One year ago, Subversive Thomism joined with Occupy Catholic to lead a Novena to St. Nicholas in support of the Occupy Movement. Where are we a year later?
The Occupy Movement seems broken- a few groups remain in some of the more active cities, but media coverage has fallen to 0, and they had no practical effect in the last election. We still see corporations running amok and forcing their wills on others.
The Occupy Catholic movement is still growing strong in NYC and other places. They’ve had gatherings and have a lot of spirit and motivation. Still, the Church seems to be turning more and more conservative, placing conservative American values over Catholic values at every step, as witnessed by the recent refusal of the USCCB to approve a document decrying the economic situation in the US.
Yes, one novena does not stand alone, nor do the thousands of people associated with the Occupy movement, nor do the thousands with the Occupy Catholic movement. St. Nicholas teaches us hope, perseverance, and righteous anger. I am not suggesting that we now turn to physical violence, but we must ratchet up the pressure we are putting on society to convert to the true way of Christ — to love the other as though he or she was our self. To give so tirelessly to those who have less. To stand up against heresy and seek TRUTH.
In all of our actions, we must struggle against the powers that be and give our lives in love.
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” — John 14:2
“More and more homeowners facing wrongful foreclosure evictions are taking a bold stand by resisting banks’ unfair actions. They are deciding to stay in their homes and fight. When the banks or sheriffs come knocking on their doors, they are saying “we’re not leaving.”" — Peter Dreier
Today is an ACTION day for the Occupy movement — Occupy Our Homes. Across the United States, everyday people like you and me lose their homes on a daily basis. Many of these foreclosures are illegal, and many were caused by banks too greedy to make money to tell the truth to people that the bank was actually betting they would not make their mortgage payment.
It is fitting that Occupy Our Homes takes place on St. Nicholas’ feast day. St. Nicholas provided money to poor women so they did not have to become prostitutes. He helped those who were less fortunate and gave of his own wealth to those in need. Today, he would stand with Occupy Our Homes- his spirit will be in those houses today, seeking justice for those who have been treated unjustly.
For what St. Nicholas and St. Thomas recognize is what capitalism does not allow us to see: the drive of social action is need. In response to need, we do not accuse the other; we help them.
And if it requires some sacrifice of us, it’s one more step to sainthood.
Our Novena to St. Nicholas has received some national attention via NCR. I am very happy about this. I want to take this opportunity to point out two things.
First and foremost, St. Nicholas may have been the inspiration of Santa Clause, but it was only in the way that, say, filet mignon is the inspiration for a quarter pounder with chesse. Culture, of course, transforms the original into something that is not quite like it but we pretend it is. Originally, back before capitalism, Santa Clause may have been a symbol for true Christianity and love. Today, he is a tool for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. St. Nicholas, however, stands for and with the poor.
Second, we have to recall at this time that St. Nicholas is not about giving handouts to those who are undeserving. We must model our selves after Nicholas — doing what we can in the situation at hand. We are well to remember this in light of Bishop Lynch’s decision to kill health care for his thousands of employees rather than risk allowing someone to practice contraception which may in some small case lead to an abortion. What would St. Nicholas do in this situation: he would find someone to subvert the system and make sure that everyone receives health coverage while not funding possible abortafacients. How many people seek an abortion out of fear that they cannot afford the health care for themselves while pregnant or their children once born. We have to make sure a no-win situation becomes a win-win situation by undermining the culture that seems to allow us no choice.
If nothing else, we as Catholics must resist the reification of the status quo — that is the true meaning of saintliness, the subversion of the status quo, from St. Nicholas and St. Augustine, to St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis of Assissi, to Dorothy Day and Oscar Romero. It requires sacrifice — but notice that saints always sacrifice themselves and never the other.
Please find our Facebook events page for the Novena to St. Nicholas in support of Occupy!!!