Wednesday, December 31, 2014

the year is transfigured by the liturgy. It really is a "year of the Lord's favor."

Beginning with the Easter Triduum as its source of light, the new age of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance. Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is transfigured by the liturgy. It really is a "year of the Lord's favor." The economy of salvation is at work within the framework of time, but since its fulfillment in the Passover of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the culmination of history is anticipated "as a foretaste," and the kingdom of God enters into our time. CCC 1168

Saturday, December 27, 2014

"The charity of truth seeks holy leisure": holy days of obligation

"On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health. "The charity of truth seeks holy leisure - the necessity of charity accepts just work." CCC 2185

Thursday, December 25, 2014

"for today is Life's Birthday": Saint Leo the Great on the Incarnation

Dearly beloved brethren, Unto us is born this day a Saviour, (Luke ii. 11).

Let us rejoice. It would be unlawful to be sad to-day, for to - day is Life's Birthday the Birthday of that Life, Which, for us dying creatures, taketh away the sting of death, and bringeth the bright promise of the eternal gladness hereafter.

It would be unlawful for any man to refuse to partake in our rejoicing. All men have an equal share in the great cause of our joy, for, since our Lord, Who is the destroyer of sin and of death, findeth that all are bound under the condemnation, He is come to make all free. Rejoice, O thou that art holy, thou drawest nearer to thy crown! Rejoice, O thou that art sinful, thy Saviour offereth thee pardon!

Rejoice also, O thou Gentile, God calleth thee to life! For the Son of God, when the fulness of the time was come, which had been fixed by the unsearchable counsel of God, took upon Him the nature of man, that He might reconcile that nature to Him Who made it, and so the devil, the inventor of death, is met and beaten in that very flesh which hath been the field of his victory.

- From the Sermons of Pope St Leo (the Great)
1st for Christmas

Monday, December 8, 2014

Congregation for Worship on "more dignified celebration of the Sign of Peace within Mass

From CNA:
Vatican announces desire for more restrained sign of peace at Mass
Vatican City, Jul 31, 2014 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Congregation for Divine Worship, in a recent circular letter, announced that the placement of the sign of peace within Mass will not change, though it suggested several ways the rite could be performed with greater dignity.

“The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments … pronounced in favor of maintaining the ‘rite’ and ‘sign’ of peace in the place it has now in the Ordinary of the Mass,” Fr. Jose Maria Gil Tamayo, secretary general of the Spanish bishops’ conference, related in a July 28 memo.

He noted that this was done out of consideration of the placement of the rite of peace as “a characteristic of the Roman rite,” and “not believing it to be suitable for the faithful to introduce structural changes in the Eucharistic Celebration, at this time.”
The sign of peace is made after the consecration and just prior to the reception of Communion; it had been suggested that it be moved so that it would precede the presentation of the gifts.
Fr. Gil’s memo was sent to the Spanish bishops, and prefaced the Congregation for Divine Worship’s circular letter, which was signed June 8 by Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, its prefect, and its secretary, Archbishop Arthur Roche. The circular had been approved and confirmed the previous day by Pope Francis.

The letter made four concrete suggestions about how the dignity of the sign of peace could be maintained against abuses.
Fr. Gil explained that the circular letter is a fruit of the 2005 synod of bishops on the Eucharist, in which the possibility of moving the rite was discussed.
“During the Synod of Bishops there was discussion about the appropriateness of greater restraint in this gesture, which can be exaggerated and cause a certain distraction in the assembly just before the reception of Communion,” Benedict XVI wrote in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation ‘Sacramentum caritatis’.
He added that “I have asked the competent curial offices to study the possibility of moving the sign of peace to another place, such as before the presentation of the gifts at the altar … taking into account ancient and venerable customs and the wishes expressed by the Synod Fathers.”
An inspiration for the suggested change was Christ’s exhortation, at Mt. 5:23, that “if you remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your offering before the altar, and go be reconciled first.” It would also have brought the Roman rite into conformity, in that respect, with the Ambrosian rite, celebrated in Milan.
The Neo-Catechumenal Way, a lay movement in the Church, has already displaced the sign of peace, in its celebration of the Roman rite, to before the presentation of the gifts.
The Vatican congregation’s decision to maintain the placement of the sign of peace was the fruit of dialogue with the world’s bishops, which began in 2008, and in consultation with both Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
The Congregation for Divine Worship said it would “offer some practical measures to better express the meaning of the sign of peace and to moderate excesses, which create confusion in the liturgical assembly just prior to Communion.”
“If the faithful do not understand and do not show, in their ritual gestures, the true significance of the right of peace, they are weakened in the Christian concept of peace, and their fruitful participation in the Eucharist is negatively affected.”
On this basis, the congregation offered four suggestions which are to form the “nucleus” of catechesis on the sign of peace.
First, while confirming the importance of the rite, it emphasized that “it is completely legitimate to affirm that it is not necessary to invite ‘mechanistically’ to exchange (the sign of) peace.”The rite is optional, the congregation reminded, and there certainly are times and places where it is not fitting.
Its second recommendation was that as translations are made of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal, bishops’ conference should consider “changing the way in which the exchange of peace is made.” It suggested in particular that “familiar and worldly gestures of greeting” should be substituted with “other, more appropriate gestures.”
The congregation for worship also noted that there are several abuses of the rite which are to be stopped: the introduction of a “song of peace,” which does not exist in the Roman rite; the faithful moving from their place to exchange the sign; the priest leaving the altar to exchange the sign with the faithful; and when, at occasions such as weddings or funerals, it becomes an occasion for congratulations or condolences.
The Congregation for Divine Worship’s final exhortation was that episcopal conferences prepare liturgical catechesis on the significance of the rite of peace, and its correct observation.
“The intimate relation between ‘lex orandi’ and ‘lex credendi’ should obviously be extended to ‘lex vivendi’,” the congregation’s letter concluded.
“That Catholics are today faced with the grave commitment to build a more just and peaceful world, implies a more profound understanding of the Christian meaning of peace and of its expression in liturgical celebration.”

