Catholics And Family Planning
Recently, the federal ministry of health announced that the federal Government has approved a whooping sum of 11.3 million dollars for the procurement of contraceptives and other family planning devices, as part of their commitment to ensuring population control in the country.
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Reports have it also that the amount set aside for the family planning and population control programme this year, quadruples the previous year's which was 3 million naira. This huge investment in this project certainly will put Nigeria in the good books of international agencies and interest groups which are in the fore front in the fight against population increase at all cost.
However, it is pertinent to ask, why is the government so enthusiastic towards the project of birth control at all cost through artificial means, when there are pressing issues that need urgent attention? Have they bothered to look inward to utilizing the knowledge of natural birth control prescribed by the Church which has no side effect and promotes love, understanding, fidelity and consent by couples involved instead of the artificial means which has various side effects and indirectly promotes promiscuity?
We are not oblivious of the consequences of population growth and its effects on the economy, however, we believe that instead of the aggressive campaign through artificial means which on the long run will encourage infidelity among spouses, promiscuity in our youths and a long term negative effect on our mothers, the government should promote responsible parenthood for child spacing and the determination of family size, using the instrument of education and improved welfare, as well as the natural family planning mechanism that include a diligent study and adequate understanding of each married woman's fertility rhythm and the discipline of period of abstinence.
These methods which have been tested and proven to be effective, costs nothing to attain, while the whopping amount earmarked for the purchase of contraceptives can be channeled into other areas that demand pressing attention to ameliorate the plight of Nigerians. Therefore, in this light, it behooves on us Catholics, the touch bearers, to ensure that we are not deceived by the presumed benefits of family planning devices, but should be in the crusade against such misdirected, anti-family and anti-human programmers and inform, teach the ignorant of responsible parenthood method that promotes family values.
Let Us Celebrate The Year Of Faith
On October 11, 2011, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI released Porta Fidei, which means “Door of Faith”, an apostolic letter proclaiming the Year of Faith, which will begin on October 11, 2012, and continue through November 24, 2013. The congregation for the Propagation of Faith statement notes that the initiative “is intended to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to the rediscovery of faith, so that the members of the Church will be credible and joy-filled witnesses to the Risen Lord, capable of leading those many people who are seeking it to the door of faith.”
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The opening and closing dates of the Year of Faith carry special significance. October 11, 2012, marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Vatican Council II, and the Vatican notes that the special year should also mark the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. November 24, 2013, is the Solemnity of Christ the King, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith underlines the importance of ending the Year of Faith on this date to encourage Catholics to share the precious belief in Christ as the redeemer of mankind.
This letter is meant to explain and propagate the Year of Faith as a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of faith; hence, the Holy Father affirmed as follows:
The 'door of faith (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into the Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime... We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the Word of God, faithfully handed down by the Church, and on the bread of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples (cf. June 6:51).”
The Year of Faith will involve a series of initiatives, organized at different levels of the Church, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith notes.
At the worldwide level, Pope Benedict will preside at a solemn opening celebration for the Year of Faith. The Vatican plans special ecumenical efforts, pushing toward Christian unity, including “a solemn ecumenical celebration in which all of the baptized will reaffirm their faith in Christ.”
At the national level, Episcopal conferences will be encouraged to focus on “the quality of catechesis,” and to ensure that the teaching of the faith is in “complete conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.” The bishops' conferences will be strongly encouraged to use all available media outlets to promote that goal.
At the diocesan level, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith calls for “renewed creative dialogue between faith and reason in the academic and artistic communities,” and for penitential celebrations, with a particular emphasis on asking God's forgiveness for sins against the Faith.
At the parish level, the Year of Faith should be centered on the community liturgy, and specially the Eucharist, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith says. All other initiatives should be based on that foundation.
As a Diocese, we shall make concerted efforts during this Year of Faith to intensify the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Second Vatican Council Documents in a more profound and elaborate manner to ensure that the teaching of our Faith is in complete conformity with the Scriptures and the Doctrines of the Church.
Why the Year of Faith?
The subjection of Faith to a series of questions arising from a changed mentality which, especially today, limits the field of rational certainties to that of scientific and technological discoveries challenges the Church to demonstrate that there cannot be any conflict between faith and genuine science, because both, albeit via different routes, tend towards the truth.
The Year of Faith is a call on Christians to radiate the word with which the Lord Jesus left us the truth in a more profound way, so that the Church can be renewed through the witness offered by the lives of believers by their very presence in the world.
It is a summon to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world. Faith in action becomes a new criterion for understanding genuine Christian life. (cf. Gal. 5:6, Rom. 12:2).
Today too, Christ reminds us of his mandate to go to the whole world and proclaim the Good News (Mt. 28:19). This is an auspicious moment for a stronger ecclesial commitment to the new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm of communicating the faith. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and communicated. In the words of St. Augustine, “Believers strengthen themselves by believing.”
Focus of the Year of Faith
As a Diocese, we want to celebrate this year in a worthy and fruitful manner, and as such we shall pay particular attention to the faith we have received, so as to help all our faithful to acquire a more profound and conscious adherence to the Gospel, in the midst of the current change of values in our world. Our faithful are encouraged to embrace the following:
A greater appreciation of the gift of our faith as Catholics.
Professing the faith in fullness, with renewed conviction so as to build confidence and hope in the Lord. In this regard, we encourage all Parishes, Religious communities and Churches to organize programmes that will make everyone in our homes and families to feel a strong need to know better and to transmit to future generations the faith of all times.
Deepen your relationship with God and neighbour.
A systematic knowledge of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Retraining of our Catechists and the training of new religious educators in order to promote the formation of Christians within the context of our own peculiar social and cultural milieu.
Focus on Jesus Christ, “founder of our faith, who will bring it to completion”. (Heb. 12:2)
An opportunity to intensify the witness of charity. As St. Paul reiterated, “now we have faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these three is love. (1 Cor. 13:13).”
Fostering and deepening of genuine vocations to the Catholic Priesthood and consecrated life.
St. Paul in his letter to the Romans exhorts us to be upright because for him, “God makes people upright through faith for ... The upright one shall live by faith (Rom. 1:17).” This same faith that makes one upright is validated by a life of living witness to the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ. (cf. Gal. 5:6). We are all therefore invited in this Year of Faith to be upright in our faith by first appreciating it, bearing witness in love to this same faith because what matters is faith working through love. This is an authentic way of sustaining faith beyond doubt and persevering in it to the end. According to St. Peter, the reward for our faith shall be kept safe for us in the heavens and it is God's power that will keep us faithful until salvation promised is revealed in the last days.
We entrust this time of grace and conversion to the maternal care of the Mother of God and the Church, who is full of grace and blessed because of her firm faith in God. (Lk 1:28; 45).
Given at Auchi on this 1st day of October, 2012.
» By Prof. Michael Ogunu
An essential element of Fatima Spirituality is adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament (the “Hidden Jesus”). What is the Church's position on adoration of Our Lord in the Eucharist apart from the Mass? The official teachings of the Church when one examines the writings and homilies of recent Popes shows a consistency that goes right back to the early Fathers of the Church.
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Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Mysterium Fidei published during the Vatican Council II cites a number of Church Fathers. To quote one of these:
St. Cyril of Alexandria rejects as folly the opinion of those who maintained that if a part of the Eucharist was left over for the following day it did not confer sanctification. “For” he says, “neither Christ is altered nor His Holy Body changed, but the force and power and vivifying grace always remain with it”.
Such statements clearly refute any theologians who might maintain that Christ's presence is limited to the context of the celebrant of the Eucharistic liturgy and does not remain after Mass, and thus advocate that the bread can be disposed as one sees fit. In the same encyclical Paul VI stated: “The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers the cult of Latria (Latria is worship due to God alone) to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, not only during Mass but also outside of it, reserving Consecrated Hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to solemn veneration, and carrying them processionally to the joy of great crowds of the faithful”.
Pius XII not only strongly encouraged the faithful to adore the Eucharist but insisted that to fail in this regard is itself sinful. He wrote in his encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy, Mediator Dei in 1947:
The Sacred Councils teach that it is the Church's tradition right from the beginning, to worship “with the same adoration the Word Incarnate as well as His own flesh”, and St. Augustine asserts that: “No one cats that flesh, without first adoring it”, while he adds that “not only do we not commit a sin by adoring it, but that we do sin by not adoring it”. (129, 130)
Paul VI exhorted the faithful to center their lives totally in the Eucharist by receiving every day and visiting the Blessed Sacrament daily. The Eucharist is the necessary “focus where all other forms of piety must ultimately emerge”.
In the course of the day the faithful should not omit to visit the Blessed Sacrament, which according to the liturgical laws must be kept in the churches with great reverence in a most honorable location. Such visits are a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, an acknowledgment of the Lord's presence. (Mysterium Fidei)
Pope John XXIII who is often misrepresented as “opening the windows” of the Church to all kinds of erroneous currents of thought when he called for Vatican Council II was very traditional in his love for our Eucharistic Lord. He derived his great love and compassion for others from the daily holy hour he made before the Blessed Sacrament. He wrote in his diary:
To keep me from sin and to prevent me from straying from Him, God has used devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament...Devotion to the Sacred Heart has grown with me all my life...Today everything which concerns the Sacred Heart of Jesus has become familiar and doubly dear to me. My life seems destined to be spent in the light irradiating from the tabernacle, and it is the heart of Jesus that I must look to for the solution of all my troubles.
The same year that Pope John XXIII announced the Second Vatican Council he also issued an encyclical commemorating the centenary of the death of St. John Marie Vianney (the Cure of Ars), in which he proposed the Cure of Ars as a model for all priests to imitate. Pope John XXIII pointed out that the holy Cure's power was in his deep contemplative prayer, and this prayer was preeminently Eucharistic, as the following quote from this encyclical bears out:
The prayer of the Cure of Ars who, it could be said, spent the last 30 years of his life in church, where he was detained by his innumerable penitents, was above all a Eucharistic prayer. His devotion to our Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament on the altar, was truly extraordinary.
“He is there”, he used to say. “He who loves us so much. Why should we not love Him?” And he certainly loved Him and felt himself drawn irresistibly toward the tabernacle. “To pray well, there is no need to talk a lot”, he explained to his parishioners. “One knows that the good Lord is there in the holy tabernacle. One opens one's heart to Him, one rejoices in His presence. This is the best prayer”...
“The admirable example of the holy Cure of Ars has still today its complete value”, Pius XII said. In the life of a priest nothing could replace the silent and prolonged prayer before the altar. The adoration of Jesus, our God; thanksgiving, reparation for our sins and for those of all men, the prayer for so many intentions entrusted to him, combine to raise that priest to a greater love for the Divine Master to whom he has promised faithfulness and for men who depend on his priestly ministry. With the practice of this enlightened and fervent worship of the Eucharist, the spiritual life of the priest increases and there are prepared the missionary energies of the most valuable apostles.
The worship of Christ present in the Eucharist is not just a personal, solitary “Jesus and Me” experience but involves the entire Church. We are called upon to develop a greater awareness of the needs of the Church and to recognize our intrinsic role within Christ's Mystical Body.
