Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Youhanna Hanna on Prayer

Today, July 13, is the 15th anniversary of the departure/death of my beloved mother Josephine. For this reason I asked Fr. Youhanna Hanna to remember her in his Mass this morning. When I asked him about the fees for his service in the Mass, he reminded me by Jesus' commandment to the Apostles and their followers "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give" (Matthew 10: 8). I understood from him that Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad and Fr. Michel Chalhoub too follow the commandment and do not require fees in the Mass prayer. These are good news from priests whose work is the salvation of souls...
In fact, in the Roman Catholic parishes calendar for Masses (New American Bible Revised Edition  - USCCB), today's readings, which I opened this morning, include the story of Joseph son of Jacob who was sold by his brothers to the Egyptians years earlier - This Joseph grew in Egypt and learned from the Egyptians their wisdom and language that Pharaoh brought him up in his palace to be Egypt's second man. When there was a severe famine in Israel, the brothers  hurried to Egypt and were told that they must see Joseph for any supply to foreigners. In spite of the fact that his brothers had sold him and lied to their father but that Jacob could not tolerate sending the youngest son, Benjamin, from his beloved Rachel; that the oldest brother offered his neck in substitute for the lie; Joseph could not hold himself and cried in front of his brothers. (Genesis 43, 44, 45)...
Can God cry? Yes. We know that Jesus our God cried to his Father "My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!" (Matthew 26: 36-46). He was so distressed that he was experiencing bleeding. While Jesus accepted the cup in obedience to his beloved Father, I think he did not finish crying, for there are so many sinners over the history of the Church, particularly since secularism and most recently post modernism changed the way things are done. Today large businesses compete to sell their products and services at the cheapest price which benefits the elites and "correct political" leaders become richer. Christ is still crying because many Christians have lost their way to the Truth especially in advanced societies where atheism flourishes. Christ is still crying because we have no time for him. Christ is still crying because "politically correct European leaders are welcoming culturally-foreigner Muslims including terrorists and extremists only to win larger supporters to their sellout policies. Once established in their new areas  Islamic terrorists are able to shoot their culturally-different hosts to eventually make Sharia the law of the land that had been founded on  Christian values.
We can still hope that priests and Christian scholars will help us as Fr. Youhanna Hanna, Fr. Michel Chalhoub, and Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad do...

Friday, June 16, 2017


Everyone of us on Earth is connected to the others, as Pope Francis recently said based on scientific findings. It is most important because psychologically none of us is totally free, but always in need of "the other". Except for great saints and mystics such as the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate Mother of God, Saint Rita of Cascia, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, and Saint Teresa of Avila, it is hard to find  any human creature that knows what love is.  Saint Teresa of Avila was a mystic who could talk to God; Saint Thérèse of Lisieux  is the greatest saint in modern times; Saint Rita of Cascia has her body intact among the incorruptible in Church history. How about the Blessed Virgin Mary? The pastor of Jesus the King, Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad, BSO, beautifully prayed Hail Mary last night at the end of the meeting of the Knights of Columbus Council while Fr. Prof. Georges Farah described the Virgin Mary in linguistic terms "Batoul" from the Hebrew "Beit Il" or "Beit Elohim" i.e. the house of God. In her complete dedication to God, the Virgin Mary became the house of God! In fact, Beit Il was the name of the town in Canaan where Abraham first established his tent. It is also the symbol that Jacob used on escaping from Esau his rival twin brother to identify the stone that he slept on after his fight at night with the angel of God (Genesis 25). Rivalry has been studied in details by the famed René Girard thus concluded in his theory of mimetic rivalry and the scapegoat, that world religions in their sacred texts, whether ancient or more recent, were, in a way, myths in their stand against the victim scapegoat except that the Gospels narrate the opposite stand of God's love where the scripture writers witness to the innocence of the scapegoat Jesus of Nazareth in his crucifixion and death, powerfully shown in his resurrection. The readings told the truth that Girard finally came to believe in spite of widespread criticism of the Christian faith in the 20th, and 21st centuries. The reader may wish to read him here:
But the basic idea can be simply stated: If hatred does not benefit anyone, then mimetic rivalry increases the tendency for selfish desire! And selfish desire can lead the person to the angry god of hell!
When Girard passed away in November 2015, the highly-popular Bishop Robert Barron wrote about the philosopher Girard, possibly a "Church Father", here:

