Speak Up Against the Violence in Iraq...

Bishop Gregory J. Mansour speaks on the violence against Christians in Iraq.

Also, the USCCB issued this article:

Bishop Pates Urges National Security Advisor Rice To Provide Humanitarian Assistance, Work With Other Government To Stop Violence In Iraq

WASHINGTON—The United States should help Christian communities and other Iraqis plagued by violence through humanitarian assistance and international collaboration, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace in a July 25 letter to National Security Advisor Susan Rice. Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, had written to Rice on June 19 about the escalating violence in Iraq and wrote that the situation had only deteriorated. Read More




We are all Nazarenes now!


 Mark it on your calendars, and in your hearts. We are all Nazarenes now!
Friday, August 1, 2014

The letter "nun" marking Christian homes (Nazarenes).
This was the day chosen by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) for a worldwide day of Public Adoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in supplication for our persecuted brethren in Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East:

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter asks all of its apostolates around the world to dedicate Friday, August 1 to a day of prayer and penance for the Christians who are suffering terrible persecution in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

August 1 is the First Friday of the month and the Feast of St. Peter in Chains, which is celebrated as a Third Class Feast in FSSP houses and apostolates. It is the feast in which we read of the great power of the persevering prayer of members of the Church: “Peter therefore was kept in Prison. But prayer was made without ceasing by the Church unto God for him.” (Acts 12:5)

This feast of our Patron should be an invitation to the faithful to join us in Holy Hours and other fitting prayers to beg the Most Holy Trinity that these members of the Mystical Body may persevere in the faith, and that, like St. Peter, they may be delivered from this terrible persecution. May such a day serve as a reminder to us of the stark contrast that stands between our days of vacation and ease, and their daily struggle for survival as they are killed or exiled from their homes.

It is a day, we believe, chosen wisely by that Fraternity: we please upon all our Catholic brethren, East and West, attached to the Ordinary Form (Mass of Paul VI) or to the Extraordinary Form (Ancient Mass), whatever their theological bent, to join this worldwide prayer day. Whether you consider yourself a more liberal, conservative, traditional, or just plain Catholic, let us join together in this worldwide Adoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, together with all the Angels and Saints.

It is also appropriately chosen because Pastors and Chaplains will have 10 days to prepare properly, to contact projects that help Christians in need and collect all kinds of contributions for the Christians of the Middle East (from Aid to the Church in Need to CNEWA, the Syrian and Chaldean Catholic Churches, and other organizations), and, in particular, to add to their bulletins and convey to their congregations how to participate next Sunday, July 27.

Please, spread this initiative around. No need to link to us, or to even mention you saw it here -- just copy, paste, and just let this idea spread around throughout the world, through the web, through social networks, to your family and friends.

Bishops, Pastors, priests, join us. First Fridays are a special day of the month, and nothing better next First Friday, August 1, than for all Catholics around the world to join in Adoration before Our Lord to implore his mercy and kindness for our most neglected brethren in Iraq, Syria, and throughout the Middle East.

"Think nothing else but that God ordains all, and where there is no love, put love, and you will draw love out.” –St. John of the Cross


