The Tragic Death Of The Funeral

The Tragic Death Of The Funeral

Like most people, I don’t particularly relish encounters with death. But, welcome or not, I’ve had my fair share. I’ve clasped a woman’s hand as her breathing slowed, became sporadic, and finally ceased. Through the cramped hallways of an ancient farmhouse, down which no stretcher could be maneuvered, I helped heft the sheet-wrapped body of a family’s matriarch to carry her to the waiting hearse. When a small Oklahoma church mourned a member who’d fallen asleep at the wheel, late at night, early in life, I was there, thinking of the joyless “Joy the World” the band of believers had choked out the day before that December 26th funeral. In each of these situations, the death of the young or the old, there was within me a desire to lighten the load of grief borne by the survivors, to shine a ray of life into the gloom of death.

Because of that desire, when I first heard about families opting to have a so-called “Celebration of Life” service for their departed loved ones, instead of a funeral, my interest was piqued. Perhaps here was a viable alternative. The name alone effuses a positive, uplifting appeal that “funeral” or “memorial service” can’t begin to match. Celebrations are good, right? And, life, well, who can possibly have any qualms about that? Perhaps this approach to confronting death, at least the ceremonial part of saying goodbye, would help alleviate some of the pain associated with, and expressed in, a more traditional rite. Maybe it was time to have a funeral for the funeral.

So what makes a Celebration of Life different? Rather than a focus upon the loss of a loved one, this service rewinds the present into the past, to draw the mourners back into the life lived by the deceased. It’s like a miniature, enacted biography of the person, with a focus upon those qualities, interests, and achievements that his family and friends found most endearing about him. Whereas a traditional funeral is structured around a liturgy, in this ceremony stories about the person—serious or lighthearted—take center stage. It is his funeral, after all, so shouldn’t it be about him?

Read on here.



Pope Begins Promoting Christian Unity

Patriarch Bartholomew I (L) and Pope Francis in 2013

Theology and Society:

Enzo Bianchi — appointed on July 22 as consultor of the Pontificial Council for Promoting Christian Unity — said the Pope could allow a council of bishops, including Greek Orthodox bishops, to assist in governing the Church, the Catholic News website reports today (August 3, 2014).

Reform of the Synod of Bishops and the growth of synodality within the Catholic Church would greatly enhance the opportunity for union between Rome and the Orthodox churches by making the papacy less “monarchical” and the Catholic Church less centralized.

Bianchi — Prior of the Bose monastery in northeast Italy — said: “I believe that the pope wants to achieve unity by reforming the papacy.”

Pope Francis feels that union with the Orthodox Churches in particular is “an urgent goal,” Bianchi emphasized. “I believe that the Pope has one particular concern, that unity should not be achieved in the spirituality of unity but rather is a command by Christ which we must carry out,” he told the Italian daily “La Stampa.”

Reform would involve a new balance between collegiality and primacy, Bianchi explained. “The Orthodox have synodality, but not primacy. We Catholics have primacy but a lack of synodality.”


For Iraq’s Assyrians – the Second Holocaust

Today a new and advanced version of Hitler is risen and his name is Abu Bakir Albagdadhi, he is carrying out the second Holocaust in our world, by targeting the Christians in Mesopotamia, and Humiliating, Killing, and displacing them, and marking them with a sign (N) which refers to Nasara, as a humiliation to the Christians.

You have three choices:

  1. Convert to Islam.
  2. Remain as a (Themi: a weak and undermined status of citizen) and pay an unknown amount of weakly tax
  3. Leave Mosul OR: The Sword is between us.

This is what ISIS (The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) leaders told Christian (Chaldean Assyrian Syriac) people of Nineveh to do.

The Christian heritage and history in Nineveh goes back to more than 5000 years. Their ancestors built this city, made it one of the wonders of the ancient world, a beautiful example of Assyrian Chaldean history.

Today, and for the first time since 3000 BC Chaldean Assyrian Syriac people, and since 2000 years as Christians of Mosul, Nineveh is empty of its indigenous people.