Today's civilization in the West developed from Christian roots and made its way in baptizing the barbarian tribes that conquered the Roman empire thus reinvigorating a new empire which flourished notably with the Renaissance since Charlemagne in the 9th century. The Church developed and expanded since it received gifts from emperors and kings which were used in building centers for learning  and churches. Pope Innocent III had a vision upon which he accepted the order of the Franciscans. Saint Francis of Assisi was particularly a humanist Christian who talked to the animals and birds and went all the way preaching to Muslims in Egypt. The Dominicans and Benedictines had already built their reputation around reform of the papacy to be less aristocratic and invested their resources in learning. In the 16th century, the Jesuits increased the demand for new members to be well educated when graduating with a focus on science. Missionaries continue in Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East. We note here that the Catholic Church accommodated its missionary work to the tune of the times.

Suddenly we discover from the above that we are, one way or the other, connected in history. According to Positive Psychology pioneered by Prof. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania, each one of us today can be happy if he treats the other with love, because each one needs to be loved. Love needs love.  Even in our social life, a child needs the love from his parents in order to grow up in a healthy way; a woman needs her husband's love and faithfulness to the end in order for her to trust him and the same with a wife to be considered trustworthy. Procreation is an act of love in which the parents participate with God to beget life. Well-behaved children are an investment in society whose consciences mature if they follow the demands of the New Testament. These demands have been met by over 5,000 saints including the Angelic Doctor who was the first professor to explore nature i.e. St. Thomas Aquinas  (taught at St. Thomas University by Basilian Fr. Prof. Daniel Callam, CSB  among others) and many before and after him including St. Basil the Great, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Charbel Makhlouf, and Saint Gianna Beretta Molla in the 20th century. 

Today Thursday June 15, 2017 the Melkite Catholic Church celebrates the solemnity of the Divine Body of Christ also known as Corpus Christi. Last Sunday June 11, 2017, the Melkite Catholic Church celebrated the solemnity of All Saints. But on the same day I attended the Mass with many including Msgr. Prof. Robert Nusca, pastor of Holy Rosary who is a Biblical scholar like Msgr. Prof. Paul Feghali in Lebanon.  On Sunday the Roman Catholic Church celebrated universally the solemnity of the Trinity. In his homily on Sunday at Holy Rosary, Fr. Prof. Daniel Callam gave an impressive homily on the development of the Nicene Creed that recognized the equality of the Son and the Father "Consubstantial". It will take a separate article to discuss what Fr. Callam explained about the Ecumenical Council in the year 325 AD at the city of Nicaea. At almost the same time, the Jesuit scholar Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. as usual penetrated the minds of his listeners with a parable that he made (watch the homily here in French: Fr. Boulad (whose priority in his mission is to help the needy) spoke about a very rich person who could not find anyone else to communicate with - a solitary person that enriches himself without attention to anyone else. This would be the story of God if he were alone from eternity ! Fr. Boulad had a little discussion with a Muslim teacher. For Islam, God is one and solitary (A good reference on the interfaith dialogue with Islamic scholars is our friend Fr. Prof. Samir Khalil Samir, S.J.) But how do we read in Genesis that when God saw Adam alone, he created a woman for him to have love in the image and likeness of the Trinity?  If  heaven is love and communion then living a solitary life upon oneself is hell. How is it that the cosmos contains such diversity of creatures created by the same God?  It is an indicator of the generosity of God. This was a powerful homily as it opened the possibilities and connections which Pope Francis spoke about. God is not vicious.  God is love (1 John 4:  7-12). 
The above reminds me by the words "Love is strong as death" (Song of Songs) written by the brilliant mind of Prof. Joseph Ratzinger  who became Pope Benedict XVI. He had written this magnificent essay in his book "Introduction to Christianity" (You may wish to read "Joseph Ratzinger: The Truth of the Resurrection" here:

If one follows the two great commandments: (Love God with all your heart); and (Love your neighbor as yourself), he will discover the two dimensions of love - the "vertical" to heaven and the "horizontal" to the other in humanity. But this is only to tell us that God loves everyone since he created everyone out of love; and that if one wants to enjoy life, he needs to love the persons next to him especially those who need him most (see Positive Psychology which is not a religion). Love needs love!