Pope Paul VI develops this thought in Mysterium Fidei:
The Eucharistic Sacrament, venerable brothers, is the sign and the cause of the unity of the Mystical Body, and it inspires an active “ecclesial” spirit in those who venerate it with greater fervor. Therefore, never cease to persuade those committed to your care that they should learn to make their own the cause of the Church, in approaching the Eucharistic mystery to pray to God without interruption to offer themselves to God as a pleasing sacrifice for the peace and unity of the Church, so that all the children of the Church be united and think the same, that there be no divisions among them, but rather unity of mind and purpose, as the Apostle insists. (1 Cor. 1:10).
Pope John Paul II also emphasized the social dimension of Eucharistic adoration. In fact, he writes, the ability to love one's neighbour with profound respect for the uniqueness of each individual person is the fruit of Eucharistic worship.
... I wish briefly to reaffirm the fact that Eucharistic worship constitutes the soul of all Christian life. In fact Christian life is expressed in the fulfilling of the greatest commandment, that is, to say, in the love of God and neighbour, and this love finds its source in the Blessed Sacrament, which is commonly called the sacrament of love.
If our Eucharistic worship is authentic, it must make us grow in awareness of the dignity of each person. The awarenessof that dignity becomes the deepest motive of our relationship with our neighbour. Dominicae Cenae (5, 6 Letter of John Paul II to all the Bishops of the Church on the Mystery and Worship of the Holy Eucharist for Holy Thursday, 1980)
Pope John Paul II has emphatically underlined the fact that devotion to the Blessed Eucharist is in full accord with Vatican Council II This Pope in his pilgrimage to Ireland in 1979 commended the Irish for their great tradition of Eucharistic devotion.
I wish also at this time to recall to you an important truth affirmed by the Second Vatican Council, namely: “The spiritual life, nevertheless, is not confined to participation in the liturgy” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 12). And so I also encourage you in the other exercises of devotion that you have lovingly preserved for centuries, especially those in regard to the Blessed Sacrament...
The visit to the Blessed Sacrament so much a part of Ireland, so much a part of your pilgrimage lo Knock is a great treasure of the Catholic faith. It nourishes social love and gives us opportunities for adoration and thanksgiving, for reparation and supplication. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Hours and Eucharistic processions are likewise precious elements of your heritage in full accord with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. (John Paul II's homily in Phoenix Park, Dublin on September 29, 1979, n.7).
In Spain, the Pope participated in Eucharistic adoration with many young people near midnight at the parish of Guadalupe in Madrid. He told them,
“I am happy to be here with you, close to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; as members of the Spanish Nocturnal Adoration Society, you have, with so many other Christians, who gather with you throughout the land of Spain, a profound awareness of the intimate relationship that exists between the Church's spiritual and apostolic vitality and the Holy Eucharist. During your adoration vigils, your faith and love render an ardent tribute of honour to the real presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is present in this Sacrament with His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, through the Sacred Species.
This presence reminds us that the God of our faith is not a distant being but rather He is a God Who is very near, whose delight is to be with the sons of men”. (cf. Prov. 8:31). (October 31, 1983)
On that occasion the Pope also discussed the many benefits that one receives from Eucharistic adoration, in particular, an increase in the virtues of faith, hope and charity. We come to know experientially and in greater depth that “the crucified and risen Lord is really present in the Eucharist, not only during the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice, but as He subsists in the sacramental species”.
Our life is rooted in this mystery of faith, the Pope insisted. It leads us to greater hope, for the Eucharist is “actually an ongoing proclamation of His second glorious coming at the end of time”. It is an essential “hope-filled encouragement for our advance to eternal life!”
Christ's sacramental presence is also the source of love for both God and neighbour. “The authenticity of our union with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament ought to be translated into our genuine love for all persons'' for it is truly “the bond of that unity desired by Christ for the Church”.
As a bishop who contributed greatly to the Second Vatican Council and who wrote a commentary on the Council for its implementation, he considers that “the encouragement and the deepening of Eucharistic worship are proofs of that authentic renewal which the council set itself as an aim and of which they are the central point”.
As the Vicar of Christ he pleaded for a renewal of Eucharistic adoration because it pleases Christ for us to be near Him in many ways through this sacrament, in which He is substantially present:
Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and in contemplation that is full of faith and ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease, (n.3).
John Paul II is reported to spend entire nights sometimes prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament, in prayer. He continually exhorted priests and the faithful to turn toward the Lord in this devotion because of the great fruit it bears for the Christian life, which he knows well from personal experience.
On December 2, 1981 he inaugurated perpetual daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at St. Peter's and invited the faithful to find there “the very source of life and holiness that gushes from our Lord's Eucharistic Heart”.
Catholic Basis For The Sacrament Of Baptism
» By Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Okafor
Baptism for the early Christians was the beginning of Christian life. It entailed the renunciation of sin and old way of life. It is the openness to eternal life and an entrance to other sacraments. Baptism as a sacrament has its foundation in the words of Christ who gave the mandate to his disciple to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19). The Catholic Church bases her baptism on the Trinitarian formula. Even though the Baptism of John, which is the baptism of repentance, did not follow the Trinitarian formula, the words of institution of the Sacrament of Baptism is in the Trinitarian formula: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The meaning of this statement is found in Jn 3:1-10; that is, rebirth in water and spirit.
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The Sacrament of Baptism is a Sacrament of rebirth and it entails penance, faith and union with Christ in his death (Col 2:12). No one can partake in a meal with dirty hands. Similarly, Baptism purifies us to be able to fellowship with Christ (Eph 5:26-27; Heb 10:22) and participate in other Sacraments. According to St. Gregory Nazianzen, in baptism one puts on the garment of immortality. As a sign of divine cleansing one is given a new heart to obey God (Ez 36:25-27). It is he who has a clean hands and pure heart that will climb the mountain of the Lord (Ps 15:1-2).The real minister of the sacrament of Baptism is Christ himself. This is why the Baptism administered by heretic is regarded as valid.
Baptism is a sacrament of faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Heb 11:6). When one expresses faith in Jesus and circumstances make it impossible for one to be baptized, faith alone can impart fellowship with Christ and redemption. This kind of fellowship is known as Baptism of desire. For in instance, when a Catechumen dies before the reception of the Sacrament of Baptism, such a one is believed to have received the Baptism of desire (CCC, 1259); although baptism of desire does not introduce one into a believing community. In the same vein, when an unbaptised person turns to Christ in death through martyrdom, such a person is considered to have received the baptism of blood. These groups of persons are entitled to Christian funeral. Since Christ is the real minister of the sacraments and remains the master of his gifts, he can decide to save any soul without any intermediary of sacraments, for although God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments (CCC, 1257).
Baptism involves renunciation of sin, conversion and penance. This is what St. Paul referred to when he said: “If anyone is in Christ, he is new creation: everything old has passed away; see everything has become new!” (2 Cor 5:17). Therefore, this sacrament has a great connection with the Easter eve celebration. Just as the Easter eve celebration is a passover from darkness to light, from slavery to freedom, so too is baptism a passover from a life of sin into a life of grace; from slavery to freedom. Baptism therefore, is a sign of belief in Jesus Christ and his salvation. As an initiation, it introduces one to a real Christian life. Every baptized person is expected to live a true Christian life; a life after the pattern of Christ.
Infant baptism grew out of Christian tradition. In began around the 4th century. It is important to have children baptized. Children who die without the Sacrament of Baptism can be entrusted to the mercy of God who desires that all men be saved (1 Tim 2:3-4) and Jesus' tender mercy towards children which caused him to say: Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them (Mk 10:14; CCC, 1261).
Besides, there are biblical practices to uphold infant baptism. When Peter baptized Cornelius, he equally baptized the entire household. So also, the Apostle Paul baptized the entire family of the jailer (Acts 10:44-47; Acts 16:31-33). We know children are part of family. More so, the death of Jesus Christ is a ransom for all, and not for adult only.
The Obligations and Right of the Baptised
The Sacrament of Baptism imposes obligation and right on the recipient. The obligations are:
• Every baptized person has the obligation of confessing Jesus as Lord both in word and deed (CCC, 1270).
• Every baptized person has the obligation to be subject to others in the communion of the Church, and to obey and submit to the leaders of the Church (Heb 12:17; CCC, 1269).
The rights which the Sacrament of Baptism bestows on the recipient are:
• The right to be called a child of God.
• Freedom from the burden of original sin and the wrath of God.
• Every baptized person who remains in union with Christ has a right to participate in other Sacraments and is entitled to Christian funeral.
• Every baptized person has the right to be nourished with the word of God and be sustained by other spiritual help of the Church.
How Many Books Are In The Bible 66 Or 73?
» By Rev. Fr. Stan-William Ede
The Holy Bible is a collection of Sacred Books, which were composed under the positive influence of the Holy Spirit by men chosen by God, and which have been accepted by the Church as inspired. As many authors and scripture scholars have rightly noted, the Bible is the most authorized, most admirable, and the most important book in the world, because it is the word of God in human language. The Bible is incomparable as far as all other “sacred” literature is concerned because (i.) It is the unique revelation of God; (ii.) It is inspired by God in a unique way (2 Tim. 3:16); (iii.) It discloses God's saving plan for time and eternity; and (iv.) It centres on God Incarnate in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.
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The word, “Bible” comes from the Greek word, Biblia, which means “Books”. The Bible is composed of many books and is rightly described as “a library of books”. It is like some of the public libraries that we know. It contains many different books and these books were not all written on the same day, they were not all written by the same person or group of people. They have different themes but all are centered on God and His revealed truths.
Invoking the authority bestowed on her by Christ (cf. Matt. 16:18-19), the Church brought the different sacred and inspired books together into one volume, presented as a beautiful book, and then he term “Biblia” (Books) was applied in reference to all of them as being together-in-one. In the 5th-Century, St. Jerome called these collections the “Divine Library”, and by the 13th Century, “the books” became “the Book” (Biblios) to stress the unity of all the books contained therein as the one and infallible word of God.
All the books in the Bible speak in their own way of the covenant or promise between God and the first people of Israel, and then between God and all of humanity. Thus the Bible is a written record of communication over many generations between God and his people. It is a collection of works that has had a profound influence on people over the past two millennia and which is also profoundly impactful today in the lives of men and in the society at large, for the Word of God is always alive and active (Heb. 4:12).
The Biblical authors, guided by the Holy Spirit, wrote down the unique experience of the early Israelites in their relationship with God. These events were narrated in the form of history, but were not the same as the other histories that we know. History in particular is recorded in the Bible in such a way as to make the action of God on behalf of his people clear. The same came be said of the Psalms, the prophetic books, the wisdom literatures, the gospels, the letters and the visions. The inspired authors aimed to tell us not just what happened, but its religious significance and how God was involved. We say “inspired authors” because the Holy Spirit guided these authors in writing what they believed and understood about God, man and the universe.
These various books were gradually gathered by the Jews. They put them together into one book which they used for their worship of God. That book is what we today know as the “OLD TESTAMENT”. It was the “Holy Book” that Jesus and his followers read and listened to in the synagogues and temple.
The followers of Jesus Christ were also inspired to write brief narratives on the very special events in the life of Christ and the early Church. Some of them wrote inspired letters to some Christian communities and certain individuals. These writings about Jesus and the early Church were also gathered together and called the “NEW TESTAMENT”. The Old and New Testaments were brought together, and the result is “THE BIBLE”.
