"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.
“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15
"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811
Monday, August 31, 2009
After seven years of prayer and discernment, a community of Episcopal nuns and their chaplain will be received into the Roman Catholic Church during a Sept. 3 Mass celebrated by Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien.
The archbishop will welcome 10 sisters from the Society of All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor when he administers the sacrament of confirmation and the sisters renew their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the chapel of their Catonsville convent.
Episcopal Father Warren Tanghe will also be received into the church and is discerning the possibility of becoming a Catholic priest.
Mother Christina Christie, superior of the religious community, said the sisters are “very excited” about joining the Catholic Church and have been closely studying the church’s teachings for years. Two Episcopal nuns who have decided not to become Catholic will continue to live and minister alongside their soon-to-be Catholic sisters. Members of the community range in age from 59 to 94.
“For us, this is a journey of confirmation,” Mother Christina said. “We felt God was leading us in this direction for a long time.”
Wearing full habits with black veils and white wimples that cover their heads, the sisters have been a visible beacon of hope in Catonsville for decades.
The American branch of a society founded in England, the All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor came to Baltimore in 1872 and have been at their current location since 1917.
In addition to devoting their lives to a rigorous daily prayer regimen, the sisters offer religious retreats, visit people in hospice care and maintain a Scriptorium where they design religious cards to inspire others in the faith.
Throughout their history, the sisters worked with the poor of Baltimore as part of their charism of hospitality. Some of that work has included reaching out to children with special needs and ministering to AIDS patients. Together with Mount Calvary Church, an Episcopal parish in Baltimore, the sisters co-founded a hospice called the Joseph Richey House in 1987.
Orthodoxy and unity were key reasons the sisters were attracted to the Catholic faith. Many of them were troubled by the Episcopal Church’s approval of women’s ordination, the ordination of a gay bishop and what they regarded as lax stances on moral issues.
“We kept thinking we could help by being a witness for orthodoxy,” said Sister Mary Joan Walker, the community’s archivist.
Mother Christina said that effort “was not as helpful as we had hoped it would be.”
“People who did not know us looked at us as if we were in agreement with what had been going on (in the Episcopal Church),” she said. “By staying put and not doing anything, we were sending a message which was not correct.”
Before deciding to enter the Catholic Church, the sisters had explored Episcopal splinter groups and other Christian denominations. Mother Christina noted that the sisters had independently contemplated joining the Catholic Church without the others knowing. When they found out that most of them were considering the same move, they took it as a sign from God and reached out to Archbishop O’Brien.
“This is very much the work of the Holy Spirit,” Mother Christina said.
The sisters acknowledged it hasn’t been easy leaving the Episcopal Church, for which they expressed great affection. Some of their friends have been hurt by their pending departure, they said.
“Some feel we are abandoning the fight to maintain orthodoxy,” said Sister Emily Ann Lindsey. “We’re not. We’re doing it in another realm right now.”
The sisters have spent much of the past year studying the documents of the Second Vatican Council. They said there were few theological stumbling blocks to entering the church, although some had initial difficulty with the concept of papal infallibility.
In addition to worshipping in the Latin rite, the sisters are expected to receive permission to attend Mass celebrated in the Anglican-use rite – a liturgy that adapts many of the prayers from the Episcopal tradition. Mother Christina said 10 archdiocesan priests, including Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden, have stepped forward to learn how to celebrate the Anglican-use Mass.
The sisters expressed deep affection for Pope Benedict XVI. The pope exercises an authority that Episcopal leaders do not, they said. The unity that Christ called for can be found in the Catholic Church under the leadership of the pope, they said.
“Unity is right in the midst of all this,” said Sister Catherine Grace Bowen. “That is the main thrust.”
The sisters noted with a laugh that their love for the pope is evident in the name they chose for their recently adopted cat, “Benedict XVII” – a feline friend they lovingly call “His Furyness.”
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Akala Ko Aral ng Demonyo – Aral Pala ni JesuCristo
Ako po si Cirilo Estampa; 47 taong gulang; ipinanganak ako sa Batoan Bohol; ang ama ko ay si Favian Estampa at ang ina ko ay si Valintina Estampa pawang mga Katoliko. Akoy nabinyagan sa simbahang Katoliko noong sanggol palang po ako.
Ako poy lumaki na ang alam ko lang sa pagiging Katoliko ay ang pagpanguros (Sign of the Cross) at kaunting aral nito sapagkat ang mga magulang ko ay hindi relihiyoso o hindi pala simba. At hindi rin ako pala simba noong Katoliko palang po ako.
-PAGIGING KASAPI NG IGLESIA NI CRISTO (MANALO)-
Sa gulang po na isa hanggang sa dalawampu’t anim ako po ay isnag Katoliko na walang alam sa mga toro ng Biblia o sa madaling salita ignorante po ako sa aral ng Katoliko maliban po sa kaunting aral nito tulad ng pagpanguros (Sign of the Cross).
Taong 1986-1987 ako poy nag-aral ng Auto Mechanics and Driving Course (AMD) sa paaralan ng Bohol Institute of Technology doon po sa Tagbilaran Bohol. Ito poy isang one-year course lang kasi ito lang po ang kaya ng mga magulang ko.
Sa kapanahunan ng pag-aaral ko sa kolehiyo ako poy nanirahan sa kamag-anak namin sa Tagbilaran Bohol. Ang kaanak na natirhan ko ay isang masugid na kaanib ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo). Doon po sa kanila ay especial po akong pinag doctrina sa kanilang ministro.
Sa totoo lang po ako po’y sinsero at siryoso sa pakikinig sa mga aral at turo ng ministro sa akin dahil gusto kong matutunan ang aral ng Dios at nais kong matugonan ang mga pagkukulang ng simbahang Katoliko sa akin. Bukas loob ko pong tinanggap ang mga aral ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) dahil napagtanto ko pong ito’y tunay, biblical at logical po.
Pagkatapos kong madoctrinahan ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) nagpabinyag po ako para maging kasapi ng samahang animo ko nooy sugo ng Dios para sa sanlibutan. Doon po kami nagpabinyag sa Graham Avenue sa simbahan ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) at natatandaan ko pa po noong araw na mahigit 30 kaming bininyagan. At mula noon aktibo po akong nagsimba sa simbahan ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo).
Sa awa ng May Kapal natapos ko ang pag-aaral ko at sa taon ding yon (1987) pumunta ako sa Suba Masulog Lapu-lapu city para magtrabaho. Nakapasok po ako bilang isang driver sa motorsiklo. At doon sa Lapu-lapu city naghanap ako ng simbahan ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) para mapakain kopo ang kaluluwa ko ng mga aral ng Dios. At sa awa ng Dios nakakita ako ng simbahan ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) sa may Karahay Gun-ob Lapu-lapu City. At doon na ako nagsisimba sa may Karahay Gun-ob sapagkat ito lang ang pinakamalapit na simbahan ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) sa aming lugar.
Bilang kasapi po ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) na itanim ko po sa puso’t isipan ko na ang mga aral ng Katoliko ay aral ng Demonyo at kontra po ang mga aral Katoliko sa Biblia.
