Wednesday, January 06, 2010

ACNNews - Iraqi Christians face desperate poverty


Iraqi Christians face desperate poverty

A leading Iraqi bishop has spoken out against the miserable living conditions of Christians who have fled to the Kurdish north, saying that the crisis is sparking yet another mass exodus of people determined to “leave the country for good.”

Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that a poor electricity supply as well as a lack of clean water, schools, jobs and healthcare in Kurdistan was speeding up the emigration of Christians from the country.

His comments come amid reports of a series of attacks against Christians and churches over Christmas and the New Year in and around the city of Mosul. The situation is prompting many faithful to escape further north to the relative peace of the area controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government.

Emphasizing the problems Christians find when they get there, Archbishop Sako said: “In Kurdistan, the security is quite good, but there are no jobs, no services and facilities in the new villages built by the Kurdish government. Therefore many families are leaving the country for good.”

Archbishop Sako’s comments come at a time of increasing concern for the Church’s survival in Iraq amid reports that the country’s Christian population has plummeted to barely 300,000. At the time of the last census, in 1987, Christians totaled 1.4 million.

Archbishop Sako said politicians in northern Iraq should focus on the humanitarian crisis and not be distracted by the country’s upcoming elections. He said, “The local and central government should protect the citizens. Now all the political groups are busy with the elections .There is a real struggle for power.”

He said that Christians in the Kurdish north were fed up of waiting for the situation to improve in their homelands further south. “In years gone by, Christians left their houses and property and reached a secure area in the hope of being back soon. But now six years have passed.”

The archbishop continued, “They want to be settled. They have no jobs, no schools and they have big problems with the language. There are no services – electricity, portable water, infrastructure are their problems.”

His comments come as winter bites deep into the mountainous Kurdish region where the government built villages for displaced people – often constructed out of poor materials.

Prioritizing help for the Middle East in line with a direct request from the Vatican, Aid to the Church in Need has given over $70,000 in emergency help for stricken Christmas families in and around the northern Iraqi city of Zakho. Christmas food packages – including cheese, tinned meat, powdered milk, cooking oil, salt, sugar and soap – have been delivered by Chaldean Sisters in their van.

ACN is also providing emergency help for Christians who have fled abroad to countries including neighboring Syria and Jordan as well as Turkey.

Archbishop Sako said he was “confused” as to the cause of recent attacks in Mosul, where a series of churches have come under attack, three Christians were murdered and a Christian student was kidnapped from her university in Mosul. He added, “Who is behind the attacks? There is no proof.”

In the mostly Christian town of Bartilla, about 30 miles north of Mosul, in the Nineveh plain, a car bomb exploded on Monday, January 4th, in a market place. Archbishop Sako said the motive behind the attack was probably political.

The blast took place near St. George’s Church, which is in the same town as the church that was attacked on Christmas Day morning by extremists. A dozen people were reportedly injured in the latest attack. Five were hospitalized. The explosion also damaged dozens of homes and shops.

Archbishop Sako said, “Some attacks are intended to postpone the elections or to cancel them or even determine what happens in them.”

With picture of Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk and Christians in Kurdish northern Iraq

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. Aid to the Church in Need

From the USCCB - Meet Our New Priests

Check out this online yearbook of new priests.

Ordination Class 2009 Has Many Asian-Born,
Despite Low Percentage of Asian Catholics in United States

WASHINGTON—The ordination class of 2009 claims 11 percent Asian-born men, though the percentage of Asian Catholics in the United States is only three percent. Six percent of the class is from Vietnam and two percent from the Philippines.

The percentage of Hispanics in the class is also 12 percent, though the percentage of Hispanic Catholics is estimated at 34 percent. Five percent of the class is from Mexico and one percent from Colombia.

