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, December 24, 2016

Love means Zero: A Reflection on Christmas Eve

Is God One?  Is God Three? Saint Augustine of Hippo was wondering about this question at the beach near Carthage when he saw a little child filling his bucket with water  only to go back and fill it more from the sea. When he asked the question to the child, the child answered "It is easier to fill the bucket with the entire sea than for you to comprehend the Trinity" and vanished. Years ago when Fr. Bishoy was the new pastor at Holy Family Coptic Catholic parish in Toronto, he welcomed Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. and asked him to give an answer to the question of the Creed. Fr. Boulad, in his customary beautiful way of attracting people to hear his message, gave a lecture which I attempted over the years to replicate and refine. Here is why we believe that God cannot be a unicity or a lonely person - In fact the lonely one enclosed upon himself according to Fr. Daniel Callam, CSB  and a host of other teachers of theology is in hell. Fr. Boulad's answer is YES. God is a Trinity in One. When the Father loves his Son eternally he abandons his infinite divinity and grants it in a self-sacrificial love to the Son.The Son also returns this divinity with unlimited love to the Father and the Holy Spirit binds them with his outpouring love in the unity of eternal God. Note how each fully abandons himself eternally. More here:

Every person in the Triune God shares the same divinity. This eternal love was reflected in two acts of God: Creation out of love; and self denial in redeeming humanity which was fulfilled in the incarnation, passion, and death of Jesus Christ. He had to die to himself in order to rise from the dead and restore wounded humanity in sin to the Father.

Inspired by a homily given by Fr. Boulad on the baptism of Jesus, I spoke about the "naked" God in January this year. See here:
Naked means he has nothing - He leaves everything he has in order to complete his mission...
When I had graduated from engineering in 1976, I thought that "theology" could be expressed in mathematical forms. In this holy season of Christmas I wish to share this idea subject to correction by experts...In mathematics we have numbers but they are not unlimited. Infinity is expressed by the symbol ∞. If you divide ∞ by any number the result is always ∞ or infinity. The same is with 0 or zero. If you divide 0 by any number the result is always 0 (or zero). In differential equations "Limited" is used to express the tendency of any function: Ltd t -> 0 means time tends to zero. It is never zero.
This is only a simple example compared to the huge research in quantum cosmology, Big Data, artificial intelligence in computing technology, neuroscience, the origin of the human mind and other areas. ​
But ​to return to the topic, in the incarnation of the Word (Logos) God becomes ZERO. God the Word who is infinite is united to an imperfect humanity (or humanity that is wounded with evil) by becoming the smallest thing to the point of zero. He so much loves his creation that he could not leave humanity far from him. His love, always present in many ideas of philosophers and in some way in other ancient religions, was in the "fullness of time" present at last with the Covenants of God to Israel - the smallest nation broken by the Babylonians, Greeks. Romans and others - as the fulfillment of Israel's prophets and fathers. He was born away in a cave, a manger, in a little town from a little virgin who knew very little but only dared to say Yes to the angel.
ZERO means nothing. For the Divine who is unlimited in every good thing, becoming a little human is like ZERO!
For us, this requires action to unite with each other and with every one in the world in the love of God and for his glory. It means more than buying gifts to my family or yours because it is Christmas. It means unity of Christians against hatred...which translates to helping those in need everywhere we can help. May the Lord have mercy on me sinner...May the Lord be glorified in everyone we know...May the Lord's peace fill every heart in these days of fear, confusion and terrorism that the world is witnessing...It is easy said but it means that we accept and cooperate with the Spirit of God wherever he leads us as did Mary the mother of Christ...
Mary Did You Know? [Click here to listen]

Ibrahim El-Haddad: Out of the Cave

The little infant was happy to dwell in the womb of his mother for 9 months. That was his cave but not like ours who move in this world's cave blinded by darkness that wants to choke our lives. The womb of the Virgin Mary became "larger than heavens" as the Byzantine liturgy reminds us. Christ came to redeem and to restore to his Father the entire human race. About 2000 years ago he was born in a cave too in the town of Bethlehem surrounded by his mother the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, and simple shepherds who welcomed him with their sheep while the arrogant Herod, probably many today, could not rest when he knew that the Messiah was born there. If kings from the East worshiped Jesus Christ in the manger, why do we hesitate?
To all the faithful, and not only to the Knights of Columbus, I say "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (Luke 2: 10). To men who read me, I invite you to join our Council of the Knights of Columbus because you will benefit and will benefit others in the faith and charity of the Lord. Open your hearts. Come out of the cave. The Lord is here!

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Knights of God?

The Lord taught us how to pray: Our Father Who Art in heaven... Hallowed be Thy Name... Thy Kingdom come... Thy Will be done on earth as It is in heaven... Give us this day our daily bread, and Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and Lead us Not into temptation but Deliver us from the evil one.
Do we really talk to our Father with the trust that children have? Do we sanctify his name in the way we think and act?  These are the questions that Christians must ask themselves especially in the holy season of Christmas that reminds us of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ as a little baby more than 2000 years ago in a little manger surrounded by his mother the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph; both humble persons, and the shepherds who ran to see him with their sheep before the arrival of the kings of the East to pay him homage! The earth knelt and worshiped Christ while the angels in heaven sang their "Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth"!
Today, in a materialistic world, we hardly hear "Our Father" in public even though he gave us life and offered eternal life to those who wish to listen to and follow him.
In today's world, a few organizations try to help the successors of the Apostles in the living Church of God as much as the Knights of Columbus. With close to 2 million members, the Knights of Columbus, founded by Venerable Fr. McGivney as a fraternal organization to help the widows who lost their husbands in wars, portray a solid Catholic faith in their charitable work within the community, and for the needy and persecuted ones everywhere. They are pro-life who walk every year to support mothers to carry their babies in the womb to full term and deliver them to the joy of life. Many of them support their families and at the same time serve the parish or multiple parishes that constitute the community of the faithful. They serve in the collections in the Mass, and some as honor guards during religious festivals. They help the parish council(s) in planning and organizing events. They also organize social dinners, lectures around faith topics, and Bible studies. They sell holy items from the Holy Land for the benefit of the poor, refugees, and expansion of church little buildings. The Knights of Columbus publish books or booklets that help readers in their spiritual quest. With a chaplain (usually a priest) in every Council, their goal is to pray for the distressed and sick, reach out to those who despair, enrich those who are spiritually in need, and, above all, prepare people on earth for the Lord; a Biblical theme. To the distressed and persecuted in the Middle East, the Knights of Columbus sent much assistance to rebuild families, restore broken churches, and provide medicine in Iraq and to feed the hungry, help refugees, treat the wounded, and give medicine in Syria. The Supreme Knight participated in calling on the U.S. government and European governments to recognize the wars in the Middle East as acts of genocide. In the recent Supreme Convention in Toronto (August 2016) which some of Jesus the King Knights of Columbus Council members attended, we listened to Thomas Cardinal Collins advocating the right to life for the terminally-ill thus proclaiming the Church's stand for life and against the recent law in Canada for assisted suicide. Cardinal Collins has often spoken of the Knights of Columbus as "the strong arm of the Church." But above all, churches around the world have been called by Pope Francis to pray for peace in the lands that witnessed the early Christian testimonies from Jerusalem to Antioch (Syria) and beyond in the land of the Assyrians (today's Iran and Iraq).
The Church is here. Wishes alone do not deliver. Every member of every Council is encouraged to commit a few more hours to noble projects. The Knights of Columbus lead the Church in their services but they need more young members. This is the question that every young adult must ask himself.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Church's Prayers

