"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
|In Guinea, Caritas works with other rescue groups to distribute soap, chlorine, and other materials to thousands of families. Credit: Caritas|
(Laura Sheahen has worked as a Communications Officer for Caritas and its partners in many regions of the world. She has covered emergencies in Asia, East Africa, and the Middle East. She currently works on hunger issues for the "Food for All" campaign. This report was provided by Caritas.)
When the Ebola outbreak started coming closer to an orphanage he runs in Sierra Leone, Fr. Peter Konteh knew it was time to get the most at-risk kids out.
"We're going to see the beach," the Caritas Freetown priest told the children.
He had set up the orphanage after the country's civil war left many children parentless. Now they were under threat again. "I didn't want to create panic. Some of these kids have already been traumatized by the war."
Fr. Peter took the children to Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital. "We had lunch and snacks. We were singing in the car," he said. "It had to appear to be a jolly trip." The children are now with host families.
With a low survival rate, Ebola has killed hundreds of people in West Africa in just a few months. For World Health Organization advice on Ebola please visit their website.
Caritas aid workers fanned out through countries like Guinea and Sierra Leone, going to remote villages, slums, and towns to teach people about good hygiene and hand washing as a way to halt the disease. [Please support our work fighting Ebola in West Africa]
Soap, chlorine, and hand sanitizer are effective. In Guinea, Caritas has brought soap and chlorine to more than 100,000 people and goes door-to-door to raise awareness.
In Sierra Leone, Caritas workers arrange local training sessions and speak on the radio. "The biggest enemy is lack of understanding," said Edward John-Bull, director of Caritas Sierra Leone.
"We bring doctors and other professionals to do the training. Catholic school teachers, priests, we train them with all the messages of how to protect yourself. Then they go back to the parishes, and the catechists talk about Ebola, or priests talk about it during the sermon," he said.
"The value of Caritas is that we're already there, in the communities. People trust the religious leaders," said Moira Monacelli, Caritas Italy's Regional Coordinator for West Africa.
Caritas reaches out to people who are particularly at risk: "restaurant workers, taxi drivers, hotel staff, markets, places where people gather," said Edward John-Bull of Caritas Sierra Leone. Caritas also works with midwives to make sure they know how to deliver a baby safely, "so the delivery does not transmit Ebola," he said.
When people do get sick, they're resistant to going to the hospital. Some believe conspiracy theories that the virus was brought by outside groups on purpose as a cover for organ harvesting. Some put their trust in traditional healers. In other cases, local people "see that doctors and nurses are affected," said Monacelli.
Family members also don't want to leave their loved ones in quarantine. "For the culture it's impossible," said Monacelli. "You stay close to a sick person, you stay near them up until the last minute. Up until death. They follow the body and they touch the body."
So that families can keep in touch with loved ones they can't see, health workers are "giving them cell phones," said Fr. Peter.
When someone dies, the Ebola team buries them. "When you're buried in Ebola cemetery, none of your own people ever see you," says John-Bull. "They are buried like prisoners–in body bags, thrown in a hole. The question is, how can you humanize it?"
Caritas staff-especially priests-have become intermediaries, working with hospital staff and families to arrange for funeral rites that give dignity and closure to families while keeping the virus from spreading.
"There's a kind of Ebola-protected ambulance that can transport the body safely," said John-Bull. "That way, families can decide on the type of burial and the place of burial."
Fr. Peter comforts families who were not able to bury their dead in the way they hoped. "I tell them, 'if we can bless food without seeing the food, we can pray for loved one who have lost their lives," he said.
As the cases mount, it can feel like communities are drowning. "I remember the scripture passage where the disciples thought they were sinking and there was no hope," said Fr Peter. "But Jesus said, 'Do not be afraid, I am with you.' I think of that, and I feel reassurance."
Some say Ebola is God's punishment and the way to stop it is just to pray. "When I go on the radio, I say, 'God is there, but we also have to make our own efforts to prevent what is happening. We don't just sit and say 'I'm praying,'" said Fr Peter.
In rural areas where there is no TV, such radio messages can reach far. Caritas Guinea has run more than 2600 radio spots on 8 channels.
