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NEW YEAR: WHAT HOPE FOR THE NATION?
Like a whirlwind, 2011 is gone and here we are, standing on the threshold of a New Year; 2012. While as Christians we should thank God for the grace to witness a new year, it is pertinent also to take a look back into the old year, assess how we have fared, our challenges, trials in order to ensure we have a good start into the New Year.

Nigerians will always remember the past year as one of the years in which events threatened the very fabric of our nationhood and possibly offended our sensibilities which include the Boko Haram menace, the issue of zoning, gay rights issues, fuel subsidy removal, Bombings and more.

Though the year is gone as well as some of the problems while others still linger, it is up to us as individuals, families, a Church and Nation, to cast a retrospect on these issues and take a stand to ensure that the lapses that gave room to the rise of these problems are adequately and properly managed to curtail a repeat and worse still a stupendous rise in 2012.

A stitch in time they say saves nine. To the wise, 2012 should be a score sheet to access our performance so far; our sins of omission and commission which contributed in one way or the other to some of the problems we witnessed in the preceding year how as individuals, families, Church and a nation, we have fared in order to have a good start.

2012 is a year that is full of promises and blessing for each and everyone of us as individuals, families, the Church. However, to harness this blessings, the onus rest on us all to live responsibly, do the right thing, if we are to have a nation free of the challenges that bedeviled the past year.

As individuals, we must shun fanatism and the urge to “make it” by all means. Such attitude will lead to increase in violence and crime, a lawless nation and unsafe for foreign investors who will tag this country unconducive for business activities. This will greatly affect our teeming population of graduates and youths seeking for employment, as there will be a dearth of industries to absorb them, since government alone cannot provide jobs.

More, families have a duty to God and the society to instill in their children the fear of God, the values of life and the gains of hardwork. The society today is failing because the family which is the bedrock of the nation has failed in its responsibility which now hunts us as a nation in terms of increased rate of crime, violence and the most recent and disturbing gay rights issue which rocked the senate; God help us.

The Church is not left out in ensuring a viable and virile nation in 2012. As the source of truth of our time, the Church should be more out spoken against injustice and oppression in the land. No one should be spared if found wanting and the need for righteous living should be drummed into the ears of all at every opportunity.

Our leaders should have listening ears if we are to avoid the incessant bombings and killings that bedeviled the previous year. Insensitive and provoking policies and statements that will heat up the polity should be avoided while being proactive to bring the dividends of democracy to the ordinarily man who is down caste, hungry and crying for a change.

Praying for a virile, peaceful and prosperous nation in 2012 without working towards it is mere wishful thinking, as the Bible makes us to know that faith without works is dead.

When we all play our small roles in small ways, it amounts to giant steps towards making the nation great and ensuring that the labours of our heroes past are not in vain. Besides, through our conscious righteous living, it prepares us for the second coming of our Saviour and master, Jesus.

On our part, we promise to give you value for your hard eared money, to ensure that you our esteemed and valued reader is informed, educated and entertained.

In line with that, we have added a new column health matters with Pharmacist Ngozi Nzewi, who will tell you all you need to know about certain ailments, its cure or management and how to live happy and ailment free. It promises to be an exciting regular column, a must read.

Have a prosperous New Year.
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Unto Us A Child Is Born (Lk 2:11)
THE MESSAGE OF CHRISTMAS BY GABRIEL GHIEAKIIOMO DUNIA,
THE BISHOP OF AUCHI, ON THE OCCASION OF 2011 CHRISTMAS CAROL, HELD IN THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CATHEDRAL CHURCH, AUCHI, NIGERIA.

With this holy child we must go. For what reasons must we go with this child? The reasons are:

All glory be to God on high!
And to the earth be peace!
Good-will henceforth from heaven to men!
Begin, and never cease!

(Hymn 190, While shepherds watched no 6, Catholic Hymn Book, cfLk 2: 10-14)
That was the message! That is the message! That will be the message, forever and ever. Amen.

One of the most ancient and agelessly valued adages in English world rightly and fittingly goes as follows: “tell me with whom you go, and I will tell you what you are.” This adage corresponds with yet another one of our traditional wise sayings which states that, “one who is a companion of the tiger must necessarily have meat for his meals /food.” What is more, in its final recommendations, the letter to the Hebrews recommends as follows: “Remember your leaders who preached the word of God to you, and as you reflect on the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same today as he was yesterday and he will be forever. Do not be led astray by all sorts of strange doctrines” (Hebrews 13: 7&8).

In a similar way and manner, the child who is born to us, who is Christ the Lord is the reason for “All glory to God on high! He is peace on earth to all and sundry! He is the good-will that pours henceforth from heaven to people everywhere at all times, which has begun and remained without ceasing again, forever and ever. It is this child whose companions we must be, so that what he is, we are; what he does, we do, where he goes, we go; where he lives, we live with him eternally.

The angel told the shepherds who were terrified, “Do not be afraid, look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11).

When the angels left the shepherds, the shepherds hurried to where the child was born. They saw the child, his mother, Mary and Joseph and they repeated what they had been told about the child. All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished (cf Lk 2:18). While Mary treasured all these things in her heart, the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for what they had heard and seen, exactly (Lk 2: l9&20).
We see the shepherds, immediately becoming and remaining the companions of the child Jesus. Still, over and above that they immediately became whom Jesus is and what he came to do by being the co-proclaimers of what he came to proclaim and be for the whole world: the presence of the glory of God in its fullness as well as the proclaimer of the presence of the glory of God in the midst of the whole people. They became the co-bearers and co-broadcasters of Jesus who is the PEACE to the world; the good-will from heaven to men became a reality beginning with the shepherds and through them to the whole world, never to cease again, forever and ever.

Christians in Nigeria particularly and the entire world are being re-informed of the birth of Christ. They are being re-educated on the knowledge of the reality of the birth of Christ, to come forward and purposefully receive Christ, his messages of the glory of God on high, and the peace and good-will of God to men on earth so that they can convincingly overwhelm their fellow Nigerians and the people of the entire world with these gifts of God, through Christ, for the glory of God and salvation of all people on earth.