The Bible is the greatest best-selling book ever. But in fact, there are two variants. The Catholic Bible has 73 books, and the other has 66 books. How come? The Old Testament of the Catholic Bible has 46 books, and is referred to as the Greek Version, while Old Testament of the other variant has 39 books, and is regarded as the Hebrew Version. For both variants, the New Testament has the same 27 books, and so there is no problem with the New Testament Books.
Now, we have these two different Bibles, where then does this difference come from? Veritably speaking, this can be traced back to the historical situation in which the Jews found themselves long before the birth of Christ. Already in the history of Israel, as in the history of the Church, the Word of God played such an important role that it conditioned, so to say, the vey existence of the people of Israel and guided their practices. Around the year 587 B.C., during those years of conquest and defeat along with empire building and expansion, the Jewish people were defeated by the Babylonians and were sent into exile. Many of these Jews never returned to their country after the exile. They kept their religion but absorbed a lot of the culture, language, etc., of the native inhabitants. These Jews were called the Jews of the Diaspora.
Over the next few centuries, the powerful or dominant culture was “Hellenism” (the culture modus vivendi of the Greek Empire). Even the governments and people of the Roman Empire absorbed many Hellenist tenets into their Roman life and culture. During and after the exile experience of the Jews, some more inspired books had been written which included aspects of their experience with the Greek world and other significant exhortations that address the being and experience of all humankind, not only the Jews.
About 200 years before the birth of Christ, this Old Testament collection that was all-inclusive was translated by the Jews of the Diaspora into the Greek language, and it had 46 books altogether. This was the Book used by Jesus and his followers. This is every easily comprehensible because Jesus' mission embraces the whole human race, and this collection, like I implied earlier, included some far-reaching experiences that were graspable also to non-Jews, thus the whole world.
The Jews back at home at that stage could not agree as to which should be the accepted 'Holy Book'. Should it be the Hebrew Version with its 39 books or the more recent Greek Version with its 46 books? They shuffled between both until during the Christian era in the mid 1st-Century AD, when they settled for the shorter version, the Hebrew edition with the 39 books. By this time, the Apostles and early Christians along with many other Jews, following the footsteps of Jesus Christ himself, had for many years, been using the Greek Version with the 46 books.
Around the year 382 AD, the Church decided to bind together the books that would make up the accepted Bible. Still following the line of Jesus and the tradition of the early Church, she chose the longer variant, the Greek Version with its 46 books for the Old Testament, and the normal 27 for the New Testament, bringing the total number of books in the Bible to 73. At that time, there was only one Church, the Catholic Church, founded by Jesus Christ himself, with a mission to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:16-20) and built upon the Rock, Peter and the other Apostles (cf. Matt. 16:18-19; Jn. 21:15-17).
Many Centuries later, more than one thousand five hundred (1500) years after only the Catholic Church existed and thrived fulfilling the will of God and mission of Christ, Martin Luther who was a priest of the Church had trouble with the Church. He protested against many of the doctrines of the Church and Divine Truths. In 1521, supported by some political super powers, the Princes of Germany, Martin Luther finally left the Catholic Church and founded his own Church. To break completely from Catholic traditions and practices, he refused using the Greek Version of the Old Testament. Instead, he chose the Hebrew Version with its 39 books, and then he added the 27 books of the New Testament to make 66. He translated this shorter Hebrew Version into German and other languages, and many other Protestants who broke out from his Lutheran group and from the Anglican division joined Martin Luther in using the Bible with the 66 books.
It is important to know that Martin Luther had his reasons. First, it was a popular way for him to fight against the Church. Secondly, he was totally against the teaching on Purgatory which is expressed in 2 Maccabees 12:42-44, where it is recommended that we should pray and offer sacrifices for the dead. Belief in the existence of Purgatory was against his own beliefs, so he had to remove the book that most explicitly articulates this belief, and in the process, he also discarded what he called the 'extra' books.
For the simple reason that many non-Catholic churches followed the steps of Martin Luther, we have two main versions of the Bible today. Catholics pray, write, quote and study from the Greek version with 73 books (46 in the O.T. and 27 in the N.T), which Jesus himself, the apostles and the early Christians used; whereas most non-Catholics use the Hebrew version which has 66 books (39 in the O.T. and 27 in the N.T.).
To know which one you have, explore the list of contents and look out for the following 7 books which make the difference therein, and which are contained in the Catholic Versions: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, 1st Maccabees, and 2nd Maccabees. These books are classified in the Catholic Bible as the “Deuterocanonical Books” by way of distinguishing them from the others called the “Protocanonical Books”. When you have the Deuterocanonical Books along with all the others, you have the complete Bible and you join with the apostles, the early Christians and all true Christians throughout the ages, to sit around the one Table of the Word, gathered around Christ and receiving the good tidings of life and salvation.
Today, however, many of the Protestant Churches recognize the value of the Deuterocanonical Books, and they have started to include these books in their translations. These books are often included in the Protestants translations as the “Apocrypha”. Today, also, many non-Catholic Christians make use of myriads of quotations from these same Deuterocanonical Books as much as it suits them and in great measures to accentuate their themes.
As Christians, we must develop tremendous enthusiasm for, and, interest in, the reading and study of the Bible, and we must do it to the fullest by having and using the complete Bible. In our reading of the inspired word of God, the Bible, we allow God to inspire us in our daily lives, both as individuals and as a Church.
Finally, let us be exhorted with the very words of one of the great Biblical Authors, Timothy who wrote two of the Books of the Bible, precisely letters in the New Testament: “But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you have learned it., and that from infancy you have known the Sacred Scriptures which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation of errors, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be competent and equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:14-16).
» By Rev. Fr. Leonard O. Anetekhai
Growing up back in the days, it was always pleasurable to say, “Happy Independence” And the response is always “same to you”. Though, not surprising, but hoping to set a resounding same to you, I told a friend, 'happy Independence', and he said 'WHICH ONE'. My reply was 'today's own'….the others is history now. It is heartbreaking to celebrate a nation's anniversary with great distrust and fuelled fear that is made real by the dread of insecurity, worst still to be happy when things are falling apart.
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It was very interesting back then to see us dance to the song by Ras Kimono 'Under pressure, Nigerians under pressure, under pressure Africans, under pressure, no food in our belly, no money in our pocket, see people they are dying, they are suffering, in the ghetto….na me say, under pressure, Nigerians under pressure'. Of course, it made no deep inprint in us to reflect on the words because we were children and our parents had to provide us our daily bread.
Today, the meaning and reality is right in our faces, no food and no money in our pocket to spend. We just celebrated our 52nd Independence as a nation, a period when we expect serious self-examination on the part of the political elite about the failings and lost opportunities of the past 52 years, but all we see are embellished displays of political campaigns with lies of transformation agenda in place.
Quoting, Mr. President, “In its latest report, Transparency International noted that Nigeria is the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption. We will sustain the effort in this direction with an even stronger determination to strengthen the institutions that are statutorily entrusted with the task of ending this scourge.” This is scandalous to hear and read, because reports and findings has it that Transparency International does not have a recent rating or report that places Nigeria as the second most improved country in the fight against corruption. On a second thought, if it is true, I will not mince word to say the President is making a hoodwink of himself if the 'Ote dollars' and fraud stars are still members of our economic team.
The same problems that bewitched this nation during the military era are still within us. In the period of military rule, most of our rulers' chief motivation and concern were not service to our motherland, but the accumulation of wealth and personal gratification. Military rule has left in its wake a sad legacy of human rights violations, stunted national growth and alarming increase in corruption, thereby destroying its own internal structure in the process of governing and posing the greatest threat to democracy and national integration.
But one will be very quick to say that we have not felt better even after eleven years of democracy. Democracy which ought to have ushered in the desired social stability has become a burden to Nigerians. Our Politics has being personalized and hunger given to the masses as our own fair share of the national cake.
According to the World Bank, governance is simply the exercise of political power to manage nation's affairs. In Nigeria, we see our electoral process as a competition in content of high inequalities particularly among individuals and groups such that people vote without choosing, and when they do, the only option is between two oppressors. This state of affairs has created a widespread poverty and ignorance which impedes good governance and threatens democracy. Many are worried if indeed the country can march steadily to attaining a greater height in the nearest future if the trend of events and business of governance maintains the same pace and pattern as we see in the last 12 years of democracy rule. Our public funds have gone down the drain because of political interest and huge public funds allocated for capital projects are still unaccounted for by those authorities responsible for them.
I believe that transformation is not all about stories on paper, neither is it about a belief in the future of our great Country, but making things work. Yes, the President considers it a priority and sacred duty to continue to strengthen the bond of unity that holds our nation together and to promote and nourish the creative energies of our people, which is a central theme and objective of his administration's Transformation Agenda.
In words and not in reality, it is true that, our country's power supply situation is improving gradually. We are successfully implementing a well-integrated power sector reform programme which includes institutional arrangements to facilitate and strengthen private-sector-led power generation, transmission and distribution, yet candles still sell fast as food stuffs just for a student to afford to read and put something on paper, in aspiration that the future will be better than the present. Nigerians have and continue to advocate for a steady source of electricity or any other alternative sources of energy (power sector) to boost the economy of the nation. It is not enough to invite foreign investors into the country, if they come and do not find a steady source of electricity, of what benefit will their trade be to Nigerians and Nigeria?
Where are the good roads, railways and the national transport network? Where are the well-equipped hospitals and village health centres? Where are the new refineries? In what manner has the primary secondary and tertiary education in terms of infrastructure and basic teaching facilities improved, talk less of supplying steady power to Nigerian towns and cities? Despite the funds and allocation, in what way can one say there is improvement in the living standards of Nigerian masses, when we live under pressure to survive?
With our hearts filled with broken dreams and wasted opportunities, what we need as Nigerians at practically all levels of governance are not those who read a long scripted paper or those who can entertain us with series of quantity without quality statements, but honest leaders who will accept responsibility for our past and seek ways to affect the lives of the people, men and women (both at home and in the Diaspora), who will stand up and be counted in the process of our regeneration to reposition Nigeria for the future.
May God help us.
Why Do Marriages Fail?
» By Rev. Fr. Francis Ikhianosime
There is no doubt; many marriages are at different levels of failing. While some are just still being kept because of their families, some others may not have fully separated because of threat to their fame and prestige; others may be because of what they stand to lose if the spouses go their own way. When we talk of failed marriages, we are talking of marriages that have lost Respect, Love, Fidelity and Eventual Separation. Once spouses fail to see those things they first saw in each other and they are beginning to be impatient with one another, that marriage has begun a gradual failure or collapse. Although, not all marriages that go down this lane end in eventual separation. However, there are a number of factors that could make a marriage fail. Let us examine some and see how marriages can avoid such pitfalls. Ronald Dart gave some reasons why marriages fail. I would want to begin from these. Marriages fail when:
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1. WE FAIL TO LISTEN AND SEEK UNDERSTANDING: One point that is true is that, there are very few listeners in the world. Many people want to speak and not listen. Once we listen well to the other person especially our spouse, we are sure of already kicking down a strong enemy of marriage breakers. Listening means giving the other person an opportunity to express himself/herself, without catching on the presumptions in our minds. Listening also means giving audience even when it is not convenient or you think the other person does not have the right to such a hearing. People want to be heard, even if we have no solution to their problems. In marriage, spouses should not just hear because we just want the other person express him/herself, but also doing. Most people only hear what they want to hear, so they fail to make the point of the other person count. Understanding comes with the first realization that you cannot make the other person yourself. Very often, we are guilty of trying to change the other person into what we want him to be. Once we succeed in doing that, that person would both lose his individuality and uniqueness. We must give room for the other person to live out his/her real self in his unique peculiar way. Understanding also means a high level of sympathy for the limitations of the other. If the other person is garrulous for instance, and it has become an essential part of him, you cope with him/her, managing with discretion, how to handle him/her.