The children that Fr. Peter evacuated from the orphanage are doing well. But "when we got news that Ebola is in Freetown, they said, 'Where do you think is safe now?' " says Fr. Peter.
"They asked me, 'Where do we go next?' "
(Editor note: This report was provided by Caritas. Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga is the president of Caritas. He is a staunch defender of human rights and a powerful voice in the global fight against poverty.)
Since early July, almost two million Palestinians in Gaza and people in Israel have been caught up in a devastating war. People have no safe place to hide when the bombs rain down on the densely-populated, small stretch land that is Gaza. They see their children slaughtered, their neighborhoods razed to the ground and all hopes for a future of peace torn to shreds.
The battlefield is neighborhoods full of children, women, and men. It contains hospitals over-burdened with the injured and dead and schools which are being bombed even if they are meant to offer refuge.
As Caritas, we have called for a permanent ceasefire but this is just the first step on the road to a just peace based on inclusive negotiations across the region.
The path towards reconciliation is long but it starts with ourselves. Israel and Hamas, why do you keep pointing out the speck in the eye of your brother while missing the plank in your own eye? Instead, you should put down your arms and pick up a pair of binoculars so you can see that most of your victims are innocent people.
This is the third war in five years between Israel and militants in Gaza. In the intervening years, Palestinians in Gaza have lived a life where water is scarce, much of their food comes from humanitarian organizations and where the dignity of a job is beyond many people's reach.
Caritas brings material and spiritual aid to the people of Gaza in their times of need and despair.
We call for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza to allow Gazans to protect their lives and livelihoods and so they can live a dignified life.
When he met the presidents of Israel and Palestine at the Vatican recently, Pope Francis said, "Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity."
As Caritas, we pray for peace in the Holy Land. We pray for the Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost their children, mothers, and fathers and for those who have been killed. Our prayers are with the children who live in terror and whose mental scars will run deep long after this war is over.
The Caritas confederation sends its love and solidarity to Caritas workers who are risking their lives every day in Gaza. These people work humbly and tirelessly in the service of Christ in the most difficult conditions imaginable. May God be with them every step of the way. We also pray for our colleagues at Caritas Jerusalem and the vital support that they're giving to their staff on the ground at this time.
As we mark the anniversary of the First World War 100 years ago, we remember the words of the then Pope Benedict XV: "Force can repress the body, but it cannot repress the souls of men."
We pray that despite this terrible time of war and oppression, the souls of Palestinians and Israelis will remain free to believe in a future of justice and peace.
Caritas staff member Ameen Sabbagh comforting an injured man in Gaza. Credit: Caritas
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Aid to the Church in Need.)
"They are facing a human catastrophe and risk a real genocide. They need, water, food, shelter..." These were the words of the leader of Iraq's biggest Catholic community as he made an impassioned plea for help to the international community following the fall of Iraq's largest Christian town on the night of August 6th-7th.
In an open letter, Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako described the humanitarian crisis that followed the seizure of Qaraqosh by jihadist group ISIS (now calling itself the Islamic State) after Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers withdrew.
Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad Patriarch Sako said, "The Christians, about one hundred thousand, horrified and panicked fled their villages and houses [with] nothing but with the clothes on their backs."
Describing the event as "an exodus, a real via crucis" he went on to add, "Christians are walking on foot in Iraq's searing summer heat towards the Kurdish cities of Erbil, Duhok, and Soulaymiyia, the sick, the elderly, infants, and pregnant women among them."
Patriarch Sako called on the international community to intervene in the current crisis as he accused the Iraqi government of being unable to restore security in the Ninevah Plains. He said, "We appeal with sadness and pain to the conscience of all, and all people of good will and the United Nations and the European Union, to save these innocent persons from death. We hope it is not too late!"
Not only did the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church state that "the Central Government is incapable of enforcing law and order in this part of the country" but expressed "doubts about the capacity of the Kurdistan Region alone to defend the fierce advance of the jihadists," describing a lack of cooperation between central government and the Kurdish regional authority.
Patriarch Sako also said "international support and a professional, well equipped army" was key to protecting citizens from ISIS attack.
Pope Francis echoed the patriarch's plea for the international community to help Iraq's Christian refugees.
