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April 29, 1994     The Message
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The Message m for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana -- Perspective-- Wildflowers: An experience of the obvious In the sun-sprinkled shade of a sunny afternoon, I saw something I had never seen before. Maybe something similar has happened to you. A sudden flash of understanding takes you by sur- prise. You wonder how it is possible that you never thought such a thought before. It is an experience of the obvi- ous. You tell people about it, and you wonder if they knew it all along, and you were the last to know. It happened to me last week- end, on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It was the kind of a day where almost every conversation began with a comment on the beauty of the day. We -- some friends, members of the Christian Family Movement -- were spending an afternoon at the Poor Clares Monastery. We had scheduled PAUL R. INGANG EDITOR an afternoon of recollection for the grown-ups in our families, to enjoy some peace and prayer in the mid- dle of our hectic schedules. A walk in the woods took me up the hill and back to my childhood. For the first time in years, it seemed, I had time to look again at the trees with new leaves above me and the floor full of wild flowers at my feet. I had forgotten the sound of the wind in the trees. ! had forgotten that the wind on a warm afternoon wanders through the woods, just the way I did. One or two branches would be moved by a small breeze. Then the tops of the trees would sway with a stronger force. Or a few fallen leaves would lift from the ground and fall again. The path of the wind took my eyes to the trees, to the branches, to the tops of smaller trees, to the clouds beyond the tallest trees, and then to earth. That is when I came to my standing of God's goodness. Looking at the floor of the forest, I first that something was missing. I saw flowers ous shapes and sizes, and leaves of various terns. Tall plants and small plants. And weed. Not one weed, I thought. There are no ! here. There are only flowers and p of striking beauty. Then it struck me. Of course there weeds here. This is the world that God h r and a weed is only a human term --just a some one thinks ought not to be growing. That's the big difference between garden and ours. Some times we try to reassure value and help them gain back their trying to convince them that God made .... God did not make junk. God didn't make weeds, either. .---- Washington Letter Polities of fasting: The opposite of a Washington power lu By PATRICIA ZAPOR times participated in fasts last- Latin American military lead- to draw attention to U.S. policy Hall in the first Catholic News Service WASHINJ3TON (CNS) -- Jesus may have been the most well-known practitioner of fasting with his 40-day sojourn in the desert, but Mahatma. Gandhi laid the groundwork for modern activists who have tried to make the world a bet- ter place by refusing to eat, In Washington this spring two causes have spurred protest fasting. One seeks a change in U.S. policy toward Haiti and the other wants the government to stop funding a school where Latin American military leaders are trained. The examples they follow are powerful. "Gandhi was just one tiny, little man, taking on the whole British Empire," noted Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, who has several Advertising Policy Acceptance of political ad- vertising by the Message does not indicate endorse- ment of or opposition to a candidate, political arty or a matter brought before the people in a referendum. The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Publisher.. ........... Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger E tor ........................................... Paul Leingang Production Manager ........................... Phil Boger Circulation ................................... Amy Housman Adverr .................................... Paul Newland Staflf writer ............................ Mary Ann Hughes Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $15.00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2nd class matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701, Publica- Ion number 843800. Postmaster:. Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication  1994  Press ot Evam'vile ing a few days. Yet by per- sonal, religiously motivated ac- tions such as his 1932 hunger strike, Gandhi led an entire nation in a nonviolent revolu- tion, said Bishop Gumbleton, founder and former president of the Catholic peace organiza- tion Pax Christi USA. Prominent fasts or hunger strikes have been staged in the last two decades by farm- worker organizer Cesar Chavez, who died last year; the late advocate for the homeless Mitch Snyder; comedian- ac- tivist Dick Gregory; as well as by Catholic bishops, Chinese students, members of Congress and inmates in British prisons. Often they at least succeed in drawing attention to a cause, as Rep. Tony Hall, D- Ohio, learned last year in a 22- day fast to point out how little Congress was doing to address world hunger. Sometimes protesters have starved themselves to death without bringing about the de- sired change, as shown by the 1981 deaths of Bobby Sands and nine other Irish Republi- can Army prisoners held by the British. Maryknoll Father Roy Bour- geois is one of 11" people in the midst of a 40-day fast being played out each day on the steps of the Capitol. Accompa- nied by sympathizers who help hold signs and talk to passersby, the fasters are pushing to discontinue funding of the School of the Americas, a U.S. Army program to train ers. On the llth day of their juice-and-water fast, Father . Bourgeois said he was begin- ning to feel weaker, but that morale among the group was high. Having fasted for 35 days once before, the priest is famil- iar with both the effects on the faster's body as well as the ef- fects on observers. "First and foremost, fasting is a spiritual exercise," said Father Bourgeois. "Accompa- nied by prayer -- as Jesus did it -- brings one into closer union with God." In a previous 18-day fast, Father Bourgeois joined a group of Salvadorans protest- ing funding of Central Ameri- can military actions. Based in the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minn., the 1989 fast drew a rally of 3,000 sympa- thizers. A 35-day fast the fol- lowing year led to solidarity rallies or fasts in about 17 other cities. "There's an aspect of fasting to call attention to an injustice, but it's first a purification of one's own heart," said Father Bourgeois. Across town at the head- quarters of TransAfrica, which monitors U.S. policy on Africa and the Caribbean, its presi- dent, Randall Robinson, stopped eating the same day as the protesters at the Capitol. Robinson, a human rights activist who started a wave of protests against apartheid in South Africa a decade ago, began a hunger strike April 11 toward Haiti. He has said it could be to his death. By April 22 there appeared to be some sign of shifting in U.S.-Haitian " policy, but Robinson seemed determined to continue his hunger strike. The public act of long-term fasting succeeds because "there's such a clear statement of putting your life on the line for someone or something," said Bishop Gumbleton. "The person fasting begins to experience what people, in Haiti for instance, go through every day," he said. "It high- lights the facts of the situation. "You're saying 'this is so im- portant I would give my life for these people." While Bishop Gumbleton said he "can't go along" with fasting to the point of starva- tion, he realizes drastic steps sometimes need to be taken to draw attention to world prob- lems. Last April, Hall consumed only water for 22 days, show- ing up for work every morning and providing a vivid example to his fellow members of Con- gress of just how serious he was about increasing the U.S. commitment to ending hunger. A year later, a letter from from the Congressional lists several Washington to hunger. He noted: Secretary Mike Espy forums in around the about hunger. N The international how the some of its poor. The Hunger CauCUS most three ship of what sor, the Select Hunger, the which Father that simply Capitol steps: the s "There's the human ing," he said- willing to put their line it message, a our society reminds peeP serious issue. ':: Bishop's sc The following activities and events schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger' p.m: ........ :: : : : Red , :S day, May ' Co.flrmati,