My beloved faithful of our beloved Diocese of Auchi; my beloved people of Edo State, people of Nigeria, people of the world over, priests of God, politicians, business men and women, industrialists, academicians, medical and paramedical professionals, technologists, students, fathers and mothers, children, small and great ones, the poor and the rich, all and sundry, I call upon you to shun evil companies, evil thoughts, wrong actions and doings. Refuse to be influenced by rebellious thoughts, counsels, actions and doings. Winnow your lives with the unshakable and immovable faith in Jesus Christ. Take possession most gracefully of the gifts of the glory of God on high, the peace and goodwill which Christ has offered to the whole world and its people. Passionately overwhelm the world and its people with these gifts, neutralize, destroy and eliminate all vices of our world and move intently to establish, the victory of the glory, peace and love of God with all splendour. All will then be well with us and the whole world. Amen

The destruction with subsequent elimination of these evils: corruption, nepotism, tribalism, armed robbery, assassination, kidnapping or abduction, religious intolerance, discrimination, oppression, immorality, terrorism, and all other forms of dehumanization and abomination can only be hoped to be realized if and only if Christians convincingly received the gifts of the birth of Christ and passionately overwhelm themselves and the rest of humanity with the same.

May the glory of God on high, the peace and good-will to men on earth which the birth of Christ generates and constitutes through the most unfailing intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary overwhelm the hearts and minds of all and sundry for the eternal glory of God and the salvation of all. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
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THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST
» By Prof. Michael Ogunu
A fundamental truth of the Christian religion is the Divinity of Christ. Christ is not only perfect man but also true God. Not only did Christ bear witness to His own divine sonship in the face of the severest persecutions and calumny (Jn. 5, 18:58-10, 20-33; Mt. 26, 63) but He worked divine miracles to confirm it (Jn. 11, 42, 14, 11) and called the Scriptures to witness on behalf of it (Jn. 5:40; Mt. 22:45).

Christ's divinity is shown over and over again in the New Testament. For example, in John 5:18 we are told that Jesus' opponents sought to kill him because he "called God his Father, making himself equal with God."

In John 8:58, when quizzed about how he has special knowledge of Abraham, Jesus replies, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am"invoking and applying to himself the personal name of God"I am" (Ex. 3:14). His audience understood exactly what he was claiming about himself. "So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple" (John 8:59).

In John 20:28, Thomas falls at Jesus' feet, exclaiming, "My Lord and my God!" (Greek: Ho Kurios mou kai ho Theos mouliterally, "The Lord of me and the God of me!")
In Philippians 2:6, Paul tells us that Christ Jesus "who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped". So Jesus chose to be born in humble, human form though he could have simply remained in equal glory with the Father for he was "in very nature God."

Also significant are passages that apply the title "the First and the Last" to Jesus. This is one of the Old Testament titles of Yahweh: "Thus says Yahweh, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, Yahweh of armies: I am the First and I am the Last; besides me there is no god'" (Is. 44:6; cf. 41:4, 48:12).

This title is directly applied to Jesus three times in the book of Revelation: "When I saw him [Christ], I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying, 'Fear not, I am the First and the Last'" (Rev. 1:17). "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: 'The words of the First and the Last, who died and came to life'" (Rev. 2:8). "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the beginning and the end" (Rev. 22:12-13).

This last quote is especially significant since it applies to Jesus the parallel title "the Alpha and the Omega," which Revelation earlier applied to God: "I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Rev. 1:8).

Jesus actually claimed to be God and publicly so. And, because of that claim, He was 'betrayed to the chief priests and the scribes; and they condemned him to death, and delivered him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified' as He himself said (Matt 20:18-19).

Below are some of the most evident claims of divine attributes made by Our Lord Jesus Christ:

1. He claimed to be God the judge of all mankind, when He said that He would judge all men in the great Day of Reckoning:
Matt 25:31-46 - "The Son of Man shall come in his majesty and all the angels with him ... and all the nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another". He claimed to be God the Judge of Mankind, who knows the minds, intentions and deeds of millions of billions of people in history, from the first to the last, and apportions to them their desserts.

2. He claimed to be God the Lawmaker.
In the Sermon on the Mount He referred to the Law of God given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and He improved on the Commandments! For instance,
The 5th Commandment:"You have heard that it was said to them of old, thou shalt not kill, but / say to you that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of judgement". " - He improved on the 5th Commandment. Notice how He did not say: 'But God bids me to tell you this' or, 'thus saith the Lord'. No, He says, I SAY TO YOU. [I, since I am speaking on my own authority.] So, He claimed divine authority to change the Commandments by improving on their meaning and actual application to human behaviour.

3. He claimed to be God, the Lord of the Sabbath:
Matt 12:8 The Pharisees accused the disciples of Jesus of having violated the Sabbath. He replies: "The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. " Now, the keeping of the Sabbath in Jewish theology and Law, has to do with the 3rd Commandment, to keep holy the Sabbath day. Now Jahwe is the Lord of the Sabbath - and Jesus claims to be the Lord of the Sabbath as well!

4. He claimed to be God the Son, one in nature with the Father:
In Cesarea Philippi, when Peter said that He was 'The Christ, the Son of the Living God', Jesus said to him that he was blessed, because it was not flesh and blood (flesh and blood = people) who had revealed that to him, Peter but His (Christ's) Father who is in heaven. [Mt 16]

Here He explicitly claims that the relationship of sonship He had with the Father was not like everybody else - we are all 'sons of God' by adoption - but a relationship that was so special that it required a revelation from God the Father. He was the Son par excellence, He who shares in the nature of His father, just as any son receives his nature from his father.

In the parable of the vineyard [Lk 20:13-16] He makes the same claim, that He is the son of the Lord of the Vineyard. The Pharisees wanted to kill him for it. Why? Because in their tradition, Israel was the 'vineyard of the Lord', and Jesus claimed that the vineyard's caretakers - the Jewish authorities - would betray their mission and kill the son of the Lord of the vineyard - who was the Living God himself.