There are billions of people who do not know Christ. Some of them are atheists. Others are extremists who bomb people and kill them. Still others are Christians, devout Christians, who are only asking God for themselves and praying for their own little families. How about the rest?

I ask the entire Christian people whom  I know to pray everyday for the above people and for each other. They are like us men and women and children. They and we need God. Jesus said "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit because without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

As the star guided the Magi to Christ, so we too can guide many to him. When they found him, the Magi adored him in the manger. Are we arrogant and selfish as Herod was? Do we only look for vanity? I saw many yesterday December 17, 2016 in the Christmas party in which we thanked Fr. Michel Chalhoub for his humility in 10 years serving the congregation of Jesus the King parish as a priest and others too who served the parish for so long. Are we only in Christmas to have a party? No. We thank God for him and them.

By the same token, we ask the Lord to help us prepare for Christmas by helping the needy, sending money or children clothing to pro-life organizations such as Birthright where mothers need help to avoid abortion, working with St. Vincent de Paul to feed the lonely and old, preparing some food for Out of the Cold program in Toronto and other cities, participating in "Baptism Preparation" for parents who wish to baptize their children or at least engaging in helping them if asked,

For our own sanctification, we need to fast if we can, go to confession - possibly with a spiritual director priest, receive the Holy Eucharist in the Church on Christmas where we mystically become one with Christ.

You may wish to listen to Bishop Robert Barron here on having a personal relationship with Christ:

The Church is praying...Always trusting in our Lord the Holy Trinity who loves all that He created in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1: 26-27).

"For in him we move and live and have our being" (Acts 17: 28).

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Vengeful God ?

After the terrible massacre in the Coptic Orthodox church of St. Peter at the Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo, we need to really pray for the victims and their families whether Christians or Muslims and pray for us and every one in the world (including victims and terrorists) so that God may help everyone to come to him and know him who is eternal love. God is merciful. He has no enemies. Christ was crucified and died for all, and is risen for all...He reigns in heaven which is among us.

The above massacre which took place on Sunday December 11, 2016 raises questions about the fate of the terrorist who died in making others suffer. He expected to be in paradise, but this is the reverse of heaven that Christians believe is for those who died in the grace of God. However if God is love according to St. John the Apostle (1 John 4: 8), then his love includes every one created. We may not encourage acts of terrorism that kill people. God understands the circumstances and psychological pressure that could drive weak persons into killing or committing suicide. This is why, in some cases, the Church may allow prayer of burial over a person who committed suicide if asked by his family. These are cases of psychological sickness. But the terrorist person may likely himself be lost...

In the Gospel, Christ warns against eternal damnation for those who do not help their needy fellow humans (especially persecuted Christians) in acts of mercy (e.g. see Matthew 25: 31-46). One man I know who has dedicated himself to work for helping students in the Holy Land is Hikmat Dandan. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus who won the Supreme Council's Award for the Youth in 2013. See the website of Jerusalem Students here Hikmat collects funds from many churches and Councils in North America that Jesus the King parish sends to Melkite Catholic General Patriarchal Vicar  Archbishop Joseph Jules Zerey in Jerusalem who is in charge of helping students in the Patriarchal school near Sahour where the angels appeared to the shepherds in announcing the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ. To donate or assist, contact Hikmat at or contact Archbishop Zerey at

A little background:
In the Old Testament hell was expressed first with the word "Sheol" as the abode of the dead - a place that separates the sinner from God - It is an alienation from God (e.g. Psalm 28: 1, Psalm 6: 6, Psalm 88, 10: 19). When the Hebrew Scripture was translated to Greek in ancient Alexandria around 200 B.C. the word "Hades" replaced "Sheol". Christianity made a definitive change in the proclamation of the Gospel from the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, his crucifixion, death and his Resurrection to his glorious Ascension. Hell has no more power over him and his true followers.
Throughout history, the doctrine of salvation, while is essentially the same, has developed as perceived by the Church (see "Who Can be Saved?" by Avery Cardinal Dulles here).  In his philosophy of personalism, Saint John Paul II wrote about the reality of hell here

The great Catholic theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote a book Dare We Hope “That All Men Be Saved”? (1988). He was appointed cardinal by Saint John Paul II for his services to the Church that helped her in the 20th century. Following in his footsteps, I hope and pray for the salvation of everyone regardless of his religion. See Richard John Neuhaus here and the story of his own conversion here. I also pray that God may in his unbounded mercy lead every non-Christian to the knowledge of Christ, believing in Him and the Church.

In my mind, I am frequently puzzled by the reality of hell that is everlasting for the damned. This could be the cause of many devout Christians repeatedly going to confession, and constantly praying popular prayers such as the Rosary. While we wish to enjoy life with others and families that we love I am simply afraid of damnation in an everlasting hell especially that the New Testament warns us against it. Yes, I pray that God may lead, in his unbounded mercy, all those non-Christians to the Church. But we cannot coerce them. A great recent example is Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta (see

To the above fear, several responses are found. There are, I believe, many young people who left the Church, and others who do not wish to believe in hell or would believe only if they are on death-bed... 

However, the popular Bishop Robert Barron spoke recently about hell. You may wish to listen to his points which are a moderate exposition from a Catholic missionary in America:

I received a response from the Jesuit scholar and popular homilist Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. I had sent him a little email about a devout lady who constantly prays the Rosary with her group and had to undergo a medical procedure because doctors suspected she may have cancer. So she went to confession, prepared herself with holy communion and said to God "I am in your hands...Thy will be done". Thank God, her prayers and mine were answered - she was told after the medical procedure that they found no tissue with cancer. Fr. Boulad responded today:
"I believe in the boundless power of prayer and what this lady has experienced is a proof of it. BUT, if my prayer is unanswered, I still believe that God has his own ways and I trust him fully. About HELL, I never think of it and don't fear it and don't care about it..." 

