Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Lent - The Golden Rules of Detachment by St. John of the Cross

 The soul must always be inclined:

1.  not to the easiest thing but the hardest;

2.  not to the tastiest thing but the most insipid;

3.  not to the thing that gives the greatest pleasure but to those that give the least;

4.  not to the restful things but to painful ones;

5.  not to consolation but to desolation;

6.  not to more but to less;

7.  not to the highest and dearest but to the lowest and most despised;

8.  not to the desire for something but to have no desires.


Friday, February 19, 2021

Lent - An Examination of Conscience by Father Bill Casey

1.  Is there something I can do to get closer to God?

2.  Is there something I can do to know God better and to love Him more?

3.  Is there some way I can increase my desire for prayer?

4.  Is there some way I can rekindle that fire of divine love that might have gone out of my life?

5.  Is there some way I can rid myself of the spiritual mediocrity, the spiritual indifference that I find myself in so much of the time?

6.  Is there something I can give up?

7.  Is there anything in my life right now that is not pleasing to Almighty God?

8.  Is there some sin that I am holding on to?

9.  Is there some habitual sin that is separating my heart from God's graces?

10.  Is there something I need to confess?

11.  Am I crucifying Our Lord all over again by living in my sins?

12.  Well?  Is there?


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Lent - Guidance from the Apostles from the Ten Commandments

 The Didache: An Instruction of the Lord Given to the Heathen by the Twelve Apostles

Source:  The Treasury of Catholic Wisdom by Father John A. Hardon, S.J.

"My child:

1.  Shun evil of any kind and everything resembling it.

2.  Do not be prone to anger for anger leads to murder.  Do not be fanatical, not quarrelsome, not hot-tempered; for all these things beget murder.

3.  Do not be lustful, for lust leads to fornication.  Do not be foul-mouthed or give free rein to your eyes; for all these things beget adultery.

4.  My child, do not be an augur, because it leads to idolatry.  Do not be an enchanter, not an astrologer, not an expiator, and do not wish to see 9and hear) these things for they all beget idolatry.

5.  Do not be a liar, for lying leads to theft.  Do not be a lover of money, or a vain pretender.  All these things beget thievery.

6.  Do not be a grumbler, because it leads to blasphemy; or self-willed, or evil-minded.  All these things beget blasphemy.

 On the contrary, be:

7.   gentle (for the gentle will inherit the land).

8.  Be long-suffering, and merciful, and guileless, and quiet, and good, and with trembling treasure forever the instructions you have received.

9.  Do not carry your head high, or open your heart to presumption.  Do not be on  intimate terms with the mighty, but associate with holy and lowly fold.

10.  Accept as blessings the casualties that befall you assured that nothing happens without God."



Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Lent - Lessons from the Stations of the Cross

 

The First Station:  JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DEATH - Keeping silent in the face of injustice.

The Second Station: JESUS TAKES UP HIS CROSS - Learn to love our crosses and sufferings.

The Third Station:  JESUS FALLS FOR THE FIRST TIME - Keeping vigilant to avoid falling into temptation and the same sins.

The Fourth Station:  JESUS SEES HIS MOTHER, MARY - Comforting Jesus' sorrowful Mother by carrying out Jesus' Will faithfully.

The Fifth Station:  SIMON IS FORCED TO HELP JESUS CARRY HIS CROSS - Being patient especially in adversity.

The Sixth Station:  VERONICA WIPES THE FACE OF JESUS - Being charitable and compassionate towards our neighbor.

The Seventh Station:  JESUS FALLS FOR THE SECOND TIME - Keeping close to Jesus at all times, especially during difficult times.

The Eight Station:  JESUS GREETS THE WOMEN IN JERUSALEM - Praying for living faith;

The Ninth Station:  JESUS FALLS FOR THE THIRD TIME - Seeking forgiveness quickly when we fall into sin.

The Tenth Station:  JESUS IS STRIPPED OF HIS GARMENTS - Stripping ourselves of anything that keeps us from God and bearing all humiliations for the love of Jesus.

The Eleventh Station:  JESUS IS NAILED TO THE CROSS - Loving my enemies and difficult people with the love of Christ.

The Twelfth Station:  JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS - Accepting our crosses without complaint.  Praying and preparing for a happy death.

The Thirteenth Station:  JESUS' BODY IS PLACED ON HIS MOTHER'S LAP - Entirely trusting in  God's Mercy.

The Fourteenth Station:  JESUS IS LAID IN THE TOMB - Fighting for the salvation of souls.


Monday, February 15, 2021

Book Review - The Thief Who Stole Heaven

 

by Raymond Arroyo, illustrated by Randy Gallegos, Sophia Institute Press, 2021.

