|Grandsons carry the casket to the gravesite|
Praying To Lester? by Steve Clemens
He approached me at the end of the luncheon after the burial of my father. We had a time of sharing after the meal and many of those who took the microphone were members of Christian Business Men Connection, CBMC, an organization my dad had participated in and financially supported for dozens of years. This man, however, had a different message. I had spoken about how my dad's courage in traveling unarmed to the capital city of our national enemy was one of several things that inspired me to choose the path of conscientious objector to the Vietnam War and my own later travel to Iraq and Afghanistan. The man, appearing to be in his 80s, told me how my dad had looked him up at a CBMC gathering after hearing he was a pacifist (and a distinct minority among that evangelical group).
"I'm committed to nonviolence too", he exclaimed to me and then told him how my dad shared with him that he had a son in prison for his protest against war. He told me my dad wasn't real clear about understanding "why" I had chosen that path and wanted to talk with others who shared his faith but also chose nonviolence as well. He told me he wore a shirt with a picture of a former nun who was protesting nuclear weapons and I smiled broadly and told him about my year-long Bible Study group with her and her husband, Liz McAlister and Phil Berrigan and how helpful they were to me on my own journey.
It got me thinking about my many radical Catholic friends.
When I was growing up, I was taught to shun Roman Catholics because they "prayed to Mary" and many also prayed for their dead friends and relatives in order to shorten their time in "purgatory". As I got to know Catholic believers for myself as an adult, I discovered that many suggested that we should also pray to saints who have gone before us to intercede on our behalf with the Divine. I had been taught to always pray " in Jesus' name" as he was the only intercessor "between God and man[sic]".
Well, Jesus calls all of us to join him as "sons and daughters of God" and we are called to " be like him".
My dad told me several weeks ago when I traveled east to say my goodbyes that "every morning I pray for Micah and Andrea and Zach". In fact, many of the CBMC men who spoke at the luncheon noted how "long" my dad's daily prayer list was - not only my sons but all his sons, their children and great grandchildren, missionaries, and many others. So why should I think he'd stop praying for all of us when his heart stopped beating?
It brings a smile to my face just thinking that dad continues to intercede on my behalf as he, according to his own vision and dreams before he passed, converses with "Jesus and his disciples". He'll even get a chance to meet with the Berrigan brothers and get more clarity on the attempts at faithful nonviolent witness of his youngest son.
Lester, please keep me and Christine and our families on your list.