Friday, October 21, 2016

ACN News - In Brazil, the Word of God prevented bloodshed

By Rodrigo Arantes

Missionaries abducted and murdered; their church burned down.

Far from the headlines, this is happening in the Indigenous Territory of Raposa Serra do Sol, in the state of Roraima, in northern Brazil. The area was colonized, and the indigenous people, the Macuxis, were enslaved, and forced to work prospecting for minerals and producing rice. Their pay? Cheap alcohol that got them hooked.

The Catholic Church, from the beginning of the 20th century, has been fighting back on behalf of the native people. The efforts of missionaries led to the decision by the indigenous peoples to give up alcohol. Those who wished to continue using it had to leave the tribe.

This decision infuriated the local colonial landowners who thus lost their source of cheap labor—they started going after the Church. In 2004, they murdered some of the indigenous people and abducted three Consolata missionaries, and the following year a band of some 150 masked and armed men set fire to the whole of the mission complex, including the Church of St. Joseph and the school run by the mission. The landowners were aiming to push Macuxis into rebelling against authorities, provoking a bloody crackdown.

However, a local leader, wielding a reading from the Bible, reminded his people that they were Catholic indigenous peoples and that God asks His faithful to forgive, not to take revenge. All the people calmed down and did not take revenge. This prudent response was a key factor in Raposa Serra do Sol being formally declared an indigenous people’s homeland in 2005. All non-indigenous peoples were forced to leave the region.

A simple reading of the Word of God prevented a massacre. The Macuxi people are still very Catholic; they build their own churches with their own materials and their own labor, they translate the Catholic hymns into their native Macuxi language. And Tuxaua Jacir, the leader who prevailed over his people, is known to two Popes on account of his peaceful rule.

Nonetheless, there is still one thing they are unhappy about; the fact that they don’t have a Bible translated in their own language, and they are concerned about their future leadership. There are fundamentalist Christian sects coming into the region, trying to woo them away from Catholicism. And some newcomers are even offering the native people alcohol once again, so many locals are very concerned, above all for their children and young people.

International Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) recently committed to produce the translation of its Child’s Bible into the Macuxi language. A theologian who has a profound knowledge of the language is currently working on the translation, and very soon thousands of copies will be made available for the children. It’s the beginning of ensuring a bright future for this faithful native people.

With picture of Macuxi children (© 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 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.

Monday, October 10, 2016


         Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

          Why did Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) want to sail and explore? What motivated the Italian explorer, celebrated as the discoverer of America, to lead a crew of ninety men across the uncharted Atlantic Ocean more than five centuries ago? In our times his motivation is being questioned again.  Some have tried to demean his name and character, making Columbus a figure of controversy and raising doubts about his integrity.  Now we are faced with conflicting opinions about his legacy.  What do we know for certain about the religious motivations for his voyages?

          In the past Christopher Columbus was an example of the understanding that there is no contradiction in being a Catholic and an American.  For that reason Father Michael McGivney chose him as the namesake of the Knights of Columbus. 

          Intrigued by this question and Columbus’ motivation, Carol Delaney decided to delve into the background with scholarly aplomb.  A cultural anthropologist and longtime professor at Stanford University, Delaney devoted the entire summer of 2003 to researching Columbus at Brown University.  Two years later she resigned from Stanford to concentrate on this research.  The results of her thorough study have been published in book form: Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem (Free Press, 2011).

          Upon release of her book she discussed some of the highlights of her findings about the purpose of Columbus’ voyages.  Thanks to the exacting research of Carol Delaney, we have a truer and fuller appreciation of this genuine hero of history.


          Dr. Delaney explains that it is common knowledge that Columbus was hoping to find gold, but his reason was not understood.  Columbus  wanted to help finance a crusade to free Jerusalem from the Muslims before the end of the world.  In his time many thought the apocalypse was imminent because of various signs: the plague, famine, earthquakes, and similar occurrences.  It was a popular belief that  before the end of time Jerusalem must be returned to the Christians so that Christ could come in judgment.  Columbus had actually calculated the number of years left before the end of the world.  He considered his plan as a mission.


          Columbus was also very interested in evangelization.  He kept extensive notes and wrote many letters, and in these writings indicated that the peoples of the new lands could not be quickly baptized and automatically become Christian. They needed to be instructed clearly about the faith before being converted.  To this end he wrote to the pope requesting that priests be sent to the newly discovered peoples for their instruction.  He even left money in his will to be used for this.

          Recall that Columbus believed he was sailing to Asia, and he wanted to convince the Grand Khan of China, who had expressed interest in Christianity, to convert.  He thought the Grand Khan might join the crusade to re-take Jerusalem by marching from the east, while the Europeans closed in from the west.  This is quite an interesting concept.