Reviewed by Rosa Sautner, Catholic homeschooling mother of two.

    This story of the Good Thief may be more than just legend having been mentioned in some apocryphal accounts.  Written for children in a very dramatically illustrated picture book, Raymond Arroyo weaves together this tale of a young thief who becomes the first conquest of Christ on the Cross.

    I first heard of how the Good Thief "stole" Heaven from none other than the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.  In one of his Lenten talks he makes the connection that one who was a thief his whole life would die a thief by stealing Heaven at the last moment of his life.

    This touching story is retold for children by bestselling author and EWTN host, Raymond Arroyo.  This colorfully illustrated picture book captures the drama of Dismas' life and hard times and final redemption on the cross.

    The book imaginatively follows Dismas' life from a childhood of sadness, misfortune, and wrong-doing and chance encounter with the Holy Family to his final meeting with Christ on the cross.

    This is a worthy addition to children's Lenten book collection.  I loved the story.  However, my only disappointment with the book was the illustrations of the Blessed Mother.   I would have liked to have seen her drawn more beautifully, more serenely.

The Thief Who Stole Heaven

Friday, February 12, 2021

ACN-USA News - Haiti bishops warn of catastrophe

 


THE BISHOPS OF HAITI have released a message deploring the catastrophic situation prevailing in the country and called for a national dialogue. “The country is on the brink of an explosion.”

“The daily lives of the people revolve around death, murder, impunity and uncertainty,” the Haitian bishops’ conference wrote in a statement issued on Feb.2, a copy of which was obtained by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

For months, Haiti has been going through a severe political crisis. At the heart of the conflict between government and the opposition is the length of the term of office of President Jovenel Mo├»se. The president maintains that his term of office is set to end in the coming year. His critics, on the other hand, believe that his term came to an end Feb. 7, as stipulated in the constitution. 

The differing viewpoints concerning the official end of the presidential term grew out of discord over when it began. In their statement, the bishops indirectly support the position of the president’s critics. They said: “It seems to us that everyone supports the principle that no one stands above the law and constitution of the country.” 

According to the bishops, the head of state made use of electoral laws and the provisions of the constitution on numerous occasions in the past, thereby confirming their validity for himself. In their statement, the bishops further emphasize that “only the bridge of consensus will help the different players” keep Haiti from falling even deeper into the abyss.

In light of the chaos in the country, the bishops clearly expressed the position of the Catholic Church. “In the succession of Christ, the Church is always on the side of law, truth, justice and respect for life and human dignity,” they wrote. 

The crisis is exacerbated by economic problems and a dramatically worsening security situation. As an example, the bishops refer to the many kidnappings that have made life in the country unbearable. They also expressed hope that the death squads can be persuaded to lay down their weapons.

ACN has supported the Church in Haiti over many years. In 2020 alone, more than $660M was approved in support of more than 30 projects. The donations given by ACN’s donors were used to purchase and maintain vehicles, to grant COVID-19 emergency aid, Mass stipends for priests, and formation courses for lay persons, catechists and seminarians.

—Oliver Maksan

With picture of chaos in Haiti (© Digital-Democracy) 

Editor’s Notes: 

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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, 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, over 40 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 fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

ACN-USA News - Ethiopia is living a nightmare

 

THE SITUATION IN NORTHERN ETHIOPIA IS ALARMING. Communication is very precarious and for almost three weeks the Tigray region has been totally isolated from the rest of the world. No internet or telephone. But the news we get from those who have been able to visit the area is terrible.” This is the assessment by Regina Lynch, project manager for Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

The Tigray region, whose capital is Mekele, is the most northern region of Ethiopia and borders Eritrea and Sudan. About 95 percent of the population are Christians who are part of the Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox Church and belong to the Tigray ethnic group.

“Hundreds of citizens are being killed in the conflicts in the Tigray region. Nobody knows for sure the number of dead, but we have been told that there are priests and church leaders among them. Shops, schools, churches and convents have been robbed and destroyed. Thousands of people have fled their homes. Many have crossed the border into Sudan, but others have sought refuge in remote areas, in the mountains, without water or access to food,” Lynch reports.

News that has spread in recent days in many media outlets about the possible murder of 750 people in an assault on the Orthodox Church of St Mary of Zion (Maryam Tsiyon) in Aksum last November, where according to the local tradition the Ark of the Covenant is kept, Lynch says that “we have not been able to verify the exact details of what would be a real massacre. Travel in the region is not currently possible and communications are very restricted, but we have received confirmation of a series of killings and attacks on innocent people in many parts of the region and also in the Aksum area. The population is terrified.”