Friday, December 5, 2014

Saint Nicholas of Myra and Bari

Bishop of Myra in Lycia; died 6 December, 345 or 352. Though he is one of the most popular saints in the Greek as well as the Latin Church, there is scarcely anything historically certain about him except that he was Bishop of Myra in the fourth century. Some of the main points in his legend are as follows: He was born at Parara, a city of Lycia in Asia Minor; in his youth he made a pilgrimage to Egypt and Palestine; shortly after his return he became Bishop of Myra; cast into prison during the persecution of Diocletian, he was released after the accession of Constantine, and was present at the Council of Nicaea. In 1087 Italian merchants stole his body at Myra, bringing it to Bari in Italy. The numerous miracles St. Nicholas is said to have wrought, both before and after his death, are outgrowths of a long tradition. There is reason to doubt his presence at Nicaea, since his name is not mentioned in any of the old lists of bishops that attended this council. His cult in the Greek Church is old and especially popular in Russia. As early as the sixth century Emperor Justinian I built a church in his honour at Constantinople, and his name occurs in the liturgy ascribed to St. Chrysostom. In Italy his cult seems to have begun with the translation of his relics to Bari, but in Germany it began already under Otto II, probably because his wife Theophano was a Grecian. Bishop Reginald of Eichstaedt (d. 991) is known to have written a metric, "Vita S. Nicholai." The course of centuries has not lessened his popularity. The following places honour him as patron: Greece, Russia, the Kingdom of Naples, Sicily, Lorraine, the Diocese of Liège; many cities in Italy, Germany, Austria, and Belgium; Campen in the Netherlands; Corfu in Greece; Freiburg in Switzerland; and Moscow in Russia. He is patron of mariners, merchants, bakers, travellers, children, etc. His representations in art are as various as his alleged miracles. In Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, they have the custom of making him the secret purveyor of gifts to children on 6 December, the day on which the Church celebrates his feast; in the United States and some other countries St. Nicholas has become identified with Santa Claus who distributes gifts to children on Christmas eve. His relics are still preserved in the church of San Nicola in Bari; up to the present day an oily substance, known as Manna di S. Nicola, which is highly valued for its medicinal powers, is said to flow from them.

From The Catholic Encyclopedia

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Prayers for the Family at Home

We thank you, Father, for the gift of Jesus your Son who came to our earth and lived in a simple home.
We have a greater appreciation of the value and dignity of the human family because he loved and was loved within its shelter.
Bless us this day; may we grow in love for each other in our family and so give thanks to you who are the maker of all human families and our abiding peace.

(From The Catholic Prayer Book, compiled by Msgr. Michael Buckley)


Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family.
Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness.
Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives.
Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.

(From The Catholic Prayer Book, compiled by Msgr. Michael Buckley.)


O Gracious God, we give you thanks for your overflowing generosity to us.
Thank you for the blessings of the food we eat and especially for this feast today.
Thank you for our home and family and friends, especially for the presence of those gathered here.
Thank you for our health, our work and our play.
Please send help to those who are hungry, alone, sick and suffering war and violence.
Open our hearts to your love. We ask your blessing through Christ your son. Amen.
( From Celebrating Faith: Year-round Activities For Catholic Families, by Mary Cronk Farrell)


O God, source and giver of all things, You manifest your infinite majesty, power and goodness In the earth about us: We give you honor and glory.
For the sun and the rain, For the manifold fruits of our fields: For the increase of our herds and flocks, We thank you.
For the enrichment of our souls with divine grace, We are grateful.
Supreme Lord of the harvest, Graciously accept us and the fruits of our toil, In union with Jesus, your Son, As atonement for our sins, For the growth of your Church, For peace and love in our homes, And for salvation for all.
We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(From Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, compiled by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors) Source:

Friday, November 14, 2014

Prayer on the Occasion of the Marine Corps 239th Birthday Ball

Prayer on the Occasion of the 239th Marine Corps Birthday Ball

Heavenly Father, we turn together to You on the occasion of this evenings’ Marine Corps Ball, an outstanding gathering of military men and women of the Navy-Marine Corps family, together with their spouses and guests, to enjoy one another’s company as we celebrate the 239th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. That we may start this celebration well, we call upon You for the blessing of all present here that You may be glorified by all we say and do. With that in mind I offer the Marine Corps prayer:

“Almighty Father, whose command is over all and whose love never fails, make me aware of thy presence and obedient to thy will.

“Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and deed and helping me to live so that I can face my fellow Marines, my loved ones, and Thee without shame or fear. Protect my family. Give me the will to do the work of a Marine and to accept my share of responsibilities with vigor and enthusiasm. Grant me the courage to be proficient in my daily performance. Keep me loyal and faithful to my superiors and to the duties my country and the Marine Corps have entrusted to me. Make me considerate to those committed to my leadership. Help me to wear my uniform with dignity, and let it remind me daily of the traditions which I must uphold.

“If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again.

“Guide me with the light of truth and grant me wisdom by which I may understand the answer to my prayer.”

We pray for all of our deployed military and their families: all who stand guard this night over our freedom and security around the globe and those who wait for them at home.

We pray for all those missing in action or prisoners of war or conflict: may we never forget them or their service and sacrifice; we ask that You grant them the spiritual anchors of faith, hope and love.

And may we never look upon the symbol of our national spirit and ideals, the eagle flying high and proud, without recalling with gratitude all of those who have given the last full measure of the sacrifice of their lives for all of us. Grant them eternal rest, O Lord. May they, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Almighty God, keep all of Your Marines, and all of us who have the honor and privilege of serving beside them, ever faithful: “Semper Fideles”! Grant to the United State Marine Corps a very happy birthday and many more: ad multos annos, United States Marines!


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Prayers for the Dead on All Souls' Day: "a place of refreshment, light and peace"

In Ancient Rome families would honor, remember and reach out to the dead through the celebration of the 'refrigerium', a picnic at the tomb which included a ritual pouring of wine as a libation offered to refresh those who had gone before them into the mystery of the afterlife.

How much more awesome that we are refreshed already now by the Body and Blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has taken our human flesh with Him beyond the grave and opened heaven to us! This is the refrigerium of God, our Eucharist offered to us here and now in this world from our heavenly habitation which awaits us in Christ who is now seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us.

