Thursday, March 26, 2015

ACN News - Along with their ancient Syrian city, Christians of Homs are coming back to life—but ISIS looms

By Father Andrzej Halemba

In the wake of the Syrian regime’s taking full control of this ancient Christian city almost a year ago, a measure of normality has returned for local residents, including a remnant of the Christian population, even as ISIS still threatens a return.
The long-time home of Sunnis, Alawites and Christians living in relative harmony, the city suffered some of the worst fighting of Syria’s now five year-old civil war that has left the major industrial center in ruins.
The Christians of Homs—where the Syrian uprising got its major start in 2011—have spent recent months with a small measure cautious hope for a more stable future.
That delicate trend is being challenged as ISIS has begun making its way into Homs Province in an apparent move to expand its territory by grabbing land controlled by the Syrian regime.
When Christians returned to the city last year, one of their priorities was to honor Dutch Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt, who was murdered by a masked gunman in April 2014.
The priest had stayed behind to care for Christians as well as Muslims trapped in the Old City by heavy fighting between the regime and the opposition.
Eleven churches in the Old City of Homs were badly damaged or destroyed during nearly three years of fighting. Most no longer have windows; copulas were perforated by shells; pews were burned or ripped out; many icons were disfigured.
According to Jesuit Father Ziad Hilal, the situation in Homs has improved, even though violence erupts periodically and many people continue to live in fear.
Earlier this year, a car bomb in the city center killed more than a dozen people, most of them students. In some parts of the city, rebels continue to challenge government troops.
Fewer than half of city’s hospitals are functioning. Inflation has boosted the cost of living beyond many people’s reach. What’s more, criminal gangs have taken to kidnapping for ransom, even targeting the poor.
A number of Catholics are still missing.
However, despite the dangers, people have returned to their homes and started rebuilding houses, shops and churches; some offices have resumed functioning and a university has reopened its doors.

Father Hilal reported that late last year 1700 Christians returned to their only partially damaged homes, many of them having to rely on the provision of warm meals and other humanitarian supplies. Fuel and electricity are still in short supply.
It is estimated that some 40,000 Christians belonging to various Churches live in Homs today. One of their main centers of support is the Church of Our Savior, where all are welcome. More than 5000 parishioners take part in the Sunday celebrations; and some 600 children participate in religious instructions every week.
Christian life in Homs is stirring again, said Father Hilal.
The biggest visceral loss for local Christians remains the death of Father van der Lugt, whom many consider to have been a holy man. His courage in staying and supporting the remaining Christians in Homs during the city’s siege is an example to all those longing for peace in Syria.
His tomb in the Jesuit headquarters of Homs is destined to become a shrine and place of pilgrimage.
Father Halemba, who recently returned from a fact-finding mission in Syria, is in charge of the Middle East desk for Aid to the Church in Need.

With picture of bullet-ridden statue of St. Efrem outside remains of St. Mary's Church (Syrian Orthodox), Homs (© 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.

Meditation for Lent by Father Jacues Benigne Bossuet

In order to die to sin completely, it is necessary that we die to all of our bad inclinations, to all that flatters our senses, and to pride. 
God does not judge as man does...He is the only one upon whom we should rely.  How happy we are then, and how peaceful!  We are  no longer dazzled by appearances, or stirred up by opinions; we are united to the truth and depend upon it alone.
I am praised, blamed, treated with indifference, distain, ignored, or forgotten; none of this can touch me.

page 98.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meatless Recipes for Lent - Tuna Cakes

It's Lent so instead of making crab cakes, I made tuna cakes for my family last week.

It was served with a tossed salad and rice.


2 cans canned tuna.  I used the Kirkland's canned Skipjack tuna from Costco.
1 egg
1 small celery stalk, minced
1 small onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 dash Tabasco
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp. mayonnaise or plain yogurt (or combo)
1/2 cup cracker meal (process about 6 to 10 savory crackers (not sweet).
Salt and pepper.  Be careful not to add too much salt as the tuna and crackers (and mayonnaise will be heavy with salt).
1 cup (or more) Panko
Olive oil for frying