A statement issued by Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi: "His Holiness urgently calls on the international community to protect all those affected or threatened by the violence, and to guarantee all necessary assistance – especially the most urgently needed aid – to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others."
Aid to the Church in Need has provided $134,200 in emergency aid to help displaced families on the Nineveh Plains.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Switzerland, addressed at a July 23 UN meeting on the situation in the Middle East. It was the 21st Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the Human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem. His remarks follow:
"As the number of people killed, wounded, uprooted from their homes, continues to increase in the conflict between Israel and some Palestinian groups, particularly in the Gaza Strip, the voice of reason seems submerged by the blast of arms. Violence will lead nowhere either now or in the future. The perpetration of injustices and the violation of human rights, especially the right to life and to live in peace and security, sow fresh seeds of hatred and resentment. A culture of violence is being consolidated, the fruits of which are destruction and death. In the long run, there can be no winners in the current tragedy, only more suffering. Most of the victims are civilians, who by international humanitarian law, should be protected. The United Nations estimates that approximately seventy percent of Palestinians killed have been innocent civilians. This is just as intolerable as the rockets missiles directed indiscriminately toward civilian targets in Israel. Consciences are paralyzed by a climate of protracted violence, which seeks to impose solution through the annihilation of the other. Demonizing others, however, does not eliminate their rights. Instead, the way to the future, lies in recognizing our common humanity.
"In his Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Francis demanded that the present unacceptable situation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be brought to an end(May 25, 2014). "For the good of all," he said, "there is a need to intensify efforts and initiatives aimed at creating the conditions for a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of the rights of every individual, and on mutual security. The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in the service of the common good, the courage to forge a peace which rests on the acknowledgment by all of the right of two States to exist and to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders" (Pope Francis, May 25, 2014). The legitimate aspiration to security, on one side, and to decent living conditions, on the other, with access to the normal means of existence like medicines, water and jobs, for example, reflects a fundamental human right, without which peace is very difficult to preserve.
"The worsening situation in Gaza is an incessant reminder of the necessity to arrive a cease-fire immediately and to start negotiating a lasting peace. "Peace will bring countless benefits for the peoples of this region and for the world as a whole," adds Pope Francis, "and so it must resolutely be pursued, even if each side has to make certain sacrifices." It become a responsibility of the international community to engage in earnest in the pursuit of peace and to help the parties in this horrible conflict reach some understanding in order to stop the violence and look to the future with mutual trust.
"The Delegation of the Holy See reiterates its view that violence never pays. Violence will only lead to more suffering, devastation, and death, and will prevent peace from becoming a reality. The strategy of violence can be contagious and become uncontrollable. To combat violence and its detrimental consequences we must avoid becoming accustomed to killing. At a time where brutality is common and human rights violations are ubiquitous, we must not become indifferent but respond positively in order to attenuate the conflict which concerns us all.
"The media should report in fair and unbiased manner the tragedy of all who are suffering because of the conflict, in order to facilitate the development of an impartial dialogue that acknowledges the rights of everyone, respects the just concerns of the international community, and benefits from the solidarity of the international community in supporting a serious effort to attain peace. With an eye to the future, the vicious circle of retribution and retaliation must cease. With violence, men and women will continue to live as enemies and adversaries, but with peace they can live as brothers and sisters (Words of Pope Francis, June 8, 2014)..."
Pope Francis wrote an August 9 letter to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, on the crisis in Iraq. His letter follows:
"It is with a heavy and anguished heart that I have been following the dramatic events of these past few days in Northern Iraq where Christians and other religious minorities have been forced to flee from their homes and witness the destruction of their places of worship and religious patrimony. Moved by their plight, I have asked His Eminence Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who served as the Representative of my predecessors, Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, to the people in Iraq, to manifest my spiritual closeness and to express my concern, and that of the entire Catholic Church, for the intolerable suffering of those who only wish to live in peace, harmony, and freedom in the land of their forefathers.
"In the same spirit, I write to you, Mr Secretary-General, and place before you the tears, the suffering, and the heartfelt cries of despair of Christians and other religious minorities of the beloved land of Iraq. In renewing my urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway, I encourage all the competent organs of the United Nations, in particular those responsible for security, peace, humanitarian law, and assistance to refugees, to continue their efforts in accordance with the Preamble and relevant Articles of the United Nations Charter.