When the priest prays the Roman Canon at Mass, listen for the Church's reference to this lesson from her Roman past, as we beg that through our faithful prayers in Christ the dead may enjoy a place of "refreshment, light and peace".

A holy All Souls' Day to all of you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Let's Roll": Catholic wife and mother Miki Hill says attacks on family at Synod 2014 an ecclesial "9-11"

Catholic wife and mother Miki Hill, in a recent email message forwarding the text of a column by Steve Wood damning the mid-term Synod 2014 report as being guilty of causing lasting damage to the Church, compared the current crisis of attacks on the family, even from within the context of the Synod, as being a "9-11" for the Church, like the terrorist attacks which brought America to its knees.

"Dear Some of the Finest Young Men I Know,

"I know these comments from Steve Wood are long and I know that I have nothing to do but read with a broken leg, but I believe this article is worth your time to read.

"By nature, I am an activist and an optimist.

"I believe that the interim report from the Synod nailed the coffin on a real crisis in the Catholic Church. I have some real concerns where all of the feathers of scandal and misrepresentation have landed not only all over the world but specifically on our US soil.

"After Steve Wood read Familiaris Consortio from JPII IN 1990, he came into the Church and was motivated to bring the Truth of Jesus Christ and His liberating Gospel of Love to as many as possible. Maybe some activism will be generated by both those who have the courage of the Civil War soldiers to defend the Truth and those that see the nonsense from comments of some of our Princes in the Catholic Church.

"Please forward this column on to your peers. As the one man said on the plane going down in Pa on 9/11, 'Let's roll!' Much needs to be done now.

"Lord, have mercy.

"Love and prayers,


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Steve Wood's explosive indictment of "lasting damage" done by interim report of Synod on the Family

October 2014, Volume 20, Number 6
Family Synod’s Lasting Harm to Catholic Men, Families and Youth

I can’t remember where I came across this riveting Civil War question, “Why didn’t the Civil War soldiers turn in battle when facing canons loaded with canister?” I often wondered how men kept marching forward in the face of near-certain death by having their flesh mercilessly shredded. Surely there was uncommon valor and bravery. Yet, was there another dynamic moving them forward in the face of a hideous death?

Civil War soldiers marched into battle in units composed of men from their hometowns and home states. If a man turned in battle, his cowardice meant that he couldn’t go home as a man. His reputation was on the line. The vast majority of soldiers facing canister preferred to lose their lives rather than lose their manhood.

Many Catholic Church leaders desperately need to learn a critical lesson from Civil War soldiers. Men have a deep divinely-embedded instinct to preserve their masculinity and thus are repulsed by feminized and homosexual-friendly environments.

Leon Podles in his important book, The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, states: “If the feminization of the Church continues, men will continue to seek their spiritual sustenance outside the churches, in false or inadequate religions, with high damaging consequences for the church and society.

The current attempts, within almost all Christian denominations, to normalize homosexuality will, more than anything else, convince heterosexual men that religion had best be kept at a great distance. Catholic churches that cultivate a gay atmosphere (Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach, gay choirs, gay tolerance talks in schools) will keep heterosexual men away. Fear of effeminacy is one of the strongest motivations in men who will sometimes die rather than appear effeminate.”

Millions of Catholic wives wonder why their husbands don’t want to go to Mass with them. Likewise, thousands of bright and beautiful young Catholic women wonder aloud, “Where are the marriageable young Catholic men?” I’m afraid it’s goodbye to many good men because of the effeminate atmosphere of the contemporary Catholic Church. The contemporary homosexualized church atmosphere is the penultimate level of feminization, and it stinks in the nostrils of normal men.

Reporting on the defective interim report of the Family Synod, the secular media was delighted to broadcast worldwide that there is a pro-gay seismic shift in the Catholic Church. While the final report of the Synod backtracked on the morally defective statements on homosexuality and communion for those living in adulterous relationships, make no mistake, the lasting worldwide damage is done. For the man on the street, the Catholic Church is just one more institution caving in to our culture’s gay-friendly transformation.

It’s important to keep in mind that the public perception of the Catholic Church’s pro-gay drift hasn’t just grown out of news reports from the Family Synod. A long train of events and declarations have supported the pro-gay drift of the Catholic Church. I’ll mention just a few of the disastrous statements and actions leading up to the Family Synod’s interim report. > > Despite the denial of a few within the Church, literally the entire world knows that the Catholic clerical crisis was mainly a homosexual crisis. The striking failure of so many bishops “to connect the dots” as they moved homosexual abusers from parish to parish revealed a lot about the moral framework of many leaders.

According to the Pew Research Center, due to “the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and their coverup by the Catholic Church, roughly a quarter (27%) of former Catholics who no longer identify with a religion cited clergy sexual abuse scandals as a reason for leaving the Church. Among former Catholics who now identify as Protestant, 21% say the sexual abuse scandals were a reason for leaving the Catholic Church.”

A Barna Catholic youth 2013 survey reported, “Among all 18-29-year-olds who have a Catholic background, 43% say the “priest abuse scandals have made me question my faith.”

The big bombshell was the media’s out-of-context reporting of Pope Francis’ statement, “Who am I to judge?” His question is emblazoned on the tee-shirts of homosexual activists. While I fully realize that the context of his answer was deliberately ignored, or misinterpreted, nevertheless, his answer convinced millions of youth and young adults that the Catholic Church is now “ok” with sodomy.

The Catholic press may publish lengthy articles listing the seven reasons why the Pope’s answer was taken out of context (and it was), but young people are not reading these articles! They are just skimming the headlines and reading a few sentences on their smartphones. At colleges and universities, both Catholic and Protestant students are asking, “Why is Pope Francis pro-gay?”

The Church is certainly right to reach out in mercy to homosexuals, couples having children out of wedlock, couples remarried outside the Church after divorce, and couples fornicating. Yet, such a merciful outreach needs to be carefully balanced with truth. Otherwise, the message that’s received is that the Catholic Church is finally ok with the full spectrum of the sexual revolution. Such a distorted message in today’s sex-saturated culture will catapult millions of youth and adults into the claws of the sins of the flesh.