Sa taong 1989 nakita ko ang babaeng nagpatibok sa aking puso. Ang pangalan po niya ay si Fedela Angana, isa pong Katoliko. Dahil sa sinsiro po ang pag-ibig ko kay Fedila hiningi ko po ang kanyang kamay at sa awa ng Dios pumayag sya sa mga mithiin ko sa kanyang maging isang kabiyak.
Ang malaki ko pong problema ay ang mga magulang ni Fedila dahil gusto nila na sa Simbahang Katoliko kami ikasal. Dahil nga po sa mataas kung pag-mamahal kay Fedela nagpakasal po ako sa akala ko noo’y simbahan ng demonyo para lang maangkin ang babaeng tinitibok ng aking puso. Kinasal po kami noong May 6, 1989 sa Sambuwan Cebu City sa simbahan Katoliko.
Nanirahan po kami sa bahay ng aking ina sa Suba Masulog Lapu-lapu City. Nang sa unang mga linggo ng aming pagsasama hinayaan ko munang nag simba si Fedila sa simbahang Katoliko sa Virgin dela Regla Parish. Peru ang pagkabagabag sa loob ko ay nandyan at parating kumakatok upang himukin ko ang asawa ko na wag nang sumaba sa mga dios-diosan at tuwirang talikoran ang pagiging Katoliko na puno ng aral ng mga demonyo.
July 1989 sinimulan kung himukin ang asawa ko sa pag-asang maligtas ko sya sa kapahamakan at maisalba ang kaligtasan nito. Pina doctrinahan ko kaagad si Fedila sa mga aral ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) para mahimok syang iwanan ang kanyang pagiging Katoliko. Personal ko talagang kinukuha ang ministro para mapa rating ng mabilis ang magandang balita sa asawa ko (Kay Fedela) at para kasuklaman niya ang kanyang pagiging Katoliko na nag totoro ng mga aral ng demonyo. Subalit hindi kaagad naniwala ang asawa ko sa mga aral ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo), at halos gabi-gabi kaming nag-aaway para lang mahimok ko sya (Fedela) sa inaakala ko nooy katutuhanan. Nang lumaon, (siguro sawa na ang asawa ko sa pag-aaway namin) iniwan rin niya ang kanyang pananampalatayang Katoliko at ang pagka Katoliko mismo!
Nang matapos ni Fedila ang mga doctrina ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) nag pabautismo siya noong August 25, 1989 sa simbahan na Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) sa Gen. Maxilum Avenue, Cebu City.
Walong taon po kami bilang kasapi ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) at aktibo po kami sa pagsimba. Sa loob ng walong taon natutunan kong kasuklaman ang mga aral ng Katoliko sapagkat ang mga ministro ay parating nagpapaalala sa amin sa mga maling aral ng Iglisia Catolica, maling doctrina, ang santo Papa ay 666, mga pinatay ng mga paring Katoliko, maling relihiyon at pinagtibay nilang si Cristo ay tao lamang at hindi Dios.
Marami po kami noong mga Pasugo Magazine para mag sibling gabay sa mga pambabasang mga babasahing moral, espirtuwal at doctrinal. Sa Pasugo rin nakasaad ang maraming pang-aataki at pag-aalipusta sa mga aral Katoliko na akala ko nooy aral ng demonyo.
-PAGIGING KASAPI NG SAMAHANG ANG DATING DAAN-
Sa taong 2003 nang binuksan ko ang T.V. nakita ko si Elesio Soriano na nagsasagot sa lahat ng mga tanong itinatanong sa kanya ng mga panauhin. Lahat ng mga tanong ay masasagut nya at pawang mga biblical lahat ang kanyang mga sagot. Humanga ako sa mga aral ni Eli Soriano at nakita ko na may mga maling aral pala ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo). Dahil sa paghanga ko kay Eli Soriano at pag diskobre ng bagong katotohanan ng kaligtasan na mali pala ang Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) iniwan ko ang ang pagiging kasapi ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo). Dala ang pamilya ko, pumunta ako sa meeting place ng samahang Ang Dating Daan (Members Church of God) sa Basak Lapu-lapu City. Mula noon hindi na ako pumupunta sa simbahan ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) para mag samba.
Sa kadahilanang hindi na ako nag sisimba sa Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) pinuntahan po kami ng pamilya ko sa punong ministro ng Central ng Cebu na si Rizalito Ocampo para himukin akong manood sa kanilang programa sa T.V. ngunit sa kadahilanang hindi na ako kombinsido sa aral ng Iglesia ni Cristo (Manalo) hindi ako na nood sa kanilang programa. Mga limang buwan rin akong aktibo sa samahang Ang Dating Daan hanggang naka debate ko ang isang kasapi ng Catholic Faith Defender na kasama ko sa pagiging driver ng motorsiklo.
-Akala Ko Aral ng Demonyo – Aral Pala ni JesuCristo-
Kasama ko si Vicente Ochea (isang kasapi ng Catholic Faith Defenders) bilang isang driver ng motorsiklo. Sa mga oras na wala kaming gaanong pasahiro nag uusap kami ni Vicente patungkol sa relihiyon at mga aral ng Katolisismo. Noong una gusto kung ma e share sa kanya ang nalalaman ko patungkol sa mga maling doctrina ng Katoliko ngunit nang lumaon halos si brad Vicente na ang mag share sa nalalaman nya sa doctrina ng Katoliko bilang isang Catholic Faith Defender.
Paminsan minsan ang pag uusap namin ni brad Vicente ay humahantong sa debate, subalit malogod syang sumasagot sa mga ataki at tanong ko sa kanya-sagot lahat! Pag siya na ang nag tatanong sa akin karamihan sa mga tanong nya hindi ko masasagot. Dito napag tanto ko na kailangan talaga ako mag-aral dahil parati akong natatalo sa aming discussion.
Hanggang dumating si brad Flori Soterol na bago palang graduate ng apologetics course ng Catholic Faith Defenders nakipag usap ng masinsin sa akin upang himokin ako na mali ang stand ko at relihiyong kinaaniban ko. Itong anak ni brad Fluri na si Julius Soterol at ang anak ko nasi Reynald Estampa ay mag kaklasi sa elementarya hanggang sa high school. Sa kadahilanang kaibigan ang mga anak namin, naging magkaibigan rin kami ni brad Fluri. Tulad rin ni brad Vicente si brad Fluri na magiliw sumasagot sa mga tanong ko at hinahambing namin ang mga aral ng Katoliko at ang Dating Daan na bago palang naitatag na relihiyon.
Sa kadahilanang logical at biblical ang kanilang mga sagot sa mga tanong ko, binuksan ko ang puso ko sa aral ng Katoliko at nag attain ako sa isang Bible Study ng Catholic Faith Defenders. Pagkatapos kong marinig ang mga stand ng Catholic at ang kanilang doctrina ipinasya kong pabinyagan ang mga anak ko sa Simbahang tunay na itinatag ni Cristo sa 33 A.D.