"The violent attacks that are sweeping across Northern Iraq 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. The tragic experiences of the Twentieth Century, and the most basic understanding of human dignity, compels the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities.
"Confident that my appeal, which I unite with those of the Oriental Patriarchs and other religious leaders, will meet with a positive reply, I take this opportunity to renew to your Excellency the assurances of my highest consideration.
Pope Francis met with detainees at a local prison in Isernia, Italy, on July 5.
The Pope said:
"I thank you for your welcome. And I thank you for your witness of hope, which I heard in the words of your representative. Even in the Governor's greeting this word struck me: hope. This is the challenge, as I was saying two weeks ago at the prison of Castrovillari: the challenge is social reintegration. And for this, you need an itinerary, a route, whether outside, in the prison, in society, whether inside oneself, in the conscience and in the heart.
"To make the journey of reintegration, which all of us must do. Everyone. All of us make mistakes in life. And all of us must ask forgiveness for these mistakes and undertake the journey of reintegration, in order not to make any more. Some make this journey at home, in their own work; others, like you, in a penitentiary. But everyone, everyone ... Whoever says he does not need to make a journey of reintegration is a liar! All of us make mistakes in life and all of us, too, are sinners. And when we go to ask the Lord for forgiveness for our sins, for our mistakes, He always forgives us, He never tires of forgiving. He tells us: 'Turn your back on this path, this is not the right one for you.' And He helps us. And this is reintegration, the journey that we all have to make.
"What is important is not to stand still. We all know that when water stands still it stagnates. There's a saying in Spanish that says: 'Standing water is the first to go bad.' Do not stand still. We all have to walk, to take a step every day, with the Lord's help. God is Father, He is mercy, He always loves us. If we seek Him, He welcomes us and forgives us. As I said, He never tires of forgiving. This is the motto of this visit: 'God doesn't tire of forgiving.' He makes us rise and fully restores our dignity. God has a memory, He is not forgetful. God does not forget us, He always remembers. There is a passage in the Bible, from the prophet Isaiah, which says: Even should a mother forget her child - which is impossible - I will never forget you (cf. Is 49:15). And this is true: God thinks about me, God remembers me. I am in God's memory.
"And with this trust, we can walk, day by day. And with this steadfast love which accompanies us, hope will not let us down. With this love hope will never let us down: a steadfast love to go forward with the Lord. Some consider taking a path of punishment, of misdeeds, of sins and just to suffer, suffer, suffer... It is true, it is true we suffer. As your fellow inmate said, here you suffer. There is suffering inside and also outside, when one sees that one's own conscience is tainted, sullied, one wants to change it. That suffering which purifies, that fire which purifies gold, is a hope-filled suffering. There is a beautiful thing, when the Lord forgives us He doesn't say: 'I forgive you, get on with it!' No, He forgives us, He takes us by the hand and He helps us to go forward on this journey of reintegration, in our own personal life and also in social life. He does this with all of us. To think that punishment alone corrects the inner order of a person only through 'beating' - I don't know if it's said like this - that it is corrected only by punishment, this is not God, this is mistaken. Some people think: 'No, no, more severe punishment is needed, more years, more!' This solves nothing, nothing! To cage people because - pardon the word - for the mere fact that if he is inside we are safe, this serves nothing, it does not help us. The most important thing is what God does for us: He takes us by the hand and helps us to go forward. And this is called hope! And with this hope, with this trust it is possible to walk day by day. And with this steadfast love, which accompanies us, hope never lets us down, truly.
"I thank you for the welcome. And I would like to say... this comes to mind now, because I always feel it, even when, every 15 days I phone a prison in Buenos Aires, where there are young people and we talk a little on the phone. I'll tell you something personal. When I meet with one of you, who is in jail, who is moving toward reintegration, but who is imprisoned, I sincerely wonder: why him and not me? I feel this way. It's a mystery. But beginning with this feeling, with this feeling I accompany you.
"Let us pray together to Our Lady, our Mother, that she help us and accompany us. She is Mother. Hail Mary....
"And please pray for me! Pray for me!"
