Thursday, September 18, 2014

ACN News - Archbishop of Mosul: "Recognize genocide against Christians"


"We Christians in Iraq have a future if the international community gives us immediate assistance. Don't forget us." With these words the Chaldean Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael I Sako addressed the community of nations on Tuesday while talking to the international Catholic pastoral charity, "Aid to the Church in Need."  The Patriarch was talking on the occasion of a conference on the question of Christians in the Middle East, which was held with financial support from Aid to the Church in Need on the fringe of the plenary session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"People are disappointed how little help has been received to date." The Patriarch continued: "At present about 120,000 Christians are living in Iraq as refugees. They need everything because the ISIS terrorists have taken all they had. The greatest challenge at the present time is the provision of living accommodation. The winter, which can be very cold in Iraqi Kurdistan, is coming and the people can't possibly stay in tents. We rely heavily on support here." In his remarks to the conference participants, Louis Raphael I made a call to set up a protection zone for Christians in Northern Iraq. This should, he said, be placed under a United Nations mandate and should be set up with major involvement of Iraq's neighbor states.

"We need a resolution of the United Nations which will enable us to return," the Head of the Chaldean-Catholic Church said. Sako warned that if the Iraqi Christians are not able to return to their places of origin in the Niniveh Plains near Mosul, they will face the fate of the Palestinian refugees, who have lived scattered over many countries.
Mosul's Syriac-Orthodox Archbishop Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf said before the conference that the United Nations must recognize and condemn the expulsion of the Christians in Iraq as genocide. "The United Nations is quick to condemn anti-Semitism. We want to see the same when Christians are persecuted." He was pleased about the visits of western politicians to Iraq. "But we need genuine humanitarian aid. Time is a major factor for us. More and more people are leaving the country."
The Syriac-Catholic Patriarch Ignace III Yousif Yunan, a resident of Lebanon, also made a call at the conference for a greater commitment on the part of the international community. "With the capture by ISIS of Syriac-Catholic towns such as Qaraqosh, tens of thousands of my faithful are fleeing. Aid from the international community would not only help them materially, but also show them that they are not alone and not forgotten." The Christians of the Middle East were too few and too poor to attract the interest of the industrialized nations, the Church leader continued.

Patriarch Ignace also stressed that in the long term the Christian presence in the Middle East could only be guaranteed by separating state and religion. "As an international family we must work towards the separation of state and religion." In this connection he called on Muslims to reinterpret their Holy Scriptures. "In the 21st century one cannot make an exegesis as though one were in the 7th century."  Archbishop Sharaf criticized the inadequate reaction of Muslims to the actions of ISIS. "When the Mohammed cartoons were published a few years ago in Denmark, millions of Muslims took to the streets worldwide because this was something that was against Islam. ISIS is also seen as un-Islamic. But where are the demonstrations against it?"

The conference "Christians in the Middle East: Citizenship, Human Rights and their Future", organized by the Vatican representation at the UNO in Geneva and held at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, was attended by delegations from the United States, Great Britain, Poland and Austria. Subsequently US Ambassador Keith Harper also received a delegation of Iraqi Church representatives for discussions.

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Who Really is in Heaven?



There is a devout Catholic lady and good friend that bristles at the following:  Priests, family and friends who comfort the grieving family by telling them everything is alright, that their loved one is in heaven....or that their loved one is smiling at them from heaven.

The truth is only God knows who in fact goes directly to heaven after their immediate death.  We should therefore go on the assumption that our loved one is in Purgatory and help them get them to heaven as soon as possible.  More on how to help the holy souls in future posts.

Omnium fidelium defunctorum

It is our Christian duty and obligation to pray for all the holy souls in Purgatory.  It is not sufficient for us to pray for our dearly departed family and friends.  This is essential since as mentioned above, we have no idea who is in Purgatory and who isn't.  We are also all brothers (and sisters) in Christ and Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves.   But we do know that all the holy souls in Purgatory are in need of our assistance as they can no longer help themselves.  Just think about those holy souls who have no one to remember them in pray, let alone have masses said for them to shorten their time in Purgatory.

There are and have been rare circumstances where God reveals to certain holy people, souls who are in Purgatory and needing help.  But again, this is rare.  The rest of us have to pray for the repose of the souls whether the world deems them as great sinners or very virtuous.  An example is given in the book Purgatory that even saintly Monica asked that she be remembered at the altar of the Lord and her likewise saintly son,  Augustine was not content to pray for the repose of his mother, but he asked that his readers not to cease recommending her soul to Divine Mercy.

It is very tempting to judge those we think should be in heaven and those we think belong in hell.  However, until the very last instant of our life, God, Divine Mercy Himself, can save us and wants very much to save us.  We may not necessarily agree with His decisions on where the soul will go, and for that I am grateful that He makes such decisions and not the rest of us.