2. WE PROVOKE AND ALLOW OURSELVES TO BE PROVOKED EASILY: Quick provocation is often an option explored by the other partner, which could also be avoided. When patience is missing from a relationship or marriage, we pick on everything the other partner does. Since we are unique individuals, we must be determined to be less provoked by what the other person does. As a principle, know that for any relationship to be long sustained, that two people don't get mad at the same time. Once one person fails to understand, choose the option to understand. We try to avenge for our hurts. We return evil for evil, rather than trying to do good to them in return and being forgiving. We keep score and don't forgive them. If we say we have forgiven them and don't talk to them for a while, then, we are pampering our hurt and not truly forgiven them. We need both the spirit of forgiveness and kind tolerance. There is never a limit to tolerance in marriage, even, if you feel, you are more tolerant than the other person. The task and sacrifice of keeping a marriage from breaking is a duty for both parties, but it is a thing of great pride and a sign of great strength to be the one who contributes more of the sacrifice. That is all it takes to be a hero- more sacrifice offered. There comes a time in the maturity of a relationship when we must choose not to be provoked by what our partner does whatsoever. He/she in time would learn from your patient-tolerance.
3. WE DON'T KEEP OUR WORD: Inconsistency is a great marriage breaker. Once a partner says something and don't mean it, it could break down a marriage. We make promises and oaths to each other, while one partner is living by it, the other is violating it; such, could break a marriage. Once a partner cannot keep his/her word to be faithful, it could cause marriage failure. Partners gave their word during marriage, to: Love and Cherish. Staying faithful is an uphill task, no doubt, but faithfulness grows stronger with trying and sincere struggle. A dose of basic Christianity is what is needed in most struggling marriages to prevent them from failing.
4. WE ENGAGE IN NAME CALLING AND CURSING: When we engage in names calling, we fast weaken the foundations of that marriage. When we are hurt and start calling each other abusive names, cursing and telling them how bad they are, we attack the pride of the marriage and the self-esteem of the other person. You greatly intensify the hurt inflicted and make it so much more difficult for either of you to yield to the other when needed to resolve a conflict. Ephesians 4:29 says, do not let any corrupt communication proceed from your mouth. You must get rid of profanity and names calling in your marriage. When we call our spouse names, we raise them to the level of “no-good” and making you a hypocrite. Very often, what we fight in our spouse is a projection of what we are weak of.
5. WE LIE TO OUR SPOUSES: Lies destroy trust between two people. Once a relationship starts getting lies, that relationship is on the road to perdition. Trust is very vital in a marriage and once it is destroyed by lies, then, there is nothing with which to hold the marriage again. Once a spouse has a track record of lies, then, it would be difficult to trust that partner. It is important that a spouse knows details of his partners, whether good or bad. In marriage, your spouse is your confidant and him you should tell everything. Telling the truth, whether you are wrong or right, makes a spouse to have confidence in you. It is a grave thing, once a spouse discovers that he/she has continually being fed with lies. Lies are psychologically addictive. If you tell a lie, you would need another lie to cover a first one.
6. WE PUT OUR JOB FIRST: Once asked which should come first, one's marriage or the job, I opted for the marriage. It is important to note that every marriage needs time for it to grow. Once a person does not give time to his marriage, sooner or later, the other would fall in love with someone that gives him/her time. Almost two in every three marriage divorces are products of people who make their marriage a second fiddle to something else. Once the man and the woman have career jobs that they have vested interest in, they would see themselves, staying long outside than in the marriage, never coming home on time. Once this begins, the rot sets in pretty quickly after that. Every spouse must create time for the marriage first and other things should follow. If the marriage has not stabilized, it would be not be so encouraging for both spouses to have time-consuming jobs, irrespective of the salaries earned.
7. WE ARE UNFAITHFUL TO OUR SPOUSE: Infidelity in marriage is either planned for or a product of vulnerable conditions we left ourselves. Spouses must always tell themselves how easily possible it is to be unfaithful because of our frail humanity. You really do not have to be a lustful playboy to end up in the hands of another woman or pretty a loose woman before you find yourself in the love nest of another man. A simple carelessness is just okay to stray. You just have to realize how weak you are and so avoiding the occasions that lead to temptations would do a lot to avoiding infidelity in marriages. Once a person has started an affair outside and not disciplined enough to stop it, it just may continue till the eventual breakdown of that marriage. On several occasions, I have seen an affair begin when a man found himself having to help some woman with a genuine need or problem; or the other way round. As the two people got more closely involved, away from the other people, emotional lines got crossed and they end up as lovers. One strong point is that it could happen to anyone, even the emotionally strongest. Again, all that is required is a flick of carelessness. Once we spend long lonely times alone with an opposite sex that is not one's spouse, and it best it becomes a quality time, there is a likelihood of cultivating emotions for each other. I find the counsel of Roger Waite very instructive here. He says: “One of the secrets of keeping a marriage together is recognising how easy it is to break it up. So we need to keep each other closely informed about our movements and who we are meeting and we need to be very aware of our fallibility. If we drum into ourselves that an affair could happen even to us, the chances are that it would not.” Once we find our spouse cheating on you and he sincerely shows remorse, rather than throw him/her away, help him find his/her feet again, because, it could happen to us. All, we need is to be vigilant and avoid tempting situations that could lead us astray.
Marriages fail for a number of reasons, but I found the above points, about the strongest in weakening marriages. The world of extramarital affairs is a wide one, which I would not want to dabble into in this edition. However, we often presume on some strength we have over certain situations which we necessarily do not have. Once we recognise how weak we are, we are on the path of gaining strength and once we recognize that our marriage could fail, if we don't take care, then, we are already on the path of saving it.
Parental Irresponsibility: A Menace To The Society
» By Michael Enegbuma
The crucial role of the formation of children in the society lies in the home. The home bears the seed of whatever character is obtained in the life of a child. Thus, whatever the lacuna created with the sword of improper training of a child, the burden spreads like whirl fire that cannot be seemingly easily controlled. Attempts shall be made to explicit the very act of parental irresponsibility which is growing like the hurricanes and delineate some of its consequent effects which are not limited to the home alone but to the wider society.
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PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY CUM IRRESPONSIBILTY
Every family comprises of father, mother and child or children, except for exceptional cases where there is the absence of one or the other. The father and mother, as parents of a family bear the singular responsibility accrued by their state to bring up their children in the fear of the Lord. However, absent the singular religio-centric reason, the child ought to be the fruit of the parent, so a motivating factor to bring up the child aright is to set him on the path of success in life and thus be proud of his later achievements. How do parents bring up their children?
For the sake of this work, it would be fitting to rephrase the aforementioned question as: How is it that parents ought to bring up their children?
It is not by the instruments of whips or raining of insults, for these, though, have their effects but they are short-lived and worsen the child. It is not by resorting to ignorance (I don't care) for the aftermath would be greatly devastating. This alludes to the possibility of many options among others, but which suffices as the best? In the pages of the Scripture, it is written, “Train a child in the way that he should grow and he will never depart from it.” Thus a highly suitable and recommendable option is what is recommended. One option recommended is an option of treating the child with love. An expression of appreciation, gratitude, and praise offered to a child when he or she does well goes a long way to enhance the self confidence in doing what is right in the home and later in the society. Even at a time of reprimand meted out in love to the child, this inducts the child with a sense of repulsion from such act in a case of a next time. The aura of love which should encompass the upbringing of a child necessitates commitment, forgiveness, on the part of the parents. On the other hand however, this place of love does not entail the spoilage of the child behaviour for this then gives room to many inappropriate, juvenile delinquencies.
At this juncture it is fitting to serve as a reminder that there are different stages of the development of a child. At the very young stage, the child almost conforms to every rule or injunction placed before him. After that stage, he begins to exercise a level of non-conformity to these injunctions; this is clearly manifested when he has reached the stage of adolescence. If that child always failed to see that these rules imposed on him were out of love, he would continually fail to see it so. At the early youthful stages of the child's life, there are yet other interesting contributing factors which seem to raise the stake of misdemeanor by children and this are the inherent exuberance of the youthful stage and the environmental/peer influence. If this stage is itself impaired by the experiences that ought to flow to it from the earlier stages of development, then it already has a negative ineffaceable mark. More still, the youthful stage is characterized by a high sense of exuberance, and so if nurtured would only translate into supervising irresponsibility.
However, the case as we have it in contemporary times has turned soar. Parents seem to, without knowing it, gladly supervise irresponsibility. Such is the case with many parents who have given their children every reason and opportunity to jettison the trust that ought to be reposed in them by their children. It now turns to either be the case of parents shying away from the responsibility of admonishing their children as frequent as possible, or refusing to correct them when they stray. Rather they are contented with the nonchalant and wayward attitude of their wards. It is understandable that a goat begets a goat, a cow begets a cow. So it would be logical that irresponsibility begets irresponsibility. In this sense, it takes irresponsible parents to beget irresponsible kids. A sense where a parent cannot out rightly reprimand the child for a wrong done, but rather gives weight to the ill act of the child only serves to promote irresponsibility. If a parent cannot praise a child even in the midst of other children for a good done and reprimand the child also in the same situation for any wrong done, but rather serves to cover up and defend the child for his or her shortcomings, its aftermath would befall such parent someday. This would only serve as their contribution to the generation of their children, and indeed a pitiful one. But realistically as it stands, in the formation of the young ones, parents and even elderly ones should expect their own share of run-ins with unruly youths, but should stand endeared to develop the children's sense of reason and integrity.
EFFECTS OF PARENTAL IRRESPONSIBILITY
The assumed thought or even act of parents doling all the moneys to their children as a manifestation of the showers of love even when there is little or no source of income, even in the midst of more than enough, only serves to create an orientation for the child that money is everything. Such child, surely, if not well managed would be ruled by the need for money, and indulge in doing whatever money can afford; extravagant ventures are embarked on, expensive gadgets and assets, flamboyant attires and make-ups, Even others engage in careless despicable money spree, etc. Of course that would progressively lead to the attempt if not the very act itself of stealing in order to meet up.
Furthermore, an excessive curbing of the child's freedom would also not serve a good term, but a short term purpose. For when such child is out of the reach of his or her parent, a inclusive freedom is thus exercised which could even be out of control. Thus leading to teenage mishaps for the young children such as teenage pregnancy, drug addiction, cultism, and what have you.
A little allusion can better drive home the nail. A mother who carries out nefarious acts in the knowledge of the daughter already shows her what she as a mother is made of and in fact shows the child how to do it already with an express approval. A parent who offers wickedness to others in the sight of the child teaches the child evil, and another who offers love before a child teaches that child how to love. A child learns to be rude not simply from external environmental factors, but surely, from the close association of the family, especially the parents. Thus the child gets to manifest it at its proper time when it is ripe.