          Unfortunately many do not recognize and understand Columbus’ intentions.  The evidence had not been widely studied, nor was it readily accessible.  Scholars had written about Columbus’ religious motivations, but their findings were published in arcane journals.

          In the 19th and early in the 20th centuries historians described Columbus as one of the first to use science and reason as an explorer.  But that was not the basis of his motivation.  He was a medieval man in a religious context.  Columbus was closely associated with the Franciscans, who had assisted him and who were noted for their missionary activity.

Respect for Natives
          It is a grossly incorrect and unfair assessment on the part of some to say that Columbus was responsible for a variety of atrocities against the native peoples.  Erroneously, especially in the 20th century, the brunt of all that went wrong was attributed to Columbus.  But the falsehood of such accusations is evident from his own writings and the records of his contemporaries.  Those records show that his relations with the natives were benign and respectful. He described them as “natural Christians” because they had no other faith and were open to become Christians after proper instruction.  

          Columbus sternly warned his crew not to maraud, rape, or otherwise abuse the native people.  His writings offer many examples of instruction to this effect.  Most of the times when injustices occurred, he was not even there. And it is absurd to blame him for diseases communicated to the natives by the Europeans. 

          Columbus’ notes record that many crewmembers did not like the restrictions and rebelled, that they assumed they could have slaves, pick gold from the trees, and need not work. 
          Columbus never had slaves, nor did he intend to obtain slaves from the lands he visited.  Of course this would never have happened with the Grand Khan and his people in China.  Columbus wanted the natives  he met to become subjects of the Spanish sovereigns. 

          After the second voyage when they had encountered a different group of natives whom they thought were cannibals, Columbus’ brother sent some of them to Europe.  At that time in history it was considered morally acceptable to enslave people who acted against human nature because the captors hoped this would help them become good Christians.  While slavery was then common, some mistakenly think Columbus instituted slavery. 

Columbus’ Writings

          Carol Delaney read and studied all the extant writings of Christopher Columbus.  Although his original diary no longer exists, two reliable copies survive; these were in the possession of Bartolome Las Casas, an admirer of Columbus, and Columbus’ son, Ferdinand.  Consistently his writings express respect for the native people and concern for his crew.  Also evident is his devotion to his sons and his care for the women in his life.  While many are unaware that Columbus wrote anything, Dr. Delaney says she liked the tone of his letters and notes, and this advanced her admiration for him.  In addition to his faith, she was also impressed with his patience.

          Columbus planned and waited more than ten years before embarking on his first voyage. When his petitions failed with the Portuguese, he turned to the Spaniards.  The authorities rejected  his proposal three time, yet he persisted.  He firmly believed he could do it.  Then he exhibited tremendous courage in crossing the ocean in small wooden ships with nothing more than a compass to guide him.

Failure or Success?

          Dr. Delaney expressed the opinion that Columbus died thinking that he had not accomplished what he set out to do.  He was disappointed that King Ferdinand did not pursue the crusade, and he realized that some serious crimes had been committed.  From this point of view, he felt his quest was a failure.  But in reality, Delaney declares it was a major accomplishment.  Columbus crossed the ocean four times in small sailing craft and without the benefit of modern navigational instruments.  He discovered the New World, even though he thought he found only the periphery of Asia.

          No wonder, then, that in the late nineteenth century Venerable Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, chose the intrepid admiral and evangelizing explorer as model for the fraternal order of Catholic gentlemen.  His admiration is expressed on page one of the May 25, 1878, edition of the Connecticut Catholic: “As American Catholics, we do not know of anyone who more deserves our grateful remembrance than this great and noble man – the pious, zealous, and faithful Catholic – the enterprising navigator, and the large-hearted sailor, Christopher Columbus – ‘the Christ-bearing dove’ as his name signifies.”

Friday, September 30, 2016


Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

Origin of the Rosary
          The Rosary, the blessed beads that quietly slip between our fingers as we pray over the mysteries of Jesus’ redemptive life, has an ancient origin.  Most likely it originated in the ancient East and not in the medieval West, perhaps in India.  It was and still is a popular prayer device among the Muslims, who use the Arabic term masbahat , which means to give praise.  Devout Muslims used the masbahat  in repeating the attributes of God, just as it was used by the early Christian hermits.  Following the Crusades the Rosary found its way to the West.  The missionary who worked hardest to spread this devotion was Saint Dominic, and his Dominican companions.

          The Rosary became a popular method of prayer and spread quickly in the West during the Middle Ages.  For Christians it has always been “the Gospel strung on beads.”   It is a simple and easy prayer that can be employed for vocal prayer or silent contemplation by individuals, families, and communities.

Papal Encouragement
          Since the 16th century the popes have frequently encouraged the faithful of East and West to pray the Rosary.  The first was a Dominican pope, Saint Pius V, who wrote a papal letter about the Rosary in 1569 shortly after the Council of Trent, and instituted the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

          In the late 19th century after the First Vatican Council the illustrious Pope Leo XIII wrote more than ten encyclicals and instructions promoting the use of the Rosary.

