Today's Wisdom

When we meet a person truly in need, do we see the face of God?
Pope Francis

Monday, March 27, 2017

On the Annunciation

On Saturday March 25, the Church celebrated the Annunciation in memory of the incarnation of the Lord God from the Virgin Mary whose acceptance of the archangel Gabriel's salutation ushered salvation of the world (Luke 1:26-38)  as Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad said in his homily at the Cathedral of the Transfiguration. Although Mary logically questioned Gabriel at the beginning "How can this be since I have no relation with a man?" Gabriel's answer "Nothing is impossible for God" was sufficient for the virgin woman who loved God since her early childhood. The idea for all is love for God who loved us before we ever conceived of  words. Creation of each person is an act of love by God to breathe life into every person even when we are fearful of tomorrow...

Every mother who loves her child(ren) and, with her husband, works hard to raise them morally-good persons is indeed a model that replicates the Mother of God in the beauty of her deep love...

The uniqueness of every woman is the way she expresses her joy or sadness through tears. The Virgin Mary rejoiced in God's plan to save humanity. Not only was she filled by the Holy Spirit (whose gift is joy) since her conception, but also in looking at Christ while raising him her tears filled her with joy and cried when her son was crucified with criminal thieves.

Referring to  Genesis 2: 18-25 Fr Henri Boulad, S.J.  had written that "Eve was the perfection of Adam." In the same way a woman properly raised in the beauty of the Virgin Mary will be the perfection of her man or husband. She will help him, work like him, but above all make their family another garden like Eden...

As Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen had indicated, we could not worry; for the Virgin Mary Mother of the Church is leading all to her Son, God, and Savior of the world.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ibrahim Ibrahim: Build the Church

On Friday March 17, in his 2017 Lenten visit to the Toronto Greek Melkite Catholic parish, Most Reverend Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim prayed the Akathistos hymns (Al Madayeh in Arabic) with the priests and the faithful at the Cathedral of the Transfiguration. And on Sunday March 19, Bishop Ibrahim presided over the noon Mass in which Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad, Pastor of the parish, and his two assistant priests Fr. Michel Chalhoub and Fr. Youhanna Hanna con-celebrated with a huge crowd that included members of the Knights of Columbus who stood as Honor Guards, and a number of the Slovak Catholic Byzantine family whose head Helen Roman-Barber graciously gave the Cathedral to the Melkite Catholics as a place of worship.
In his homily Bishop Ibrahim reminded everyone of their responsibility to carry the cross as Christ carried it in order to conquer death and evil by his death and restore fallen humanity to the Father by his resurrection. "Do not be afraid of evil. Satan has no power over the Church because he knows that we are God's people in the tasks of building the Church". This was the last commandment by the risen Christ to the Apostles before his ascension to heaven (Matthew 28: 18-20). In the first sacrament we receive (i.e.Baptism) Bishop Ibrahim recalled the Baptismal vows in which we rebuke Satan. In baptism, we are buried with Christ in which we are also raised with him through faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead (Colossians 2: 12).  Since Jesus the King church building had burned in late 2016, it is now up to us the people to erect a Church. Building the Church is more than erecting a building. Caring for the elderly, the sick, and helping the neighbor are essential for those who work in the vineyard of the Lord. We must be generous with God, he said referring to Stephen Roman the billionaire who built the Cathedral that was dedicated by Saint John Paul II in 1984. Bishop Ibrahim said that Stephen Roman wanted to share in the building of the Church and the result was this amazing Byzantine-style, large Cathedral whose beauty could exceed that of Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica or St. Patrick's Cathedral in North America.
In his words before the consecration of t he bread and wine, Bishop Ibrahim remembered Stephen Roman, those departed of the families, and prayed for the sick, the elderly, the wounded in wars, and the needy because God in his generosity created humanity out of love. "Beloved, let us love one another for love is from God; and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God...God is love" (1 John 4: 7-8).
Christ, the Good Shepherd who elected Bishop Ibrahim, inspired him to tell us the good news: the Bishop who built the first Melkite Catholic Cathedral in Canada said "Do not believe rumours; for I am not here to collect from you, but on the contrary, we can give you a hand as we have almost repaid the mortgage for the Montreal Cathedral - "Rejoice in the Lord" (Philippians 4:4)". He also announced the second year of the Melkite Catholic Youth Conference which successfully connected some 250 young adults in 2016 in Montreal, and will take place more vigorously in Toronto in September 2017.
In a gesture to the crowd, he now connected baptism and the cross to faith and unity:
1. Do not be afraid in your life regardless of the cross which we all carry with Christ if we accept it: When you are baptized you are no longer under Satan's threat; for God, who gives you and me this life, wishes to give us everlasting life.
2. Your task is to help us build the Church of Christ - Our experience of immigration taught us that we belong to no one land but to God above all and therefore we build the Church where we go.
3. In order to carry out any project, you need an active faith in Christ because "faith of itself if it does not have works is dead" (James 2: 17) - "Work out your salvation..." (Philippians 2: 12) in the Church.
4. The Church is always one; for she is the mystical body of Christ...Always be united in the Universal (i.e, Catholic) Church...
Bishop Ibrahim asked God to remember his servants Pope Francis and Patriarch Gregorius in his prayer before the Eucharist is given to the participants. In my own reflection, Bishop Ibrahim M. Ibrahim could not have built the Cathedral and installed new pastors everywhere in Canada if he did not have a great faith in the love of God.
May God be blessed Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Who Will Triumph in the End?

