Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Call from the Marian Helpers to Help Save the World

Starting on March 1st, we are to start Father Michael Gaitley's new book:  33 Days to Merciful Love:  A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy in order to finish right before Divine Mercy Sunday.  If you receive Marian Helpers magazine this information can be found in the Spring 2016 Issue on page 15. If you do not receive this wonderful magazine, ask to be put on their mailing list. But in the meantime, you can read the article HERE

The best part about our participation in this preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday (and year), is that the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy will be televising live this year on Divine Mercy Sunday via EWTN beginning at noon EST.  During that time period, we will all have a chance to consecrate ourselves together!

This book is being offered for any donation, even a dollar plus $5.25 to anyone in the continental United States. Sadly, this means the folks in Alaska and Hawaii must purchase the book either through Marian Helpers by clicking HERE  or any other reputable book seller.

To order your book, click HERE or call 1-800-462-7426 Product Code: B29F-33DML. Note: only one book per household.

Keep in mind, March 1st is less than 2 weeks away.

Friday, February 12, 2016

ACN News - Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox leader meet to utter ‘mutual cry for peace’



ACN-USA News

2/12/2016

Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox leader meet to utter ‘mutual cry for peace’



The Feb. 12, 2016 encounter in Cuba between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all of Russia marks the first time in history that a pope and a patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church meet face-to-face. Peter Humeniuk, Russia expert for international Catholic charity Aid (ACN) to the Church in Need talked Feb. 9, 2015 about the significance of the encounter, a major step forward in the dialogue between the two Churches, which ACN has been supporting for more than a quarter century. With more than 100 million members, the Russian Orthodox Church is the largest and most influential of the Orthodox Churches. Its voice carries great weight.

By Eva-Maria Kolmann


Why is the meeting leaders happening right at this particular moment?

Peter Humeniuk: It’s due to the dramatic international situation. We are witnessing the persecution of Christians to an extent that has never been seen before. When the world is on fire, issues pertaining to ecclesiastical politics play a subordinate role. Bearing witness together is more important than ever before!

How was the news about the upcoming meeting received by the Russian public and the Orthodox Church at large?

Reactions have been positive, as was the response of the major media outlets; you constantly see pictures of the pope. It sent a very good signal that the Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow announced the news simultaneously. The meeting is also seen positively within Orthodoxy. Patriarch Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, received the news with great satisfaction.

Everyone understands that this is effectively about a “to be or not to be” of Christianity in these countries. It is apparent that there is also consensus within the Orthodox world that the severity of the situation requires special measures and steps.

What will change as a result of the meeting between the Pope and Patriarch?

The meeting is a culmination of what has been achieved up until now, the fruit of a work that has been in progress for several decades. There have already been many occasions in the past when both Churches have spoken with one voice. One example I would like to mention occurred in September of 2013, when Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill raised their voices in support of peace in Syria. At the time, Patriarch Kirill wrote to President Obama, Pope Francis and President Putin. It is to be expected that the cooperation between the two Churches will become deeper and more intense following the meeting.

This meeting is of course an incentive and a confirmation to continue along this path dialogue. There is also a mutual search underway for new forms of cooperation, which should manifest themselves in new projects and joint campaigns. Important spheres of activity are opening up, in addition to standing up together against the persecution of Christians, there will, for example, be initiatives in support of the Christian family.

There is much to do here and both churches have demonstrated a strong willingness to search for solutions together and to bear witness together. And in view of the international situation, the Churches can only make themselves heard by raising their voices together—and put forth a cry for peace.


Church of the Resurrection, St. Petersburg (© ACN)


Editor’s Notes:



Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.


For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Meatless Friday Recipe - Salad with Fruit and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing



This salad makes good use of fruit instead of the usual tomatoes, cucumbers, radish additions.

For 4 servings as a side salad.

SALAD:

1 medium romaine lettuce (or any salad green of your choosing), washed, dried and chopped
1 boiled egg per person, peeled and halved
2 Clementine tangerines, peeled and separated
1 Asian pear, Fuji apple (peeled) or pear, washed, sliced into thin wedges
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, raspberries or dried Craisins
1 small cucumber, peeled, halved and sliced, (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds (optional)
NOTE:  You can add as much fruit as you would like.



SALAD DRESSING:

1/4 cup real balsamic vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk until well blended




Thursday, February 11, 2016

Father Damien Quote by the "Saint of Urakami"


LENT IS THE ANNUAL CATECHUMENATE FOR ALL

by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

         
          The restoration of the adult catechumenate (RCIA) by the Second Vatican Council and the return of the Easter Vigil by Pope Pius XII a decade earlier led to the recovery of the baptismal character of Lent.

