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Issue 138 - Daniel Berrigan - May 2016

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Video tribute to
Daniel Berrigan
Daniel Berrigan

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Past Issues


2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake


101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

108-NBA Championship

110-On Freedom 

112 Robin Williams 


116-Kentucky Epiphany 

119-Christmas Mystery  


121-Radical Amazement 

122-St.John's Bible 

124-Botanical Garden 

126-Call of the King 

127-Living Our Stories 

128-Pope Francis 

129-Saint Francis 


131-The Way of Peace  

132-Danube Reflections  

133-Want Happiness? 

134-Our Uncertain Certainties 

135-Corita Kent 



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Copyright (c) 2016 Soul Windows Ministries

Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries 
Daniel Berrigan 
       (May 9, 1921 - April 30, 2016)
American Jesuit, anti-war activist, author of
some 50 books, poet, and university educator.
Prison - Prophet, and Poet
     In the late '80's I picked up a copy of Prison Poems by Daniel Berrigan and heard in those cutting but lyric words the yearning of my own soul to be freed from my existential prison of despair. Some years later, Berrigan's writings gave me a paved path to pray myself out of my prison, by using his Uncommon Prayer: A Book of Psalms. The key to unlock the cell was Berrigan's trust in the powerful presence of the Divine, portrayed through his own experience of finding God in all things.
     Daniel Berrigan was, after all, a Jesuit. Many of his writings reflect basic tenants of Ignatian Spirituality, especially, the search for more - the "Magis" - Prayers of the Imagination, and Praying with the Scriptures, all of these being Ignatian steps on the path to "Finding God in All Things." His writings on the Scriptures, especially the Prophets, resemble the voice of the prophets themselves. They were, after all, the voice of God.
     The power of Berrigan's writings rests in his unadulterated perception of what the voice of God is really saying to us. As he writes:
"Listen to me, worldlings!
amassing riches,
trafficking in violence-
listen to my word!" [1]
Berrigan leaves little subtlety in this paraphrase of Isaiah 34:1. Perhaps we should take the word to heart and listen. There is where we will find our heart's truth and will be freed from our personal prisons. Friend and theologian, Megan McKenna, writes: "These are the barbed-wire words that protect truth's heart." [2]

[1] Daniel Berrigan, Isaiah: Spirit of Courage, Gift of Tears. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996. p.89.
[2] Daniel Berrigan, Daniel: Under the Siege of the Divine, Farmington: Plough, 1998. Back cover.
Under the Siege of the Divine

The heavens bespeak the glory of God.
The firmament ablaze, a text of his works.
Dawn whispers to sunset
Dark to dark the word passes: glory  glory.
-Daniel Berrigan, "Glory Glory / Psalm 19"
   One web site describes Daniel Berrigan as a poet, a priest, and a peace activist.  That description is tied together by more than alliteration. The common thread of all three vocations is that Fr. Daniel Berrigan lived his life as one "under the siege of the divine" (to borrow the subtitle of one of his books.)
   Those who know of him mostly as a peace activist may not realize that Berrigan published dozens of books, both poetry and prose. The deep and wondrous mystery of life is a constant theme in his writing. "Glory, glory!" the poet exclaims, and helps us to see, and to feel, the wonder. Even amid dark pain and struggle, Berrigan spies the light of glorious hope. In "More Like the Sea," a poem from 1958, he pictures the crucified Christ as crashing surf, "shuddering its coast / crying hoarse in its falling / victory."
   For all of his protests against all that he felt to be wrong, Daniel Berrigan was, at heart, a man of hope. His niece, Freda Berrigan, recalls, "At family occasions, he would stop the conversation, he would stop the chitchat and say, well, let's have a sharing. Let's go around in a circle. What gives you hope?"
   Always searching for signs of hope, the man under the siege of the divine knew the source of true hope: "First there is loss.... And then, and then? At the dead end of false hope, an act of God may bring on something new, something unprecedented, beyond human longing."* 
- Bill

* Daniel: Under the Siege of the Divine (Plough, 1998), p. 70 .
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