The terrorism events that took place in North America and Europe in the past few weeks and months have left an indelible mark on Christians that they have entered a decisive moment of fight against global terrorism linked to the tragic massacres of innocents by Radical Islam whether in the Middle East or outside its geographic boundaries in Europe and Africa. In his address to Congress on Tuesday February 28, the American President Trump vowed to protect Christians from Islamic terrorism while allying America with Israel and most Muslim countries against Radical Islam. He is also increasing the military capacity of the American military global system in order to defeat any power that challenges the Superpower. It seems that if there is a Third World War, it will be launched in space since America's NASA has been working with Google scientists to deliver quantum computers, the fastest and most efficient in any space war. China too has released information that it is researching the capacity of going to the Moon. Russia, without doubt, has a strong capacity of nuclear weapons in space. Scientists from many countries have been working tirelessly at "The Large Hadron Collider" in Switzerland to find the little sub-particles that constitute the atoms which in turn open the  capacity to more dangerous nuclear  weapons. And North Korea too has launched a number of nuclear missiles. Iran has been trying to create the first Islamic Shiite nuclear power especially since the Obama administration agreed to help their scientists. This is is only the beginning of calamities if people of good will do not recognize the signs of times and act decisively to turn things around.
If you look at our world today this is what you will see:
1. A global economic recession, never seen in its scope before. Millions have lost their jobs or are going to lose them - This is particularly critical for young adults who have just graduated from university or college but cannot find a permanent job in their careers AND requires Churches/Christian organizations to help ours where possible ;
2. A global political crisis, where the European Union is disintegrating after the British Exit due to an unbalanced welcome of refugees into Europe from the Arab world and North Africa especially by Germany's Angela Merkel who leads the European Union into an economic disaster. Powers from the Far East especially China challenge the Western powers through their "Silk Road" economic entrance in North America, Europe and Africa while the leader of North Korea dares to play with nuclear missiles and challenges the Superpower of America;
3. Israel and radical Muslims are making every effort to escalate the situation in the Middle East to a violent war - The Arab Spring (over 6 years now) supported by the past Obama government has failed to improve the lives of people it promised and was hijacked by Muslim extremists which in turn started wars of divisions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Syria and Iraq, killed many innocent Muslims and minority Christians (the scapegoat in Girardian language) and are now attempting to recreate an Islamic Caliphate which threatens to raise the black flag of Daech/ISIS over the entire free world -  Al-Azhar Muslim University and its Imam in Egypt alone adhere to the same doctrine of ISIS but unjustly claim that Christians and Jews are the ones who cause terrorism;
4. A global food crisis continues to rage in Africa, South America and the underdeveloped countries caused in part by insufficient resources that are already controlled by local dictators and an increasing imbalance between the wealth of the North and that of the South caused in part by an imperialistic American and Western European free-market monopoly;
5. The most influential moral voice in the world, that of Pope Francis, is attempting to be moderate in his exhortations and homilies but demands European governments to open their countries boundaries to the above-mentioned refugees thus unknowingly exposing European countries to the possibility of receiving terrorists among those refugees in the name of compassion. This requires more screening of refugees who land in Europe usually through Greece and Italy. Turkey on the other hand claimed that the European Union failed to repay Turkey for the many refugees it held in order not to cross to Europe.