Drain the tuna and place in a bowl. Flake with a fork.  Add the rest of the ingredients except the Panko.  Form into four large patties.  Place the Panko crumbs in a shallow bowl and coat the patties well with the Panko.  Heat a heavy skillet.  Add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom.  Carefully place the patties in the skillet and brown until crispy brown on both sides.  Serve immediately. Serves four.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ACN News - In wake of ISIS atrocity, sadness and optimism mingle for Egypt's Christians

By Oliver Maksan

The Coptic Orthodox Church quickly recognized the 21 Coptic faithful beheaded by ISIS in Libya as martyrs who will be included in calendar of saints. A question arose whether the Catholic Coptic Church would give them the same status. The answer is a firm “yes,” Bishop Kyrillos William Samaan told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

The prelate, who heads the Catholic Coptic Diocese of Assiut, in Upper Egypt, noted that “Pope Francis himself recognized them as martyrs.”

“They were killed because they were Christians. The victims were full of faith right up to the end. They remained faithful to Jesus. Their last words were words like: Lord Jesus, have mercy! And so they are true martyrs—for us Catholics as well.”

The tragedy triggered significant reactions on the part of Egyptian authorities.

“Christians were particularly moved by the president‘s visit to the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros to express his condolences,” said the bishop.

“The governor of the province from which most of the martyrs came authorized the construction of a large church in their memory—at the state‘s expense.”

“Additionally, their home village was renamed in their honor and is now known as the Village of the Martyrs. The Prime Minister himself visited the town, and the grieving families were promised a sum of money. This has comforted people. Egypt is on the path of renewal.”

Orthodox and Catholic Copts alike are hopeful these gestures of solidarity will make a lasting contribution to Christians being able to shed the status of second-class citizenship and further expedite the cumbersome application and approval process involved obtaining permission to construct new churches.

Local opposition to such projects by militant Muslims remains fierce in many places.

While the bishop reported on Muslims’ expression of sympathy for the victims’ families, there have been sharp reactions in the opposite direction as well.

One sheikh signaled his approval of the beheadings and some Egyptian media, the bishop reported, justified ISIS in the killing of “Christian sheep.”

However, the bishop insisted that, overall, “the murders have brought Muslims and Christians closer together.”

“The prevailing sentiment is that Egyptians have been attacked. That is important. It shows that we are all Egyptians, regardless of our religion.”

This was also the note struck by Egyptian President Fattah el-Sisi when he made his surprise visit Jan. 7, 2015 to the Coptic Orthodox cathedral in Cairo to mark the Orthodox celebration of Christmas.

The bishop explained: “Many people had hoped for this, but no one had seriously expected that the Egyptian head of state would actually visit the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo at Christmas time.”

“President Sisi did this and spoke from the heart, proclaiming, ‘We are all of us Egyptians, both Christians and Muslims. Period.’ His visit was a powerful symbol.”

“You have to understand the background against which it took place. For in fact there are many radical Muslims who say that Muslims should not congratulate Christians on their feasts; that this is un-Islamic. The Christmas visit by the president was the answer to these notions.”

“I would say that this is a turning point in the history of the Christians in Egypt.”

With picture of Christians in Egypt (© 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.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Three Virtues Dearest to the Blessed Virgin Mary

One year for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Sister Faustina wanted to honor our blessed mother and so she made a novena of 9000 Hail Marys. She prayed 1000 Hail Marys per day for nine days.  She didn't let it interfere with her other devotions or with Holy Mass.  She did no say any unnecessary words during the novena.  "Although I must admit that such a matter requires a good deal of attention and effort, nothing is too much when it comes to honoring the Immaculate Virgin.

On the solemnity the blessed mother, inconceivably beautiful as described to Sister Faustina, appeared to the saint and said the following to her:
I desire, My dearly beloved daughter, that you practice the three virtues that are dearest to me- and most pleasing to God. The first is humility, humility, and once again humility; the second virtue, purity; the third virtue, love of God....
#1413 and #1415 of the Diary

Today is Saturday, the day we honor our Lady.  Let us try very hard to imitate the virtues that are dear to her.  Let us with all our hearts try to be humble, pure of heart and to love God with all our might.

Friday, March 20, 2015

ACN News - Bishop of Goma condemns murder of priest as "an abominable, abhorrent and infernal act"

By Antonia van Alten

The Bishop of Goma, Théophile Kaboy, condemned in the strongest terms the murder of a priest on February 25 in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, calling it an "abominable, abhorrent and infernal act."