They say we will be very surprised who we find in heaven.  Let this be a lesson for us to lead an exemplary life so no one will be surprised  if and when they find us in heaven.

Dei judicium est

Faith teaches us that all men dying in the state of mortal sin incur eternal damnation; but who are those that in reality die in that state?  God alone, who reserves to Himself the judgment of the living and the dead, knows this.  As to ourselves, we can but draw a conjectural conclusion from exterior circumstances, and from [even] this we must refrain.  It must, however, be confessed that there is everything to be feared for those who die, unprepared for death, and all hope seems to vanish for those who refuse to receive the Sacraments.  
St. Francis de Sales has forbidden us to judge evil of those who have led a bad life.  "With the exception of those sinners whose reprobation is made manifest by Holy Scripture, we may not, conclude that a person is damned, but must respect the secret of God."  This holy and wise saint taught that as "first grace is gratuitous, so also is the last, which is final perseverance or a good death..."


Purgatory Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints, Fr. F.X. Schoppes, Tan Books






Monday, September 15, 2014

Mass Etiquette: 20 Things To Do And Not Do In Mass


A good list from Aggie Catholics.

The following are things I would also like to point out:

#6.  It is also never appropriate to wear low cut or revealing clothing no matter how fashionable it is.

#11.  Before Mass and after Mass is a time that we should observe holy silence.  But after receiving holy communion should also be a time for sacred silence.  This silence is broken by having to sing a hymn.  It makes it difficult to give thanks to God when you cannot hear yourself think.

#16.  Remember that Jesus is truly present in the consecrated hosts and His precious blood is in the chalice.  Bow down when passing by any other Extraordinary minister of Holy Communion holding a chalice or ciborium during Holy Communion.






Friday, September 12, 2014

“Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother."


An article worth reading today: Catholic Culture's Most Holy Name of Mary: What's In a Name?

The following Litany of the Holy Name of Mary is also from Catholic Culture.

Prayer:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Son of Mary, hear us.
Son of Mary, graciously hear us.
Heavenly Father, of Whom Mary is the Daughter, have mercy on us.
Eternal Word, of Whom Mary is the Mother, have mercy on us.
Holy Spirit, of Whom Mary is the spouse, have mercy on us.
Divine Trinity, of Whom Mary is the Handmaid, have mercy on us.
Mary, Mother of the Living God, pray for us
Mary, daughter of the Light Eternal, pray for us
Mary, our light, pray for us
Mary, our sister, pray for us
Mary, flower of Jesse, pray for us
Mary, issue of kings, pray for us
Mary, chief work of God, pray for us
Mary, the beloved of God, pray for us
Mary, Immaculate Virgin, pray for us
Mary, all fair, pray for us
Mary, light in darkness, pray for us
Mary, our sure rest, pray for us
Mary, house of God, pray for us
Mary, sanctuary of the Lord, pray for us
Mary, altar of the Divinity, pray for us
Mary, Virgin Mother, pray for us
Mary, embracing your Infant God, pray for us
Mary, reposing with Eternal Wisdom, pray for us
Mary, ocean of bitterness, pray for us
Mary, Star of the Sea, pray for us
Mary, suffering with your only Son, pray for us
Mary, pierced with a sword of sorrow, pray for us
Mary, torn with a cruel wound, pray for us
Mary, sorrowful even unto death, pray for us
Mary, bereft of all consolation, pray for us
Mary, submissive to the law of God, pray for us
Mary, standing by the Cross of Jesus, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady, pray for us
Mary, Our Queen, pray for us
Mary, Queen of glory, pray for us
Mary glory of the Church Triumphant, pray for us
Mary, Blessed Queen, pray for us
Mary, advocate of the Church Militant, pray for us
Mary, Queen of Mercy, pray for us
Mary, consoler of the Church Suffering, pray for us
Mary, exalted above the angels,
Mary, crowned with twelve stars, pray for us
Mary, fair as the moon, pray for us
Mary, bright as the sun, pray for us
Mary, distinguished above all, pray for us
Mary, seated at the right hand of Jesus, pray for us
Mary, our hope, pray for us
Mary, our sweetness, pray for us
Mary, glory of Jerusalem, pray for us
Mary, joy of Israel, pray for us
Mary, honor of our people, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of Loreto, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of Czestochowa, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of Dolors, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of Victory, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of La Trappe, pray for us
Mary, Our Lady of Divine Providence, pray for us
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord Jesus.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord Jesus.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord Jesus.
Son of Mary, hear us.
Son of Mary, graciously hear us.
I will declare your name unto my brethren.
I will praise you in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Us Pray (Oremus) 
O Almighty God, Who beholds Thy servants earnestly desiring to place themselves under the shadow of the name and protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, grant, we beseech You, that by her charitable intercession, we may be delivered from all evil on earth, and may arrive at everlasting joys in Heaven, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

St. Nicholas of Tolentino - Friend of the Holy Souls

Saint Nicholas of Tolentino Reviving a Child by Garafalo c. 1530

Picture source

"But thou has saved us from them that afflict us, and thou hast put them to shame that hate us."
Psalm 43

Saint Nicholas of Tolentino had a strong devotion to the church suffering; that is the holy souls in Purgatory.  