Both Barron and Boulad make me see the light in this turbulent age. Trust and love overcome hell through Christ. Read the Second Vatican Council, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Yes, God cannot be a vengeful God...He is our good Father. Pray. Fast. Go to confession, Receive the Eucharist, and live a real Christian life in serving the others regardless of their rank or religion. And above all, let us trust in Him who was crucified and died for the world, He rose from the dead to justify his followers. This is our God.

You may wish to listen to Bishop Robert Barron here on having a personal relationship with Christ:

Christmas is here soon: Have a blessed Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Need for Unity

It is urgent that Christians pray for their unity and their leaders communicate to overcome the little differences, that though could touch on dogmatic declarations are not an obstacle to the full communion.

Fr. Pio Farah, a Franciscan priest who is a personal friend since the early 1970s and now serving in Egypt, sent his monthly newsletter for December 2016 in Arabic where he makes the case for the importance of prayers to God, because prayer directs our works to God who blesses them.

Jesus Christ himself prayed to his Father before his disciples were scattered upon his arrest. In his prayer Christ asks the Father to keep his disciples together "so that they may be one as we are one" (John 17: 22). This has been the prayer of the Church across generations together with preaching the good news of the Gospel. It is a prayer connected to faith and grace. In history two Councils promulgated union between the Roman Catholic Church and the Byzantine Orthodox Churches: The Second Council of Lyon in the 13th century (see and The Council of Florence (see in the 15th century. However, the union of both did not last.

In the 20th century, Saint John XXIII (known as the good pastor) continued the efforts started by leaders of other Christian communions for Christian unity. He convoked the Second Vatican Council in 1962 with the goal of renewing the Church in her relations including "separated brothers." His successors continued his hope and prayer for unity. The "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity" has since been established (January 18 - January 25).

In May 2013, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II visited Pope Francis in the Vatican in commemorating the 50th anniversary of his predecessor's visit to Pope Paul VI. He was greeted by Pope Francis with hugs at the door of his residence. Upon Francis request, the Coptic Orthodox Bishops sang together the ancient Coptic hymn of the Doxology.

In 2014, Pope Francis visited the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in the Church of St. George, where Francis humbly asked Bartholomew I to bless him "and the Church of Rome"and reassured Orthodox faithful that "to reach the desired goal of full unity the Catholic Church does not intend to impose any conditions except that of the shared profession of faith". 

Against fundamentalism and extremism, I invite my readers to read this article published in CERC where the author investigates the development of faith and perseverance of committed Christians in the Catholic Church:

In a polarized world, the Christian communities mostly threatened are those in the Middle East. For the preservation of Christianity in the Middle East and in the rest of the world, Christians need to pray for their unity as we expect the coming of Christ at Christmas.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Joy of Being

Following the discussions on "The Moderate Mind" we should ask the question: How the mind can elevate itself to the world beyond physics (metaphysics) ?
As I read "Being and Nothingness" by the existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre,  I am confronted by an assumption that consciousness is constitutive of the being of its object which, according to him, destroys itself (Page Ix). This is a description of the lonely person who hates the other because he failed to discover him. And he ends up by destroying himself!

But life is abundantly good because every creature was created by the loving God. Everything that survives, needs cooperation and a measure of reasonable trust.  The joy of being can be illustrated in my experience yesterday...

Yesterday Sunday November 27, 2016, was remarkably a joyful day for the coming together of the Greek Melkite Catholics and their friends in Toronto to participate in the first Divine Liturgy or Mass at the huge Slovak Cathedral of "The Transfiguration" (The Transfiguration by Georges Farah here: By only looking at its 63-meter high gold onion dome, it reflects the Byzantine architecture no less than that of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople or with the high organ in it that accompanies the hymns sung by great singers in Europe, especially Renaissance Europe. It is no coincidence that Thomas Aquinas lived during the early Renaissance. His influence on philosophy has been lasting for the Christian civilization in "baptizing" the good thought he found in the Greek philosopher Aristotle. According to Professor John Haldane, St. Thomas' humanist  approach contributed to the rediscovery of nature as the good creation of God rather than the dualistic philosophy of Plato (that had emphasized the idea of a corrupt nature) bringing thereby a revolution in thinking within Christian philosophy (see BBC Radio on Thomas Aquinas here:

In his homily, Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad thanked God that made it easier for the Melkite Catholics in Toronto to celebrate their Masses at the Byzantine Cathedral and inspired Helen Roman the owner of the Church and vast land to support the little sheep with much enthusiasm (since she was approached a few years ago by Fr. Georges Farah and Fr. Georges Balliki and finally with the direct involvement by Most Reverend Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim and Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad with his assistant pastors). Fr. Ibrahim also thanked God that he spared everyone in the destruction of Jesus the King church and thanked individuals who are contributing to the assessment of insurance and the building of a new Byzantine church for Toronto's Melkite Catholics. The choir performed some of the most enjoyable hymns in Byzantine hymnology (Joseph Homsy, Costandi Khouri, P. Couturier).

In my view, all of the above is great, but it is the joy of seeing many friends from here and there in one place worshiping together, that made my day. My wife and I met literally hundreds of friends after the Mass ended. Advances in sociology shows that humans are relational (see Brené Brown here: If this is of any value, it is above all love that gets deeper and does not vanish - the eternal joy that is God; for he is a communion of three hypostasis (Aqnum in Syriac) and lives in the relationship. Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) called it "absolute "relatedness", or relatio subsistens.
If the eternal God is a communion, then it makes sense what Peter said too upon seeing the Transfiguration of Christ "Lord, it is good to be here" (Matthew 17:4).

"Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem" said the Lord to the Samaritan (John 4: 21).

Thank God for the great joy of being...

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Moderate Mind

As unexpected as Trump's victory in the latest American presidential elections, it is also unexpected that once he is in the White House his rhetorical comments against his Democrat rival and her supporters will materialize. The reason is simply that responsibility of the superpower requires balancing priorities to ensure cooperation with other nations: those who need America; and those who America needs. America will not be isolated because America cannot be isolated. His movement, however,  inspires those who dare to challenge the ruling elites, their corporate supporters, and the false media. It is a restoration of an outlook to the absolute values in Christian civilization which have been challenged for over a century by relativism since Nietzsche's cry "God is dead."

