Daniel Berrigan at 90

Daniel Berrigan, SJ, celebrated his 90th birthday yesterday.  We older folk remember him as a charismatic anti-war activist in the 60s and 70s.  He was a powerful advocate for non-violence and social justice for many years.

He is also a poet of some renown.  Here is one of his lyrics.


Were I God almighty, I would ordain, rain fall lightly where old men trod, no death in childbirth, neither infant nor mother, ditches firm fenced against the errant blind, aircraft come to ground like any feather.

No mischance, malice, knives.

Tears dried. Would resolve all

flaw and blockage of mind

that makes us mad, sets lives awry.

So I pray, under

the sign of the world’s murder, the ruined son;

why are you silent?

feverish as lions

hear us in the world,

caged, devoid of hope.

Still, some redress and healing.

The hand of an old woman

turns gospel page;

it flares up gently, the sudden tears of Christ.

Picture by Clara Sherley-Appel under Creative Commons license.

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Jim Manney
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is What Matters Most and Why. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. I just finished reading People of the Lie by Dr. Scott Peck and encountered the name Berrigan Brothers and googled it and here I am. I thank God for finding these pages of Ignatian Spirituality.

  2. Fr. Berrigan has no doubt influenced many people. I came across his name again yesterday while reading the book by Pete Earley, Crazy, A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness. This book provides an indepth look at today’s failed system in treating the people living with mental illness. Towards the end of his book, Earley mentioned Fr. Berrigan’s name and talked in detail about , Passageway, the halfway house founded by Tom Mullen. During a chance meeting many years ago with Tom Mullen, Fr. Berrigan urged Mullen to put his life ‘at risk’ in service to his faith. This advice changed Mullen’s life, eventually led him to start Passageway. Over the years, Passageway has been one of the few places where people with mental illness can feel safe, not judged, and their lives matter. Happy Birthday! Fr. Berrigan.


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