Salamat sa mga Katekista na tumulong sa pagpabinyag sa mga anak ko para maging kasapi na sila sa tunay na iglisiang itinatag ni Cristo-ang Simbahang Katoliko! Ang bunso kong anak ang unang nabinyagan namay limang taong gulang. Ang mga anak ko na sina Reynald (16 taong gulang), Loui (14 taong gulang) at si Gladies (11 taong gulang) ay nagsiminar muna sa mga Katekista upang toroan sa mga dasal, doctrina at gawaing moral bilang isang Katoliko. Pag katapos nila ng siminar nagpabinyag ang mga anak ko sa tunay na Iglisia itinatag ni Cristo-ang Igilisia Catolica.
Bumalik ako sa pagiging Katoliko hindi sa dahilang akoy natalo sa debate kundi iwinaksi ko ang pride ko at tinimbang maiigi ang mga argumento ng bawat panig. Sa pamamagitan ng maintim na pagdasal itiniro ng Espirito Santo sa aking kaluluwa kung sino ang nasa katotohanan. Ang akala ko nooy aral ng demonyo- aral pala ni Jesu Cristo!
Mga kapatid hindi ako nagsasabing tularan ninyo ako. Hindi ako nakikialam sa mga gawain ninyo ano man ito at hindi ako nagsasabing mali kayo at ako’y tama. Karapatan ninyong husgahan ang pananampalatayang Katoliko, karapatan ninyong kasuklaman ang aral Katoliko at karapatan ninyong himukin ang iba na sumama sa inyo katulad ng ginawa ko noon. Subalit karapat-dapat na timbangin n’yo muna ang mga paghuhusga ninyo, maging bukas ang inyong puso at ang pagdarasal ng taimtim--natitiyak ko pong kayo’y gagaya rin sa akin.
Sa kasalukoyan akoy nakikinig parin sa mga bible study ng Catholic Faith Defenders sa (VDR) Lapu-lapu Chapter sa pangunguna ni brad Fernando Ybañez at sa lahat ng kanyang kasamahan. Nawa’y dadami ang Catholic Faith Defenders na magdadala sa mga kapatid nating hindi Katoliko sa tamang landas at para matoroan ang mga Katolikong walang alam sa kanilang Doctrina.
YouTube Catholic Mountain or visit Catholic Mountain.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
He and his daughter, Dina, live like refugees, switching apartments every few months, not wanting to get close to neighbors. Gohary's life has been threatened, his dogs have been killed, and it's been suggested that he's insane or possessed by spirits.
He is a man this Muslim nation cannot fathom: a convert to Christianity.
"Islam is the only thing Egyptians are 150% sure of. If you reject Islam, you shake their belief and you are an apostate, an infidel," he says. "I can see in the eyes of Muslims how much my conversion has really hurt them."
Egypt's Coptic Christians, who represent about 10% of the population, have veered from coexistence to violence with the Muslim majority. Bloody clashes recently erupted between Copts and Muslims over land disputes and restrictions on churches.
But converts, such as Gohary, are even more unsettling. Islamists believe that Muslims who forsake their religion should be punished by death.
Gohary wants to be called Peter and refuses to yield. He has filed a lawsuit asking an Egyptian court to officially recognize him as a Copt by changing the denomination on his national ID card from Muslim to Christian. The court ruled against him in June, finding that Gohary's baptism documents from the Coptic Orthodox Church were "legally invalid." The verdict is on appeal.
The case highlights the religious and political complexities that drive modern Egypt. The nation often seems at battle with itself as it attempts to balance the ideals of a democracy with laws steeped in Islamic principles.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the constitution, but fatwas, or religious edicts, from clerics subject converts from Islam to persecution and threats. The government treads uneasily, not wanting to anger religious conservatives who stubbornly guard Islam's grip on society.
Converts such as Gohary "should be killed by authorities," says Abdul Aziz Zakareya, a cleric and former professor at Al Azhar University. "Public conversions can lead to very dangerous consequences. The spreading of a phenomenon like this in a Muslim society can cause many unwanted results and tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims."
A tall man in blue shorts and rimless glasses, Gohary, 56, looks as if he is ready to walk the beach. But he and Dina have just moved to the three-room bungalow. Their suitcases are still packed; the only thing hanging on the walls is a clothesline. Listening for noises outside, Gohary speaks of how years earlier the teachings of Jesus, especially parables on forgiveness and loving your enemy, changed his life.
"In Islam, if you steal your hands are cut off, but in Christianity you can be forgiven," he says. "This compassion is what attracted me."
Back then he was a young cadet at the police academy, inspired by a Christian bunkmate who ignored the taunts of Muslim recruits. Gohary, the son of a police general, began reading the Bible. He left the academy and by his mid-20s had drifted away from Islam and was calling himself a Christian. He went through a series of jobs, he says, but was often fired or quit after being harassed when it was discovered he was no longer a Muslim.
He married in 1994, but his wife refused to convert. The couple divorced and Dina, who lives on and off with both parents, was tugged between faiths.
"I've always felt Christian," says Dina, a lithe 15-year-old who doesn't look away when she speaks. "But my mom has taken me to sheiks to convince me of Islam. She made me wear the hijab and go to the mosque against my will. My father and I are in danger. A man with a beard once grabbed me and told me that 'if you and your dad don't stop, I'll kill you both.' "
In 1997, Gohary remarried and later moved to a farm. His second wife converted to Christianity. Her family and friends were angry, and Gohary says the farm was vandalized, his trees cut down, his dogs killed. He sold the property and he and his wife planned to move to Cyprus. Dina's mother and Gohary share custody of their daughter and authorities did not allow her to leave Egypt. Gohary and his wife spent a year in Cyprus but he returned to be with Dina and ensure she was exposed to Christianity.
Gohary says he received a baptismal certificate from the Coptic Orthodox Church in Cyprus in 2005 after having been baptized by an archbishop in Egypt. The court rejected both certificates, questioning the jurisdiction of the documents and saying there was no "clear evidence" of baptism.
Gohary is reportedly the second Egyptian Muslim convert to Christianity who has tried unsuccessfully to have his religious identity officially changed. The first, Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy, went into hiding after his home was set ablaze. Religious statistics in Egypt are often manipulated and unreliable; estimates on converts to Christianity range from several thousand to hundreds of thousands.
Early this year, the courts showed a degree of religious tolerance by ruling that members of the minority Bahai faith could be issued ID cards that didn't identify them by religion. They previously had the option of only Muslim, Christian or Jew. Gohary's lawyer, Nabil Ghobrial, says judges are more hostile toward converts and are ignoring the law and ruling on "their personal religious beliefs."
Says Gohary: "I'm not so much afraid of the government anymore. It's conservative Muslims who worry me. Some of them believe whoever kills me is rewarded. When I go to court, I'm surrounded by police protection."
Voices pass Gohary's door on the way to the beach. The margins of his Bible pages are scrawled with notations; he flicks from the Old Testament to Letters of Paul. A friend delivers sodas, sits for a while and disappears. Dina unpacks.
Gohary listens at the door. He doesn't want an unexpected knock, and says he and his daughter will stay here a month or so and then move on.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
[Source: Prayer Partner ]
Lord, bless the men and
women of our military as
they answer the call to
serve our nation and defend
Protect them, particularly
those in harm’s way. Most of
all let them know your love:
that you are with them, and
that you will never forsake
or abandon them. I ask this
in the precious name of
Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
Visit Word Among Us
Friday, August 14, 2009
Enjoy and say a little prayer for their souls for only Christ can convert hearts.
