A review of
AT PLAY IN THE LIONS’ DEN, by Jim Forest, Orbis Books, 2017
Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter
This biography and memoir of Daniel Berrigan, recently released by Orbis Books, has justly received much good press. It was reviewed by both America (https://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2017/11/01/daniel-lions-den-berrigan-biography) and NCR (https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/my-friend-dan-berrigan-another-daniel-lions-den).
As I began reading, I was impressed that there are pictures on almost every page, and that the book has an extensive index, notes, and a bibliography. Pertinent quotes fill frequent sidebars, and readers are treated to snippets of his poetry.
In just the first few pages, I learned that three former Maryknollers were included in the Catonsville Nine, who were tried with Berrigan for their 1968 burning of draft records that earned him and several others a prison term. Some stories added insights into Berigan’s close relationship with Phil Berrigan, his activist priest/brother.
My uncle’s vim and vision and vitality crackle out of the pages of Jim Forest’s book.
Dan Berrigan, Presente!
I kept reading, enjoying the personal stories, his connection with prominent authors such as Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day, and his evolving consciousness about the Viet Nam War, war in general, and nuclear weapons. Since I have lived through some of the same evolutions and times, his memoir allowed me to see with a new perspective and to better acknowledge the troubling positions of the Catholic Church and our country with respect to war. Orbis and Jim Forest have done it again—bringing us great stories and insights. I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this book!
Note: Affiliates, don’t forget to ask for your special 40% discount!
I’m writing to you, but feel free to share it with anyone.
I think it’s due to all the crap going on in the world, or here in our once wonderful country, but when I read the latest issue of the Not So Far Afield, it just lifted my heart in a beautiful way that I desperately needed.
Although I know there at many people doing wonderful things around the world, these articles helped to put things in a better perspective so that I can try to look at things in a different way. It really made a difference in my attitude—at least until the next ... fiasco.
So thanks to you and all the Affiliates for your great contribution to the disadvantaged in this world.
*Kathy Wright served the Maryknoll Lay Missioners for over 30 years, in the role of
Admissions Co-coordinator for a good part of that time.
Why focus on inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue? Maryknoll has always included finding and crossing the borders, the boundaries, to encounter the “other,” that which is foreign, different. Inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue are necessarily an integral component of our mission. We, as Affiliates, reflect that charism, and these offerings are valuable resources for both reflection and action.
Words to Live By: Sacred Sources for Interreligious Engagement, edited by Rose, Ziad, and Hessler
This collection of essays by authors from various religious backgrounds is very readable and gives flesh and blood to the notion of dialogue. The stories convey a sense of the oneness that people experienced in developing relationships with those of different backgrounds and faiths. This is a really good source book for personal reflection in preparation for interreligious dialogue activities.
A Christology of Religions, by: Gerald O’Collins, SJ
Just as I began to tire of what was becoming too academic or remote in this readable but scholarly text, another gem would jump out. O’Collins placed the traditional elements of Christology in the context of today’s’ emerging understanding of Church. His Christological framework, well within traditional teachings, helps on my journey to move from an ego-centered to an eco-centered theology.
The Risk of Hope: How to talk about God in the World Today, by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle
This book proclaims all that Maryknoll stands for in a most humble, caring, and truly loving manner. Cardinal Tagle shares himself in a series of anecdotes which illustrate that this man “gets” servant leadership. People who have endorsed his writings say that he has to be on a very short list for successor to Pope Francis at the next conclave. I sure hope so.
Note: Affiliates receive 40% off at Orbisbooks.com.
Moving our Broader Community to Nonviolence and Peace
Sept. 21-23, 2018
All Maryknoll Affiliates are invited!
Friday, 6PM – Affiliate Social and casual dinner
Saturday, 9-4 – Active Nonviolence Workshop
Sunday, 12:30PM – Affiliate gathering and lunch
To RSVP, use the downloadable form.
What do the Orbis authors offer to us Affiliates, both as individuals and as an expression of Maryknoll, lately? Here are four books that are very different, yet each makes a significant contribution to the discussion of issues and concerns facing the Affiliate world of today.
The Courage To Be Happy, by Pope Francis, is written for youth by an old man who hasn’t forgotten the best parts of being young. It is a spirituality of ascent for people in the first half of life. Pope Francis both understands and appreciates what the Gospel is calling youth to. Perhaps some of us who have moved into the second half of life have forgotten to hold onto that enthusiastic hope that once inspired us. This book will rekindle the fire of missionary zeal in all of us.
Choosing Peace, edited by Marie Dennis. It’s said that Maryknollers are better at declaiming than proclaiming. Choosing Peace looks at our prophetic voice of declaiming violence and proclaiming just peace. This assemblage of letters, essays, and reflections, written in conjunction with the April 2016 Conference on Nonviolence and Just Peace, proclaims the Gospel through many examples of positive, proactive voices for peace while declaiming a “fallen world” of war and systemic violence.