Humanity since the early homo sapiens has gone through much difficulties with the environment, tribal rivalry, worship of mythical gods, and vengeance (see - yet was able to overcome their differences in order to survive together. It is this prolife vision that makes humans stick together. In Christianity, prolife is more than this life as much as it is beautiful because there is a faith in the power of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ which promises eternal joy to those who choose to follow him.

In psychology, the latest school in America is known by the title "Positive Psychology" which emphasizes the positive attributes in the person such as hope for the future, happiness or contentment in the present, the capacity for love, perseverence, and spirituality...

Finally see my post on complex minds here:

Everyone needs to follow St. Augustine's rule: Be moderate in everything except in love".

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Influence of God

It is not a secret that we influence each other. By only watching TV, you can guess from the ads who moves opinions to make decisions. The political drama today is based on relativism, a post-modern phenomenon that claims there is no absolute truth. You make your own truth and I make mine. The more you have money and can invest it in influencing others, the more followers you have.
The influence of God manifested certain commandments or rules in ancient nations notably in Judaism. The influence of God has been growing since the death on the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ who spoke to his Apostles, and they, in turn, preached the good news of eternal joy from Jerusalem to Antioch, Rome, and Alexandria. They and their followers continue to confess the divinity of the risen man Jesus and his power with which he loved and loves everyone. He will come again a the end of the world to restore fallen humanity to his beloved Father (Revelation 21, 22).

The above should remind everyone that tomorrow Tuesday November 8 the presidential elections in the United States will take place. Although many deny that they do not influence anyone else nor care about what happens in the United Stated, everyone knows that the policy of the United States influences the world more than any other country as it is the hub of technology, military power, and economic influence. A prayer for the right person to be chosen will make a difference I believe. Between the extremely liberal Hillary Clinton with years of mismanagement of foreign policy after President Obama, and the conservative Donald Trump who promised to appoint 3 pro-life judges to the Supreme Court with a Conservative Congress that backs him up but who is also an extremely divisive person who wants to build walls to isolate/"protect" Americans from their neighboring countries among other things, it is hard to choose. None of us has an insight into the real intentions of the candidate. In meeting with George Weigel, I asked whether it was possible to replace Trump with his more balanced vice president Mike Pence, but he said this is not possible at this point. I hope the right person will be chosen to lead America.

I have been personally influenced by the late Archbishop Paul Antaki the Great (see, the late Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church (see, Melkite Catholic Archbishop Joseph Jules Zerey in Jerusalem,
and Thomas Cardinal Collins Archbishop of Toronto who is a moderate prelate that may become the next Pope.

Among preachers, quite a few scholars have influenced me such as Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J., Fr. Ignatius Sarkis Najjar, Prof. Fr. Daniel Callam, CSB, Prof. Msgr. Robert Nusca, Prof. Fr. Georges Farah, and Prof. Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, S.J. There are more working hard to serve their churches and communities. . Among them I have been influenced by the young Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad and his assistant priests at Jesus the King
Melkite Catholic parish. Service is not limited to priests. I have been influenced by quite a few women and men who humbly serve in different roles in church and community as well as in their own families. Parents can be examples for children. A number of organizations that impress us in their services include "Doctors without frontiers" whose  members are willing to take risk in order to treat the injured, or St. Vincent de Paul whose members visit the elderly and lonely and help them in many tasks. One such organization made up mainly of lay people that serve communities, needy, and persecuted people is the Knights of Columbus whose members influence millions in their services.

It is important that we work and pray for the right people to lead us in every country and everywhere. God is the Father who influences us as his Spirit helps us to do good and avoid evil. This is the Spirit of Christ in the world!

Friday, October 28, 2016

My Joy with the Beloved

On Sunday October 23, I had the joy of participating with my beloved wife in two special events organized by Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad and his team at Jesus the King Melkite Catholic parish.
First: In the noon Mass, Fr. Ibrahim prayed for the past parish council of which I was a member. We prayed with the parishioners for our beloved families and friends everywhere and received the Sacrament of penance or reconciliation followed by the great Sacrament of the Eucharistic body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Homsy choir performed some of the most majestic hymns in English, Greek, and Arabic and, for me, the choir leader who knew my preferred hymns made sure the choir sang the Lord's Prayer (Our Father) in the way that his dad of blessed memory devised it. At the end of the Mass too, the Great Kyrie-Eleison was performed with such triumphant tone that you would think that the angels in heaven were also singing with us.
Following the Mass, my wife and I were invited, along with other past parish council members and their spouses to Mazza restaurant where we were greeted by the elegant owner, who is also a member of the Melkite Catholic Church and an active member on the Board of Jesus the King Knights of Columbus Council. There we were joined by a group of choir members including the choir leader and his highly-active wife who participated in the preparation of the event and served everyone. Many other parishioners joined us as we enjoyed together this get-together day. Although most attendees of the dinner party had to register and pay, they did it with joy and generosity which, I believe, is characteristic of the people who lived in, or are originally from, the Middle East. In spite of loud speakers, I enjoyed  the folkloric dance "Dabke" in which many people, young and old including Fr. Ibrahim, participated. The fellow who performed musical tones along the recorded ones left a good impact on his listeners.
It was an early well-prepared dinner, that started with a prayer to God by the mouth of the parish pastor Fr. Ibrahim and continued with a voice message from Most Reverend Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim who is in charge of all Melkite Catholics in Canada. In his message, Bishop Ibrahim encouraged us and everyone in the community to continue the really-good work done over the past 20 years or so with Fr. Georges Farah principally who oversaw the purchase of the church and made significant contributions to our understanding of the meaning of life, and since the beginning of 2015 with Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad, Fr. Michel Chalhoub, and Fr. Youhanna Hanna.
And I remembered the annual festival started by Fr. Georges Farah, the Catholicism Series which continue to be presented by Fr. Youhanna Hanna in addition to Fr. Youhanna's prayerful assistance to the sick which continues uninterrupted, and other talks by Fr. Michel Chalhoub, the weekly lectures in the hard questions of theology and philosophy that Fr. Georges Farah gave us, and the weekly lectures that I gave to the young adults and since 2008 to older generations too.
Following the voice message by Bishop Ibrahim, Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad spoke of the good work and collaboration that he received from the past parish council members which continues today with his support. Fr. Ibrahim has also engaged teams of young adults to help the priests in teaching the children of the parish according to a program prepared by the Church authorities and, as far as I know, approved by Bishop Ibrahim. It is quite important that every bishop and priest provide the communication means to preserve our young adults and kids in the faith received from the Apostles.
Congratulations to the parish, the team who worked hard and the parish head for whom we thank God.
It was a day of joy with many of the beloved ones.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Mother

