Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Where are you my God ?:

Where are you my God ?: How can I connect with you? I am distressed in the hospital where I have been for 8 days...I am not sure when they will let me go back home? You know that I hardly pray only at bedtime at home. I am still questioning everything in existence... Did I become an atheist? Carry me by the hand as I am in fear of everything and also in fear of you that you may throw me in Hell...Come to my heart O Almighty One by the grace of the Holy Spirit who reassures  me in the name of the Risen Christ.
Glory be to God the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit - One God for ever and ever. Amen

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

To The Mother of Mothers

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with Thee, Blessed Art Thou among women and Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, Pray for us Sinners Now and at the Hour of our Death.
To you Mother of Mothers

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Youhanna Hanna on Prayer

Today, July 13, is the 15th anniversary of the departure/death of my beloved mother Josephine. For this reason I asked Fr. Youhanna Hanna to remember her in his Mass this morning. When I asked him about the fees for his service in the Mass, he reminded me by Jesus' commandment to the Apostles and their followers "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give" (Matthew 10: 8). I understood from him that Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad and Fr. Michel Chalhoub too follow the commandment and do not require fees in the Mass prayer. These are good news from priests whose work is the salvation of souls...
In fact, in the Roman Catholic parishes calendar for Masses (New American Bible Revised Edition  - USCCB), today's readings, which I opened this morning, include the story of Joseph son of Jacob who was sold by his brothers to the Egyptians years earlier - This Joseph grew in Egypt and learned from the Egyptians their wisdom and language that Pharaoh brought him up in his palace to be Egypt's second man. When there was a severe famine in Israel, the brothers  hurried to Egypt and were told that they must see Joseph for any supply to foreigners. In spite of the fact that his brothers had sold him and lied to their father while Jacob could not tolerate sending the youngest son, Benjamin, from his beloved Rachel, the oldest brother offered his neck in substitute for the lie. But Joseph could not hold himself and cried in front of his brothers. (Genesis 43, 44, 45)...
Can God cry? Yes. We know that Jesus our God cried to his Father "My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!" (Matthew 26: 36-46). He was so distressed that he was experiencing bleeding. While Jesus accepted the cup in obedience to his beloved Father, I think he did not finish crying, for there are so many sinners over the history of the Church, particularly since secularism and most recently post modernism changed the way things are done. Today large businesses compete to sell their products and services at the cheapest price which benefits the elites and "correct political" leaders become richer. Christ is still crying because many Christians have lost their way to the Truth especially in advanced societies where atheism flourishes. Christ is still crying because we have no time for him. Christ is still crying because "politically correct European leaders are welcoming culturally-foreigner Muslims including terrorists and extremists only to win larger supporters to their sellout policies. Once established in their new areas  Islamic terrorists are able to shoot their culturally-different hosts to eventually make Sharia the law of the land that had been founded on  Christian values.
We can still hope that priests and Christian scholars will help us as Fr. Youhanna Hanna, Fr. Michel Chalhoub, and Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad do...