And after all, what is life without love?  I thank God and those who prayed or suffered with me in my long health problems as I had lectured on them a year after my stroke ("A Living Miracle" here:
I also thank God for accepting my mother's vow through the intercession of St. George thereby I was given the name of the saint (see  "The Hero Saint George" here

This is the month of the sacred heart of Jesus. Love stems from his heart. Let us sing to him:

Saturday, June 3, 2017


Why are we worried? Yes. terrorism has increased and killed many innocents; threats of nuclear weapons that radicals in North Korea and the U.S. Administration have not diminished; the globe seems to be on an edge for us ordinary people. However, we need to voice our concerns to the Church and not be alarmed by divisions...
If God is the limitless being, then everyone and everything else is limited. In the Christian faith, the power of the limitless God is his eternal love. "Beloved, let us love one another because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God for God is love." writes St. John the Apostle (1 John 4: 7-8). This love is that of Father to Son and Son to Father in the binding powerful love of the Holy Spirit. This is at least what was confirmed by the Jesuit scholar Fr. Henri Boulad at his lecture in the Holy Family Coptic Catholic parish in Toronto, 2002 (see
It is Pentecost Sunday tomorrow June 4, 2017 or the Feast of the Holy Spirit. When Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey visited Jesus the King Melkite Catholic parish in 2016, he encouraged Christians to pray to the Holy Spirit. In our ordinary life, it is the Holy Spirit who works in our hearts to bind ourselves to others and reconcile with everyone regardless of whether they are Christian or not. He is the promise of Christ to the Apostles and their followers, as written in John 14: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you and will be in you." (John 14: 15-17).
You are priceless in God's eyes, because he loves everyone...God desires that he gives heaven to the little sheep that follows him. St. Luke writes Jesus' words "Do not be afraid any longer little flock for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12: 32). Talking about the great shepherd, Christ said "I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10: 9-11).
But here is the revolution set by Christ. It is not only what he said but also what he did. In Israel where the Jews had quarrels with the Samaritans, Jesus walked all the way to Sychar in order to heal the lost Samaritan and bring the Samaritans back to the truth (John 4: 4-42) and walked to the region of Tyre and Sidon in order to heal the begging Canaanite's daughter and get them in the fold (Matthew 15: 21-28). His healing of others had the character of self-giving; and on the cross he forgave those who crucified him (Luke 23: 34).
If God is that man who, by the power of his Spirit, was born of the Immaculate Virgin Mary because he wants to be with us, we have hope. Our hope is that in God's eyes everyone is priceless.

Monday, May 22, 2017

What Made Rita of Cascia a Saint?

Today May 22, we remember Saint Rita; a great saint born in 1381, faithful wife, tender mother, and the one we ask her assistance and prayers for impossible cases. May the Lord bestow his healing on so many sick people both physically and spiritually through her intercession, and may He bless all especially those that carry her name.
The question what made Rita a saint is quite asked today since many young adults are without jobs in their careers or even in their interest, which could lead them to disappointment, failure and possibly suicide. Sick people are hardly able to find good care whether in medical clinics or in hospitals. The media talk mostly about bad news and bad relations even though the Internet should have brought more people together. On the social level, the family is under attack especially in the advanced West with sexual promiscuity, legalized abortion, and legal recognition of same-sex marriage created by radical feminism , Economically the poor are getting poorer while the very few rich are getting much richer. This is the reverse of how Rita as a person lived.
Since early age Rita dreamed of becoming a religious nun, but her parents got her married to a man who subsequently became notoriously violent and unfaithful. She accepted her parent's decision, endured her husband's insults and infidelity, and prayed for her husband to change his way of life bringing him at the end to repentance. With the above, she was able to raise her two twin kids in a Christian atmosphere. Her husband was dealing with a sort of mafia when he was murdered in a vendetta. Rita publicly forgave his murderers but her sons wanted to avenge the brutal murder of their father. As she prayed for them, they both died of dysentery a natural death a year later before they could accomplish their vengeful act.
After the death of her husband and children, Rita desired to join the monastery of St.Mary Magdalene in Cascia but fearful of being associated with Rita due to the scandal of her husband's violent death, the nuns refused unless she could obtain a reconciliation between the hostile parties in Cascia. With prayers Rita was able to resolve the conflicts between the families and at the age of thirty-six was allowed to enter the convent where she excelled at living the Augustinian Rule of care. She was seen levitating while in prayer as she asked Christ to give her a share in his passions. So close to Christ was this woman that her request was answered as thorn on her forehead. She died from tuberculosis on May 22, 1457. Miracles attributed to her intercession caused her beatification by Pope Urban VIII in 1626. She was canonized by Pope Leo III on 24, 1900. On the 100th anniversary of her canonization in 2000, St. John Paul II noted her remarkable qualities as a Christian woman. "Rita interpreted well the 'feminine genius' by living it intensely in both physical and spiritual motherhood" said the holy Pope. St. Rita has acquired the universal reputation, together with St. Jude,  as a saint of impossible cases. Her body remains incorrupted and is preserved intact in a shrine in Cascia. How much we really need her today. She carried the cross and followed Christ. Can we imitate her?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lessons from Pope Francis