Bishop Kaboy made his comment in a note— made available to international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need—to the apostolic nunciature in the capital Kinshasa.

Father Jean-Paul Kakule, treasurer of the Parish of Mweso (Goma Diocese), was shot dead on February 25 with a machine gun by an unknown assassin as he was closing the church doors in the evening. 

Father Jean-Paul Kakule (33) was the oldest child of a large Christian family from North Kivu. In 2003, he was consecrated as a priest and had since performed his priestly duties in the parish of Mweso.

According to the Bishop of Goma, Jean is the tenth priest to be murdered in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1992.

Five Sisters of the Congregation of Saint Vincent de Paul disappeared in 1996. There is still no trace of them.

What is not clear is whether the murder of Father Jean Paul Kakule is due to common criminality or religious hatred. In the opinion of the Bishop of Goma, the mere presence of clerics in the area of Mweso is a major source of irritation for criminals.

The Bishop suspects that the murder of Father Kakule was an act of revenge. The Catholic parish has gained a reputation as an institution which challenges criminality.

In addition, time and again terrorists massacre defenceless villagers. Hundreds of thousands of people are on the run.

The population in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo feels extremely insecure, according to Bishop Théophile Kaboy. "Criminal gangs can go about their evil business unhindered because there is no police presence."

The Bishop has appealed to those responsible on a national and international level to ensure that there is at last justice and peace in the region.

In its current report Religious Freedom in the World, Aid to the Church in Need described some 20 different armed groups marauding in the east of the country.

According to the report, three Assumptionist priests were abducted from their parish in Beni (North Kivu) at the end of 2012 – probably by militias of the ADF-NALU, a Ugandan rebel group which is known for its radical Islamist leanings.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is six times the size of Germany and has a population of 65 million. Of these about 96 per cent are Christians (47 per cent Catholics, 49 per cent Protestants).

Aid to the Church in Need provided over $3 million in support for the pastoral work of the country in 2014.

The money was used among other things for church construction projects and cars. In addition, nearly 250 Sisters received subsistence allowances and more than 1000 seminarians received financial assistance for their training.

Hundreds of priests, Sisters and lay persons were also able to participate in religious exercises thanks to support from Aid to the Church in Need.

With picture of Father Jean-Paul Kakule 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.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Sweet Saint Joseph!

Words cannot describe how I feel about Saint Joseph, the chaste husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

Over the years, I have come to rely on him for everything.  Upon rising in the early morning I immediately greet the Blessed Mother with a good morning, followed by Jesus, Saint Joseph and all angels and saints.

There is a statue of Saint Joseph in the parking lot area of the church.  Upon arriving, I quickly acknowledge him and tell him I love him.  Then upon entering the church and spending a few quiet minutes with Jesus in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I make the Way of the Cross.  I then pause in front of St. Joseph the Worker's statue to give him a long litany of petitions.  I ask him to intercede for:

- the men in may family named after him
- the dying
- the homeless
- the unemployed
- husbands
- my entire family's new home and their existing homes protection
- helping me to imitate his silence and all his virtues
- protection of the Church and the persecuted Christians
- my marriage

I also share with him my frustrations at failing to conquer my faults.

I think of him constantly, asking for his intercession as much as I "bother" the blessed mother. I know they don't mind.  I think that perhaps they like to help, the most flawed, selfish, ill-tempered, impatient, easily annoyed of all of God's creatures.

I don't think I have a right to ask for heavenly assistance that often, and very rarely do I ask for help for myself (except for that of improving myself and getting rid of the flaws that plague me and keep me from becoming holy).  But I do trust in God.  I do trust that the angels and saints are here to help us.  I especially trust that the Holy Family..Jesus, Mary and Joseph, will not fail to come to my assistance, no matter how many times I ask for their help and assistance.  I know this because they love me as they do all their other children.  They know we are not perfect but will help us reach perfection if we only ask and rely on them.  I especially believe that of St. Joseph, ever silent and righteous.  He was the perfect father and family man.