Friday, June 16, 2017

Love

Everyone of us on Earth is connected to the others, as Pope Francis recently said based on scientific findings. It is most important because psychologically none of us is totally free, but always in need of "the other". Except for great saints and mystics such as the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate Mother of God, Saint Rita of Cascia, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, and Saint Teresa of Avila, it is hard to find  any human creature that knows what love is.  Saint Teresa of Avila was a mystic who could talk to God; Saint Thérèse of Lisieux  is the greatest saint in modern times; Saint Rita of Cascia has her body intact among the incorruptible in Church history. How about the Blessed Virgin Mary? The pastor of Jesus the King, Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad, BSO, beautifully prayed Hail Mary last night at the end of the meeting of the Knights of Columbus Council while Fr. Prof. Georges Farah described the Virgin Mary in linguistic terms "Batoul" from the Hebrew "Beit Il" or "Beit Elohim" i.e. the house of God. In her complete dedication to God, the Virgin Mary became the house of God! In fact, Beit Il was the name of the town in Canaan where Abraham first established his tent. It is also the symbol that Jacob used on escaping from Esau his rival twin brother to identify the stone that he slept on after his fight at night with the angel of God (Genesis 25). Rivalry has been studied in details by the famed René Girard thus concluded in his theory of mimetic rivalry and the scapegoat, that world religions in their sacred texts, whether ancient or more recent, were, in a way, myths in their stand against the victim scapegoat except that the Gospels narrate the opposite stand of God's love where the scripture writers witness to the innocence of the scapegoat Jesus of Nazareth in his crucifixion and death, powerfully shown in his resurrection. The readings told the truth that Girard finally came to believe in spite of widespread criticism of the Christian faith in the 20th, and 21st centuries. The reader may wish to read him here:
http://www.firstthings.com/article/1996/04/are-the-gospels-mythical
But the basic idea can be simply stated: If hatred does not benefit anyone, then mimetic rivalry increases the tendency for selfish desire! And selfish desire can lead the person to the angry god of hell!
When Girard passed away in November 2015, the highly-popular Bishop Robert Barron wrote about the philosopher Girard, possibly a "Church Father", here: http://www.wordonfire.org/resources/article/ren-girard-church-father/4982

Today's civilization in the West developed from Christian roots and made its way in baptizing the barbarian tribes that conquered the Roman empire thus reinvigorating a new empire which flourished notably with the Renaissance since Charlemagne in the 9th century. The Church developed and expanded since it received gifts from emperors and kings which were used in building centers for learning  and churches. Pope Innocent III had a vision upon which he accepted the order of the Franciscans. Saint Francis of Assisi was particularly a humanist Christian who talked to the animals and birds and went all the way preaching to Muslims in Egypt. The Dominicans and Benedictines had already built their reputation around reform of the papacy to be less aristocratic and invested their resources in learning. In the 16th century, the Jesuits increased the demand for new members to be well educated when graduating with a focus on science. Missionaries continue in Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East. We note here that the Catholic Church accommodated its missionary work to the tune of the times.

Suddenly we discover from the above that we are, one way or the other, connected in history. According to Positive Psychology pioneered by Prof. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania, each one of us today can be happy if he treats the other with love, because each one needs to be loved. Love needs love.  Even in our social life, a child needs the love from his parents in order to grow up in a healthy way; a woman needs her husband's love and faithfulness to the end in order for her to trust him and the same with a wife to be considered trustworthy. Procreation is an act of love in which the parents participate with God to beget life. Well-behaved children are an investment in society whose consciences mature if they follow the demands of the New Testament. These demands have been met by over 5,000 saints including the Angelic Doctor who was the first professor to explore nature i.e. St. Thomas Aquinas  (taught at St. Thomas University by Basilian Fr. Prof. Daniel Callam, CSB  among others) and many before and after him including St. Basil the Great, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Charbel Makhlouf, and Saint Gianna Beretta Molla in the 20th century. 

Today Thursday June 15, 2017 the Melkite Catholic Church celebrates the solemnity of the Divine Body of Christ also known as Corpus Christi. Last Sunday June 11, 2017, the Melkite Catholic Church celebrated the solemnity of All Saints. But on the same day I attended the Mass with many including Msgr. Prof. Robert Nusca, pastor of Holy Rosary who is a Biblical scholar like Msgr. Prof. Paul Feghali in Lebanon.  On Sunday the Roman Catholic Church celebrated universally the solemnity of the Trinity. In his homily on Sunday at Holy Rosary, Fr. Prof. Daniel Callam gave an impressive homily on the development of the Nicene Creed that recognized the equality of the Son and the Father "Consubstantial". It will take a separate article to discuss what Fr. Callam explained about the Ecumenical Council in the year 325 AD at the city of Nicaea. At almost the same time, the Jesuit scholar Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. as usual penetrated the minds of his listeners with a parable that he made (watch the homily here in French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMDCTBuJ3BE). Fr. Boulad (whose priority in his mission is to help the needy) spoke about a very rich person who could not find anyone else to communicate with - a solitary person that enriches himself without attention to anyone else. This would be the story of God if he were alone from eternity ! Fr. Boulad had a little discussion with a Muslim teacher. For Islam, God is one and solitary (A good reference on the interfaith dialogue with Islamic scholars is our friend Fr. Prof. Samir Khalil Samir, S.J.) But how do we read in Genesis that when God saw Adam alone, he created a woman for him to have love in the image and likeness of the Trinity?  If  heaven is love and communion then living a solitary life upon oneself is hell. How is it that the cosmos contains such diversity of creatures created by the same God?  It is an indicator of the generosity of God. This was a powerful homily as it opened the possibilities and connections which Pope Francis spoke about. God is not vicious.  God is love (1 John 4:  7-12). 
The above reminds me by the words "Love is strong as death" (Song of Songs) written by the brilliant mind of Prof. Joseph Ratzinger  who became Pope Benedict XVI. He had written this magnificent essay in his book "Introduction to Christianity" (You may wish to read "Joseph Ratzinger: The Truth of the Resurrection" here: http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2012/04/joseph-ratzinger-truth-of-resurrection.html).

