THE PURPOSE OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION
The celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a great feast among Christian Community transcends beyond the physical rising of Jesus from the dead as He promised He would, a feast which no human is yet to achieve, as history is replete with persons who promised their followers of rising when they die; but we are yet to witness their resurrection.
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The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the foundation of the Christian faith and if there was no resurrection, there would not have been any Christianity. Christ's resurrection represents an assurance that we can have forgiveness of our sins which is the ultimate victory of Christians over the devil.
Christ's rising up from the dead is a testimony to all Christian that there is resurrection on the last day which translates to the fact that our toils, selfless and sometimes physical pains for the kingdom is not in vain, as there is a great assurance that we will still rise up like He did, be with Him and be rewarded for all our faithful services while on earth.
As faithful, we should endeavour to cast away our cloak of sin and turn to God whenever we fall short of God's glory and reconcile with God and be cleansed with the blood of the Lamb who took our place of death that we may have life in abundance. Christ gave us the opportunity to share to have a share in His life and rededicate our live to Him in prayers and this is thanksgiving that we may be found worthy of the master's kingdom.
Therefore, the resurrection of Christ is a goal reached and as Catholics, until we reach our goal which is heaven, we should not relent, as it is the greatest of all gift which has been given to us by God through Jesus Christ. To achieve this heavenly inheritance given to us by God, we must not take the suffering of Christ for granted, love our neigbours, desist from gossip, give alms to those in need as well as attend Mass always. This will make us partakers of the purpose and the Joy of Christ resurrection.
KNOWING AND MASTERING THE SECRET OF ALL CONDITIONS
The promise to our ancestors, to descendants forever (Luke 1:55) requires the courage to live as much as the courage to die. Saint Paul was given the grace to know and master this secret. For this reason, he gave thanks to God and testified that he had received the knowledge and fortitude in this regard. Hence, he proclaimed: “I have learnt to manage with whatever I have. I know how to live modestly and I know how to live luxuriously too: in every way now I have mastered the secret of all conditions: full stomach and empty stomach, plenty and poverty. There is nothing I cannot do in the one who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13)
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Although, God has promised an everlasting inheritance to our ancestor, to Abraham and his descendants forever, their descendants of all generations must learn, know and master the secret of all conditions. It is only in learning, knowledge and mastering of this secret that can lead and keep the descendants in the domain of the promise of God. In this way, if anyone wishes to ask: “how can the descendants of our ancestor, Abraham and his descendants forever, he or she can be rightly answered by Jesus Christ Himself who has said “manete in dilectionem mea which means remain in my love” (John 15:9). This is the way the psalmist answered the young man who asked” “how can the young remain sinless” and the Spirit of God speaking through the psalmist answered, “by obeying God's law”.
Now how can we obey the law of God when we are faced continually with many troubles, temptation, oppression and persecutions from all sides in the world? Again Jesus Christ himself has provided the answer when he stated “in the world you will have trouble but be brave, I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
Factually, history has made it crystal clear that the Church has suffered over the years in the hands of a great number of foes, oppressors, persecutors, heretics, predators and scavengers, as it were, both universally and locally. Faced with similar experiences, the Emperor, Constantine, who still as a catechumen, conveyed the first General Council of the Church, the Council of Nieca, A.D. 325, at the opening of the council the Emperor, in his address, welcomed the Bishops and told them that the sedition in the Church of Christ had caused them more anxiety than any battled he fought. In this write up, we intend to unveil, at least, the sketches of many of these historical deluges of the events of woes which the Holy Mother the Church has gone through over the years even to this day.
Yet, in the face of these woes which the Church has often gone through, she has always been victorious, good or bad. This is not surprising, for the Master Jesus Christ himself has promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church, forever: “And I tell you; you are peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The fulfillment of this promise of Christ has been proven to be non-negotiable over the years in all the ugly circumstances the Church has passed through. The Church has survived and proved victorious in all the devastating persecutions in the Roman Empire, terrible heresies, the French and German Revolutions, the crusades, Protestantism, the world battles and many more. She is still surviving and is going to survive in the faces of schisms, sexism, feminism, third worldism”, materialism, discrimination, political, economic, social attacks. Ethnic and religious marginalization, modernism, godfatherism, traditionlistism, culturalistism, politicism and many more in our days. On this note therefore, I call on all the faithful, clergy, religious and laity of our Diocese and world over to know that in truth the liberator always comes if only we conduct ourselves becomingly, hold our heads high and pursue truth and love which constitute the meat of our goal. “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather” (Matthew 24:28). So, in sorrow or in great joy praise the Lord. In bitterness or great pains praise the Lord. In poverty or richness praise the lord, God is calling you to come.
BAPTIZED IN HIS DEATH
» By Rev. Fr. Philip Mario Ekweli
“You know that when we go to Christ Jesus through baptism we are all baptized into his death. By this baptism we were buried with Christ into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in a new life. If we have been buried with him to share in his death like this, we will also share in his resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with Christ; the part of our being that had been enslaved by sin has to die, so that we may no longer be slaves to sin. If we are dead, we are no longer in debt to sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him. We know that Christ, once risen from the dead, will not die again and, in the future, death has no more dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives he lives to God. So you too must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rm6:3-5). By implication, the Christian has undergone death to sin with Christ, in order to rise with him to a new life.
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Thus baptism is an assurance of future immortality. But now, a baptized person passes into a new sphere of life where sin has no power over him, for the death Christ died was for sin. This Lord's death is obviously celebrated at Easter season. According to St. Augustine, Easter is not simply an anniversary but a mystery' (Sacramentum). Now to celebrate a mystery, we are not satisfied with recalling the past event on the day it took place, but we recall it so as to participate in it. 'The Sacrament of Baptism cleans from original sin, makes us Christian, Children of God, and members of the Church”(Penny Catechism 256). To baptized comes from the Greek word: “baptizein” meaning to “plunge” or 'immerse”, the “plunge” into the water symbolizes the Catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he or she rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature”(CCC l214).