          To make pastoral applications of the Marian teachings of the Second Vatican Council Pope Paul VI in 1974 authored the apostolic exhortation Devotion to Mary (Marialis Cultus).  Paul VI discussed the Rosary at some length as a summary of the Gospel comprised of prayers based on Gospel texts.  He urged the faithful to pray the Rosary, and especially recommended the family Rosary in these words:

                   “We would like now to join our voice to the voices of our
                   predecessors and strongly recommend the prayer of the
                   Rosary in the family…because the Christian family is a
                   family church….  If the family neglected this communal
                   prayer, it would lose its character as a Christian family.

                   In addition to the prayer of the Divine Office (Liturgy of
                   the Hours) …the Rosary of the Virgin Mary would be the
                   most preferable communal prayer for the Christian family.”

Pope Paul VI concluded his recommendation by saying: “We would like to repeat that the Rosary is an excellent and magnificent prayer….”

           Pope St. John Paul II, enthusiastic devotee of our Blessed Mother, in 2002 issued  a pastoral letter entitled The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, in which he proclaimed October 2002 until October 2003 the Year of the Rosary, and put forth the Luminous Mysteries based on the public life of Jesus. 

          Pope Benedict XVI, valued the prayer of the Rosary as a means of contemplating Jesus with Mary’s eyes.  For him pondering the mysteries of the Rosary calms a “restless spirit, allows the soul to settle into tranquility…and grants a vision of God.”  He associates the Rosary with consolation and healing, an inner refuge which enfolds us “in the rhythm of the prayer of the whole Church.”  “I do it quite simply,” he said, “just as my parents used to pray.”

The Rosary Today

          Early on, the Rosary was a common method of prayer in the East among Christians and non-Christians.  Even though it came to us through Western missionaries, it was and still is an easy and rich method of prayer to help the faithful fathom the mysteries of God along the journey of salvation.  And we do so with a special companion, the Mother of God and our Mother.  Praying the Rosary, particularly in the family, is an excellent method of bringing us together in the faith under the protection of her who always and everywhere intercedes for all people.  Let us spare no effort to remain close to her.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta - Interview

Saint Mother Teresa, pray for us!

Please watch this wonderful interview with our newest saint and Malcolm Muggeridge.  They were interviewed by Father James Lloyd for the television program Inquiry, in 1971.

Click here for video

Friday, September 02, 2016

ACN News - Syrian patriarch – ‘Stop extremists from entering Europe’

By John Pontifex

A leading Syrian prelate urged Europe to take tougher action to stop fundamentalists from entering its territory.

Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, the Damascus-based leader of Syriac Orthodox Church, warned of the threat posed by a new generation of radicalized Muslims bent on imposing Sharia law as widely as possible.

While many Muslim refugees entering Europe are peace-loving moderates, he added, Western governments “must be better prepared” to ferret out jihadists.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the international Catholic charity, the Patriarch called for a strict screening process of migrants and refugees seeking to enter Europe.

“I do not know how this should happen but it is necessary and should be done without infringing the rights of those who are peace-loving and law-abiding,” he said.

He also called on Western governments to insist permission be granted for the construction of churches in Muslim nations, even as new mosques are built in Europe.

Patriarch Aphrem warned that Christianity is at risk of disappearing from Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. He cited the example of Turkey, whose Christian population a century ago stood at more than 3.5 million but has dwindled to only 150,000 today.

He said that 80 percent of Christians in Iraq had left the country since the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein in 2003; and that 50 percent of Syria’s Christians are either internally displaced or are living as refugees abroad.

ACN is providing food, shelter, medicine and other essential assistance to Christians, other minorities as well as Muslims throughout the region.

The Patriarch said: “The work of ACN is crucial and makes a big difference. Thousands upon thousands of Christians depend on the help they are receiving from ACN and other organizations.”

With picture of Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II (© 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 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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Annual Public Rosary

The annual public Rosary in honor of Our Lady of Fatima's last apparition will be held on Thursday, October 13, 2016.

TIME:  2:00 P.M. TO 4:00 P.M.

PLACE:  Ala Moana Beach Park, Picnic Area 1 and 2, directly across from Macy's Department Store at Ala Moana Center

PROGRAM SCHEDULED:  Public procession
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Holy Rosary

Please join us in honoring Our Lady the year before we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fatima.

