The Narrow Way

Now this is an image I haven’t seen in a while:

It was posted today up at Fr Z’s, where the discussion is martyrdom:

Each of us may be called on to give witness that brings suffering.

 

Suffering

We steal and lie. We tear human relationships apart. We abuse the gift of sexuality that God has given to us for purely selfish reasons. We create new idols that can never bring us happiness. We permit the destruction of innocent human life in the womb. We walk past the homeless and the beggars and ignore their plight.
We seek power over others and once we have it, use it to their detriment and our personal gain. We divorce those we made oaths to love and protect. We abandon all values that have served human happiness for centuries. We play God with human life in IVF and imagine that the eldest and weakest and most vulnerable have no intrinsic value. We deceive ourselves and raise ourselves in our own eyes above that which we are. We annihilate the vision of God from our horizon. We starve and dehydrate the sick to death and immerse ourselves in a culture of suicide and nihilism. Then, after we have done all of these things, we have the bare-faced audacity to ask the question of our Creator:

‘Why does God permit suffering?’

A thousand thousand volcanoes could not achieve that which we do to ourselves and the human race!

SourceThat The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill

 

True Christianity is a Persecuted Christianity

As reported on The Deacon’s Bench:

That’s from Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda, who serves the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil in northern Iraq.  He spoke with Tim Drake of theNational Catholic Register:

What are three things you would like American Catholics to know about Catholics in Iraq?

First, that Christianity has had a presence in Iraq for 2,000 years. It’s a very old community. It has not been converted from Islam. We were there before Islam. Our schools were always the best, even from the sixth and seventh centuries. Second, we’ve been through a very difficult time. We are grateful to the many people who have held out a hand of charity and solidarity with us, the various Catholic charities. However, we would like to leave this path of charity for the path of opportunity. Yes, we are a minority, but we have the capability to stay and build a good future for Iraq. Third, I would like to see more of a commitment by the media to raise the awareness of the issues in Iraq to build schools and hospitals. We are not benefitting from the wealth that Iraq has. We need to find ways to stay and build the community. When we leave Iraq, it’s a big loss. When I visited our communities in Detroit, the second and third generations are no longer speaking the language. Our whole culture is gone.

Do you see a peaceful generation coming?

Yes, that’s what we have to work for. The next generation is not following in the footsteps of their parents because they are tired of the mess. So many voices are asking when, for what and why? These courageous questions are helpful.

What do we miss when we lump the Middle East together as a region?

There are areas of the Middle East that people can safely visit and benefit from. The roots of Christianity are there. We managed to open an international school in Erbil. We had five Americans from Washington and Dallas who are committed to helping us. I depend on them to come back to tell their story, not from a political point of view, but what it’s like to live among the community and in the heart of the community. The more you visit, the more you realize the richness and diversity of what’s there. You also learn about the dialogue between the communities and the lines that you have to respect. More positive articles and reports could help Americans and Europeans know more about the Middle East. We do not want to be on the news only because of violence and killings.

We use the term New Evangelization frequently in America. What does the term New Evangelization mean in Iraq?

For me and my community and the coming Year of Faith, we have prayed for that a lot and have had retreats and workshops to prepare and celebrate with the young people in our parishes. We see it as strengthening our relationship with Jesus who suffered and was crucified. This means reflecting on our wounds and not just bearing them, but taking these wounds with joy that we have participated in the suffering of Our Lord. We believe that true Christianity is a persecuted Christianity. That’s true all over the world. We can reflect on the past 10 years and say that the Lord is telling us something here. We have to deepen our relationship with him and announce the Catholic faith in a new vision which would welcome all those who are at the margins.

One of the bad effects of 2003 is that it’s opened the country for new evangelical groups who have come to steal from our community and churches. They come in ignorance telling us, “We are going to tell you about Jesus Christ.” I respond by saying, “Yes, I know him.” These groups succeed because they have financial ability. I told a group from Dallas, “You are weakening Christianity here. We are weak enough here in number, and you are dividing us. If you want to help Christians, first come to my place, not to places outside my diocese to try to attract others.”

Read it all.

 

What Do We Need

HT

Coptic Protest and Massacre in Cairo

Absolutely horrific! [Warning: Graphic Images on Link]

Several people have died in clashes between Coptic Christians and Egyptian security forces, in the worst sectarian violence since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February.

The health health ministry said a total of 174 people were injured in violence during a Coptic Christian protest in central Cairo on Sunday, which saw a curfew imposed on the centre of the capital, said official statements broadcast on public television.

 

 

There is more on the carnage here (and again, they are not for sensitive viewers).

Pray, pray, pray for these persecuted brethren!


 

Can you Pray for me Father?

Being an Emergency Services Chaplain (one of the many hats I wear) I’ve seen this sort of thing play itself out far too often:

Only if you can prove you are a Catholic. Going by this story.

I posted earlier this year about a woman who continued to blog after her husband attempted to kill himself in front of her. Now around 9 months later she is writing about what happened when she needed spiritual help at the hospital in the leadup to his death.

In the immediate After… I was willing to believe in anything. one of the first things I did, the morning After, while Tony was unconscious in the ICU, was to visit our local catholic church, to arrange for a priest to come and perform Last Rites. Why…? Well, Tony was Catholic. Not practicing Catholic, but Catholic enough that our son was baptised. And I remembered, when Tony’s nan was in her last hours, he held her hand and recited the Lord’s Prayer, over and over, to bring her comfort. I think I wanted to bring the same comfort to him. The priest attended the hospital, only after checking that it was ‘OK’- I was not Catholic, and while our son was baptised at this church, we weren’t technically part of the parish. That stung, and still does.. that we had to meet some official requirement,s for prayer to be given. Despite me asking him to, the priest didn’t wait for me to perform Last Rites. Tony’s mum, and a friend of ours, where there, both baptised Catholics…. I guess that was enough. That stings too.