Can we read the beginning of the end in today's events? We know that, according to modern Biblical scholarship, the book of Revelation was written in the late 90s, as Apocalyptic literature to warn Christians and give them hope in the persecutions of the 1st century. Having said that, let's look afresh at Revelation and see whether there can be any interpretation for our world today as well. Sometimes the same text can reflect a myth and a literal event too. Can this be the case here? The New American Bible Revised Edition (approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) in the introduction to the Book of Revelation says "The Book of Revelation had its origin in a time of crisis, but it remains valid and meaningful for Christians of all time. In the face of apparently insuperable evil, either from within or from without, all Christians are called to trust in Jesus' promise, 'Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age' (Matthew 28:20)"

Revelation is a complex book, so I intend only to show similarities from the Book to what we are seeing today. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there are 5 important symbolic figures: The Lamb, the woman, and her seed; and opposed to them, the dragon, the beast from the sea, and the beast from the land.

Scholars dig deep into the Old Testament: The main idea is taken from Genesis 3:15. "I will put enmities between you (the serpent) and the woman, and your seed and her seed". The woman is arrayed in heavenly splendour; a crown of twelve stars on her head and the sun and the moon under her feet (cf. Genesis 37:9-10). She is in travail. Her first-born is destined to rule all the nation (Psalms 2:8, 9). She herself, and her other seed, are persecuted for three and a half years by the great dragon who tries to kill them. The great dragon is Satan (Genesis 3:1). He is cast out of heaven. With his tail he drags after him one-third of the stars. Taken from Daniel 8:10. The fallen stars are the fallen angels. The beast from the sea is in great part taken from Daniel's description of the four beasts (Daniel 7). It arises from the sea; has seven heads marked all over with blasphemies (probably a reference to Rome - City of the Seven Hills, called also Babylon or the Harlot in the New Testament since at the time it was the center of evil and idolatry for Christians). It had also ten horns, like the fourth beast of Daniel; it resembled a leopard, the third beast of Daniel, it had feet like a bear, the second beast of Daniel; and teeth like a lion, the first beast of Daniel. The great dragon gives full power to the beast, where all the world will worship it. The followers of the beast have its mark on their head and hand. The beast from the land has two horns like a ram. Its power lies in its art of deceiving by means of tokens and miracles. Throughout the remainder of the book it is called the false prophet. Its office is to assist the beast from the sea, and to induce people to adore its image.

The first act of the drama concludes with a promise of victory over the beast by the Lamb of God. We can safely see in the woman Mary immaculate whose seed is Jesus the Lamb of God. Other interpretations think of it as a symbol of the Church in her suffering and ultimate glory. The drama completes when the "New Jerusalem" is founded. She will need no light because the Father and the Lamb will be her light - the light of the Holy Spirit. A great number of people; thousands over thousands will be in the triumphant city. Meanwhile let's attempt to follow the visionary.

We can see in the Dragon the Devil. But who are the Beast and the False Prophet? The New Jerome Biblical Commentary in 1990 gives a contemporary interpretation pointing out that the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth have both mythic and historical references. Sea in the Old Testament is an opponent of God (Cf. Ps. 74:13). In Revelation, the beast from the sea is a mythical symbol of chaos and rebellion. The beast from the earth (13:11-18) is also a counter image to the Lamb. The beast from the earth is described as a false prophet, probably an agent of the Roman empire who promoted the cult of the emperor and the goddess Roma.

The following is my own interpretation based on my readings, but mostly based on what we are seeing today. I think, and I stand to be corrected, that the False Prophet is Radical Islam and the Beast is the materialist postmodern world of the West. We can consult the "Clash of Civilizations" that Samuel Huntington wrote in the 1990s, although this is not necessary.

