Thursday, May 28, 2015

ACN News - In Syria, prayer, concern and praise for abducted priest

By Oliver Maksan


Following the abduction of the Catholic monk Jacques Mourad and a companion on Thursday last week, Syrian Christians have been heartbroken.

One of the members of Father Mourad’s community told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), "Please pray for Father Jacques and his companion, as well as for our community.”

“Armed masked men took both of them away. We don't know who it was and where our brothers are at this moment. We're totally in the dark.”

Those were the words of said Father Jihad Youssef of the Catholic order of Mar Musa, of which Father Jacques is also a member.

Father Youssef continued, "In the monastery of Mar Elian in Qaryatayn, Father Jacques dedicated himself to the people suffering from the consequences of the Syrian war.”

“In particular he set great store by renovation projects to enable people to live again in their houses, which had been destroyed. But the psychological care of people in the war and other emergency humanitarian aid were also important to him. For years he had cared for war refugees.

"Father Jacques made no distinction between Christians or Muslims. He helped anyone in distress."

Recently, Father Mourad had told ACN, "Our efforts to help the hard-pressed and suffering Muslims in our area is nothing other than the expression of the position of the Church, which sees itself as inseparably connected with the image of Christ crucified.”

“Our witness today is a reflex of the light emanating from the Cross, heralding a new dawn of the hope of resurrection for the whole of humanity."

The head of ACN Middle East department, Father Andrzej Halemba commented that “once again we are experiencing an example of blind hatred.”

“Father Jacques always helped all people, be they Christians or Muslims. He helped everyone, but never took sides. Why should such a man be abducted?”

“We can see once again how the war is claiming the best people. Father Jacques is a spiritual leader of Christians and Muslims. People of both religions look up to him and trust him."

Father Halemba is currently in Syria on a fact-finding mission. He said, "The situation is terrible.”

“In Al Qusair, near the Lebanese border, I traveled through a ghost town. The extent of the destruction conjures up apocalyptic images. Everywhere you can see the madness of war.”

"On the other hand, there are also signs of life and hope. I met many Christians who are also trying to live their faith under these circumstances."


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

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Meatless Recipe - Linguine with White Clam Sauce




Ingredients:

1 pound fresh clams (Manila clams are the only fresh clams available in Hawaii and Costco has them at a reasonable price.)  Wash them well.  They may also soak in fresh water with corn meal to have clams expel the grit.  The clams I bought were very clean.
5 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup white wine such as Chardonnay
2 small cans of minced or chopped clams (not necessary but it adds extra flavor to sauce)
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound cooked linguine

Heat a skillet and add the olive. Add the garlic and lightly brown.  Add the white wine and cook for approximately 2 minutes on medium high heat.  Add only the broth from the canned clams.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat.  Add the canned clams and the fresh clams.  Cover and cook for a couple more minutes or until clams open.  If any clams remain close, cook an additional minute and check. If the clam remains closed, remove and discard.  Season with a little salt (be care as the broth will have salt from canned clams) and pepper.  Serve over hot linguine and top with the parsley.  Serves 4.

ACN News - ‘Canonizations give hope to Christians in the Holy Land’



By Oliver Maksan


Pope Francis’ May 17, 2015 canonization of two Palestinians, Blessed Marie Alphonsine Ghattas and Blessed Mariam  Baouardi, “gives hope to Christians in the Holy Land,” said the bishop responsible for the Palestinian territories.

In an interview with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali said that "sanctity is evident in the new Saints from Palestine.”

“Saint Marie Alphonsine was very humble. Saint Mariam led an intense life of prayer and piety.

“When we read the life of the new Saints, we are encouraged to emulate them. It is indeed a great source of encouragement for our Christians here. It also enhances the image of our people that it can produce saints—not only terrorists."

The bishop reported that more than 2000 pilgrims from Israel, Palestine and Lebanon, including the Palestinian president, will be taking part in the ceremony in Rome.

"The canonization is first and foremost a spiritual event,” said the prelate, “but when our president heard of the canonization of two Palestinian women, he expressed the wish to travel to Rome. He is a friend of Pope Francis.”

“This also has a political dimension. The name of Palestine will appear in the media. Some people will carry the flag. We have no objection to this.”

“But we cannot reduce the event to its political significance. It is first and foremost a spiritual happening."

Bishop Shomali stressed the importance of two new saints coming from the Middle East. "Many Saints come from Europe and America. We have not had so many coming from the Middle East in recent times.”

“But these two come from the Holy Land, which is revered by Christians from across the globe. Their graves will now be two more holy sites in the Holy Land."

There are enormous benefits for the Universal Church, the bishop added: "the two Saints from Palestine belong to the whole Church. One of the healing miracles that led to the canonization of the Blessed Mariam took place in Syracuse, in Sicily.”

“After a novena a child was completely delivered from a heart condition in an inexplicable way. The child will take part in the Holy Mass. This shows that the new saints are intercessors not only for the Holy Land, but for the world Church as a whole."