Totoo ang iyong (Quirico Porras) sinasabing ang ginawa ng mga Kapatid nating nahihiwalay sa mga sektang Saksi ni Jehova at Iglesia ni Kristo ay pulos panlilinlang sa mga Katolikong alanganin ang paniniwala at kulang ng kaalaman sa relihyon. Una: malaking kasinungalingan ang sinasabi ng mga iglesya (Iglesia ni Cristo) na sila ang pinakauna sa lahat ng relihyon. Sang-ayon sa Encyclopedia of the Philippines, Vol. 10, 1936 edition, pahina 432-433, sinulat ni Zoila Galang, ang Iglesya ay itinatag noong 1914, sa Punta, Sta. Ana, Maynila ni Felix Manalo.
Isa rito sa 18 “hinirang ng Diyos” ay si Mr. Igmidio Zabala, dating Superintendente ng mga Iglesya sa Central Luzon, na ngayon ay nagbalik na sa pagka-Katoliko at ang sabi niya’y hindi totoo na sila’y hinirang ng Diyos. Ang humirang sa kanila ay si G. Manalo. Sa “katunayan,” sudlong pa ni Mr. Zabala, “ano mang oras ay naiaalis ni Manalo ang sino man sa amin. Siya ang nag turo sa aming kung ano ang ituturo namin sa mga kaanib sa sariling pakahulugan niya sa mga talata ng Bibliya. Siya ang nagbibigay ng sweldo sa amin.” Bakit sasabihing Diyos ang humirang sa 18 ito?
Samaktwid, sang-ayon na rin sa tinatawag ni Manalong “hinirang ng Diyos” na si Mr. Zabala, hindi totoong Diyos ang humirag sa mga ministro ng Iglesia, at gayon din hindi totoong Diyos ang humirang kay Felix Manalo. Mayroon bang Diyos na pabagu-bago ng patakaran?
At samakatwid, sang-ayon na rin kay Manalo, ang Iglesya ay natayo sa Punta, Ata. Ana, Maynila noong 1914 at hinirang ng Diyos ang kanyang mga ministro noon ding mga petsang yaon. Paano itong magiging “pinakauna” sa lahat ng relihyon? Mahina yata sa arithmetic ang ating mga kapatid na iyan. Iglesia ni CRisto-Manalo...
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
As the questioning continued, Maryam and Marzieh made reference to their belief that God had convicted them through the Holy Spirit.
Mr. Haddad told them, "It is impossible for God to speak with humans." Marzieh asked him in return, "Are you questioning whether God is Almighty?" Mr. Haddad then replied, "You are not worthy for God to speak to you." Marzieh said, "It is God, and not you, who determines if I am worthy."
In the eyes of the court, Maryam and Marzieh's only crime was their conversion to Christianity, but these young women have stayed strong and clung to their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They are now in prison awaiting their verdict.
Although the Iranian Parliament has not yet passed a threatened new apostacy bill, over the last 20 years Iran has punished many converts to Christianity through torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings. Please pray for these courageous women of God.
And mostly pray for our other brethren in Christ who are also persecuted in other countries communist and Islamic countries.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – Today is a ‘black day’, a day of protest for some 20 million Christians in Pakistan and around the world who want the country’s blasphemy laws repealed for being a virtual “constitutional genocide”. The event will include a number of actions promoted by religious leaders and activists across the country as a way to respond to attacks by fundamentalists.
As part of this Nazir S Bhatti, president of the Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC), launched an appeal to the US government and the European Union to press upon the Pakistani government the need to repeal the blasphemy law and ensure the peace and safety of the country’s Christian community. For him today is not ‘Minority Day’ as announced by the government but a “black day’ to mark anti-Christian violence.
For Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the Catholic Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), a number of additional initiatives are planned over the next few days, involving a variety of Christian groups as well as activists and leading members of civil society.
Today for instance minority lawmakers and administrators will attend prayer meetings and religious functions.
Tomorrow evening all Christian denominations will take part in a memorial Mass in Lahore’s Naulakha Church to honour the victims of the Gojra massacre.
On 18 August civil society groups will hold a protest in Lahore against religious extremism and the blasphemy laws.
The NCJP is planning a seminar on ‘Extremism and the Law’ for tomorrow and has launched a signature campaign to repeal the blasphemy laws.
In a recent statement Amnesty International has expressed its support for Pakistani Christians.
In its press release the human rights organisation called on the authorities in Islamabad to “to take meaningful action to protect religious minorities which have increasingly been the target of religiously-motivated attacks and persecution.”
“To this end,” the statement said, “the Pakistan government should introduce a comprehensive education programme, at all levels of society, which promotes equality and respect for the diversity of beliefs in Pakistan”.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The girl, who turned 17 on Monday, is at the center of a custody dispute in Orlando, where she sought help from a family she barely knew -- a pastor and his wife willing to take in a teen who feared her own family's retribution because she converted to Christianity.
The Orlando Sentinel is not identifying the teen because of her age.
The girl appeared before a crowded courtroom full of lawyers and spectators on Monday when an Orange Circuit Court Judge ordered her into Department of Children and Families emergency custody.
It was another in a series of legal decisions in a complicated case: Beyond the girl's religious preferences, the court must solve jurisdictional issues related to child services and courts.
In addition, the teen, a native of Sri Lanka, is not a U.S. citizen.
Her dispute with her family became news several weeks ago when the girl ran away from her home in Columbus, Ohio. She hitch-hiked to a Greyhound station and boarded a bus to Orlando.
Once here, she borrowed a cell phone to call Beverly Lorenz, who with husband Blake Lorenz is a pastor of Global Revolution Church in Orlando. The Lorenzes met the girl through a prayer group on Facebook.
Although the girl was a stranger, Beverly Lorenz told her they would house her. The teen told the Lorenzes she feared her family would hurt her, kill her or send her back to Sri Lanka, Beverly Lorenz said.
"We are doing everything we can to protect her," said Blake Lorenz, who said he has been told his life may be in jeopardy.
Meanwhile, the girl's parents reported to Ohio law enforcement authorities that their daughter was missing. They put together a flier, with her picture on it, asking for tips to her whereabouts.
Beverly Lorenz said they called an abuse hotline, prompting a visit on Friday from the Orlando police. Officers picked up the girl to be placed in state custody.
The Lorenzes appeared in court with the teen Monday, as did her father from Ohio.
When the petite girl walked into court, she immediately bolted for Beverly Lorenz, who held her. The teen then joined Blake Lorenz at a table with lawyers. He comforted her throughout the entire hearing with his arm around her shoulder.
Rosa Gonzalez, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, told Orange Circuit Judge Gail A. Adams the teen is in fear for her life. The sight of her father makes the teen "frantic and hysterical," Gonzalez said.
The teen's father said little during the hearing.
Reached by a Sentinel reporter by phone, the girl's mother said little. "Yes, of course" her daughter would be safe should a judge eventually order her back there, she said.
