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THE PARENTS OWN THE CHILD
There is a story about a certain boy in the village of Katakuma. This boy become very wealthy that is very intelligent, strong, materially rich and therefore so power that he no longer had any regard for anybody including his parents. Such disrespectful attitude became so worrisome to his parents that his father decided to call and advise him to respect people even in all his riches and richness. Instead of listening to his father's advice he insulted and challenged his father to appear at the village square or park for the displaying of wealth for people to decide and ascertain who was richer or poorer, the father or his son.
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The boy's father agreed that his son was wealthy yet he advised his son to accord him respect as his own father who his son could never actually outdo in riches after all. Yet, the boy went on to laugh at his father and without wasting time brought out all his possessions. When he had assembled his possessions and himself at the village square to prove to his father and the whole assembly of the people that he was richer than his father, his father stood, walked empty handed only with the aid of his walking stick towards his son's hand before all the people and said, “this is my son, I own him and all his possessions, please, move everything he owns including himself into my compound”. With that, the ovation for the father of the boy knew no end on that day at the village square of Katakuma.
When we look at the gospels, the Pharisees looking for a way to implicate Jesus by all means asked him whether it was not right to pay tax to God alone instead of paying to Caesar also. Caesar had claimed to be Lord and God. So, if Jesus argued for the payment of tax to Caesar with the coin which had Caesar's image engraved in it, the Pharisees and the Jewish people might accuse him of being a false prophet who came to promote idol worshipping against the first commandment of God. If he argued against the payment of tax to Caesar the Romans would accuse him of being rebellious against Caesar and the entire authority of the people which Caesar represented. So, Jesus simply said give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God, meaning that the fact that the coin borne the image of Caesar who was the King and ruler of the people in his domain is without prejudice to Caesar's being the image of God who is the creator and the sovereign King and ruler of the whole universe with all that it contains therein including Caesar and all his possessions in his earthly kingdom.
The coin on which the image of Caesar was engraved revealed the splendor of Caesar in his earthly kingdom; just as Caesar who is completely the image and likeness of God revealed the divine splendour of God in his heavenly kingdom.
The purpose of the opportunity given to man to exist and govern at all is nothing but to reveal the divine splendor of God in his sovereign majesty. This is what the entire liturgy teaches. Cyrus who became the king of Persia was told that God chose and empowered him to be king in order to be God's instrument of liberation and salvation to the people. It is a fact that, when the people are liberated into the salvation of God, they are constituted into praise, honour thanksgiving and worship to God in their entire life, in all they are and do from cradle to the grave and beyond.
So, my dear people of God having received this message of God today, once more, we are now duty-bound to invite all the works of the Lord to bless the Lord because to him the highest glory and praise belong forever more (Cf. Canticle of Daniel 3:57 88;Revelation19:5). Amen.
DEVOTION TO THE PASSION OF CHRIST (I)
» By Prof. Michael Ogunu
The devotion to the Passion (sufferings) of Our Lord and Saviour is, of all forms of Catholic devotion, the most ancient, the most venerable, the most universal.
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Jesus Himself has written the remembrance of His Passion deep into the hearts of His faithful. In order to imprint most deeply in our souls the remembrance of His Sacred Passion, Christ instituted Holy Mass, the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross.
Perhaps there is no subject for meditation more suitable for every class of persons than the most sacred Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In it many sinners find the encouragement and graces necessary for their conversion; from it many beginners derive strength and fervor wherewith to subdue their passions; in it many good Christians discover fresh incentives to advance in the paths of virtue. In short, there are none who will not find in it an inexhaustible mine of hidden treasures, and an endless source of graces and spiritual blessings. In all ages it has been a favourite exercise of the Saints, who greatly to their consolation have been in the habit of spending hours, day and night, in meditation on the bitter sufferings of their Saviour. So much is not required of the average devout Christian, but he/she is expected to daily spend half, or at least a quarter of an hour, in attentive consideration of some point of the Passion of Jesus.
How to Meditate on the Passion of Christ
We can practice devotion to the Passion (sufferings) of Our Lord by:
(1) Performing the Stations of the Cross (not only during Lent, but throughout the year)
(2) Meditating on the Five Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary
(3) Saying prayers in honour of the Passion such as the famous fifteen prayers of
St. Bridget which can be found in “PIETA” prayer book. A collection of prayers in honour of the passion can also be found in an excellent little publication (booklet) by TAN Books Publishers entitled “DEVOTION TO THE PASSION OF OUR LORD”.
Anne Catherine Emmerich's famous book on the Passion THE DOLOROUS PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, is a great treasure. THE DOLOROUS PASSION has been inspiring thousands since it first appeared in 1833 being based on the detailed visions of Our Lord's Passion and Death as seen by Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774 1824), a German Augustinian nun, and recorded by Clemens Brentano, a prominent literary figure of the day. A saintly person from her youth and a great mystic and victim soul, Sister Emmerich was privileged by God during almost a lifetime of ecstatic visions to see all the events of Our Lord's suffering and death, which visions we can now understand in hindsight were a great gift from God to the world. Her account of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, while faithful to the Bible, is heart-rending, edifying and surprising because of its intimate detail. THE DOLOROUS PASSION recounts with incredible precision the horrendous sufferings undergone by Our Saviour in His superhumanly heroic act of Redemption. Also illuminating is its description of Mary's participation in the sufferings of her Son, so that this book gives the reader a poignant understanding of why Our Lady is often called our “Co-Redemptrix” and “Queen of Martyrs”, THE DOLOROUS PASSION is a singular book that conveys a lasting impression of the terrible Agony of Our Lord, of His infinite love for us that motivated His Agony, and how His Passion and Death were brought on by each person's sins. Copies of the book are available in Pauline bookshops.
Also useful for meditation on the Passion of Our Lord is a book entitled THE MYSTERY OF THE CROWN OF THORNS written by a Passionist priest. But there can be no substitute for reading and meditating on the accounts of the passion narratives in the Gospels of St. Matthew, Mark and Luke in Catholic Bibles.
In meditating on the Passion of Jesus, one should also meditate on the sorrows of Our Lady, especially those associated with Christ's suffering and death. The Stabat Mater (At the Cross Her Station Keeping) hymn is perhaps one of the most poignant reminders of the sufferings of Our Lady.
In order to facilitate the practice of this holy exercise, Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus in his book on the Passion of Christ entitled THE SCHOOL OF JESUS CRUCIFIED has arranged a Meditation, divided into three points, upon the principal mysteries of the Sacred Passion of Christ, for every day of the month.
He advises that whatever mystery of the Passion one takes for the subject of meditation, one should always bestow attentive consideration on the following five points:
1. The infinite greatness of Him Who suffers.
2. The excess of suffering and ignominy which He endures.
3. How great is the love with which He suffers. 4. The infinite unworthiness and vileness of those for whom He suffers.
5. That His principal aim in all His sufferings is to be loved by men.
In his words,
Let these reflections sink deep into your mind, and if one of them, or any other point of the meditation which you are reading, should make a lively impression upon your heart, dwell awhile on it without caring to go on any further. You may even make your prayer upon the same point for several days, and even weeks, in succession, if you find it productive of good thoughts, reserving the other points for the following days, and you will soon perceive how useful such repetitions will be to your soul. After your mind has been employed in attentively considering and reflecting upon the mystery and its attendant circumstances, it will not be difficult for your will to be excited and touched by different holy affections, which you ought to pass some short time in exercising with great calmness of spirit, giving free vent to the emotions of your heart, and following the sweet impulses of God's grace.