(Editor's Note: Mr. Bigon writes from Texas. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
"Hey ... Homeboy ... gotta shot?"
Reluctantly, I look away from the book I am reading to glance at my cell door. There he is again. That guy that never talks to me unless he wants something. For whatever reason, I rise off of my bed and trudge over to the door with my jar of coffee. "Why I help this guy I'll never know," I murmur under my breath.
"About half spoonful do," he says as I drop the amount onto a couple of doubled-up squares of tissue paper. I wad the tissue and slide the package under the door.
"Hey, Homeboy ... got some water? he asks expectantly as I turn away.
"Yeah," I reply, reaching for my hot pot. His request fulfilled, the guy saunters away satisfied.
My book lays open on my rack as I contemplate his word "homeboy." He's not my homeboy. We have nothing in common and most of all we are not from the same hometown.
This gives me cause to question just exactly who is my homeboy? A scripture verse comes to mind where Jesus says, "On that day you will realize that I am in My Father and you are in Me and I in you" (Jn 14:20). Jesus continues with "whoever has My commandments and observes them is the one who loves Me."
Even though Jesus has showered me with an uncountable number of gifts He asks nothing in return except that I show Him love by keeping his commandments. He knows that if I truly love Him, I will want to please Him by doing what He asks. He asks me to love my neighbor as He loves me.
"Isn't that what homeboys do? They look after one another. So ... does that make Jesus my homeboy? I pose the question to the emptiness of my cell. A smile grows on my face as I remember Jesus' words, "for I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, a stranger and you welcomed Me, naked and you clothed Mr, ill and you cared for Me, in prison and you visited Me" (Mt 25:35-36). Is that what Jesus really meant, even in here? I ask myself.
"Hey ... ," suddenly comes from the direction of my cell door. I turn around to see the fellow I just served. "I forgot to say 'thanks.' "
"No problem ... Homeboy," comes my answer as peace settles my spirit.
Ignatius Press now has many of its best selling films dramatizing the lives of the saints and saintly available via streaming as well as its usual DVDs. The streamed films are available for viewing for just seven days, rather like a movie rental. These popular DVDs can be watched and re-watched, though they are often "temporarily out of stock."
"Pius XII, Under the Roman Sky" tells the "often hidden struggle waged by the pope and many others with him to save the Jews from the Nazis." It refutes the widespread lie that the Holy Father was one of their greatest enemies.
As Bently Donegal commented, the film is "finally setting the record straight on Pius XII. The revisionist history propagated by the Soviets on Pius VII is rampant today. History was actually very different. At Pius' funeral Israel sent the largest delegation and the New York Times twice on December 25, 1941, and in 1942 editorial sections claimed the Pope stands alone in his opposition to Hitler and people can look that up for themselves and see it with their own two eyes.
There are films chronicling the lives of our most newly canonized popes and the first pope. Of "John XXIII, The Pope of Peace" starring Ed Asner Sr., Beth Ann Dillion wrote, "I am happy to say that this film is great and more authentic than I expected. It depicts so well the human journey of a 'simple' Italian priest who left Sotto de Monte, Italy, to rise to the Chair of St. Peter!"
Jon Voight was nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance in "Pope John Paul II," one that Variety called "remarkable," and of which USA Today said "Voight stands out as he closely mirrors our image of the Pope ... with a mix of majesty and humility, humor and steel."
"St. Peter," stars Omar Sharif, a Lebanese Christian convert to Islam. After shooting the made-for-TV movie, he claimed he could "hear voices" and that it "will be difficult ... to play other roles from now on." He is said to have received a number of death threats on a website popular with al-Quaida members, but this is nothing new to him. He had previously portrayed a Muslim who befriends a Jewish boy in "Monsieur Ibrahim."
Marcina Kukuczka called it a "brilliant movie filled with Christian joy ad love," and says, "seldom have I seen such a purely faithful movie where almost each moment is an experience."
Ignatius also offers "Peter: Keeper of the Keys," the series, "The Footprints of God" by Stephen K. Ray, "Paul: Contending for the Faith," and "The Apostolic Fathers: Handing On the Faith" continue the series to Ignatius of Antioch, Clermont of Rome, Polycarp of Smyrna, Irenaeus of Lyons, and Justin Martyr and shows the continuity of the faith from the apostles to us. The series is described as an "entertaining biography, travel documentary, Bible study, apologetics course and Church history study rolled into one."