“Humility is the mother of all virtues - purity, charity and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed, you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal.”
- Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa is a saint because of her courage to take the adventure of following Christ. She was born in Skopje, now capital of the Republic of Macedonia, and raised within Kosovo Vilayet in the Ottoman Empire. We see in her story the effect of upbringing in a simple one family and of daring to go on pilgrimage to the shrine of the Black Madonna where she often prayed as a young woman. At the age of 18, Agnes who would become Mother Teresa made a more daring step - we could say she stepped out of Plato's cave - to the "New World" of England as she left her mother and sister. Her father had already passed away. As she landed in Rathfarnham in Ireland to join Loreto Abbey, the words of Peter to Christ rang "Lord, To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6: 68). She wanted to learn English, but the Lord destined her to use all her gifts for the destitute and   marginalized in India. From Macedonia all the way to India did not end there for she must tour the world to offer the services of love to the little ones and create homes for the unwanted. In 1937, she took her solemn vows and served as a teacher at the Loreto convent school near Calcutta until in 1946 Teresa experienced what she called "the call within the call" and in 1948 she began her missionary organization which Rome approved in 1950 calling it "the Missionaries of Charity". But where is her humility? She trusted God like a child as she continued to pray before the Blessed Sacrament although for 50 years she never felt his presence."Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18: 3). The most important message she gave was probably her acceptance speech of the Nobel Prize in 1979: If you listen to the entire speech you will notice how this woman and mother defends the unborn children. For more on her life see
Today I received a call from a beloved cousin in Lebanon. After expressing my joy for the great Mass we had yesterday at Jesus the King Church followed by the social party organized by Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad and his team as well as the encouraging messages by Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim and Fr. Ibrahim (later on this), she told me about the miracle that she had in begetting her only boy through the intercession of another woman and mother, Saint Rita of Cascia, who was also the beloved saint of my beloved mother. Rita loved her husband even though he was unfaithful and loved her children praying for their salvation. On Saint Rita see: and 

Who is a woman? She is not simply the external beauty that men see, but the internal beauty that expresses her love to the beloved with tears. St. Paul expresses the mystical union of the Church to Christ as the relationship of the body to the head (1 Cor. 12: 27). The committed woman attracts her lover to possess her. Yet she receives his seed in order to beget his child.  A woman is the foundation of home because of the bond that bonds her to her children. A woman strives to beautify everything around her as they reflect the inner beauty that comes from God. She enjoys the family and celebrates the success of everyone of them putting herself at the service of others. Her tears flow when in joy or in pain as well as when she loses a beloved member of her family and friends. It is proven physiologically that oxytocin, a hormone released in sexual mating, works for bonding man and woman and more so for bonding the woman to her children. See

Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. wrote that woman is the perfection of Man based on a proper reading of Genesis 2 in view of the development of life. Dr. Scott Hahn, founder of St. Paul Centre of Biblical Theology, portrays the first covenant of self-giving in the story of  Adam and Eve. And who else can tell us about the woman who is mother of all? Listen to Archbishop Fulton Sheen here:
It is a responsibility for Christians to open their ears to God's words for he always "knocks on the door" (Revelation 3: 20).

It is a message to Americans who are voting for the nominee for the presidential elections:
Who of the 2 candidates supports planned parenthood, abortion, and same-sex marriage?
Abortion, divorce, and same-sex marriage contribute to a childless society which means that there will hardly be any new generations that will grow, work, and pay taxes to support the infrastructure projects needed by society to survive.

Pray for America and the world!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Why Heterosexual Marriage is Important Or Why Trump Matters !

As the distinguished preacher Fr. Busch spoke at St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica in Toronto, I felt the air of sacredness which we lost in the world. It was the Mass on Sunday October 16. The Gospel reading was about the Parable of the unjust judge who did not respect God nor cared to be just with the seekers who wanted their rights restored (Luke 18: 1-8). Jesus explains the parable that God will render his merciful justice to those seekers as he "will see to it that justice is done for them speedily." However, Jesus warns his followers "But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
This is a deep point in the context of the development of history, and precisely in the civilization of the West where doubts about nearly everything lead to other doubts. Many people, especially young adults, question the faith and want everything given to them on a platter of silver. This past Friday on October 14, 2016, a lecture based on "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis was presented at Jesus the King Church in Toronto. See But some concepts were rather complex or academic for the ordinary persons who attended.The question that must be asked to most of us is "why do we want to limit ourselves to entertainment". People usually answer that they are highly stressed at work, and some do not work in their specialization, so they prefer to relax in the week-end. In the absence of a proper school system, our children who ask us about faith will have no answer. Faith is more than the Bible. It is more than what we know. It is a gift from God that needs to be cultivated in order to be fruitful. This is the meaning of the development of doctrine in the Church. Bishop Robert Barron explains it here: - Most people have no time to think much. Too busy at work and many take up more than one job if available. However, this does not solve the problem of excessive doubt.  If we agree that we influence each other, we can trace the influence of the current scientific ideologies that are widely spread by the media to the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment had its good values such as literary criticism which entailed the historical criticism that emphasizes the context in which a Biblical book was written in history, and text criticism that researched the genre of text whether historic, poetic, or prophetic.   The Enlightenment had also negative currents whose scholars turned the Biblical Old Testament to nearly a collection of myths. 
From the Enlightenment, came the philosophical ideas of modernism and post-modernism (relativism). Two World Wars killed millions of people and destroyed countries but also created revolutions that seek vengeance. Radical feminism was born when women had to work in order to support their families after men died in the wars. This is the liberal movement that grew with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Promiscuity and adultery found their ways into families, destroyed them by instituting divorce in most Western countries. Once legalized, so was abortion too. The liberal governments support the individualism of today. Today sexual education, to kids in schools of Ontario, Canada, teaches them that homosexual union is as natural as bisexual, transsexual and heterosexual marriage. Educators in Toronto are encouraged to get the male and female children in school to discover their own sexual organs by showing them to each other before they are in their high teens when they become sexually active...
Heterosexual marriage remains the only acceptable marriage in the eyes of the Church. It is one of the Church sacraments in which Man and Woman are sanctified in their love and are fruitful in begetting kids.
With the recent mutual insults and attacks on each other's personal life, the American Republican nominee and Democratic nominee have used every mean to destroy the other. Although many Americans especially those on the Democratic side claim that they do not like Donald Trump, they will have to face the truth before the presidential election only on this matter:
Who of the 2 candidates supports planned parenthood, abortion, and same-sex marriage?
Abortion, divorce, and same-sex marriage contribute to a childless society which means that there will hardly be any new generations that will grow, work, and pay taxes to support the infrastructure projects needed by society to keep its standard of living. Lack of workers means too that products   other than automated ones will not be enough to sustain the economy in a global competitive market. It also affects the pension of the elderly of society which would become a burden on the government and in turn would encourage assisted suicide and euthanasia. In brief it will kill society unless new comers or migrants are allowed to increase and eventually impose their own values and cultural stamp on the country - Which means a change from the Christian values on which Western nations were built to other non-Christian values and other laws such as Islamic Sharia the way it is interpreted by violent jihadists which once in place the country becomes a dictatorship managed by minds that will ensure a return to ancient times when women were treated as objects. The country, therefore, loses its democratic charter and citizens lose their liberty.

