Archive for March, 2014

#MiniBulletin : Lebanese Christians, Muslims join in Marian devotion

On March 25—the feast of the Annunciation, which has been a national holiday in Lebanon since 2010—Catholics and Muslims joined in the 8th Islamic-Christian Prayer Meeting, which was dedicated to the theme: “Together around Mary, Our Lady.”

In an address to the meeting, Father Miguel Angel Ayuso, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, observed that Muslims share the Christian reverence for the Virgin Mary. “Devotion creates sentiments of friendship,” he said. Moreover, he said, “Mary, a model for Muslims and Christians, is also a model of dialogue, teaching us to believe, not to close ourselves up in certainties, but rather to remain open and available to others.”

Father Ayuso remarked that the observance of a national holiday on the Marian feast is “a true example of the coexistence between Muslims and Christians that characterizes Lebanese history, in the midst of so many difficulties, and which also constitutes an important example for many other nations.”

Pope Francis sent a message to the meeting in which he encouraged Catholic and Muslim participants to “work together for peace and for the common good.” The Pope said that he entrusts “all the inhabitants of Lebanon to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace and Protectress of Lebanon.”

— taken from http://visnews-en.blogspot.sg/2014/03/the-virgin-mary-in-islamic-christian.html —

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#MiniBulletin : Indonesian court bows to Islamic militants, revokes permit for Catholic church

In the West Java region of Indonesia, Islamic militants have pressured a court to revoke the building permit for a Catholic church, the AsiaNews service reports.

With militants in the courtroom demanding action, the court’s president said that the permit for St. Stanislaus Kostka church would be revoked in order to avoid “sectarian violence.” The pastor, Father Rudianto, told AsiaNews that the Catholic community had complied with all the terms of the building permit, but Islamic militants had stirred up tensions.

— taken from http://www.asianews.it/news-en/West-Java,-Islamists-block-construction-of-a-Catholic-Church-30646.html —

#MiniBulletin : Gunmen attack Kenyan church, kill 6

Gunmen entered a Protestant church in Likoni, a municipality in southeastern Kenya, and killed six worshippers.

Some news agencies reported that the Somali Islamist terrorist organization Al-Shabaab is suspected in the attack. The local Catholic bishop offered his own hypothesis.

The area “is considered the stronghold of an Islamist movement of secession,” Bishop Emanuel Barbara of Malindi told the Fides news agency. “These groups even threaten the local imam, accused of being moderate.”

“It is believed that these groups are funded by some [local] businessmen,” he added. “The majority of the members of these groups are young people from Somalia, but there are also local youth who shoot and kill just for money, not because they are religious fanatics.”

— taken from http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/23/us-kenya-attacks-idUSBREA2M0AG20140323 —

The Blindness

removes the blindnessthe healing of the man born blind invites us to focus on the physical and spiritual aspects of sight and light.

maybe we are not blind as that man, but we may blind in our hearts. our hearts become blind because of desire, greed. we keep on wanting something better, and we never stop for a while to thank to God for what we already had. we tend to keep on asking, and keep on asking, and we always want something that could satisfy us. are we not blind?

through the man’s encounter with Jesus, the man born blind is healed, his sight is restored and his conversion to discipleship begins. the man born blind gradually comes to a greater understanding about who Jesus is and what is means to be his disciple.

let’s ask God to heal our hearts, that we could finally see what God sees in us.

Seraphim

Biblical Sceneseraph (/ˈsɛr.əf/; pl. seraphs or seraphim /ˈsɛr.ə.fɪm/; Hebrew: שְׂרָפִים śərāfîm, singular שָׂרָף śārāf; Latin: seraphi[m], singularseraph[us]; Greek: σεραφείμ) is a type of celestial or heavenly being in the Abrahamic religions. Seraphim are the highest order or choir of angels. They are the angels who are attendants or guardians before God’s throne.

The root of Seraphim comes either from the Hebrew verb saraph (‘to burn’) or the Hebrew noun saraph (a fiery, flying serpent). Because the term appears several times with reference to the serpents encountered in the wilderness (Num. 21.8, Deut. 8.15; Isa. 14.29; 30.6), it has often been understood to refer to “fiery serpents.” From this it has also often been proposed that the seraphim were serpentine in form and in some sense “fiery” creatures or associated with fire.

In Holy Writ these angelic beings are distinctly mentioned only in Isaias’s description of his call to the prophetical office (Isaiah 6:2 sqq.). In a vision of deep spiritual import, granted him in the Temple, Isaias beheld the invisible realities symbolized by the outward forms of Yahweh’s dwelling place, of its altar, its ministers, etc. While he stood gazing before the priest’s court, there arose before him an august vision of Yahweh sitting on the throne of His glory. On each side of the throne stood mysterious guardians, each supplied with six wings: One pair of wings are for flying, one for covering their eyes (for even they may not look directly at God), and one for covering their feet (which is almost certainly a euphemism for genitalia). They are in the direct presence of God. His highest servants, they were there to minister to Him and proclaim His glory, each calling to the other: “Holy, holy, holy, Yahweh of hosts; all the earth is full of His glory.” These were seraphim, one of which flew towards Isaias bearing a live coal which he had taken from the altar, and with which he touched and purified the Prophet’s lips, that henceforth these might be consecrated to the utterances of inspiration.

Although described under a human form, with faces, hands, and feet (Isaiah 6:2, 6), they are undoubtedly existing spiritual beings corresponding to their name, and not mere symbolic representations as is often asserted by advanced Protestant scholars. Their number is considerable, as they appear around the heavenly throne in a double choir and the volume of their chorus is such that the sound shakes the foundations of the palace.

It is said that whoever lays eyes on a Seraph, he would instantly be incinerated due to the immense brightness of the Seraph.

Some of the Seraphim are Metatron, Kemuel, Nathanael, Gabriel, and Lucifer.

“Before the throne of the Almighty, man will be judged not by his acts but by his intentions. For God alone reads our hearts.”

“Before the throne of the Almighty, man will be judged not by his acts but by his intentions. For God alone reads our hearts.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

#MoralStory : Thinking Out Of The Box

Many hundreds of years ago in a small Italian town, a merchant had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to the moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the merchant’s beautiful daughter so he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the merchant’s debt if he could marry the daughter. Both the merchant and his daughter were horrified by the proposal.

The moneylender told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty bag. The girl would then have to pick one pebble from the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become the moneylender’s wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble, she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven. But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the merchant’s garden. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick her pebble from the bag.

What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her? Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:
1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a cheat.
3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment.

The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking.

The girl put her hand into the money bag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles. “Oh, how clumsy of me,” she said. “But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”  Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an advantageous one.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Most complex problems do have a solution, sometimes we have to think about them in a different way.