The following is an excerpt from Father F.X Schoppe's book Purgatory.

For her [the Church Suffering], he frequently fasted on bread and water, inflicted cruel disciplines upon himself, and wore about his loins a chain of sharp-pointed iron.  When the sanctuary was thrown open to him, and his superiors wished to confer the priesthood upon him, he hesitated a long time before that sublime dignity, and nothing could make him decide to receive holy orders but the though that by daily celebrating the Holy Sacrifice he could most efficaciously assist the suffering souls in Purgatory.  On their part, the souls whom he relieved by so many suffrages appeared to him several times to thank him or to recommend themselves to his charity..."
In honor of his feast day, let us imitate St. Nicholas of Tolentino by remembering the holy souls who may have no one to pray for them relief or release.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

ACN News- Syria – Facing the danger of a slow death



International Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is providing another $468,000 in emergency aid for the people of Syria, who are facing the danger of a slow death.

The money will once more be used to support pastoral and humanitarian projects in the country, which has been suffering for over three years now from the bloody civil war there.

The main priority will be to get the help to the needy population in various parts of the country.

Among the projects supported is an aid center in Aleppo, formerly a city of over two millions, now torn apart by warfare since July 2012.

"Aleppo is facing the risk of dying a slow death," Sister Annie Demerjian, of the community of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary, tells ACN.

The charity has already helped her twice in the past. The present set of grants is intended to help supply the basic necessities of life which she and her team are providing for the people of Aleppo under their care.

Once the most populous city in Syria, this northern metropolis is thought to have shrunk to around just half a million people and is suffering badly from the ongoing fighting and the collapse of its infrastructure.

The water and electricity supply is inadequate, and most people have forgotten what it is like to eat meat or fresh fruit, as Sister Annie tells us in her moving appeal.

Most of the houses in her area have been destroyed, and those people who survived have been forced to flee.

"Where are they going to find refuge? How are they going to repair their houses?" she asks.

Rats, snakes and other vermin are making matters still worse.

"If we want the Christians to remain in the Middle East, then we must help them with what they need in order to survive," she concludes.

Similarly, in the once fiercely contested city of Homs in Western Syria and in a number of smaller towns and villages around it, ACN is supporting the charitable and humanitarian work of the Church.

Around half the population of this city of 1.6 million have been forced to abandon their homes and seek refuge in other parts of the city. Around a quarter have left Homs altogether. Added to these are the refugees from the surrounding areas.

Jesuit Father Ziad Hilal wants to provide some 3,000 families with basic necessities such as food and articles of hygiene. Some 15,000 to 18,000 people in need will be provided with washing powder, soap and towels, and also with necessities for the coming winter, such as blankets and warm clothing.

Those in need include both refugees from outside and inhabitants of the city.

"In Homs, the number of people who are dependent on support for such things as foodstuffs and articles of hygiene is growing, since many people are unemployed now and have no source of income," Father Ziad tells ACN.

On top of this, inflation is rampant. In order to prevent tensions arising between the refugees from outside and the original population of the city, the aid goods are being distributed to both groups.

Basically, as Father Ziad explains, the Church is providing support to all those in need, regardless of religion, gender or political affiliation.

A large proportion of the Christian population of Homs have sought refuge in the so-called "Valley of the Christians," in the region around Marmarita.

Thanks to the funds provided by ACN, Father Ziad is also able to provide somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 people there with articles of hygiene and winter clothing.

In addition to such urgent humanitarian projects, ACN is also supporting the pastoral work of the Catholic Church in Syria.

It is also thanks to the support of ACN that the Byzantine Catholic parish of Saint Cyril in Damascus can continue providing catechetical instruction to children and young people there.

In addition to the provision of catechisms and the payment of staff and running costs, some of the money is also spent on providing Christmas presents for the children.

"The catechetical center in our parish is more than simply a religious center. It is also almost the only consolation for some 500 children," says the parish priest, Father Joseph Lajin.

Every Friday the children gather at the center, partly for instruction in the Catholic faith, but also in order to find a little bit of rest and recreation, he explains.

