The year 2014 witnessed greater persecution against Christians around the world. It is not entirely new that Christians are persecuted for their faith but in the past few years, we have seen an upward surge unprecedented in recent history. In 2020, the level of persecution has reached a new high especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. According to Open Doors, a US-based agency serving persecuted Christians worldwide, the persecution of Christians doubled in 2013. In its report, it says that Christianity as the largest faith in the world with 2.2 billion followers, which is about 32% of the world population, faces hostility in 111 countries. While there are persistent internal tensions with the second-largest religion, Islam, it fiercely faces restrictions in ultra-conservative countries, which do not favor another state religion. In all, Christians faced persecution that saw the birth of many martyrs simply for their faith as Christians in 2013. This situation prompted the Vatican representative to the United Nations, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, to voice out his concerns to the UN Human Rights Council. According to him, every year over 100,000 Christians is violently killed because of their faith. The rank of those persecuted cuts across all ranks of the Church hierarchy from missing bishops kidnapped nuns, abducted priests too numerous lay followers suffering martyrdom in the hands of their dangerous persecutors.READ MORE
After listening to different news media reports onthe endless skirmishes between Israel and thePalestinians in Gaza, I decided to find out formyself what history could offer me about thiscontroversial subject. I found a book of greatinterest, The Middle East by Bernard Lewis,a historian of great repute and versed on thesubject. From the first to the last page, I read indetail the rise and fall of different empires,sultanates or caliphates, or khanates in what wenow call the Middle East.READ MORE
In many novels, plays, and films there are storms. Characters look to grey skies and warn that a storm is coming. This is not just a weather forecast! In our own daily lives when we face difficult or painful situations we talk about ‘ weathering a storm&rsquo, or ‘ being all at sea.’ These recent months whether at a personal, local, national or global level, we have all weathered, battled, and hopefully survived the storm that was and still is the Coronavirus. It shook and rattled us and we all did our very best to hang on and survive. Hopefully these days now, that storm is easing for us.
In the gospel today, the disciples find themselves in a storm while at sea in a boat, but this is not the only storm they are facing. The gospel continues directly from last week’s when Jesus fed the crowd. After sending them away, Jesus again spends time alone where he can be silent, rest and pray. Even Jesus can’t be busy and active all the time. While the disciples are at sea the famous storm blows and bellows.READ MORE
Jesus multiplied two fish and five loaves for amultitude of people. He knew that the peopledepended on him while he taught them by thehillside. When it was time to depart and go backto their homes, he did not allow them to emptyhanded. He instructed the apostles to give themsomething to eat. They could only find two fishand five loaves. Jesus multiplied them and gavethem out for the people to eat.
Anytime we read this section in the Bible, we arealways moved with surprise that Jesus couldmultiply few loves of bread and fish for a largegathering. However, we should not be surprisedcompletely and lose the point. Jesus is the sonof God. He came from the Father to show ushow much he loves us. He used many difficultand impossible situations to reveal, to us pieceby piece how much he cares about us. Insteadof believing in God’s ultimate power, wequestion everything about him.
Consider this fact. Five thousand men excludingwomen and children ate from the two fish andfive loaves. Do you know how much food fivethousand men could eat? What about thewomen and their children? Combining the foodthat came from the fish and bread gives us thecourage to term this a miracle. Our faith teachesus that Jesus did many other miracles tosubstantiate his position as God’s Only begottenson.READ MORE
Christianity has to do with building up your faith in Jesus. There are many things you can learn from the Catechism class, from your parents and from your peers. But it all depends on your disposition to translate this information into your spiritual life. It is said that “you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink,” this applies to our lives as human beings in the sense that we have all the tools necessary for our spiritual growth, yet we take many things for granted.