Baptism involves faith. For St. Basil, Baptism is the divine seal on the faith of the believer. This kind of faith is a special type of faith that involves the whole person, a conversion-faith. Repent and believe the Good News (M l: 15). Thus, Jesus declares, there is a baptism I must still receive, and ho great is my distress till it is over (Lk12:49-50). This indicates Jesus' own death. By his death on cross, it is as if Jesus cast fire upon the earth and in his pierced side inaugurate a baptistery. To be baptized in Christ's death means to enter the burning bush; it means an agony'. It is an agony, because it involves purification, aridity, cross. But is a prelude to birth and not to death; it is the rain of birth. To be baptized into Christ's death means to enter into his heart and to participate in God's drama of love and pain. To be baptized into his death is something that has to be lived and cannot be described. Whoever experiences it emerges a new person, ready to serve the Kingdom in a new way. 'Thus, Apostle Paul made a categorical statement in his letter to the Romans 6: 10-I I
Christ died once for all, to sin... To be baptized into Christ's death means therefore to die to sin and live for God! To die to sin or cease from precisely implies making a firm decision never to commit willful sin again. The aim and ultimate goal is not death but life; rather, it is a new life, resurrection, joy, the inexpressible experience of the Father's love.
In conclusion, if we must share in the glory of Christ's resurrection, we must necessarily bathe ourselves into Christ's death through the sacrament of baptism. Beloved in Christ, let us like St. Paul hold tenaciously to our faith in Christ Jesus. The eternal yearning for God made Paul to say: I want to know him and to experience the power of his resurrection and share in his sufferings and become like him in his death, so that I may attain the resurrection from the death” (Ph 3:l0-l I). This should be our daily heart cry haven baptized into Christ's death.
THE QUESTIONS OF LIFE AND DEATH
» By Rev. Fr. Francis IKHIANOSIME
Two words which can certainly be said to be central to discussions on human and family life are: love and life. While life flows from love, life interprets the meaning of love. The issue of life is so central because, it is that involves the whole human person. In it, a human person is essentially defined and the question of human dignity is implied. In it too involves a number of moral issues. The question of life in human and family life begins with the discussion: where does life begin since it is argued that all human life is sacred? Again, when can someone be said to be the subject of human dignity?
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Hardly is there a serious contest as to when life begins but the conflict however arises when moral issues like Abortion are in question. A large part of the scientific community as well as orthodox Christianity and more dogmatically, Catholicism, agrees that human life begins at conception. Positively, conception takes place after fertilization which usually takes place 24 hours after intercourse. So, God at fertilization breathes a living soul into the zygote and unquestionably it becomes a human person (cf Gen 2:7, 1:26). He thus becomes a subject of all human rights, even though unborn. The ground for establishing the beginning of life is because of the alarming and infectious wave of modern humanistic trends which tend to violate the unborn person as merely a tissue which could be discarded and the rights of the physical human person has been emphasized to the detriment of the unborn human person. And so, it becomes expedient to establish claims even from science to dwarf this misgiving.
A scientific textbook called “Basics of Biology” gives five characteristics of living things; these five criteria are found in all modern elementary scientific textbooks: (1) Living things are highly organized. (2) All living things have an ability to acquire materials and energy. (3) All living things have an ability to respond to their environment. (4). All living things have an ability to reproduce. (5) All living things have an ability to adapt. According to this elementary definition of life, life begins at fertilization, when a sperm unites with an oocyte.
From this moment, the being is highly organized, has the ability to acquire materials and energy, has the ability to respond to his or her environment, has the ability to adapt, and has the ability to reproduce (the cells divide, then divide again, etc., and barring pathology and pending reproductive maturity has the potential to reproduce other members of the species). Non-living things do not do these things. Even before the mother is aware that she is pregnant, a distinct, unique life has begun his or her existence inside her. It must be stated too that that life is unquestionably human. This is because the distinguishing marks or what is called “Genetic imprint” of the human person; the DNA is already established and in fact the sex is determined. And so, that being is an individual. A person does not become an individual when he ceases to grow or born and not even death ceases the individuality of a person. This being so, life must therefore be conceived in the continuum: Before birth- birth- death- after death. So, life becomes one single garment that goes on through different phases. Personhood and individuality thus are not limited to the phases between birth and death.
Science too has established the following facts about the growth of the unborn child. Eighteen days after conception the baby's heart is beating. During the first month the baby grows to 10,000 times its size at conception. It moves six weeks after conception though the mother does not yet feel the movements. At eight weeks, every part of the body found in an adult is already in the baby. At eleven weeks after conception the baby has finger-prints and the finger nails are growing. At twelve weeks the baby's lips open and close. It can wrinkle its forehead, raise its eyes, turns its head, smile and frown. At sixteen weeks it reacts to sound, sucks and swallows, may get hiccups, yawns and stretches. Although moving since six weeks, at eighteen weeks the mother now feels the movements. The baby pushes with its feet and head to exercise and tone its developing muscles and also sucks its thumb. Its toenails, hair, eyebrows, fringe of eyelashes on closed eyelids are growing. At twenty weeks the baby sleeps and wakes and is fully able to hear. At twenty four weeks the baby may possibly dream and can make a fist and punch it against its mother. By twenty-five weeks the baby in the womb has the ability to hear like that of an adult and can discern the moods and attitudes of its mother
The consequent implication of this claim and fact is that the unborn child since he is also a human being, is a subject of equal rights and obligations of a viable human person and the first is that it has the right to life and the right to live. For one to destroy such life at the expense of human pride would be setting a standard for the vulnerable to be destroyed. Every human being is vulnerable at different points in life and we can enjoy the protection we may crave for and indeed help to safeguard the extinction of the human species, if we protect the vulnerable ones who depend on us for protection. To therefore maim the unborn and in fact kill it would be a case of destroying the institution of humanity at a certain level; a case of self-immolation. More so, against this back drop, any law, behavior or act that is opposed to the protection of the right of the human person is thus a counterproductive one which should not be obeyed or respected at least and should at most be condemned. This truth forbids to mothers who are pregnant whether knowingly or unknowingly to apply any such thing in the form of drug or the like; to disrupt the growth of the viable foetus. Any such act is a case of committing murder and in fact the transgressing of the fifth commandment of the Decalogue: “thou shalt not kill” (cf. Exodus 20:13). Also all those who by complicity or association directly collaborate or advice the direct killing of an unborn child are guilty of the same sin and liable to the consequences of this grievous offence as killing always elicit. It is along this boarder that Capital Punishment is condemned and a law which should be abrogated from every civil penal code as a form of penalty or deterrence. This brings us to the question of death.