In case anyone in the United States had any lingering doubts about the homosexual-friendly atmosphere in the Catholic Church, Cardinal Dolan dispelled them when he agreed to be the Grand Marshal of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. In his announcement he said that he welcomes the inclusion of a homosexual group. This is an out-of-the-closet group of NBC’s homosexual activists marching under a homosexual banner with the cardinal’s blessing.

Never before in the history of this annual parade, which first took place on March 17, 1762, has an in-your-face group of militant homosexuals marched carrying a homosexual banner. Rest assured that next spring Cardinal Dolan’s being ok with the homosexual activist participation in this parade will be broadcast coast to coast in the secular media. Oh, I almost forgot Cardinal Dolan’s widely reported exclamation of “Bravo” in response to a news story about a professional athlete who came out of the closet. Bravo? What was he thinking? Most men seeing the homosexual NFL player kissing his little boyfriend on ESPN were repulsed.

Then there’s the utterly strange case of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the primary author of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. One would imagine that Cardinal Schönborn of all people would be able to discern a genuine view of human sexuality from a corrupt one. Cardinal Schönborn complimented two practicing homosexuals in Vienna who allegedly live in what he said is “lifelong fidelity.” The cardinal said things like: “It was wonderful, in a human way as much as in a Christian way, how one was taking care of the other.” He added: “Such things must be recognized.”

Questioned on the Church’s attitude to homosexuals, the cardinal said: “We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships,” while adding: “A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous.”

In April 2012, the election of a young gay man who was living in a registered same-sex partnership to a parish council in Vienna was vetoed by the parish priest. After meeting with the couple, Cardinal Schönborn reinstated him. He later advised in a homily that priests must apply a pastoral approach that is "neither rigorist nor lax" in counselling Catholics who "don't live according to [God's] master plan".

Since 2006, the cardinal has allowed active and unrepentant homosexuals to be “blessed” in his cathedral on St. Valentine’s Day.

The Fatal-to-the-Family Vatican Synod interim report was just one link in a long chain of indicators revealing a growing pro-gay atmosphere in the Catholic Church. While faithful Catholics were understandably troubled by the interim report, not everyone was.

It is instructive to read the comments of retired Anglican Bishop Gene Robinson on the Vatican Family Synod’s interim report published in The Daily Beast. Bishop Gene Robinson earlier in life was married and had two daughters. He divorced his wife. While openly living in a gay relationship he was consecrated as an Episcopal bishop. In 2014 Bishop Robinson announced the end of his “marriage” to partner Mark Andrew.

Bishop Robinson, writing about the Family Synod said: “With respect to homosexual people, there is a decidedly changed tone. No wonder gay and lesbian people feel like it’s a new day! No mention of sin here. No reiteration of official Catholic policy and teaching that homosexual persons are ‘intrinsically disordered.’ And most positive of all, there is mention that our unions may (emphasis added) contribute ‘gifts and qualities’ beneficial to the Body of Christ.”

You can be sure that the active homosexual community was joyful upon hearing the interim summary report from the Family Synod, while many faithful bishops and laity were appalled. Despite the Family Synod’s backtracking in the final report, we can be sure the damage from the worldwide broadcast of the initial report will be lasting and profound. In the popular mind, the Catholic Church finally caved to the sexual revolution. The Family Synod has given the appearance that the last worldwide moral restraint on sexual sin has given way.

At the fall 1980 Synod of Bishops, Pope John Paul II was asked by the Synod fathers to prepare something to aid the family. The result was, The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World [Familiaris Consortio]. This document was the primary cause for my conversion to Catholicism in 1990.

The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World is faithful to Jesus’ teaching about marriage and divorce, timeless Catholic doctrine, and human sexuality, while being charitable to families and marriages in all situations. If you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so now.

After hearing John Paul II speak on the importance of the family in 1991, I launched the Family Life Center International in 1992. For the past twenty-two years, it has been a joy and privilege to urge families worldwide to heed his advice and counsel on marriage, family life, and human sexuality.

Now with the moral earthquake created by the 2014 Synod of Bishops, I’m forced to warn those same families about mixed signals, defective reports, and dangerous statements regarding homosexuality. In an attempt to deal with the crisis of the family in the modern world, the Cardinal Kasper coalition at the Family Synod has created one.

My heartfelt wish is for the 2014-2015 Family Synod to re-adopt Saint John Paul II’s The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World and formally recognize it as the finest tool to deal with the contemporary crisis in family life. Please, no further action is needed!

My plea to those in Catholic media is, “Please don’t put a happy face on this tragedy.” We’ve had enough Catholic-spin on the homosexual drift within the Catholic Church. The Church is in the midst of a full-scale crisis and the first step in healing and defending her is an honest and forthright diagnosis. In a nutshell, the problem is the sexual revolution and sodomy among many inside the Church.

Tragically, the Family Synod modernists have set Catholic fatherhood backwards for our lifetime. It will be Catholic families, wives, children, and single young women who feel the brunt of men of all ages repulsed from the Church because of the sodomite smoke seeping from its midst.

Yours in His Majesty’s Service on the Feast of St. John Paul II,

Steve Wood

Friday, October 24, 2014

Catholic candidate for Maryland governor rallies pro-choicers, says already liberal abortion laws "not enough"

By Naomi daGuerra

Lieutenant Governer Anthony Brown, the Democratic candidate for governer, urged guests at NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland's (NPCM) 25th annual Evening of Chocolate gala that although "pro-choicers" have settled law on their side, the "status quo is not good enough."

Brown, who is Roman Catholic, arrived at the September 20 gala at 8:10p.m. and worked the room until 8:50, at which time he spoke for five minutes to the gathered crowd. He left directly after finishing his brief speech.


The evening's emcee followed the lieutenant governor with a very short list of NPCM's accomplishments over the past year. At the top of the list was the publishing of anti-crisis pregnancy center literature, critical of pregnancy centers for "telling lies" by not providing all of the options (that is, by advising clients to abort their babies), propaganda that no one outside of the evening's paltry gathering of chocolate martini  drinkers believes.

The emcee then introduced the three Choice Advocate Award Winners: Maryland State Delegate James Hubbard, Maryland State Senator Jennie Forehand, and past board member Jeff Meer.