The Catholic Ethicist in the Local Church, edited by Antonio Autiero and Laurenti Magesa, explores the relationship of the local church with the universal church as a basis for understanding the complex and dynamic ecclesiology which Pope Francis is asking us to not only appreciate but live. The existential periphery, (read: The Field Afar, Not So Far Afield, mission, where you and I live) becomes the center point of our lived church experience. The notion of local magisterium rests on this understanding. In our complex world, culture, economics, and social structure all influence our moral decisions. It is not possible or effective to attempt to make anything more than broad statements at the universal level. So we are asked to reflect upon where lies the moral magesterium responsibility. The book presents local issues and questions from around the globe to illustrate this as a more mature approach to what it means to be church.
A side note: one interesting essay in this book deals with “digital localities.” With the growth of virtual communities and new ways of being Maryknoll Affiliates, what are the ethical questions surrounding the growth of the digital realities, electronic “places” with a sense of group identity. What are the components required for virtual communities to be real communities?
Cuentame: Narrative in the Ecclesial Present, by Natalia Imperatori Lee, is a “Latinx Church Experience for Gringos.” It introduced me to a whole vocabulary that I didn’t know that I need to know. This introduction to Latina/o church experience is written in English for an English-speaking audience. Imperatori Lee, of Cuban American heritage from Miami, uses narrative as a basis for her understanding of church. Our family story becomes the Story for us. Together our stories become the Story for the Church. And the Story is the truth, the Good News. Put in theological language, Sensus Fidelium is the basis of a narrative ecclesiology which the church has consistently taught to be infallible in its belief. Her narrative is an alternative story to the mainstream Catholic American story that has great truth and value. It places the sacredness of everyday life (lo cotidiano) as the source of holiness in the church. This storybook shares a vision that seems simple yet is profoundly perceptive. Imperatori Lee is a true teacher who puts rare understanding within the grasp of the many.
Affiliates receive 40% off at Orbisbooks.com.
The Maryknoll Sisters’ Mission Institute offers two more months of great workshops. Coming in July/August:
* July 8-13 – Maureen O’Connell, PhD
From the Upper Room to Pentecost: A Feminist Ethic of Racial Mercy
* July 15-20 – John Dear, MA
Following Jesus on the Path of Nonviolence
* July 22-27 – Larry Lewis, MM, PhD
Our Incompleteness is our Dignity: Faith Confirmed in Film
At Los Altos:
* Aug. 14-17 – Maria Cimperman, RSCJ, PhD
Creating Communities of Hope on a Global Scale
* Aug. 19-24 – Maria Cimperman, RSCJ, PhD
Creating Communities of Hope on a Global Scale
For application forms, on-line registration, and program descriptions, go to:
Or you may obtain information by telephone: (914) 941-0783 ext.5671
The Book of Joy—Lasting Happiness in a Changing World,
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams,
On a recent “Landmark Birthday,” perhaps better characterized as a “Pre-Tombstone Birthday,” a good friend gifted me a copy of The Book of Joy. This book is the result of a week of conversations between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu at his Holiness’s home in Dharamsala, India, where he has lived since his escape from Tibet in March of 1959. Author Douglas Abrams has worked with Archbishop Tutu on other projects and does a masterful job of providing a framework of directed conversations over a five-day period.
Along with an introduction that highlights the great friendship and compatibility of these two major figures from different religious traditions, the book is divided into two major sections: “The Obstacles to Joy” and “The Eight Pillars of Joy.” As a sampling of the book’s content, the “Obstacle” section has chapters titled “Sadness and Grief: The Hard Times Knit Us More Closely Together,” and “Envy: That Guy Goes Past Us Yet Again in His Mercedes-Benz.”
I won’t give away all of the Eight Pillars, but one chapter is on Humor. Listen to the mischievous banter of these two ultimate jokesters.
The Archbishop pretended to scold him: “Are you listening?”
The Dalai Lama, who had missed the Archbishop’s comment, launched in with, “So that shows, really…”
The Archbishop continued to pretend that he was offended. “You see? He’s not listening.”
“Unless you use the stick, I will not listen,” the Dalai Lama said laughing.
“But I thought you were nonviolent!”
A strength of this book is how Abrams weaves writings of philosophers, theologians, and scientific researchers into the dialogue between his Holiness and the Archbishop. For example, from a psychologist, “Grief is the reminder of the depth of our love.” In one of the eight pillar chapters, one on Gratitude, research by UC Davis professors found that “…grateful people do not seem to ignore or deny the negative aspects of life; they simply choose to appreciate what is positive as well.” “People with a strong disposition toward gratitude have the capacity to be empathic and take the perspective of others. They are rated as more generous and more helpful by people in their social networks.”
The last chapter is titled “Joy Practices” and is bookended with practices that Tibetan Buddhist monks typically do at the beginning and end of each day. Other approaches to meditation and mindfulness are provided in this rather extensive chapter of over 40 pages. As I reviewed the book for this article, it became obvious that I need to re-read it a little at a time so that the fullness of the wisdom of these two remarkable individuals can soak in.
Before his illness, [Affiliate] Bob would often go sit in the Motherhouse Chapel in the afternoon. Sometimes he’d write on small slips of paper he carried in his pocket. Here are some of his jottings.—Liz Maxwell
I am no more, no less in the presence of God in chapel, but senses and emotions are involved in feeling myself to be in the presence, and yet God does not hear me any better in chapel.