Just as we have no right to take away one's life, because it is a gift, so also we cannot take another’s on any condition. The questions of life and death condition our moral options. Man does not enjoy the exclusive reserve to pass someone for death even when the person is suffering from grave irrecoverable ailing conditions. It is similarly when a person has been certified lifeless or dead can we treat it as a cadaver that it has become. If not, it becomes a grave sin and one opposed to human dignity if we treat someone who still has the breath of God in him and so recognized as “image of God” (imago Dei) with contempt or any violation that suggests such.
Death is usually conceived by modern science in three forms: traditional heart-lung failure, whole brain death and higher-brain death. Knowing when a person is no longer alive is a fundamental problem when it comes to medical situations like organ transplantation. Deciding when a person is no longer alive also has significant consequences for just what we consider a "person" to be. One can destroy life by issues which threaten the comfort of life, for example: malnutrition, carelessness, abuse, theft, hatred, discrimination. Also, our treatment of the sick and aged reflect whether we have value for life or promote the culture of death. Any desecration to life is a crime that God will bring to judgment. (Gen 9:5-6)
In sum, we must recall that God is the author of life and the protection of life is not just a respect for the dignity of the human person but also for the presence of God. In contrast, the devil is the author of death because by tempting men to sin he was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). Thus anyone who kills by whatever form professes leaning for the devil as its agent. St. John clearly states the triple-fold mission of the devil as: to steal, to kill and to destroy (John 10:10) but lo, Christ brings life and only those who are for life would protect, promote and preserve this life.
TREATMENT OF PAIN (II)
» By Pharm. Ngozi Nzewi
We have noted that different factors can cause pain. Handling pain therefore depends on what is causing the pain. There are also problems associated with the determination of cause of pain because the patient also is faced with the problem of description of his/her pain.
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In the face of these difficulties, pain is common among people of all ages but very common among the older persons. Generally, whatever the cause of pain, analgesics accompanied with restful periods remarkably, reduce pain. In malaria attack for example, the associated fever and muscular aches can be treated with an appropriate analgesics. Rest during treatment gives rapid response.
In pains associated with severe anaemia, blood transfusion is found useful, and the abdominal pain handled with analgesics.
In Rheumatoid arthritis, externally applied analgesic such as any of the numerous analgesic balms is useful. Examples of such analgesics include the Bell Pepper cream, the Diclofenacs etc. They are used on painful joints, muscular pains. Salicylates in appropriate doses (tablets and creams) are found useful in treating arthritis. They are both anti inflammatory as well as antipyretic in action. The tablets are not taken without food.
In mild sickle cell crises, the patient may be treated at home using mild analgesics. If there is a severe crisis, the individual should be hospitalized in order to use a strong analgesic. Sickle cell patients should avoid self medication with the strong analgesics as this practice usually lands them in drug addiction. Acetaminophen (- the paracetamols ), a widely used non prescription analgesic and an antipyretic must not be over used by individuals because its metabolite is a product whose accumulation leads to hepatic (liver) necrosis. Necrosis means tissue death. Liver necrosis means the muscle of the liver is ceasing to be alive and functional. While some drugs are directory injurious to the liver, some other drugs are broken down to release some chemicals that can cause injury to the liver. Serious over dose of Acetaminophen can cause liver damage. The dose that may lead to toxicity 15-25gm) is far from the usual therapeutic treatment) dose of about 0.5gm\tab. This is to say that there is no cause for alarm but we can see that self medication can be dangerous. In developed countries, the sick no matter how simple the sickness may present, treatment follows the pathway for best management.
Consumption of large quantities of analgesics may also lead to a condition known as Analgesic Nepliropathy. This is injury to the kidney caused by analgesic treatment. This is found more in patients who consume certain combination of analgesics e.g. Phenacetin, Asprin, Acetaminophine, Caffein, codein for long periods. Asprin and Acetaminophine are the major culprits. While they can cause renal (kidney) problem in an apparently healthy individuals, pre existing renal disease offers a kick off for nephropathy.
Presently, there are modern techniques available for pain management. Pain is indeed a disturbing problem that in some cases, the patient is not getting a lasting solution to his\her pains. Thus there is still more to be learnt and done about pain and its management. The world Health Organization (W.H. 0), established a format for the use of analgesic drugs.
In malignant diseases like cancer, review of drug is important in treating pains. In such malignancy, arising pain is known to change as the disease progresses. Review of treatment will ensure that an appropriate agent is in use for reducing the intensity of pain.
When a nerve is damaged, resultant pain is known as psychogenic pain. Here, the pain will not respond to opiod. Opiods are medications that reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain. This is the mechanism by which they relieve pain. Adjuvant drugs may be used for the treatment of psychogenic pain. These are drugs often used for other purposes but can be very effective in the treatment of pain.
Other procedures that can be employed in pain management include,
Water therapy- Drink much water, but the individual must not have kidney failure.
Breathing in and out deeply routinely.
Relaxation- Daily adequate periods of relaxation relieve pain remarkably.
Pain is reduced when the person shuns fear, sadness, and every other negative emotion.
Distractions alleviate pain. The patient in pain is relieved when you engage him/her with laughter packed stories such as those from comedians.
Avoidance of stress. Stress potentiates pam.
It has been proved by individuals who tried it, that avoidance of meat, oil, and cooked foods while sticking to raw fruits and vegetables clears pain of different origin. This procedure highly reverses the painful diabetic neuropathy. Cancer and diabetes are claimed cured when this method accompanied with just 15% daily of cooked food was pursued for a period of one year. For further information on this, read the book “Hallelujah Diet”.
NOTE; Self medication should not go beyond the use of the acetaminophens (the paracetamoIs and panadols). Where the pains persist see a trained healthcare provide for counseling, referral or treatment as the case may be.