And her father would not harm his daughter if she wanted to be a Christian, the woman said. She referred other questions to her husband. He did not answer his cell phone after the hearing.
Gonzalez said her organization, which sends pro bono lawyers to work on cases involving Christian issues, is concerned the teen could be returned to her parents.
"We don't take those threats lightly," she said.
Imam Hatim Hamidullah, with the Islamic Society of Central Florida, said the Muslim faith does not call for a father to hurt his child, should she convert to another religion.
"It is not Islam for the father to bring harm upon his blood daughter or any other human being because of anger," he said. "Our position is to exhaust all measures that would bring peace and harmony back to the family," Hamidullah said. "Being angry and threatening the life of someone is not one of those methods."
A DCF spokeswoman said the agency is working with Ohio officials to ensure the teen's "safety and well being."
Attempts to talk to the teen after the hearing were unsuccessful -- her legal guardians ushered her out of the building without letting her speak to a reporter.
On a baby sitter Web site, the girl described herself this way: "One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is cheerleading for my high school and of course tumbling as well. I have a little brother who is about to turn 5 years old. With this, I have had a lot of experience with toddlers and many years of sitting for him."
Blake Lorenz, who retired after serving as pastor at Pine Castle United Methodist Church for several years, said the teen believes her dad will kill her.
"We are doing everything we can to protect her," he said.
Lorenz said he has been told his life may be in jeopardy.
After Monday's hearing, Blake Lorenz said he was relieved the teen is not returning back to her family in Ohio immediately, but he's still cautious. He's "very concerned that the system will let her down."
Monday, August 10, 2009
Olson is the former editor of Envoy magazine, and Miesel is an expert on the Church in the medieval era. The two teamed up to write The Da Vinci Hoax, which Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George describes as the “definitive debunking” of Dan Brown’s best seller The Da Vinci Code.
Register correspondent Sabrina Ferrisi spoke to the authors.
Dan Brown writes about the Holy Grail and the Church’s supposed attempts to suppress it. What is the real story?
Miesel: The Church has never said anything about the Holy Grail. Medieval legends of the Holy Grail began in the 12th century. The Grail only appears in literature, with its meaning tied to legitimate Christian belief in the holy Eucharist. Nobody ever went out to look for the Grail.
It is well established that ideas of old pagan myths filtered into stories of the Holy Grail. The first place the Grail is ever mentioned is in the Tale of the Grail, written by Chretien de Troyes, a Frenchman in the 12th century.
The idea of the Grail being the bloodline of Mary Magdalene and Jesus comes from occult books. The book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which came out in the 1980s, talks about this “great secret” of the Grail. It’s based on false documents that were planted in the French National Library by Frenchmen Pierre Plantard and his collaborators in the 1950s. The documents showed a supposed genealogy of the descendants of Christ.
Brown says the Emperor Constantine was baptized on his deathbed and implies he was never a believer.
Olson: Constantine was baptized on his deathbed, but this was common at the time. There is a great deal of evidence that he was a believer in Christianity. He desired to go to the Jordan and get baptized there. He called together the Council of Nicaea in 325 to combat the Arian heresy. There was unity lacking in the Roman Empire. And Constantine did see Christianity as a unifying influence. But to say he was not a true believer is a very cynical statement that does not hold up to the evidence.
What about Brown’s assertions that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene?
Miesel: This legend all began with a crooked priest in France in the 1890s. This priest made money by selling Masses. He renovated his church and built an expensive house. Eventually, his bishop made him quit as a priest. The village where he lived, however, wanted the house to be made into a tourist attraction. So in the 1950s, a restaurant owner said a secret parchment and Templar treasures had been found in or near the church.
Plantard created this fake parchment. He had been a devout Catholic but went on to become a con man. The parchment supposedly supported the idea of a secret bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Brown says Constantine invented Jesus’ divinity and that no one had ever believed this beforehand, not even Jesus’ followers.
Olson: This is the biggest lie in the book. It goes directly to the heart of Christianity. … If no one believed Jesus was divine, then why were Christians persecuted? Why were they willing to go to their deaths?
Jesus’ divinity is in the writings of all four Gospels, the writings of St. Paul and all the early Church Fathers in the first three centuries. In our book, we quote 12 Church Fathers — these were early theologians whose writings the Catholic and Orthodox Church look to as authoritative guides.
What about this Priory of Sion? Brown claims it is an ancient organization charged with protecting the tomb of Mary Magdalene.
Miesel: There never was a Priory of Sion organization that spanned a thousand years. In 1956, Pierre Plantard formed the Priory of Sion in France. The group’s interest was in mystical and esoteric doctrines. He eventually built a myth of himself as the descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Then a supposed member of the priory committed suicide in 1992. Plantard was brought to testify in court, and under oath, he said he had made everything up. He died in 2000.
Brown is a very deceptive writer. In fact, I can hardly find a single fact that is true in his book.
Who were the Knights Templar, and did the Church accuse them of heresy — as Brown asserts?
Miesel: The Knights Templar were basically monks who fought. They were founded in 1108 and designed to help the Crusades conflict in the Holy Land.
The Knights became very popular, and many people joined them. At their peak, they never had more than 300 full-fledged knights in the Holy Land, but they did have thousands of members: chaplains, servants, workers, lay people.
How and why were they persecuted?
Miesel: In 1291, the Holy Land was retaken by the Muslims. The Knights went back to France where they had lots of property by this time — thousands of plots — which people had given to them.
They operated what amounted to a chain of international banks. You could put money down in Paris in one of their centers and take it out in Rome. In 1307, King Philip IV of France decided he wanted their money. He had all of them arrested: about 1,500 to 2,000 people. The king said they were heretics. He did this on his own authority, not the Pope’s. The Pope at this time was in Avignon and was very weak. He was told about this after the fact.
The Knights were imprisoned, tortured and made to sign wild things: that they worshipped an idol called Bathomet, dishonored the crucifix and were homosexuals. About 100-200 of them would not admit to this and were burned at the stake. Pope Clement was horrified originally. But when he read their confession, he gave permission to investigate. Eventually, King Philip IV brought his soldiers to the Pope and put strong pressure on him to sign a decree in 1312 that suppressed the order. In 1314, the last two Templar Knights were burned at the stake.
What about all the assertions made against Opus Dei?
Olson: Brown uses Opus Dei to replace the old bogeyman in anti-Catholic literature, which used to be the Jesuits. Brown’s language is laughable. It’s not a religious order. There are no monks or sisters. He describes it as a church; it’s not a church. It’s a personal prelature. It is almost exclusively made up of lay people, and its goal is to promote the vocation of holiness in the world.
Brown says Leonardo da Vinci mocked the Church.
Miesel: Everything Brown tells you about Leonardo da Vinci is wrong. Maybe he was a homosexual, but he was not flamboyant. In fact, he was quiet and reserved. In the Last Supper painting, da Vinci is illustrating St. John’s Gospel. Mary Magdalene is not the person next to Jesus [as Brown asserts]. It is St. John, who is always depicted as young and effeminate.
There is no evidence that da Vinci hated the Catholic Church. He died a believing Catholic. His last will specifically requests a Catholic funeral.