The False Prophet: From a historic perspective, I do note that the human race was warned in 1917 by Our Lady at Fatima and that the "Third Secret of Fatima" was officially interpreted as the assassination attempt on the life of Saint Pope John Paul the Great. But may be that attempt was only the first of calamities that humanity will have to suffer as the sons and daughters of Abraham, Jews and Muslims, fight to death. Recall also that for 60 years now, Israel is back as one Jewish nation, and since 1967 it has reoccupied Jerusalem thus fulfilling the prophecy of the end of time attributed to Christ "and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luke 21: 24). Furthermore, we can go back to the early 1930s and find the established "Muslim Brotherhood" which claims support from Muslims worldwide. But two centuries earlier Mohammed Ibn Abdel-Wahhab had preached a puritan form of Islam that forbids devotional customs such as shrines for saints and visitation of tombs. He and his followers made a pact with Mohammed bin Saud whose successors prevailed in Arabia and were given the land by the British after World War I.  Today Saudi Arabia, a rich Arab Sunni Muslim country, exports the Wahabbi/Salafist thought (with oil from its oil reserves) to other countries in the world and has its own agenda as a regional power. In addition since 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been tirelessly exporting its strict Shiite doctrine to the entire Islamic world. In 1972, President Sadat released Muslim extremists from jail and was subsequently assassinated by one of their groups in 1981. By 1982, the motto "Islam is the Solution" had appeared in Egypt. It is no accident that the revival of fundamentalist Islam has spread in all the Arab world and the Muslim nations in spite of persecution by governments loyal to the West. From Sudan, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India there is a huge following of fundamentalist Muslims. There have been incidents of fundamentalist rebellion in the Philippines (Abu Sayyaf).

This is only a general picture. Now, I would like to give some details: Although many people are driven to think that this is a Western propaganda and political conflict, I believe that the Vatican would not have protested repeatedly in recent years against persecution and killing of Christians in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, India, Algeria, and Egypt unless there was ground for such violation of human freedom and dignity. Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. who lives in Egypt explained in 2002 that Christians there were being forced to convert to Islam and up to 20,000 conversions have been taking place according to the late Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Fundamentalist Islam today, spreading in Europe at a huge rate of 230%, is one of the major forces that Western Europe had to deal with since 9/11 and is still unable to contain. The late Libyan leader Qaddafi was quoted to have said in 2007 that by 2050 Europe will be completely Muslim. Huge money is spent on building mosques and Islamic schools and supporting Muslim organizations in the entire world. Financing is coming from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar and Libya. In Ontario, Canada, the Muslim community attempted, in 2007, to have its own Sharia legalized for Muslims living in Ontario, but their attempt was declined – Muslims today have their own quarters and villas north of Toronto the industrial capital of Canada, and a Muslim politician is today the Minister of Immigration in the Trudeau Liberal Government of Canada. The Trudeau Government plans to bring some 45,000 refugees (mostly Muslims that may include terrorists) thus exposing Canadians to terrorism. The exception is the new American Conservative administration under Donald Trump that promised to fight radical Islamic terrorism. Add to the above the violent character of such organizations as Hamas, governing Gaza in Palestine and until now refusing to recognize the right of Israel to exist, and Hizbullah which has a majority support in Lebanon since its victory over Israel in 2006. Iran, another regional power hopeful and opposed to Turkey and Saudi Arabia, is attempting to build its nuclear power and its leaders have vowed to extinguish Israel. Is this enough for describing a false prophet?

