Guide Penance (The History Patrol)

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He said that if I did decide to enlist and later struggled with the implications and experience of war, I should reach out. But I lost touch and had mostly forgotten his offer for help. Through Peters and Griffin and others, I found the beginning of answers and an intellectual tradition that I had been searching for since I had returned from Afghanistan. The Catholic understanding of reconciliation has three parts—lament, penance and reparation. Lament: Veterans needed to air the wrongs they had done and to do so publicly. A Jesuit scholastic I talked to, a veteran, put it another way: Because we had participated in war, the public we returned to needed to indict us veterans, needed to know and see and in some ways pass judgment on what we had done.

While this seems an incredibly difficult process—how can you judge a soldier returning from war?

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There cannot be lies or glossing over. A public accounting is needed, so that the community and the veteran together can lament war. I cannot bring back those killed in war. But I have got to do something to try to repair the world. The next step is penance. Basil, almost 2, years ago, recommended that soldiers returning home from war abstain from Communion. Perhaps, however, it is well to counsel that those whose hands are not clean only abstain from Communion for three years.

What is perhaps most striking, David Peters has said , is that even though the Norman Conquest had papal sanction, penance was still required by those who had participated. Having gone through the act of truth-telling about war, I needed to do something to begin to try to scrub the stain of war from myself, if I ever want to be in the right relationship with my community again. This can take the form of fasting or, even better in the case of veterans, of pilgrimage. Peters explores the idea of physical and spiritual pilgrimages at length in his book Post-Traumatic God. Going on a journey, through physical time and space, like those patrols I went on in Afghanistan, can fundamentally reorient the veteran who comes home and mark his spiritual journey as well.

The last part is reparation: slow works of infused grace. Having tried in some measure, through fasting, prayer and penance, to perfect my own soul, it is now time to go out into the world and try to repair some of the hurt I caused. We killed some teenage kids while I was in Afghanistan. I now teach kids who are about the same age.

I came home from war, physically home at least, and felt treated like a priest of the American civil religion. No one ever indicted me or lamented the war. I was celebrated, venerated and sought out for wisdom. I am a penitent. I am a sinner—who is loved. I cannot ever earn the love that is poured out upon me; I will never be worthy of grace. But there is a path to reconciliation. As a country, we often avoid it, embracing a theology of justification, sidestepping questions about the costs of war.

We can avoid it no longer. A theology of penance: That is how I come home. Peter, Thank you for sharing your experience and providing this spectacular lesson in the theology of penance. Bill Bulger. With 40 years experience as a mental health worker and 3 episodes of working in different war zones my impression from this article is that is was written by a traumatised man. Almighty God is the Lord of Warrior Hosts.

The Time Patrol

The ideal king for the Jews was David, a seasoned warrior king and we are aware that his grave sin was murder to fulfil lust, not as commander of his soldiers. Jesus Christ, our Lord, although he did not send lethal force against his enemies, is at least once reported to have used violence against the racketeers profaning the holiness of the Temple. You are being given love, love inferior to the love of God as well as Divine Love itself, and neither has been earned, from both sources it is given.

Arrange to see a Catholic who is a counsellor and for you it would be better if he be a priest as well. We may not be pacifists, but we are definitely bound by Church teachings on "just war," and none of America's recent wars in the Middle East have been"just"; they do not meet the requirements of those teachings of the Magisterium.

Once, when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sri Lanka, I had a colleague who had been a member of the Army's newspaper staff during the fist war against Iraq--the one that "liberated Kuwait. She told me that she did, indeed, remember that, and that she and her colleagues made sure that Catholic American servicemen serving in that conflict never saw what the Pope had said about it. Catholics who would be faithful to Church teachings should never serve in America's unjust and unconstitutional wars.

I am sorry for not having done more to prevent the U. I apologize to you, Peter.

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This article connects me to something I have been thinking about lately. Why do we not put as much effort into encouraging our young people to join the diplomatic corps as we do toward enlisting them into the armed services? Why do we seem to prefer molding warriors instead of peacemakers? Not only do we invest obscene amounts of money into the military complex itself, but consider the efforts made for recruitment and advertising toward enlistment.

Think of the perks and educational resources that are made available to the enlisted. I have never seen marketing aimed at recruiting young people to become diplomats in order to train those with the abilities to sit down and discuss ways to make peace between nations in order to avoid conflict and war and so make fighting unnecessary. I realize the United Nations is a place for this, but when was the last time you were aware of the State Department wanting you?

Maybe there are obvious routes for those with the inclination, but how would the average young person know how to go about it? On the other hand, there are military recruitment stations in every community and personnel at every high school. I'd also like to see us create a "Climate Corps" along the lines of the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps since we cannot deny that climate change is a national security issue. These would seem to be healthier alternatives for the body, mind, and soul; reducing and maybe eliminating PTSD, suicides and the guilt, regret, and soul angst described in this article.

One speculation: Because America was founded in armed conflict, it has beatified its armed forces. The diplomatic service is not venerated, because peacemakers did not have a role to play in the country's foundation. Not until the Civil Rights movement and MLK's focus on 'waging peace' did America have a genuine role-model for non-violent action.

Sacraments 101: Penance (why we confess)

My understanding is that a sin is a specific act. It must be an important matter, be done with full knowledge and full consent of the will.


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Is the author saying that he committed murder? Or what? A sin can, of course, be done out of pride, anger, despair or selfishness, but if there is no act, where is the sin? Guilt, in my opinion, is a condition incurred due to a specific act, quite independently of how one feels. I appreciate poetic expressions involving virtue, vice, sin and works of mercy probably as much as the next reader, but I am uncomfortable with reckless accusations of actual sin, even if they are self-accusations.

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