They put Him to the test when they asked him that precise question: "Are you the Christ, the son of the Living God?" - "I am! He replied. "And you shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power of God and coming with the clouds of heaven". They accused Him of 'Blasphemy' He was guilty of death! Why? Because he claimed to be the Son of God, one in nature with the Father, and not just the sonship that all men have [Mk 14:61-64]

5. He claimed to be omnipotent, to possess all divine power, therefore equal to the Father in divine power:
(a) "All power is given to me in heaven and on earth ... all things are delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son but the Father, and no one knows the Father but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him" (Matt 28:18)
(b) "Amen, amen, before Abraham was made, I am" [Jahwe]. [Jn 8:57-58. Notice how He does not say, I was, but I am, present tense].
(C) "The Father has given all judgement to the Son, that all men may honour the Son, as they honour the Father”. - How must all men honour the Father? With divine worship, with adoration. That's how we must also honour Him, He claims (Jn 22:23).
(D) Jesus does not claim to know the way to God (the king's mission), or to teach the truth (the prophet's mission), or to be able to restore spiritual life (the priest's mission). He claims to BE "The way, the truth and the life ". Jn 15:6.
(E) He calls on God the Father to glorify him with divine glory: "Glorify thou me, O Father with thyself, with the glory which I had, before the world was, with thee ... And all my things are thine, and thine are mine". Jn 17:5,10,19.

6. His enemies knew his claim of divinity, and crucified-Him precisely because of that claim:
"The Jews sought to kill him because he said that God was his father, thus making himself equal to God. " ... "We have a law and according to that law he ought to die, because He made himself the Son of God" Jn. 19:7.
His enemies admitted his claim to be divine, but rejected it - "I and the Father are one". They were about to stone him for these words, "because", they said, "Thou being a man makest thyself God". Jn 10:30-33. Jesus did not show to them that they had misunderstood him.

Our Lord makes it clear that He had two natures, one Divine, and one human. When He said, -"I and the Father are one", He refers to the divine nature, the same of the Father. But when He said, "The Father is greater than I" - He refers to His human nature, created, and necessarily inferior to the Father.
When he cured a man on the Sabbath, the Jews took offence. He said: "My Father works until now and I work". Their reaction? "They sought the more to kill him". Why? - "Because ... he said God was his father, making himself equal to God".

Far from saying they had misunderstood him, Jesus replied: "What things whatsoever the Father does, these the Son also does in like manner ... for as the Father raises up the dead and gives life, so the Son also gives life to whom He will". Here He claims to Himself the power to do the things the Father does - divine power, including that of giving life.

When Pilate tried to acquit Jesus, the Jews cried out, "We have a law, and according to that law He ought to die " - Why? "Because he made himself the Son of God". Jn 19:7.
He could have easily denied it or explained it away. But He didn't. Even His Mother could have saved him from death, by simply admitting that His father was her deceased husband, Joseph. But she didn't.

7. He claims to be able to forgive sins in his own name:
To the man sick of the palsy, he said: "Son your sins are forgiven" - The Pharisees objected: "Who can forgive sins but God only?" And they were quite correct: only God can forgive sins. Therefore, upon claiming that He had the power to forgive sins, and by going to the extreme of performing a miracle to prove that he was able to forgive sins, Jesus claimed that He was God, and publicly so.

The same situation happened when He said to Magdalene, "Your sins are forgiven" ... and later about her: "Many sins are forgiven her because she has loved much" Therefore, since it is through love of God that sins are forgiven, love of Him is love of God.
8. Moreover, he did something totally unheard of:
He delegated the power to forgive sins to His close disciples, the Apostles! "Peace be to you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you'. When he said this, he breathed upon them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit; whosoever sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them. And whosoever sins you shall retain, they are retained" (Jn. 20:23)

9. A few phrases from Him suffice to demonstrate that he claimed divine nature, titles, prerogatives, attributes and names.
“I am from above"... Jn 8:23; "From God I came"... Jn 8:42; "I am come from heaven"... Jn 6:38; "I am the bread of Life "... that comes down from heaven..." Jn 6:45-51; "All things have been delivered to me by my Father"... Lk 10:22; "l and the Father are one"... Jn 10:30; "I am in the Father and the Father is in me"... Jn 14:10; "All things the Father has are mine"... Jn 16:15; "He that sees me sees also the Father"... Jn 14:9; "All power in heaven and earth has been given to me"... Mt 28:18; "Know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins"... Mt 9:6; "Whatsoever the Father does this the Son does in like manner "... Jn 5:19-23; "He who loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me "... Mt 10:37; "I am the way, the truth, and the life"... "I am the resurrection and the life"... Jn 11:25.

That Jesus Christ claimed to be not only the Messiah but God Incarnate is self-evident, according to the historical record left by the Apostles. That He died because of that claim is also evident.
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WHICH ARE THE DOGMAS OF THE CHURCH? Pt 4
» By Rev. Fr. Stan-William Ede
This month, we continue our journey through the dogmas of the Church started since October last year. As usual, we present our working definition of Dogma which is “truth revealed by God, and as such is proposed by the Magisterium of the Church as necessary for belief”. A person remains a Catholic in good standing only if he accepts in its entirety the full revelation of the Faith in its integrity. Dogmas because they are divinely revealed cannot change. Dogmas are essential to the Faith. They cannot change. If any dogma is denied by an individual or group of individuals the truth is not diminished by their denial, however, they remove themselves from the Body of Christ, the Church. The deliberate denial of a dogma of the Faith is called heresy.

Consistency is maintained with regards to the grouping of the dogmas under the following two groups: (1.) Infallibly Defined Dogmas of the Catholic Faith; and (2.) Certain Truths yet to be defined by the Magisterium. (A.) Infallibly Defined Dogmas of the Catholic Faith