DR KEVIN GOSNELL (THE ABORTION DOCTOR) AND THE FUTILITY OF THE ARGUMENTS FOR ABORTION
» By Rev. Fr. Reginald Adogamhe
In May this year, a Philadelphian doctor, who severed the spinal cords of babies born alive after attempted abortions, was found guilty of first degree murder. Dr Kevin Gosnell, who is neither a certified obstetrician nor gynecologist was also known to have performed abortion on women in their second and third trimester in deplorable settings. The 'abortion doctor' as was dubbed by the International News Media, was alleged to have run a “house of horrors”. The remains of aborted fetuses were said to be stored in water jugs, pet food containers and a freezer of the clinic. (Source: CNN) He is also accused of complicity in the death of a woman in the course of a medical procedure believed to the abortion. The case has drawn a lot of debate both on the part of the pro-life (anti-abortion advocates) and the pro-choice (pro-abortion advocates).
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Strikingly, both sides have used this issue as an opportunity to shore up their arguments; either for, or against laws regulating abortion. This piece therefore, is an attempt to show the fool-hardiness of the pro abortion advocates (especially in the light of Dr Kevin Gosnell's atrocities) and the need for laws that will secure the right to life of the unborn infants.
PRO ABORTION ADVOCATES' ARGUMENTS
Pro-abortion advocates have over the years advanced various arguments to defend the rationality of legalising abortion. For them, restricting abortion through laws not only compound the problem, it denies women of their own moral right. They argue that “it forces women to resort to unsafe methods of abortion, aggravate over population issues, increase the number of children born with severe medical problems, parents who cannot and will not care for them adequately and make outlaws of women whose only crime is to exercise their reproductive right in a responsible manner.”
For the Pro-choice advocates therefore, the consequence of not legalizing abortion, is the rise of many other Kevin Gosnell; back-alley doctors who would resort to unsafe methods. In the words of Jennifer Arons of the Center for American Progress (an abortion lobby group) “the reason we want abortion to be legal and safe is so that women can go to legitimate abortion providers and we do not have to worry about these back-alley abortionists coming back.” For them therefore, the best way to prevent a recurrence of such attitudes to life, is freeing the abortion landscape by totally legalizing abortion and ensuring safe practices of abortion practitioners.
In part, such arguments could have in the first place, led the state of Pennsylvania to make abortion legal until after the twenty fourth week of conception. In any case, a deeper reflection helps us realize that this is half of the story. The other half, which is indeed the overriding intention towards legalizing abortion for the politician comes down to public opinion and popularity drive than an ethical/moral mindset.
THE PRO-LIFER'S ARGUMENTS AND THE FOOL HARDINESS OF THE PRO-CHOICE
The arguments of the abortion advocates are not only far from the truth, but show a lack of grasp of the issues involved. In the first place, freeing the abortion landscape cannot prevent the rise of other back-alley abortion practitioners for the very reason that the laws already existing did not stop Kevin Gosnell. At the heart of his abortion clinic, was the intention of amassing fortune. The investigators were quick to note that the doctor preyed on the indigent and uneducated that really had no means of seeking out established doctors. Furthermore, the body meant to supervise and ensure safe practices, could not function for officials believed that inspections would be putting a barrier to women seeking abortions. On this therefore, the argument that if abortion was legalized, safe practices could be guaranteed, fly out of the window in the face of these atrocities.
Secondly, the argument that abortion is not murder, is as awkward as it is faulty. Is it not contradictory that a court of law peopled with persons of ordinary standing serving as jurors, can find a man guilty of murdering innocent babies who proved resistant to attempted abortion and yet maintain that abortion itself is not murder? What could be so incongruous? Also, any law that legalizes abortion in the first trimester and bars it after then is simply incompatible to common sense! Is it not the same fetus that is formed at conception that develops during these trimesters? Simply put, it matters not at what stage you carry out an abortion! It is still the same thing. Indeed, Frank Zappa sums this up perfectly when he says, “The United States is a nation of laws badly written and randomly enforced.” With the public outrage over the activities of Kevin Gosnell and the carnage that was happening in his clinic, politicians are now reviewing the laws legalizing abortion in the first place.
This leads us to evaluating the core of the issues that led to the legalization of abortion ab initio. It was borne out of popularity drives than a need to fight for the right of women as the politician and pro abortion lobby group will want to have us believe. Basically, the politician work towards legalizing abortion for the reason that he feels it will increase his popularity amongst female voters and not really because of an ethical mindset. To also make himself “votable” to the opposing group and appease his conscience, he would say that abortion should be legalized only in the first trimester for in his mind, the fetus is not yet fully formed. Yet, studies have shown that 88% of all abortions are done in the first trimester (the first 12 weeks). The truth therefore is, we do not have leaders running world affairs today, but all we have are politicians; career politicians who live from one election to another. They are ready to do anything to create a level of popularity. The world is in dire need of leaders not politicians. Leaders who stand for the truth and not popularity contest. Imagine if Moses had sought for popularity amongst the people of Israel while they were on their way to the Promised Land? He would not have achieved anything especially with the disparaging comments. It is time we all wake up to our God given responsibilities and start being our brother's keeper. The fetus is a human person and should be accorded full respect. His right to life should be respected. It is time we start making common sense arguments and laws that support this! Abortion in whatever trimester is a moral evil and is murder. The option of adoption is always open to mothers who feel they are not competent or lack the finance to nurture an infant.
SINGLE-PARENTHOOD? YOU NEED A BETTER RETHINK
» By Rev. Fr. Francis IKHIANOSIME
More than ever before, the understanding of a family is heavily being fractured and re-fractured in many ways today. To simply define a family by the traditional nuclear understanding would be very myopic. It today involves lineage, group of relatives, offspring, etc. New trends in society seem to make the scope even wider and more confusing, commonly is the idea of a single parent. Having to deliberately stay off a bond with a man, yet, out of personal determination, a woman gets a child, sometimes, not even disclosing the paternity of the child, makes the definition of a family worse. In such a situation, the woman seeks to raise that child alone and she feels she has fulfilled the social obligation of begetting an offspring. This idea seems crazy, but it is the thriller idea for a crazy world. This idea, far from being criticized at a surface level, is highly being popularized by the high cultures of celebrities, social models, musicians, TV artists, and more. To further spiral this, leftist feminism has thrown weight behind the idea and packaged it and it is making a great sale today. There are many young girls who are considering this idea right now. So many reasons are advanced for this, some of which we shall examine in this paper. But who exactly is a single-parent?
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“A single parent is a parent, not living with a spouse or partner, who has most of the day-to-day responsibilities in raising the child or children. A single parent is usually considered the primary caregiver, meaning the parent the children have residency with the majority of the time.” (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_parent). Historically, the death of a partner was a major cause of single parenting. Nevertheless, the high rate of single parent especially single mothers is not resultant of the death of their male partner but caused by pregnancy from wedlock. To further complicate the development, there are those who are single parents by the deliberate choice of theirs and as a plan for a personal family or what is described as permanent single parents through the most of their adulthood. This last group or variant or single parents is exactly our interest as it probably forms our case in point. The implication of a deliberate choice of being a single parent has a lot of implication on moral standpoints, cultural traditions, sociological impact and the worst hazard is on the child or children who by no fault of theirs are in a family of a single parent.