Of course, a better choice is another better candidate, but it is too late. America cannot lead the world the way it is now. Childless Europe has necessitated accepting immigrants. Generations of children are needed. Civilization requires a correction. If America must stay democratic and become a great nation, Americans need to elect a non-liberal candidate!
Again Jesus asks "But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Monday, October 10, 2016

A New World ?

Today Monday October 10, Canadians celebrate "Thanksgiving" to manifest their gratitude to God for the kind of life they have attained in such a beautiful and immensely resourceful country. Thanks also to the many who, across many generations, labored to improve the conditions of life and care for the human person and creation.
This does not mean that Canada is a paradise to enjoy. In this world, nothing is perfect. Canadians, like many other populations, have a long way to go in order to reach a society based on peace and justice for everyone.

Make no mistake, Christ is still, in a way, crucified. The temptation of the Devil continues to lure the human race; for everyone must worship. If Man does not worship God, he will find a god to worship: desire; power; money or any source that helps or threatens his life. The ancients feared rain so they considered it a god. They needed the Sun so they made it a god. Today Man fears unemployment so he attempts to make money even if by enslaving himself to long hours of work at the employer's need or whim. Slavery is not over. It has only taken another form. It is above all manifested in new products that glorify me such as "Selfie"...The manufacturer sells them to the consumers through distributors or marketing companies. In the end the self is materially enriched at the expense of his spiritual enrichment. This is happening in the developed countries as well as the underdeveloped countries which are going through much disturbance.

The above does not help me achieve my ultimate goal of real satisfaction, but on the contrary it suffocates me and alienates me from the innate desire for my highest good which we must discover. According to St.Thomas Aquinas we observe ourselves and the world and find that we are impelled forward to our highest good “God”. This humanist approach of St.Thomas Aquinas gives us the opportunity to find God in all things and particularly in the people that we know, because everyone of us has a vocation. If Christ himself was not thanked for healing 10 lepers who begged him except a Samaritan; an outsider of his society, how do we expect thanksgiving today? (Luke 17:11-19). Thanksgiving starts with recognizing God's beautiful creation: the other person with whom I deal daily. This humanist approach is carried forward in the writings and acts of St. Thomas More in his judgment as Chancellor of England on the primacy of conscience; in St. Ignatius Loyola founder of the Society of Jesus in his Spiritual Exercises on weighing the presence of God in the choices man makes; and St. Jean-Baptiste Marie Vianney in his heroic acts of helping some 20,000 annual pilgrims from France and other countries to repent where he instructed his visitors against evil and patiently spent close to 18 hours daily in the confessional advising the penitents on avoiding evil while he cried with them in the town of Ars, France.

In today's world, the elite and top politicians continue their competition with mutual accusations and personal insults too...In the United States, as the presidential elections come closer, the intensity of aggressive behaviour, reflecting fear of loss, increases. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have shown signs of intolerance towards each other and went as far as attacking each other's personal life. The American President Barack Obama, likewise, accused the Russian President Vladimir Putin of betrayal over their commitments to end the Syrian War since the latter continues to bomb the Islamists in Aleppo thus giving advantage to the Syrian army over the armed opposition. Obama is also embattled in his support for Clinton with Trump's accusation that the American administration founded and finances the Islamic State terrorist global organization. In Jerusalem for the funeral of Shimon Peres, Obama did not lose a chance to "diplomatically" slap the hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by addressing President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority among the distinguished dignitaries and reminding Netanyahu of the two-state solution endorsed by the American administration - It is the same Abbas who has attempted to bring the terrorist Islamic Hamas group with him to the negotiating table for peace in order to guarantee his re-election as the Palestinian leader in his increasingly weak position.  But Obama's diplomatic slap to Netanyahu was particularly a personal tit-for-tat since the Israeli Prime Minister dared to address the American Congress without care for Obama's approval or presence either.

On the other hand, Putin has made political and economic gains in his Machiavellian moves into Iran and Turkey, both arch-rivals in their attempts to dominate the entire Middle East and beyond into Europe but surely both are traditional enemies of Russia. For Putin, it paves his way to China of the "Silk Road". While Moscow ships arms to the Kurds in Northern Syria (considered terrorists by Turkey), it could not bypass a chance to have Turkey's Islamist Erdogan beg Putin for an alliance as both see the Western powers especially America and Germany becoming a common enemy who betrayed them. Erdogan's visit to Moscow in Summer only paved a new front to penetrate Europe and disseminate NATO - Trump praised Putin, and therefore was accused by America's Clinton's supporters of being Putin's agent to destroy what America still has of economic power. On Trump's side, Newt Gingrich has accused Obama and Clinton of finalizing a trade deal with China who, according to Gingrich, has stolen $360 Million of America's intellectual property. In Europe, news indicate an increase of intolerance. In Germany, whose Chancellor defended the reception of refugees from the Middle East, a Syrian refugee was hunted and arrested by police after finding very volatile explosives in his apartment near Leipzig. With the type of material found and his moves, German police found out that he was affiliated with the IS terrorist organization (see BBC here: Following the British Exit from the European Union, Germany found itself unable to lead the rest. Borders north of Germany had to be closed since cheap labour coming from countries surrounding it could influence jobs available for Germans. In France, while continuing to fear internal problems on wearing the "Bourkini" by Muslim women in a secular state, the Socialist President Francois Hollande indicated he might not receive the Russian President when the latter visits Paris on October 19 to inaugurate a new Russian Orthodox church because France has condemned Russia's role in the Syrian war. In the Arab world, Saudi Arabia is reluctant to lend Egypt new money especially that the Egyptian president seems more moderate than Islamists/Salafists would accept. Yet he is criticized by some of his own media gurus to have no vision for modernizing Egypt especially that he accepted the IMF conditions for borrowing money without sufficient consultation with experts.