It is good to sit in Mystery.
The mist stops our brains.
God help me to fully be, the doing will follow.
Once again, the Maryknoll Sisters are offering a full slate of pertinent workshops. Register soon to obtain a space. (A limited number of tuition scholarships are available.) Coming in May and June:
* May 6-10 (four-day program) - Mariette Danilo, PhD
Navigating Life’s Transitions: Resilience and the Pilgrims’ Journey
* May 13-18 - Alice L. Camille, M.Div and Rev. Paul Boudreau
Future Dreaming: 21st Century Possibilities for Christian Living
* June 3-8 - Yehezkel Landau, D. Min
Spiritual Resources for Interfaith Peacemaking
* June 10-15 - Janice McLaughlin, MM, PhD
Under the Baobab Tree: Spirituality Nourished by Nature
* June 17-22 - Nancy Sylvester, IHM, MA
Facing into Chaos: Deepening Communal Contemplation, Transforming Consciousness
* June 24-29 Anthony Gittins, CSSp, PhD
Mission, Margins and Intercultural Living
See the July-August topics at https://maryknollsisters.org/maryknoll-mission-institute-2/.
Attention Northeast Region Chapters:
You are invited to participate in the NE regional meeting at Maryknoll on April 21st. The theme of the day-long meeting will be:
Balance: Balance in our own lives and
Balance in our Affiliate Chapters
Join us for an informative and interactive conference with a contemplative eye on the present and a collective eye on the future. As the Affiliate Board and all the entities look ahead, we believe we must also pay attention to the present—what works, what doesn’t, and what ideas can be shared among the NE chapters.
Chapter contacts in the region will soon be receiving a conference schedule which will include details on how to register. Hope to see you at the Maryknoll Sisters’ campus in April.
Our fourth Book Group session will begin soon after Easter. We need your help to determine good times to meet and to select a book to read and discuss. The committee has come up with four possible titles:
• Faith in the Face of Empire
• A Sense of Wonder
• Thomas Berry, Selected Writings
• Flannery O’Connor, Spiritual Writings
If our telephone book group doesn’t work for you, an alternative is available. Robert Ellsberg, Orbis Books publisher, has recently announced:
For those who enjoy Orbis books, and look forward to the type of spiritual and theological engagement reflected in this month’s new titles, we invite you to join our new Orbis Book Club.
Next month we’ll be launching this new reading club on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/orbisbooks), beginning with Jim Forest’s acclaimed work, At Play in the Lions’ Den: A Memoir and Biography of Daniel Berrigan.Members will receive a discount and an opportunity to interact with the author and other readers. Help us spread the word!
Most Maryknoll Affiliates know that our organization began in 1991 under the guidance of Fr. Jim Madden, MM, and Sr. Ellen McDonald, MM. However, members may not really know or fully appreciate how the founders’ vision for its growth and future influenced the formation of the Affiliates Movement.
On June 28, 2000, Mary J. Murphy, Westchester Chapter, conducted and taped an interview with Fr. Jim and Sr. Ellen at the Maryknoll Center in Ossining, New York. It provided a forum for them to discuss the Affiliate Movement from their unique perspective; they were specifically asked to discuss the concept behind its formation, their hopes/vision for the organization, and their reflections on the Affiliates’ development to that point. The interview was captured as a video entitled, “The Early Moments,” with Fr. Jim Madden and Sr. Ellen McDonald.
Our Albany Chapter first viewed this video in 2011 when we decided to review the history of the Affiliates Movement and the Four Pillars. Since 2011, we have added several new members, and so we decided to review the history and the pillars again. After much searching, we were able to find and to view the video at our January meeting; we were pleased by our members’ reactions. The general consensus was that this film is a valuable piece of Maryknoll Affiliate history, especially in light of the passing of Fr. Jim in 2014. Our members thought that the film was inspiring, moving, and heart-warming. The abounding joy, love, and enthusiasm of Fr. Jim and Sr. Ellen for the Affiliates and for the Maryknoll charism were so clearly evident as they spoke. We hope that other Chapters will consider viewing this important piece of our Maryknoll Affiliate history.
A few months ago, the Affiliate Board asked Chapters to consider our future--where do we want the Affiliates to be in five years? Where do you think that we will actually be in five years? Viewing this interview may be extremely helpful and valuable to us as we contemplate our responses to those questions. Knowledge of our past and of the vision of the founders may serve as a beacon to guide our future course, to keep us true to their ideals, to keep us from straying too far afield of their intentions and dreams.
Once again, the Maryknoll Sisters are offering a full slate of pertinent workshops. Does one of these topics offered in May-June have your name on it? Register soon to obtain a space. (A limited number of tuition scholarships are available.)
Here we are.
I am the corn
and you are the bean plant.
Your roots intertwine
we flourish together
in this field
that is life.
Originally published in Daniel Caño’s Spanish/Mayan/English book of
poetry, Savage Prayer. Reprinted with permission.