For complete article and more info: DEFEND LIFE September-October Newsletter

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October 22: Prayers at Mass for Saint John Paul II


O God, who are rich in mercy
and who willed that the Saint John Paul II should preside as Pope over your universal Church,
grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
the sole Redeemer of mankind.
Who lives and reigns.

Prayer over offerings

Accept this sacrifice from your people,we pray, O Lord,
and make what is offered for your glory, in honor of Saint John Paul II,
a means to our eternal salvation.
Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion

May the Sacraments we have received, O Lord our God,
stir up in us that fire of charity
with which Saint John Paul II burned ardently
as he have himself unceasingly for your Church.
Through Christ our Lord.

(Common of Pastors: for a Pope)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

News reports say Cardinal Burke is getting demoted but none quote him saying so; what's going on?

Bishops and popes hand-pick their collaborators all the time. Many people do.

Many factors are involved in personalities and how they factor into choices. Think back to professional personnel decisions you have made when forced to choose between competent and qualified individuals.

The pope deals with perceptions in his ministry. You and I may not have a problem with how Burke feeds into perceptions but perhaps the pope does. I really find it hard to believe that Burke's orthodoxy is the issue.

There is also the issue of the media and how they present the news. Where in the article does it quote Burke actually saying "Pope Francis is demoting me"? Technically Burke never uses the word demoted in the transcript of the recorded interview, He uses the term "transfer".

"The difficulty — I know about all the reports, obviously. I’ve not received an official transfer yet. Obviously, these matters depend on official acts. I mean, I can be told that I’m going to be transferred to a new position but until I have a letter of transfer in my hand it’s difficult for me to speak about it. I’m not free to comment on why I think this may be going to happen."

 And overlaid upon all this is the lack of objectivity that all of us experience when something affects us personally. Cardinal Burke, even with all his experience and spiritual maturity, has this aspect to face as well. All of us understand how difficult it can be to deal with transitions and the adjustments necessary to flourish in a new place and with responsibilities and people.

If someone is being treated unfairly in the Church it won't be the first time; the Lord asks us to use our crosses as He used His for our salvation and for His glory.

The reporter takes liberties with the headline to make it more sensational and generate more interest. The pope has his reasons and he's the boss. As with most things in life where we do not have all the facts, we must be content to wait and pray with patience that God's will be done.

God writes straight with crooked lines: look at your own life to see that is true.

Cardinal Burke is on the young side, by the way; young enough to be called back into service perhaps by the next pope.

God bless,

Full transcript of Buzzfeed interview with Cardinal Burke at this link.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Sensus fidelium": you may not know what it means but you've experienced it

We have seen Catholic Church history unfold in a most dramatic way in a completely new forum since Vatican II when, for the first time, believers everywhere participated in the events of the extraordinary Synod as they unfolded through the medium of the internet, expressing and contributing to and developing the sensus fidelium, or sense of the faithful, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We are the descendants and inheritors of the Church of Ephesus, where the people surrounded the fathers of the Council in prayer and protest, calling upon the Mother of God, the Theotokos, and demanding that the Fathers respond in concord with their sense of the faith and declare her divine motherhood, which in fact they did. Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On Cardinal Dolan's expressed admiration for the bishops of Africa

Cardinal Dolan needn't look with admiration only to African bishops; all he need do is simply imitate their example and he can thereafter get the same reaction by looking in the mirror.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"Delicate Cases": I can't receive Communion but I can't go to Confession either. What about me?

" Some More Delicate Cases
34. I consider it my duty to mention at this point, if very briefly, a pastoral case that the synod dealt with-insofar as it was able to do so-and which it also considered in one of the propositions. I am referring to certain situations, not infrequent today, affecting Christians who wish to continue their sacramental religious practice, but who are prevented from doing so by their personal condition, which is not in harmony with the commitments freely undertaken before God and the church. These are situations which seem particularly delicate and almost inextricable.

Numerous interventions during the synod, expressing the general thought of the fathers, emphasized the coexistence and mutual influence of two equally important principles in relation to these cases. The first principle is that of compassion and mercy, whereby the church, as the continuer in history of Christ's presence and work, not wishing the death of the sinner but that the sinner should be converted and live,(197) and careful not to break the bruised reed or to quench the dimly burning wick,(198) ever seeks to offer, as far as possible, the path of return to God and of reconciliation with him. The other principle is that of truth and consistency, whereby the church does not agree to call good evil and evil good. Basing herself on these two complementary principles, the church can only invite her children who find themselves in these painful situations to approach the divine mercy by other ways, not however through the sacraments of penance and the eucharist until such time as they have attained the required dispositions.

On this matter, which also deeply torments our pastoral hearts, it seemed my precise duty to say clear words in the apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, as regards the case of the divorced and remarried,(199) and likewise the case of Christians living together in an irregular union.

At the same time and together with the synod, I feel that it is my clear duty to urge the ecclesial communities and especially the bishops to provide all possible assistance to those priests who have fallen short of the grave commitments which they undertook at their ordination and who are living in irregular situations. None of these brothers of ours should feel abandoned by the church.

For all those who are not at the present moment in the objective conditions required by the sacrament of penance, the church's manifestations of maternal kindness, the support of acts of piety apart from sacramental ones, a sincere effort to maintain contact with the Lord, attendance at Mass and the frequent repetition of acts of faith, hope, charity and sorrow made as perfectly as possible can prepare the way for full reconciliation at the hour that providence alone knows."

From Saint John Paul II, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia,

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mother Elvira used to say, "If you want coffee, pray for it."

Mother Elvira used to tell the men in her drug addiction communities, "If you want coffee, pray for it."

I used to volunteer time on a weekly basis serving the sacramental needs of the community in Florida and came to know and befriend many of the addicts seeking help to find a life with God after they had destroyed their hope and faith seeking a life with drugs, alcohol and pornography.

You see, any money given to the Communita' Cenacolo was to be used for building materials and other supplies dedicated to their housing, chapels and other construction needs only. All the food they consumed had to be donated through the kind generosity of benefactors.

I am seeking the return of all absent family members to worship with us at Sunday Masses. In doing so I am going to take Mother Elvira's advice and pray for it if I truly desire it and invite our parishioners to do the same.