Since Pope Francis last week made major pronouncements, an article about lessons that one can learn from him would be too large to fit in this space. We will therefore discuss only a few lessons this time and leave others to another time shortly.

Pope Francis is the first Jesuit Pope. His many years of experience do not necessarily prevent critiques from voicing their objections to some of his policies. But we can be sure that he follows the dictum of the first Jesuit, St. Ignatius Loyola, "Finding God in everything!"

Lesson One:

In his TED Talk, titled "The Future You"and released April 25 only three days before his visit to Egypt, the Holy Father uncovers a number of facts that he wishes his listeners would realize. I had sent it with a transcript to my readers, but you may still wish to listen to the address here: OR read the transcript here:

Remarkable statements by the pope:
1. "The future is made of encounters...Life is about interactions...We all need each other...None of us is an island, an autonomous and independent 'I' separated from the other, and we can only build the future by standing together including everyone."*
2. "Even science points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else."**
3. "How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us! How wonderful would it be if solidarity were not simply reduced to social work and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples, and countries. Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the 'culture of waste,' which does not concern only food and goods, but first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people."
4. "Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough. Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The 'you' is always a real presence, a person to take care of."
5. Remembering the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37), Pope Francis follows the Master, Christ, in answering the lawyer's question: Who is my neighbor? "The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today's humanity" Francis says. "People's paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around money and things instead of people."He believes that there is "a habit by people who call themselves 'respectable' of not taking care of the others thus leaving behind thousands of people...on the side of the road" but there are those who are taking care of the other even out of their own pocket ...Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta actually said 'One cannot love unless it is at their own expense'. "Now you might tell me 'I am not the Good Samaritan nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta'. On the contrary we are precious...Each and everyone of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God. Through the darkness of today's conflicts, each and everyone of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness and never the other way around."***
6. He leaves his "bomb" to the end "The more powerful you are the more your actions will impact people, and the more responsible you are to act humbly - Power (for oneself) is like drinking on an empty stomach - you are too drunk, you feel dizzy, you lose your balance and you end up hurting yourself and those around you if you do not connect your power with humility and tenderness. Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power - the highest and strongest one - becomes a service, a force for good."

* Relatedness and love lead to the resurrection  - This is what the sharply-brilliant Professor Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) wrote in his book "Introduction to Christianity" (see But as I wrote in my essay titled "Quantum Synthesis" the cosmos and all its matter (including humans) influence, or are related to, each other. It is the result of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle based on probable existence in quantum space. Furthermore Dr. John Polkinghorne, whose work is mentioned in the same essay, concludes that quantum theory shows that "the physical world looks more and more like a universe that would be the fitting creation of the trinitarian God whose deepest reality is relational." Cf. Polkinghorne, J. "Quantum Physics and Theology; An Unexpected Kinship", 2008, Published by Yale University (see

Why would Pope Francis care about the above? Obviously the pope hopes that technology can be used to get people together, pray together, and chat in good manners. One space where computers can be useful is education. Computers are already helping students in select schools to solve their homework problems without cheating or being overburden with requirements. A particular focus is on assisting Christians and non-Christians in religious education especially where religion is used to contaminate society with hatred for others, where Christians are persecuted in their own countries, or where they have been the original inhabitants (e.g. some Islamic countries in the Middle East).