Brown says the Church, from the beginning, launched a smear campaign against Mary Magdalene.
Olson: This is ludicrous, especially when you see that the Gospel mentions her 12 times and she is the first witness to the Resurrection. In fact, during the entire medieval era, 400 to 1400 A.D., she was the most popular saint in the Western Church. Eventually Mary, the mother of Jesus, became more popular.
What disturbs you the most about The Da Vinci Code?
Miesel: That people are taking this as true. Why is this happening? Because people don’t have real faith, and because Catholics have been so poorly catechized. They don’t know how the Gospels were formed, what the early Church believed, that the divinity of Jesus was not an invention.
Brown exploits ignorance. It doesn’t occur to people to check stuff in their encyclopedias. They only look on the Internet and find all kinds of strange Web sites supporting this stuff. People like conspiracy theories.
The Church scandals have made all of this easier to take in. It is a sad commentary that Christians and Catholics are reading this. It’s a masterpiece that appeals to the weaknesses of our age.
Olson: The most disturbing thing is its success. People are spiritually gullible and put their brain on hold to embrace something that is anti-Catholic. This is a prejudice that’s deeply engraved in American culture.
The Da Vinci Code appeals to people who don’t like religious authority. It promises special knowledge and says the Catholic Church is false. If Jesus isn’t divine, he can’t make any moral demands.
The scandal is that Jesus is alive and that you have to decide for or against him.
Sabrina Ferrisi writes from Jersey City, New Jersey.
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Saturday, August 8, 2009
[Article & Photo Source: Catholic Herald - By Will Heaven]
Eight Pakistani Christians ere killed, 50 homes destroyed and two churches burned when a rampaging mob of up to 3,000 Muslims tore hrough
the town of Gojra, in eastern Pakistan, last Saturday.
The victims, who included two young children, were either burned alive or shot.
The attacks were said to be among the bloodiest against Pakistani Christians in the country's history. Some of those killed were understood to be Catholics.
The mob gathered after rumours had spread that children had cut up a schoolbook which included verses from the Koran. The children had supposedly been making confetti for a local wedding.
As well as those killed, more than 20 people were injured in the attack as the mob, carrying sticks, clubs and a small number of firearms, took to the streets last weekend.
The attacks came two days after a related incident in the nearby village of Korian where gangs set fire to more than 70 Christian homes and two small Protestant churches.
A telegram was sent on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI to Bishop Joseph Coutts of the Catholic Diocese of Faisalabad. It said the Pontiff was "deeply grieved to learn of the senseless attack on the Christian community of Gojra city which resulted in the tragic killing of innocent men, women and children". The message also included condolences to the families of the victims and expressed solidarity with the survivors.
"In the name of God he appeals to everyone to renounce the way of violence, which causes so much suffering, and to embrace the way of peace," the telegram said.
The Pope asked Bishop Coutts to "encourage the whole diocesan community, and all Christians in Pakistan, not to be deterred in their efforts to help build a society which, with a profound sense of trust in religious and human values, is marked by mutual respect among all its members".
The bishop expressed his grief and anger after the attacks. Speaking from Pakistan in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic charity for persecuted Christians, Bishop Coutts said: "There is a lot of anger among the people about what has happened. Emotions are running extremely high. People could respond in any way. This is undoubtedly one of the worst attacks we have faced."
Bishop Coutts presided at the funerals of those killed in the Gojra violence last Sunday. He denounced the failure of the authorities to tackle the causes of the violence and criticised the police for not acting quickly to stop the mob, describing the official response to the violence as "half-hearted and ineffective".
The bishop said the number of recent attacks against Christians was a clear signal that their safety was being ignored.
He said: "In all these cases, the police did almost nothing to stop the rampaging mobs. Condolences, apologies and assurances always pour in from officials and other citizens after the event, but the timely action required to prevent such incidents has always been missing."
Bishop Coutts stressed the continuing need to work towards inter-religious cooperation.
On Tuesday the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, appealed to the government of Pakistan to ensure "that justice is done in the wake of these terrible events". Dr Williams also criticised Pakistan's "draconian laws against blasphemy".
Christian groups have repeatedly called for the repeal of Pakistan's 1986 blasphemy laws, which deal harshly with perceived "crimes of disrespect" towards the Koran or the Prophet Mohammed. Perpetrators of these crimes are liable to sentences of life imprisonment or the death penalty, according to the decrees of sharia law. Critics say the laws target Christians who have reportedly had 23 per cent of blasphemy cases brought against them, despite only representing three per cent of Pakistan's predominantly Muslim population.
John Pontifex, a spokesman for Aid to the Church in Need, said Pakistan's laws against blasphemy were encouraging vigilantism.
Bishop Sadiq Daniel, head of the Anglican diocese in Karachi and the south-western Baluchistan province, said: "Christian schools will remain closed for three days from today to mourn the death of innocent people in Gojra."
He added: "There is no proof of blasphemy, but if someone has done that he, and not the entire community, should be punished."
Officials denied that rumours concerning the desecration of verses from the Koran had any basis.
Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's minister for minorities, said authorities were also investigating reports that "masked men armed with explosives" were at the forefront of the violence,
indicating that Islamist militias were involved.
"Allegations of desecration of the Holy Koran, which were used as an excuse by banned [Islamist] groups to foment such a big scale of violence, were baseless and without grounds," he told a news conference on Monday.
Punjab's provincial police chief Tariq Salim Dogar said that 64 people had been arrested in connection with the attacks.
However, the head of the Catholic Church in Pakistan released a statement which complained that when Christians were attacked the culprits were "arrested but never brought to justice".
The statement also demanded that the Pakistani authorities decide on "a comprehensive policy" to eliminate "hate speeches" against other religions.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Fr. Daniel J. McNamara, S.J., during one of our walks years ago, told us: “The Iglesia ni Cristo is neither a church nor of Christ.” It is worthwhile to ponder on his words as Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) celebrates its 95th Anniversary last July 27, 2009–95 years after Felix Y. Manalo made the INC into a corporation with him as the executive minister last July 27, 1914.
A true church of Christ has four marks: one, holy, Catholic, apostolic (c.f. Catechism of the Catholic Church Art. 811 ). If one of this does not hold, then the Iglesia ni Cristo is a false church of Christ.
1. Is the Iglesia ni Cristo one? The INC is is united in doctrine and even in voting. No wonder many politicians who wished to be reelected this coming 2010 elections are all congratulating INC in its 95th anniversary. The INC passed the first test.
2. Is the Iglesia ni Cristo holy? The Catholic Church has produced numerous saints: beggars and kings, scholars and soldiers, old and young. Can the INC name at least one–only one–person in all its history whom they consider as a saint, a man or woman worthy of emulation, whose life reflected the radical message of the gospel–a Mother Teresa, an Ignatius of Loyola, a Francis of Assisi? The INC can give none.
3. Is the Iglesia ni Cristo catholic? Catholicity simply means universal. The INC is universal in space: the INC is now found in many countries and its mission is to convert the whole world. But the INC is not universal in time: where was INC in the first centuries of Christianity, when the truths of the Faith were debated and clarified? The INC was not there. It is true that INC proclaims an affinity with the teachings of Bishop Arius (AD 250-336), the founder of Arianism, a heresy which denies the divinity of Christ. But between Arius and Manalo is 1,600 years of absence.