The demographic for single parent is even more disturbing. Although, there are no proper records in many African countries, Nigeria inclusive, available details from the Oriental world gives us a pointer of what we can expect. About 16% of children worldwide live in a single-parent household. In 2006, 12.9 million families in the US were headed by a single parent, 80% of which were headed by a female. In 2003, 14% of all Australian households were single-parent families. In 2010, 34% of children born in Australia were born to unmarried women. In the United Kingdom, about 1 out of 4 families with dependent children are single-parent families, 8 to 11 percent of which have a male single-parent. UK poverty figures show that 52% of single parent families are below the Government-defined poverty line (after housing costs). (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_parent). The incidence of this statistics is worse with single mothers and single mothers are more prevalent than single fathers, hence my devotion more on single mothers than single fathers. The demographics of single mothers are this awry: 31.0% of Russian children living with a single mother lived in poverty in 1995 and this has hiked. The same is true too for many other countries like Taiwan, Australia, East and South- Eastern Asia, etc and it would be a worse deal in Africa and even Nigeria. (cf. http://www.pobronson.com/factbook/pages/43.html). The Bridge Report, 2001, used the term, 'feminisation of poverty' to depict three distinct things: that women have a higher incidence of poverty than men; that their poverty is more severe than that of men; and that there is a trend to greater poverty among women, particularly associated with rising rates of female headed households. Recent observations indicate that households headed by women are poorer than households headed by men. The Report also cites the percentage of poor single-parent families: 18 percent in Great Britain, 19 percent in Germany, 20 percent in Italy, 21 percent in Norway, 22 percent in France, 25 percent in Switzerland, 40 percent in Ireland, 52 percent in Canada and 63 percent in the United States. (BRIDGE (2001). Briefing paper on the 'feminisation of poverty' April 2001, Prepared for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.)
This revelation shows that the idea of single parenthood would be a bad bedfellow. But so stunningly, the idea seems to be gaining more grounds and many young people especially girls are thinking out the idea and botching off the social stereotype of marriage altogether and so be free off its troubles. For a few, this plan is honed by the decision to adopt a child and so, get off the stigma hook of childlessness that society sweeps on their kind. This is another reason women wish to be single mothers and that is asexuality. Asexuality is the orientation that those who aren't interested in any gender sexually identify with. What does this have to do with single parenthood, you ask? In Cristen Conger's "How Asexuality Works", 15 percent of women classify themselves as asexual. Surely some of those women want kids. Women who aren't interested in sex (period) will not enter into any committed relationship for children and will adopt as a single. Artificial insemination is another means for asexual women to have children. It gives them a biological child without having to go on the first date with the father! (cf. http://voices.yahoo.com/5-reasons-why-women-single-mothers-11949627.html). This claim is not as biologically founded as it is purported. I see it as a misnomer and a situation that should be corrected. But such women rather than confront their sexual distortion find it an escape route to opt for being a single mother. Whatever reason advanced for single motherhood or parenthood are not as important as knowing the implication. I would wish to proceed to examine, why single motherhood is a bad idea.
SINGLE-PARENTHOOD? YOU MUST BE CRAZY
The crazy stuff about single parenthood stems from the kinds of trouble associated with divorce. In an earlier work, I have discussed on the grave consequences of divorce on the topic: “Is divorce better than a bad Marriage”. However, there are just some reasons which are not associated with marriage alone that makes single-parenthood a crazy idea for an unmarried person.
Single parent family becomes as strong as its weakest link. The reason advanced for single parenthood oscillates around wanting to be free, avoiding the troubles of a husband and difficult children. Unfortunately, as it is easily noticeable, 5 to 10 children growing up in a single parent situation tend to become difficult. It becomes hard to find a partner who is willing to accept a difficult situation. The parent may end up creating one more social nuisance for the society, most often than not. And if it is the case of adoption, there are a lot of incompatibility options as the parent has to wrestle with unfamiliar genetic situations and behavioural manifestations.
Further, in a single parent situation, it turns out often, when the parent has a problem, the child has a problem. When the parent is uneasy, no matter how the parent tries to pretend, the child comes to understand. This creates anxiety, fear and withdrawal to the world on the child. The child is often exposed to an adult world prematurely and sometimes the relic of this is a childish adulthood. Also, the child is often cut off the possibility of a second parent to turn to, when in a fix. The child may be in a situation when he needs to find solace with the other parent, but once this is unavailable, he is likely to turn to his/her peers and the danger of being led by an inexperienced counsel is most likely and the possibility of grave mistakes is almost inevitable.
It can be very damaging both for the parent and the child to bond with an adult who is not permanent. Single parents are often webbed in the dilemma of multiple bed-sharers, to gratify their emotions, when cut in it. This is not good for their emotional and psychological wellbeing. It leaves them no less than sexual ciphers, thus, demeaning them to becoming tools and objects rather than persons. For the children or child, the weakness of a strong parent figure, leaves them a shuttle into many friendship, some of which may permanently destroy them. Two parent families give the child much healthier experiences. A child will feel more secure simply because they see that there are two parents there. They sense that two parents can cope better than one. Also, the child will experience how two adults can get along, how they settle disagreements, how to give in, how to cooperate, and how to live with differences.
A report from the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine, 2007 shows that, "Children being raised by one parent are at a greater risk for many things as they grow up, including health risks such as poorly-controlled diabetes and asthma. We now must add childhood sexual abuse to part of this risk picture." The study adjusted for socioeconomic status, and still found that children of one-parent households were at an increased risk for childhood sexual abuse. Though all one-parent homes appeared to have imparted risk-for-abuse, risk-for-abuse in one-parent homes was higher in the lower income groups than it was in the higher income groups. (University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "One-parent Households Double Risk Of Childhood Sexual Abuse." ScienceDaily. Science Daily, 14 March 2007. .)
There is also evidence that single motherhood is associated with an increased risk for affective disorder and with increased rates of mental health services utilization. Women that have never been married are at odds with the historical pattern for healthy, stable homes and this deviance is catching up with many children raised from such homes and it has affected the institution of marriage and relationships at large. The continued stigmatization of single motherhood in the many cultures and the use of cultural threats like “irresponsible”, “disgrace to their parents”, “not brought up well”, “mistake”, “shame”, and “useless” are unhealthy semantics that can sometimes drive a single parent to become psychologically destabilised.
There are just too many sides of the story and the most of which are not comely both for the single parent and for the child; adopted or begotten. There is only the need to create safety nets from the consideration of single parenthood by many young people, either from divorced marriage or permanent single parenthood conditions. The safety net is to look at the many strength of family life which is the grease that makes or mars a society. Young people must devote attention to building themselves, entering strong relationship and never be scared of entering marriage as a choice of life, if one has been so called to embrace it. The exceptions can never be the rule. Thus, the problems in marriage are the exceptions and they do not suffice, why marriage is not a noble idea and lived to its full. Thus, to consider being a single parenthood is to consider an option of a long-term malady for self, the child(ren) and the society. You just need a better rethink.
