Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘Christian Living

James Foley’s Last Letter Home

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Which comes via released hostages:

The family of the kidnapped American journalist killed by Islamic State militants last week have posted a letter they say he sent while in captivity, via a fellow hostage.
James Foley was unable to write letters to his family because they were confiscated by his jailers.
Instead he asked another hostage who was about to be released to commit his letter to memory.
When that hostage was freed he dictated the letter to James’ mother, Diane.
The family posted the letter on Sunday evening, on a Facebook page they had set up to campaign for James’ release.
Earlier they had attended a memorial mass for James in their home town of Rochester, New Hampshire.
James Foley, a freelance journalist was abducted in northern Syria in November 2012, while covering that country’s civil war.
Last week, Islamic State militants released a video showing his beheading by a masked man with a British accent.
On Sunday, he British ambassador to the US told CNN that British officials were close to identifying the killer.
Last letter home
Dear Family and Friends,
I remember going to the Mall with Dad, a very long bike ride with Mom. I remember so many great family times that take me away from this prison. Dreams of family and friends take me away and happiness fills my heart.
I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.
Eighteen of us have been held together in one cell, which has helped me. We have had each other to have endless long conversations about movies, trivia, sports. We have played games made up of scraps found in our cell… we have found ways to play checkers, Chess, and Risk… and have had tournaments of competition, spending some days preparing strategies for the next day’s game or lecture. The games and teaching each other have helped the time pass. They have been a huge help. We repeat stories and laugh to break the tension.
I have had weak and strong days. We are so grateful when anyone is freed; but of course, yearn for our own freedom. We try to encourage each other and share strength. We are being fed better now and daily. We have tea, occasional coffee. I have regained most of my weight lost last year.
I think a lot about my brothers and sister. I remember playing Werewolf in the dark with Michael and so many other adventures. I think of chasing Mattie and T around the kitchen counter. It makes me happy to think of them. If there is any money left in my bank account, I want it to go to Michael and Matthew. I am so proud of you, Michael and thankful to you for happy childhood memories and to you and Kristie for happy adult ones.
And big John, how I enjoyed visiting you and Cress in Germany. Thank you for welcoming me. I think a lot about RoRo and try to imagine what Jack is like. I hope he has RoRo’s personality!
And Mark… so proud of you too Bro. I think of you on the West coast and hope you are doing some snowboarding and camping, I especially remember us going to the Comedy Club in Boston together and our big hug after. The special moments keep me hopeful.
Katie, so very proud of you. You are the strongest and best of us all!! I think of you working so hard, helping people as a nurse. I am so glad we texted just before I was captured. I pray I can come to your wedding…. now I am sounding like Grammy!!
Grammy, please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing. I plan to take you out to Margarita’s when I get home. Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life.
 parishioner holds a prayer card in memory of James Foley after a Catholic mass in Rochester, New Hampshire The US and UK intelligence services are investigating Foley’s killing by Islamic State militants


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 26, 2014 at 16:28

Do Not Be Afraid — I Am With You!

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This portion of Scripture, I shared in Church today. Powerful…

1 Israel, the Lord who created you says,
“Do not be afraid — I will save you.
I have called you by name — you are mine.
2 When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you;
your troubles will not overwhelm you.
When you pass through fire, you will not be burnt;
the hard trials that come will not hurt you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the holy God of Israel, who saves you.
I will give up Egypt to set you free;
I will give up Ethiopia and Seba.
4 I will give up whole nations to save your life,
because you are precious to me
and because I love you and give you honour.
5 Do not be afraid — I am with you!
“From the distant east and the farthest west,
I will bring your people home.
– Isaiah 43:1-5


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 24, 2014 at 18:11

On Packing For Heaven

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Photo: #havealittlefaith

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 22, 2014 at 22:28

For a Long Life, Have Faith

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Religious faith remains by far the best predictor of a long, healthy life, according to an article in The Telegraph.

Man jogging in woods

Unless, of course, you’re a Christian in Iraq.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 18, 2014 at 17:13

How Christians Can Rebuild Our Culture

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A Public Discourse by Archbishop Charles Chaput.

In the beginning, Genesis tells us, “the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Gen 1:2). Creation begins in chaos. On each day of creation, God brings new things into being and orders them according to a plan. God makes things for a purpose. He creates the world out of love. As Aquinas teaches, God orders the universe as a whole, and that order reflects his glory.

The world works better when it follows God’s design. We see this in our own moral lives. God gives us the law and the beatitudes because they lead us to joy. Jesus shows us the plan God writes into human nature so that, by his help, we can flourish. Too often we think of rules as things that keep us from being happy. But rules, understood as God’s order, are good for us because they show us how to live in a way that shares in his glory. They lead us to embody what God intended human beings to be and do. This is one of the things Scripture means when it says Jesus came “so that we would have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10).

If creation has a moral order, then how should we think about our human laws?

Since we’re made in the image of God, human beings can order their actions and communities just as God orders his creation. The German political philosopher Eric Voegelin taught that the law is “the substance of order in all realms of being . . . The law is something that is essentially inherent in society,” but we give it practical force through the lawmaking process. Law binds us together. It reflects our society’s order, but it also secures that order. It shows who we are as a people, but it also forms us as a people. So if we want to thrive, we need to ensure that the laws we make—what we call “positive laws”—ground themselves in a right understanding of what it means to be human.

Some key points follow from this…

Worth reading, here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 10, 2014 at 15:32

The Ebola Virus – Apocaplyse Now?

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Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 5, 2014 at 20:52

Ebola Patient Dr Kent Brantly Arrives in the USA

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NBC News:

A person in a hooded white protective suit with was helped out of an ambulance by a person in heavier protective gear on Saturday at the Atlanta hospital where an American doctor who contracted Ebola while working with a charity organization in Liberia arrived for treatment Saturday afternoon. Dr. Kent Brantly — the first person infected with Ebola on U.S. soil — landed at Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta, Georgia, in a plane specially outfitted with containment equipment. Dobbins Air Reserve base Spokesman Lt. Col James Wilson said the arrival and transfer was “uneventful.”

He was immediately transported by ambulance to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, according to the Christian charity organization Samaritan’s Purse. Emory has prepared a special isolation unit with the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and said they are equipped to care for Brantly. Nancy Writebol, a second American infected with the deadly disease will be evacuated from Liberia and placed in the same “hospital isolation unit” with Brantly, Dr. Jay Varkey, an infectious disease specialist at Emory, told NBC News. Writebol remains in serious but stable condition, according to SIM, the Christian mission organization that she works with.

“The patients will be escorted throughout by specially and frequently trained teams that have sufficient resources to transport the patients so that there is no break in their medical care or exposure to others,” the U.S. Defense Department said in a statement. Ebola has infected more than 1,300 people and killed 729 of them in the current West African outbreak, according to the CDC.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 2, 2014 at 19:16


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