According to information received by ACN, there might have been another massacre with more than a hundred victims in the church of Maryam Dengelat in December. 

Although the conflict has led to the deaths of hundreds of Christians, sources reiterate that the violence is not motivated by religion but by politics: due to the COVID19 pandemic the parliamentary elections planned for August 29, 2020 were postponed until after the pandemic, but the nationalist party, People’s Front for the Liberation of Tigray (PFLT) independently organized—and without the permission of the national government—regional elections in Tigray in early September, which created a political crisis that led to military intervention.

Last November fighting broke out in the northern region after the Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, sent in federal troops, who were reportedly joined by Eritrean troops, to fight against the PFLT.

This has been confirmed by another source contacted by ACN, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals: “Frankly, the problem is that the Eritrean troops have been involved from the beginning. The government has denied this, but it is the Eritrean troops who are committing killings in the east and northwest of Tigray.” 

“It is almost impossible to confirm the figures, but we have received information of people killed by the Eritrean troops in Irob, in Zalambassa and in Sebeya. I have also heard of dozens of people, including priests, killed in a church in Gietelo, Gulemakada,” the same source reports.

The isolation of the region makes it very difficult to send in aid, explains Lynch, who is asking for support for Ethiopia and especially for the region of Tigray: “It is a political problem, but those who are paying with their lives are the ordinary civilians. This is a terrible situation.” 

“The suffering of so many people must be alleviated, and comfort must be given to our Christian brothers and sisters who are isolated from the world in a situation of anguish, threatened by violence and terror.

“At the moment it is almost impossible to access information, but we are joining in prayer for this country, its church and its people,” says Lynch

 

—Maria Lozano

 

With picture of Regina Lynch. (© ACN)

 

 

Editor’s Notes:

 

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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 fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Monday, January 25, 2021

ACN-USA News - Ethiopia - Surge in violence leads to up to 1,000 deaths

 


UP TO 1,000 PEOPLE—including priests and other church leaders—have been killed in a series of attacks in Ethiopia culminating in a massacre at a church where the Ark of the Covenant is believed to be kept.

 

Following reports that 750 people were killed in a raid on the Orthodox Maryam Tsiyon Church in Aksum, thought to contain the Ark of the Covenant, an anonymous source from inside the country spoke to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

 

The source told ACN the attack was the latest in a long line of fatal assaults against innocent people, as part of the ongoing conflict in the Tigray region of the country.

 

He said: “750 were killed in Aksum, 154 people were killed in December in Maryam Dengelat. Also in my home area, 10 people were killed on Christmas Day from one family in one village.”

 

“More than 32 people were killed by Eritrean troops in Irob, 56 in Zalambassa, 11 in Sebeya. I also heard about 32 people, including priests, who were killed in a church in Gietelo, Gulemakada. In addition to that, in another area, I heard 20 were killed.”

 

Reports of the Aksum massacre first emerged earlier this month, when the European External Program with Africa (EEPA), a Belgium-based nonprofit organization, released a situational report, saying the people hiding in the church were brought out and shot in the square.

 

The ACN source said: “I heard there were 1,000 people in the church. It might be that more were injured and died later. 750 were killed for sure.” He added: “In Aksum, there is the Ark of the Covenant. Maybe the people were there protecting the Ark. They were taken outside and shot.”

 

The ACN source stressed an ongoing political conflict had led to the deaths of so many Christians and Muslims but added that the violence was not motivated by religion. He went on to say: “Inside Ethiopia there is a political conflict to do with the election. The government expired in September and they were supposed to have elections in May. Coronavirus happened and the election was postponed in August. This is a political problem and they are targeting the people of the Tigray region. This is a terrible situation.”

 

Last November, fighting broke out in Tigray after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent in federal troops, supported by militia and army from Amhara, as well as troops from Eritrea, to fight the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which he accused of holding illegitimate elections.

 

The source said: “Frankly, the problem is that Eritrean troops have been involved from the beginning. The [Ethiopian] government has denied this but those who are doing the killing are Eritrean troops in eastern and north-western Tigray.”

 

—Fionn Shiner

 

 

With picture of Tigray region (© ACN)

 

 

Editor’s Notes:

 

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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 fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

ACN-USA News - Pakistani - Catholic family fights against forced conversion of their daughter

 

St. Agnes, pray for her!