The Church
137. The Church was founded by the God-Man Jesus Christ.
138. Our Redeemer Himself conserves with divine power the society founded by Him, the Church.
139. Christ is the Divine Redeemer of His Body, the Church.
140. Christ founded the Church in order to continue His work of redemption for all time.
141. Christ gave His Church a hierarchical constitution.
142. The powers bestowed on the Apostles have descended to the bishops.
143. Christ appointed the Apostle Peter to be the first of all the Apostles and to be the visible head of the whole Church, by appointing him immediately and personally to the primacy of jurisdiction.
144. According to Christ's ordinance, Peter is to have successors in his Primacy over the whole Church and for all time.
145. The successors of Peter in the Primacy are the bishops of Rome.
146. The Pope possesses full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, not merely in matters of faith and morals, but also in Church discipline and in the government of the Church.
147. The Pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra.
148. By virtue of Divine Right the bishops possess an ordinary power of government over their dioceses.
149. Christ is the Head of the Church.
150. In the final decision on doctrines concerning faith and morals the Church is infallible.
151. The primary object of the Infallibility is the formally revealed truths of Christian Doctrine concerning faith and morals.
152. The totality of the Bishops is infallible, when they, either assembled in general council or scattered over the earth, propose a teaching of faith or morals as one to be held by all the faithful.
153. The Church founded by Christ is unique and one.
154. The Church founded by Christ is holy.
155. The Church founded by Christ is catholic.
156. The Church founded by Christ is apostolic.
157. Membership of the Church is necessary for all men for salvation.
158. It is permissible and profitable to venerate the Saints in Heaven, and to invoke their intercession.
159. It is permissible and profitable to venerate the relics of the Saints.
160. It is permissible and profitable to venerate images of the Saints.
161. The living Faithful can come to the assistance of the Souls in Purgatory by their intercessions (suffrages).
The Sacraments
162. The Sacraments of the New Covenant contain the grace which they signify, and bestow it on those who do not hinder it.
163. The Sacraments work ex opere operato (simply by being done).
164. All the Sacraments of the New Covenant confer sanctifying grace on the receivers.
165. Three Sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders, imprint a character, that is, an indelible spiritual mark, and for this reason cannot be repeated.
166. The Sacramental Character is a spiritual mark imprinted on the soul.
167. The Sacramental Character continues at least until the death of its bearer.
168. All the Sacraments of the New Covenant were instituted by Jesus Christ.
The Seven Sacraments
169. There are Seven Sacraments of the New Law.
170. The Sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for the salvation of mankind.
171. For the valid dispensing of the Sacraments it is necessary that the minister accomplish the Sacramental Sign in the proper manner.
172. The minister must further have the intention at least of doing what the Church does.
173. In the case of adult recipients moral worthiness is necessary for the worthy or fruitful reception of the Sacraments.
(A.) Baptism
174. Baptism is a true Sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ.
175. The materia remota of the Sacrament of Baptism is true and natural water.
176. Baptism confers the grace of justification.
177. Baptism effects the remission of all punishments of sin, both the eternal and the temporal.
178. Eve if it be unworthily received, valid Baptism imprints on the soul of the recipient an indelible spiritual mark, the Baptismal Character, and for this reason, the Sacrament cannot be repeated.
179. Baptism by water (Baptismus fluminis) is, since the promulgation of the Gospel, necessary for all men without exception, for salvation.
180. Baptism can be validly administered by anyone.
181. Baptism can be received by any person in the wayfaring state who is not already baptised.
182. The Baptism of young children is valid and licit.
(B.) Confirmation
183. Confirmation is a true Sacrament properly so-called.
184. Confirmation imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, and for this reason, cannot be repeated.
185. The ordinary minister of Confirmation is the Bishop alone.

TO BE CONTINUED …
(B.) Certain Truths Not Yet Defined By the Magisterium
The Church
49. The Church is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ.
50. By reason of her purpose and the means she uses to effect it the Church is a supernatural spiritual society.
51. The Church is a perfect society.
52. The Church is indefectible, that is, she remains and will remain the Institution of Salvation, founded by Christ, until the end of the world.
53. The secondary object of the Infallibility is truths of the Christian teaching on faith and morals, which are not formally revealed, but which are closely connected with the teaching of Revelation.
54. The Church founded by Christ is an external visible commonwealth.
55. Not only those members who are holy but the sinners also belong to the Church.
56. The members of the Church are those who have validly received the Sacrament of Baptism and who are not separated from the unity of the confession of the Faith, and from the unity of the lawful communion of the Church.
57. The members of the Kingdom of God on earth and in the other world sanctified by the redeeming grace of Christ are united in a common supernatural life with the Head of the Church and with one another.
58. By intercessory prayer the Faithful on earth can procure gifts from God for one another.
59. The faithful on earth can, by their good works performed in the state of grace, render atonement for one another.
The Sacraments
60. The Sacraments of the New Covenant are effective signs of grace instituted by Christ.
61. Christ instituted all the Sacraments immediately and personally.
62. Christ fixed the substance of the Sacraments. The Church has no power to alter them.
63. God can communicate grace even without the Sacraments.
64. The primary minister of the Sacraments is the God-Man Jesus Christ.
65. The validity and efficacy of the Sacrament is independent of the minister's orthodoxy and state of grace.
66. For the validity of the Sacraments in the case of adult recipients the intention of receiving the Sacrament is necessary.
67. The Old Testament Sacraments wrought, ex opere operato, not grace, but merely an external lawful purity.
(A.) Baptism
68. The materia proxima of the Sacrament of Baptism is the ablution, by physical contact, of the body with water.
69. The form of Baptism consists in the words of the minister which accompany it and more closely determine it.
(B.) Confirmation
70. As a Sacrament of the living, Confirmation effects (per se) an increase of Sanctifying Grace.
71. The extraordinary minister of Confirmation is a priest on whom this full power is conferred by the common law or by a special apostolic indult.
72. Confirmation can be received by any baptized person who is not already confirmed.
73. The repetition of Confirmation is invalid and grievously sinful.

To be continued.
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2012: Matters Arising
» By Rev. Fr. Leonard O. Anetekhai
It is the dawn of another year and I welcome you my dear readers of this column into a brand New year. Yes it is a new year, a fresh year with so much carry over to write (as a student the meaning of carry over comes with great pains) but not without a review of the many matters arising from 2011, which stirs us in the face because of our failure to challenge ourselves sufficiently over the years to attain desired goals that will bring about a better and greater Nigeria.

In the year 2011, we experienced a breakdown of security after the 2011 election with the rebirth of Boko Haram, which before then was just a group of thugs operation within a giving community, but with the negligence of its proprietors, Nigerians now have to sleep with one eye open for the fear of bombs and explosives.

Nature was to a great extent not fair to some of our brothers and sisters in the western region of the country with the flood from constant rain falls, which led to the loss of lives of hundreds of Nigerians and many displaced from their homes, because of our failure to care for our environment.