If one follows the two great commandments: (Love God with all your heart); and (Love your neighbor as yourself), he will discover the two dimensions of love - the "vertical" to heaven and the "horizontal" to the other in humanity. But this is only to tell us that God loves everyone since he created everyone out of love; and that if one wants to enjoy life, he needs to love the persons next to him especially those who need him most (see Positive Psychology which is not a religion). Love needs love!

And after all, what is life without love?  I thank God and those who prayed or suffered with me in my long health problems as I had lectured on them a year after my stroke ("A Living Miracle" here: http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2008/07/living-miracle.html)
I also thank God for accepting my mother's vow through the intercession of St. George thereby I was given the name of the saint (see  "The Hero Saint George" here http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2017/04/the-hero-saint-george.html)

This is the month of the sacred heart of Jesus. Love stems from his heart. Let us sing to him:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wr1rAv_XOWk

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Priceless

Why are we worried? Yes. terrorism has increased and killed many innocents; threats of nuclear weapons that radicals in North Korea and the U.S. Administration have not diminished; the globe seems to be on an edge for us ordinary people. However, we need to voice our concerns to the Church and not be alarmed by divisions...
If God is the limitless being, then everyone and everything else is limited. In the Christian faith, the power of the limitless God is his eternal love. "Beloved, let us love one another because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God for God is love." writes St. John the Apostle (1 John 4: 7-8). This love is that of Father to Son and Son to Father in the binding powerful love of the Holy Spirit. This is at least what was confirmed by the Jesuit scholar Fr. Henri Boulad at his lecture in the Holy Family Coptic Catholic parish in Toronto, 2002 (see http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2008/06/trinity-divine-communion-of-love.html.)
It is Pentecost Sunday tomorrow June 4, 2017 or the Feast of the Holy Spirit. When Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey visited Jesus the King Melkite Catholic parish in 2016, he encouraged Christians to pray to the Holy Spirit. In our ordinary life, it is the Holy Spirit who works in our hearts to bind ourselves to others and reconcile with everyone regardless of whether they are Christian or not. He is the promise of Christ to the Apostles and their followers, as written in John 14: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you and will be in you." (John 14: 15-17).
You are priceless in God's eyes, because he loves everyone...God desires that he gives heaven to the little sheep that follows him. St. Luke writes Jesus' words "Do not be afraid any longer little flock for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12: 32). Talking about the great shepherd, Christ said "I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10: 9-11).
But here is the revolution set by Christ. It is not only what he said but also what he did. In Israel where the Jews had quarrels with the Samaritans, Jesus walked all the way to Sychar in order to heal the lost Samaritan and bring the Samaritans back to the truth (John 4: 4-42) and walked to the region of Tyre and Sidon in order to heal the begging Canaanite's daughter and get them in the fold (Matthew 15: 21-28). His healing of others had the character of self-giving; and on the cross he forgave those who crucified him (Luke 23: 34).
If God is that man who, by the power of his Spirit, was born of the Immaculate Virgin Mary because he wants to be with us, we have hope. Our hope is that in God's eyes everyone is priceless.

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)







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