Meanwhile, fear overshadows the ordinary citizens of the world. How will America be great again if Americans are in fear? How will the world be secure again if terrorism roams its capitals and cities?
The disasters caused by rivalry among human tribes can be understood, but how about the natural disasters such as the tornadoes in Haiti and Florida? Even if one day, humans were able to control and eliminate natural disasters, it will not stop them from wanting to be eternal. The only answer to our quest for happiness is in eternity.

The above reminds me of two recent saints that give us a foretaste of the eternal life: Thérèse of Lisieux; and Teresa of Calcutta...The first was a Carmelite sister cloistered in Lisieux who died in 1897. The second founded the Sisters of Charity and trodded the world in her missionary work and died in 1997. Bishop Robert Barron spoke about the life of St.Thérèse of Lisieux, The Little Flower. Listen here to her rich spiritual life of only 24 years: ​Based on the doubts about the existence of God that St. Thérèse experienced near the end of her life, I have asked myself this question: If the greatest saint in modern history experienced such doubts near the end of her life and possibly until the end of her life and yet she still persisted in her love for Jesus in humility, how can any one still condemn anyone else to hell ? St. Teresa of Calcutta too had the same experience. She mentioned that for 50 years she suffered the absence of the beloved God in her daily prayers before the Blessed Sacrament. Yet she persevered in her vocation and made the love of Jesus known to multitudes especially in her care for the poorest of the poor left to die in the streets of Calcutta in India. For this reason she trodded the globe. Much about her work can be learned in this video published in September 2016: or by reading this post:
By only looking to heaven, imitating their selfless love and asking for their intercession, we have the possibility of contributing to a better society that thanks God and reflects on the wonders of his creation as civilization moves on. It is the possibility offered by Christ for a life everlasting with God.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Lessons to those who wish to understand

The only way to go forward in your life is help yourself and the people you know to understand each other in order to communicate. This is the basic rule in every business. Language is essential in any understanding, and understanding the culture that you live in is essential to express it in works of arts, music, paintings, movies, and books. For good benefits in any business or church community, members of the organization need to be quite at ease in spelling out their ideas in the language of the other members. If we wish to reach out to younger generations, we must speak to them in their language. In English Canada, it is important that any communication with the younger generations be made in English. Unfortunately, ethnic-based communities are stuck with their old mentality and language which prevent them from integrating with the larger and more successful communities that have been in Canada for much longer times. Families and individuals who come to Canada, America, and Europe must already be familiar with the languages of the hosting countries and must be willing to integrate with the majority communities of those countries. The economic situation does not permit the hosting country to pay free welfare to immigrants or refugees - money taken from taxes paid by the hosting country's citizens.
This is the first lesson that ethnic communities must learn. Online free courses are available for those willing to learn foreign languages...It is also essential for the younger generations to grow up having full respect to the human and Christian values embedded in the laws of the hosting countries. The chaotic atmosphere in economic planning and policies that exist in most underdeveloped countries in the Middle East and Africa may not be carried to the advanced economies of the West regardless of the good intentions of the hosting political authorities to help suffering people in those countries. Discipline is a most important value. Security against extremism must be taken in every place where there is a suspicion of migrants' ill-intention. At the same time, every effort must be made, especially among Eastern Christians, to disseminate a message of reconciliation among people of every ethnicity and religion as Pope Francis has declared in Assisi a few days ago. Regardless of religion, God loves every person (created through his Word: Christ). It remains, however, the responsibility of those that received the Word (Christ) in the Church to communicate his authentic life and teaching of love in the language of their current/local country to everyone else by imitating him (Cf. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis published on Every person carries some goodness from the creator of all. If hate against you is unacceptable, it is not right to avenge hatred with hatred. St. Paul wrote "Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good" (Rom 12:9).

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Henri Boulad, S.J.: Change the World!

Fr. Henri Boulad, SJ started his brief talk on September 10 by identifying his mission...Why is he here? His mission is "to change the world".
Some 7 years ago when he was 78 years old, his long mission of over 50 years seemed to have come to an end when he suddenly fell seriously ill. He then asked the Lord "If you want to take me home, I am ready. If you want me to continue this mission, please give me an answer."  And the good Lord answered him...Henri Boulad suddenly felt that he has been renewed with energy to continue in spite of his weakness for as long as he can...He drew a parallel with Moses. Moses was allowed to speak to God in the unconsumed bush on Mount Sinai.There God asked him to speak to Egypt's rulers in spite of his heavy tongue (Exodus 4: 10) in order to let his people go to the Promised Land. And Moses lived 120 years after he liberated God's chosen people. Henri Boulad too could live up to be 120 years old for the mission he is called to fulfill. He does not control his life because he let God do it. It is a matter of love for God through his creation.

Baptism by Fire is precisely the same as fulfilling God's love in one's life. John the Baptist prepared the people for Christ's coming...John the Baptist said to his followers:
“I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire." (Luke 3: 16).
How does Christ baptize by Fire? Let's look at two texts from the New Testament: Jesus said "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." (John 12: 24). Here, Christ speaks about his own baptism by the Holy Spirit and fire which he undergoes in his passion and death. He dies to himself in order to save humanity from its own failure and be raised by God the Holy Spirit. In his death he goes down to dead and raises them with him, restores the human race to his Father. The fruits of his death and resurrection are found on the big tree that emerged and continues to grow in the world which is the Church.
The second text is the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).There a man travelling from Jerusalem down to Jericho fell in the hands of robbers who stripped, beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A "priest" passed by but did not wish to save him as he was busy going on his way for his functions, and so did a "Levite" (who, like a deacon, burns incense to the Lord), also too busy to take care of the half-dead man...On seeing him, both passed by on the opposite direction. Those were the people to whom everyone in the Jewish nation of Christ listened. This is the way we treat the needy, helpless, and elderly in society today. Negligence to the point of death in a "waste culture". The surprise is a Samaritan, traditionally, the enemy fallen out from God's Law, who happened to pass by the half-dead man.Moved with compassion at the sight, "he approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ For Christ, "Baptism by fire" is the work of the Holy Spirit in each one who received him. He waits and knocks on the door for us to repent and grow in love of each other. I need to exit from my ego and love the "other" as much as possible by abandoning myself to God's love. (Note: As an ordinary person,  I would not find it possible to exit from my ego totally - The second Commandment "Love your neighbour as yourself" assumes that you love yourself in the first place. Only mystics such as St. Bernard of Clairvaux can achieve this state (see However, what is impossible for men is possible with God. Love  prepares us to be saved.)
Fr. Boulad closes his speech with an eloquent interpretation from Revelation 21 [Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people* and God himself will always be with them [as their God]. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.” The one who sat on the throne* said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.” He said to me, “They are accomplished.* I [am] the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water.] (Revelation 21: 1-6).

