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, September 7, 2013

Go to Moscow then to Damascus!

Tonight Catholic Churches around the world participated with the Holy Father in St. Peter's Square as he presided over a special Mass and prayer for peace in the world and most particularly in Syria and the rest of the Middle East. In Toronto, I participated with thousands in the Mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and recitation of the holy Rosary presided over by the Cardinal Archbishop of Toronto. It was a moment into eternity when Thomas Cardinal Collins uttered the words "O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, take all souls to heaven especially those most in need of your mercy." There I saw, in my mind, the Queen of Peace Mary immaculate coming in the glory of her Son and God! As she delivered her Son in the flesh two thousand years ago, she delivered him today in the hearts of the many who prayed. And the angelic singing was heard by so many voices. Listen:

In his homily, the Cardinal Archbishop acknowledged the presence of Christians from different confessions as well as Muslims who came to pray together for peace in the Middle East. He spoke of peace that the celebrant blesses the participants with - the first word uttered by the risen Christ to the disciples. When I salute my neighbor with peace before communion, my gesture of wishing him the peace of Christ does not mean that I like him. We may have differences about anything but the peace of Christ binds us. I need to repent in my soul to really communicate peace; for peace cannot be a shallow agreement. It arises from the depth of the repentant soul and establishes communion in the family and in the community. Communities make up nations and nations need peace among them. He related peace to wisdom in the Biblical readings "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, `This man began to build, and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14: 26-33). I found the reading quite suitable. How much do we need wisdom today before we do foolish things? World leaders and politicians, as the Cardinal said, need the wisdom that Christ prescribed.  For them we must pray. 

But I must say that on a practical basis, more than good will is needed. Earlier this week a dear priest and professor told me that Syria is probably where the Third World War will start. In Damascus Paul received his sight after he fell. To Damascus too, Pope Francis must go. According to the priest, it seems that the Third Secret of Fatima may still be happening. The consecration of Russia to the heart of Mary may still have to be properly performed by the Pope. If this is the case, I think the best way to prevent a global war is for Pope Francis to visit the Orthodox Patriarch of Russia on invitation by President Putin. Together, with millions or rather more than a billion of Catholic and Orthodox faithful, they consecrate Russia to the heart of Mary.

In that frame, all Orthodox and Catholic Bishops can participate in an Ecumenical Council  or a synod to prepare for their full unity and end their differences. The signs of the time are opportune since Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II had a successful visit to Pope Francis this past May and the leader of the Malankara Orthodox Church Maran Basilios has just visited Pope Francis a few days ago (see ). The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I broke with tradition and visited Pope Francis when the latter was installed Bishop of Rome last March. In less than a year, Francis attracted 3 Orthodox Patriarchs whose Churches since 1989 had agreed on all fundamental matters of dogma. Pope Tawadros II is considered the primate of the Ancient Oriental Orthodox Churches. Patriarch Bartholomew is considered the primate of the Byzantine Orthodox Churches. If the primacy of the Roman Pontiff is the only serious dogmatic issue that remains an obstacle to full unity, refer to Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) known for his utter defense of the doctrines of the Catholic Church. In his mind, it is sufficient for a reunion that the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches accept the primacy of the Successor of St. Peter as exercised in the first 10 centuries before the Great Schism formalized in 1054.

Dogmatically the above approach makes sense to me. Catholics in Europe and North America need the tradition which the Orthodox maintain, while the Orthodox need the development of doctrine and the unity found in the Catholic Church.

Economically, Orthodox Russia may be able to help Syria and other countries in the Middle East. Countries of the European Union may also help in bringing much-needed investments in health and education services as well as in business to Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and citizens of other countries in the Middle East. Humanitarian projects for suffering people who escaped the war in Syria to Lebanon, Jordan and other countries need to be channeled and may also be initiated by volunteers in Canada and the U.S.

Civilization is in Europe and from there must come Pope Francis to Syria. He is the only Christian able to lead both Christians and Muslims of the Middle East and Europe into reconciliation. The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar has already shown much respect for this Pope. It is all a matter of perception. May the Virgin Mary, who is highly respected by both Christians and Muslims, intercede for peace.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

An Urgent Appeal to Pope Francis

September 3, 2013

Your Holiness Pope Francis,

We are very concerned about the massacres that have engulfed the people of Syria over the past two years. We are aware that the political and military powers of the world are using Syria and other Arab countries to advance their own interests. Thousands of victims have already died and millions have been displaced to neighboring countries as they lost their properties and belongings. The disaster of the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. forces in 2003 in spite of warnings by Saint John Paul II may now repeat itself in Syria. The most afflicted are Christians and their presence in the region especially with the islamisation program of entire countries supported by the U.S. and its allies.

Yet we are confident that your intercession as the moral voice of the world with the highest civil and religious authorities in those powers will bear fruits. It is for the poor, such as those of Syria, that your voice has providentially been raised in the entire globe since your election to minister to the People of God as Supreme Pastor in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Regardless of the validity of the claims of the U.S. Government that they have evidence of chemical warfare used by the Syrian regime against the Syrian people, it is urgent that you personally speak to Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia and His Holiness Kirill Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Russia on the Syrian crisis. Your intercession with Catholics in North America, President Obama and the Congress of the U.S. as well as their allies is equally crucial to avert a global crisis and obtain justice for persecuted Christians and moderate Muslims in the region.

It is evident, based on fears recently expressed  by the Syrian President, that an attack on Syria may trigger a regional war in the Middle East and possibly a global war.

It is for all of the above that direct talks between opposing factions in Syria as well as the powers that support them are needed through your intercession.

May the Blessed Triune God, who gives life, to the world bless your work of reconciliation, and may the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for all.

Yours in Christ,

George Farahat
Jesus the King Greek Melkite Catholic Church
Toronto Ontario Canada

Today's Quote

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


See Links to Websites Below