Remembering Father Daniel Berrigan of the Catonsville Nine

Anti-war priest and poet Daniel Berrigan of the Catonsville Nine passed away last weekend.  Democracy Now featured him in the last 2 episodes, along with an inspiring story about Dan Berrigan from Jeremy Scahill in the 2nd episode.

Democracy Now! Show for May 2, 2016 | Democracy Now!

Democracy Now! Show for May 3, 2016 | Democracy Now!

tscout's picture

    I had heard of the Cat 9, but never knew  any names associated with it. I searched him and found out how interesting he was. And he lived a good long life! I didn't see any of his poetry,,would like to check it out

onesong's picture

These are attributed to Daniel Berrigan as I searched for his poetry as well, said to be from his book  "The Arisen Bread". I have taken the liberty of italicizing my favorite lines in the last - Zen Poem. Rest well Daniel Berrigan. Until you come again.

Prayer on the Six P.M. Subway
unsteady my prayer mounts or falls why do I waste so want so O make room in the kingdom of light for lack lusters among the austere and severe for malfunction. only this to their crediters NO GREAT HARM DONE our passage writes MAYBE on water

might make it yet
who knows who knows
whether some hour
turns us on
as Christ's new somersaulting
start. his words his heart

Its a Perfect Heart
It was November: an invisible fire freshened the heart of the grey-blue heron that had drifted and loved contented on mild streams, among summer dwellings and children.

But what aroused it powerfully
that it shook earth like a disease, pettiness and location,
to set breast against wearying universal air?

Now while dawn streams upward from fields
or early stars sen us to fireside
still it labors above by day and night
starting the sunrise, shadowing the red leaning moon;

sufficient, remote from longing
as we look aloft: vowed to greatness
and powerfully steered by its lodestone, its perfect heart.

The Face of Christ
The tragic beauty of the face of Christ shines in our faces;

the abandoned old live on
in shabby rooms, far from comfort.
din and purpose, the world, a fiery animal
reined in by youth. Within
a pallid tiring heart
shuffles about its dwelling.

Nothing, so little, comes of life's promise.
Of broken, despised minds
what does one make-
a roadside show, a graveyard of the heart?

Christ, fowler of street and hedgerow
cripples, the distempered old
-eyes blind as wookknots,
tongues tight as immigrants'-all
taken in His gospel net,
the hue and cry of existence.

Heaven, of such imperfection
wary, ravaged, wild?

Yes. Compel them in.

Were I God almighty, I would ordain, rain fall lightly where old men trod, no death in childbirth, neither infant nor mother, ditches firm fenced against the errant blind, aircraft come to ground like any feather.

No mischance, malice, knives.
Tears dried. Would resolve all
flaw and blockage of mind
that makes us mad, sets lives awry.

So I pray, under
the sign of the world's murder, the ruined son;
why are you silent?
feverish as lions
hear us in the world,
caged, devoid of hope.

Still, some redress and healing.
The hand of an old woman
turns gospel page;
it flares up gently, the sudden tears of Christ.

Zen Poem
How I long for supernatural powers! said the novice mornfully to the holy one. I see a dead child and I long to say, Arise! I see a sick man I long to say, Be healed! I see a bent old woman I long to say, Walk straight! Alas, I feel like a dead stick in paradise. Master, can you confer on me supernatural powers?

The old man shook his head fretfully
How long have I been with you
and you know nothing?
How long have you known me
and learned nothing?
Listen; I have walked the earth for 80 years
I have never raised a dead child
I have never healed a sick man
I have never straightened an old woman's spine

Children die
men grow sick
the aged fall
under a stigma of frost

And what is that to you or me
but the turn of the wheel
but the way of the world
but the gateway to paradise?

Supernatural powers!
Then you would play God
would spin the thread of life and measure the thread
5 years, 50 years, 80 years
and cut the thread?

Supernatural powers!
I have wandered the earth for 80 years
I confess to you,
sprout without root
root without flower
I know nothing of supernatural powers
I have yet to perfect my natural powers!

to see and not be seduced
to hear and not be deafened
to taste and not be eaten
to touch and not be bought

But you-
would you walk on water
would you master the air
would you swallow fire?

Go talk with the dolphins
they will teach you glibly
how to grow gills

Go listen to eagles
they will hatch you, nest you
eaglet and airman

Go join the circus
those tricksters will train you
in deception for dimes-

Bird man, bag man, poor fish
spouting fire, moon crawling
at sea forever-
supernatural powers!

Do you seek miracles?
listen- go
draw water, hew wood
break stones-
how miraculous!

Listen; blessed is the one
who walks the earth 5 year, 50 years, 80 years
and deceives no one
and curses no one
and kills no one

On such a one
the angels whisper in wonder,
behold the irresistible power
of natural powers-
of height, of joy, of soul, of
non belittling!

You dry stick-
in the crude soil of this world
spring, root, leaf, flower!

around and around
and around-
an inch, a mile, the world's green extent,-
a liberated zone
of paradise!

Wendy's picture

Thanks Chris,

I had never heard of him.

I thought this was worth repeating:

We have chosen to be powerless criminals in a time of criminal power.

Wow, that really got to me!

ChrisBowers's picture

On what would have been Dan's 95th birthday, Democracy Now covered the funeral for Dan this morning.  Was very touching to hear so many people speak of their personal experiences, life changing moments because of their coming in contact and working with the man.

"One of the Great Revolutionaries": Daniel Berrigan Remembered as Hundreds Gather for Funeral | Democracy Now!

The Gathering Spot is a PEERS empowerment website
"Dedicated to the greatest good of all who share our beautiful world"