For parents of unruly and ill-mannered children, it is natural that the law of karma catches up with the child and the parent, but the damage would have already been done, even to the society.
The message the children get from the mainstream society is that: “life is bad; the world is coming to an end; everyone for himself, enjoy yourself, and many more.” But then these children need to be taught and learn discipline, and to be helped to train their minds. Importantly too, they need someone to keep them assured that even though life is tough and the world would most certainly excise a pound of flesh from all, it is still a good world filled with good people. It would respect them if they showed respect for it. All these tenets that the children need to imbibe can only be so when there is a friendly relationship between the parents and their children. When there is a level of assurance in the parents as true guides, as bearing the torch to lead them on the road of their bright future.
Beyond Greed And Power
» By Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua
I am just wondering why some people knot the problems of Nigeria only to the wheel of greed, power and corruption. If we compare Nigeria with other countries in the world, we may be amazed at the dynamism of Nigeria in terms of natural and human resources. Nigeria has displayed excellence in many areas in spite of her many challenges. I am amazed that Abuja is more beautiful than some capital cities in the Western world. What all these translate into is that there is real and raw energy in Nigeria with the capacity to do almost all that is humanly possible.
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Unfortunately, this energy is sometimes misdirected towards the capacity for evil and crime. Consequently, if a Nigerian wishes to display intellectual capacity in doing what is good, he or she can do what Napoleon could not do. On the other hand, if a Nigerian wishes to display intellectual capacity in crime and evil, he or she would compete with Adolf Hitler. That means that Nigeria has a potential energy that could be directed positively.
But who is to do this? How do we actualize this potential energy in the right direction? Perhaps we can attempt the basis by revisiting the formative stages of our children. The training and upbringing of a child in the past was the responsibility of the community. Today parents and teachers can no longer impart moral education on the children. Religious education and ethics have given way to technology. Unfortunately, many Nigerians are coping very fast the foreign style of life at the expense of African values which even the western world wish to emulate. Children of this generation need to be redirected to a space where they can learn how to love God, respect their parents and their elders. The freedom of the child should not take the place of discipline. Some parents go to the extent of saying: “I do not want my children to suffer the way I suffered'. In my own view this is a systematic destruction of the child. We seem to forget that he who spares the rod spoils the child.
When I was in primary school, our parents encouraged the teachers to even “flog” us when we misbehave. I remember an occasion when I did something wrong in the house, my own mother after getting my father to punish me still went to report me to the headmaster of the school to give me more punishment. In our college days, the senior students were feared and revered talk less of the teachers and the principal. Today, this form of training has been thrown to the winds to the extent that we breed future criminals instead of training and forming future responsible leaders of excellent character.
The time has come for us to stop blaming our political leaders only for all the ills of our country. In times like this, every person should take a step into his or her heart to examine the individual contribution to the national growth. We must be ready to take individual blame for our sins of commission or omission in the collective growth of the nation. It is not enough to reduce the problems of Nigeria to poor governance and leadership only. We must continue to ask: WHO IS THIS NIGERIA? If we can get a correct identity of Nigeria, then we can turn out a great nation. Perhaps that too can begin the answer to the enquiry into the possibility of a united Nigeria and the optimism that Nigeria can never disintegrate. Now the puzzle and examination of conscience:
• Is it the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who exploits the students in our various institutions of learning before they are allowed to graduate?
• Is it the state governors who misappropriate the funds of pensioners?
• Is it the senate president who extorts money from our road users?
• Is it the Inspector general of police (IG) who preaches inciting sermons in places of worship and turn religion into business centers?
• Is it religious leaders who delay files in the civil service and deny the youths of employment to earn a meaningful living?
The point I am trying to make is that if the government seems to be failing, it is because some people put in some positions are not responsible and accountable. The political leadership should therefore ensure that people are put in positions based on pure merit and be courageous to remove those who are not performing up to expectation. This will serve as corrective measure and deterrent. We need to look back and see if we can identify the height from where we have fallen and the point where we exposed ourselves to this storming rain. Nigeria citizens need mental re-engineering, clear vision, change of negative attitude, redefinition of values, and aggressive recognition of professionalism of Nigerians in executing individual and national missions. Let each and every one of us take a serious challenge on what we can each do to make a better Nigeria. We need to reexamine our psyche, attitude, orientation and world view.
Many Nigerians are used to finger pointing. We find it difficult to blame ourselves or take individual responsibilities for our actions. We forget that when you point a finger at somebody, the remaining fingers point back to you. For instance, some members of the Nigeria World Forum and Nigerians in Diaspora (NID) have daily filled our email boxes with arguments and discussions on the killing of Cynthia Osokogu. The discussion so far seems to be a kind of inter-tribal debate on the issue that the killers are from Cynthia's own tribe. My interest rather in such discussion would be the skill of “facebook” technology these Nigerian boys used in luring this girl to wherever they abused and killed her. The technological methods of these boys have nothing to do with tribe. These boys have wonderful knowledge but lack wisdom to positively transform their potential energy to create rather than to destroy. It is easy to say that they were greedy but with the kind of knowledge they had could they not have been able to positively earn a decent living without killing somebody. Perhaps we can beam a search light on the kind of training these boys received from their parents and the institutions they received their formal education. I have already published an article on the formation of conscience. That publication could lead to my next question: “What will the Federal Government do with these boys?” Will it just be enough to kill them or sentence them to jail? Can these boys be used as a case study to enquire the root causes of human abnormality in Nigeria? This is the same country where an Airport taxi driver could return a huge amount of money that was forgotten in his vehicle. A wise man indeed perhaps not with too much academic prowess! What a country of the ugly and the beautiful!
CLCN Task Faithful On Practical Demonstration Of Catholic Faith
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The Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria (CLCN), has reiterated the need for faithful to be more practical in the demonstration of their Catholic faith, stressing that they should always carry their cross both in times of peace and periods of adversity.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a three day CLCN National Executive Council (NEC), meeting held at holy Trinity Cathedral, Orlu Diocese, Imo State, signed by the CLCN president Sir John Woje Bagu and the National Secretary general, Sir Obong Athanasius E. Ibanga.
According to the communiqué, the CLCN noted with great concern the fall in the quality of education and moral decadence amongst youths in the country and called on all State governments to return schools to their original owners to improve educational standard and to redress moral decadence in the nation, while commending state governments that have handed over schools to their original owners.
Continuing, the CLCN decried the high level of insecurity in the nation, stressing that the activities of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the country have resulted in loss of lives and property. The group enjoined Christians to continue to have faith in God and urged the federal government to deal dicisively with the problem, while condemning the incessant cases of cultism, armed robbery and kidnaping in the country and tasked government at all levels, to live up to their responsibilities by providing prompt and adequate security measures to effectively checkmate the perpetrators of those crimes.
On the problem of unemployment in the country, the council charged government to create employment opportunities for teeming youths.
Reacting to the issue of freedom of worship, the CLCN noted that “Nigeria is a secular state where there is freedom of religion and individuals are at liberty to worship God. Government should create a conducive environment for freedom of worship”.
Speaking on the need to promote good governance in Nigeria, the council called on Christians to wake up and take up active politics. While pointing out that “the council observed the emerging natural disasters in all the states with their associated consequences” they charged the three tiers of government to put in place emergency measures/strategies and programmes to remedy the disasters, particularly flooding.
Also, the CLCN decried the poor state of Nigeria roads, urging the federal government to urgently address the situation for the sake of the populace.
More, the council appreciated the Bishop of Orlu Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr) Augustine T. Ukwuoma, the Imo state Governor Rochas Okorocha, the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the diocese for the hospitality given them.
Bishop Dunia Flags Off 10th Anniversary
His Lordship, Bishop G.G. Dunia, Catholic bishop of Auchi Diocese, has flagged off activities to mark the diocese 10th anniversary and his Episcopal ordination to hold on February 23rd, 2013.
At the ceremony which took place at the Bishop's court, Waterboard, Auchi, the Secretary of the 10th anniversary central planning committee, Rev. Fr. Francis Ikhianosimhe and the chairman, finance/fund raising subcommittee, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Gimah, presented the star prize of a KIA Picanto and other prizes to be won at the celebration to the Bishop.
While blessing the items, the chief shepherd pointed out that it was a new and welcomed development in the diocese and urged all parishioners, sons and daughters of the diocese in diaspora to partake in the exercise by purchasing a raffle ticket for one thousand naira (N1000), adding that they are encouraged to buy as many tickets as possible, to increase their chances of winning the star prize. Thereafter, Bishop Dunia bought a ticket to declare ticket sales opened.
Speaking with THE PROMISE Crew, the secretary of the central planning committee, Rev.Fr. Francis Ikhianosimhe, said that the KIA Picanto and other prizes to be won, are part of activities mapped out by the committee towards the diocese 10th anniversary and Bishop Dunia's Episcopal ordination celebration.
He added that the ticket which cost one thousand naira (N1000), will end in February 23, 2013, and that there are designated places for the ticket sales which include various parishes offices, THE PROMISE Newspaper office at 76, Igbe Road, Auchi as well as the Cathedral, pointing out that other prizes includes a deep freezer, a generator set and other exciting prizes.
Also present at the flagging off ceremony were Rev. Frs. Leonard Anetekhai and Ferdinand Okafor, Mr. Chris Afehomo and Mrs. Pat Johnson, members of the central planning committee.
Cathedral Celebrates Feast Of Our Lady Queen Of Peace
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi has recently marked the feast of Our Lady Queen of peace, the principal patroness of Nigeria.
In his homily at the Eucharistic celebration, the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia who noted that Mother Mary is the first patroness of Nigeria while St. Matthew is the second patron saint, stressed that the Catholic Church in Nigeria decided to hand the nation over to mother Mary, who is the Queen of Peace, adding that as the mother of the prince of peace, the nation would attain peace.
Continuing, the chief shepherd of the diocese pointed out that despite various challenges facing the nation, Nigerians have continued to co-exist as a nation, adding that though the country, has passed through various stages in the past 52 years, the church has not relented in praying for the intercession of Mother Mary to bring peace and development to Nigeria.
Speaking also on the level of development in the world, the Bishop affirmed that God has given man the intellect to develop resources available to make the world a better place, stressing that life has become easy because of modern technology which now makes his easier for man to embark on its activities, adding that man would continue to discover new things if he remain humble and acknowledge the perfect works of God.
Further, the homilist urged all present to continue to pray their rosary and seek the face of Blessed Virgin Mary through her litany and enjoined them to shun any act that would deprive them from receiving God's blessings, hence, God sometimes would wait patiently for them to mend their negative ways of life.
Christ The King Fugar Celebrates Harvest Thanksgiving
The faithful of Christ the King Catholic Church, Fugar has celebrated their annual harvest thanksgiving tagged a “harvest of appreciation”.
Delivering the homily at the mass concelebrated with Rev. Fr. Godstime Irabor, Very Rev. Fr. Enegbuma charged the lay faithful to always appreciate God for His good works in their lives, stressing that they should at all times be ready to give whatever they have in humility to God.