Beginning soon the entire parish will be invited to pray with me during the brief period of silence after the homily at weekend Masses that all absent family members of Catholic or any faith will weekly join their families in unity to worship God. Please intercede for the effectiveness of our prayers. Thank you for reading my note. God bless,

Saturday, September 20, 2014

"I will die in bed": what Cardinal George really said

"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history."

Friday, September 19, 2014

From Bishop Oster: no good to bend and twist Christ

It does no good to keep on collecting all and only those verses of the Gospel that might help a Church suffering from a loss of faith to bend and twist her Lord Jesus until he is so nice that he doesn't threaten those situations that the Scriptures continue to call sin. Yes, of course Jesus loves sinners, but He and His Father hate sin! And it does no good to eliminate or ignore those passages in which Jesus challenges us to assent to Him decisively, or those in which He appears as our Judge. Yes, Jesus loves us the way we are [...], but He does not want us to remain the way we are. [...] We too often forget that the revelation of the merciful Jesus did not simply abolish the law, but rather revealed that the giver of the law loves us with a love as deep as the abyss. And it is because He loves us that He challenges us with the at times rigorous demands of the law, so that we can learn to answer His love; just as a good father, precisely because he loves his children, sometimes has to be strict with them. [...] God wants to save us, all of us! But salvation is not automatic, and the constant witness of scripture is that we cannot be saved without conversion. As far as I can see, Bishop Bonny doesn't even mention conversion anymore. (Translation: Sacerdos Romanus)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

do not therefore in fear and terror flee back from the way of salvation of which the beginning cannot but be a narrow entrance.

Prologue to the Rule of our Holy Father Benedict. Continued We have therefore to establish a school of the Lord’s service, in the institution of which we hope we are going to establish nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. But if, prompted by the desire to attain to equity, anything be set forth somewhat strictly for the correction of vice or the preservation of charity, do not therefore in fear and terror flee back from the way of salvation of which the beginning cannot but be a narrow entrance. For it is by progressing in the life of conversion and faith that, with heart enlarged and in ineffable sweetness of love, one runs in the way of God’s commandments, so that never deserting His discipleship but persevering until death in His doctrine within the monastery, we may partake by patience in the suffering of Christ and become worthy inheritors of His kingdom. Amen.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Saint Augustine on Saint Monica's Alcoholism

Chapter 8. Of the Conversion of Evodius, and the Death of His Mother When Returning with Him to Africa; And Whose Education He Tenderly Relates.

17. You, who makest men to dwell of one mind in a house, associated with us Evodius also, a young man of our city, who, when serving as an agent for Public Affairs, was converted unto You andbaptized prior to us; and relinquishing his secularservice, prepared himself for Yours. We were together, and together were we about to dwell with a holy purpose. We sought for some place where we might be most useful in our service to You, and were going back together to Africa. And when we were at the Tiberine Ostia my mother died. Much I omit, having much to hasten. Receive my confessions and thanksgivings, O myGod, for innumerable things concerning which I am silent. But I will not omit anything that mysoul has brought forth as to that Your handmaid who brought me forth—in her flesh, that I might be born to this temporal light, and in her heart, that I might be born to life eternal. I will speak not of her gifts, but Yours in her; for she neither made herself nor educated herself. You createdher, nor did her father nor her mother know what a being was to proceed from them. And it was the rod of Your Christ, the discipline of Your only Son, that trained her in Your fear, in the house of one of Your faithful ones, who was a sound member of Your Church. Yet this good discipline did she not so much attribute to the diligence of her mother, as that of a certain decrepid maid-servant, who had carried about her father when an infant, as little ones are wont to be carried on the backs of elder girls. For which reason, and on account of her extreme age and very good character, was she much respected by the heads of that Christianhouse. Whence also was committed to her the care of her master's daughters, which she with diligence performed, and was earnest in restraining them when necessary, with a holyseverity, and instructing them with a sober sagacity. For, excepting at the hours in which they were very temperately fed at their parents' table, she used not to permit them, though parched with thirst, to drink even water; thereby taking precautions against an evil custom, and adding the wholesome advice, You drink water only because you have not control of wine; but when you have come to be married, and made mistresses of storeroom and cellar, you willdespise water, but the habit of drinking willremain. By this method of instruction, and power of command, she restrained the longing of their tender age, and regulated the very thirst of the girls to such a becoming limit, as that what was not seemly they did not long for.
18. And yet— as Your handmaid related to me, her son— there had stolen upon her a love ofwine. For when she, as being a sober maiden, was as usual bidden by her parents to draw wine from the cask, the vessel being held under the opening, before she poured the wine into the bottle, she would wet the tips of her lips with a little, for more than that her inclination refused. For this she did not from any craving for drink, but out of the overflowing buoyancy of her time of life, which bubbles up with sportiveness, and is, in youthfulspirits, wont to be repressed by the gravity of elders. And so unto that little, adding daily littles (for he that despises small things shall fall little by little), she contracted such a habit as, to drink off eagerly her little cup nearly full of wine. Where, then, was the sagacious old woman with her earnest restraint? Could anything prevail against a secret disease if Your medicine, O Lord, did not watch over us? Father, mother, andnurturers absent, Thou present, who hast created, who callest, who also by those who are set over us work some good for the salvation of our souls, what did Thou do at that time, O my God? How did You heal her? How did You make her whole? Did You not out of another woman's soul evoke a hard and bitter insult, as a surgeon's knife from Your secret store, and with one thrust remove all that putrefaction? For the maidservant who used to accompany her to the cellar, falling out, as it happens, with her little mistress, when she was alone with her, cast in her teeth this vice, with very bitter insult, calling her a wine-bibber.Stung by this taunt, she perceived her foulness, and immediately condemned and renounced it. Even as friends by their flattery pervert, so do enemies by their taunts often correct us. Yet You render not unto them what You do by them, but what was proposed by them. For she, beingangry, desired to irritate her young mistress, not to cure her; and did it in secret, either because the time and place of the dispute found them thus, or perhaps lest she herself should be exposed to danger for disclosing it so late. But You, Lord, Governor of heavenly and earthly things, who convertest to Your purposes thedeepest torrents, and disposest the turbulent current of the ages, healest one soul by the unsoundness of another; lest any man, when he remarks this, should attribute it unto his own power if another, whom he wishes to be reformed, is so through a word of his.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The natural and supernatural "Keys to the Kingdom"

Today in the Gospel we hear again the beautiful and consoling words by which the Lord consigns a gift to Peter and his successors for the benefit of us all: the "Keys of the Kingdom". We learn that these "keys" open the doors of heaven to us because of the grace of the sacramental life made possible through Christ in the Church.