Catholic also means “according to totality” or “in keeping with the whole” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Art. 830):
The Catholic Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. “Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church.” In her subsists the fullness of Christ’s body united with its head; this implies that she receives from him “the fullness of the means of salvation” which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry of apostolic succession. The Church was, in this fundamental sense, catholic on the day of Pentecost and will always be so until the day of Parousia.
The INC also claims this catholicity, for they also adopt the following catholic doctrine:
Ouside the church there is no salvation.
I remembered one of INC’s television show called Tamang Daan, the Right Way in contrast to Eli Soriano’s Datin Daan or the Old Way. In their show, one of INC’s argument to support their doctrine is a quotation from a catholic author: “Outside the Church of Christ there is no salvation.” The two INC ministers–always two since two is the sign of Socratic dialogue for knowing the truth–will tell the readers that the text they are quoting has the imprimatur of the Catholic Church. Then they make a twist of Faith: translate this sentence in Filipino and you will see that “Outside Iglesia ni Cristo there is no salvation.” Oh, what a proof.
4. Is the Iglesia ni Cristo apostolic? To be apostolic, the INC must be founded by an apostle, in the same way as the Roman Catholic Church was founded by Apostles Peter and Paul. But the fact that INC only celebrated its 95th founding anniversary means that INC could never be founded by an apostle. An apostle was a person sent by Christ with the authority to preach the Kingdom of God (c.f. Mt 10). The apostles in turn ordained bishops and gave them authority to govern the church, as Timothy was ordained by Paul through the laying of the hands:
Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate. (1 Tim 4:14)
And these bishops in turn ordain new bishops to take their place. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, is apostolic because it traces its apostolic lineage from St. Peter, the first bishop of Rome, to the present pope, Pope Benedict XVI. But who ordained Manalo? Who laid hands on him? No one. He ordained himself. Oh, I made a mistake. Protestant pastors ordained him (full story by Emily Jordan). But INC never recognizes the Protestant faith. Mainline Protestants at least believes on the Divinity of Christ, which the INC reject. This itself poses a question on the validity of the Manalo’s ordination. (The validity of the Protestant minister’s apostolic succession is a separate issue.) So effectively, no one ordained Manalo. He ordained himself.
5. Thus, the Iglesia ni Cristo posesses only one mark of the true Church of Christ: it is one, but it is not holy, nor catholic, nor apostolic. Let us not be deceived. Not all those who are named Manny Pacquiao can box like the real Manny Pacquiao. Not all those who calls themselves the Church of Christ or Iglesia ni Cristo is the true Church of Christ. Only the Catholic Church is. The Church of Iglesia ni Cristo is a false church, an Anti-Church. The Christ of Iglesia ni Cristo is an Arian idol, an Anti-Christ. Let us not be deceived.
By Corazon C. Aquino (1994)
Almighty God, most merciful Father
You alone know the time
You alone know the hour
You alone know the moment
When I shall breathe my last.
So, remind me each day,
Most loving Father
To be the best that I can be.
To be humble, to be kind,
To be patient, to be true.
To embrace what is good,
To reject what is evil,
To adore only You.
When the finial moment does come
Let not my loved ones grieve for long.
Let them comfort each other
And let them know
How much happiness
They brought in life.
Let them pray for me,
As I will continue to pray for them,
Hoping that they will always pray
For each other.
Let them know that they made possible
Whatever good I offered to our world.
And let them realize t hat our separation
Is just for a short while
As we prepare for our reunion in eternity.
Our Father in heaven,
You alone are my hope.
You alone are my salvation.
Thank you for your unconditional love. Amen.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Anti-Christian attacks “premeditated”, says archbishop of Lahore
[Photo & Article Source: Asia News:] “We must defend ourselves” from premeditated” attacks gainst Pakistan’s Christian minority. For this reason it is necessary “to keep a low profile” and avoid giving fundamentalists “any more pretexts” to carry out violence on confessional grounds, said Mgr John Lawrence Saldanha, the archbishop of Lahore, as he spoke to AsiaNews about anti-Christian attacks in Gojra and the village of Korian, in
“The Christian community suffered two premeditated attacks,” Archbishop Saldanha. “The first one, on 30 July, fortunately produced no victims. But on 1 August, people were not prepared to confront the onslaught and some died.”
About “seven people died, six from the same family,” the prelate added. But the number of casualties could rise.
Following the intervention of the Pakistani army, calm returned to the area.
The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), which is chaired by Archbishop Saldanha, has decided to shut down all Catholic schools and institutions in Punjab for three days of mourning.
In a joint statement signed by the archbishop and Peter Jacob, the NCJP executive secretary, the NCJP called on the government to address the root causes of religious intolerance in Pakistan.
More specifically, the archbishop denounced the use of a “special fuel” to make it more difficult to put out the flames, a fuel also used in Shanti Nagar, a village that was torched in February 1997 and in Sangla Hill in 2005.
The prelate went on to call for “more decisive government action” to protect the country’s minorities as well as a “special meeting with the authorities in Islamabad,” guilty of not taking “all the necessary steps to defend the population.”
For Mgr Saldanha the Sunni extremist group Sipah-e-Sahabaha could be behind the attack. He said he hoped that “concrete steps” will be taken to stop the violence.
“We must defend ourselves” and “keep a low profile”, he said. “Christians must avoid giving the terrorists more scope to carry out more attacks.”
In an atmosphere of “profound sadness,” he made a plea through AsiaNews: “[We Catholics of Pakistan] call upon the Christians of the entire world for their solidarity and prayers. Do not
leave us alone; remain close to us in your hearts and minds. Now all we can do is stay united and hope the situation will improve.”
For NCJP leaders the government must find a solution to the problems caused by the blasphemy laws, which have been used to sow “hatred and divisions” in the country.
They denounce the existence of extremist cells in Punjab, involved in attacks across Pakistan.
Punjab’s provincial government must adopt a strategy to “eliminate hate speech” and violence in all their forms.
In a telegram sent by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, to the Bishop of Faisalabad, the Most Reverend Joseph Coutts, the Holy Father said he “was deeply grieved to learn of the senseless attack on the Christian community of Gojra City which resulted in the tragic killing of innocent men, women and children”.
“In the name of God,” he said “everyone” should “renounce the way of violence which causes so such suffering and” instead “embrace the way of peace.”
His Holiness also charge bishop Coutts to strongly encourage the whole diocesan community,
and all Christians in Pakistan, to continue their efforts at building “a society which, with a profound sense of trust in religious and human values, is marked by mutual respect among all its members.”
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Seattle, Wash., [CNA).- The short life of a devout, Catholic, young girl from Seattle has brought many Catholics across the United States back to the Church. Her holy and loving example, as well as her battle with cancer, has drawn others to convert to Catholicism and has inspired the creation of an organization to reach out to families with a loved one facing a chronic illness.