Bishop Shomali expressed hope that the canonizations are a sign pointing to a better year for the Holy Land. "It is my hope that, not least due to the canonizations, 2015 will be a better year than 2014 with the war in Gaza and the unrest in Jerusalem.”

“But we shouldn't see everything in black and white. There were also positive events last year. The Holy Father visited the Holy Land. In 2014 Egypt's President el-Sisi won the elections. The Copts were happy about this.”

“The anti-ISIS coalition was also established, even if it has not enjoyed any major victory so far. But perhaps the bad has outweighed the good. We hope that the reverse will be the case this year.”

“We pray for this—in particular for the wellbeing of Christians in Syria and Iraq. The Lord is the master of history. He can change its course."


With picture of tomb of Saint Mariam (© 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

Friday, May 15, 2015

ACN News - Nun speaks to Congress about Iraq’s Christians



By Sister Diana Momeka, OP


Initially denied a visa to the US, Sister Diana Momeka, OP, of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, Mosul, Iraq appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee May 13, 2015 to testify about ISIS's war on religious minorities. Her visit to the United States was sponsored by two Washington-area organizations, the Institute for Global Engagement and 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. Here follows an excerpt from her testimony.


There are many who say "Why don't the Christians just leave Iraq and move to another country and be done with it?" To this question we would respond, "Why should we leave our country – what have we done?"

The Christians of Iraq are the first people of the land. You read about us in the New Testament of the Bible. Christianity came to Iraq from the very earliest days through the preaching and witness of St. Thomas and others of the Apostles and Church Elders.

While our ancestors experienced all kinds of persecution, they stayed in their land, building a culture that has served humanity for the ages. We, as Christians, do not want or deserve to leave or be forced out of our country any more than you would want to leave or be forced out of yours.

But the current persecution that our community is facing is the most brutal in our history. Not only have we been robbed of our homes, property and land, but our heritage is being destroyed as well. ISIS has been and continues to demolish and bomb our churches, cultural artifacts and sacred places like Mar Behnam and Sara, a fourth century monastery and St. Georges Monastery in Mosul.

Uprooted and forcefully displaced, we have realized that ISIS' plan is to evacuate the land of Christians and wipe the earth clean of any evidence that we ever existed. This is cultural and human genocide. The only Christians that remain in the Plain of Nineveh are those who are held as hostages.

The loss of the Christian Community from the Plain of Nineveh has placed the whole region on the edge of a terrible catastrophe. Christians have for centuries been the bridge that connects Eastern and Western cultures. Destroying this bridge will leave an isolated, inculturated conflict zone emptied of cultural and religious diversity.

Through our presence as Christians, we're called to be a force for good, for peace, for connection between cultures.

To restore, repair and rebuild the Christian community in Iraq, the following needs are urgent:

    1. Liberating our homes from ISIS and helping us return. 
    2. Coordinating an effort to rebuild what was destroyed – roads, water and electrical supplies, and buildings, including our churches and monasteries.
    3. Encouraging enterprises that contribute to the rebuilding of Iraq and inter-religious dialogue. This could be through schools, academics and pedagogical projects.

I am but one, small person – a victim myself of ISIS and all of its brutality. Coming here has been difficult for me – as a religious Sister I am not comfortable with the media and so much attention. But I am here, and I am here to ask you, to implore you for the sake of our common humanity, to help us.

Stand with us as we, as Christians, have stood with all the people of the world and help us. We want nothing more than to go back to our lives; we want nothing more than to go home.

Thank you and God bless you.


Sister Diana; photo courtesy Nina Shea/Hudson Institute


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

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Meatless Recipe - Peruvian Pumpkin Stew - Carbonada



This pumpkin stew is traditionally made with beef.  However, tofu has been substituted here in order to keep it vegetarian/meatless but still maintain the protein.

Ingredients:

1 small Kabocha pumpkin, washed well and cut into large cubes.  No need to peel the pumpkin.
2 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes or any other potato, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh corn off the cob or 1 small bag of frozen corn.  Canned corn can be used if the other two options are unavailable.
1 cup frozen peas
1 block firm tofu, let if drain well before using. You may want to do this earlier in the day.  Cut the drained tofu into large cubes
1/2 teaspoon Peruvian Aji Amarillo.  If unavailable, you can substitute a small bit of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes, or even fresh Jalapeno peppers but it will not have the unique flavor of the Peruvian Aji Amarillo, it will only have the heat.
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package of Sazon, optional
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of chicken stock, vegetable stock or water

Heat a Dutch oven and add approximately 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the garlic and onions and fry until the onions are soft.  Add the Sazon and salt and pepper, start off with approximately 1/2 teaspoon of salt and dash of pepper, and the Aji Amarillo.  Mix until the color yellow/orange is well blended.  Add the potatoes, pumpkin, corn, and stock/water.  Bring to a boil and then lower to medium low heat.  Cover and cook until the potatoes are cooked through.  At this point add the peas and the tofu.  Cook for another 10 minutes.  Serve with cooked rice.