Fr. Enegbuma charged all present to put God first in all their endeavours, urging them to shun fear as it would bring about doubt in the power of God who would always save them in all their trails and difficulties, adding that they should always appreciate God no mater the difficulty they might be passing through.
Continuing, the homilist urged faithful to see it as a privilege for them to give thanks to God during harvest as thanksgiving was compulsory for every Christian, hence their thanksgiving to God should come from their hearts, pointing out that God would richly reward them accordingly.
Highpoint of the mass was a thanksgiving procession to the altar by all present in appreciation to God for His abundant blessings in the past one year.
Welcoming guests to the harvest, the bazaar chairman Sir B. A. Tenebe (JP), who thanked all present for coming to appreciate God for what He had done for them, prayed God to reward them abundantly.
In his remarks, the 2012 harvest Chairman Sir Oba Peter, also encouraged all present to contribute generously towards the work of God and urged all present to give willingly to the development of the church.
Giving the vote of thanks, the parish laity chairman Mr. James Oghiadohme, commended the parish priest and his assistant, praised the efforts of all present for attending the ceremony and prayed God to reward them.
Highpoint of the celebration was the cutting of the harvest cake by the parish priest assisted by Sir B. A. Tenebe, Chief Mrs. Grace Momoh, Prof. J.J.E Itsueli, Pius Etato and other guests.
Ayogwiri Choir Elects New Executives
Oyarebu Philip/Sunday Edegha
The choir of St. Matthew Catholic Church, Ayogwiri has recently elected new executive to run their affairs in the next three years.
Addressing members before the election, the diocesan choir president Mr. Samson Osigwe, who noted that the essence of electing new executive is not for them to occupy positions, but for them to discharge their duties effectively, urged all members to elect credible people who will take the choir in the parish to a higher height.
Continuing, Mr. Osigwe urged whoever would be elected, to carry others along, adding that the ability of carrying others along would enable the parish choir attain success in all her endeavours.
At the end of the election, the following members emerged as winners, Sunday Edagha; president, Ede Joachim; Vice president, Moses Aidenomo; choir master, John Imonegbamhe; assistant choir master, Doris Ayeni; secretary, Paschal Ayokhai; assistant secretary and Julian Esther, treasurer. Others were Charity Ikhanoba; welfare officer I, Sunday Loveth; welfare officer II, Aidenomo Rosemary; PROI, Richard Kasumu; PROII, lluebey Celestine; financial secretary and Agatha Akhigbe; provost.
In another development, the Catholic community of St. Andrew, Apana, an outstation of St. Matthew parish Ayogwiri, has marked their 2012 annual youth/children harvest with thanksgiving.
Delivering the homily at the mass, the parish administrator Rev. Fr. John Awaebe who appreciated God for making the celebration possible, noted that giving to God generously, is important in the life of faithful, stressing that there is more blessings in giving than in receiving, while adding that they should all thank God for His mercies and abundant blessings in the past one year.
Giving the vote of thanks, the harvest planning committee chairman, Mr. D.D Obakhedo, who praised the parish administrator for giving them the opportunity to serve, commended all present for attending the harvest and prayed God to bless them.
Highpoint of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession by all youth/children present, accompanied to the altar by families, friends and well-wishers. Meanwhile, items were later put up for sale at the bazaar.
Igiode Parish Lose Outstation To Flood
One of the outstations of Holy Family Catholic church, Igiode, St. Patrick Catholic Church, Ukpeko, has been submerged by flood which ravaged the community and other communities in Etsako East and Etsako Central Local Government Areas of Edo State.
Speaking during a visit to the outstation, the parish administrator, Rev. Fr. Ambrose Alumiasunya who expressed sadness on the level of damage the flood has done in the community, noted that some houses in the community have been destroyed and solicited for assistance to the victims, to enable them pick up again as soon as the water receded, while assuring faithful not to lose hope, pointing out that they should continue to put their trust in God who is the provider of all their needs.
It would be recalled that recently, over seven communities were submerged in the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, leaving hundreds homeless.
Come To The Aid Of Flood Victims -Fr. Bassey
The Executive Secretary of Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN), a non governmental organization of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Rev. Fr. Evaritus Bassey, has reiterated the need for Catholics to continue to support Nigerians displaced by flood in all parts of the country. This was contained in a statement issued recently in Abuja.
Commenting on the situation, Fr. Bassey noted that the flood has caused devastating damage in some states of the country, including destruction of several farmlands and deaths of about two thousand (2000) people.
Fr. Bassey affirmed that the capital cities of Markurdi in Benue state and Lokoja in Kogi state, were reported to have been greatly devastated, adding that no fewer than twenty-five million Nigerians living along the country's coastal line of Anambra, Niger, Benue, Sokoto, Kastina, Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Cross Rivers states were threatened by displacement, as a result of the flooding, noting that over thirty-eight thousand (38,00) people have been displaced in Kano, Jigawa, Cross River, Taraba, Adamawa, Niger and Anambra states.
Continuing, the priest disclosed that Idah Diocese has confirmed that 30,000 persons are now living in 13 camps in Idah, pointing out that while the number is increasing by the day as the floods have caused untold hardship to many persons, families and communities in Nigeria, as property worth millions of Naira has been destroyed and many displayed persons are stranded and faced with hunger, disease, lack of shelter and clothing.
While calling for solidarity and support for the flood victims, Fr. Bassey listed the affected dioceses to include, Idah, Lokoja, Auchi, Markurdi, Otukpo, Yola, Iselle-Uku, Bomadi, Jalingo, Kano and Sokoto, as well as the Archdiocese of Onitsha and Owerri, stressing that they are greatly in need of assistance to bring succour to the affected victims of the flood, adding that support in cash and kind can be forwarded directly to the Archdiocese and dioceses listed above, or CCFN.
Epkeri Hosts Diocesan CMO Meeting
The Catholic community of Ss Peter and Paul Azukhala/Ugbekpe, Ekperi has played host to the diocesan Catholic Men Organisation (CMO) for their monthly meeting.
In his spiritual exaltation, the parish administrator Rev. Fr. Lawrence Adorolo who welcomed the CMO members to the parish, noted that as Christians, there is the need for them to make sacrifices of attending meetings and doing the work of God rather than pursuing worldly affairs, adding that focusing on material things will not benefit them instead, they should focus on spiritual matters. He further wished them a fruitful deliberation.
In his welcome address, the parish CMO chairman Mr. Joseph O. Oghiator who appreciated all present, thanked them for coming to their parish to hold their meeting and on behalf of the parishioners, he formally welcomed them to the parish.
Further, Mr. Oghiator noted that the parish has five outstations which include; Oghomere, Ogbago, Ogochi, Okpenada and Utsuko, pointing out that the church has recorded a lot of developmental projects, while commending the parish administrator for his commitment towards the growth and development of the parish.
Highpoint of the meeting was the presentation of gift items by the parish CWO president, led by Mrs. Celina Ignenpo to the members of CMO present.
Ayogwiri Celebrates Harvest Thanksgiving / Bazaar
St Matthew Catholic Church, Ayogwiri has celebrated their 2012 annual harvest thanksgiving / bazaar in appreciation to God for a fruitful harvest in the past one year.
Delivering the homily, the parish administrator Rev. Fr. John Awaebe who appreciated God for the success recorded in the past one year, noted that the harvest thanksgiving was an opportunity for all faithful of the parish to appreciate God for His blessings and protection, while stressing that they should offer unto God a befitting sacrifice of thanksgiving.
Fr. Awaebe pointed out that the readings of the day taught all present on how to give thanks to God always for all His immeasurable blessings bestowed on them and urged all to always give to God wholeheartedly like Abel in the Bile.
Continuing, Fr. Awaebe affirmed that according to St. Paul, God loves a cheerful giver, assuring faithful that God would not hesitate in rewarding anyone who gives to Him generously and prayed God to give them the grace to give to the Lord in good faith.
Highpoint of the mass was a thanksgiving procession by parishioners, led by the parish administrator.
Welcoming all present to the bazaar sales shortly after the mass, the 2012 harvest planning committee chairman, Sir Emmanuel Apakhade, appreciated all present for attending the ceremony, charging all to donate to the development and growth of the parish and the diocese in general and prayed God to grant all a successful celebration.
Declaring the bazaar sales open, Hon. (Bar.) John Atogwe who represented the chairman, Prof. Paul Oboh Idornigie, praised the efforts of the parish administrator and the parishioners for supporting and promoting the activities of the church in the parish, urging all present to donate bountifully and promised continuous development of the church.
Some of the dignitaries present were Hon and Mrs. John Atogwe, Sir. And Lady P. K. Oghiator, Mr. & Mrs. Alexander Itakpe, prince Oshioshio, Mr. I. Augustine, personal assistant to the secretary to the state government, Sir E. D Aghedo, Sir. Mike Ogereghe, Mr. Paul Shaibu, Mr. Patrick Odomhokpa and others.
Meanwhile, items were later put up for sales at the bazaar.
Rev. Fr. Odia Ogedegbe Thanks God At Ogbona
One of the newly ordained priests in the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Rev. Fr. Christopher Odia Ogedegbe, has held his ordination thanksgiving mass at his hometown, Ogbona.
Delivering the homily at the mass, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral administrator Rev. Fr. Valentine Anaweokhai, appreciated the Ogedegbe family for giving their son in service to the diocese of Auchi.
Fr. Anaweokhai charged the newly ordained priest to remain focus by bringing the good news of Christ to the people, while urging all present to continue to pray for their priests to enable them succeed in preaching the good news to the people.
Further, the homilist who tasked the celebrant not to be distracted by material possessions, enjoined him to be honest, loyal and always focus in discharging his duties and reminding him that his calling was to serve the people of God, while advising him to always respect the Bishop and fellow brother priests. He thereafter prayed God to bless and prosper his ministry.
The mass also featured thanksgiving procession led by the celebrant accompanied by family, friends and well wishers.
Welcoming all present to the reception held at the church premises, Chief George Kadiri who commended all present for attending the event, praised the Ogedegbe's family for giving their son to serve in the Lord's vineyard and urged the new priest to remain steadfast as he begins his priestly assignment.
Highpoint of the reception was the presentation of a Camry car to the celebrant by his family, among other gift items to the celebrant by friends and well wishers, CWO Agbi dance and cultural dance by Azukhala/Ugbekpe parish,.
Appreciating all present for attending the ceremony, the parish administrator Rev. Fr. Gregory Obanado who expressed delight for the event, praised the parishioners for their love for the celebrant and prayed God to bless them all.
Holy Angels Mark One Year As A Parish
The Catholic community of Holy Angels Parish Dagbala, was agog, as the parish erected a year ago, marked the occasion with interesting activities.
Delivering the homily at the Eucharistic celebration the parish administrator Rev. Fr. Moses Afokhume who noted that the event was an opportunity for parishioners to appreciate God for making their church a parish, charged faithful to continue to appreciate God for His abundant blessings, while urging all present to remain humble as Solomon, who asked for God's wisdom in humility, adding that seeking for wisdom in humility is the key to long lasting spirituality.
Continuing, Fr. Afokhume noted that the event also serve as an opportunity for faithful to take stock of their activities in the past one year and urged all present to evaluate their areas of weakness and strength, while commending the parishioners for their cooperation, support and constructive criticism in the past one year.
