Friday, December 29, 2006

Meditating on the “Our Father” in Jail

Meditating on the “Our Father” in Jail
Joseph E. Mulligan, S.J.

The following is from my journal written while I was in two county jails from late January to late April, 2004, serving a 90-day sentence for “crossing the line” onto Ft. Benning, Ga., in a November 2003 protest against the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas. The School, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), has trained thousands of Latin American soldiers, some of whom have returned to their countries to be notorious torturers, assassins, and other human-rights violators.
My “Letter from the Muscogee County Jail” was published by The Witness during my first month in jail –
Other jail journal entries have also been posted by The Witness.


If the Lord’s prayer is for all people,
then God is the God of all,
who then must be brothers and sisters of one family.

God of all nations, races, and language groups.
God of drug users and pushers
and of social drinkers and liquor dealers,
of smokers and tobacco advertisers;
of petty thieves in jail,
and of corporate criminals in country clubs,
and of the victims of both.
Of those who terrorize with chemical and bacteriological weapons,
and of those who hurt and kill by polluting the atmosphere for profit,
and of their victims.
Of those who assault and batter a person for a purse,
and of armies which attack nations for their oil and investment opportunities.
Of those who defraud with a bad check,
and of the company insiders who cheat by cooking the books
and steal by selling their stock before the crash,
and of their victims.
Of those who are in jail for perjury,
and of those who lie in advertising and governmental public relations.
Of those in prison for probation violation,
and of those in the White House, State, and Defense
who violate the rules of international law.
Of those behind bars for DUI (driving under the influence),
and of those equally reckless ones, behind desks, using and threatening WMD.
Of the drunk and disorderly,
and of the sober (or careful) executives of disorderly, rogue corporations.
Of those who fail to appear in court for driving without a license
and of those who invade without a license.

Today I finished reading Joyce Milton’s Tramp -- The Life of Charlie Chaplin (DaCapo Press, 1998). Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdoux, condemned as a serial wife killer who swindled his victims before killing them, accused the judge, jury, and spectators of hypocrisy: “As for being a mass murderer, does not the world encourage it? Is it not building weapons of destruction for the sole purpose of mass killing? Has it not blown unsuspecting women and children to pieces, and done it very scientifically? As a mass killer, I am an amateur by comparison.”
But he and they will be judged: “I shall see you all very soon.” (footnote 1)

“Our” Father,
of prostitutes in prison, and of their pimps on the street,
of business executives who cause unemployment,
and of politicians who allow social ruin in the maximization of profits.
Of the gun users and of the sellers of weapons,
and of those who promote violence by filling the media with it,
by exemplifying it in war, or in the home.

Bill Quigley, law professor at Loyola University of New Orleans and lead attorney in our trials, in “Yesterday My Friend Chose Prison” (4-9-03), dedicated to the anti-SOA prisoners of conscience, wrote:
“Yesterday my friend joined the people we put in the concrete and steel boxes,
mothers and children and fathers that we cannot even name,
in prison for using and selling drugs,
in prison for trying to sneak into this country,
in prison for stealing and scamming and fighting and killing,
but none were there for the massacres,
no generals, no politicians, no under-secretaries, no ambassadors.”

Who’s the criminal here? All of us stand in dire need of God’s mercy and transforming Spirit, but only some are judged “guilty” and punished by human justice.



“Abba” -- Dad/Mom
Love, care, and mercy for all the kids, especially the most difficult and needy.
Unearned, unmerited mercy,
not dependent on our talents, moral worth, or reputation;
grace generously given,
and thus powerful to free us from our self-righteousness, which is always self-deception,
since it makes us selective in our vision and protective in our blindness.

As Love, Abba frees us from our need to rationalize our anti-social behavior
and to justify ourselves by focusing on some “works” and looking away from others.
Frees me to be myself -- a sinner called to be a saint, an egoist called to be generous --
and to let the masks, props, and titles fall,
to know myself as I am before Abba,
to repent of hurting others either on a personal or world scale,
to stand up and continue on the journey, open to the Spirit’s energy
to change a heart of stone into a heart of flesh;
to try to be caring and responsible in my personal relations
and in my social, political, and economic ones.