St. Joseph, dear foster father of Jesus,
beloved earthly husband of our Lady,
pray for all families, especially the fathers, the head of their families, 
to trust in God, to follow your example in loving, protecting, caring and providing for their families.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Meatless Recipes for Lent - Fried Fish with Peruvian Whipped White Beans

Pescado frito or fried fish is  a typical Peruvian entree.  When paired with beans, and in this case frejoles batidos or whipped white beans, it becomes a very nourishing and healthy meal.  Fried fish is usually served with a raw onion and parsley sauce, called Salsa Criolla, along with white rice.  This is not really the Peruvian recipe for fried fish.  Peruvian fried fish is simply dipped in flour.  I just like the way this version tastes and the crispy texture it has.


1 fresh or frozen white fish fillet per person. (washed in diluted vinegar and water and placed on paper toweling until ready to use). This recipe will be enough for at least 4 to 6 fish fillets.
1 cup Panko Japanese style bread crumbs
1/2 cup regular bread crumbs or process two slices of wheat or white bread until fine.
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp or so of salt
1 dash of Cayenne Pepper
A couple of dash of black pepper freshly ground
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil for frying

*The above spice measurements can be adjusted according to your own taste preferences.

Heat a large heavy bottom skillet, preferably cast iron and add the oil.

In a food processor, add all the dry ingredients, except the flour, and process until well blended.  Place in a shallow bowl.

Add the flour into another separate bowl and the egg and milk mixture (beat until smooth) in another bowl.

It should be egg mixture bowl, flour bowl and then Panko mixture bowl

Take each fish fillet and dip in egg mixture, then flour and lastly coat with the Panko mixture.  Place on a parchment covered or wax paper covered baking sheet and continue preparing the rest of the fish fillet.

When the oil is very hot, smoky but not burning.  Place the prepared fish fillets and fry until nicely browned on each side.  Place in a warming oven until all the fish are fried.


Early in the day or the night before, prepare a pound bag of Navy or Cannellini Beans by soaking in a pot of boiling water for at least 4 hours.  If prepared overnight, be sure to refrigerate.

Cooked white beans (approximately 4 cups)
1 large onion, diced
6 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1 and half tsps or so of ground cumin
2 tsp of Peruvian Yellow Pepper paste, Aji Amarillo or a large pinch of Cayenne pepper
1 15 oz can tomato sauce

Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven and add two tablespoons of olive oil.  Fry the garlic and onions until translucent.  Season with the cumin, Peruvian Aji Amarillo or Cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and after a few minutes add the tomato sauce.  If the sauce is too thick you can add a little of the water that the beans cooked, chicken broth or plain water, approximately 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup.  The sauce should not be too thin.  Add the beans.  Cook on medium to low heat until the beans are bubbling.  Let cool.  When cooled, blend with an immersion blender or carefully process in a food processor, or blender.  I wouldn't recommend the blender method though as the mixture will not blend well.  You will have to do this in very small batches.


I large onion sliced thinly
1 tbsp of minced fresh parsley
1 tsp lemon juice
Aji amarillo (optional)

Mix all the ingredients with a fork or better still with your clean hands.


My Chinese grandfather prepared rice the following way.

2 cups raw white long rice (not the Chinese noodles referred to as long rice).  If you usually wash the rice before using, make sure it is dried well.
3 cups boiling water
3 garlic cloves minced
1 tbsp oil

Heat a medium saucepan and add the oil. Fry the garlic until lightly brown and then add the rice.  Fry until the rice changes colors slightly.  Add the salt (approximately 1 tsp). and the boiling water. Cover and continue cooking on low heat for approximately 20 minutes or until the water evaporates and rice is cooked.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Authentic St. Patrick

Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

            What do we really know about St. Patrick?  His background is shrouded in mystery.  What we have heard often mingles myth with reality.  To separate fact from fiction we need a closer look.  We need to ask the real St. Patrick to please stand up.

            In the fifth century A.D. an adolescent boy in Britain was kidnapped and enslaved by marauders from a nearby country.  The youngster they captured eventually eluded his captors in Ireland, but several years later returned as a priest with the conviction that God had chosen him to convert that country to Christianity.  That young Briton named Patricius died an Irishman named Patrick.  Ireland and Christianity have not been the same since.  Meet the authentic St. Patrick.

Fact over Myth

            His life was clouded by legend, but peeling away the myth we discover that what is factually known about St. Patrick is far more interesting.  He never chased the snakes out of Ireland, nor do we have any certainty that he used the shamrock to teach the Trinity to his converts.