Three percent are African American, the same percentage as African American Catholics in the United States. The majority of the class, 72 percent, is Caucasian, although Caucasians make up only 58 percent of U.S. Catholics.
Read the rest here

H/T The Pious Sodality of Church Ladies

Three Good Articles - The Holy Spirit; The Devil - How to Distinguish Who is Speaking to You

In the January 2010 issue of the Word Among Us, there are three must read articles on helping us to distinguish between the whispering voice of God the Holy Spirit and the troubling voice of Satan.

1. Know Your Enemy

2. Article two gives specific instructions of keeping attune to your thoughts in order to distinguish between the two. Test, Record and Wait

3. Weigh Things Well - Wisdom from the Saints on Spiritual Discernment

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Rosary for the Bishops

Check out this wonderful new website where we can actually do something to help our bishops!
Heaven knows that our good Bishops are under fire for standing up for our Catholic Faith nowadays. What can we do about it? Support them with our prayers!

Rosary for the Bishop is a project that aims to support Catholic Bishops through prayer of the Rosary. Please take a few minutes to join in praying for your Bishop.
Rosary for the Bishop

A big mahalo to friend Anne for sharing this on her blog.

Elephants Attack Orissa

Remember the persecution of Christians in Orissa, India?
In July 2008 a severe persecution of Christians broke out in the Indian state of Orissa. A 22 year old nun was burnt to death when angry mobs burnt down an orphanage in Khuntpali village in Barhgarh district, another nun was gang raped in Kandhamal, mobs attacked churches, torched vehicles, houses of Christians destroyed, and Fr. Thomas Chellen, director of the pastoral center that was destroyed with a bomb, had a narrow escape after a Hindu mob nearly set him on fire. The end result saw more than 500 Christians murdered, and thousands of others injured and homeless after their houses were reduced to ashes. Recently a strange and dramatic event took place in Orissa, which has many people talking and wondering.

In recent months, herds of wild elephants have begun to storm villages that are home to some of the worst persecutors of Christians during the troubles. In one village, where in August a year ago the Christians had to run for their lives while their homes were being destroyed by rioters, a herd of elephants emerged from the surrounding jungle exactly one year later, in July 2009, at the same time of the day of the attack.

These elephants first attacked a rock crusher machine owned by a key leader of the persecution movement.

They then went on to destroy his house and farms.

Hundreds of villagers have been forced to take shelter in camps in the Indian state of Orissa after repeated attacks by a herd of elephants.

Seven people have been killed and several others injured in attacks by a herd of 12-13 elephants over the past few weeks in Kandhamal district.

Over 2,500 people living in 45 villages have been affected by the attacks, district chief Krishen Kumar said...
Elephants Attack in Orissa

ACN - Faith and fear in Pakistan


Faith and fear in Pakistan

The leader of Catholics in Pakistan has reported that those attending Christmas Mass went through makeshift security barriers on their way into church as part of a huge security clampdown aimed at stopping attacks on Christians.

A massive government security operation was implemented in churches across the country according to Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore, who said that the faithful were frightened of being targeted by suicide bombers over Christmas.

In an interview in which he praised police for their response to the threats, Archbishop Saldanha told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that Mass attendance was in some places up to 40 percent down from normal. But he went on to say that those who did go to church were “very strong in faith” and refused to be deterred by the security risks.

Speaking from Lahore to the charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians, the archbishop said, “There was a wonderful atmosphere in the churches. People were determined to celebrate and they participated with great enthusiasm.”

The archbishop, who is President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, said that “a sophisticated security apparatus” was put in place at in a number of churches in Rawalpindi, outside the capital, Islamabad, including St. Joseph’s Cathedral.

Mass-goers lined up before being checked by police using metal detectors and other security devices. Elsewhere, the faithful were protected by uniformed and plain-clothes police stationed at churches across the country.

In some areas, services were scaled down and after-Mass festivities, including fairs and other community celebrations, were cancelled to reduce the security risk. Christmas functions in non-religious buildings such as hotels and schools were also cancelled or scaled back following police advice.

Congratulating the security services for ensuring the Christmas liturgies passed without incident, Archbishop Saldanha said, “The police protection was really very good….It wasn’t just the size of the security presence; it was the fact that there were a higher number of police commanders than usual. The whole operation was well resourced.”

