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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Significance of the Caritas Egypt Event in Toronto

Last night, July 28, 2015, the fund-raising dinner to support Caritas Egypt was a success. Yes, we could have had more participants if the ticket price was right, the delivery of tickets to churches was early enough, and the date was not in the middle of the week in the month of July. Yet we had His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, seated besides Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. (who is in charge of Caritas Egypt) and other priests and dignitaries among us. In his introduction of Fr. Boulad, Cardinal Collins spoke about the many years that the beloved Jesuit priest spent serving Christ in Caritas, his missions in Sudan to help the poor, his programs for the disadvantaged in Egypt, his retreats that challenge the young to follow Christ, and his work in the Jesuit schools all over Egypt for the benefit of all to get proper education. Carl Hetu, director of CNEWA Canada came from Ottawa and delivered an impressive speech about the situation and violence he saw in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt and made a point of the need to support needy and suffering people of the Near East. After watching a video that featured the work done by Caritas in Egypt in education, health care, women care, small business and employment, Fr. Boulad delivered his outstanding speech in which he called on Canadians to support the economic reform underway in Egypt and described the projects undertaken to officially open, for international trade, a new large channel in the Suez Canal in August 2015 as well as construction projects to build a new modern capital in Egypt within 5 years, plus renovations in train systems, energy supply, water distribution and others. An ambitious economic program, Egyptians require financial support from the powerful nations of both West and East. Fr. Boulad himself bought a land near Alexandria and constructed a home for the disadvantaged and poor children from Upper Egypt and the Delta to enjoy a few days or a week and meanwhile learn discipline and new skills near the beach.

All of the above is good and necessary, but we must not overlook why St.George Centre was chosen as the location of the event. St. George Centre belongs to St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church. Weeks before the event we spoke with Fr. Iskander Younes, Pastor of St. George, and asked him to be present. A letter signed by Fr. Boulad was sent to him. Fr. Iskander agreed to welcome Catholics, Orthodox and other Christians in the centre, which he did when he was asked to speak last night before anyone else. He was among the dignitaries, did not hesitate to listen to the wise words of Cardinal Collins, Fr. Boulad and other dignitaries all of them Catholic; and with Cardinal Collins he blessed us before the meal which symbolizes communion in the breaking and sharing of the bread. It is a communion between the Church of Rome and other Churches not yet in full communion but according to Blessed Pope Paul VI, it is real.

Since the convocation of Vatican II (1962-1965) by Saint Pope John XXIII, leaders of Catholic and Orthodox Churches have come to realize that full Christian unity is necessary. Saint Pope John Paul II remained committed to the goal of the Council and in his 1979 visit to Dimitrius, the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch, he uttered the words: The Church needs to breath with both her lungs! It is urgent today for all Christians on the globe to be reunited as they face together the threat of global terrorism, violence in the Middle East, material consumerism, and an increasingly ugly education that belittles or questions traditional moral values.

It is for this reason that next time there is such a great gathering for Caritas Egypt in Toronto, more efforts and larger volunteer teams must be formed that would reach out to the nearly 40,000 Chaldean Catholics and Assyrians from Iraq, Syrian Orthodox Churches, Antiochian Orthodox Churches, Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox Churches and over than 2 million Roman Catholics in the Greater Toronto Area alone. The cause is not about Egypt alone. We are all in the same boat and need each other...

St.Augustine said two words which I would like to close with:
1. "Not every Christian in the Church belongs to her; not everyone outside the Church is stranger to her." - Everyone needs to find Christ who is among us and worship him in his relationship with the other...
2. "Be moderate in everything except in love" - Remain moderate in your thoughts and actions. Extremism to liberalism or conservatism may be dangerous.  Nothing is required from you other than what you can do. Only love must be strong in you...

Perhaps next time we can start afresh with the above words from a great philosopher and a doctor of the Church...

Today's Quote

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


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