An Urgent Message from the Chaldean Patriarch

An Urgent Message of Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad

Mosul Christians: Whither?
To all who have a living conscience in Iraq and all the world
To the voice of moderate brother Muslims who have a voice in Iraq and all the world
To all who have a concern that Iraq could remain a country for all His Children
To all leaders of thought and opinion
To all who announce the freedom of the human being
To all protectors of the dignity of human beings and of religion
The control exercised by the Islamist Jehadists upon the city of Mosul, and their proclamation of it as an Islamic State, after several days of calm and expectant watching of events, has now come to reflect negatively upon the Christian population of the city and its environs.
The initial sign was in the kidnapping of the two nuns and 3 orphans who were released after 17 days. At the time, we experienced it as a flash of hope and as a clearing of the sky after the appearance of storm clouds.
Suddenly we have been surprised by the more recent outcomes which are the proclamation of an Islamic state and the announcement calling all Christians and clearly asking them to convert to Islam or to pay the joziah (the tax all non- Muslims must pay while living in the land of Islam) – without specifying the exact amount. The only alternative is to abandon the city and their houses with only the clothes they are wearing, taking nothing else. Moreover, by Islamic law, upon their departure, their houses are no longer their properties but are instantly confiscated as property of the Islamic state.
In recent days, there has been written the letter ‘N’ in Arabic on the front wall of Christian homes, signifying ‘Nazara’ (Christian), and on the front wall of Shiite homes, the letter ‘R’ signifying ‘Rwafidh’ (Protestants or rejecters). We do not know what will happen in future days because in an Islamic state the Al – sharia or Islamic code of law is powerful and has been interpreted to require the issuance of new I.Ds for the population based on religious or sectarian affiliation.
This categorization based upon religion or sect afflicts the Muslims as well and contravenes the regulation of Islamic thought which is expressed in the Quran which says, “You have your religion and I have my religion” and yet another place in Quran states, “There is no compulsion in religion”. This is exactly the contradiction in the life and history of the Islamic world for more than 1400 years and in the co – existence with other different religions and nations in the East and in the West.
With all due respect to belief and dogmas, there has been a fraternal life between Christians and Muslims. How much the Christians have shared here in our East specifically from the beginnings of Islam. They shared every sweet and bitter circumstance of life; Christian and Muslim blood has been mixed as it was shed in the defense of their rights and lands. Together they built a civilization, cities, and a heritage. It is truly unjust now to treat Christians by rejecting them and throwing them away, considering them as nothing.
It is clear that the result of all this discrimination legally enforced will be the very dangerous elimination of the possibility of co – existence between majorities and minorities. It will be very harmful to Muslims themselves both in the near and the distant future.
Should this direction continue to be pursued, Iraq will come face to face with human, civil, and historic catastrophe.
We call with all the force available to us; we call to you fraternally, in a spirit of human brotherhood; we call to you urgently; we call to you impelled by risk and in spite of the risk. We implore in particular our Iraqi brothers asking them to reconsider and reflect upon the strategy they have adopted and demanding that they must respect innocent and weaponless people of all nationalities, religions, and sects.
The Holy Quran has ordered believers to respect the innocent and has never called them to seize the belongings, the possessions, the properties of others by force. The Quran commands refuge for the widow, the orphaned, the poor, and the weaponless and respect “to the seventh neighbor.”
We call Christians in the region to act with reason and prudence and to consider and to plan everything in the best way possible. Let them understand what is planned for this region, to practice solidarity in love, to examine the realities together and so be able together to find the paths to build trust in themselves and in their neighbors. Let them stay close to their own Church and surround it; endure the time of trial and pray until the storm will be over.
† Louis Raphael Sako
Patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldean
17 July 2014


Maronites Outside of Lebanon

Taken from "Captivated by His Teachings" Father Anthony Salim

At the end of 19th century, the Lebanese were among the many people who emigrated from their homelands because of persecution or for economic advancement. Maronites emigrated from Lebanon and settled in all parts of the world, including Europe, Africa, North and South America, Canada, and Australia. In fact, they assimilated well, shaped by the cultures they encountered and shaping them in turn. For the Lebanese secular inculturation came easily in the first two generations in emigration. Yet, ironically this was coupled with a stubborn fondness for their Lebanese heritage. As with any immigrant population these bonds with Lebanon have weakened in succeeding generations.

Like some other Eastern Catholics, Maronites were at first under the governance of local Latin bishops. Even though they would not begin to have their own eparchs and eparchies until the middle of the 20th century, the Maronites brought their own religious and cultural heritage with them and enriched the societies in which they newly resided. Clergy were sent by the Patriarchs to serve Maronite parishes. These men, frequently the most educated in the community, were suited to help these new immigrants.
After the Council several native jurisdictions were established. These were sometimes called exarchates.  As they became stable, they were elevated to the status of eparchy.

The Maronites Today
Today, the worldwide Maronite People of God in Christ numbers well over 3 million members, and it is the third largest sui iuris Eastern Catholic Church. Eparchies, with their respective bishops, have been established outside of Lebanon and Syria, notably in Egypt (Cairo), Brazil (San Paulo), Canada (Montreal), Australia (Sydney), Argentina (Buenos Aires), and Mexico (Mexico City). There are Maronite Apostolic Visitators to South American countries and to Europe. Two eparchies make up the Maronite Community in the United States: the Eparchy of St. Maron, Brooklyn, New York, and the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles. 