The stepped-up security comes after the country was put on red alert following a series of attacks across the country. About 90 people in the north-west were killed in an attack on a volley ball game on Thursday (Dec. 31st, 09). The incident came a few days after attacks in the coastal city of Karachi left 30 dead, almost the same number who died in an attack on a mosque in Rawalpindi a month ago.

Archbishop Saldanha underlined the fear of the country’s three million Christians. He said, “Morale here has been very low. For many people, the security apparatus meant that going to Mass was very cumbersome. There were big queues of people getting into church, all standing in single-file. Many people were very worried for their safety.”

He said the threats were, in many cases, based on unsubstantiated rumors, spread by text message. “We told people to stop texting messages of this kind. It was obvious that this was spreading a sense of panic.”

The archbishop added that the security was heightened in response to threats of attacks linked to the Shiite Islamic holy day of Ashura, which this year took place very close to Christmas. Extra-tight security in Rawalpindi was linked to the nearby Army headquarters, he added.

Archbishop Saldanha went on to thank Aid to the Church in Need for its ongoing pastoral support and the prayers of the charity’s friends and benefactors.

Pakistan is a priority country for ACN information and action. In 2008, the charity gave over $500,000 for projects including the repair and construction of churches and other Catholic buildings, distribution of Bibles, support for Christian education, help for Sisters, support for transportation needs, and Mass stipends for priests in poor and remote areas.

With picture of Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore

Editor’s Notes:

Your browser may not support display of this image.

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. Aid to the Church in Need


by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

Non-Muslims generally harbor a pejorative view of Islam. This presentation offers a different perspective, a Marian outlook espoused by the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen in his book, The World’s First Love, and shared by other devotees of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Islam’s creed

Islam is the only great post-Christian religion of the world. Since it originated in the seventh century under the leadership of Muhammad, it was possible to include some elements of Christianity and Judaism along with some customs of Arabia.

Islam seems to use the doctrine of the unity of God, his majesty and his creative power, to reject Christ as the Son of God. Not understanding the notion of the Trinity, Muhammad recognizes Christ as a prophet announcing himself, that is, Muhammad.

Christian Europe, the West, barely escaped eradication at the hands of the early Muslim jihadists. At various times the Muslims were repulsed near Tours, Vienna, Lepanto and other areas. The Church across North Africa was destroyed by Muslim invasions. Presently Islam is again on the rise and flexing its power.

If Islam is a heresy, which Hilaire Belloc declared it to be, it is the only heresy that has never declined. Rather, it has rebounded. Other heresies experienced a period of vigor and influence, but later declined and lapsed into doctrinal decay at the death of the leader, and eventually faded away as a social movement. Islam, on the contrary, endured and has not declined in numbers or in the loyalty of its followers.

On the surface of things, the missionary efforts of the Church with Muslims have failed. They seem almost unconvertible. Muslims believe they have the final and definitive revelation of God and that Jesus Christ was only a prophet announcing Muhammad, the last of God’s real prophets.

Currently, the hatred of Muslim countries toward the West is becoming hatred against Christianity itself. There is still grave danger that the temporal power of Islam may return and bring with it the menace that will overcome the West that has ceased to be Christian, and affirm itself as the great anti-Christian world power. Muslim literature says, “When the locust swarms darken countries, they bear on their wings these words in Arabic: We are God’s host, each of us has 99 eggs, and if we had 100, we should lay waste the world, with all that is in it.”

The problem is how to prevent the hatching of the hundredth egg. Some believe firmly these fears concerning the Muslims will not be realized. They believe that Islam will eventually turn to Christianity, and in a way that missionaries do not expect. These Christians believe that this will happen not through the teachings of Christianity, but through inviting the Muslims to veneration of the Mother of God. This is their line of reasoning.