ONE OF THE BIGGEST STORIES IN PAKISTAN in 2020 was that of Arzoo Raja, a 13-year-old Catholic resident of Railway Colony in the southern Pakistani city Karachi, who was allegedly abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and married to her 44-year-old Muslim neighbor Syed Ali Azhar. Arzoo’s parents say she was kidnapped last October while playing outside her home. They approached Sindh High Court, which declared the marriage to be invalid and ordered her transfer to a shelter. Ali Azhar was arrested but later granted bail.

According to the Lahore-based Center for Social Justice, 162 cases of questionable conversions of under-age minority girls were reported in the media between 2013 and November 2020. Many more cases go unreported. Raja Lal Masih, Arzoo’s father, told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) about his struggle.

“All of my three daughters have served as altar girls; Arzoo was the youngest. She had just entered the 7th Grade. I still have the application to be submitted to the Church for her free stationery and books. We were working parents trying to give a better future to our children.

“On Oct. 13, after I dropped my wife off at the school where she worked as a nursery maid, I received a phone call from a close relative who told me that Arzoo had gone missing. After searching around, we filed the First Information Report at the police station where the staff kept us waiting for hours. Upon returning home, our neighbor told us that his son Azhar had somehow married our daughter, but that been ‘by mistake.’ Azhar’s family now openly threatens to take Arzoo permanently away from her family. 

“We immediately called the police who first had a nice cup of tea at the neighbor’s house, before asking us to provide the birth certificate and related documents of Arzoo. That same night the investigating officer told me that she had accepted Islam. I was shaken to the core.    

“Since then, we have been circling back and forth between the courts and the shelter. We have lost our jobs. We have left our house to avoid the questions posed by friends and neighbors. A protestant pastor is providing us with shelter and legal aid. The judges only listen to our lawyer and our daughter. It is like the parents do not exist. At one point, I was thinking of jumping off the second floor of Sindh High Court. 

“Some counsel us to drop our Muslim lawyer. But we cannot risk it. Neither a female nor a Christian lawyer can fight a case of forced conversion, no matter how intelligent or influential the person may be. Important politicians and figures have visited us and we are receiving calls from activists abroad. However, none of this carries any weight in court. Our Muslim lawyer faces about 50 opposition lawyers. Clerics, carrying big books, cite hadiths [prophetic sayings] and examples of the marriages of prophets to underage girls.

“Every Saturday, we visit our daughter in the shelter. She is confused. In front of police, she says that she has read kalma [the Islamic proclamation of faith] and is now a Muslim. In court, she insists that she married Ali Azhar of her own free will and that she is 18 years old. However, when we visit her, she agrees to come home. But after we leave, she asks us by phone to arrange a meeting with her Muslim brother-in-law. She is being brainwashed by older women at the center. It is no place for a child.  

“More and more families facing forced conversions are now speaking up and sharing their stories with media. Still, we are not wealthy or powerful like Muslims. 

“This Christmas was like living in agony. We attended Mass but there was no happiness, shopping or visiting the relatives. A family gave new clothes to our children. An unknown caller later threatened us for filing a case against Azhar. Now we cover our faces before going out. My wife has become diabetic and has been suffering from hypertension and kidney stones since the tragedy. She only weeps at the shelter house.

“I am desperate. Please pray for us and our family and for my daughter. May God listen to our prayers.” 

ACN has regularly supported the work of the Catholic bishops' National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) and supports the rehabilitation and reintegration of Christians released from prison.

 

—Kamran Chaudhry

 

 

With picture of Azroo Raja (© ACN)

 

 

Editor’s Notes:

 

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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 fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Vatican Christmas Cookbook, by David Geisser and Thomas Kelly, Sophia Institute Press, 2020.

Book review by Rosa M. Sautner, Catholic Homeschooling Mom of Two. 

 



A sequel to The Vatican Cookbook also by David Geisser, this Christmas edition is worthy of its name. Exquisitely illustrated, with delicious, inspiring recipes, this gorgeous cookbook deserves a place of honor in your kitchen. 

The recipes are categorized into Advent, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Christmas around the World, and Epiphany recipes. Some of the outstanding recipes include: Pumpkin Soup Amaretto, Polish Borscht, Filet Mignon with Racy Pepper Sauce, Roasted Trout with Fennel and Baguette, Ricotta Lemon Ravioli, Maple Cream Cake, and Chocolate Cake Surprise. 

Between the pages of the more than seventy recipes you will find full-color photographs of the Swiss Guards, the Vatican, four of the Popes, religious paintings, and an illustration of every recipe in the cookbook. 

For that very special cook in your life (or for yourself!), this is the perfect gift. Beautifully bound, delightfully illustrated, and filled with delicious recipes, this is one of the most beautiful cookbooks I have ever seen.  

Book