In the Church we are able to have our sins forgiven, "unbound", through the ministry of Peter and of all men who share the priesthood with him. Thus, the priesthood which Christ confers through apostolic succession is a source of supernatural life.

Supernatural life, the grace of eternal life or salvation, is important we all agree. But it would not do us any good without a prior gift: natural life. So, there is another gift that must be conferred first, that made possible through our parents: they are "key" to the process by which children gain access to the Kingdom in Christ.

We have seen in recent days the unbreakable faith of Catholics and other Christians in Iraq and other places in the Middle East. Parents have led their children into exile away from the safety and security of their homes and everything familiar in order to lead them to the Lord. These parents are also a kind of "keys to the kingdom" who enable their children to receive the gifts of the Lord.

Father Aphorism on Twitter
Parents give life: because closest to God for children on earth, powerful leading them to God in heaven as family worships Sundays together.
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Parents give life: because they do they are the closest to God for children on earth, and thus have a powerful role leading them to God because of the indispensable witness they provide as they lead their children to heaven most importantly by worshiping together with them on the Lord's Day.

All of our families faced challenges to the faith which must be overcome by the leadership of our parents if our children are to know and love the Lord by practicing their faith throughout life. Parents are the keys to the kingdom when they:

- lead their children to Sunday Mass despite distractions, opportunities to work, and childish disobedience
- ensure their children receive adequate education through Faith Formation
- get to Confession at a minimum in case of mortal sin
- prayer in the home which is grounded in and leads to Eucharistic devotion and reception on Sundays, holy days and at other times.

The life story of James Foley, the journalist who was brutally killed by evil men in Iraq this week, is an example of the ways in which parents are "key" for their children to the life of the Kingdom.

James learned, and was inspired to pray the rosary during a period of earlier captivity, because of the example of parents and grandparents. The natural relationship with these witnesses of faith were the keys of the kingdom for James in a most difficult period when he did not have access to the ordinary means of grace, through Peter and apostolic succession as all of us are able to here today, in the holy Mass, Confession and the other sacraments. He describes the experience of following the example of his family by praying:

“If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.”

Let us pray for and support all of our parents, the natural "keys to the kingdom" for all of our children and families.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sharing violent images and videos on social media: a "social sin"?

What is our responsibility in the use of social media? As moral agents and Christians are we called to moral discernment as to whether we choose to view, use and share videos and images that portray violence? Should we take into account our cooperation in the immoral manipulation and violation of human beings and the dignity of others on social media?

"Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. "Structures of sin" are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a 'social sin.' "CCC 1869

We are meant by God to see and do good. Perhaps our choice to view violence and share it could be added to examination of conscience and confessed when necessary.

The power of social media confers responsibility as well as privilege.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Statement of Cardinal Wuerl on Persecution of Christians, Religious Minorities in Iraq

Dear Friends,
Every day we learn more about the atrocities perpetrated against Christians, Yezidis and others in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.  It is almost incomprehensible that today, in organized military action, Muslim extremists are torturing and killing innocent unarmed women and children, attempting forced conversions to Islam and inflicting every type of inhumanity on fellow human beings, including crucifixion.
In light of this growing crisis, Pope Francis and agencies of the Holy See, together with other religious leaders, have been increasingly insistent in their calls for peace and for humanitarian response to the new waves of refugees fleeing terror and death.  Yesterday, our Holy Father wrote to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, saying that the situation “cannot but awaken the consciences of all men and women of goodwill to concrete acts of solidarity by protecting those affected or threatened by violence and assuring the necessary and urgent assistance for the many displaced people as well as their safe return to their cities and their homes.”
Earlier this week, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said that followers of all religions and all men and women of goodwill could only “unambiguously denounce and condemn these practices which bring shame on humanity.” As reported by the world media, the long list of atrocities includes: the despicable practice of beheading and hanging bodies in public places; the choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis of conversion to Islam, the payment of a “jizya” tax, forced exile or death; the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, elderly, pregnant women and the sick; the abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as spoils of war; and the list goes on.   No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. 
Pope Francis has spoken out often to demonstrate his closeness to the Iraqi population, especially those who have been severely affected by the continuing conflict and are in dire need of help and encouragement.  Recently he also met with Cardinal Fernando Filoni, his personal envoy to Iraq, and gave him a significant sum of money to be used for urgent assistance to the people who have been most severely affected.  This is a concrete sign of the Pope’s concern in responding to this dramatic situation. 
Members of the Christian community, including the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches, are taking a strong stand in defense of the Iraqi Christians and their right to survive and to live in peace in their own homes, where for the last 2,000 years they have been active and contributing to the development of the region. In the face of this systematic, organized and well-funded push by extremists to drive Christians and others from their homes, none of us can remain idle bystanders, whatever one’s religious beliefs.
People of faith turn to God in prayer on behalf of all of those who are suffering so much in this present crisis.  The Archdiocese of Washington will hold a special Mass for peace tomorrow, August 15, at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle, and host aninterfaith service later that day at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine.  At the request of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, local Catholics will join in a national day of prayer for peace in Iraq this Sunday.
In addition to prayer, we can support the work of groups like Catholic Relief Servicesand the Knights of Columbus to provide humanitarian relief to displaced Iraqi families, including emergency food, water and bedding, and planning in the longer term for resettlement needs.
We all need to raise our voices in an expression of human solidarity, calling on allpeople of goodwill to recognize this overwhelming human tragedy, to speak out against it.  We urge the international community to stir itself to find ways to protect the innocent.  And we implore the changing of hearts so that in that troubled part of the world toleration and religious freedom become accepted characteristics of whatever political order is established.
Peace can only come when there is mutual toleration among and between differing religious and political groups, and when there is the recognition of religious freedom, religious liberty.  The branding of people, their religious heritage and ethnic backgrounds as “enemies” only fosters the intolerance that leads to hatred and that breeds violence.
Christians realize that true peace can only come out of hearts possessed of God’s grace and love, even while, as disciples of Christ, we also clearly recognize the right and sometimes the obligation to defend ourselves and others from unjust aggression, especially the weak and innocent.  In working for genuine peace, our hearts must be touched with compassion and courage.  We mustnever allow violence, extremism, intolerance and hatred to infect us and our response to it.
Our prayers, material assistance and united voices are a sign of our communion with all those in Iraq who suffer so cruelly at the hands of these extremists.  Today let us join together in making another impassioned appeal that the whole world raise up with one voice a cry for peace, religious liberty, toleration and security in Iraq and throughout the region.  Those who are being assailed are no strangers, they are our brothers and sisters, children of God, and they need our help.     
With every good wish, I am                                
                                                                               Faithfully in Christ,