THE PATHWAY TO GOOD HEALTH
» By Pharm. Ngozi Nzewi
What I want to achieve in this write up is to make readers to know that many chronic illnesses can be avoided and existing ones reversed by eating right, exercise, and adequate daily rest. The most complex machine in existence is the human body. The human body is a natural and a living entity. We all know that there is no store for the sale of human spare parts. The author and finisher of the human body know what is best for it to remain healthy. Our belief has nothing to contribute to the genesis of the human body. If you eat right, you remain healthy and if you eat wrongly, you become unhealthy. The All KNOWING GOD, the manufacturer of the human body knows what materials that will keep it healthy. When the body experiences ill health, the common remedy is usually drugs which will in turn give possible side effects and adverse effects. Determination and self-discipline must accompany this present knowledge on health.
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What the body is fed with, that thing you put into your mouth will determine your quality of health. This is to say that you are what you eat. God who created the body specified the kind of food man must eat. This God specified food, keeps the body fit for both physical and spiritual pursuits. A sick body will not be physically and spiritually productive. Whatsoever a man sows that he will reap Gal. 6:7. “Do not be fooled. God cannot be deceived. You reap what you sow the person who sows for the benefit of his own flesh shall reap corruption and death from the flesh.” It is important to have good health not just for the pursuance of earthly issues, but most importantly for pursuing your God given purpose in life. Let us start being busy finding and pursuing our God given purpose in life and not spending every day pursuing solution to one ill health or the other. In the human body, God installed a powerful defense mechanism (the immune system) to defend the body from attacks that will subject the body to illness. This complex machine called the human body also has in place a self-repairing factory with a whole team of little workers to renovate defective organs and cells as long as the proper raw materials (proper diet) is provided. It is very difficult for disease to evade a body with high immune system. The state of the immune system can be conferred by man.
When man interferes with the immune system by what he eats and through stress, the immune system is brought low and the body reacts. Opportunity is created for infections and diseases and other immune compromised disorders.
We can now see that God created the human body and stipulated the type of food it should consume, He established in the human body a defensive mechanism. The third plan of God about the human body is to make it a vessel where His spirit is to dwell.
Thus for the wholesomeness of the human body, we must be conscious of three things
(a) what it is fed with
(b) How it keeps up the health of the immune system
(c) How it takes care of the temple of God that is within it.
For the negligence of one or more of these, man also reaps the consequence. It is irrelevant whether or not you believe in God. The consequence of this negligence has a common effect --- ill health, physical death, and spiritual death.
God's proposed food for man is seen in Genesis 1:29 God said, “I have given you every seed bearing plant which is in the face of the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be your food.” This is what will keep the body healthy. This way He designed us to live a healthy long life. Abraham lived for 175yrs, Isaac lived for 180yrs, and Jacob lived for 130yrs.
God does not intend the human body He created to suffer the current assorted chronic diseases inflicting man. Man more than ever is looking harassed and dejected. The diseases known as diseases of old age are now found among people of young age. Is it not time man should carefully turn to his God in terms of the word of God. Deviation from the word of God is causing man not only eternal damnation, but also bodily discomfort and physical ill health. It is true that whatever a man sows that he reaps. Gal. 6: 7 “do not be fooled. God cannot be deceived. You reap what you sow 8the person who sows for the benefit of his own flesh shall reap corruption and death from the flesh.”
For the deviation from the word of God, the WAY, the TRUTH and LIFE, the reverse is expectedly the answer. The sense of man today is the same if not higher than that of them who attempted building the TOWER OF BARBEL. Man's deviation from God's proposed food is in the increase and correspondingly known and unknown illnesses are in the increase. Treating illnesses with pills is frustrating to both the caring doctor and the patient who could be on multiple drug therapy. Life today seems to be all about drugs.
It is time we discipline ourselves and eat right and rest well. Those delicious dishes are destroying your health and are delaying healing or antagonistic to healing. Jollof rice cooked with water from boiled meat is very rich in cholesterol, salt, saturated fat. The same is true of that bowl of pepper soup. Those bottles of alcohol and cigarette you think is good for you is building up an unhealthy challenge to your health. All these and many more are dead food. They simply satisfy our taste buds but are killing the health of the body. Consider all cooked food as dead food because cooking destroys a great percentage of the nutrient content. Reduce your cooked food intake.
ISLAM AND THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
» By Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua
It appears that women are becoming aware of their dignity and the power that they are endowed with. The truth is that they have always been conscious of their strength but they conceal their powers, to protect men. Only when it is necessary to correct men's excessive abuse do women come out and take over. Women of this jet and electronic age are no longer content with the status men have attempted to put them since the old stone age through the middle ages until recent times. The women of this generation are reacting seriously against being used by men simply as sex objects and reproductive machines. In the past, some women have shown their worth and the powerful content of their being. The memory of Moremi of Ile-Ife is still fresh in Yoruba kingdom. In Benin City, a College is named after Imaguero. Queen Amina is immortalized in Zaria and many parts of Northern Nigeria. In Calabar, Mary Slessor will never be forgotten by twins who not for her intervention would never have seen the light of day. The Airport in Calabar is named after Margaret Ekpo in memory of her effort to liberate the people during the Aba riot. Who wants to underrate the power of women? The bible testifies to great women of substance like Judith and Queen Esther. The Muslims cannot forget the care and protection Khadija gave to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The Qur'an testifies that the Blessed Virgin Mary did not need a man to give birth to Jesus Christ. The Qur'an beautifully captures the dialogue between Mary and angel Gabriel: “I am the messenger of your Lord, he replied, and have come to give you a holy son. How shall I bear a child, Mary answered, when I am a virgin, untouched by man? Such is the will of your Lord, he replied. That is no difficult thing for Him. He shall be a sign to mankind, says the Lord” (Qur'an 19: 20).
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This year 2012, I was in Cairo, Egypt. I saw a woman on hijab and completely veiled with a “niqab”. Her husband who was sitting beside her in the Airport wore trousers and a sleeveless shirt. This woman was eating with strenuous effort because she had to raise the “niqab” each time she was putting food in her mouth. I just thought to myself that the husband too should have covered his entire body to preserve himself for the wife only and not exposed his body to other women. On Friday September 27, 2012, 509 women were deported from Saudi Arabia to land at the Airport in Kano. It was interesting that a man came with them because his wife was among the women. That made the number 510 that landed in Kano Airport at 9.00pm. That seems to contradict the argument of a male guardian or partner (muharram) to perform the hajj. Some of the women declared to the press: “We saw hell in Medina”. NTA and AIT reported that these women were detained for three days without food and water. 300 women had access to only 4 toilets. Is this the true teaching of Islam? NO! This is simply Arab politics.