WHAT THE GUN CANNOT KILL
» By Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua
Interesting, many print and electronic media reported on March 12, 2014 that the “Military claim success in terrorist uprising”! Many people thought that the end of terrorism has dawn on Nigeria when the Defence Ministry claimed that captured extremists said that their clerics "declared that the operation of the sect had come to an end as the mission could no longer be sustained." On the other hand, House of Assembly Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said that the country has run out of excuses for its inability to defend her citizens against "an orgy of deaths, destruction and waste". This euphoria of the dawn of peace and the end of terror was disrupted on Friday, March 14, 2014 with the terrorist attack on the Maiduguri military base, Giwa Barracks. Sahara Reporters had reported on March 12, 2014 that Jonathan, ahead of the conclusion of his two-day official visit to Katsina said that the soldiers should get rid of the militants who are launching deadly attacks on Katsina and surrounding states from the Rugu forest that borders four states of Katsina, Zamfara, Niger and Kaduna as well as the neighbouring country of Niger Republic.
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The difficulty in putting a permanent end to terrorism with the weapons of war means that there is a limit the gun can go in the pursuance of peace and security. It is difficult to kill an idea with a gun. An idea is a living organism that grows. What we have as terrorism in Nigeria today did not start yesterday. It is the maturation of an idea that is as old as Nigeria. Once upon a time, the child was told, “treat whoever does not practise your religion as an infidel. Stone their places of worship. Do not respond to their wishes of peace because we cannot give the infidel peace. When you become a king, do not give land to any body except those who practise your religion to build a house of worship. No body outside your nucleus family must rule over the community as king. If any member of your family converts to another religion or refuses to practise your religion, he forfeits with immediate effect the right to be a leader in our community”. Little did the parent / teacher who is indoctrinating the child (with these terrible erroneous ideas) know that one day, the child would grow above the throwing of ordinary stones at the “infidels” and their places of worship to detonating bombs to kill innocent people. The teacher did not know that one day; the child would operate a Buffalo Truck and an Armoured Personnel Carrier as a terrorist. How I wish the teacher knew that he was breeding a suicide bomber when he told the child that killing is a way of honour and the fastest way to reach paradise. The teacher did not know that the child he had brainwashed would one day see human life as a walking shadow devoid of meaning. The parent / teacher did not know that one day; the child would turn against his own progeny when “the ashes would return to its source”. Yes the false teacher with erroneous ideas has destroyed a whole generation for his selfish interest.
An idea is like a seed that can grow into a mahogany tree. An idea lives from one generation to the next even when the original owner of the idea dies. An idea is a product of mental activity. It starts as a notion, fancy or opinion. Then it progresses into a conviction and then becomes a principle that goes with a plan, scheme, or method. In the philosophy of Plato the physical reality is a reflection of the world of ideas; in Kant, an idea is a concept of reason that is transcendent but not empirical; in Hegel, an idea is absolute truth the complete and ultimate product of reason (for the owner of the idea). For other thinkers, "Human history is in essence a history of ideas" (H.G. Wells). "Language is the dress of thought" (Samuel Johnson). For some French Thinkers, "Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when you have only one idea" (Alain, Propos sur la religion). "A stand can be made against invasion by an army; no stand can be made against invasion by an idea" (Victor Hugo, Histoire d'une Crime). "It is better to entertain an idea than to take it home to live with you for the rest of your life" (Randall Jarrell, Pictures from an Institution) "Right now it's only a notion, but I think I can get the money to make it into a concept, and later turn it into an idea" (Woody Allen, Annie Hall). An idea is thus the content of the conscious mind that forms an opinion, view, or belief. For an idea to become an act of faith the proponent of the idea appeals to revelation and claims that it is God who spoke to him directly from heaven. This often gives rise to proliferation of sects in religion and the categories of false, professional and true Prophets.
One of the ways to kill an erroneous idea is to use the weapon of a more reasonable idea in the form of dialogue ad intra. A reasonable idea does not contradict universally accepted values, such as respect for human life. The battle field should be a dialogue forum within the same faith tradition (intra-religious dialogue). Perhaps the following contradiction may further explicate this conversation. On February 26, 2014, the terrorists attacked and burnt down St. Joseph Minor Seminary, Shuwa in Maiduguri Diocese, Adamawa State. God saved the teachers and seminarians who ran into the bush and spent the whole night there for safety. In the course of the terrorist operation, the only person they met was Andrew Mshelia who could not run into the bush because he is on a wheel chair. It is reported that the terrorists called their commandant to inquire what to do with Mr. Andrew. The commandant told them not to kill him because “invalids” are not killed during jihad. Wonderful, is it not the same group of people with this idea of the ethics of jihad that were reported on March 7, 2014 to have killed over 50 school children in Yobe State and abducted 25 girls in Bornu State? Does the rule of jihad permit the killing of innocent children? In the terrorist's attacks of Barracks in Borno, Weekly Trust reported on Saturday, March 15, 2014 that “Malam Abdullahi who is one of the leaders of the vigilantes, said his members had captured many suspects in various locations”. If Malam Abdullahi and his group do not have the correct idea of the ethics of Jihad, he would not go after the terrorists who claim to be Muslims.
Since there is that which the gun cannot kill, there is need for the true and good Muslims to take a step further in identifying the original owners of this terrorist ideas who perhaps finance these operations from their air-conditioned rooms watching the destruction of a whole generation in some parts of the country. It is not enough to say that the terrorists do not belong to the religion they claim to profess. It is time for the religious and political leaders to ask: “Where did we go wrong? When did we miss the point? Who will change this situation? If not me, who? If not now, when?” Even if the soldiers succeed in killing all the terrorists in the world, the battle would only be on vacation if the wrong idea is not corrected by those who are concerned about the truth of their religion that is being abused. This Intra-religious dialogue should be taken as an intellectual jihad against internal invaders of true Islam (Peace). We need people who can take risk to embark on this mission with spiritual and intellectual weapons. If the Son of Hamas can change, then with the effort of our committed Muslims and the collaborative efforts of all partners in dialogue, we can say goodbye to terrorism in Nigeria and elsewhere without the gun. Let us therefore join our spiritual forces to fight the ideas of terrorism to save our world from doom and peril.
EASTER DATE AND ABSTINENCE FROM MEAT
» By Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Okafor
Some Christian practices that have trouble the minds of so many people are the inconsistency in the date for celebrating Easter and abstinence from meat. The questions that often arise from these are: Why is there no fixed date for Easter as there is for Christmas? Why abstinence from meat on Good Friday and Ash Wednesday?