The Beast: This is the great desolation of Western civilization. If I have to explain it in detail it will take me a full week. Just briefly: It started with the Reformation in the 16th century. Martin Luther thought that every individual Christian is free to interpret Scriptures according to what he feels the Holy Spirit is telling him. This idea created "individualism." Individualism is rampant today, thanks to other modern philosophers such as the existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre - Only me counts -"The other is my hell." It is interesting to note how this has been applied successfully in contemporary thought and technology too. Nothing is done in a vacuum. One thing you must understand is that we are all related in this cosmos. Following Luther in interpreting St. Paul, Calvin thought that God predestined people as he willed to heaven or hell so if they were destined to heaven they will also be blessed here on earth. John Courtney Murray, S.J. who was the main contributor to Vatican II's "Declaration on Freedom of Religion" wrote how Calvinism re-emerged in North-America. Calvinism was brought by the early Europeans to America.  Soon enough the idea of individualism combined with the idea of blessedness on earth and produced the idea of Capitalism long before Adam Smith thought of it in economic terms. In simple terms, if I am blessed here as a Christian, I would rather use all the resources available to me to realize this blessing on earth as much and as wide as possible. This is greed in the form of Capitalism. Sure I will help the needy but I will also help myself much more from what they have. The earth is mine and I will explore its richness to the end! Today, Capitalism rules the earth. Free market enslaves people. Recall the political and economic pressure by the IMF on the underdeveloped countries to free their economy in the 1980s and 1990s. What is the global crisis but the result of that greed globally? Why is the globe in economic recession today but because of the powerful wanting more power and meanwhile robbing the nations of Africa and Asia from their resources? It is part of the nationalist movements' claims in the underdeveloped world. The entire U.N. charter is only ink on paper...Along with Capitalism a twin ideology was born: materialism.

Since the Enlightenment in the 19th century West, philosophers and scientists have been asking whether there is indeed any reality beyond matter. Some great materialist/atheist philosophers include Hume, Voltaire, Marx, Carnap, Wittgenstein of the Vienna Club, Derrida, more recently Michel Foucault and many others such as the late atheist author Christopher Hitchens and Harvard's Steven Pinker. The "New Atheists" of today such as Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss are scientists who devote much time attacking religion because they constrain their research to what is observable in the cosmos. In schools today, our children learn mostly what constitutes physics but very little, if any, about metaphysics (i.e. beyond physics).

Today we see how our consumerist society has invested in this ideology. Businesses flourish based on selling products to consumers. The more we consume the more business flourishes. This is the child of materialism married to capitalism. With globalization in the 1980s-1990s and beyond, large businesses and huge investors were able to reach the entire globe. Europe and the Far East imitated America and did the same. Who paid the price? Small business, and ordinary people like you and me. Materialism also bore the ideology of Communism which was carried out in Russia and persecuted religion from 1917 to 1989 in the USSR and Eastern Europe. Today Communism still lives in political pockets in Europe and is widely known under a more moderate name as socialism. Communism robbed people of their rights to private property. People became enslaved to the government of their land. It engulfed a whole generation of thinkers, even within the Church particularly in Latin America where people remain quite poor. Capitalist America supported dictatorial regimes in Latin America in order to suppress these movements.

Another twist of the moral order took place in the two World Wars. Because many men were sent to the battlefield women were forced to work in order to support their families. The radical feminist ideology was born  in the early 1920s and grew quickly in the 1940s and 1950s. Women started building their own career like men. Equality with men, not in dignity as known in traditional Christianity, but in all aspects of roles in business as well as at home was furiously demanded. This started the collapse of the family as we know it. Today we know many men and women who are, contrary to the moral Law, legally divorced. The feminist movement also produced legalization of abortion as the right of woman according to the land's law has a priority over the existence of the fetus in her womb. The Western civilization lost millions of unborn babies in this genocide. By the 1960s the sexual revolution was in the making, this time freeing people from the sex complex as defined by Freud. Soon afterwards, it became common that young people practice their intimate sexual "love" in the public with no shame. Today we know of couples who live together a life of sexual promiscuity and adultery without marriage or within marriage by prior agreement.

The last evil came under the influence of the philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (died a patient in a psychiatric hospital; 1900) who is known by his proclamation of the "the death of God". The ideology is known as Moral Relativism: Nietzsche sees the slave-morality as a social illness that has overtaken Europe — a derivative and resentful value which can only work by condemning others as evil. In Nietzsche's eyes, Christianity exists in a hypocritical state wherein people preach love and kindness but find their joy in condemning and punishing others for pursuing those ends which the slave-morality does not allow them to act upon publicly. Nietzsche calls for the strong in the world to break their self-imposed chains and assert their own power, health, and vitality upon the world. In Relativism (called also Postmodernism), everyone is right. There is no absolute right and absolute wrong. This helps political correctness in the pluralistic world of today.

In my humble opinion, we need to pay attention to the present, learn lessons from the past, and pray for the future. We seem to have lost our way between the False Prophet (Radical Islam) and the Beast (Western Civilization).