The respect Islam accord to women is clearly shown in the prominent place the Qur'an gives to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Arabic word for Mary is (ãÑíã Maryam) She is mentioned more in the Qur' an than in the bible. A whole chapter (Surat Maryam) is dedicated to her. Mary is adorned in the Qur'an with the titles Qânitah: A woman of prayer and contemplation. Siddiqah: A woman of faith, truth and “saintly” (Quran 5:75). Sâjidah: The chosen woman whom Allah has made pure and exalted above all women (Qur'an 3:43). Râki'ah: She who bows down to God in worship “with those men, who bow down.” Tâhirah: A woman of absolute purity (Quran 3: 42). Mustafia: She who was chosen: “O Mary! God has chosen you and purified you and again he has chosen you above all women of all nations of the world” (Quran 3:42). Sa'imah: A woman who fasts. In Hadith, Mary is called Batul and Adhraa meaning Ascetic and Virgin. The 19th Chapter of the Qur'an is named after Mary (Surat Maryam) out of the 114 suras thus becoming one out of the eight people that have the suras named after them. Mary's role in Islamic culture is very prominent. Verses from the Qur'an about Mary are inscribed on the mihrab of some mosques. I saw one in Hagia Sophia when I visited Istanbul, Turkey. When I visited the chapel dedicated to Mary in Ephesus, I was amazed at the number of people from all over the world who visit the Chapel of Mary in Ephesus. The Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have also visited the chapel. I Joined Monsignor Michael Ekpenyong, the Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria and Archbishop John Onaiyekan, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja to concelebrate mass with the Romanians in the Chapel of Our Lady. Mary is mentioned in the Qur'an as a model of all righteous women. No man can be born if the mother decides otherwise. A man can only claim the paternity of a baby only on the evidence of the mother. The strength of the man is more in the muscles. Some women are even more intelligent than some men. Some men know this hence they are afraid to train the women. Some tribes and religions in the past had attempted to keep the women at the level of ignorance in order to use them as perpetual slaves and to satisfy their sexual urge.
We may recall that the initial context of the revelations of Allah to Prophet Muhammad SAW was the oppression of women and the poor in Mecca. It seems that Saudi Arabia is reminding us of their old tradition before Islam when women were not respected. Irshad Manji a Muslim woman reacted to the oppression and domination of Arab in her book “the trouble with Islam today”. Dr Khaleel Mohammed, Iman and Professor, San Diego State University in the foreword to the book said: “I really should hate this woman. But then I look into my heart and engage my mind, and I come to a discomfiting conclusion: Irshad is telling the truth. And my God commands me to uphold the truth- which means that I have to side with her” (Irshad Manji, Page 7). The argument of Irshad is that the pure message of Islam should be separated from the Culture and tradition of Saudi Arabia. She cited the experience of Taslima, a Muslim, feminist writer and doctor exiled from Bangladesh who gave her a concrete example of what she experienced well before the Saudis got rich. Taslima Nasrin recounts: “I was told that Allah knows everything... So Allah should know Bengali, shouldn't He? She asked her mother, How come I have to pray in Arabic? When I want to talk to Allah, why do I have to use somebody else's language (Irshad Manji, Page 156)? It appears that God is gradually telling the Muslims in Nigeria that he is present in the various cultures and traditions of our God given land. The time has come to redefine our identity in the context of Nigeria culture and values. A German News paper “Die Welt” revealed on September 28, 2012 that the Iranian women have started to resist the veil and the hijab. Turkey is making efforts to practice Islam without necessarily becoming Arabs. What we need now is education. The first message to the Prophet Muhammad was, “READ” (iqra). So we must liberate our minds through education. May the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary heal our Land of all evil! May the face of Allah shine upon us and grant true peace to Nigeria and the whole world.
Fr. Prof. Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua is the Director of Mission and Dialogue of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja and Consultor for the Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims (C.R.R.M), Vatican City, Rome.
THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
» By Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Okafor
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The pursuance of pleasure and the rejection of the cross; of shadow and the neglect of the real is a venture most Christians engage themselves in today. This prevalent spirit is seen in the way Some Catholics fail to make the Sign of the Cross, and some tend to summarize it simply by touching their forehead and striking their breast. This they do either to hide their identity, or to manifest their unwillingness to identify with the Cross of Christ.
According to Jurgen Molmann, “The Cross was not only a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles; it is a permanent mystery for Christians.” Therefore, the Sign of the Cross is a gesture Catholic must take delight in performing. Whenever we make the Sign of the Cross, we are inviting the Trinity; that is, the entire heavenly hosts to be with us. By it we invoke the blessings of God on ourselves. According to Benedict the XVI (Pope Emeritus), “The most basic Christian gesture in prayer is and always will be the Sign of the Cross.”“It is saying a visible yes to Jesus who died and rose for us, to God who in the humility and weakness of his love is the Almighty, stronger than all the power and intelligence of the world.”
This simple act of devotion began in the third century when Tertullian (Ca A.D. 230) reported its use as a personal gesture of piety to sanctify the actions of the daily life. According to him, “In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever task occupies us, we mark our forehead with the Sign of the Cross.” It is even reported that he praised his wife for her virtues, her beauty, and her wardrobe, but most especially because she made the Sign of the Cross over her body and her bed before retiring for the night.
According to St. Basil the Great, “the Sign of the Cross is the hail mark of the Apostolic faith.” In the Penny Catechism we are taught that the Sign of the Cross reminds us of the Three Person in the Blessed Trinity, and Jesus who died to set us free.
The Sign of the Cross is a ritual gesture in the form of the Cross by which a person confesses his faith in the Paschal mystery and Trinity. It is made by placing the left hand on the waist, while the fingers of the right hand remaining together and the thumb folded into the palm, the fingers are raised to touch the forehead, then to the breast, and then to the left and right shoulders. The five fingers have been interpreted to mean the five wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ. We raise the hand first to the forehead saying “In the name of the Father,” to signify that the Father is the first person of the Blessed Trinity, of whom the Son is begotten and from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds. Then saying, “And the Son,” the hand is lowered to the breast, to express that the Son proceeds from the Father, who sent him down to the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Then the hand is moved from the left shoulder to the right saying “And of the Holy Spirit,” thereby signifying that the Holy Spirit is the Third person of the Blessed Trinity, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. The movement of the hand from the left side of the shoulder to the right signifies that we have crossed over from curse into blessing, thereby declaring our faith in the forgiveness of sins.
The Sign of the Cross can be compared to:
First, the mark on Cain which prevented him from the punishment he deserved (Gen 4:15).
Second, the mark on the door post of the Israelites by which they were spared by the angel of death (Ex 12:7, 12-13).
Third, the sign on the head of the righteous that saved them from perdition as declared by the Prophet Ezekiel (Ez 9:4).
The Sign of the Cross is a summary and the richest of the Creed. It is a simple but powerful Christian gestures through which Catholics express their belief in the Trinity and profess their faith. A true Catholic is neither afraid nor ashamed to make the Sign of the Cross. For whoever is ashamed of the Son of Man, him will the Son of Man be ashamed of (Lk9:26). Like St. Paul let us not be ashamed of the Cross (Gal 6:14), for through the Cross we identify ourselves with God the Father who writes his name on our forehead (Rev 14:1; 22:4), with Jesus who died on the cross for the redemption of the world, and with the Holy Spirit who sanctifies creation.
According to Romano Guardini, in making the Sign of the Cross, let it lake your whole being, body, soul, mind, will, thoughts, feelings. The devil is afraid of the Cross. So, let us always make the Sign of the Cross with utmost devotion, faith and courage.
MARY AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (7) DID JESUS EVER HAVE DISREGARD FOR MARY HIS MOTHER?
» By Rev. Fr. Agibefo Mario
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While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, "Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you." But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matthew 12:46-50)
While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!" But he said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!" (Luke 11:27-28).