At the heart of it is the education for peace, in the spirit of the Gospel, he says.

"It is not easy, when a generation has heard about and seen nothing else but the atrocities of ISIS, to educate them in a spirit of peace and forgiveness, of acceptance of the other and love of one's enemy."

According to UN statistics, over 150,000 people have been killed so far during the conflict in Syria. More than 10 million people within the country are dependent on humanitarian aid.

Over 6 million are regarded as internal refugees, while more than 2 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Since the war began, in March 2011, ACN has provided a total of approximately $4.55 million in aid for the people of Syria and for the Syrian refugees in the neighboring countries.

In 2014 alone the charity supplied a total of $1,606,600 in emergency aid for the war victims and refugees of Syria.


With picture of a displaced family in Syria (© ACN)


To support the $1M ACN-USA campaign on behalf of Iraqi and Syrian Christians, please visit www.churchinneed.org/helpIraqandSyria or call (800) 628-6333.


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

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The Persecuted Christians in Iraq

Father Daren Zehnle has a must read over on his blog

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

An Exorcist Talks about Hell

Father Gabriele Amorth is the chief exorcist in Rome knows about evil.

I am reading his book An Exorcist tells his Story and was struck what he has to say in the very beginning concerning hell.

First he makes it abundantly clear that:  evil, suffering, death and hell (eternal damnation in everlasting torment) are not acts of God.

An illustration to this is a story about another well-known exorcist who was expelling a demon.  The exorcist sarcastically told the demon "Get out of here.  The Lord has already prepared a nice, well-heated house for you!"  The demon responded as follows:  "You do not know anything!  It wasn't he [God] who made hell.  It was us.  He had not even thought about it..."

On pondering this it is not too difficult to believe because how could God, who is love, have created such an evil place, full of torment and despair.  Hell could have only come from Satan and his minions.

Father Amorth goes on to clarify predestination with God's providence, which causes confusion with some.

He writes that when he is told that:  "God already knows who will be saved and who will be damned, and therefore anything we do is useless, I usually answer with four truths that the Bible spells out for us:

God wants that everyone be saved; no one is predestined to go to hell; Jesus died for everyone; and everyone is given sufficient graces for salvation.

God is not only love but He is divine mercy.  Let us not forget that.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ACN News - Iraq – Silence and passivity will encourage IS to commit more tragedies

The Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako has warned of the spreading violence of Islamic State (IS), saying, “Silence and passivity will encourage IS fundamentalists to commit more tragedies.” The question must be asked, “Who will be the next?”  

In a letter that has reached international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), he urgently calls for “effective international support.”

At the same time, the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church complains that since August 6, “until now there is not yet an immediate concrete solution for the crisis we are facing,” while “on the other hand the flow of funds, arms and fighters continues to the IS.”

The actions taken up till now have produced “no real change,” and “the fate of the affected people is still at stake, as if these people are not part of the human race.” 

He emphasizes that the international community, principally the United States and European Union, “due to their moral and historic responsibility towards Iraq, cannot be indifferent.”

In his view, “the world conscience is not fully awake to the gravity of the situation”.

The Patriarch pointed out that now, with the emigration of Christian refugee families, the “second phase of the calamity” has begun.

In his words: “Iraq is losing an irreplaceable component of its society. (…) We do respect the decision of those who wish to migrate, but for those who wish to remain, we underline our long history and deeply rooted heritage in this land.”

“God has His own plan for our presence in this land and invites us to carry the message of love, brotherhood, dignity, and harmonious co-existence.”

However, according to him, the full safety of the people in this region can only be guaranteed with the cooperation of the international community along with the Central Government of Iraq and the Regional Government of Kurdistan.


To support the $1M ACN-USA campaign on behalf of Iraqi and Syrian Christians, please visit www.churchinneed.org/helpIraqandSyria or call (800) 628-6333.


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

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Holy Indifference



According to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, in order to achieve sanctity, one must practice holy indifference.

There is a good explanation on what holy indifference is by Father Broom. Basically, it "means a total openness to the will of God in one’s life."  

The exercise of holy indifference in our daily life will not only make us more patient, joyful, less stressed but ultimately, we will become a saint.  So the next time we are hot, let us be content and abstain from turning on the air conditioner or sitting next to the fan.  The next time our spouse is snippy, let us keep silent.  If we didn't do anything to provoke him or her, we have nothing to defend.  However, it may be more difficult to remember holy indifference when bad things happen such as losing our job, the death of a loved one, betrayal of a friend, but maybe, the more we practice it, the better prepared we will be when these trials and tribulations come our way.  Maybe for the love of God, we will really leave it to him and be content.