“who art in heaven”

and who are here on earth, in society,
through your Incarnation (“becoming flesh”) in Jesus of Nazareth,
who is in the prisoner, the hungry, the naked, the homeless,
crying out to us as individuals and social groups,
denying us the escape of saying “I love God”
while hurting or ignoring my neighbor and my neighbor countries.

But yes, who art in heaven --
that is, everywhere,
on earth and above, throughout the galaxies,
to be confined, tamed, named, and domesticated nowhere.
Not as the tribal god of any gender, nation, race, or class,
nor under house arrest in Washington, Jerusalem, Rome, Mecca, or any other temple.
Who does not need our children to say,
in the pledge of allegiance, that our nation is “under God,”
but who does want every nation to acknowledge
that it is under higher laws and principles, not a law unto itself,
and that its citizens should not consider nationalism their “ultimate concern,”
their Absolute, especially in time of war,
which cannot be “just” for both sides at the same time,
no matter how fervently the chaplains bless both armies,
assuring them they are doing God’s work.

Abba “in heaven” is our Supreme Authority,
whose commandment is that we love one another.
Who, as Pater and Mater, does not forbid patriotism,
but keeps it in perspective,
reminding us that our true Patria is the universal Kingdom of justice, peace, and love,
not just the land under our flag.
Who inspired an anti-imperialist statesman to say: “My country right or wrong --
may it ever be right,
but when it is wrong, let us make it right” (Carl Schurz).
For it is always my country, for which I share responsibility.

Thus the true patriot, “under God” who is in heaven,
is not the one who simply waves the flag,
prays for the troops and urges them on (from the sidelines)
as they march off to wars around the world,
and consoles their families when they return in flag-draped coffins,
but the citizen
who democratically questions the government policies which send the soldiers
to kill and to die,
who exercises the rights to freedom of speech and redress of grievances,
who organizes to pressure for change,
and who invites soldiers and civilian collaborators
to let their conscience examine what they are about to do,
to be a conscientious objector before or after induction,
if that is where their Light leads,
and to obey their conscience, which for them is the voice of Truth,
of the Commander-in-Chief of the worldwide human nation.


“Hallowed be thy name”

May your name be held holy, revered, respected,
not tripping lightly off the tongue
of every political, civic, and church leader
who talks in public as if he/she had a special Internet link to your will.
And may your name, “Abba,” be understood correctly:
“Mom/Dad,” ever kind and merciful to all the kids,
and thus our liberator from all our pretensions.
Parent and Creator, who brought the universe,
with all its inhabitants, into being,
and so cannot but want life in all its fullness and joy
for all your universal family.

Your name is holy. You are all-holy, entirely Good.
No human construct is all-holy --
no nation or empire, no constitution, no tradition, no “sacred” book,
no human structure of organized religion or government.
When our human products fall into the common temptation
of deifying and sacralizing themselves,
then those idols which demand human sacrifice
need to be shattered, secularized, relativized, de-mystified --
that is, brought down to earth and shown to be of clay --
so that human beings may be free
to know the truth and to love Abba and all people.

Yes, in your holiness and goodness we are all called to share.
St. Paul addressed his letters to the “saints” in various communities,
invited to be a New Creation in Christ.
But Christ is the only human being who is totally holy,
totally filled with the Holy Spirit, one with Abba.
The rest of us share his life and holiness, in very limited measure.
Paul emphasized that he had not yet attained the crown
but was running toward it (Philippians 3:12-14).


“Thy kingdom come”

May human society be transformed into a loving and just community for all peoples,
and may nature and all the universe continue to evolve into their fullness in Christ.
We are delivered into your Kingdom
when we live and build the world in a way
that demonstrates that you are indeed King,
that your principles and values hold ultimate sway in our daily living
and in our political and economic relations,
when we love one another as individuals
and as citizens of sister nations and races in the community of all peoples.
May your Spirit change our hearts and world structures
so that peace with justice will reign.