Some of the newest saints also have streaming videos. "Seelos: Tireless Intercessor" portrays the heroic and miraculous life of a young immigrant priest, Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos. "Love Is A Choice" tells the story of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, the mother and medical doctor who sacrificed her life to save her unborn baby.
Andre Z. T. Queiroz says, "Love Is A Choice" "... portrays the love abounding from a modern Saint such as Gianna Molla that it is hard, in my opinion, not to get moved by it. Gianna's self-giving sacrifice to her child makes us ponder what love really is." He and others, however, did prefer the original Italian to the English translation.
"Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Servant of All" is a two-DVD set that includes five episodes of possible future saint Archbishop Sheen's "Life Is Worth Living" series: "Ages of Man," "False Compassion," "Love is a Many Splendored Thing," and "The Divine Sense of Humor" and "Angels." It also has an hour-long documentary with interviews of his biographers, his surviving relatives, and friends.
"Ocean of Mercy," subtitled "Three Lives, One Vision, No Limits," shows the connection between the three Polish saints, Faustina Kowalska, Maximillian Kolbe, and Pope John II. It includes never before seen film, photos, and interviews, to explain their common mission of promoting Divine Mercy.
"Faith of Our Fathers" takes the viewer to the time of the English martyrs, Thomas More, Edmund Campion, Margaret Clitherow, and others. They were heroes for our times.
"St. Barbara, Convert and Martyr of the Early Church" tells of her conversion to Christianity because of the example of her friend Giuliana. As T. E. Salapatek commented, "It is a movie about love, a mother's, a friend's, and eventually about God's love. This movie showed how, initially, it was Christian love and sacrifice which made Barbara a convert."
"Mother Teresa" includes her childhood in Albania through her call to become a nun and then the founder of the Missionaries of Charity in India and the world,
"The Reluctant Saint," orignally on video, tells the story of St. Joseph of Cupertino. It is described by Thomas Zabiega as "a true gem of a movie. It has amazing performances from great actors such as Maximilian Schell and Ricardo Montalban, and would suit anyone who likes a good movie. If anyone is Catholic, this is especially a great movie, orthodox to its core and accurate with the life of this amazing saint."
"Padre Pio, Miracle Man" shows the man behind the miracles. As Frank G. Ramirez puts it, "This movie on the life of St. Pio is excellent! This movie shows people the life of St. Pio from his human perspective. The viewer will se St. Pio get angry, laugh, love, and suffer."
"God's Doorkeeper" tells of St. Andre Bessette of Montreal, the first male Canadian-born saint and the first saint for the Congregation of Holy Cross. It tells of this simple man's devotion to St. Joseph and miracles God worked through his intercession.
"Lourdes: A Story of Faith, Science, and Miracles" is not a documentary or a fictionalized biography. It is rather the story of Bernard Guillaumet, a non-Christian French journalist who in the 1990s finds his ancestor Henri Guillaumet's account of his visit to Lourdes in 1858. Henri's wife Claire's miraculous healing from tuberculosis changes both Henri and Bernard.
Various authors offer tips on finding time to promote life. The following is a sample.
"Is there an activity you would love to do but can't because of work pressures? Do you find you don't have time to spend on social, civic, church, community, charitable, or cultural activities? You may be ready to downshift. Downshifting is really about deciding that work is taking up too much of your time and deciding to reduce the load and open space for other areas of life that really matter" (Winston 128 and 129).
"Before you can downshift, you have to consider downsizing. Start taking a hard look at ways you can economize. Dine out less often and buy less expensive brands of groceries. There are dozens of ways to set aside money when you are following a plan" (144).
Another way of looking at it is to "streamline your life and cut schedule clutter so you can focus your time and energy on the things that matter most" (Paine 1).
"The person who observes that the world could be better than it is and decides to do something about it, must first start with an examination of self in order to be equipped to bring about that change" (Oosting 1).
"Set up a weekly appointment with yourself to review and reevaluate your goals and how things are going. If possible, also find someone to regularly keep you accountable to stick with your goals" (Paine 85).
