Friday, September 28, 2012

A Sabbath Prayer

We cannot merely pray to you, O God,
to end war;
For we know that You have made the world
in a way
That man must find his own path to peace.
Within himself and with his neighbor.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God,
to end starvation;
For You have already given us the
With which to feed the entire world,
If we would only use them wisely.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God,
to root out prejudice;
For You have already given us eyes
With which to see the good in all men,
If we would only use them rightly.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God,
to end despair,
For You have already given us the power
To clear away slums and to give hope,
If we would only use our power justly.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God,
to end disease;
For You have already given us great minds
With which to search out cures and healing,
If we would only use them constructively.

Therefore we pray to You instead, O God,
For strength, determination and will power,
To do instead of just pray,
To become instead of merely to wish.

- Jack Riemer, Likrat Shabbat

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

President Obama Announces Efforts to Fight Human Trafficking

At the Clinton Global Initiative summit in New York on Tuesday, President Obama committed to increasing the commitment of the U.S. to fight human trafficking.  Click here to read the White House Fact Sheet regarding this commitment and here to read the Polaris Project's press release about it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The First Grader

The summer had book recommendations, so perhaps the autumn will have film recommendations.  Film #1:  The First Grader.  Recommendation:  Watch this film and you will never look at education in quite the same way again!  Based on the true story of Kimani Maruge, who holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest person (at age 84) to start primary school, the film will make you laugh and cry.  (There is a bit of violence, which is responsible for the PG-13 rating.) 

Here's a synopsis of The First Grader, from the movie's website:  In a small, remote mountain top primary school in the Kenyan bush, hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education newly promised by the Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school. He is Maruge (Oliver Litondo), an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties, who is desperate to learn to read at this late stage of his life. He fought for the liberation of his country and now feels he must have the chance of an education so long denied - even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside six-year-olds.

Moved by his passionate plea, head teacher Jane Obinchu (Naomie Harris), supports his struggle to gain admission and together they face fierce opposition from parents and officials who don’t want to waste a precious school place on such an old man.

Full of vitality and humour, the film explores the remarkable relationships Maruge builds with his classmates some eighty years his junior. Through Maruge’s journey, we are taken back to the shocking untold story of British colonial rule 50 years earlier where Maruge fought for the freedom of his country, eventually ending up in the extreme and harsh conditions of the British detention camps.

Directed by Justin Chadwick (THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL/BLEAK HOUSE) from a script by Emmy-winner Ann Peacock (THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, NIGHTS IN RODANTHE, KIT KITTRIDGE), THE FIRST GRADER is a heart warming and inspiring true story of one man’s fight for what he believes is his right in order to overcome the burdens of his past. It is a triumphant testimony to the transforming force of education.

The filming process itself was quite extraordinary, as the children in the film – who are in many ways the stars – had never even seen a film or television set before let alone been involved in the filming process. Their involvement in the shoot was a totally novel experience for them and their enthusiasm and energy is captured beautifully on screen.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


According to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, between January and June 2012 only 0.2% of Presidential campaign stories substantively addressed poverty.  Yet, in the United States, more than 1 in 5 children live in poverty and more than 1 in 5 households with children struggle with hunger. Network Lobby invites us to change the debate and put poverty back on the agenda.  How?  Begin by watching the video below (e-mail subscribers click here if you do not see a video).  Then visit to see what you can do.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Let There Be Peace On Earth

. . . And let it begin with me!  (E-mail subscribers, click here if you do not see a video below.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What are you doing for the International Day of Peace?

The International Day of Peace is commemorated on Friday, September 21.  What will you do to observe this day?

  • Be inspired!  Watch this video from the International Day of Peace website. 
  • Join in the Global Minute of Silence for Peace at noon.  If you need help with this, watch this video on YouTube.  It is a video that is silent as the second hand of a clock counts one minute.  Really -- it's a one-minute, silent video!
  • Pray the Vespers sent to you via email or the prayer available at
  • Join in a Peace Day celebration, such as this one at Assumption College for Sisters in Mendham, NJ.
  • Read a book about inner peace.  (Suggestion: Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute)
  • Go to for great ideas, including peace events and peace-building tools.
Feel free to add your suggestions by adding your comments to this message!  (E-mail subscribers, click here to go to the blog to comment.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Terry Williams Loses Bid for Clemency

Click here to read the story from regarding Monday's hearing for Terry Williams.  The news is not good; his bid for clemency was denied.  He is still set to be executed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on October 3.  If your voice has not yet been heard or you just want more information on the case, click here to go to "Terry Williams Clemency" website.  Continue to pray for Terry, for those who plan to execute him and for Governor Tom Corbett, who signed this death warrant for the state's first execution since 1999 and its first contested execution since 1962.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pennsylvanians: Take Action to Stop an Execution

A message from Celeste Fitzgerald:

Terrance "Terry" Williams, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, is scheduled to be executed in Pennsylvania on October 3, 2012.  Mr. Williams' horrific history of sexual abuse by older males began when he was just six years old and continued throughout adolescence.  After years of suffering, when he was 17 and 18 years old, Mr. Williams killed two of his abusers. The jury that sentenced him to death never heard about the abuse he endured, or that the men he killed were in fact his abusers. Five of the jurors now say they support clemency and would not have sentenced Mr. Williams to death if they had known this information.
There has been an unprecedented outpouring of support for clemency from prominent groups and individuals across Pennsylvania , including dozens of child advocates, former prosecutors and judges, faith leaders, mental health professionals, law professors and significantly, the victim's widow.  Will you add your voice to theirs? A clemency hearing is scheduled for September 17 so time is of the essence. 
Here is how you can help this clemency effort:
  • Please sign the petition for clemency at this web site:
  • If you can, please also promote the petition web site.  Notify your friends in Pennsylvania.  Let them know that now is the time to speak up for clemency for Mr. Williams
  • A website with extensive information about the case is available at

Sunday, September 9, 2012

9/11 Remembrance

Let us pray for the victims of 9/11 and their families and for those who perpetrated these horrendous acts of terrorism. 

As we remember 9/11 this year, perhaps Thomas Merton's prayer will assist us:

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and
The fact that I think I am following your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
Does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road
Though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always
Though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
And you will never leave me to face my perils alone.