Correct context

          In previous times Lent was about doing without treats, and concentrating on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

          The adjustments of postconciliar renewal have brought the observance of Lent into clearer focus by emphasizing that it is a season of catechumenate for all the baptized, when all review the meaning of  putting on Christ by our baptismal consecration, not only those who will be baptized or brought into full communion with the Church at the Easter Vigil.

The Lenten liturgy

          The first days of Lent after Ash Wednesday and the following two weeks of Lent suggest a penitential spirit.  The prayers and readings of the Masses and Liturgy of the Hours ask us to examine our faithfulness to our Christian commitment.  Are we becoming more Christlike? 

          The tone shifts in the Gospels of the next three Sundays of Lent to reflecting on the meaning of baptism and how well we are imitating Christ:  Jesus and the woman at the well; Jesus curing the blind man; Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  They ask how we are responding to Christ’s call to partner with him. 

          These questions remind the already baptized to experience again a new catechumenate and preparation to join with Christ in his redemptive mission.

Today’s challenge

          In this third millennium Catholics are challenged to confront and correct a culture of secularism that rejects the biblical vision of the human person and human relationships.  Not an easy task, but it can be a great adventure when we live in the confidence of the Easter Vigil and realize that love is stronger than death. 

          The annual catechumenate of Lent prepares us to be missionary disciples of Christ who bring his redemptive grace to others because we have experienced it in our own lives through baptism.  Baptism is about going down into death with Christ and being raised up with him in glory.  Lent is about dying to self for the life of others, about knowing the deepest meanings of life are found in Jesus.  Activating our baptismal grace makes this possible.

          

LENT IS ABOUT BAPTISM

Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.


        For those of a certain age Lent raises memories of giving up something we enjoyed – candy, movies, and other things we liked especially.  The old sense of Lent saw this time as one of self-imposed penance and spiritual discipline.  The religious expression of the season took the form of the Stations of the Cross, daily Mass, and other devotional practices.  The general feeling that prevailed is that Lent was to be endured.

        A sense of prayer, sacrifice, and charity toward others are authentic hallmarks of the Lenten season.  We sense a genuine need to identify again with the suffering of Jesus.  The new challenge is to see all these practices and prayers in the light of the Church’s annual retreat in preparation for the Easter Triduum.  During those three days new Christians will be born from the font of Baptism, and all Christians will welcome them with a with an enthusiasm rekindled anew through reliving our own rebirth in Christ.

        Above all Lent is about the Sacraments of Initiation.  Baptism is about going down into death with Christ and being raised up with him to glory.  This death and rising can be celebrated only after it has been experienced and lived in the daily fabric of human life.  Lent is about dying to self for the life of others.  Lent is about dying to all human supports which blind us from seeing that true life is in God alone.  Lent is as serious as coming to know that the deepest meanings of human life are seen in Jesus, who fights every temptation to take the world by power, force, or the razzle-dazzle of miracles.

        When Lent begins on Ash Wednesday we are signed with ashes in the form of a cross because we live under and in that sign.  The sense of Lent as preparation for Christian initiation and its renewal is clearly proclaimed in the Sunday readings.  Our practices of prayer and charity lead us to the renewal of our baptismal promises in solidarity with the catechumens who will unite themselves with the Church through Baptism.  This is our special time of opportunity to enter more deeply the mystery of our faith, the Paschal Mystery.  Holy Thursday is the last day of Lent.  With the celebration of the evening  Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Lent ends and the Christian community enters into the annual celebration of the Passover of the Lord and unbounded joy.

        Lent launches the neophyte on the journey to our eternal destiny and re-commissions the initiated.  Lent commissions us and energizes us.

                        “Look upon us as we enter these Forty Days
                bearing the mark of the ashes,
                and bless our journey through the desert of Lent
                to the font of rebirth.
                May our fasting be hunger for justice;
                our alms, a making of peace;
                our prayer, a chant of humble and grateful hearts.
                All that we do and pray is in the name of Jesus.
                For in his cross you proclaim your love
                for ever and ever.”





LENT- A PARADIGM OF CHRISTIAN LIVING

by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.


        To see Lent only as a period of spiritual practices, penances, and self-imposed deprivations would be distorted and limited.  Some understand Lent solely as a time of painful spiritual exercises accepted more or less willingly.  But with reflection and by following attentively the Lenten celebrations brought to us by the Church and its liturgy, we come to recognize that Lent is a paradigm of Christian life.  We come to recognize the wisdom of St. Benedict’s admonition that the lives of Christians and of the Church “ought to be a continuous Lent.”  Lent is a reminder of our baptismal consecration to live as other Christs in our circumstances.