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Easter is one of the major feasts in the life of the Church. Some feasts or celebrations of the Church's year such as Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Pentecost, and Ascension depend upon the date of Easter.
Christianity in the second century experienced a serious disagreement on the date Easter should be celebrated. While some churches celebrated Easter on the day of the Passover, others celebrated it on the following Sunday. This latter opinion was the practice of the Churches in Rome, Africa, Italy, Egypt, Spain, Gauls, Britain, Libya, Greece, and the Dioceses of Asia, Pontus and Cilicia. While some were practicing fasting and abstinence, others refused to; they rather would relax and enjoy. Constantinus Augustus regarded this as a great scandal in Christendom. He therefore resolved this problem by ordering a council to be held in city of Nicea in Bithynia, inviting all the bishops to be in attendance, and over two hundred and fifty bishops and numerous presbyters, deacons and acolytes were in attendance. It was at this council that the internal division that rocked Christianity was resolved, holding that the Easter feast should be observed by all in every place and on the same day, not following the Jews in their custom who sometimes celebrated Easter twice in the same year out of ignorance. The Council of Nicaea 325CE established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. From that point forward, the Easter date depended on the ecclesiastical approximation of March 21 for the vernal equinox. Easter is delayed by one week if the full moon is on Sunday, which decreases the chances of it falling on the same day as the Jewish Passover. The council's ruling is contrary to the Quartodecimans, a group of Christians who celebrated Easter on the day of the full moon, 14 days into the month.
According to Biblical account, the death and resurrection of Jesus occurred around the time of the Jewish Passover, which was celebrated on the first full moon following the vernal equinox. The vernal or March equinox coincides with Easter Sunday and holidays that are related to it. These holidays do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian calendar, or the Julian calendar, which is still being used by many Orthodox Christian churches. Not all Christian churches observe Easter according to the Gregorian calendar. Some churches still observe Easter under the Julian calendar.
The Gregorian calendar was created because the Julian calendar was slightly too long. With the Julian calendar, the equinox date moved towards the earlier dates of March and further away from the Easter. Therefore, the introduction of the Gregorian calendar allowed for a re-alignment with the equinox. According to the Gregorian calendar, Easter falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25 from 1753 to 2400. In the Julian calendar, used by some eastern or Orthodox churches, Easter also falls on a Sunday from March 22 to April 25, which in the Gregorian calendar is from April 3 to May 10 from 1753 to 2400.
In 2007 Easter fell on the same date (April 8) in both calendars when the Julian date was converted to the Gregorian date. This happens in some years, such as 2004, 2010 and 2011.
ABSTINENCE FROM MEAT
Why abstinence from meat or flesh?
Abstinence is an invitation to see the danger inherent in material things (1 Cor 7:31; Rm 12:2). The only specific demand of abstinence in the early Christian community was abstinence from: what has been sacrificed to idols, blood, strangled animals and fornication (Acts 15:29). Some Christian practices developed from Jewish practices.
Friday is regarded as penitential day “a day of abstinence” in the Church because Jesus died on Friday. Penitential days in the Universal Church are every Friday and Lenten season. Abstinence from meat is required on every Friday except on Fridays that fall on Solemnity (Can 1251).
Abstinence from flesh meat began in the Middle Ages. Then meat was considered a luxury, hence the Church adopted abstinence from meat as a practice to mark the sacrifice Christ, the Passover Lamb, made for us. The original Lenten Abstinence was as brief as the two days before Easter: Good Friday and Holy Saturday. There were no uniform Lenten observances. Initially, eggs and dairy products were forbidden on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but this has been relaxed such that only flesh-meat is forbidden.
The law of Abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year of age and above, while the law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority (completed their eighteenth year of age until the beginning of their sixtieth year (18-60years) (Can 1252).
It is therefore important that we revive the practice of abstaining from meat every Friday, and participate actively in this Lenten season.
MARY AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (PT. 6) HAD MARY OTHER CHILDREN?
» By Rev. Fr. Agibefo Mario
Furthermore, it may interest you to know that the Psalms were written between about 1300- 725 years before Jesus Christ was born; and they were meant to be the personal experience of writers. It was only by divine providence that unknown to the writers, they were making prophecies about the Messiah that was to come. So when verse 8 says: I have become a stranger to my kindred, an alien to my mother's children; the writer ordinarily was speaking only of his own life experience and not the experience of another person. If at all the expression mother's children refers to direct siblings in the strict sense of the word, then it applies originally to the writer of Psalm 69.
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Again, the expression mother 's children may not also be in the strict sense of siblings as the Fundamentalists want us to think with reference to Jesus; it may also refer to people of a common ancestry in the sense of tribes, clans, nations etc. like the tribe of Judah and so on. These are regarded as children of the same mother as in motherland. We come to understand this vividly when we read Mark 6:1-3:
He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deed of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”
Does this passage of the Bible fulfill Psalm 69:8 in reference to Jesus? Yes! Was Jesus an alien to His Mother's children? Yes! Who were his mother and mother's children? Jesus hometown was his mother, and the people of his hometown were his mother's children and kindred who took offense at him and rejected him. It is just like saying Mother Africa and her children. In this sense, Africa is my mother because I am African, and all blacks of African origin are my mother's children and so we are brothers.
Yet again, the expression in their own house (household) could also carry a broad meaning just like mother's children above; in this light, we then begin to talk about the house/household of Jacob/Israel (Luke 1:33; Isaiah 48:1). For instance, John 1:11 says: He came to what was his own and his own people did not accept him. So who are his own that is being referred to? His own are the Jews, of which he was one as a Jew himself so the Jews arc members of the same house/household not necessarily siblings.
We have just considered the book of Psalms; let us now consider the Prophets too. The book of Zechariah 12:10 says: And I will pour out a spirit of compassion and supplication on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that, when they look on the one whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
Who was the pierced one being referred to? The Gospel of John 19:34 has this to say: instead one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out So Jesus is the pierced one that is being referred to. That the one they have pierced on whom they will look is Jesus is shown in Matthew 27:54 and Revelations 1:7. All said and explained, Jesus is the centre of Zechariah's prophecy; and of this same Jesus Christ was said: They shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. Even though mourning for an only son is proverbial as in the case of Jeremiah 6:26 and Amos 8:10. The unique thing here is that unlike Jeremiah 6:26 and Amos 8:10. First born is added to Zechariah 12:10. What is the essence of this? It is to show that Zechariah 12:10 is not merely proverbial; it is an expression of facts. How do I mean?