St. Matthew used “kingdom of heaven” out of reverence for your name; he meant the same as Mark and Luke did when they wrote “kingdom of God” -- not some incredible fantasy of a spiritual realm filled with disincarnate souls floating around, but this universe and this earth transformed into the garden for all which you intended at the origin.
Jesus himself proclaimed that this Kingdom is at hand, among us, not merely within, as some translations put it, as if it were a kingdom of interior consolation, warm feelings, and nice intentions in our heart and mind.
The Kingdom is larger than that: Jesus is Lord of all -- of our hearts and minds and interior values, certainly, but also Lord of the work of our hands and of the structures we create to live socially, politically, and economically.
The federal magistrate conducting the trial of those who protested against SOA/WHINSEC, after listening to our testimony and hearing of our dreams for a peaceful society, delivered his opinion that what we were describing sounded like the Kingdom of heaven but that we should know that that is not of this world. Perhaps Matthew’s “kingdom of heaven” is foremost in the judge’s mind, or perhaps he has other reasons for holding his opinion.
Yes, your honor, Jesus did say that his kingdom is “not of this world “ (in a very specific situation in his life), meaning that he would not rely on the world’s violent methods of self-defense such as armies when the police came for him: “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here” (Jn 18:36). (footnote 2)
Similarly, before the start of his public ministry, he had rejected domination and coercion as his method for helping the Kingdom to come. In the desert he rejected political power over others, any kind of miraculous spectacle which could coerce people´s will, and the power which comes from distributing bread and other necessities (Mt 4:1-11). His sword would be the one that Paul later took up: “the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God” (Eph 6:17).

But throughout his ministry
he courageously denounced evil, corruption, and injustice
in this world
and sketched the outlines of the Kingdom
inaugurating it by his way of living and struggling
here on earth.
That is why he was jailed and executed as a trouble-maker, criminal, social critic,
but in his resurrection he conquered death
and the injustice which had condemned and crucified him;
he is proved, for those with faith, to be the innocent party in the trial,
while his executioners are shown to be guilty of judicial murder.
He is the first-born of the New Creation, of the Kingdom,
which is present in seedling
and, as he proclaimed, is coming here and now.

Yes, the Kingdom is “utopia”
in the literal sense
that in its fullness it is “nowhere” on earth, in history.
That is all too obvious
in our criminal-justice system
as well as in the increasingly unjust distribution of the world´s resources
and in the military domination and exploitation
of the world by the U.S. and other powers.
But there is some justice and peace,
and we keep struggling for more.
The seeds of the Kingdom are planted and are growing,
even if in a fragile and quiet way as the parables indicate.
The risen Christ is with us in the struggle,
keeping our hope alive,
nourishing our love and commitment,
accompanying us and strengthening us in our wavering moments,
and assuring us that his Abba’s project will not ultimately be defeated.

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

“The people united will never be defeated”
has been a popular slogan of struggle in Chile and other Latin American countries.
“Nicaragua won; El Salvador will win”
was chanted in El Salvador in the 1980s,
where revolutionaries found hope in the Sandinista victory in Nicaragua.
“We shall overcome,” proclaimed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
along with those who organized, marched, and went to jail with him.
“Yes, it can be done” (“sí, se puede”) chanted César Chavez and the United Farm Workers.
“Don’t mourn, organize” was the message of Mother Jones and other labor organizers.

These encouraging messages show us how to cooperate with God
in bringing about the coming of the Kingdom and the implementation of God’s will.
It couldn’t be clearer that God’s will for the Kingdom
is to be carried out on earth,
not just among the departed souls and angels.
How? By using our God-given intelligence and freedom to solve our problems,
working together with her for a better world.
We must let God’s will be done in our lives, families, and communities
and organize so that God’s will for justice and freedom
may become a reality for all
in social, political, and economic structures.
In these structures and systems, it is people’s power, united and smart,
which makes change,
for the entrenched power of the ruling class
does not yield without a struggle.
As Dr. King said, “We know through painful experience
that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor;
it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
Organized Truth-force, speaking truth to power,
non-cooperation, boycotts, marches, sit-ins,
draft resistance, tax resistance, and other forms of civil disobedience,
organizing unions, neighborhood groups, and political parties,
voting and getting out the vote, especially when the stakes are significant --
these are some of the methods of exerting power non-violently at our disposal.