Note, if you want to make this stew with beef, just add the cubed beef pieces (approximately one pound, to the onions and garlic that was fried first.

Reminder - Novena to the Holy Spirit Begins Tomorrow




This is the oldest novena in the Catholic Church. It is also a very beautiful novena and it begins tomorrow. Novena to the Holy Spirit for the Seven Gifts

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

ACN News - The Islamic State’s Religious Cleansing Campaign



By Sarkis Boghjalian


I would like to start with this quotation from Dabiq—the online publication of ISIS addressing the Christian world—which says: “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the Permission of Allah...”

Abu Bakr Naji, one of ISIS’s intellectual architects, published a book online outlining its strategy and vision. He writes: “Jihad is nothing but violence, crudeness, terrorism, frightening people, and massacring.”

This is the blueprint of ISIS to execute its grand plan—this translates into religious and territorial cleansing of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. 

There is no doubt that the Middle East has been set on fire, while the international community is watching, Christians and other religious minorities suffer human rights violations and religious persecution of the worst kind.

Are we witnessing a Christian genocide?

Article 2 of the UN Convention (on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948)) defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group and causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group…”

The acts of ISIS show clear intent—violent and brutal executions targeting Christians and Yazidis who represent distinct “national, ethnic, racial and religious groups” in Iraq.

The intent of ISIS goes beyond destruction; it aims to erase the past, present and future of the Christians and Yazidis.

Of course, the International community faces a problem in terms of prosecuting a genocide case against ISIS. ISIS is not a country, and does not abide by any international law. The international community has not yet figured out how to deal with ISIS.

When the time comes, should ISIS be prosecuted by an “International court?”  This question creates a bigger problem for the international community, because it will require the investigation of certain countries that can be considered as “complicit to genocide” because they allow passage of fighters and weapons and provide other forms of support to ISIS, including funding.

It is also important to keep in mind that ISIS is deploying a kind of war that targets the collective psyche (the imagination and the emotion of the human beings), which also fits the parameters of genocide.

This technique goes beyond the brutal physical force. It creates fear; it wages a war fueled by fear.

For the Christians in the Middle East, fear and a sense of abandonment is among the greatest crosses they have to bear. "We feel forgotten and isolated.”

“We sometimes wonder: if they kill us all, what would be the reaction of Christians in the West? Would they do something then?" Such was the prophetic plea by Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako I of Iraq, even before ISIS swallowed chunks of Iraq and Syria.

ISIS is waging an uncompromising war that amounts to religious and territorial cleansing of Christians and other minorities from the Middle East, and the recent event in Texas reminds us that ISIS is not just a regional threat.

The world must respond. We must not allow the annihilation of Christianity in the Middle East!


Sarkis Boghjalian is executive director of Aid to the Church in Need-US. This text is excerpted from his presentation at a May 7, 2015 conference in New York that was sponsored by the Hudson Institute, under the banner: “The Islamic State’s Religious Cleansing and the Urgency of a Strategic Response.”


With picture of Sarkis Boghjalian, New York, May 7, 2015 (© 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

Our Lady of Fatima - Approved Apparitions


Happy Feast of Our Lady of Fatima!

The following is a talk given by Father Eric Bowman, pastor of the Church of the Transfiguration, in West Milton, Ohio.  It is a good talk on Our Lady's approved apparition and I hope you take the time to watch and listen. Note: I recently became good friends with Father Eric when he spend time here in our islands.  While in Hawaii, Father Eric gave an interesting talk on the Angel of Peace's message to the three shepherd children.

This particular talk will be of great interest to those wanting to learn more about Our Lady's appearance to Catherine Laboure, the Miraculous Medal and that time period.


Friday, May 08, 2015

Meatless Recipe - Roasted Vegetables



This recipe is so simple and so delicious and I am sharing it specifically for my brother who is trying to eat healthier.

Ingredients:

The following vegetables are just a suggestion.  Use your imagination or use your favorites.

Zucchini
Fresh green beans
Yukon Gold potatoes
Carrots
Beets
Onions
Eggplants
Sweet potato


For a family of four to serve as a main dish, just use 1 large vegetable, e.g. 1 large zucchini.

1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped into large pieces or leave some cloves whole
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Optional:  crushed red pepper, balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar, fresh herbs such as basil, oregano,

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare the vegetables by washing them, and chopping them into large pieces.  There is no need to peel the vegetables.  Place all the prepared vegetables in a large bowl.  Add the oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Make sure to all the vegetables are well covered with the oil.  If not, just a little more oil.

Place on a shallow baking sheet and roast in oven for approximately 30 to 60 minutes, until the vegetables such as potatoes, are cooked through and roasted.  Be careful not to burn the garlic and green beans.

After you remove from oven, add the crushed red pepper and your choice of vinegar if you'd like.  It is not necessary but it does give it a nice finishing touch and good flavor.

Serve with bread or even rice.