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Si, Se Puede!

Si, Se Puede!

Above Photo taken from KPCC

Today we celebrate Cesar Chavez and we are grateful to his leadership as a role model for social justice and nonviolence. What many do not know is that Cesar Chavez, is that he joined the Filipino worker strikes as well.

Here’s an excerpt from the United Farm Workers website on the strike:

The 1965-1970 Delano Grape Strike and Boycott

On September 8, 1965, Filipino American grape workers, members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, walked out on strike against Delano-area table and wine grape growers protesting years of poor pay and conditions. The Filipinos asked Cesar Chavez, who led a mostly Latino farm workers union, the National Farm Workers Association, to join their strike.

Cesar and the leaders of the NFWA believed it would be years before their fledgling union was ready for a strike. But he also knew how growers historically pitted one race against another to break field walkouts. Cesar’s union voted to join the Filipino workers’ walkouts on Mexican Independence Day, September 16, 1965. From the beginning this would be a different kind of strike.

–Cesar insisted the Latino and Filipino strikers work together, sharing the same picketlines, strike kitchens and union hall.

–He asked strikers take a solemn vow to remain nonviolent.

–The strike drew unprecedented support from outside the Central Valley, from other unions, church activists, students, Latinos and other minorities, and civil rights groups.

–Cesar led a 300-mile march, or perigrinacion, from Delano to Sacramento. It placed the farm workers’ plight squarely before the conscience of the American people.

–The strikers turned to boycotts, including table grapes, which eventually spread across North America.

But Cesar knew the strikers’ greatest weapon was simply their decision not to quit, to persevere no matter what the odds or how long it would take. The strikers had to be prepared to risk everything—beginning with their financial security.

Here’s another article on the strike.

Today, we pray that we may have the same boldness and confidence in social justice that Cesar Chavez modeled for us through his commitment to working on behalf of human rights and human dignity.

Here is another one of my favorite quotes from him:

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”


Mercy and Love

Mercy and Love

While my closest friends may be on the other end of the state, technology makes it quite convenient for us all to catch up with one another, and be in the same space together. At least, perhaps not the physical space, but at least operating in real time! My friends and I are doing a “book club” during Lent on the novel, Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson. Not an easy read, by any means. I’ve started the book, probably about four times now, and yet, each time, I find myself re-reading paragraphs, hesitant to move on from what I had just read. Processing each sentence takes time, and putting myself in the scene, is even more difficult to grasp.

I’m grateful for my friends, and that tonight on my drive home from my cousin’s house, I had time to catch up with my friends and laugh and catch up with one another. What started off as a joking, “Where did you see Christ in your life lately?” question (yeah…we do that), we ended up talking about it. And conversing about it. Our realities are all so different! From working in a high school, to another getting his PhD in Economics, to another working at a university, to another being a Vice Principal at a high school, we are all doing very different things, but the foundation for all of us are forever rooted in the same soil. Pretty awesome that we will forever have that to share with one another.

God has been working in these close friendships of mine – no matter the distance. Friendships that have lasted for over 10 years? Yes please. Thank you God, that I have friends that I can continually look to for support, guidance, love, and laughs!

Bread for Others

Bread for Others

This past week for our Advocacy, Public Policy & Human Rights class, we had to read two books: Living Justice by Thomas Massaro, SJ and Just Politics by Ronald J. Sider.  Great books – very informative, inspiring, and made me again ask the question, “Wow. What IF we treated one another with respect that reflects the Truth that everyone was made in the image and likeness of God?” One question we had to answer in our paper was: “How do the themes (as discussed by Massaro and Sider) build upon each other to form a holistic approach to the suffering and brokenness of the world?”