She goes on to say that the local pastor was there for them, did pray for them both without her having to prove anything.

Reading some of her posts is heartbreaking.

This excerpt makes me wonder what Jesus would do if He was the Catholic priest. Jesus wouldn’t ask her to prove anything except her grasping for Him, I believe.

http://rrsahm.com/2011/08/view-on-religion-from-after-part-one.html?m=1

And I can tell you, it’s not only Catholic Priests who are guilty of such neglect. I’ve seen those in desperate need being discarded and ignored all because of denominational prejudice. There really is a time and a place for everything, but when representing Jesus Christ in a crisis, bringing His healing presence into the situation is all that matters… and all that will be remembered! Pharisees remain alive and well, even today.

Ruined Somali Cathedral Offers Refuge to Drought-hit

AFP:

Mogadishu — Beneath the soaring arches of the bombed out ruins of Mogadishu’s Roman Catholic cathedral, desperate families fleeing extreme drought and famine put up huts of rag and plastic for shelter.

Over 100,000 people have fled into Somalia’s famine-hit and war-torn capital in the past two months in search of food, water and medicine.

But with makeshift camps already overcrowded, hundreds have sought refuge in the crumbling shell of the cathedral, built by Italian colonial authorities in the 1920s but destroyed in years of bloody civil war.

“We had to leave our land, because all the animals died,” said Numur Moalim, who fled the drought-hit Bay region of southern Somalia, taking 15 days to trek into the dangerous capital with his wife and five children.

Huts are built on almost every space inside the cathedral, squeezed between giant chunks of masonry blasted from the still dramatic white stone building, while more huts are packed tight in the overgrown graveyard outside.

“I didn’t come because it was a church, but because I needed protection and shelter, and there was nowhere else to go,” Moalim said.

Sharp cracks of rifle fire ring out close by, with the sounds echoing in the high walls of the building, but Moalim does not flinch.

Shootings are common here, and heavily armed gunmen perched on top of pick-up trucks cruise the sandy streets nearby.

Instead, crouching on the rubble-strewn stone flags of the cathedral’s floor, Moalim tries to chip out holes to slot in thin branches for the poles of the hut.

“We have nothing, and my children cry because they are hungry, but I have not got food to give them,” he added, lifting up some of the plastic bags and small scraps of grubby material that will form the hut’s patchwork roof.

High up on the wall above his head a life-size stone statues of Jesus Christ and his disciples — their heads blasted with bullet holes — stare down on the crowded people struggling for survival below.

Islamic extremists — who still control much of southern and central Somalia and continue with a draconian ban on several foreign agencies — reportedly used the cathedral for target practice.

Conflict-wracked Somalia is the country hardest hit by the extreme drought affecting 12 million people across the Horn of Africa.

The United Nations has officially declared famine in Somalia for the first time this century, including in Mogadishu and four southern regions.

Despite a withdrawal earlier this month from the city by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels, government forces backed by African Union troops continue to struggle to secure one of the world’s most dangerous capitals.

“People died in my village — it was not a choice that we come here,” said Huwa Adan Ismail, from the famine-struck Lower Shabelle region.

“It has rained heavily in the last few nights, and there is no protection from the rain — it is so cold,” she added.

Some of her seven young children peer out from holes in their rag hut, while Ismail struggles to boil a saucepan of grain over an open fire beneath a pillar of the cathedral.

“We are not getting enough support,” said Mohamed Ahmed Ali, a community leader of the cathedral camp.

“People come and take assessments, and we see the aeroplanes coming in over our head to land, but we don’t get the food that they bring,” he added.

Drought in Africa

Too terrible

One of the worst droughts in a century, compounded by high food prices and unremitting political strife, is spawning an immense humanitarian crisis on the Horn of Africa. Thousands of Somalis are fleeing their homeland each week; most of those who survive the brutal journey end up in refugee camps in neighboring Kenya. Aid agencies are calling it the worst drought in 60 years. Although centered on Somalia, which lacks a functioning government and suffers from constant battles with Islamic rebels, the crisis has also affected people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. Reports suggest parts of Somalia may already be on the verge of famine, a repeat of the emergency situation two decades ago. Resources are woefully inadequate. “Desperate hunger is looming across the Horn of Africa and threatening the lives of millions who are struggling to survive in the face of rising food prices and conflict,” World Food Programme executive director Josette Sheeran said in a release.

You can see the rest of the pictures which are very hard to bear here.  

Please pray. And help if and where you can.

Every 5 Minutes a Christian Is Martyred!

That’s according to a leading sociologist:

A sociologist representing a European security organization says that the number of Christians killed each year for their faith is so high that it calculates to one martyr’s life being taken every five minutes.

Massimo Introvigne of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported this data at a conference on Christian-Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue, which concluded today in Hungary. The conference was sponsored by the Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union, and included a variety of high-level representatives from the three monotheistic religions, as well as political and social leaders.

Introvigne reported that Christians killed every year for their faith number 105,000, and that number includes only those put to death simply because they are Christians. It does not count the victims of civil or international wars.

“If these numbers are not cried out to the world, if this slaughter is not stopped, if it is not acknowledged that the persecution of Christians is the first worldwide emergency in the matter of violence and religious discrimination, the dialogue between religions will only produce beautiful conferences but no concrete results,” he stated…

Read on here.

Apathetic Christians: Wake up and take note! It costs to be a Christian!

Quote for the Day (Night)

The best way not to find the bed too cold is to go to bed colder than the bed is.

- St Charles Borromeo

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