Crime and crisis on the other hand progressed from one ugly situation to another taking their turns in our search for good governance and credible leaders. What more will a brother say, and if I should ask what wrong have we done to our heros past that after 53 years of independence we cannot fix a sector of our economy to near perfection, except the buying of cars and looting of our national treasure.

Each government that have come after independence have always promised a better Nigeria to every Nigerians, but what is good governance without good infrastructure and formidable institutions, without power (electricity) and employment for our jobless youths.

Every year allocations are made in the budget to provide, if not all but for the basic need of every Nigerian, it is another year again and budget has been presented, like in the words of the Acting National Secretary of PDP, Dr. Musa Babayo, 'it is budget of transformation”. Transformation in every aspect of our national life, as such one can say with this budget in place, “let there be light, and there is light; let there be roads and there are roads; let there be water, and there is water; let there be employment and there is employment; let there be medical care and it is so; and let there be food and there is food.”

As Nigerians, we are very good in speech making, thus we are not in short supply of great speeches, what is in short supply is the implementation of our words. Year after year, we have these attractive speeches, year after year we have horrible implementation. We begin to ask what is the benefit of Nigerians for whom a budget is been proposed? Please, this is a secret I held and read; do not tell anyone, do you know that, the Presidency is likely to acquire two bullet proof vehicles next year, according to the breakdown of budget. They are to cost N280 million. Under the “replacement of aged vehicles of the presidential ground fleet (PGF)”, N280 million is set aside for two bullet proof vehicles for the President and the Vice President.

The budget proposes for the “procurement of two treated (bullet proof) Mercedes Benz saloon 600 E Guard for use by the President and Vice President at N140, 000,000 each”. Also, the Presidency plans to spend N356, 724,300 to replace aged vehicles belonging to the presidential ground fleet. Besides, there are plans to acquire “five Mercedes benz saloon 350 (semi plain/partial bullet proof) at N25, 000,000 each, 10 jeeps (assorted - Range Rover, Prado and Land Cruiser) at N10, 000,000 each and procurement of accessories and maintenance equipment for guard vehicles at N25, 000,000.”

In the budget, provision has been made for the upgrade of Villa facilities; such as the “extension of Villa gates 2, 7 & 11 at N75,960,819.50; extension of power supply to the State House Central Store at N35,913,032.40; extension of UPS power source to (the popular) Presidential Guest House No. 7, Villa, at N57,427,205.20”. Other planned upgrades are the “overhauling of power house generator sets 1and 2 at N127, 500,000; renovation and refurbishing of the family wing of the main residence at N512,375,533.00; land reclamation at the State House Medical Centre at N385,350,320.00; rehabilitation of transformer sub-station in the Villa at N101,671,574.78; extension/expansion of State House car parks at N97,950,710.50 and provision of communication equipment for the Villa, Dodan Barracks, Marina and Vice President's guest house in Lagos at N 108,000,000.00.”

These and many more I read, please do not quote me on this, because the president is discovering more oil reserves, that will make our children and grandchildren not to become slaves in this country in the near future, he want to upgrade electricity that will make us catch those looting and stealing our funds, he also wants to stop us from borrowing because we have been borrowing to run this country in the midst of plenty, he wants to create more jobs in the Niger Delta, and to achieve this he must remove fuel subsidy to alleviate the pains of Nigerians.

Sir, all your ambitions concerning the growth of Nigeria are well understood but the fact is that, the so called subsidy removal will not be properly utilized if certain factors which includes: corruption, embezzlement and exploitation of government workers and private individuals for political gains are not properly checked.

It is very evident that, nothing, so far, has generated more heated debate in the country than the vexatious issue of fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government. But the truth of the matter is that most Nigerians loath the idea of government toying with such a sensitive issue. Nigerians have resisted such move during the military era and there is, indeed, no doubt that it will repeat itself even in a democratic dispensation.

The issue of fuel subsidy removal is not just for economists alone to solve the mathematics, whether it will work or not. Nigeria is for all of us and not for politicians and their so-called economic advisers. The Labour Unions, organized private sector, ASUU, students, market women, traders, okada men and the masses all have a stake in this issue and the President must bend to listen.

For me, whether fuel subsidy is removed or not, the government has to explain to the people what it entails, Goodluck Jonathan should be bold enough to face a debate with the masses and answer basic question which past administrations have not given answers to. Why do we still import refined petroleum products instead of exporting them? Are the refineries working? How many new refineries were built despite the excess from the crude oil account? Except these questions are answered the so called subsidy removal is an avenue for those in power to 'milk dry' their countrymen and women and satisfy their huge appetite and greed by cutting for themselves heavy slices of the national cake.

Whether subsidy exists or not, I believe like many other Nigerians, that its removal no matter how philanthropic the reasons and the expected gains are is not for the common man. Those opposed to the removal of fuel subsidy have their good reasons. Let government listen to them dispassionately before subsidy-induced protests take over the streets of our major cities. Most Nigerians will protest if government insists on this good but ugly move. Many Nigerians see fuel subsidy as the only thing the masses enjoy in the land and it implementation will mean rise in the pump price of all petroleum products (kerosene, petrol, diesel, aviation fuel etc). This definitely, will have a multiplier effect in virtually all other sectors of the economy.

To Nigerians, especially the working class, government's move is an irony. They are trying to take with the left hand the N18,000 national minimum wage they gave out with the right hand, if fuel subsidy is removed. It will bring the workers back to square one. Under such atmosphere, workers will agitate for another round of wage increase and the vicious cycle will continue till thy kingdom comes and our roads will remain the same death-traps they were years back; our schools will remain the worst in the sub-region; our hospitals will still remain mere consulting clinics and refineries remain tunnels of waste with only a few enjoying the wealth of our blessed nation.

May God help us.
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Abortion: From Womb To Tomb (II)
» By Rev. Fr. Francis Ikhianosime
OTHER WITNESSES AGAINST ABORTION
The typical mentality of a human being is not so much of what he has known in principle, but more on how such a principle affects him or her. If a law is promulgated and it has no penalty, that law is likely not to enjoy widespread obedience. Apart from the Scriptural reasons advanced against abortion as a moral evil and an offence that is both spiritually and for the most social culpable, there are effects on the perpetrator; the irresponsible mother; both short and long term effects.