Now, does the statement confirm a true fact of Jesus being firstborn? Yes! I have touched on this earlier. Also read the following passages: Luke 2:7 Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15, 18; Hebrews 1:6; Revelations 1:5. Furthermore, if the prophecy on firstborn is fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ, then is it likely that the one on him being the only child is not fulfilled? No! It is not likely because both prophecies go inseparably, one to the other. And we cannot say that the prophecy is incompletely fulfilled. And this is what Barnes' Commentary on Zechariah 12:10 says:
And our Lord, to the letter, was the Only-Begotten of his Father and His mother. He was the first-begotten of every creature (Colossians 1:15) and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
(3) With this in mind, it is now you come to appreciate the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and hear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (KJV). And then at his death, They shall mourn fir him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over firstborn (Zechariah 12: 10).
Is not this the Carpenter, the... Brother of James and John and Judas and Simon
In the hook of the New Testament, you find about ten passages where you have the terms brothers and sisters mentioned in reference to the Jesus Christ the Lord (Malt. 12:46; Matt. 13:55; Mark 3:31 34; Mark 6:3: Luke 8:19 20: John 2:12. 7:3. 5. 10: Acts 1: l4 1 Cor. 9:5). For us to understand these verses, we have to first of all look to the Bible in order to understand the meaning, and usage of the word brother.
WOES OF A NATION: SYRIA IN PERSPECTIVE (PT. II)
» By Rev. Fr. Gregory Onimhawo
The Asad Family
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The Assad family comes from the minority called the Alawite religious group, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that comprises an estimated 12 percent of the total Syrian population. It has maintained tight control on Syria's security services, generating resentment among some Sunni Muslims, a religious group that makes up about three-quarters of Syria's population. Ethnic minority Syrian Kurds have also protested and complained over ethnic discrimination and denial of their cultural and language rights. Assad's younger brother Maher al-Assad commands the army's elite Fourth Armoured Division, and his brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, was the deputy minister of defense until the latter's assassination in the 18 July 2012 Damascus bombing that drastically caused Asef's death.
Syria became an independent republic in 1946, though Democratic rule was ended by a coup in March 1949, followed by two more coups that year. A popular uprising against military rule in 1954 saw the army transfer power to civilians; from 1958 to 1961 a brief union with Egypt replaced Syria's parliamentary system with a highly centralized presidential regime. The Ba'ath Syrian Regional Branch government came to power in 1964 after a successful coup d'état. In 1966, another coup overthrew the traditional leaders of the party, Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar. General Hafez al-Assad, the Minister of Defense, seized power in a "corrective revolution" in November 1970, becoming prime minister. In March 1971, Assad declared himself President, a position he would hold until his death in 2000. Since then, the secular Syrian Regional Branch has remained the dominant political authority in a virtual single-party state in Syria, and Syrian citizens may only approve the President by referendum and until the government-controlled multi-party 2012 parliamentary election could not vote in multi-party elections for the legislature.
Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria and Asma al-Assad, his wife who is a British-born and British-educated Sunni Muslim, initially inspired hopes for democratic and state reforms; a "Damascus Spring" of intense social and political debate took place from July 2000 to August 2001. The period was characterized by the emergence of numerous political forums or salons, where groups of like-minded people met in private houses to debate political and social issues. Political activists such as Riad Seif, Haitham al-Maleh, Kamal al-Labwani, Riyad al-Turk and Aref Dalila were important in mobilizing the movement. The most famous of the forums were the Riad Seif Forum and the Jamal al-Atassi Forum. The Damascus Spring ended in August 2001 with the arrest and imprisonment of ten leading activists who had called for democratic elections and for a campaign of civil disobedience. However, since in 2001 also reformists in Parliament had begun to criticize a legacy of stagnation from the rule of former President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad has talked about reform but carried out very little, and he has failed to deliver on promised reforms since 2000. When one looks at these extreme flare for power, it brings in the question of what would all these power intoxication lead to.
THE HEALING POWER OF GOD'S WORD
» By Rev. Fr. Thomas Anavhe
The Holy Mother Church is filled with a good number of people or Christ's faithful who are seriously looking forward to God's healing in their lives. Many of the faithful are actually in need of God's touch. They are thirsting for spiritual, physical, mental, and social healing. Most of them appeal more to prayers than the word of God in attempt to be free from their ill health. But experience has showed that this has not yielded lasting results as most of the people delivered from this demonic possession through this approach still suffer from the attack they were said to have been healed or delivered from. Based on the above observation, this work joins the league of those who propose the use of the word of God alongside prayer and other spiritual aid to care for the sick and the possessed.
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This challenge has led the people of God and even exorcists in doubt if complete healing is still possible in the church today especially among those possessed with demons. A situation when a demonic possessed person that has been prayed over during prayer session, keep on falling and rolling on the ground with high intensity of demonic powers in him or her year after year in any deliverance session without any form of healing or deliverance.
No doubt, Jesus' love and compassion for the sick and the demon possessed can never cease. He will never withdraw his healing power to flow among his people especially those who call upon his name. “When he went he saw a great crowd and had compassion on them and cured their ailment (Man. 14:14).” Yes the healing power of God is still very much evident in the church. For God is the same yesterday, today and forever and he will always respond to the cries for healing of his people.
God has not changed in bringing his healing power to his people. If the sick and the demon possessed allow Jesus, the yoke of ill health and demons driven out will be forever gone. Hence, attention must be given to the word of God. Healing was flourishing in the ministry of Jesus Christ and also, in the early church (healing was part of their ministry) through the proclamation of the word of God. The apostles Peter and John for instance, were able to heal a lame man at the beautiful gate in the temple by proclaiming the name of Jesus, the word of God (Acts 3:3).
The centurion who pleaded with Jesus to heal his servant who was grievously ill at home asked Jesus to speak the word only and his servant would be healed (Matt. 8:8).
Therefore, healing and deliverance ministers do not need to give excessive attention to falling of people in their prayer's session and be satisfied with that only and believing that a complete healing has taken place. But then, the attention must also be given to the word of God in the pastoral care of the sick and the possessed.