Please help spread the news.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Novena - Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Picture source

Please join the Missionaries of Charity in praying the novena to soon to be Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  The novena started on August 27th but if possible, join in today.


f I ever become a Saint—I will surely be one of
“darkness.” I will continually be absent from
Heaven—to light the light of those in darkness
on earth
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Dear Friends
May the Peace of Christ fill your heart as you place all your trust in Him.
I would like to invite you to pray with us the novena to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Feast day on September 5, which starts on 27 August. Pray with us the novena to Blessed Teresa

Please know that we keep you and your intention is our prayers very especially during this novena.
Let us also implore God for the peace in the world for all famines and all those who suffer from natural disasters  and for an end to abortion and euthanasia and a respect for every human life.
God bless you always
United in prayer
Sincerely yours in Jesus
Sr. M. Elia, M.C.


Just think that God is thirsting for you ....Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
I would like to invite you in this coming weeks  to enter more deeply into the mystery of Jesus’ thirst and to satiate that thirst according to the example of Mother Teresa. On the 10th September will be the anniversary of Mother Teresa’s mystical encounter with Jesus, later called “Inspiration day” within the religious family she founded. We invite you, to join us in preparation. So that we, with St. John, “come to know and to believe in God’s love for us,” (1 Jn. 4:16) “Faith, which sees the love of God revealed in the pierced heart of Jesus on the Cross, gives rise to love. Love is the light – and in the end, the only light – that can always illuminate a world grown dim and gives us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is possible, and we are able to practice it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world …” (Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est January 25, 2006 Pope Benedict XVI) – this is the invitation Mother Teresa extends to us. Through these following meditations we invite you to enter more deeply into the mystery of Jesus’ thirst and to satiate that thirst according to the example of Mother Teresa, thus illuminating the world with His love.
        For this please visit:

Monday, August 15, 2016

Mary's Assumption Pertains to Us

The Assumption of Mary by Paolo Veronese (Caliari)
Picture source

Happy Feast Day!

by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

            Like every doctrine of faith, Mary's Assumption into heaven body and soul is about us too.  Mary is our model in faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ.  She teaches us  how to live in a faith-filled and loving way. 

            Mary's Assumption teaches us how to live with hope even in dying, how to anticipate our eternal destiny.  The Solemnity of the Assumption, observed on August 15, celebrates the completion of Mary's transformation by the Holy Spirit, being taken to heaven not only in soul but also in body.
            Mary's Assumption brings us hope because it reminds us that what happened to Mary is our destiny too.  The Preface of the Mass declares that the Assumption is "the beginning and the image of Your Church's coming to perfection and a sign of sure hope and comfort for Your people."

            We are the Church.  Mary's bodily assumption is a harbinger of what will happen to us.  What God has done for Mary gives us hope and comfort in what He will do for us. 

            St. Paul reminds us that even in this life believers are already being transformed into the image of Christ.  "All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory as from the Lord who is Spirit" (2Cor 3:18).  This transformation affects not only our souls but also our bodies.  "...we groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies" (Rom 8:23).  Our bodies will be conformed to the body of Christ.  "He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorious body by the power that enables Him also to bring all things into subjection to Himself" (Phil 3:21).  This transformation results from Jesus' victory over the power of sin and death in His own death and Resurrection.

            The opening prayer for the August 15 Eucharistic Liturgy asks that "always attentive to the things that are above, we may merit to be sharers of her glory."  Living in tune with God as Mary did, we will also undergo the transformation of both our souls and our bodies. 

            The post communion prayer requests that "through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom you assumed into heaven, we may be brought to the glory of the Resurrection."

            When celebrating the Solemnity of Mary's Assumption in 2010 Pope Benedict XVI offered this clear description in his homily.  "...the Mother of God is inserted to such a degree in the mystery of Christ that she shares in the resurrection of her Son with her whole being already at the end her life, she lives what we hope for at the end of time...."  

            While admiring Mary in her glorious destiny, we are invited to recognize that the loving Lord has willed for our final destiny to live through faith in perfect union with him. 

            Our predecessors in faith professed their firm hope in "the resurrection of the body" in the Apostles Creed and in the Nicene Creed.  We rarely think about the resurrection of our bodies.  Yet this article of faith greatly encourages us, comforts us at the death of loved ones, and raises our awareness of the value of our bodies. 

            The Assumption of Mary vividly reminds us that our lives have a special destiny with God.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Holy Hour of Adoration to celebrate the opening of ​the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima within the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.

In anticipation of the 100th Anniversary of Fatima next year, the is a call for parishes to hold a holy hour of adoration on October 13th, 2016. For more information please visit: Solidarity in Prayer

Friday, July 29, 2016

Meatless Friday Meal - Succotash

This version of succotash is made with Edamame, (soy bean) instead of the traditional Lima Beans.


1 large green pepper (or any other color sweet pepper), diced evenly.
Kernels of two large fresh corn on the cob
1 package of frozen Edamame, cooked according to package direction.  Drain, cool and remove from pods
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter

Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet.  Add all ingredients and fry on medium high heat for approximately 3 to 5 minutes or until some of the vegetables start to brown.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves two or three.  This recipe can be doubled.