Methods in abortion could be generally divided into three main patterns: (1) those that invade the uterus and kill the child by instruments which enter the uterus through the cervix, (2) those that kill the preborn child by administration of drugs and then induce labour and the delivery of a dead baby and (3) those that invade the uterus by abdominal surgery. The first general method has an adverse effect on the mother because of the technique. In this, the cervix is stretched open with dilators and cervical tools are used to invade the womb, normally a curette is inserted into the womb to kill the baby and bring out its particles. In some instances, a suction machine is used to extract the destroyed baby. The mother therefore from this common technique is likely to suffer some or all of the following: excessive bleeding, abdominal swelling, pelvic infection, uterine perforation, cervical tears, incomplete abortion and in extreme cases, death.

The use of mifepristone tablet and followed by misoprostol is another common method of abortion. In this medical method, the mifepristone causes the placenta to separate from the endometrium. It also softens the cervix and increases uterine contractions to allow the uterine contents to pass. The misoprostol is usually taken vaginally or bucally, hours later and this would further cause uterine contraction and make the pregnancy to end in a miscarriage. This technique is of adverse effect like the surgical method. Most abortifaciets taken usually wear off the uterine wall and often causes contragestion (the prevention of implantation of the blastocyst). Women who are used to taking contraceptive pill and who involve in medical abortion are prone to miscarriages in the future. They are equally very open to the risks of frequent uterine pain, excessive uterine bleeding, pelvic infection, ruptured ectopic pregnancy, incomplete abortion, vomiting, diarrhea, and in extreme cases death. (cf. the long term effects of abortion on women in www.the-gospel.org.). It is important to note that misoprostol can cause fetal abnormalities. There are other methods of abortion usually used within the second or third trimesters. These are often more dangerous with not very bright chances of survival for the mother without terminal adverse effect. This is why many countries that even erroneously pass a bill for abortion limit this to the first or second trimester.

One common fact about abortion is that women who engage in it are prone to breast cancer. Once pregnancy starts steroid hormones are more active especially oestrogen and progesterone. This is the reason why breast formation becomes rapid, preparing it for breast-feeding. The termination of a pregnancy causes a significant drop in the level of estrogen secreted in a woman's body. This drop causes a rapid growth in the number of cells in the breast tissue. This cell multiplication, medical sources have advanced, increases the risk of getting breast cancer.

Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy occurring on the fallopian tube) is a possible post-abortion effect, causing increased risk to the health of the mother and a possible death to the baby. Since abortion involves surgery, the ovaries, which are nearby organs, may have been affected. Again, infertility is a possible complication from an earlier abortion. Sexual dysfunction is similarly a likely effect from an earlier abortion. Women are likely to have a drop in sexual desire, orgasm, ability and satisfaction. This effect vary from woman to woman.

Apart from the physiological effects, there are also psychological effects, which are more likely to be immediate that the physiological that are long term. There is the feeling of guilt, shame and regret that may hunt the woman for a long time especially with sight of the abortion and the sight of terrible blood and pain that accompanies the surgery or process. This feeling can hunt them for so long that the woman either is moved to extreme regret, hating the male partner and even with threats to harm him or pushed to repentance and piety, which very often is not sustained. Once a non-Catholic girl had an abortion and she started shopping for a Catholic Priest to go for confessions. This was only an avenue to expel her pain and shut out the torments she receives. One common aftermath of such a psychological feeling is substance abuse. Young women especially adolescent girls are prone to taking pills to make them sleep off, drinking or abuse of other forms of drugs that could act like sedative.

Clinical psychology has developed a term with reference to the referred-to conditions that women often have with relation to abortion. This they have called “Post-Abortion Syndrome Disorder” (cf. http://www.cirtl.org/syndrome.htm). This disorder often starts with the usual guilt, pain, a sense of loss and the more typical part of this disorder is that it slumps the victim into lethargy (tiredness), malaise, vomiting and sometimes hallucination especially when remembering the action. This disorder very often leads to depression, complexes, fear of infertility and sex. This conditional is not often treated clinically. This stress disorder usually surfaces many years after abortion. It is very easy and common for a woman to say that she is fine but later she finds herself webbed in this terrible feeling of confusion, guilt and exploitation. This feeling sometimes comes either at the birth of a wanted child, during the desire for a child or during unrelated counseling. During this period of the stress disorder, the woman often have stressors, re-experience of the events, avoidance of things that would remind her of the experience, she then could begin to avoid people and relationships, avoid feeling love for others and becoming cold to people and situations. During this time, she feels just not good with herself and she considers ending her life and even has no long-term dreams or plans.

MAKING A PRO-LIFE OPTION
The effects of abortion are enormous. The intention of this paper is not to create a fright about abortion or magnify what abortion is not. However, I have gone into findings from scriptures, medicine and psychology to establish why abortion is not all right. Abortion is often an issue that bothers on choice and implications. The individuals often sit to weigh the implications of the pregnancy to one's life, name, family, education, personality and even faith and one thinks it is just alright to make it quits and get it rid. Nevertheless, since human life is involved, it just does not end like that. It has a way of surfacing. The biggest lie about abortion is to think it is a once-and-for-all thing. Never! It keeps coming. Considering the effects of abortion, at the long run, it is all right to keep the baby. In doing this, one would have prevented being a murderer and even safeguarded chances of better procreation in the future. Since there are a number of dilemmas involved in abortion, then, it is best to avoid casual sex when one is not ready for procreation. This takes us to the A-B approach: Abstinence when unmarried and Be faithful when Married.

The woman must realize that she has a lot of stake to handle in the issue of abortion. She has the final word. She must therefore weigh the options and be firm in relationship, defining what is wanted from the beginning. Again, it seems as though from our discussion, the man has nothing about this. Men suffer from regret and pain too especially when met with misfortune or difficult situations in life. They are often hunted by the mistakes of their past. Deep inside of him, he gets to know, he collaborated in a murder. I wish to conclude with words of Scriptures which says: “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess” (Deut 30:15-16)


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Catholics in Politics: Roles and Expectations in Nigeria (IV)
» By Rev. Fr. Mike Umoh
The Expectation of the Church as an Institution
Unless one chooses the easy part of fatalism, if politics in Nigeria will ever improve, Catholics and their Christian counterparts must braze up and raise properly organized structures to counter the overwhelming evil in our political landscape. Catholic institutions, too, share in the lay vocation to transform the world, in “fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Catholic Church." The unique mission of Catholic institutions, as Catholic, is to assure in an institutional manner a Christian presence in society, in service to humanity and to the Catholic Church. Catholic institutions promote peace, justice, charity, individual rights, and the common good in conformity to Catholic moral and social teaching.