Some people think that the response of Jesus here shows that Jesus never had regard for Mary his mother. Is this correct? No! Firstly, if Jesus never had regard for his mother Mary, why would he, even in the very enormity of the depth of his unbearable pain of his death on the cross of Calvary still be thinking of the welfare and wellbeing of Mary his mother that he had to tell John his apostle to take care of her for him (Jesus) as he would take care of his (John) own mother? (John 19:25-27). That Jesus spoke this way does not mean that he disregarded his mother but he is trying to communicate to us that he has come to establish a new family that goes beyond the ties of blood relationship to a new spiritual family based on obedience to God's Word. And in this spiritual family, he (Jesus) is the New Adam (I Corinthians 15:45) and Mary is the New Eve. (1) In other words, more than just being his biological mother, Mary is also a spiritual mother and so should be an example for us. Now, let us look carefully to these statements of Jesus Christ.
A. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother
Did Mary do the will of the Father? Yes! In the Gospel of John 14:23, Jesus says: Those who love me will keep my word [commandment], and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. The word or commandment of Jesus is the same as the Father's own. As Jesus said it, did he and his Father love any other human being more that Mary and go to stay with that person in a more perfect way than they loved Mary? The answer is no! If Mary did not do the will of the Father and the Father did not love her the most, Mary would not have been so highly favoured by the Father (Luke 1:28); He would not have blessed Mary above all women (Luke 1:42); and the power of the Holy Spirit would not have come to overshadow her (Luke 1:35), and Jesus would not have come to dwell in her womb and under her roof (Luke 1:31).
Furthermore, what is the Father's will? We may ask. The answer is given to us by God through his Prophet Micah: He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8). How did Mary fulfil this in her life?
To be kind and Just
This virtue is seen in the life of Mary clearly in John 2:1-11 at the wedding feast of Cana. At this wedding, the wine ran out and without been told, out of love and compassion Mary approached Jesus to help the couple and their family averts the disgrace that was looming around. There were other people invited to the occasion but none took the wedding personal as Mary did; not even Jesus was willing to act but for the plea of his mother that he could not just turn down (verses 4-5).
Similarly, as soon as Mary heard of the pregnancy of Elizabeth at her old age, the Bible says that she set out immediately to Elizabeth's place. Why would Mary do this? She knew that at her old age, Elizabeth needed somebody by her side to help her especially at this time of pregnancy. If a pregnant young woman would need help dearly as a result of pregnancy, then an old woman in the likes of Elizabeth would need even incomparably more (LUKE 1:39-40).
To Walk Humbly with Your God
When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Mary to announce to her the news of the birth of Jesus Christ, Mary accepted it even though it was not convenient for her. How would her family, Joseph and the people believe that she was not having a secret affair? What about her marriage and future with Joseph? In addition, her life was in danger because betrothal in Bible times was as binding as marriage:
B. Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!
Did Mary hear and obey God's word? Yes! She heard God's words and obeyed it or put it into practice as is evident in her life of humility and compassion as seen earlier. Furthermore, the Bible on two occasions made reference to Mary, that she treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19;51). What words did she treasure in her heart? They were words of God's revelation about the mission of Jesus Christ! (Luke 2:17). In other words, Mary was always known to meditate on the life of Jesus and so she kept the word of God fully alive in her heart and life.
Furthermore, those who take for face-value of Matthew 12:46-50 and Luke 11:27-28 are of the opinion that Jesus had disregard for Mary his mother. But this is not true. Jesus came from a family circle that did not understand his mission and so did not believe in him except Mary: So his brothers said to him, Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world (John 7:3-6). As a result of this refusal to believe in Jesus, his relatives thought that Jesus was out of his mind (Mark 3:21). It was in this spirit that his relatives came to look for him that Jesus had to make the remark that his mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and keep it.
With regard to Mary on this issue, just imagine the Old Jewish society where the woman had no voice and was at the mercy of the male folk just like we have it in the traditional African society. And imagine a situation whereby the elders and relatives of Jesus thought of Jesus as being out of his mind and were so concerned about helping him by making an attempt at getting him back home in order for him to regain himself presumably for his own good and Mary the mother sits back as if it were not her concern; you know the implication of this to a poor widow who was at the mercy of the men. So, it is very likely that Mary was part of those looking for Jesus because of sociological and gender implications to her not really because she did not believe in Jesus but so that it would not be interpreted to mean that she was irresponsible by the elders of her family. Now, let us show that Mary never misunderstood the mission of Jesus or lost faith in him as others may have done.
If you read the Gospel of John 2:1-11, the Bible tells us that Jesus was invited to the wedding feast at Cana. His mother Mary was equally invited. At a point in time, there was a problem. One notable fact was that nobody in the feast knew the kind of person that Jesus Christ was except Mary; not even the Apostles or the couple that invited him or else, they would have gone to him themselves to ask for the help that Mary asked for. The Bible tells us that the miracle that Jesus performed at the intercession of Mary was the first ever sign that Jesus performed in public and this led to the first instance of faith of the Apostles, so even the Apostles did not really know the stuff of which Jesus was made. Again, this means that Jesus would not have performed that sign if Mary were not there because his time had actually not come and again nobody would have known his capability and come to make the request.
THE CATHOLIC YOUTH AND THE PROBLEM OF INDECENCY
» By Rev. Fr. Gregory Onimhawo
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I would like to point it out from the onset that this presentation will not only focus on the catholic youth alone but equally on youths in general. First and foremost, what is indecency? Indecency in the words of Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary is simply something that is not suitable or something that is not correct for a situation. Put differently, it is an act or behaviour seen to be not proper to laid principles. On the other hand, decency could be seen as a behavior that follows accepted moral standards, something that is honest, polite and guided by respect for elders and for your fellowmen and women.
Today, indecency in the life of the Nigerian youth continues to be a big problem in the moral life of the Nigerian child. Indecency as viewed in our current times is found in the area of immodest dressing, sexual harassment, vulgar talk, alcoholism, smoking etc. It is fitting to dress decently but not to do it to the extreme of dressing awkwardly, all in the name of doing what is in vogue or fashionable at the moment.
In 1982, when His Holiness Pope John Paul II visited Nigeria, he addressed a youth audience and his words were bent on the Nigeria youth to be an emblem of dignity, purity and modesty. It is a pity that we have not kept fully to these words of His Holiness. One point remains clear that whether one is a youth or not he or she should realize that his or her body has been bought and paid for with a price, the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1cor6:20). In 1Tim 2:6 Christ gave himself as a ransom for all, he shed his blood to set our soul free from eternal condemnation to eternal salvation, and so why should you now defy this body with indecency.
CAUSES OF INDECENCY IN YOUTHS
1- Wrong use of mass media
2- Modern means of communication
3-Bad company as found in peer groups- so called friends.
5- Reading of bad literature
EFFECTS OF INDECENCY/IMMORALITY IN THE LIFE OF THE YOUTHS
(The Catholic youth in focus)
-The mentality of seeing the life of sin as normal.
-Selling your soul to the devil.
-Looking ridiculous due to one's indecent way of dressing , people begin to look at you in a funny way, becomes an embarrassment to kids, expose to sexual harassment.
-Loss of respect for yourself and to other people.
-Misrepresentation- people take you to be what you not.
-Continuous flare for pornographic picture and videos, here Sir. 41:17 says be ashamed of sexual immorality.
-Increase in the cases of rape, fornication, co-habitation among unmarried persons, alcoholism, smoking, dealing in hard drugs, forming of bad gangs, etc.
-Sloth- spiritual laziness.