God’s will
is not that women and children be beaten,
that more people be unemployed or exploited,
that millions suffer malnutrition or AIDS,
that the prisons and jails of the U.S. contain over 2 million inmates,
that the U.S. invade other countries at will.
These evils happen
because we misuse the freedom and potential God has given us.
Problems made by humans,
can be solved by humans.

In this seemingly impossible and overwhelming task, we may feel alone,
even if we organize millions to act in unison.
But we are not left to our own devices, limited energy, and propensity toward despair.
Moses and the prophets were always assured of Abba’s presence and strength
even in the face of fierce opposition.
Jesus often told his disciples: “Do not be afraid; I am with you.”
United to the Vine, we will produce much fruit.
It was not God’s will that Jesus suffer cruelly and perish ignominiously on the cross
“for our sins,”
to assuage some divine wrath,
to make a sacrifice of expiation,
to save us.
These are Old Testament images which were applied to Jesus after his death and resurrection. In retrospect, Christian theology sees that they were fulfilled in a magnificent way by Jesus.
It was God’s will that Jesus
announce the Kingdom of justice and love and inaugurate it by his work,
that he denounce hypocrisy and corruption in high places
that he be faithful to this dangerous mission
in face of the intense persecution it would unleash against him,
and that Jesus and his cause be vindicated in the resurrection.
“Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want”(Mk 14:36). Jesus’ will was one with Abba’s; he was the faithful prophet and courageous liberator to the very end.


“Give us this day our daily bread”

Today our jailers were 1 1/2 hours late bringing the sandwiches and cookies for lunch; since I am fasting, for me this meant only that I had to wait a while to enjoy my regular noon-time treat of milk flavored with Yoo-hoo chocolate drink.
The other inmates waited patiently, confident that their “bread for today” would come, just as breakfast had been delivered through the slot in the wall, and supper would be.
But most people in the Third World do not have this confidence that three meals, or even one, will come their way today. When they pray for their daily bread, they ask with a deadly seriousness and with a hope tempered by hunger.
Let us pray and struggle that the super-abundant resources of the world be distributed justly so that no one suffers a lack of daily bread, and that the rising numbers of obese and overly but unhealthily fed folks in the rich societies learn to take their just portion and right quality of daily nourishment.
Meeting the food needs of the world depends on forging economic systems of adequate production and just distribution. “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt 6:33).

In Christian spirituality “our daily bread” began to refer to the Bread of Life, the Eucharist, where we recognize the risen Christ “in the breaking of the bread,” as did the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35). When the community comes together as brothers and sisters to share a meal, we feel Christ’s presence in our midst and especially in the miracle of sharing. “Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” Jesus is present in community: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Mt 18:20).
As this spirit of sharing feeds the hungry and houses the homeless in the U.S. and throughout the world, we will recognize Christ as the Love inspiring it, just as we sense his presence in every effort for justice and peace.

“You are the body of Christ,” wrote Paul (1 Cor 12:27). But is the community the real presence? I believe so. Not only that, but the real presence in the sacrament is meant to be the Bread of Life to nourish and strengthen Christ’s presence in the people. “I was hungry and you gave me food.... Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Mt 25:35,40).
Where is the risen Christ? In large part, in the community and in our work for the Kingdom. Imagine if we showed the same respect, reverence, and love to Christ’s Body in the Church, in the sick, in the imprisoned as we do to his Body on the altar and in the tabernacle! The HIV/AIDS patient or the addict or the unemployed would be the Most Blessed Sacrament, and we would really encounter Christ in our sharing with his members.
Perhaps this is why the tradition of benediction (adoring the Eucharistic bread and blessing the people with it) has waned in the post-Vatican II Church -- because we believe that Christ is present in the sacrament not so much to be adored there as to nourish and help his Body, the Church. And his presence on the altar is most meaningfully and salvifically celebrated when the altar is the table of our shared meal.
At Mass, when I say the words of Jesus -- “This is my body, which will be given (or broken) for you; this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new covenant, which shall be shed for you” -- I am thinking not so much of the epiphany of Christ in the bread and wine at that moment but in the wonder of his giving his body to be broken within hours on the cross and his blood to be shed out of faithfulness to his prophetic mission for his people.
He knew that his body would be torn apart, and his blood spilled out, as a consequence of his liberating work, and he accepted this death penalty rather than waver from his task. This is epitomized for me by the moment of martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador: one day after delivering, in his Sunday sermon broadcast nationally, one of his strongest denouncements of his own government’s repression (“Stop the repression.... No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to God’s will”), standing at the altar at the offertory, shortly before the consecration, his body was broken and his heart burst by one bullet from an assassin in the service of the oligarchy and the U.S.-supported military.
He enacted the words of consecration in his own sacrifice of his life, and he celebrated the resurrection with his Lord Jesus. “If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran people,” he had said.
During the Eucharistic prayer I am also aware of and joyfully celebrating the change of the bread and wine, and I am conscious of the words Jesus used about the New Covenant. This is the interior, personal covenant: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer 31:33).
This is an extremely serious and important affirmation by Jesus: that the New Covenant is embodied in him. Let us pray that we, as members of his Body, may truly be people of this new covenant of love.