Catholic institutions should engage the culture from a faithfully Catholic perspective, not a position of neutrality. Political engagement neither requires partisanship or endorsement of particular candidates nor does it require secularization, by which Catholic institutions accept moral relativism and simply mirror secular culture.
Bishops are the juridic persons of their local Church. In keeping with their prophetic duty as bishops, they speak and act as teachers of the Catholic faith and of the moral law on social matters especially as pertains to oppression of the poor and unjust laws. They have the duty to teach about human life and dignity, marriage and family, war and peace, the needs of the poor and the demands of justice. They have a duty to counsel on politics.
Much as the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria often issue communiqués in which they comment on the state of the nation and profer guidelines on political matters, much more needs to be done. One observes that many more Bishops also carry out this task individually within their locality. Anthony Cardinal Okogie, Archbishop John Onayekan, Bishops Emmanuel Badejo and Felix Ajakaiye readily come to mind. Cardinal Okogie has been consistent in his social critic to the extent that his voice has become a known public voice to be reckoned with today. Bishops cannot afford not be politically conscious and engaged as this will be akin to abandoning their sheep to wolf. Their care as pastors must embrace the whole person and all that concerns their flock. However, for reasons already noted above, bishops must know where to draw the line and avoid getting involved in partisan politics or endorsing or opposing any candidate. Instead it is their duty to form the consciences of the people so that they can examine the positions of candidates and make choices based on Catholic moral and social teaching.

The pulpit still remains one of the primary sources of information and formation. The truth must be preached and taught from there in and out of season, welcome and unwelcome. But that truth must be backed by concrete and precise actions. A situation where the Church preaches all the truth but turns around to wine and dine with leaders of questionable character provides an institutional endorsement for their evil. Some of the ways we do this includes inviting persons with anti-people policies, actions and foul conduct in public office who clearly acts against the common good or are involved in enacting laws which are detrimental to the progress and well being of the human person and the society. During our harvest and parish project launch for instance, we seem to care less about the social moral standing of the persons we invite as our chairman, chief launcher, Father of the day and Mother of the day, etcetera. What superceeds all considerations at those moments is MONEY. These friends seem to know that after our “noise” we will still come back to call them and honour them. This is a very big challenge to the Church because we really need the money since according to Archbishop Marchinkus of the Vatican Bank “the Church does not depend on Hail Mary alone.” Someone once said that not only those who steal are thieves because some do not just have the courage to engage in stealing but would be glad to assist in sharing the loot.

Another major problem the Church must tackle in this age and time in the political arena is secular absolutism. This is the trend which pretends to be neutral in politics and suggest that every form of religious culture should not be brought into political life of the people. This has for a long time succeeded in deceiving and confusing the majority of Christians especially. We know this is wrong because everyone acts according to his belief and that forms part of a person's culture. The culture created in any society is an embodiment of a people's belief system which includes religion. We cannot therefore separate a person's religious belief from his/her social life since this in fact regulates his/her life.
I am aware of a department by JDPC that is concerned with political formation of the laity. This is very good and much needed, but they have not enjoyed enough publicity and support they really need. Since politics is about negotiation and numbers, it is only through organized bodies such as this that individuals who desire to go into politics for the right reasons can find some form of moral support for choosing to be upright. No single tree can make a forest. The enemies of the state already realise this and so find it easy to gang up to promote their evil ideal and milk the state dry. Where are the good people? And where does a good leader find solace in the midst of the vultures of the land?

It is also the task of the Church to have a body of experts who will critical discuss social issues and appropriately advice the Bishops ahead of time, be it on issues of defence policy, education, welfare, monetary policy, option for the poor, etcetera. This body is to engage in groundwork of Christian thinking and provide timely intervention of the Church's position on bills and policies which will enable Catholics in government know exactly where to stand and why they take that decision. It will also help the ordinary Catholic in the street to know why and where to tilt his support towards based on formed and informed conscience.

The Role of the Laity in Politics
We have already established the need for Catholics to seek political participation and representation as they go about their duties of evangelizing the world. Without this participation and representation, even the freedom to evangelize will be greatly jeopardised.

At a minimum, participating in politics means voting. Voting wisely implies a familiarity with those individuals on the ballot. And this familiarity is better appreciated by understanding the issues of our day. Participation should drive one to an awareness of political issues and tussles confronting the nation and the inner dynamics at play. This includes social, economic and even international matters.

Thus there is need for Catholics to be politically informed and astute and be "shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good and the protection of the weak and vulnerable." The document Apostolicam Actuositatem says “By fulfilling their civic duties, 'guided by a Christian conscience,' in conformity with its values, the lay faithful exercise their proper task of infusing the temporal order with Christian values, all the while respecting the nature and rightful autonomy of that order, and cooperating with other citizens according to their particular competence and responsibility.” (Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree Apostolicam actuositatem, 7; Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 36; Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 31 and 43)

The Church provides some principles to guide her children in achieving these lofty ideas as they seek political participation. Since going by their Christian calling, they are to be salt of the earth and light of the world, the style of participation and the reason must be different from those of non-believers. Jesus made this clear when he distinguished between Christian leaders and the pagans…the former for service, the latter for oppression. As a principle, the basic standard for participation must be service and desire for a better society.

Catholics in politics, be it as individuals or as a body, guided by truth, must stand up for goodness to defend and promote justice. This principle will necessarily translate to a special concern and love for the poor. It is in this way that the lay faithful will not just be involved in politics, but also use it as veritable opportunity of being witnesses to the Gospel.