God's word is the key that opens the door of healing for God's people. When life becomes so difficult for us and ill health has subjected us to a condition we can no longer help ourselves. We must learn how to make use of God's word. For it is the word that brings the light of salvation into our lives, by his word, God brought meaning and life into what he has created. Let there be light and there was light (Gen. 1:3). It was after the declaration of God's word that God saw all that he has created was good (Gen 1:4). The word has the power to bring healing into our life if only we dispose ourselves to God's word and allow the word to take root in us. If the heavens were made and all their host by the word of the Lord and the breath of his mouth (Ps. 33:6), it follows that God's word is capable of bringing healing to those who effectively make use of it and allow the word of God to permeate every part of their Christian life.
We must hold firm to the word of God and always be ready to hold firm, it in all situation. For God's word is the key of our deliverance. It was the spoken word of faith, through God, that goliath the giant was delivered into the hands of David (2kings 5:1). To overcome the pains of ill health and experience true healing, we must make use of the power of the spoken word. Jesus overcame the devil's temptation in the wilderness through spoken word. “Go away Satan,” the scriptures says, “worship the Lord your God and serve him alone” (Jn. 3) then the devil left him and angels came and helped him (Matt. 4:10-11). Until we use the power of the spoken word, we may not experience God's healing. The declaration of the word brings God's attention to our situation. If God is concerned about our situation (ill health), our illness will naturally melt away. Since God has taken possession of us through his word in our health.
We must get connected with the living word the source of our salvation. “The word gives divine life to those who trust in God. “The one who sits on the throne said “and now I am making all things new”. He also said to me, write this, because this word is true and can be trusted.” (Rev. 21:5). A complete trust and contemplation on the word, frees us from unnecessary pains and restore health of body and mind to the sick. As the scriptures says:
The word of God is living and active, Sharper than any two edged sword, Piecing until it divides soul from spirit, Joints from marrow, it is able to judge thought and intentions of the heart, And before him to creature hidden, everything is uncovered open to the eye ,The one to whom we must give amount of ourselves (Heb 4:12-13)
“God's word is God himself' and it cannot fail to be active and meaningful like a sharp sword, to bring healing to those who are possessed. The piecing force of the word of God we have received gradually dissolves every form of pains worries and all forms of ill health within us. Hence, to overcome ill health, we must feel our heart with the word, because the word is our power. For the word of God will not only bring liberation to our lives, it will comfort, warm, and strengthen our lives. As scriptures says, it reveals the truth which makes them free from sin and experience the healing power of God (Jn. 8:32).
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, illness can lead to anguish, self absorption sometimes even despair and revolt against God, this happens to the sick ones when there is no sufficient word of God in them to strengthen their faith in God. As such, they fell crushed by the pains of their illness and lose faith in themselves and in God. The word of God serves as a source of solace and health for the sick ones by healing the pains of their ill health and thereby bringing inner healing to them who truly meditate on his word.
By allowing the word of God (the saving word) to be part of us, God restores joy, hope, and complete healing to his children; for he will always save and be with those who keep his word to the end of time (Man. 28:20). In another place, Scriptures records that “There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus (in union with his word). For the law of the spirit (the word) brings us life in union with Christ Jesus who is the source of life, he has set us free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:1-2). So, Christ's message in all its richness must live in our hearts if we must experience the healing power of God (Col. 3:16). In fact the easiest way God brings healing and deliverance to his people is through his word, for the word enables them to bear their pains and eventually bring them healing. Writing to the Ephesians, Paul says:
For this reasons I bow my knees before the father, From whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, I pray that, according to his riches in glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened, in your inner being with power through his spirit and that Christ the living word may dwell in your Heart through faith as you are rooted in his word (Eph. 3:14-17)
This shows that God's healing is made perfect in our lives through the presence of Christ, the word in us, which infuses his strength into our will. When our soul is filled with Christ, the word, our souls receives strength from within; for we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
Today Christians needs to have a personal experience with the word of God, for it is only through the word that we can experience the true powers of God. The scripture says: “...and how very great is his power at work in us who believe” (Eph. 1:19). Believing in God's word makes God's promises for his children to come into reality, it shows that God is capable to save us. So, the healing hands of God are always extended towards his children to bring healing to them. But lack of faith in God's word deprives us from sharing from God's healing power. God assures us in the Scripture; “my word is like the snow and rain that come down from the sky to water the earth. They make the crop grow and provided seed for sowing and' food to eat, so also will be the word that I speak. It will not fail to do what I plan, for it will do the things I send it to do” (Is. 55:10-11)
Jesus, the word, must sink into us, for there is nothing more powerful than the word of God. It brings victory over sickness and other forms of demonic possession. It is on this note that David said, “we must meditate on the word of the sacred scripture (ps. 1:lff). Meditating on God's word brings inner healing especially to our painful memories. The word restores peace, inner strength and a new hope. It searches deep into our hearts and brings forth everything that is incongruous to our God given nature and destroys them; on the other hand, it strengthens every virtue in us. So we must allow the word of God to be formed in us (Gal 4:19).
I am convinced that there is no person who is sick and demon possessed that cannot be healed or exorcised. The only reason we do not heal or deliver them is because we don't build up their faith with the word of God. In the gospel of Luke 9:1, Jesus did not only give his disciples authority over all devils but also to cure diseases. “then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases” since the authority has been given to them, they were not praying and paying excessive attention in asking God to bring his healing to his people. But then, they were exercising the authority through the spoken word of God, just as Jesus did in his ministry. The healing and deliverance of Jesus Christ and his disciples came into great fulfillment because they were proclaiming the good news (the word) that the kingdom of god is at hand and through proclamation of the good news, they healed the sick and cast out demons.
CBCN SUES FOR THE PROVISION OF QUALITY EDUCATION
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Following the various challenges bedeviling the nation education sector, the Catholic Bishop's Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has advocated for the provision of high quality education that imparts intellectual, moral and professional competence, stressing that the future of the education sector in Nigeria largely depends on planning, funding and proper management of the sector.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of their first plenary meeting at the Divine Love Retreat and Conference Centre at Sabo Lugbe, Abuja.