            History possesses no written records about Britain or Ireland from the fifth century except those few about Patrick.  Quite simply Ireland had no written records prior to Patrick.

            The sequence of his life is not clear, and historians cannot identify when he was born, ordained a bishop, or died.   But scholars agree that the two extant examples of his writing are clearly the work of the same man we today call Patrick.

The two brief compositions of Patrick, his Confession and his Letter to Coroticus, are the sources of all we know for certain about the historical Patrick.

            The Confession, not really a biography, recounts his call to convert the Irish and aims to justify his mission to an unsympathetic people in Britain.

            The Letter to Coroticus, an Irish warlord whom Patrick excommunicated, illustrates his power as a preacher, but yields little biographical information.

His Life

            In a nutshell these are the biographical facts.  Patrick was born Patricius in Roman Britain to a Christian family of some wealth.  He was not religious in his youth, and claims he was close to renouncing his family’s faith.  Kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave for a warlord, he worked as a shepherd for six years and then escaped.  At home he began studies for the priesthood with the intent to return as a missionary to his former captors. Clearly he had committed his life to Ireland until death.  By the time he had written the Confession, Patrick was recognized as bishop of Ireland by both the natives of Ireland and by Church authorities on the continent.

His Character

            Two traits are patently evident in Patrick’s Confession: his humility and his strength.  These characteristics are missing in early biographies and in the legends.

            The missionary Patrick who returned to Ireland was a strong and vigorous personality.  He was tough and determined.  He had to be to pursue the vision that launched him in the evangelization of the pagan island.  He was not the least bit reluctant to undertake this mission despite the fact that in 400 years no one had taken the Gospel beyond the bounds of Roman civilization.  As each obstacle was encountered, Patrick mustered the strength to overcome it. 

            With limited education -- he was chiefly self-educated -- but with the grace of the experience of his enslaved exile, Patrick determined to do what no other had done in the previous four centuries of Christian history.  He decided to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth, and he planned wisely a way to do it.  Unaided he figured out how to carry Christian values to the barbarians who practiced human sacrifice, who constantly warred with each other, and who were noted slave traders.  That was neither simple nor easy to attempt.  Most likely he hazarded this challenge of evangelization never before undertaken by the missionaries of the Greco-Roman world because the Christians of the continent did not consider barbarians to be human.

            Patrick’s years as a slave had uniquely molded his attitude to mount a heroic effort to reach the minds and hearts of these untamed people.  Patrick detested slavery, and may have been the first Christian leader to speak out unequivocally against it.  The Church did not formally condemn slavery as immoral until the late nineteenth century.  Patrick had experienced this 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Respect for the Aina and for its Creator

"The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness".

Living in Hawaii is a blessing and a privilege.  It is a sad thing to see this beautiful land mistreated and taken for granted.  At the present moment there are many things threatening my adopted island home:  over-development with very expensive condominiums and store fronts being built, a growing homeless population not only of locals but most distressing, from outsiders, people of from the mainland who come here because they think life will be easier.  Most of these people have suffer from mental illness.  Some are sick and may be a health threat to others.  It is tragic that the native Hawaiians cannot afford to find affordable housing in their own land. It is very tragic when they end up homeless through no fault of their own.  Another problem is that the traffic on this small island seems to grow worse each day.  Other problems evolve out of the traffic problems:  short tempers leading sometimes to road rage... the loss of the aloha spirit as people rush to beat the traffic jams. It is no longer a rare thing to hear an angry car horn where once upon a time that was kapu (taboo and simply not done).  Another problem is the misguided idea by the powers that be that a rail system will solve the traffic problem.  The fact appears to be that the rail project will only burden the residents with a higher tax and a higher cost of living with no date for the completed rail in the near future.

My concern is that we don't seem to realize that are taking for granted living in Hawaii.  We owe God and the Native Hawaiians the duty of caring for these beautiful islands.  We need to take responsibility in caring for the land.   We must do our part to preserve the aina.  If we all did our small part, we would preserving this treasured place on earth for our future generation.

I do not believe the government can force us to do the right thing.  It should be up to the individual to do what he or she can to be a responsible person.  We do not need to have to have legislation passed for something that is common sense.