In 1cor. 6:19, St. Paul tells us that our bodies are temple of the Holy Spirit, of which you are from God and not your own, for God's temple is holy and the human personality is that temple. This means that destroying oneself through unholy desires and deeds means destroying one's life spiritually and even physically. In Rom 6:1ff, St. Paul warns us not be comfortable with a life of sin because we feel that there is abiding grace. According to him, we cannot die to a life of sin and then we continue to live in it. St. Paul exhorts us in verse 12 of Rom 6 that we should not let sin have dominion in our mortal bodies or t o make us obey his passion. This is because, it is the dominion of sin that makes us to see prostitution, armed robbery, thuggery, fraud, corruption of any sort, occultism as normal ways of sustaining our livelihood.
We must bear in mind the words found in Eccle. 12:1ff that you should serve God with your youthful age and not to destroy yourselves with a life of immorality and indecency. My dear friends in Christ, remember always Gal. 6:7 that whatever you sow you shall surely reap. So why not do what is written in Rom 12:1-2 that a youth, particularly a catholic youth should make his her body a living sacrifice, dedicated, holy and acceptable God
HEALING THROUGH THE EUCHARIST
» By Rev. Fr. Thomas Anavhe
“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”
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The Simple Catechism defines the Holy Eucharist as the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, together with His soul and divinity under the appearances of the Bread and Wine. These physical elements (Bread and Wine), changes completely to the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and without affecting the substance of the physical elements of the Bread and Wine. This transformation process, the Holy Mother Church calls transubstantiation and it takes place after the pronunciation of the words of consecration by an ordained Catholic Priest. So, the Eucharist is the real Body and Blood of Christ Jesus not a mere symbol. For Christ is fully present in the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is commonly called Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, the memorial of the Lord's passion and Resurrection etc. The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324), and Christ commanded his disciples and their successors to celebrate the Eucharist in memory of Him (Luke 22:19-20). When the Holy Eucharist is celebrated along side with Christ faithful, God's healing power come in His fullness among His people. The salvation messages of Christ come into fulfillment in our lives if we make the Eucharistic worship the center of our lives.
In the celebration of the Eucharist, we have a direct encounter with Jesus our healer, who is always ready to purge away our pains, worries and diseases through the reception of the Holy Eucharist. When we truly carry Jesus through the reception of the Holy Eucharist, by receiving the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ and drinking His blood in a worthy state, we cannot be denied of God's healing powers. When Jesus' two disciples on the way to Emmaus, ate the Body and drank His Blood, their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus, the true healer. They were completely free from their pains, worries and doubt when they encountered Jesus in the Eucharist (.Luke 24:13-31).
God's healing is possible for Christ faithful who gather around the Eucharistic altar of sacrifice through their booking of masses, active participation and the reception of the Holy Eucharist. When the sacrifice of the Holy Mass is celebrated, God's healing power is made perfect in our lives, the sacrifice of the Holy Mass, overcomes any other altar of sacrifice that may stand against us.
According to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, (Dogmatic constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 3) – “When the church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord's death and resurrection, the central event of salvation becomes really present and the work of our redemption is carried out”. Christ has offered this sacrifice for the Salvation of the human race. We must ensure to take part in it and inexhaustibly gain the fruits of our Eucharistic worship. Christ is the lamb that was offered for the salvation of the world. The Eucharistic sacrifice of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus was instituted on the night He was betrayed (1 Cor. 11: 23). And the healing that flows from this memorial of the Lord's passion and Resurrection celebration cannot be destroyed by any force/forces.
It is not our personal utterances in our prayers that may heal us, it is the utterances of Jesus Christ Himself that is alive and active that the priest invoke in the words of consecration, for it is sharper than any double edge sword to bring deliverance to God's people (Heb. 4:12-13).
Jesus knew that every average Jewish person prays at least 3 times a day. Morning blessing (Shakarit), Afternoon (Mincha) and at night (arvit). While some devoted Jewish people get up at midnight (Ikkum Chatzot) to pray and study the Turah, Sacred Scripture for God's healing in their lives. Although Jesus was aware of the Jewish people the personal spiritual involvement in their lives, He Said to them, “telling you the truth: if you do not eat the flesh of the son of man and drink His Blood, you will not have life in you'. (John 6:53). The abundant life that Jesus is promising those who eat his flesh and drink His Blood may not be achieved in our involvement in other spiritual activities.
Many of Jesus' followers who were Jewish people were known to be morally and spiritually upright because Of their daily ritual observance in the temple and their strict culture of keeping the laws of Moses daily. When the Jewish people, the followers of Jesus heard Jesus' position of eating his body and drinking his blood, they said, “This teaching is too hard. Who can 1isten to it”, to this, many of Jesus' followers turned back and would not go with Him anymore. So, He asked the twelve disciples, “And you also like to leave?” Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom we shall go? You have the words that give eternal life (John 6:60, 66-68).
Eucharistic celebration nourishes, sustains and brings about the redemptive mission of Christ in our lives. It gives meaning to our other spiritual involvement in our relationship with God. We must be close to Jesus who has left us a memorial of His passion and resurrection. Like His beloved disciples who were close to His breast (John 13:25). The broken Christ in the Eucharistic celebration is meant to restore our broken life again. He was wounded, beaten because of our sins and the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment He suffered, made whole by the blows He received (Isaiah53:5).
Behold the Lamb of God, who has been broken for our sake. He has been lifted up again by Priest in the Eucharistic celebration. Just as He was first lifted up on the cross of Calvary for the people whose lives has to be broken to find their wholeness. We are expected to courageously look up to the broken Christ who was buried and raised to life three days later, bringing salvation to the human person (1Corithians 15:4). How great our healing will be in the Eucharistic celebration, if we are fully conscious and actively participate in the Eucharistic celebration. The Liturgical functionaries must ensure to inspire the Assembly of God's people by faithfully carrying out their roles for God's healing amongst His people. The priest who is the head of the Liturgical functionaries in a given parish must progressively lead God's people through the proclamation of the word, so that guided by God's word; our eyes may be opened to experience the healing Jesus in the Eucharist.
AUCHI DIOCESE CELEBRATES MASS OF CHRISM
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…BISHOP DUNIA TASKS FAITHFUL TO BE DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH
By Ibharayi Wilson
It was a moment of immense joy and thanksgiving, as the Bishop, Priests, religious and lay faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, converged at Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi to mark 2014 Mass of Chrism.
Delivering the homily, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia who harped on the importance of humility, stressed that been humble would enable a priest to always listen to the voice of God at all time, noting that Priests are called by God to be fishers of men, by leading people to God's kingdom.
The Shepherd of souls who reiterated the need for all to shun the quest for materialism and become good followers of Christ, charged priests to emulate the exemplary qualities set by Christ who is their leader, stressing that Christ is always ready to carry all along, hence they should not be distracted by materialism which is the order of the day and tasked them to remain focus on things of heaven which bring eternal happiness.
Speaking further on the need to shun worldly power and glamour, the local ordinary urged all present to endeavour to be defenders of the work of God, stressing that irrespective of their ranks, position and privilege, they should not be deterred in doing the work of God.
Further, the prelate hinted that the crown of thorns is the richest crown, as it was through it Christ conquered death and redeemed mankind, stressing that nothing can be compared to the love of Christ, as it is so amazing and blossoming, adding that it is love that made Christ to be born, suffer, died and resurrected and prayed God to give them the grace to continue in discharging His will.