According to the communiqué which was signed by the CBCN President Most. Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos and the Secretary, Most. Rev. William Avenya, Bishop of Gboko Diocese, the Bishops noted that “history shows that the Church started very early to invest heavily and fruitfully in quality education in what is now known as Nigeria” stressing that “she established schools which were known for their good academic and moral standards and their non-discriminatory policies even in the difficult terrain of rural Nigeria”, adding that “prior to the government takeover of schools in the 1970s, both the church and the state were partners in education. As a result of the takeover, the initiatives of voluntary agencies were stifled and the quality of education in Nigeria experienced and still experiences a sharp decline”.
The Bishops affirmed that “the good health of a nation is largely dependent on the quality of education of her citizens. The numerous problems affecting our country are various obvious: corruption, abuse of power, insecurity, poverty, discrimination…”, noting that “Nigerians have a deep hunger for education. The quality of facilities in our schools, secondary schools, Polytechnics and universities is not commensurate with the announced budgetary allocation, a fact which strongly suggests the invasion of the space by corruption and misappropriation of public funds”.
Continuing, the prelates noted that “the provision of quality education should involve the government, parents, religious institutions and other corporate bodies”, stressing that “Nigerian children studying in mission and private schools should not be discriminated against. They should have equal right to be properly educated and their parents are tax payers”, pointing out that “government should assist in the provision of the necessary infrastructure, tax relief for parents of children in school and demand minimal charges on the land on which mission and private schools are built” appealing that “in the spirit of partnership, we urge government to reinstate grants-in-aid to mission schools, in order to make quality education affordable”.
Emphasizing on the return of schools to heir original owners, the CBCN, pointed out that “in light of the foregoing, we knowledge the wisdom and courage of leadership in some state governments that have returned the schools to their original owners and have created a measure of partnership with them”, and added that “some states like Anambra and Benue have gone further to allocate funds for the rehabilitation of those schools returned, as this step led to improvement of infrastructure and learning environment in such schools. These positive results lead us to renew our call for the return of the remaining schools to their original owners”.
Frowning at the high level of insecurity in Nigeria, the shepherds of souls noted that “we bemoan heightened insecurity in our country” and expressed sadness on how the problem of insecurity have affected education pointing out that “the mindless massacre of innocent students right in their schools in the North Eastern States of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe is a very painful case”, noting that “despite the efforts of security agencies, live and property in Nigeria are exposed to people of wicked intentions” and commended the security agencies, while urging government to be proactive and to ensure that they are better equipped and motivated to assume their responsibilities of protecting the land and its citizens.
Commenting on the family and human life, the communiqué' revealed that “in the light of various global attacks on human life, marriage and the family, which work to erode Christian and cultural values, we urge all to join in the preparation for the forthcoming extraordinary synod of Bishops in October, 2014”, noting that “Bishops in Nigeria are organizing a seminar on pro-life issues under the theme witnessing to the Dignity of every human life”,
Reacting to the National Conference, the CBCN noted that “we expect the conference to diverse ways and means of fostering the right of each person to freely choose, profess, disseminate and practice his or her own religion in private and in public place, as well as acknowledge the contribution of religion in nation building”, stressing that “where this right is not well protected, peaceful co-existence and participation in social political and economic life are endangered”. They also added that “the conference should be equally concerned about fundamental issues such as how to make our public and civil services officials more accountable, more selfless and more devoted to duties. It should ask questions and make recommendations about youth welfare, welfare of prisoners, study how to neutralize an environment saturated with the toxic culture of corruption, the ungodly struggle for political power, the exorbitant cost of governance and above all evolve effective strategies to avoid painful and embarrassing terrorist situation brought about by some factors perhaps previously neglected”.
The communiqué further revealed “we urge all in the church to use the holy season of lent and its spiritual exercises as a means of personal and collective renewal in the love of God and neighbor” and prayed “through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Nigeria, that Nigerian be granted the grace to co-operate with God and with one another in building a just, peaceful and prosperous nation”.
PRESIDENT OBAMA MEETS WITH POPE FOR THE FIRST TIME
…As President Jonathan visits Pope
The President of United States of America (USA), President Barack Obama, has met with the Holy Father Pope Francis for the first time at the Vatican, as part of his jam-packed tour of Europe and Middle East.
President Obama who is the ninth President to make an official visit to the Vatican, after the fifty two minutes meeting, presented the Pontiff with a Custom-made seed chest containing a variety of fruit and vegetable seeds used in the white House Garden, while in appreciation, the Pope equally offered President Obama two medallion and a copy of his apostolic exhortation “the joy of the Gospel” in which he denounced the global economic system that excludes the poor.
In a similar vain, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President GoodLuck Jonathan, has visited the Holy Father, Pope Francis at the Vatican.
The President, who conferred with the Pontiff on the promotion of inter-faith dialogue in Nigeria and other parts of the world as a way of fostering greater global peace and security, stressed that his administration was already working in close collaboration with Cardinal John Onaiyekan who was “the team leader” for the effort to strengthen inter-faith dialogue in Nigeria. He assured the Pope of his administration's continued commitment to the promotion of religious harmony and the peaceful co-existence of people of all faith.
Continuing, the President assured the Pope that his administration will continue to work deligently to alleviate poverty in Nigeria through more inclusive economic growth and development, adding that Pope Francis has always taken a keen interest in Nigeria and has now promised to visit Nigeria, pointing out that the Pope has assured him that he would continue to pray for God Almighty to bless the country and its people.
Further, President Jonathan hinted that “my coming to see Pope was to discuss issues, especially that of inter-faith dialogue which the Vatican has been promoting” stressing that “the Pope has been advocating that the world should do more to eradicate poverty and make sure that the ordinary people of this world are in a position to live more decent lives. The Pope is very dedicated to poverty alleviation and I also interfaced with him on how we can collaborate more with the Vatican on what we are doing in this regard back home”.
The President was accompanied by his wife Dame Patience Jonathan, the minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, Governor Godswill Akpabio, Governor Gabriel Suswan, Peter Obi and wife of the Senate President Mrs. Helen Mark. Also present at the event were Nigeria's Ambassador to the Vatican, Dr. Francis C. Okeke, the Chaplain of the Presidential villa, Venerable Obioma Onwuzurunba, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe among others.