                                                                               Donald Cardinal Wuerl
                                                                               Archbishop of Washington


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Prayer for Peace by His Beatitude, Patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Sako

The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to you forever.

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    How Dating a Non-Catholic Can End In Making Catholics Practical Protestants

    No practicing Catholic I know would ever say that Jesus Christ is not the most important Person in their lives. With that being the case, though, many fail the test of making their actions match their words. God is truly present in the Eucharist, but many Catholics end up living without the Eucharist.

    Dating a non-Catholic often begins very serenely, often with the non-Catholic attending Mass. Couples in love very seldom choose to discuss issues that threaten to divide them. But when the engaged couple start making choices as to ceremony and venue they may be putting down roots of division without realizing it.

    Outdoor weddings are popular, but the Church will not grant a dispensation in order to recognize the ceremony. This makes a second Catholic convalidation ceremony necessary: a further complication and possible source of marital friction. Also, if the non-Catholic party will not agree to raise the children Catholic the dispensation necessary for a convalidation cannot be granted.

    The result of all this is that the Catholic ends up a practical Protestant: attending Mass but unable to receive Communion. In such a case, choices for unnecessary things, such as an outdoor ceremony, have led to the loss of the one thing necessary: the Lord Jesus Christ truly present in the Eucharist.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    Missa Cantata for Solemnity of Assumption on 15 August in Benedict, Maryland

    Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption
    Missa Cantata

    15 August 2014
    8 pm
    at the church of Saint Francis de Sales

    Benedict, Maryland






    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    Christian Genocide in Iraq: An urgent message of Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako

    An urgent message of Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad Mosul Christians:

    Whither? To all who have a living conscience in Iraq and all the world

    To the voice of moderate brother Muslims who have a voice in Iraq and all the world

    To all who have a concern that Iraq could remain a country for all His Children

    To all leaders of thought and opinion

    To all who announce the freedom of the human being

    To all protectors of the dignity of human beings and of religion PEACE AND MERCY FROM GOD!

    The control exercised by the Islamist Jehadists upon the city of Mosul, and their proclamation of it as an Islamic State, after several days of calm and expectant watching of events, has now come to reflect negatively upon the Christian population of the city and its environs. The initial sign was in the kidnapping of the two nuns and 3 orphans who were released after 17 days. At the time, we experienced it as a flash of hope and as a clearing of the sky after the appearance of storm clouds.

    Suddenly we have been surprised by the more recent outcomes which are the proclamation of an Islamic state and the announcement calling all Christians and clearly asking them to convert to Islam or to pay the joziah (the tax all non- Muslims must pay while living in the land of Islam) – without specifying the exact amount. The only alternative is to abandon the city and their houses with only the clothes they are wearing, taking nothing else. Moreover, by Islamic law, upon their departure, their houses are no longer their properties but are instantly confiscated as property of the Islamic state.

    In recent days, there has been written the letter ‘N’ in Arabic on the front wall of Christian homes, signifying ‘Nazara’ (Christian), and on the front wall of Shiite homes, the letter ‘R’ signifying ‘Rwafidh’ (Protestants or rejecters). We do not know what will happen in future days because in an Islamic state the Al – sharia or Islamic code of law is powerful and has been interpreted to require the issuance of new I.Ds for the population based on religious or sectarian affiliation. This categorization based upon religion or sect afflicts the Muslims as well and contravenes the regulation of Islamic thought which is expressed in the Quran which says, “You have your religion and I have my religion” and yet another place in Quran states, “There is no compulsion in religion”. This is exactly the contradiction in the life and history of the Islamic world for more than 1400 years and in the co – existence with other different religions and nations in the East and in the West.

    With all due respect to belief and dogmas, there has been a fraternal life between Christians and Muslims. How much the Christians have shared here in our East specifically from the beginnings of Islam. They shared every sweet and bitter circumstance of life; Christian and Muslim blood has been mixed as it was shed in the defense of their rights and lands. Together they built a civilization, cities, and a heritage. It is truly unjust now to treat Christians by rejecting them and throwing them away, considering them as nothing.

    It is clear that the result of all this discrimination legally enforced will be the very dangerous elimination of the possibility of co – existence between majorities and minorities. It will be very harmful to Muslims themselves both in the near and the distant future. Should this direction continue to be pursued, Iraq will come face to face with human, civil, and historic catastrophe.

    We call with all the force available to us; we call to you fraternally, in a spirit of human brotherhood; we call to you urgently; we call to you impelled by risk and in spite of the risk. We implore in particular our Iraqi brothers asking them to reconsider and reflect upon the strategy they have adopted and demanding that they must respect innocent and weaponless people of all nationalities, religions, and sects.

    The Holy Quran has ordered believers to respect the innocent and has never called them to seize the belongings, the possessions, the properties of others by force. The Quran commands refuge for the widow, the orphaned, the poor, and the weaponless and respect “to the seventh neighbor.” We call Christians in the region to act with reason and prudence and to consider and to plan everything in the best way possible. Let them understand what is planned for this region, to practice solidarity in love, to examine the realities together and so be able together to find the paths to build trust in themselves and in their neighbors. Let them stay close to their own Church and surround it; endure the time of trial and pray until the storm will be over.

    † Louis Raphael Sako Patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldean 17 July 2014

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