There is a tremendous thirst in the young generations for spiritual nourishment that gives meaning to their lives. Let us focus on those ones for their deprivation of spiritual nourishment leads them to emptiness and depression which in turn cause suicide or worse they could join the extremist Jihadists (as we already see in Europe and North America) and we end up having a crazy army of terrorists killing themselves and us in the name of God as prophesied "children will rise against parents and have them put to death"(Matthew 10:21). Churches are "not museums" according to Saint Pope John XXIII. They must be the light for nourishment of Christians, notably the young and (almost) lost generations, in everything that they need to learn to live spiritually and survive materially i.e. to develop in their knowledge and love of God and of others.Virtual websites for Church activities and online social networking need to be developed for those who are far.

The world needs a lot of prayer and intelligent collaboration in good faith to avoid a clash of civilizations and a third World War, something that Pope Francis warned about. Christians need to respect and love their fellow Muslims who worship the same God - The crimes of extremists cannot be counted against the majority of Muslims. We hope that the warnings of Fatima will be avoided. Mary is the mother of both Christians and Muslims, and as Bishop Fulton sheen said, Mary will bring them all to her Son.

But more prayers are needed to save the civilization of the West from destroying itself internally. This is the harder one. We believe in what the Saviour said 'Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age' (Matthew 28:20).

Sir Knight George Farahat

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Why Oppose Trump?

Why oppose Donald Trump, the American President of the Superpower? The media continue to extract and publish what makes him a megalomaniac and shady person...He may be what the media likes to portray and liberals attempt to show. Yet I only wish to focus on the positive things he uttered or claims he will be doing while I accept criticism to my opinion.
1. from the first day after his inauguration he immediately barred entry to the United States from seven Islamic countries that support or are close to terrorists...He and Putin of Russia made a pact to defeat ISIS, and other Islamic violent organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood (probably gradually). "The court system has not made it easy for us. And are even creating a new office in Homeland Security dedicated to the forgotten American victims of illegal immigrant violence, which there are many. We have taken decisive action to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of our country." he said in his recent press conference.
2. Trump authorized police to investigate the inner towns and cities for alleged crimes -
"We’ve ordered a crackdown on sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal law and that harbor criminal aliens, and we have ordered an end to the policy of catch and release on the border." he said in his recent press conference.
3. Trump has brought to America thousands of jobs since his election. He ensured that big auto-maker companies comply with his strategy to enhance job security and increase jobs in America which is close to Canada.
4. "The stock market has hit record numbers, as you know. And there has been a tremendous surge of optimism in the business world" he said in his recent press conference - Business people are happy.
5. Trump met with the Prime Minister of Canada and removed much of the talk with Canada about NAFTA. With Mexico he will likely implement an import tax but forbid illegal entry of drugs. He also talked with world leaders, and met with the Prime Minister of Israel to ensure that the current situation does not worsen the shaky peace in the Middle East especially that Palestinian leaders are divided. He had talked with the Egyptian President and he said that he admires the Egyptian President El-Sissi.
6. He also made sure to repeal Obamacare which had forced Catholic hospitals in the U.S. to accept performing abortion if the court decides it.

Trump must be more moderate unless he is replaced, impeached, or banished by Congress in which case his Vice President, Mike Pence who is a moderate person, will become President of the U.S. There is no danger on Europe or the Far East if Trump's team has Pence on it.

If Trump is not well educated, then educate your children who are often playing games with their iphones and wasting their time instead of studying. The same goes for the youth.
But who will pay for education? Governments are either reckless or under severe budgetary pressure.
One solution is building or expanding private schools. The Jesuits offer excellent Christian education up to university. Franciscans too are great in Christian education. Find them.

Why worry? Only worry about your own spiritual needs. God will provide the rest. But do everything you can to help yourself and your family materially, psychologically and spiritually.

May the Lord Jesus Christ our God and Saviour be with everyone who seeks the truth by the prayers of  his immaculate mother the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and the entire family of heaven.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Joseph Jules Zerey: Christian Unity 2017

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - January 29, 2017

Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey

At the end of this holy week blessing our hearts, I wish to thank the Christian communities in this holy city "Jerusalem" who organized prayers for Christian unity in their congregations in Jerusalem. I wish too to thank everyone who participated in these prayers. I would like too to welcome you and, in a special way, the Heads of the churches and their representatives present in our Cathedral "Our Lady of the Annunciation" of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church.