“And forgive us our trespasses”

Abba is love and mercy.
We simply have to accept the gift
and believe that we are forgiven.
No “works” are required on our part
except to recognize our sin, repent, and have a sincere intention to do better in the future.
The key element is to be struck by what is really sinful in my life,
not what I am “supposed” to feel sorry for according to the catechism.
Have I hurt someone by an unjust act or word?
Have I done harm to large numbers of people
by my involvement in unjust, anti-social policies
of my gender, government, corporation, church, or other group I am part of?
This latter dimension of sin is often overlooked by preachers and counselors
who focus only on the interpersonal dimension of our lives, e.g. --
Am I fulfilling my responsibilities to my family?
Do I avoid using violence at home or with my neighbors?
Do I refrain from stealing from them or from the corner grocery?
But we are also social and political beings,
members of collectives which act in our name and for us.
Is my government or corporation hurting or helping
the hungry children of the whole human family?
Is my government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,”
as Dr. King believed?
Are we stealing the oil of Iraq by assault and armed robbery?
While I may try to respect the dignity and rights of women,
does my Church violate their rights systematically
by denying equal rights to participate at all levels of ministry?
While I, with the assistance of the law, avoid blowing smoke in others’ faces,
is the corporation I work for or hold stock in
destroying bodies on a massive scale by polluting the air, water, and earth?
While I may have some friends among (or at least talk respectfully with)
unskilled laborers and members of minorities,
is my company, school, or church a vicious union-buster
and a violator of equal-opportunity laws?

The criterion for receiving communion and for considering someone a “good Catholic”
should be much more encompassing than simply whether the person
has been married in the Church or is in a second marriage.
Sexual relationships can be beautiful expressions of love and communication
or they can be hurtful and destructive.
But there are many other ways we can harm people as well,
and many of them are in the sphere of our political and economic relationships.

It is a truly liberating gift of God
when we allow our masks and lies and excuses to fall away
and our conscience is shaken by the recognition of some harm we are doing.
The next moment is also a divine gift:
when we feel sorrow, repent, and ask God and others for forgiveness,
accept that unearned mercy,
and get up and begin to live differently,
knowing that we are sinners called to be apostles.


“As we forgive those who trespass against us”

When I recognize my own sinfulness, feel sorrow, ask for forgiveness, and gratefully receive that forgiveness and begin a new life, I cannot but respond positively to someone who goes through the same process and asks my forgiveness.
But the process must be complete: the aggressor must stop abusing the victim before the victim can forgive. How, then, can women in the Catholic Church forgive the all-male clergy, unless we are struggling alongside them for their full rights? How can the people of Latin America forgive us, unless we are trying to abolish SOA/WHINSEC and other instruments of violent repression, which harm them, and striving to cancel their crushing foreign debt?