        Lent is an important time of the liturgical year aimed at redressing Christian life.  The works of Lent – prayer, almsgiving, fasting – do not have their value in themselves, as the Scriptures proclaim on Ash Wednesday and the following Thursday and Friday.  All actions have a God-centered motive and aim.

        In encouraging us to a greater emphasis on private and liturgical prayer, the Church does so to help us to recapture during Lent  their rightful place in Christian life at all times.

        Almsgiving and sharing practiced during Lent are part of a movement of conversion regarding the use of goods.  Far from jealously and selfishly keeping material goods for themselves, Christians learn to possess them not as possessing them.  They manage their possessions as good stewards, with constant concern for those less fortunate.  This is not an occasional practice either.  The ideal continues to be relevant at any time there is a need.

        Primarily, fasting concerns restricting our bodily intake of food and drink.  Whatever value is assigned to seasonal or even habitual fasting, fasting is essentially an attack on uncontrolled appetite for earthly goods of all kinds.  We are called to learn to restrain our greed for earthly goods, and to have concern for the needs of others (Is 58: 6-9).  People yield easily to such an appetite, especially in countries where over-consumption is a matter of course.  Not to curb the search for bodily and material satisfactions is pagan.  Christians seek to rectify their behavior in order to balance their everyday lifestyle in harmony with their faith and hope.  The pagans think we should eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.  But the dead are raised, and now we know that Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep (1Cor 15). 

        The lessons from Scripture proclaimed during Lent help us raise our eyes to God and His plan of salvation, to Christ and His mystery that brings this plan to realization, to its fulfillment here and now in the Church and in the world.  Of course, this can be said of all seasons of the liturgical year.  What characterize Lenten liturgies are the density, the wealth, and the strength of the texts.  Especially challenging are the Gospel readings for Christian initiation, the selected apostolic catecheses, and the remembrance of the most significant steps of salvation history.  In this way Lent proves to be catechumenal for all baptized persons and not only for those preparing for baptism.  With special insistence Lent repeats the never-ceasing call: “Become what you are.” 

        Lent is a paschal journey because it leads us to the Easter celebrations.  It has a fixed place in the liturgical calendar, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Thursday before the evening Mass.  But Christian life is wholly paschal because it is an exodus toward our eternal Father.  From this point of view, Lent is a parable of the lives of Christians and a paradigm of the Church.  What is experienced intensely for forty days must give new and enduring dynamism to our lives in all the days of the Lord.
       

          

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

ACN News- Called to Forgive - "If we hate ISIS, then they have won"

ACN-USA News

2/9/2016

Called to forgive – ‘If we hate ISIS, then they have won’


Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa is head of the Franciscans in the Middle East, custodians of the holy places in Israel and Palestine. He spoke with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need Feb. 3, 2016, discussing the prospects of Christians in Syria, Iraq and throughout the Middle East five years after the beginning of the “Arab Spring.”

By Oliver Maksan





The Arab Spring has primarily resulted in chaos and the disintegration of nations, especially in Syria. Is there any reason for the hard-pressed Christians in the region to be optimistic in 2016? 

Father Pizzaballa: It is difficult to say whether there are reasons for hope. However, from a political and military standpoint, this year will doubtlessly be a decisive year, a turning point. In Syria, I detect a certain war-weariness among the parties concerned. They will not be able to continue at this intensity for much longer. 

But many Christians have already left Syria. Trust is broken between Christians and their (former) Muslim neighbors.

Not all Muslims agree with their ideology of ISIS and other radical jihadist groups or support them, of course. After all, ISIS, for one, also suppress Muslims in the areas under their control, and thus numerically speaking one could even say they primarily suppress Muslims. But they still enjoy great popularity. It would be impossible for these groups to control such large parts of Syria and Iraq and for such a long time without support from the general population. 

Is it necessary to separate the groups along religious and ethnic borders? 

This should not be done under any circumstances. In order to make a future possible for Christians in their countries, you have to push through the concept of citizenship and civil equality. This is where the religious leaders have a part to play. Because Islamic fundamentalism didn’t just come out of nowhere. 

However, most of the Islamic clerics say that ISIS, for example, has nothing to do with Islam. 

It is surely a deviation, but there are links to the established theology. After World War II, we Catholics also had to ask ourselves how modern anti-Semitism that led to the Shoah was born and if we had a role in this. Muslim theologians now have to ask themselves similar questions. A theological examination of conscience is necessary. They have to ask themselves: What in our doctrine led to modern fundamentalism? 