Quantum computers under development by Google and NASA have been demonstrated in 2015 (see In November 2015, a TED Talk given by Professor Leo Kouwenhoven at the University of Delft in Holland shows quite a few good applications in which the quantum computer can be used to help the needs of today's society - It is obvious that nature uses the same natural processes in human bodies ( Motivated by profits, big companies such as IBM and Microsoft are competing with the above companies with the result of hopefully getting an earlier supercomputer. The question then becomes a matter of pricing and market demand since we live in a capitalist global economy.

** Pope Francis invites us to learn by imitating those who take care of others like the children who imitate their parents. The first eyes the infant sees are his mother's caring eyes. The infant is nourished from her breast. The infant grows in love of his mom and his dad because they loved him first. This is a psychological insight by the Holy Father that permits us to see how the human race lives. Love begets life. God also promises life "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will never forget you" (Isaiah 49: 15). But more than the above insight, he makes it clear that proper communication for life requires "tenderness" that the parent goes down to the level of the child to understand what he needs and fulfill his needs. In the same way God came down in Jesus to our human level in order to fulfill our needs - eternal needs of joy and life. Imitation or mimesis has been rediscovered by René Girard. When he passed away, the popular Bishop Prof. Robert Barron wrote about Girard's influence on understanding Christ's death and resurrection today. See "René Girard, Church Father" here: 

*** Love requires sacrifice as Christ sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world. The Pope gives a number of examples including Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Parable of the Good Samaritan. He also shows the grain of yeast that dies in the ground to become a tree - In the same way it was necessary for Christ to die in order to restore humanity to the Father through the Church. 

Lesson Two:

One of Pope Francis' last messages in Cairo was given in the Mass that he concelebrated with the Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak in the Air-Defense Stadium in Cairo.
The full text of Pope Francis' homily, heard by Christians and Muslims in Egypt, and sent to the media across the world can be found here
What True Faith has the Power to do: Nothing is impossible for God!

Based on the Gospel reading (Luke 24: 13-35), two of Jesus' disciples were going to Emmaus and were conversing about Jesus. Jesus was walking besides them but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. Seeing them in a state of despair, Jesus asked why? They answered that Jesus of Nazareth who "was a prophet mighty in deed and word" was crucified to death by their chief priests and rulers - but they "were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this it is now the third day since it took place".Some women of the group, however, astounded them that they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body."  Jesus replied "Oh, how foolish you are!... Was not it necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter in his glory." So, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. As the day was almost over, they invited him to stay with them.When he said the blessings, broke the bread, and gave it to them their eyes were opened and they recognized him but he vanished from their sight! It was a surprise which prompted them to quickly return to Jerusalem where they found the eleven saying the Lord has truly risen and has appeared to Simon...

Remarkable statements by the pope:
1. "The two disciples are returning full of despair ...The Master is dead and thus it is pointless to hope...The cross of Christ was the cross of their own ideas about God; the death of Christ was the death of what they thought God to be. But in fact it was they who were dead buried in the tomb of their limited understanding."*
2. "Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power."**
3. "The Church needs to know and believe that Jesus lives within her and gives her life in the Eucharist, the scriptures, and the sacraments. The disciples on the way to Emmaus realized this and returned to Jerusalem in order to share their experience with the others. 'We have seen the Risen One...Yes, he is truly risen!' (Luke 24: 32)"***

* Fr. Prof. Georges Farah commented on the tomb or rock in which Christ was buried. He called it "the cave of Plato" in the Greek philosopher's Republic. The inmate of the cave is imprisoned and is blind because he cannot see. According to Fr. Farah, we too are imprisoned in our own darkness and fantasies but Christ rose to give life to those who believe and act on their faith.

** Here Pope Francis probably refers to ideologies that do not recognize God's suffering love. The power of God is love.

*** Here Pope Francis boldly tells his listeners that the Church continues to be nourished by the Eucharist as a sign of full unity in Christ. The celebration of the Eucharist is a joy because of the Real Presence of Christ.

Coptic Christians teach us lessons marked by their martyrs blood over many centuries - The Church in Egypt was founded by St. Mark and one of the strongest defenders of faith was St. Athanasius whom the Church remembers on May 2 (see an article by Archbishop Charles Chaput in "First Things" here:

What courage does this pope have! What astronomical hopes take him to places everywhere! How is he able to attract such crowds! Did he really attract the outcast and marginalized to the Church or did he go them? A question that can be answered only by history.

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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