Gloria was born in 1996 to Doug and Kristen Strauss and was like any other seven-year old. She enjoyed playing with her six siblings and friends, dressing up, playing board games, picking flowers and watching the Fox television show, “American Idol.” The young girl also had a special place in her heart for the Rosary and for making people feel good about themselves. However, no one could have predicted the amount of people her brief time on earth would touch.
CNA spoke with her father, Doug, who explained that one day in 2003 when Gloria was seven years-old, she was hit in the face with a ball resulting in a black eye. When the color returned to normal after the seemingly minor injury, a suspicious bump remained. After two trips to the doctor, she was referred to a specialist who instantly had a hunch it was cancer.
Gloria was diagnosed with a cancer known as neuroblastoma and only given a window of three months to three years to survive. Following the diagnosis, Gloria immediately went into surgery and began chemotherapy treatments. Doug explained that though it was difficult, the family resolved to remain “open to God’s plan in hopes that the family would be strengthened.”
At the time, Doug was a high school basketball coach who knew Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer. Brewer had planned to run a single column on the family’s struggles while Doug coached during the season. However, the first column attracted so many readers that the idea expanded into a five-month series of interviews with the Strauss family sharing Gloria’s faith and trust in God with those in Seattle and around the United States.
When Gloria’s condition took a turn for the worse in 2007, the family opened their home for community members to come and pray over her. Doug explained that for three weeks, 50 – 60 people showed up Monday – Friday to pray the Rosary and sing praise and worship songs. Later, when it became too much for the family, five members of the community opened up their homes to continue the prayers for Gloria.
Drawing others to Christ
After Gloria endured seven rounds of chemotherapy, the doctors decided to try a stem-cell transplant using her own stem-cells. Doug said that at that point, he knew that Gloria was at her lowest point. He was desperate and started to pray, “God help me, I don’t understand.”
He heard a voice say, “quality of life.” He was confused, but went to Gloria the next day and asked if she’s had quality of life. He didn’t expect her to understand, but she immediately responded, “yes daddy!” She excitedly added that so many people have started praying because of her illness.
Doug explained that Gloria had a beautiful gift, she was able to draw people to Christ through her cancer. “She taught us all how to carry a cross. Her gift to us was her living example of her commitment to a relationship with God through constant prayer. She always said, “yes.”
Writing in the Seattle Times column, Doug recalled that they “would ask if it was all right to have a healing Mass,” and she would answer, “oh yea!” Other times they would ask: “How about if 50 people come over to pray the Rosary over you tonight?” She’d say, “oh yea!”
“From shots to sickness it always began and ended with the sign of the cross,” Doug continued. “Often doctors would have to stand and wait as she made the sign of the cross and prayed. Amazing to watch!”
It wasn’t just her actions that drew people to Christ, her father also explained that everyone spoke of Gloria’s presence. “She had this presence that allowed people to want to be with her and pray for her.” Even at the age of seven, “she knew her calling to bring people to God through her cancer.”
People from all religions were attracted to Gloria and her family through the front-page column in the Seattle Times. “Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, they all wrote in to the paper talking about how they’ve been impacted by her life,” Doug said. “Everyone knew we were Catholic – we didn’t have to profess it – we wanted prayers from everyone,” Doug continued.
Doug even mentioned a blind man that had written him a letter saying that he had been praying Rosaries for Gloria and wanted to meet her. Miraculously, when she entered the room he could see her dressed in white. The man told Doug however that when she left, he was blind once again.
Though prayers for Gloria kept coming, her cancer continued to spread and she died on September 21, 2007.
Immediately following Gloria’s death, the family realized the large impact that Gloria had on the community.
Doug explained that people came all over to view her body before and after the Rosary. He added that he received a letter from a Lutheran man who attends Eucharistic adoration at a Catholic church who said that he had to go so that he could “see a saint in person.”
Then at the funeral, over 3,200 showed up and the family began to hear stories of how’ Gloria’s life and struggle had transformed lives.
One man from Virginia had read about Gloria and explained that he felt like he was “hit over the head by a 2 x 4.” The man had been on a four-day drinking binge and he completely gave up alcohol after reading the story on her illness and strength of faith.
Not only do the Strausses have a list of others who have quit different drug addictions because of Gloria, but they are aware of at least ten people who have become Catholic directly due to Gloria’s story – and more are continuing to convert. One in particular was a nurse at the Children’s hospital who didn’t grow up going to church. After seeing little Gloria’s faith, she knew she had to do something about it.
According to the Catholic Northwest Progress, one Presbyterian family became Catholic after Gloria attended a camp for ill children and their families. One of the volunteers, Brinn Funai continued to keep in touch with Kristen Strauss, Gloria’s mother, after the week’s activities.
Brinn explained that she had been checking into Catholicism, but meeting Kristen and the Strausses “was a big turning point for me.” They “really helped kin of soften that road so to speak, to coming into the church.”
“I told her right before she died, ‘Gloria, we’re going to become Catholic,’” said Brinn. “And she said, ‘Wow!’” The Funais were received into Catholic Church at Easter 2008.
Not only did the girl’s life, touch individuals, but she also inspired the organization, “Gloria’s Angels.”
At a point when Gloria’s health continued to fade, the family’s spiritual advisor spoke to Bob Turner, a Seattle business man, about assisting the family in the days following Gloria’s cancer. “Either she was going to experience a miraculous healing or she was going to pass away,” Turner explained. “In either case, [the spiritual advisor] recognized that the Strauss family would have some mission to serve.”
Turner explained that he decided “to bring his business skills into a partnership with the Strauss family to help them honor her and carry on her mission.” After weeks of discernment, Turner and the Strauss family decided that Gloria’s mission could best be carried out by serving families facing life-threatening illnesses.
And so Gloria’s Angels was born.
The organization works to smooth out the “roller coaster ride” that families with a sick member experience. While many agencies exist to assist families in need, oftentimes loved ones are unaware of the services offered or need help with the coordination. Gloria’s Angel’s steps in for guidance to piece everything together.
Source Article: Life of young, vibrant Catholic, inspires many to come back to the Church
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Corazon C. Aquino died today at the age of 76. Her death is a personal loss for me. I was just 14 years old when she ran for Presidency. I remembered singing the "Bayan Ko" for the first time with passion when Butch Abad came to my town and awaken the Filipino pride in us by a song. I never felt that Filipino pride in me until Cory came to challenge the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.
I consider Cory as the best Presidents we ever had and I am truly blest to have lived during her leadership. Plagued with 7 coup attemps by selfish military men who are now serving as our Senators she survived them all courageously strengthened by her faith in God and her deep devotion to the Mother of God, Mary Most Holy. During those difficult times, no one knew that she was kept secretly inside comtemplative convents of the Pink Sisters, founded by St. Arnold Janssen, SVD.
At times, I didn't agree with her when she joined forces with Joseph Estrada but now I understand.
Cory never thought of herself alone. In all her decisions, she always considers what the Filipino people may benefit from her decision. Her saintly life as a devout Catholic leader was tarnished only by her own children's lapse judgment but she remained loving to her children.
I never heard any bad thing about Cory. Only God knows how virtuous she lived her life privately.
For me, she's a saint worthy of emulation.
May she rest in peace!
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