“And lead us not into temptation”

Perhaps the gravest temptation for people engaged in the struggle to build the Kingdom is to despair of this possibility and abandon the dream. As an antidote to this, we have the entire record of the bible, where Abba and Jesus constantly try to raise the hopes and spirits of their people, encouraging us to continue on the journey.
And throughout history a cloud of saints and martyrs, as well as “holy atheists” who often put professed Christians to shame, show that it is possible to live a life of integrity in the midst of corruption and of struggle against overwhelming odds.
We also have the support of one another in our communities where our dream is kept alive and our hope nourished. Active engagement itself, always searching for new strategies, sustains hope: those who remain faithful to the struggle find their hope being renewed, whereas those who drop out to live a strictly private life fall into a deeper and deeper cynicism and pessimism, perhaps partly to rationalize their inactivity.
Let us use our minds to develop effective strategies to produce victories, which we need along the way, even small ones: but let us see that the ultimate value of our work and struggle is intrinsic to them, not depending wholly on the outcome, so that we can say, if necessary: “We did our best; we lost this inning; but it was all worth it.”
Ultimately hope, like faith and true love, is the fruit of God’s life in us.

Another serious temptation in this line of work is self-righteousness: considering ourselves superior to the unenlightened and uncommitted masses, and some of us thinking of ourselves as a “vanguard” going further, taking more risks, bearing more crosses, and working harder than our comrades in the same movement.
The first kind of self-righteousness, based on a failure to remember our own process of conscientización (consciousness-raising), impedes our ability to communicate with the people and sometimes leads activists to label the people as their enemy. Antidote? To recognize that many people are insecure about their own future, are super-busy with their daily life and work, and are easily manipulable by the media and other opinion-formers -- but are nevertheless capable of gaining an adequate social analysis, recognizing their own and others’ true interests (as distinct from the interests of the elite), and entering into struggle. Their birth of consciousness can be assisted by us if we do our jobs sensitively, respectfully, and intelligently.
The second kind of self-righteousness, based on a spirit of egotistic competition within the ranks of our own movement, divides us and undermines our power. Antidote? To recognize our own and others’ gifts and limitations and to see ourselves as members of one body: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Cor 12:21).


“But deliver us from evil”

In Spanish we say: “libranos del mal” -- liberate us from evil. The many dimensions of this process are explored systematically in liberation theology.
From the evil of self-centeredness in our own heart,
often based on fear and self-doubt,
and from the evils of injustice
which are products of that selfishness --
Liberate us as you liberated your people from slavery in Egypt,
by calling us to struggle to free ourselves.
For freedom cannot be given or imposed,
against our flight from it,
against our desire to remain “happy slaves,”
against our conformism, passivity, laziness,
and poor self-image to which we may wish to cling.
Freedom is seized by those who respond to the call and the challenge.


“For thine is the kingdom”

It is the Kingdom of God, and it will come in God’s time and manner; we are its heralds and servants, called to be steadfast in our task.

“And the power”

The energy and force for good in the universe is God’s: the gentle force of truth and love which can touch hearts and transform them by the Holy Spirit and can “bring down the powerful from their thrones and lift up the lowly,” filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away empty (Lk 1:52-53).

“And the glory”

Let us not build kingdoms to our own glory, but to God’s, lest we become the oppressor.

“Now and forever. Amen.”


1. Seeing the movie, “Monsieur Verdoux,” after my release, I found some additional interesting statements by Verdoux. He opens his pre-sentence speech by jabbing at the problem of unemployment: “The prosecutor at least admits that I have brains. I have, and for 35 years I used them honestly. After that, nobody wanted them. So I was forced to go into business for myself.”
Just before going to the guillotine, Verdoux was interviewed by a reporter. “Crime doesn’t pay, does it?”
Verdoux: “No, sir. Not in a small way.”
“What do you mean?”
“To be successful in anything, one must be well organized.”
“Give me a story with a moral to it. You, the tragic example of a life of crime.”
“I dont see how anyone can be an example in these criminal times.”
“You certainly are, robbing and murdering people.”
“That’s business.”
“Other people don’t do business that way.”
“That’s the history of many a big business. Wars, conflict, it’s all business. One murder makes a villain, millions a hero. Numbers sanctify, my good fellow.”
When a priest visited and said “I’ve come to ask you to make peace with God,” Verdoux replied: “I am at peace with God. My conflict is with Man.”

2. All biblical quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition (Catholic Bible Press, 1993).

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