By Natalie Salameh
The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light participated in the annual NAM Convention 2014 hosted by the parish of Our Lady of Victory, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.  It was wonderful to see so many Maronites from all over the US, and some from Canada and Lebanon come together for faith sharing, fellowship and community.  A special thanks to Fr. Rudolph Wakim, Pastor of Our Lady of Victory, and his parishioners, for all their efforts and outstanding hospitality.

We had the great privilege of listening to renowned scholar, Dr. Scott Hahn, speak to our Maronite clergy and religious on the centrality of the Eucharist in Sacred Scripture. It was inspiring to delve into Sacred Scripture to discover, in greater depth, Jesus present in the Holy Mysteries.

Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, Director of Education for the National Catholic Bioethics Center, delivered an excellent presentation to the clergy on the ethical and moral issues associated with In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF).  Fr. Tad helped us comprehend this complicated issue in a clear and concise manner, and from an ethical, moral and pastoral point.

A personal highlight for me was hearing Fr. Tony El-Khawli, O.L.M. speak about his personal conversion story and entrance to religious life. Many may remember Fr. Tony under his name of fame, Rabih El-Khawli, when he was one of Lebanon’s biggest names in the music industry in the 1980s and 1990s. It was amazing to hear how Jesus had touched and moved him to give it all up for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He has an absolutely beautiful voice, which he has now offered to the Lord to praise him alone.
In commemoration of the centennial of St. Rafqa, two sisters from her order and convent in St. Joseph, Jrabta, spoke about the continued legacy of St. Rafqa. They reported that many pilgrims are continuing to flock to the tomb of the “Lily of Himlaya” to ask for her intercession. The sisters are regularly receiving mail from people all over the world reporting special graces and miracles they have received through the intercession of St. Rafqa. May her prayers be with us all!

It was wonderful to see so many of our Maronite young adults at the Convention. We accompanied them one evening to a Theology on Tap. We were able to listen to their genuine concerns and questions about our Catholic Faith, especially how we live our faith in our somewhat confused world. The interaction among the young adults themselves was very heartening, as they each tried to help each other understand the importance of our Christian values and moral life.

We met so many of our lovely people, and were so fortunate to celebrate daily Divine Liturgy with our Bishops and clergy, not to mention the numerous social gatherings.  God willing, we plan to visit Cleveland, Ohio for next year’s NAM!


2014 National Maronite Youth Workshop - "We Believe"

By Natalie Salameh

From Monday, June 30 to Wednesday, July 2, 2014, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light spent some time with 250 of our Maronite youth on their annual retreat at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Father Gary George, eparchial youth director, offered an outstanding retreat on the theme "We Believe," with a particular focus on the articles of our Catholic faith in the Nicene Creed.

On our first night the MYO, we were able to witness the healing power of the Mystery of Penance. I was inspired to see so many teens seeking healing and forgiveness, support and comfort in the Mystery. With Jesus present in our midst in the Holy Mysteries, we truly felt the presence of our Divine Physician as he helped our young teens find solace and closure. A good lesson for us all - never underestimate the healing power of confession.
Another important lesson the youth learned was the importance of the family, especially in the transmission of our faith. This was such a timely reminder for our youth, and a regular theme of  our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who said during World Youth Day in Rio: “The family, whether we like it or not, is the foundation.” How true this is. The youth were encouraged whilst on their retreat to complete their family tree and to offer thanksgiving for the family that gave them their Maronite faith.

The last night we spent with the youth was truly a powerful sight, I had personally never seen anything like it. As the priests were blessing the youth, the youth formed a beautiful circle, with their arms wrapped around each other in what can only be described as a "circle of love" with Jesus present in the Holy Mysteries in the center. What a powerful witness to our faith! The Good Shepherd in the middle and the flock surrounding Him! 
We were also fortunate to celebrate Divine Liturgy with the youth and our Maronite Bishops on several occasions. God bless the many people involved in facilitating and coordinating this year's national retreat. We look forward to next year!