Ask yourself, "What have I done during the past year to make this a better world? Do I have an idea of how to make this a better world? do I have an interest in helping to improve life for others" (Oosting 34)?
"In some ways, the world is a happy place in which to live as a result of our having been in it and that our lives are enriching or have enriched the faith and lives of others" (5).
"In his most famous work, The Republic, Plato argued that only by contributing the fruits of our achievements can our happiness be made everlasting. The Greeks needed little convincing: for them, it was clear that the soulful pursuit of paying it forward, of working for the benefit of each other and future generations, provided the greatest payback of all" (Walton 166).
"Working for the sake of others pay us back in unexpected ways, as is stated in the New Testament in Luke 6:38, 'Give And It Will Be Given to You. A good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.' " (170 and 171).
"The most generous people are still those in the income ranges that contain the most people: middle-class, working-class, and poor" (Klein 6).
"... When you feel gratitude and appreciation for all the other people who feel as you do and who express their commitment financially or with time or other expressions of support, you will be able to ride the waves in this never-before-navigated economy" (246).
Klein, Kim ~ Reliable Fundraising In Unreliable Times ~ California, Jossey-Bass, 2009. Pages 6 and 36
Oosting, Kenneth W. ~ The Christian's Guide To Personal Management ~ Oregon, Wipf & Stock, 2003. Pages 1, 5, and 34
Paine, Crystal ~ Say Goodbye To Survival Mode ~ Tennessee, Nelson Books, 2014. Pages 1 and 85
Walton, Mark S. ~ Boundless Potential ~ London, McGraw Hill, 2012. Pages 166, 170, and 171
Winston, Stephanie ~ Getting Out From Under ~ Massachusetts, Perseus Books, 1999. Pages 128, 129, and 144
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Aid To The Church In Need.)
"If we do not want to be silent witnesses to the last chapter of the history of Christendom in Iraq, the international community must respond decisively now," said Johannes Freiherr Heereman, President of the international aid organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), after returning from the Iraqi city of Erbil.
Heereman had traveled to Iraq on the invitation of the Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Sako, to obtain a picture of the situation and the needs of the more than 100,000 Christians who had been displaced and had now found refuge in Ankawa, the Christian quarter of Erbil, and in the villages in the north of Duhok and Zakho.
"The situation is dramatic. We met bishops, priests, nuns, and volunteers who are working day and night to provide elementary aid. Temperatures are around 111 degrees. The people need a roof over their heads and medical care. There is still much to be done," Heereman reports.
But as well as the necessary emergency humanitarian aid, there is also the question of how the Christians and the other minorities in Iraq can be helped to ensure that such a drama does not recur.
"Many of them have already traveled a long road of oppression and suffering. They are disheartened and only want to get away. They beg for help to obtain a visa for another country."
"But there are also still many who wish to return to their homes, which have often been looted by their neighbors, back to the place where they have lived for generations and where their history and roots are."
"They left everything behind when they fled, and yet they want to go back," says Heereman.
"There is still hope for the Christians in Iraq, but only if we act now," is the message from Patriarch Louis Sako to the President of ACN. The aid organization therefore appeals to the western world to take moral responsibility to aid the Christians and the other religious minorities who wish to stay by ensuring their protection and security.
"This cannot remain simply the concern of the Church in Iraq. We must not be silent witnesses to a destruction that is now reaching the scale of a disaster of civilization. One can certainly speak of an impending genocide."
"The Church can alleviate pain and want, but questions of security and defense as well as the right to life and religious freedom are a political matter," Heereman emphasizes.
ACN has promised the Iraqi Christians, especially the refugees from the Islamist terror group IS (Islamic State), a second emergency aid package of $133,000.
The first emergency aid package of $133,000 was granted in June of this year.
(A Christian Perspective on World News)
VATICAN CITY (VIS) - After July 27th's Angelus prayer, the Holy Father, remarking that tomorrow marks the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, launched a new appeal for peace in the Middle East, Iraq, and Ukraine, and called for a cessation of hostilities.