I remember the story of a man who was traveling in his car. All the tire bolts on one of his tires fell off. The three other tires were intact. He stopped by the side of the road and was lamenting that one of his tires had no nuts due to rough terrain. It was a lonely road. He saw a man sitting by the road and engaged him in a conversation. He lamented his situation and cursed his vehicle. The man sitting by the side of the road advised him to loosen a nut on each of the three good tires and tighten them on the one without nuts. It worked and he continued his journey until he reached the city.READ MORE
It is over forty years now since Avery Cardinal Dulles, S. J. published his wonderful treatise on the Church. He considered six models that help us better understand the workings of the Church. His publication Models of the Church (Doubleday, 1974) became an instant bestseller for many reasons. For me, the first reason is the significance and importance of the Second Vatican Council.
From 1963 to 1965 Church leaders discussed the position of the Catholic Church in the modern world. After the beautiful discussions, many theologians began compiling the resolutions into simpler forms for Catholics to comprehend. Cardinal Dulles is among the first group of theologians to capture the proceedings of the Council in simpler forms using his theological expertise. My second reason is that his book appealed to Catholics as well as non-Catholics eager to learn the position of the Church on many topics such as ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, the universality of the Church, etc. Cardinal Dulles used his experience and gave us these models to assist us in our spiritual growth.READ MORE
A day before I traveled for my vacation, the Knights of Columbus at St. Paul Phoenix gave me a beautiful gift. Would you like to guess what the gift was? If you said a chalice, then you got it right. What better gift can you give the priest than that of a chalice? I love this gift and I will cherish it. The gift is a reminder of my priestly commitment in the service of God’s people. I am sure the knights do the same for many other priests who serve across the United States and beyond.READ MORE
The teaching of the Church on the Most Holy Trinity is clear. The Trinity is a tripod of three persons in one God. They are not three gods but three persons in one God, undivided in unity and equal in majesty. The history of this teaching goes back to the promulgation of the Council of Nicaea in 325 A. D. when Emperor Constantine called an assembly of bishops and leaders of the Church.
The challenge was posed by the Arian heresy which taught that Jesus was not begotten but caused to exist by the Father and thus possessed the divinity of the Father. The relationship of Jesus to the Father was under serious question as taught by the Arians. The Nicene Creed retained Jesus as begotten by the Father just as we say it today. The Council Fathers agreed that Jesus is equal to the Father and that He was begotten and not made as he existed with the Father right from time immemorial. Other resolutions of the Council are setting the date for Easter, the structure of the episcopate and the formulations of canons to guide church leadership.READ MORE
Today is the birthday of the Church. It is a birthday because the Church was established on this day in 33 AD. As Peter, the leader of the apostles, preached on this day, over three thousand people were baptized and added to the number of believers. On this day also, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and gave them power and authority to preach in the name of Jesus.
There are many other reasons to count this day as the birthday of the Church. On this day, the fire of the Holy Spirit renewed the hearts of the apostles, believing strongly in the promises of Jesus. He did not make vain promises to them. Rather, he made candid promises that he fulfilled. Apart from the descent of the Holy Spirit, he promised to be with the Church until "the end of days."READ MORE
Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus ascends to the Father as a conclusion to his earthly ministry. During his public ministry, he appointed 12 men whom he called apostles. These men are to continue his great works of healing and evangelization. However, the duty of evangelization is not solely the responsibility of the apostles. Every baptized Christian is duty bound to proclaim Jesus to the world.
Today's celebration of the Ascension of Jesus is a reminder to Christians that everything that has a beginning must come to an end. Within three years, Jesus revolutionized the entire Palestine with his teachings on compassion, hope and healing. He did not allow anyone who had contact with him to go empty handed. After his ascension, the apostles felt empty and became fearful of the authorities.READ MORE
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas,
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son, as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.
In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate Mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.
Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
I met a woman whose baby was learning to speak. I could hear the babbles of the baby but could not comprehend one word. I asked the mother what the baby was saying, and she explained. I listened a second time and I felt the same. I was far from understanding his mutterings. Each time he muttered something, I looked at the mother to decode for me. This was how I was able to listen to this baby and the mother. I began to wonder what was happening. Then I realized that what was happening was a special connection between mother and child communicating in a language that is divine, heavenly, and exclusive.READ MORE