Role of Mary

The Qur’an, the Muslim bible, contains many passages about the Blessed Virgin Mary. It speaks of her Immaculate Conception and the Virgin Birth. The third chapter details the history of Mary’s family in a genealogy that goes back through Abraham, Noah and to Adam. Comparing the Qur’an’s description of Mary’s birth with the apocryphal gospel version reveals a similarity that indicates Muhammad probably depended on the latter. Both books describe the old age and sterility of Mary’s Mother, Ann. When Ann conceives Mary, she says in the Qur’an, “O Lord, I vow and consecrate to you what is already within me. Accept it from me.” When Mary is born, her mother says, “I consecrate her with all her posterity under your protection, O Lord, against Satan.”

The Qur’an makes little mention of Joseph, but the Muslim tradition appreciates him. Joseph asks Mary, who is a virgin, how she conceived Jesus without a father. Mary responds: “Do you not know that God, when he created the wheat had no need of seed, and that God by his power made the trees to grow without the help of rain? All that God had to do was to say. ‘So be it,’ and it was done.”

The Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity are also included in the Qur’an. Angels are depicted accompanying our Blessed Mother and saying, “Oh, Mary, God has chosen you and purified you, and elected you above all the women of the earth.” In the 19th chapter alone are 41 verses about Jesus and Mary. The defense of the virginity of Mary is so strong and clear in the fourth book of the Qur’an that it attributes the condemnation of the Jews to their monstrous calumny against the Virgin Mary.


For Muslims, Mary is the true Sayyida (Lady). In their creed only Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, would rival her. After the death of Fatima, Muhammad wrote, “Thou shall be the most blessed of all women in Paradise, after Mary.” In a variation of this text, Fatima says, “I surpass all the women, except Mary.”

This highlights another point; namely, why our Blessed Mother in the 20th century should have revealed herself in the insignificant village of Fatima, Portugal, so that all future generations will know her as Our Lady of Fatima. Because nothing happens without divine reason, some believe the Virgin Mary chose to be known as Our Lady of Fatima as a pledge and sign of hope to the Muslim people, and as an assurance, that they who show her great respect will one day accept her divine Son too.

Evidence to support these views is found in the history of Muslim occupation of Portugal for centuries. When they were finally driven out of Portugal, the last Muslim ruler had a beautiful daughter named Fatima. She fell in love with a Catholic young man. For him she not only stayed behind when the Muslims left, but she also embraced Catholicism. Her young husband loved her so much that he changed the name of the town where he lived to Fatima. Consequently the very place where Our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad.

The relationship of Our Lady of Fatima to Muslims is evident in the enthusiastic reception Muslim people in Africa, India, and elsewhere offered to the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima. They attended prayer services in honor of her and allowed religious processions and prayers in front of their mosques. In Mozambique some Muslims became Christians soon after the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was erected.

In a number of countries Muslims frequent Marian shrines to pray and to honor Sayyida.

Missionary challenge

Increasingly we will see that the Christian missionary apostolate among the Muslims will be successful in the measure that it preaches Our Lady of Fatima. Mary signals the advent of Christ, bringing Christ to the people before Christ himself is born. It is sound apologetics, then, for our missionary effort to begin with something the people already accept. Because Muslims are devoted to Mary, our missionaries wisely endeavor to enlarge that devotion with the realization that Our Lady will bring Muslims along the rest of the journey to her divine Son. She never accepts any devotion for herself, but always brings the devotee to her Son. As those who lose devotion to her lose belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, so those who intensify devotion to her gradually acquire that belief.

Many missionaries, in Africa especially, have already broken down the bitter hatred and prejudice of Muslims against Christians by their works of charity, their schools and hospitals, and other social services.

It remains now to employ this Marian approach: to interpret chapter 41 of the Qur’an to show them it was taken from the Gospel of St. Luke and that Mary cannot be seen as the most blessed of women if she had not borne the Savior of the world. If Judith and Esther were prefigures of Mary in the Old Testament, we may assume that Fatima herself was a post-figure of Mary.