"Tomorrow is the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, which claimed millions of lives and caused immense destruction. This conflict, defined by Pope Benedict XV as a 'senseless slaughter,' persisted for four long years and led to a more fragile peace. Tomorrow will be a day of mourning in remembrance of this tragedy. While we remember this tragic event, I hope that we will not repeat the errors of the past, but will instead pay heed to the lessons of history, ensuring that the reason of peace always prevails by means of patient and courageous dialogue."
"Today, my thoughts extend to three areas of crisis, in particular: the Middle East, Iraq, and Ukraine. I ask you to continue to join with me in prayer that the Lord may grant the populations and authorities of these areas the wisdom and strength necessary to proceed with determination along the path of peace, facing every diatribe with the tenacity of dialogue and negotiation, and the strength of reconciliation. May the common good and respect for every person be at the center of every decision, rather than particular interests. Let us remember that all is lost with war, but nothing is lost with peace."
"Brothers and sisters: no more war! No more war! I think especially of the children, who are deprived of the hope of a worthwhile life, of a future: children killed, children injured, children mutilated, children orphaned, children who have as toys the remnants of war, children who do not know how to smile. Stop, please! I ask you with all my heart. The time has come to stop. Stop, please!"
(Source: Vatican Information Service)
VATICAN CITY (VIS) - On July 28, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, presided at the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle of the Chaldeans in San Diego, U.S.A. He prayed for the Christians persecuted in Iraq, the motherland of the Chaldean Church, and also included in his prayer those in Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, as well as those who belong to the Greek-Catholic community in Ukraine, who are currently experiencing difficult situations.
The bishop of the eparchy, Sarhad Yawsip Hermiz Jammo, thanked the cardinal for the consolation that his visit and his prayers, as the representative of Pope Francis, offered to all the Christians of the East, and added that, in communion with Peter's Successor, they would persist in the faith of Abraham and, like the patriarch, they would prepare to leave for the land God will show to them, learning to read history in a higher dimension.
In his homily, Cardinal Sandri thanked those present and those Christians who suffer for their faith in the Gospel in situations of conflict, and assured them of Pope Francis' prayers and blessing and the closeness of all the Church. He expressed his hope for peace and justice for all those who have been afflicted by incredible and senseless violence.
The prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, in his visit to California, met with the Maronite and Syro-Malabar communities of Los Angeles and San Diego. During the coming days he will visit the Armenians and greet the priests of the Syrian, Coptic, Greek-Melkite, and Romanian Greek-Catholic Churches who exercise their pastoral ministry in this region of the United States. The already populous Eastern is expected to increase significantly, especially from Iraq, due to the current conflict. He underlined that immigration is a pastoral challenge of historical proportions, and requires great efforts on the part of the Latin Church in support of the Oriental Churches.
(Source: Vatican Information Service)
WASHINGTON - Three chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gave their strong support for the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014, which was introduced on July 30 by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) in the U.S. House of Representatives and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) in the U.S. Senate.
In separate letters of support, July 31, to Rep. Kelly and Sen. Enzi, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development said, "[O]ur first and most cherished freedom, religious liberty, is to be enjoyed by all Americans, including child welfare providers who serve the needs of our most vulnerable – children."
Commenting on the protections in the Inclusion Act, the chairmen noted that "the Act would prohibit federal and state officials in the administration of federally funded child welfare services from excluding child welfare providers simply because of the providers' religious beliefs or moral convictions."
The chairmen stated that in some places, including Massachusetts, Illinois, California, and the District of Columbia, some religious child welfare providers have been excluded from carrying out adoption and foster care services because the providers believe that children deserve to be placed with a married mother and father.
The chairmen said, "The Inclusion Act would remedy this unjust discrimination by enabling all providers to serve the needs of parents and children in a manner consistent with the providers' religious beliefs and moral convictions."
Indicating the importance of parental choice, the chairmen remarked, "Indeed, women and men who want to place their children for adoption ought to be able to choose from a diversity of adoption agencies, including those that share the parents' religious beliefs and moral convictions."
The chairmen encouraged the colleagues of Rep. Kelly and Sen. Enzi to join as cosponsors of the Inclusion Act, saying, "The freedom to serve in accord with one's religious beliefs and moral convictions is foundational to religious liberty in our nation."
(Source: USCCB press release)
Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com