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Center for Action and Contemplation

Prophets: Weekly Summary

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Summary: Sunday, September 10-Friday, September 15, 2017

Honest and humble self-critical thinking is necessary to see one’s own shadow and usually well-hidden narcissism. Only when I encounter my shadow do I realize that my biggest problem is me! (Sunday)

The dualistic mind presumes that if you criticize something, you don’t love it.  Wise people like the prophets would say the opposite. (Monday)

Prophets cannot be at the center of any social structure. Rather, they are “on the edge of the inside.” They cannot be fully insiders, but they cannot throw rocks from outside either. (Tuesday)

A prophet is one who keeps God free for people and who keeps people free for God. (Wednesday)

“A prophet is someone who listens attentively to the word of God, a contemplative, a mystic who hears God and takes God at God’s word, and then goes into the world to tell the world God’s message.” —John Dear (Thursday)

“Behind the prophet’s unvarnished vision lies a hope we seldom understand—the knowledge that God is with us, that the kingdom of God is at hand. To realize that hope, we must trust ourselves to plumb the depths and trust God to see us through.” —John Dear (Friday)


Practice: Contemplative, Active, and Prophetic Nonviolence

Prophets are nonpartisan and thus their work never ends. Throughout history, they have spoken truth to power, regardless of the ruler’s political persuasion. They are able to lovingly criticize their own group, recognizing their own complicity in a violent system.

We still need courageous, humble people to speak up for justice and peace. For Christians, John Dear says, the great question is: “How do we follow the nonviolent Jesus more faithfully in this culture of violence and war?” He offers three basic steps: contemplative, active, and prophetic nonviolence.

More than ever . . . we have to dig deeper spiritual roots and that means practicing contemplative nonviolence. We have to take time for quiet meditation with the God of peace every day. . . . It’s hard to change the world; we can barely change ourselves. But God can change us and the world if we allow the God of peace to touch us, disarm us, heal us, and send us out as instruments of God’s peace. . . .

Second, we need to be public activists of nonviolence. It does not serve anyone to sit around and complain . . . about the Republicans or the Democrats. We need to take action, and not just private action but public action for justice, disarmament, and peace.

[Now] is a good time to reflect on our public lives as active peacemakers, to investigate the quality of our loving kindness and peaceableness behind our activism, as well as the boldness and derring-do of our work. . . .

Third, we need to be prophets of nonviolence, that is, we need to speak out publicly . . . and lend our voice to the grassroots movement calling for an end to war, racism, nuclear weapons, poverty, corporate greed and environmental destruction, and for a new culture of peace and nonviolence.

In effect, like the nonviolent Jesus, we are announcing the coming of God’s reign of peace and nonviolence, here and now, right in our midst, despite what we hear on TV or Twitter. . . .

Don’t be afraid to be bold! Let’s not give in to fear, but practice fearlessness and herald a bold vision of a new culture of peace and nonviolence.

This is what it means for me to follow the nonviolent [and prophetic] Jesus these days. We may get pushed back, dismissed, ostracized, or harassed for our stand, but he endured far worse and remained meticulously nonviolent, loving and faithful. He set the example, and we want to follow him.

Today begins a week-long Campaign Nonviolence organized by John Dear and Pace e Bene, a nonprofit founded by the Franciscan Friars of California. You can find actions near you and take the Campaign Nonviolence Pledge at

Gateway to Silence:
Do not be afraid.

John Dear, “The Three Steps of Nonviolence,” July 7, 2017,

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, Prophets Then, Prophets Now (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2006), CD, MP3 download
Richard Rohr, Scripture as Liberation (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2002), MP3 download

Image credit: Jeremiah (detail), Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, 1511, Vatican City, Italy.
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