginia
Amber Mason, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, DC
Kevin Mason, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, DC
Art Laffin, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, DC
Chris Spicer, White Rose Catholic Worker in Chicago
Sr. Margaret McKenna, New Jerusalem Community in Philadelphia Rosemary Thompson, Peace Activist from Baltimore, MD
Nancy Gowen, Peace Activist from Richmond, VA
Taylor Reese, Intern with Pax Christi USA
Helen Schietinger, Peace Activist from Washington, DC
Brian Hynes, Peace Activist from New York City   
Proclamation before the Israeli Embassy
We, members of the Atlantic Life Community, come to the Israeli Embassy today to stand with the “Women in Black” who witness at sites world-wide pleading for an end to wars between nations and civil wars within nations. Our presence in prayer speaks a loud and clear ” NO ” to planning, preparing for, or ever bombing Iran. We believe deeply in putting away the swords – all nuclear weapons – ours, yours and other countries’ – as total implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
We agree with Meir Dagan, your former chief of Mossad who has stated publicly, “bombing Iran is the stupidest idea ever heard.” We reject the position of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that more killing and destruction in Iran will build a Middle East at peace.
We are pleading these same causes during this Christian Holy Week at the Pentagon and White House, and we join with our Tikkun sisters and brothers who say, “No War on Iran, and No First Strike!”
We vigil here and pray for a change of hearts (our own included), and of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Pime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama for understanding that the only way to peace is with peaceful means.

Crucified Victims and Desecrated Earth

Introduction Today is Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the Crucifixion and death of Jesus. Today, vast numbers of God’s global family experience a modern form of crucifixion as they are crucified to a cross of war, militarism, and economic exploitation. In the crucified people of our world we see the crucified face of Jesus. Today, we remember the victims who have been and continue to be crucified and deemed expendable, and call for an immediate end to their crucifixion. We also pray for an end to the desecration of our sacred earth.

Cucified Victims #s 1- 12 Click here for detailed script

 #1–Iraq war victim #2–Afghanistan war victim #3– Pakistan Drone bombing Victim #4–Victim of militarsim and Nuclearism #5–Victim of economic exploitation starving to death #6–Torture victim(dressed as GITMO prisoner) #7–Nonviolent revolutionary victim #8–Imprisoned victim #9–Immigration victim #10–our desecrated Earth

The retreat was sponsored by Jonah House and the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.

For more info contact: Jonah House at 410.233.6238 , and, and Dorothy Day Catholic Worker at 202.882.9649  

Published in: on April 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm  Comments (1)