The following are ways those of us who live in the city can do to show respect:

1.  Pick up litter.  I do not mean our own litter, but also any piece of trash you come across as you walk the sidewalks, parks, hiking or walking on the beach.  Carry a bag with you at all times.  At the end of your walk, simply toss the trash bag away.

2.  Walk.  As mentioned above, Hawaii is small.  It is therefore unconscionable that some families have multiple cars.  Walking will not only be good for your health but it will lessen the tensions among motorists and pedestrians alike.

3.  Be a Good Samaritan.  Go to the rescue of people in need.  By this I mean ask someone if they help assistance, especially the elderly and the disabled.  Smile at other people, even if they don't smile back.  Show Christian love by acknowledging your brothers and sisters in Christ.  But don't stop there.  If you see an animal in need, a baby bird that has fallen from its nest, a hungry feral cat, a stray dog, etc.  Help them.  Show God you acknowledge and respect His creatures.

4.  Shopping.  Buy local.  I can't stress this enough.  There are weekly farmer's markets all over the island. Even you don't have one close to you, the supermarkets are now carrying local produce.  We have to be dependent on shipments of food from the mainland.  That became quite clear with the recent dock strike threat.

5.  Grow your own food.  Even if you don't have a house with a backyard, there are options.  Join a community garden.  I highly recommend this because it is a great way to meet really nice folks and share good ideas and tips on gardening and cooking healthy.  For those of you who cannot join a community garden, you can always grown food in containers.  Good (light) potting soil, sunshine, natural ways of feeding plants, water and a little patience is all you need to grow your own vegetables.  I noticed that if you take care of properly feeding and watering your plants, there is a balance that will repel the pesky insects that would otherwise ruin your plants.

    - Feed your plants with compost.  You can make your own compost by either burying the kitchen waste (no dairy or meat) directly into your soil (even in your container grown plants), or start a worm farm or make a conventional compost bin.  Bokashi is another option.

6.  Take care of the water.  Do not use cleaners that contain harsh chemicals.  One way of doing this is by using natural cleaners.  The following are a few suggestions:

          - homemade laundry detergent.  This can either be liquid or dry.  I prefer the dry.  All you need is borax, washing soda and a pure bar soap.  The internet is full of recipes for laundry detergent.  I fill a large bucket with a cover with at least two boxes of borax, 2 boxes of washing soda (not baking soda but you can also add a a cup or two of baking soda to eliminate orders) and two bars of Castile soap.  The bar soap needs to be grated and then mix all the ingredients together and you will have a pleasant, clean smelling homemade laundry detergent.  Note:  to keep the whites white, you will need to add Oxyclean or bleach.  Bleach is a harsh chemical so use care if you choose to use it.

          - homemade liquid Castile soap.  Dr. Bronner sells liquid Castile soap but it is a pricey thing to buy even if you dilute it.  But you can grate a bar of Castile soap and add to a gallon of water.  Let sit for a week or so until the soap melts.  Pour into bottles.  This soap can be diluted and used as cleaner for almost all surfaces (I don't recommend for granite countertops), hand soap and shampoo.  I read some people even use it as a toothpaste but I wouldn't recommend it.

          - natural orange cleaner.  Save your orange peels (making sure to remove the white membrane).  Cut into small pieces and place in an empty container.  Cover with white vinegar and let sit undisturbed for two weeks or more.  This cleaner is good for the granite counter tops.  I do not recommend it for white stove tops, etc as it does leave a slight orange stain.  But is easily removed by wiping with water.  Lemon peels and other citrus peels may also be used.

Do not wash your cars with harsh chemicals that will drain into the sewers and ultimately into the ocean.  That will end up killing the marine life as well as contaminating the ocean.  Use one of the above cleaners and plain white vinegar and water to clean the windshields and windows.  Instead of filling the windshield cleaner with pricey store-bought windshield cleaner, my husband fills ours with vinegar and water solution.  I clean our windows with the same solution.

7.  Recycle glass jars.

Buy things that come in glass bottles and jars, not plastic.  Reuse these glass bottles and jars by refilling them with for example:  dried beans, grains, pasta and the bottles can be used to store liquids.  Some bottles are attractive.  My pantry shelves hold these recycled glass jars.

These are just a few suggestions to practice being a responsible person and caring for the land entrusted to us by God, our creator.  In fact, I believe we will be accountable to God for failing to be good stewards of the earth, which He created and all it contains.