Highpoint of the mass was a thanksgiving procession to the altar by all present in appreciation to God for His blessings in the past one year.
A week long event to mark the occasion also featured talks on the history of Catholicism in Nigeria and way forward”, delivered by Rev. Fr. Moses Afokhume, drama presentation, CWO dance, adoration, rosary procession round Dagbala community and others.
St. James Auchi CWO Elects New Executive
The Catholic Women Organization (CWO), St James Mass Center Waterboard, Auchi has recently elected new executive to run their affairs in the next three years.
In his remarks, earlier at mass, the Rector of the mass centre, Rev. Fr. Francis Emodogo noted that a call for public responsibility is a call for service, stressing that anybody elected into any position, should serve in humility and dedication.
At the end of the election, the following members were elected; Mrs. Mary Isado; president, Lady R. Ogbhemhe; 1st vice president, Mrs. R.I. Omogbemhe, 2nd vice president, Mrs. Oseghale; secretary, Mrs. Ighodaro; assistant secretary, Mrs. J. Umoru; financial secretary, Mrs. Oyakhire; treasurer, Mrs. J. Ezurike; auditor, Mrs. Bemeile; PRO I, Mrs. Maria Agbebaku; PRO II, Mrs.Ogbeide; welfare officer I, Mrs. Alimakhale; welfare officer II, and Mrs. Adeke; provost.
Appreciating all present for the successful election, the outgoing CWO president, Lady Itemuagbo thanked God for the successful election and charged the new executive to always cooperate with one another to enable them achieve success.
The 99th regular monthly meeting of the Auchi Diocesan laity council, was recently hosted by St. Matthew Catholic Church, Ayowiri.
Welcoming members of the council to the parish, the parish administrator Rev. Fr. John Awaebe thanked them for coming to hold their meeting in the parish and prayed the Lord to guide and direct their deliberations.
In his welcome address, the parish laity chairman Sir Oyarebu Philip who appreciated the council for coming to the parish to hold their meeting, noted that Ayogwiri parish is growing fast in population and has witnessed tremendous physical and spiritual development under the leadership of Rev. Fr. John Awaebe, pointing out that the parish has three outstations which consists of Apana, Irekpai and Ugbenor.
Continuing, Sir Oyarebu highlighted some of the major achievement in the parish to include building of an administrative office, chapel, school, other building projects as well as construction of a multipurpose hall, adding that the parish CWO is presently working on the erection of the grotto of Mother Mary.
On the development in the outstations, Sir Oyarebu hinted that in Apana, there is an on going church building project, as the church has also acquired six acres of land for future development, noting that at Irekpai, the sacristy project is ongoing. He futher pointed out that at Ugbenor, the new church building project is at the lintel level, while soliciting help from the diocese to assist in roofing the new church building, to enable faithful move to their new site.
In his remarks, the diocesan laity chairman Sir George Umoru who commended the parish administrator and the parishioners for the rapid development in the parish, prayed for continuous development in the church, while appreciating the parish laity chairman for carrying members along and urged parishioners to continue to collaborate with their priest and the laity council, in order to complement the efforts of the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) G.G. Dunia, in the development of the diocese.
In their deliberations Engr. D.M.E Okosun, the 2012 diocesan laity harvest committee chairman noted that the 2012 laity harvest was successful, while thanking the host priest Very Rev. Fr. Charles Nasamu, the various parishes and mass centres in the diocese for their massive support.
In his response, the diocesan laity chairman Sir George Umoru congratulated the committee for organizing a successful 2012 laity harvest, noting that the next harvest will be hosted by St. John The Apostle, Igarra.
Giving a report on elections held in some parishes, Sir A.O Ayemoba informed the council that the election at Ososo parish was successful, noting that Mr. Leo Lawani was elected as chairman and also informed the council that election held at St. James Waterboard, Auchi was peaceful, pointing out that Chief M.D Omogbemhe was elected as chairman.
Also, other issues deliberated on were visitation of the council to flood victims in Etsako East and Etsako Central local government areas and others.
Highpoint of the meeting was the presentation of gift to the council led by the CWO president Mrs. Magdalene Emoabino accompanied by members of her executive.
Next meeting is schedule to hold on November 3rd, 2012 at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi.
The Eucharist Is The Greatest Gift Of Christ To Mankind -Msgr. Gotan
The Vicar General of Jos Archdiocese, Monsignor Cletus Tanimu Gotan, has affirmed that the Eucharist is the greatest gift of Christ to mankind, stressing that it is the very life of Christ given to all to become their life.
He gave this assertion in his paper titled “the implication of the Eucharist for Christian witness and mission” presented at 2012 Eucharistic congress by the Archdiocese of Abuja.
Continuing, monsignor Gotan reiterated the various aspects of the Eucharist and the significance of the celebration in the life of the church and the faithful and the mission of making the world a better place, stressing that “… Christ proved that He is God and worked many miracles to prepare faithful for the Eucharist and showed them that salvation was not meant for the Jews alone, as Jesus also performed some of the miracles in the land of the Gentiles”, he also added that “every Eucharist therefore, embodies in a sacramental way the life of Jesus so that we who celebrate it may live as Jesus lived”.
Monsignor Gotan hinted that “… at mass, Jesus associated the church with himself so that in offering Christ to God the father, the church, as St. Augustine says, learns also to offer herself for the accomplishment of the work of redemption”. Stressing that “in this great sacrament, God feeds His people and strengthens them in holiness, so that the family of humankind may come to walk in the light of one faith, in one communion of love, we come to the wonderful sacrament to be fed at the table of Jesus and to grow into his likeness.
Also, Monsignor Gotan added that “when eat His body which He gave us, we are washed clean. We give thanks to God for making us share in the life of Jesus in the Eucharist, so that we can communicate with one another a neighbourly, brotherly and sisterly presence”.
Further, the resource person pointed out that “the church wishes to deepen our spiritual life, help us grow in holiness and build a community of love through our lives which should witness to Christ. It is this great gift of the Eucharist which we Catholics celebrate in the mass every day”, he added.
Six Rev. Sisters Recieve First Religious Profession At Uzairue
Six Reverend sisters, have recently received their first religious profession of the mother of perpetual help, at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Afashio/Afowa, Uzairue. They were Rev. Srs. Felicitas Eberechukwu Mbaeze, Catherine Umechi Nwana, Eucharia Onyekachi Amadi, Perpetual Onyekaoziri Ekperi, Veronica Enenu Inalegwu and Cecilia Omobolanle.
Delivering the homily at the Eucharistic celebration, the Bishop of the diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia who harped on the challenges facing Christians, charged all present to remain firm in their faith, adding that becoming a witness to the love of God is real, as Christians should be ready at all times to continue to proclaim Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
Continuing, the chief shepherd of the diocese enjoined the nation leaders to always promote good governance to make the nation a better place for all to live in, stressing that they should lead the people of God in the right direction.
More, the Bishop also tasked youths present to embrace the vocation, while urging them to continue to pray for those in the seminary studying, to enable them succeed in their chosen vocation and prayed God to strengthen the newly professed sisters as they continue to work in the vineyard of the Lord.
Highpoint of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession to the altar in appreciation to God for the success they have recorded so far in their vocation led by the celebrants accompanied to the altar by their families, friends and well wishers.
Some of the priests present at the celebration were Rev Frs. Gregory Ogbenika, Isaac Agabi, Amos Paul Badaki, Calistus Ikhane, Joseph Iyamah, Mark Akhibi and Polycarp Imoagene.
Ayogwiri Hold Three Days Crusade
The Catholic community of St. Mathew parish Ayogwiri, has held a three day crusade with the theme, “Do not be afraid”.
Delivering the homily at the opening mass concelebrated with the parish administrator Rev. Fr John Awaebe, Rev. Fr. Polycarp Imoagene urged all present to dedicate their time and life to Jesus Christ during and after the crusade, noting that the power in the name of Jesus is the source of joy and happiness to those who believe, adding that if they dispose themselves to God, He would do all things for them.
Continuing, Fr. Imoagene affirmed that the three days crusade was an opportunity for them to draw closer to God who is able to change their situations for good, grant them promotion, freedom and deliver them from all difficulties while urging all present to remain faithful to God at all time.
Presenting a talk shortly after mass titled “there is power in the name of Jesus," Rev. Fr. Polycarp Imoagene enjoined parishioners to look up to Jesus, who can redeem them from all their problems, adding that no matter what people might say concerning them, God is capable of transforming their lives.
Speaking on the topic “look unto Jesus”, Bro. Ben who urged all present to have confidence, faith, hope and trust in Jesus Christ as their savior, noted that Jesus is the author of their lives and salvation and further admonished them to remain faithful in their worship.
Delivering his homily at the closing mass, Rev. Fr. Francis Agbonosese who urged all present to receive the salvation of Christ like Bartholomew in the bible, tasked them to jettison any act that would hinder them from receiving and serving Christ perfectly.
Fr. Agbonosese, also enjoined all present to re-examine their hearts to enable them receive the salvation which Christ brought to mankind and prayed God to give them the grace to receive and be confident in him.
Giving the vote of thanks on behalf of the parish laity chairman, Mr. Oyarebu, appreciated the parish administrator Rev. Fr. John Awaebe and the entire parishioners present for attending the crusade and prayed God to reward them.
Also featured at the crusade were adoration, intercessory prayer and rosary procession round Ayogwiri town among others.
Auchi Diocesan CCRN Celebrates Renewal Day
Auchi Diocsean Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Nigeria (CCRN), has held their annual renewal day at the Pastoral Centre, Sabo-Iyakpi.
Delivering the homily at the closing mass, Rev. Fr. Leonard Anetekhai who tasked the CCRN members to take evangelization seriously, noted that lack of seriousness of members on issue of evangelization is one of the serious challenges facing the group and prayed God to give them the grace to continue in the evangelization of the people of God.
Giving a talk earlier, Rev. A. Sylvanus who opined that there are many challenges facing the CCRN in the church, stressed that pride, immorality, class distinction among others, were some of the challenges currently facing the CCRN members, while affirming that the aim of the founding fathers was for man to have an interaction with the Holy Spirit, worship God and use the gifts of the Holy Spirit for evangelization.
Continuing, Rev. Sylvanus charged CCRN members to rise above their challenges and pursue their original idea that makes them unique which he noted includes, loyalty to the Church, priests and the worldwide evangelization.
In his vote of thanks, the programme chairman Mr. Chris Afehomo who appreciated God for making the celebration successful, on behalf of the executive, presented one hundred and seven (107) plastic chairs to the Diocesan Pastoral Centre and commended members of the CCRN for their support in making the programme a success. The event culminated in an agape love feast by all members present..
CLCN Holds NEC Meeting At Orlu
The 123rd National Executive Council (NEC) of the Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria (CLCN), has been held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Orlu, in the Catholic Diocese of Orlu, Imo State.
Welcoming members to the diocese, the laity chairman of the diocese Mr. Dominic N. Okoro and the Owerri provincial chairman Ichie Obih Nsobundu, appreciated all present for coming to the diocese and prayed God to bless and guide them in their deliberations.
In his key note address, the bishop of the diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Augustine Ukwoma, welcomed all present to the diocese, urged the council to continue to represent Christ among men, stressing that they should be light of the world and salt of the earth, adding that as lay faithful, they should always emulate the part of Christ.