Christians must set an example of forgiveness. The Year of Mercy can help make this clear to us. If we hate ISIS, then they have won. It is of course extremely difficult to grant forgiveness and this cannot be done automatically; it requires time. And as an Italian who is living in safety, I am the last person who can tell a Christian in Aleppo how this is to be accomplished. But the Christians in Syria and Iraq have to ask themselves this question. The Gospels require this of us. If we fail to do so, our faith will remain theoretical. 

Europe has long ceased being simply an observer of the upheaval in the Middle East. It is directly affected by the flow of refugees from the region. Many Christians are also making their way to Europe. Does this trouble you? 

Under no circumstances would I encourage the Christians to emigrate. We are doing everything in our power to make it possible for the Christians to stay. I would tell them: Go to a safe part of the country, but stay in Syria. Fleeing is not a solution. Because the Christians belong here. They have a calling here. And Europe is not a paradise. 

I would tell the politicians in Europe: It would be better to help the refugees, including the Christians, here than in Europe. It would be better to invest the money required to admit millions of refugees in Europe here. It would be better for both the refugees and the region. 


Christians in Homs, Syria (© ACN)


Editor’s Notes:


Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. 

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. 

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

ACN News Patriarchs call for Lenten Fast in Support of Middle East Christians

ACN-USA News

2/10/2016

Patriarchs call for Lenten fast in support of Middle East Christians


In two separate appeals, the heads of both the Chaldean and Melkite Churches have called on Christians worldwide to observe a fast on Ash Wednesday and to begin their Lenten journey mindful of the plight of persecuted fellow believers in the Middle East.

From Baghdad, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako I wrote:

“The war in Iraq and Syria is taking on apocalyptic dimensions. Without a doubt, we are already facing the largest humanitarian catastrophe since the end of World War II.
Once-thriving cities such as Mosul and the villages on the Nineveh plains have been reduced to rubble. Those who could flee, did. Millions of children in refugee camps are waiting for their daily bread, but they thirst for a future; they want schools and a home. They want to return to their homelands, as do their parents and relatives. Aid organizations are tirelessly caring for the refugees. They are buying basic foodstuffs, clothing, drinking water, blankets and medicine.”

“We are all very thankful for this help. However, what is most needed is mercy. For this reason I would like to ask you at the beginning of this Lenten period: pray and fast for peace in our country! Pray and fast that God has mercy on us! Pray and fast that we may remain in our homelands; that the refugees may return to their villages and cities. Pray and fast that we may remain in our beloved homeland, so that we may also experience a resurrection from the rubble, an Easter in the land of Abraham.”

Based in Damascus, Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III Laham wrote:

“I would like to extend a heartfelt invitation to you to join us in a day of fasting and prayer, during which we intend to pray together, beseeching God to grant to our country the peace so long desired at last. Day after day our faith is put to the test. We witness the suffering of the children, the agony of their parents; we are surrounded by hatred and death. We desire only to be able to live one more in peace in our beloved homeland.”

“We believe firmly that the way of the Cross is necessary in order to reach the glory of the Resurrection. Nonetheless, even the Lord Himself had comforters and helpers on His way to Golgotha—Simeon of Cyrene helped Him to carry the Cross, St. Veronica wiped His face with the sudariumHis most holy Mother and the Apostle John stood beneath the Cross as He stretched out His arms in death. Thus we, too,may likewise count on the consolation and support of our brothers and sisters, and so we ask you to continue to stay close to us.”

“Please fast and pray with us! It is impossible that the Lord will not hear the united prayers and sacrifices of His children. Thank you for everything you have done.”


The Ash Wednesday messages from the Patriarchs were obtained by international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.


Editor’s Notes:


Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. 

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. 

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Meatless Recipe for Lent - Bacalao a la Vizcaina - Salted Cod Fish Stew with Chickpeas

This is the Peruvian version of a Spanish dish.  My mother makes two versions of it, one with garbanzos and one with fried cubes of potatoes.  We used to eat it either on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday.   Since it is Lent, I will give you the recipe for the one using garbanzo or chickpeas.


Ingredients:

PREPARE THE DAY BEFORE:
1 lb. of salted codfish, that has been soaking in fresh cold water the day before.  Make sure to change the water at least three times during that period and keep in the refrigerator.  Then remove the bones and any skin that the fish may have.  Cut into chunks or strips.
1 lb. bag of dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight and cooked.

1 large onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
Approximately 1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce.
1 small jar of pimento
Fresh minced parsley can be added at the end of cooking.

Heat a Dutch oven and add the oil.  Then add the onions and garlic and fry until the onion is cooked. Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmering boil.   Add the fish and the garbanzos.  Cook on low heat for approximately a half an hour and then add the drained pimentos. Salt and pepper to taste.  Be careful not to over salt the stew.

Serve with cooked white rice and a salad.