Let us pray that Muslims acknowledge that, if Fatima gives place in honor of Mary, the reason is that Mary is different from all other mothers of the world and that without Jesus she would be nothing. May they find refuge in the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was given to us by God himself.

Mary is clearly a bridge between Islam and Christianity.

- Used with permission.

Feast of St. John Neumann

Picture Source

How much I love you, O my Jesus.
I wish to love you with my whole heart;
yet I do not love you enough.
My lack of devotion and my sloth make me anxious.
I have one desire, that of being near you
in the Blessed Sacrament.
You are the sweet bridegroom of my soul.
My Jesus, my love, my all,
gladly would I endure hunger, thirst, heat,
and cold to remain always with you in the
Blessed Sacrament.
Would that in your Eucharistic presence I might
unceasingly weep over my sins.
Take entire possession of me.
To you I consecrate all the powers of my
soul and body, my whole being.
Would that I could infuse into all hearts
a burning love for you.
What great glory would be given to you here on earth,
if every heart were an altar on which every human will were laid in perfect conformity with your will
to be consumed by the fire of your love.

- Saint John Neumann
Magnificat, January 2010

Reparation Prayer

This prayer is the prayer taught to the Three Shepherd Children at Fatima.  In light of the sacrilege against the Most Holy Eucharist, it should be recited daily.
O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners. Amen.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Communion in the Hand

Well, the desecration, abuse and sacrilege of Consecrated Hosts continues as I others share stories. This is true not only locally but in other places as well. I thought about sharing specifically what these abuses consist of and where, but I do not want to give anyone any bad ideas. Suffice to say, the abuses are pretty bad. Yet, in the few instances that I am aware of, I believe the way people are mistreating the Holy Eucharist has a lot to do with ignorance of what exactly the Consecrated Host is, instead of evil intent.

Briefly, to those of you who do not know, a Consecrated Host... the Holy Eucharist... is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a truth of the Catholic Church.

Therefore, even the tiniest speck (particle) of a Consecrated Host contains the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. I like to use the analogy of a mirror to explain this. If a mirror is broken, even the tiniest piece of the mirror would show the entire reflection of a person or object. The same is true with the tiniest particle of a Consecrated Host.

I'd like to share the following video with you because it is self-explanatory regarding Consecrated Hosts and receiving Holy Communion in the hand.

Is it any wonder that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI gives Holy Communion to those who are kneeling and who receive on the tongue?

It would be a good thing to read Redemptionis Sacramentum's CHAPTER IV Holy Communion 1. Dispositions for the Reception of Holy Communion carefully.

"...92. Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice, 178 if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.179..."

YEAR FOR PRIESTS - A Pra yer for Priests

The Holy Family in Egypt

Flight into Egypt by Andrea G. Alsaldo

Thanks to family friend Sharon for sharing the following: The Upper Egypt Tour Gabal al-Tayr -The Holy Family in Egypt including mention of the bowing tree.

Flight into Egypt by Bartolomé Carducho

Source Webgallery

My First Award of 2010 - Sisters in Faith Award

And, I have the lovely Catholic Mom in Minnesota my friend Tracy, bestowing this honor on me.

Thank you very much Tracy. I am truly touched by the gesture.

I should mention that this lovely award originated over at Blessings For the Day
The rules are as follows...and by the way, all the ladies on the sidebar truly deserve this award. blog awards go, you are supposed to pass them on to others who you feel represent the spirit of the award... In this case, the instructions are:
1. To pass this award on to sisters who have been blogging with me from almost the beginning,
2. Include at least one new Sister In Faith.

1. Chris of Domestic Vocation

2. Barb the SFO Mom

3. Jean of Catholic Fire

4. Tracy of the Woodland Word

5. Ellen From Across the Net

These ladies have been blogging with me from almost the beginning...2006.

And the new Sister of Faith, is MaryEllen of Grandma's Musings even though I've known Maryellen for a while, she was not with me at the beginning. She therefore falls into the new category.