Speaking on the significance of the celebration, Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Gregory Ogbenika who noted that the day was to commemorate the institution of the priesthood by Christ, stressed that the Priesthood is one of the greatest things that has ever happened on the face of the earth, adding that the day was an important day in the life of the church, hence it marks the institution of the Holy Eucharist.
More, Fr. Ogbenika who averred that those called to the order of priesthood are called in the service of God and humanity, added that Christ demonstrated humility and love for His people and described the celebration as worthwhile, as the faithful of the diocese demonstrated love for the Bishop and appreciated God for making the celebration possible.
On his part, Rev. Fr. Francis Ikhianosimhe who noted that the importance of the day cannot be overemphasized, stressed that it was the day in which the Holy Eucharist was instituted, as it was what made the Catholic Church, hence is at the centre and submit of the Catholic faith. He also pointed out that the celebration was to commemorate the institution of the priesthood by Christ and the Holy Eucharist, and added that the celebration was also to enable faithful present gift items to the Bishop, as it was a sign of love, unity and solidarity with the Bishop and commended all present for attending the celebration.
Commending the faithful of the Diocese for participating actively in the celebration, the Diocesan Catholic Man Organization (CMO) President Mr. Chris Ighodaro, asserted that the event was one of the major celebrations before the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and lauded the deaneries, parishes and Mass Centres for participating actively in the celebration.
Highpoint of the celebration was the renewal of Priestly commitment and obedience to the Bishop, thanksgiving procession by various Deaneries, lay Apostolate groups among others.
IN JESUS LOVE HAS TRIUMPHED OVER HATRED SAYS POPE
The Holy Father Pope Francis, has affirmed that in Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood and life over death.
This was contained in the Pontiff Easter Sunday message in Rome from the Central Balcony of St. Peter Basilica.
According to the Holy Father “the Church throughout the world echoes the angel's message to the women: Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he risen, come, see the place where he lay”, stressing that “this is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News per excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen”, noting that “this event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning, the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever a new”,
Continuing, the Bishop of Rome who noted that “the new message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death…, “ that is why we tell everyone: come and see, in every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good news is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love” added that “it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life's troubles, sharing with the needy, at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast” and hinted that “come and see”, love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness”.
Further, the Pontiff who prayed God to help to overcome the scourges of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which “we” are often responsible, noted that “it will enable us protect the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned” and urged all to care for those struck by the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia and those suffering from many other diseases which also spread through neglect and dire poverty.
The Holy Father who reiterated the need for all to comfort all those who cannot celebrate this Easter because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, Priests and laity who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped, urged that “comfort those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and not in frequently, of freely professing their faith”,.
More, the Holy Father noted “we ask Lord Jesus to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent”, stress that “we pray in particular way for Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenseless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue”.
The Shepherd of souls also prayed that “we ask you to comfort the victims of fratricidal acts of violence in Iraq and to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians”, stressing that “we beg for an end to the conflicts in Central African Republic and a halt to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria and the acts of violence in South Sudan”, adding that “we ask that hearts be turned to reconciliation and Fraternal concord in Venezuela.
The pontiff reaffirmed that “By your resurrection, which this year we celebrate together with the churches that follow the Julian calendar, we ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country's future” and added “Lord we pray to you for all the peoples of the earth, you who have conquered death, grant us your life, grant us your peace”.
BOKO HARAM INSURGENCY IS ANOMALY IN NIGERIA- ONAIYEKAN
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has decried the activities of Boko Haram in the nation, describing the insurgency as anomaly in the socio-religious environment of the Nigerian nation which does not reflect the country's Muslims\Christian relationship.
He gave this assertion in a paper presented at the study Day on Religion freedom organized by the German Bishop's Conference, Muenster, Germany.
The Cardinal who pointed out that the vivid picture of Nigerian situation in the political, socio-economic and religious life of the country, noted that “inspite of the cordiality existing between the majority of the faithful of the two religious in the country, “some problems still defy adequate attention, while there are still some outstanding issues to be clarified”
Commenting on the effectiveness of the nation's military in tackling the insurgency, the Cardinal pointed out that “the ability of the group to have eluded the massive military onslaught and make sporadic attacks on soft targets areas, killing innocent people including students, clearly shows the need for this to be accompanied by other strategies that would some how convince the terrorists to give up their violent intentions”.
Speaking on the role of political dialogue to bring the situation under control, the Local Ordinary noted that “it was an open secret that some of those who lost out in the last elections were still licking their wounds and could therefore be facilitating the activities of the terrorist group or deliberately refusing to assist the government in dealing with the situation”, adding that “on its part, government was pointing accusing fingers at the opposition parties, accusing them of sponsoring and abetting terrorism”.
Continuing, the Archbishop hinted that the crisis cannot be wished away and this makes it imperative for religious leaders in the country to facilitate peaceful reconciliation, stressing that “unfortunately, this has not happened, particularly on the part of the apex Christian/Muslim contact group, the Nigerian inter-religious council (NIREC)”, adding that “at different levels, religious bodies and other concerned groups have been out inter-faith actions and initiatives aimed at addressing the issue”.
On the freedom of religion in Nigeria, the prelate reiterated that “the country has no state religion but rather, it is the greatest Islam-Christian nation in the world, with faithful of dominant Muslim and Christian religions living in harmony with each other and people of other religions”, affirming that “Because of our occasional and sporadic outburst of ethno-religious violent clashes, there is the unfortunate tenderly to overlook the important fact that in normal lives of our people, there is a commendable measure of peaceful and harmonious living together across religious lines”.
Further, he noted that “apart from Friday and Sundays, when we go our different ways for weekly worship, we live most of our lives as citizens of the same nation, living and struggling to live under the same socio-economic conditions and some times members of the same family”, adding that “one need to visit any government office, market or business premises to appreciate this face”.
POPE FRANCIS CANONIZES TWO SAINTS
The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has Canonized two of his predecessors, John XXIII and John Paul II as Pope at St. Peter Basilica, Rome.
Giving the homily at the historic event which was the first of it kind for a reigning Pope and a retired Pope (Benedict XVI) to celebrate Mass in public, Pope Francis appreciated both new Saints for their work associated with the second Vatican Council, the ground breaking meetings that brought 2000 years old institution into modern times, adding that “John convened the council in 1962, while John Paul helped ensure its more conservative implementation and interpretation.
According to the pontiff “John XXIII and John Paul II co-operated with the Holy spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her pristine features, those which the Saints have given her through centuries,” and praised John for having allowed Himself to be led by God to call the council and appreciated John Paul's focus on the family.
Continuing, the Bishop of Rome noted that “they were Priests, Bishops and Popes of the 20th century”, stressing that “they lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them after deliberating, consulting and praying for divine assistance, we declare and define that Blessed John XXIII and John Paul be saints and we enroll them among the Saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church”.
It would be recalled that Pope John III who reigned from 1958-1963, is a hero to liberal Catholics for having convened Vatican II, which allowed Mass to be celebrated in local languages rather than Latin and encouraged greater dialogue with people of other faiths, particularly Jews, while during his quarter-century papacy from 1978-2005, John Paul II helped to topple communism through his support of Poland's solidarity movement and his globe trotting papacy and launch of the widely popular world youth day, invigorated a new generation of Catholics, as his defense of core Church teaching heartened conservatives after the turbulent 1960s and he was the first Pope to visit Nigerian in 1982 and 1998 respectively.