Although the Greek Melkite Catholic Church entered into full communion with the Catholic Church since 1724, She has not left her elder beloved sister but continues to follow the same liturgy, rites, and feasts according to the Eastern Byzantine Christian tradition. In prayer, we ask the Lord that the full unity with the beloved sister Greek Orthodox Church be re-established. In this holy church, I personally raise my daily prayer for His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos and my brothers the Bishops of Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran Churches as well as my brothers Bishops of the Catholic Churches.

My beloved brethren, Since the general topic for this year's prayers takes its roots and opens from the words "the love of Christ impels us" and urges us (2 Cor. 5: 14), today's invitation is a strong one for reconciliation. "Reconciliation" became a duty upon us since we know Christ's love for all. The first reading from the Book of Micah (1: 4-5) speaks to us about the Mount: Mount Zion on top of which is built this holy City, the one that is strengthened on top of the mountains and is high above the hills. To it will run the peoples of the earth and there they will learn the Law of the Lord. Of their swords they shall make tools to cultivate the land, and of their spears they shall make sickles, thus no nation shall raise a sword against another nation and they shall learn no more war.

What was foreseen by Micah the Prophet has been realized in the coming of Christ the Lord, the Word of God who was incarnate and born of the Virgin Mary, our mother. Yes, the prophecy for salvation began its realization with our mother the Virgin Mary. Her faith in the annunciation by the archangel Gabriel opened the door of salvation to all humanity when Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, took a human body from her by the power of the Holy Spirit who came upon her to make the impossible possible. This is why we thank her and venerate her in our prayers. For her faith she deserves to be called Mother of God ,Theotokos

The prophecy of Micah the Prophet has been realized too in the passion, death, and Resurrection of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, the New Adam. From his pierced side on the cross, emerged the New Eve, bride of Christ, "the Church." We who have believed in Christ, Son of the living God, are born in his Church and form one body, the bride of Christ, the Church : One, Catholic, Holy, and Apostolic as recited in the Nicene Creed.

My beloved brethren, We all, who live in this holy city surrounded by its great walls and marked by its holy places, witness to the Divine salvation that took place here:
The Cenacle where the Last Supper took place, and from Gethsemane to Caiaphas palace then to Pilate's palace where Christ was condemned to be crucified, was whipped and taken carrying His cross on the way to Golgotha where Christ was crucified, the tomb where Christ's body was buried from which he rose after three days. How beautiful and sacred is this holy city. However as we heard in the second reading from Revelation (21: 1-5) "The New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God." This new Jerusalem is much larger than this holy city we see on earth. It is larger than the universe, decorated in her doors and precious stones for her bridegroom. This is the Church "the bride of Christ." Everyone there reconciled with Christ, and with his  brothers, and worked according to Christ's commandments especially for the unity of all
l. Everyone there who is going on preaching the joy of the Resurrection of Christ as did
Mary Magdalene and the Apostles according to the third reading - the Gospel recited to
us (John 20: 11-18). Therefore, all those who believed in the passion, death, and Resurrection of Christ,  worked according to His commandments, and went on preaching with all their power and love for Christ and their faith in His Resurrection; but also all who suffered or were martyred for the sake of Christ enter in their white garments this holy city "holy Jerusalem" coming down from heaven.  Anyone who chooses not to enter in this free salvation but rather prefers division and slavery to the various desires of the flesh and all kinds of sin will find himself lifeless with sorrow outside.

My prayer today is for us to reconcile with each other quickly as Christ reconciled us. Let us embrace each other and reconcile with each other starting from this holy city so that our reconciliation and unity may be "a spring of life-giving water" which gets transformed into fresh river that satiates the peoples of the world that are thirsty for faith in the living God and His salvation in His Son Jesus Christ by the grace of His Holy Spirit - so that the prayer of Christ to the Father may be realized that as He is "one with the Father" we may be one in Him. Whenever it is realized we will have achieved the fullness of unity.

Thank you again to everyone who attended today and in particular the Heads of the Churches and their representatives in this holy city "Jerusalem."

Today's Quote

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


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