More than one thousand and one hundred Christian families have fled Mousil to Kurdistan Region. Now the territories of Nineveh plain are protected by the Peshmarga and Asayesh (Kurdistan Army and Security forces) for the first time since the fall of Baath regime in 2003.

Those displaced families lost their jobs, their homes, and whatever property and belongings they had collected in decades got lost at a glance by a word of the new extremist Khalipha Albagdadi!

This systematic and ongoing ethnic cleansing and demographic changing against the Christians people started in 2004 when several churches in the middle and south of Iraq were targeted and blown up.

As a result, 11 Christians were killed and dozens injured. In the same year, more than 196 Christians were kidnapped and 322 were killed according to the report published Hamurabi Human Rights Organazation.

The series of attacks on Christians continued.

Several clergymen, bishops and priests were kidnapped and killed.

The campaign reached its peak when the bishop of Chaldean Catholic Church (Mar Polis Faraj Rahoo) was kidnapped and killed together with three of his companions in Mousil in 2008. In 2010, more than 46 Christians were killed. The extremists attacked and blew Saydat Alnajat church up in Baghdad. Two Syriac Catholic Priests were killed in the same attack.

Not only the Christian churches were destroyed, the individual Christians were attacked and persecuted too.

The Christian students were forced to wear Islamic clothes in universities in Mousil and Baghdad. And in 2010, the buses carrying the Christians students were attacked by Al-Qaida terrorists, two students and another person were killed. In addition, more than 23 others were seriously injured.

According to “Alsharq Alawsat”, a well-known newspaper, 52 Christian churches were attacked between 2004-2010 and more than 900 Christians were killed and more than one million Christians have fled Iraq.

Most of the Christians, who were unwilling to leave their homes and their town, had no choice but to move to Kurdistan.

Many of them fled also to Ankawa, a town located in the north of Erbil. It was a town of 8000 Christians inhabitants before 2003. Now there are more than 55000 Christians that are living peacefully under the good care of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Others fled to Duhok , Zakho , and Sulamania provinces.

Historically, the Christians have been living in peace and harmony with the Kurdish Muslim majority.

The President of Kurdistan, Mr. Masoud Barzani, last week said to the Christian clergy representatives: “In Kurdistan either we all die, or live together in freedom and dignity.” And this manifests the true nature of the Kurdish Government and people towards Christians of this region and towards the Christian refugees.

The same day, Neqademos Dawod Maty Sharaf , the Bishop of Syriac Orthdox Church said on the radio < Russia Today’ “Without the protection of Kurdistan, the Christians would have been slaughtered by the ISIS.”

Today and after 11 years of the American intervention in Iraq, the Christian existence is in serious danger. More than 25 Christian families are fleeing Iraq every week according to local travel agencies and the number is increasing!

So, what is the best solution to protect the Christians in Iraq?

There are several proposals argued between the different Christian and Chaldean Assyrian parties:

Firstly, the autonomy for Christians : this proposal was made by the Christian politician Sarges Aga Gan Mamando, the former Minister of Finance and the Deputy Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government. The draft of the right of getting autonomy within Kurdistan Region was submitted to voting in the Parliament in 2009.

This proposal is widely supported by the Christian political parties such as (Chaldean Syriac Assyrian popular council, Chaldean national congress, Bith Nahrin Democratic Party, Assyrian National party, Chaldean Democratic Platform, Bith Nahrin National Union, and Syriac Independent Movement).

Secondly, the self-governing province for Christians: this proposal was mentioned in the Iraqi constitution in 2005 and was supported by the Christian politician Younadam Yousif Kanna, the Member of the Iraqi Parliament and the former Minister of Industry in the Kurdistan Regional Government. This proposal was supported by Kannas (Assyrian Democratic Movement) as well.

Today the Christians people of Mesopotamia are at a crossroads, either to act fast and defend and preserve their existence in their ancestral historical land, or to face a similar destiny as the Jews in Iraq between 1948-1963. As we know, the Jews were targeted and killed for their religious identity. As a result, the whole Jewish population fled Iraq to Palestine.