I don’t think I ever looked at Catholic Social Teaching (CST) as closely as I did, as I prepared for this assignment. I studied CST in college, but this time around, with the experiences that I have had, I found myself reading Massaro’s text with much more conviction and with a greater desire to practice and live CST more closely. What a challenge! How difficult that is! Now, if I could only meet him before he leaves Santa Clara…

I was working on my paper, and the song, “Here At This Table” randomly popped int my head, and I started singing it to myself:

You who labor for justice, you who labor for peace,
You who steady the plow in the field of the Lord…

Massaro writes, ” We all have something to contribute to the common good, and all may benefit from the gifts that we bring to the common table of human community and solidarity.” That quotation remained me with as I was writing my paper.

Mass happened that evening and the Gospel spoke about Bartimaeus. Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” That led me to truly ask myself, “What do I want Jesus to do for me?” Sitting in Church, suddenly, I found myself reflecting on the Eucharist.

As communion started to be distributed, ironically enough, “Here At This Table” was the song the choir decided to sing. What?! God – get out of my mind (that was my immediately thought!) And then, I had an interesting experience. An overwhelming feeling of sadness came over me, as I thought to myself, “Who is not gathered around this table? Who is not present receiving communion? Who are left out of the community – intentionally or unintentionally? How can I be more welcoming to the stranger?” I saw something like this:

last_supper_with_street_children20lowresTaken From: “Last Supper with the Street Children

In my church pew, instead, I thought of all the people who are normally sitting on the streets asking for food and money…but this time, underneath the table of the Eucharist. There are thousands in the San Jose area alone who are shunned by the community – many who do not feel welcome. What good is it to receive the Body of Christ if I choose to not use this to strengthen me, inspire me, and move in me to serve others? Blessed, broken, and shared.

What a challenge it is, every time we receive the Body of Christ.

Come and be filled here at this table.
Food for all who hunger and drink for all who thirst.
Drink of his love, wine of salvation.
You shall live forever in Jesus Christ the Lord.

Receiving this bread is not meant for me alone. How beautiful it would be if we allow our experiences to transform us and engage with others around us. Catholic Social Teaching in action is difficult, and at times I find myself picking and choosing – out of convenience or my own selfishness. But I acknowledge this, and every day is another chance to be better and better learn how I can be bread for others.

Image:  “The Communion Table Top” | CC BY 2.0

Doing Justice Naturally

Doing Justice Naturally

If we truly are growing in love with our neighbors who are suffering at the hands of unjust systems—if that love is deep enough and authentic enough—then finding ourselves opposing those unjust systems will follow as naturally as the morning follows the night…. I don’t think we go out looking for oppressive systems to confront, like Don Quixote went out looking for windmills to attack. Our doing must flow naturally out of our being. Our doing for justice must flow naturally out of our being in love with those for whom there is no justice. – K. Killian Noe

the art of breaking bread

the art of breaking bread

open palms.
open palms.

Walking through Philly the other day, I came across this statue of Jesus (see above): Jesus holding bread. Broke the bread, and in an open palm gesture, the bread was offered for all. ALL. Nothing profound here, only that this statue had me reflecting on Jesus’ care and love for anyone and everyone that came his way. When he wanted to retreat, he was interrupted, and he went to the people, instead. When others despised him for spending time with the marginalized persons in society, he did it anyway. When he had his Last Supper, knowing that his friends would betray him, he still knelt down, and washed their feet. To me, this statue reiterated the heart of Jesus – for everyone. If only humans could open their doors just a little bit more, and open their palms and hearts out to others, just a little bit more.

The Lord's Supper
The Lord’s Supper

I then came across this image today (above) by Fritz Eichenberg, an artist who worked with Dorothy Day (founder of the Catholic Worker) on the Catholic Worker movement. Providing homes of hospitality for those who needed a place to rest their head, food for their tummies, and services to help them get back on their feet, the Catholic Worker movement is one that is still very much alive today – not only shared by Catholics, but participated in by all. Eichenberg has provided an array of powerful art pieces that call us to be mindful of the poor and oppressed, and I urge you to check them out. They’re good ones.

Here’s another one:


Now, go, and create your own art with others. And smile doing it 🙂 There are people waiting.