In less than 15 minutes, Fr. Boulad, brought forward a vision not only for Christians dealing - like the Good Samaritan - with non-Christians who massacre Christians in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and North America but also for the way Christians need to die to their ego, greed and selfishness in order to grow in Christ and witness to him in most Atheistic secular societies and indeed hope for Jerusalem of the new heaven and earth.

This is how we " change the world" by the grace of God!!!  

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Queen Spouse and The Dragon

On Monday August 15, 2016, the Church celebrates the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. On August 15, 2009, I had the privilege of attending the celebration at St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto presided over by Thomas Collins the Archbishop of Toronto who, as the Cardinal Archbishop of Toronto, presided over the opening Mass on the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus on Tuesday August 2 attended by thousands of the faithful and over a hundred and fifty cardinals, bishops, and priests from Canada, America, Europe and Latin America where the Knights of Columbus are actively serving the communities and the universal Church. Here is an excerpt of what I gathered from the homily by the Archbishop of Toronto on the Assumption of the Virgin Mary celebrated in August 2009:
The story of Mary Mother of God inspired the Venerable American Archbishop Fulton Sheen to give a talk, before his passing away in 1979, in which he significantly relates Mary to the passion and death of Christ her son. Dying on the cross, Christ tells his Mother how she will participate in his sufferings as prophesied by Simeon in the Temple (Luke 2:35), calls Mary "Woman" and gives her to his beloved disciple John to be the Mother of the Church; a title declared solemnly by Blessed Pope Paul VI in the closing moments of Vatican II in 1965, but with this new relationship, Mary becomes the Spouse of the Lord symbolizing the growing Church that will deliver saints throughout centuries of hardship and renewal. The reader may wish to listen to the talk here: . According to Thomas Collins, this is Mary the same woman identified in Apocalypse known as Revelation [God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne.The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God....Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed One.”] (Revelation 11: 19a; 12: 1-6a; 10 ab )

But how was the kingdom built? Msgr. Robert Nusca, Pastor of Holy Rosary Church and Professor of theology at the University of Toronto, made reference to "Baptism by Fire" in his homily on Sunday August 14, 2016 readings. Albeit from a different Biblical angle, Msgr. Nusca touched on the keynote speech by Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. which he will deliver on September 10 in the presence of Cardinal Collins and other dignitaries attending the Toronto Caritas event in support of persecuted Christians and other needy ones in the Middle East. In the Gospel, Jesus challenges the disciples [“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”]. Msgr. Robert Nusca compared it to "Baptism by the Spirit" who works in the hearts to help them get transformed into the image of God, the God of mercy and love revealed by his Son Jesus Christ. The Baptism that Christ makes possible through the Holy Spirit is indicated  by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians, Msgr. Nusca said "Christians must carry their crosses wherever they are because the cross of Christ is the only way to eternal joy." Paul writes "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2: 20). The purification process can also be found in his first Epistle to the Corinthians "For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw -- each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." (1 Cor 3: 11-15).

In 2008, Fr. Georges Farah spoke about the reality of the Assumption or Dormition of Mary Mother of God: "In the Tradition of the early Christians, Mary lived with the Apostles after our Lord ascended to heaven. She lived in Ephesus with John the Apostle. When her death was imminent she felt her Son will take her and she told the Apostles around her. When she died Thomas who was preaching in India was not there. He had a vision that Mary passed away so he hurried back. Since Thomas doubted the Resurrection of Christ, the tradition attributes to him another doubt (that of the Assumption). In the story,  upon Thomas’ return the Apostles opened Mary’s tomb but found it empty. This confirmed that her body was taken up to heaven. Thus the doctrine of the Assumption has been with us since the second century. But why was Mary taken up to heaven?  The answer is simple if you look at the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. You see there Mary laid in the casket, like anyone who dies. You see around her the Apostles. The closest are John, who is quite sad, and Luke too. But Jesus standing on top is carrying a baby in his hand. Who is this baby? It is also Mary. So in the icon there is Mary’s body and also Mary being carried by Jesus. The meaning of the Assumption is here: As Mary carried Jesus in her womb and when he was a child, he also carries her when she is old and weak. Further more, she is always obedient to him as he as a child was obedient to her. Whenever Jesus asked her something, she always comforted him, and now whenever she asks him something, her prayer is always answered. Mary points us to Jesus. She does not replace him. She witnesses to him. And this leads us to the Chrism oil which the Church puts on the newly baptized so that he/she witnesses too to Christ. The Chrism oil is made up of 36 perfumes. The Church is telling us that when you are becoming a witness to Christ, you will be full of joy, peace and love. You will receive the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. Be not afraid: Christ has overcome our sins. He is alive and Mary is the greatest witness of him."

To Apocalypse now:The question in today's context remains - If Mary symbolizes the Spouse of the Lord, crowned Queen of heaven, who is the huge red dragon ? Could it be a sign for Satan ? This is a big question that will be asked again and again. Here are keys to think about:
1. The civilized world is under a threat especially in the dictators of radical Islam, Russia, and China;
2. The civilized world has undergone major changes since the Enlightenment until today in claims by scientism, neo-liberalism, modernism, post-modernism, materialism, atheism, and globalization using advanced new technology where prostitution and drug trafficking are traded on the DarkNet; a new form of slavery ...
3. Terrorism is hidden by manipultive powers in and outside the Church until Christianity is subdued and Christ is no longer worshiped anywhere except probably in the primitive tribes of Africa...
The world is confused but humans are unique - Here are material that may help the reader understand:
a. What explains the rise of humans (Published in July 2015, this is a brief talk by Yuval Harari, Professor of History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem):
b. Written in October 2014, this is a contemporary interpretation of "the Beast and the False Prophet" in Revelation:
c. Written on July 30, 2016, "Today's Myths" and struggles for power are analysed based on Girard's thought of mimetic rivalry and the scapegoat as related especially to two dictators: Erdogan of Turkey and Putin of Russia :
d. Written by Giulio Meotti and published in Gatestone Institute International Policy Council on August 10, 2016, this article touches upon "Islam's Quiet Conquest of Europe"
e. Written by Robert Jones and published in Gatestone Institute International Policy Council on August 15, 2016, this article touches upon racism and xenophobia in Turkey:

These are hard times. Let us pray the Virgin Mary for Pope Francis and all Christians...Time to wake up!.

Today's Quote

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


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