Continuing, the bishop noted that the church is a messianic people called together from diverse people's, with the Holy Spirit as her inner principle of life, pointing out that though the people of God shared in the common priesthood, however, some members were selected to exercise ministerial or hierarchical priesthood, while stressing that everyone is inter-connected, as all share in the triple function of Christ who is priest, prophet and king.
On the social political challenges of the laity in Nigeria, Bishop Ukwoma urged all faithful to participate actively in the political process in Nigeria as a right, charging laity to seek ways of “neutralizing the anarchical antinomian propaganda and selfish programmes of anti-Christian ideology”, adding that “the church does not advocate militancy, violence, and armed over throw of the existing order”.
The prelate charged the laity council to give politics a Christian approach in order to eradicate corruption, intolerance and bear witness to Christ, as it would enable them transform the world and establish God's kingdom on earth.
Some of the issues deliberated on were insecurity in the nation, report from the laity council of the West Africa sub-region held in Burkina Faso, the growth of the church, laity council project among others.
Marriage Is An Institution By God Fr Dania Tells Faithful
The assisting administrator of Immaculate Conception Cathedral Auchi, Rev. Fr. Charles Dania, has asserted that marriage is a sacrament instituted by God from the beginning, stressing that when He created all things, God handed them over to man to give them names, as there was none who could complement man, hence God created woman. He stated this in one of his homilies at Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi.
Fr. Dania who noted that God established marriage for man to be a partaker of procreation, creating a new world and be united with his wife, added that when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they did not depart from each other and stressed that in good or bad times, couples should always stay together, while noting that even in difficult moments, couples should always remember their vows made in the beginning of the marriage.
Continuing, Fr. Dania affirmed that the challenges of marriage is not based on its complexity, but because of individual differences and desires, pointing out that many have entered into marriage with various intentions different from God's own purpose of establishing it and hinted that many young ones are afraid of getting married because of what they have observed from other failed marriages.
Further, the homilist reiterated that Jesus obeyed God even during suffering, hence couple should accept the fact that marriage has its good and bad times, as it also depends on the couple for it to survive and urged all youth preparing for marriage to see it as an institution ordained by God.
Also, the priest enjoined all who wish to enjoy their marriage to go back to the root of their union which was founded on love, while enjoining couples to remain committed to their vows and take care of their children who are blessings from and prayed God to bless and unite married couples.
Bishop Dunia Ordains Eight Priests In Auchi
The Catholic Bishop of Auchi diocese, Most Rev. (Dr) Gabriel G. Dunia, has ordained eight deacons as priests at Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi. They were Revs. Adogamhe Reginald, Anavhe Thomas, Attashie Sylvester, Odia Christopher, Okodugha Kingsley, Onimhawo Gregory, Oregbemhe Aloysious and Osikwemhe Simon.
Delivering the homily at the mass, Bishop Dunia who commended all present for attending the ceremony, noted that the Catholic priesthood was instituted by Jesus Christ through His apostolic lineage, noting that Christ is the eternal high priest through which God has spoken and which God's power resides.
Continuing, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese affirmed that by virtue of ordination, the power of God and authority of Christ is been transmitted to the ordinands, tasking them never to forget what has been entrusted to them, pointing out that they should be respectful and obedient for the salvation of souls, as their calling does not stop in ordination, but they were commissioned to exercise their priestly ministries, while urging them to always guide their calling jealously, by not departing from the ways of Christ who is their model.
Further, the Bishop charged the newly ordained priests to always co-operate with their bishop to enable them succeed in their vocations as they must remain and respect the love of Christ in their lives, stressing that they should not let the pleasure of the world to affect their ministries, adding that they must always pray for divine direction before embarking on any task.
More, the chief Shepherd of the Diocese reiterated the need for the priests, to be prayerful in union with their other brother priests assuring them that whatever happens, they would be secured by the authority of God, while tasking faithful to always pray for priests so that the Holy Spirit will continue to intervene in their affairs and enjoined all to reverence the Catholic priests, warning that no one should constitute himself as an obstacle to the one who has been called by God to the catholic priesthood.
Speaking on the year of faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI, the Bishop charged faithful to make it a priority, stressing that they must unite with Christ in faith as the church has called on dioceses to participate in the Eucharistic Congress and urged all present to have the fear of God who will guide them in the right part.
The prelate enjoined faithful to continue to pray for Nigeria leaders, as all was not well with the country, adding that any leader that is not ready to turn to God will face the wrath of God, while urging them to shun their evil ways and seek the face of God to enable the nation succeed.
In his remarks, the Vocation Director, Rev. Fr. Anselm Jimoh who appreciated the sponsors of the priests, praised the efforts of the bishop Most Rev. (Dr.) G.G Dunia for ordaining the eight priests, while soliciting for more support for seminarians to enable the diocese produce more priests who will continue to serve in the vineyard of the Lord.
Giving the vote of thanks, Rev. Fr. Gregory Obanado commended the Bishop for accepting to ordain the priests and prayed God to strengthen him always, congratulating the newly ordained for their successful ordination.
Fr. Obanado who also praised the efforts of the families for giving their sons to the service of the Lord, appreciated the priests, religious and all present for attending the mass.
Highpoints of the mass were presentation of gifts to the newly ordained priests, thanksgiving procession to the altar by the ordained accompanied by their parents, friends and well wishers.
Over fifty priests from within and outside the Diocese of Auchi were present at the ceremony.
Auchi Diocese Donate Relief Materials To Flood Victims
As part of efforts to ameliorate the plight of flood victims in Etsako Central and Etsako East Local Government Areas in Edo State, the Catholic diocese of Auchi, led by the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia, has donated relief materials to the flood victims.
Addressing the victims in Fugar and Ekperi camps, the chief shepherd of the diocese who assured the affected persons of the Catholic Church determination towards ameliorating their plight, noted that he was in their camps to sympathize with them, stressing that the church would continue to pray for them and urged them to make judicious use of items given.
Continuing, the Bishop who also promised continuous support for the victims, pointed out that as long as there is life, there will be hope; hence God in His mercies has preserved them from their difficult moments, noting that although the situation was traumatic, there is hope for their continuous existence.
Further, the Bishop appreciated the Edo State Governor Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, for renovating schools in the state which now serve as temporary homes for the victims while urging government to continue to assist the victims, his Lordship stressing that ecological funds should be properly utilized to assist the people, as whatever affects one, directly has effect on all citizens of the state and urged both local, state, federal governments and individuals, to assist the flood victims to enable them survive.
Giving their vote of thanks in their separate camps, the leader of the of Obe Primary School, Fugar camp Mr. Amodu Umoru and his counterpart in Skills Acquisition Centre Malam Musa Aliu who appreciated the Bishop for coming to identify with them in their trying period, prayed God to bless and protect him, while calling on government, non-governmental groups and individuals to come to their aid to enable them cope with the situation.
Commenting on the situation, the Acting director, Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Rev. Fr. Paul Inanoremhe, who charged all Nigerians to continue to support the victims, noted that the disaster has caused a lot of damage in the over seven communities, as their crops and livestock have been destroyed by flood, stressing that there will be trying moment after the flood has dried up, hence long term measures should be put in place by government to enhance their sustainability.
Among the camps visited were three in Agenebode, two in Fugar and one in Ekperi, while items including cash, food stuff and clothes among others, were distributed.
Some of the priests in the entourage were Rev. Frs. Richard Enegbuma, Gregory Ogbenika, Leonard Anetekhai, Philip-Neri Ebhakhaye, Nicholas Oshioked, Francis Emodogo, Valentine Anweokhai, Joseph Iyamah and others.
Auchi Diocese Holds Marian Pilgrimage At Igarra
The entire lay faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, recently converged at Marian Shrine at Igarra for their annual Marian pilgrimage.
Delivering the homily in one of the masses, the Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia who noted that Mary is the mother of the church, urged all present to continue to follow in her footstep, as she is the only one that can lead all faithful to their eternal home, adding that whatever they do in life, they must not lose sight of where their real treasure is located.
Continuing, the shepherd of souls enjoined faithful to hold on to the truth at all times, noting that they should not let money and prestigious living take over their lives, while pointing out that Catholics don't worship Mary, but honour her.
More, the Bishop charged priests and parishioners present to continue to visit the pilgrimage centre at Igarra on a rotational basis to keep the place alive and prayed God to bless all present.
Delivering a talk titled “Mary as co-mediamtrix” Rev. Fr. Leonard Anetekhai noted that Mary was given the title according to the second Vatican Council as Mary mediatrix of graces because she intercedes for all.
Fr. Anetekhai pointed out that Mary is the co-redeemer with special merit, as she gave birth to Christ, stressing that Jesus Christ spent most of His life with his mother, while the remaining part of his life was spent in ministry. He hinted that Jesus was brought up by his caring mother and she stood by him even at the cross and urged all present to continue to honour Mother, who is the mother of Jesus.
Delivering the homily at the closing mass presided over by the Vicar General of the diocese and the parish priest of St. John Catholic Church, Igarra, Very Rev. Fr. Isaac Bossey, the homilist Rev. Fr. Martin Enegbuma, who spoke on remembering the echoes of God's voice, noted that Mary is the echoes of God's voice, adding that they must ignore the voice of the world and obey the voice of God.
Fr. Enegbuma affirmed that it was Mary that motivated Jesus Christ to perform the first miracle, as she was also the one who tasked the servants to listen to Jesus' instruction and prayed God to give them the grace to listen to the voice of God at all times.
Giving his exaltation “Hail Mary Full of Grace”, Rev. Fr. Paul Inanoremhe noted that it was Angel Gabriel who had first honoured Mary with the greeting, adding that Mary was first elevated by God, stressing that honour should be given to whom it is due, pointing out that the purpose of the pilgrimage was for faithful to pray through the intercession of Mother Mary to her son, Jesus Christ.
Fr. Inanoremhe who reiterated that as faithful of God, they all need the grace of God to enable them survive in this present world, hinted that Mary was highly favoured. He also reminded all present on the need for them to shun evil activities and focus on God, who is the owner of their lives.
Giving the vote of thanks, Rev. Fr. Ambrose Alumiasunya who expressed happiness on the success of the programme, commended the Bishop of the diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) G.G Dunia for his continuous support for the event and praised the efforts of all the priests present, religious and all present for attending the 2012 pilgrimage.
Further, Fr. Alumiasunya sued for continuous support for the development of the pilgrimage centre and urged faithful to continue to contribute to the maintenance of the centre.
The three days event also featured masses, Stations of the Cross, rosary procession round Igarra town, Divine Mercy prayer, perpetual adoration service, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, thanksgiving by all parishes and mass centres in the diocese among others.
Pope Appoints Archbishop Onaiyekan As Cardinal
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has appointed the Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, Most Rev. John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, as Cardinal.
This was contained in his announcement at the end of his catechesis at St. Peter's Square, Rome.
The consistory will take place November 14th, with six new members to the College of Cardinals which will count 122 cardinals eligible to vote in conclave.
Meanwhile, with this development, the Catholic Church in Nigeria now has three Cardinals, they are Francis Cardinal Arinze, Anthony Cardinal Okojie and John Cardinal Onaiyekan.