Also very important is that Catholics in politics must see their faith as a primary motivator for their political actions. They must avoid the tendency of a split personality where they attempt to separate their social life from their religious values. Unfortunately, a good number of Catholics in politics do not see the relevance of their faith to their political or social life; they reason that there is a "wall of separation" between Church and State, and that a person's beliefs are merely private matters of "conscience" that do not (and should not) affect their decisions not even on key moral issues. To back this error, they employ the often misquoted portion of the bible: “give to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar, and to God what belongs to God.” The simple correct interpretation of this quotation is that while Ceasar is in charge of the State, “the Lord's is the earth and its fulfulness; the world and all its people.” God owns everything including Ceasar.

In generating ideas, strategies, and reform proposals the Catholic is supposed to bring to bear values based on his Christian convictions, since every other person, by the way, will think and share according to their convictions. There is no idea-neutral person or society. Even when people claim that they do not want issues of God in political discourse, what they try to affirm and push is that they want the idea of satan to reign; or the idea of whatever else they believe in. This is where Christians often get it wrong. The Doctrinal Note reiterates that contrary to the popular view just expressed, “Catholics who bring their moral convictions into public life do not threaten democracy or pluralism but enrich them and the nation. It is an obligation of every Catholic not only to recognize what the Church teaches, but to actively preserve, protect and defend fundamental moral teachings, putting them into practice whenever possible.”

The bottom line therefore is that the Catholic in politics must be different from the pagans. That in itself poses a greater challenge. The challenge this brings about is that being different from the world is like having a sheep in the den of wolves. The children of the world have their way of frustrating or orchestrating evil against those who truly struggle to be good. According to the psalmist, many indeed are the challenges of a just man. This may be one major reason why evil thrives. After all it is said that if you cannot win them, you join them. This is the smooth and easy road Jesus spoke about which leads to perdition. Many, he said, follow it. The lay faithful, supported by the clergy can curtail this problem by forming many different bodies within the Church which will be primarily concerned with social matters. The Church as an institution and the lay faithful must support and belong to civil organizations that have clear objectives to transform the socio-political landscape. These bodies will serve as a spring board and support force for those who struggle to do things right in politics.

Some Recommendations /Applications
What can we do now? No matter the level of decadence in our society we cannot afford to be fatalistic. As a matter of fact, it is precisely because there is evil in the world and there will always be evil in the world that we have Christians. What we need ask ourselves now is: What difference can we make as Catholics in the midst of these challenges? What would Christ have done and what does he expect me to do? Since this is a keynote paper, and as I was informed the only paper to ginger deliberations, I am hereby proposing the following areas we can look at. I do not pretend at all that it is comprehensive or exclusive. Your different contributions will sure make this whole exercise richer and more meaningful.
1. Let me start with one matter we Catholics take for granted. THE CHURCH/ MEDIA AND POLITICS. It is not an exaggeration to say we Catholics do not pay adequate attention to the role of media in the modern society. This inadequacy impacts negatively on too many aspects of our life. If the issues we have raised in this paper will be successfully addressed, if the mission of the Church will be successful, the Church must develop a vibrant media of her own. Among other things, the media will enhance the level of interaction in the ecclesial community and the volume of information disseminated with ease. Among other important things, it will facilitate education and exchange of information among Catholics. It will provide effective channel to project the voice of the Church instead of the present situation where the Church is at the mercy of the secular media houses. IN this age and time, the Church cannot afford not to own her own media house. Many Catholics are ignorant of the Church's teachings, therefore strangers in the Church. They do not have access to the messages and guidelines the Bishops issue regularly, so they do not even know the Church's position on many issues. We need to employ all means to overcome this. Priests have a duty to form the laity…..bulletin, pulpit, diocesan and parish groups must consciously work on creating on political awareness. There should be courses on responsible citizenship in our schools.
2. There must be CHURCH ORGANS to coordinate the political life in the particular locality. The various bodies of knighthood should engage in this task. Besides creating political awareness and providing civic education and information, this body must cultivate a relationship with the local government and monitor its activity. Through proper and sincere assessment, this body should be able to rally support for a good government programme or project, and a strong protest against bad policies. What I have in mind here is political advocacy. The truth is that Catholics have a lukewarm relationship (or worse) with their Church and their Creator. Such indifference and apathy guarantee exploitation every time. In America we have bodies like Christian Socialist Movement, Conservative Christian Fellowship, Liberal Democrat Christian Forum come together for a joint Conference under the aegis of Christians in Politics.
3. Following from the above, the Church must not only be interested in castigating those who act badly in government, but should also work out modalitites to REWARD those who have performed creditably well in office. It does not matter if these persons are Catholics or not.
4. The Church must IDENTIFY AND RECOGNISE Catholics and even non Catholics who do well in public office.
5. Some Catholics can come together and partner with some good people of other faith to ESTABLISH POLITICAL PARTY based on people-oriented ideology. This will provide a veritable alternative to the prevailing pathetic system we presently experience.


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HEALTHCARE
» By Pharm. Nzewi
It is a fact widely acknowledged that information is an essential factor to acquisition of good health and to the management of an existing ill Health. It is not sufficient to know that one is sick and on medication. It is also very important to have some fundamental idea or knowledge about the specific disorder. This will go a long way to contribute to proper management, especially compliance to drug regimen i.e. the way drugs are directed to be taken by the healthcare provider.

Many patients, due to ignorance of the consequences of improper use of their medication, end up with different types of treatment failures. This is to say that many patients do not adhere or comply with medical advice because of their ignorance of the outcome. Thus, with adequate information, patients will know the usefulness of compliance to their medication for better results, avoidance of treatment failure and even death can be avoided.

But for the grace of GOD, there is very little margin between life and death. Adequate basic information on health, diseases, disorders that afflict man is very important. This will contribute to maximum good health, avoidance of unnecessary ill health, which usually leaves one redundant to various activities (including spiritual commitments) leading to little or no productivity and finally sick pocket, sick spiritual life, as well as sick physical body.

Ill health and its psychological and physiological components can reduce ones life span. We live with numerous factors that can influence the state of our health. There are also age related ill health. In all these we need adequate knowledge to avoid ill health. Yes! It is possible to live a healthy long life. I want to note that it is not God's design that His creatures should be subjected to bodily afflictions and devilish possessions. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We must be at home in the Spirit and away in the world. At home in the Spirit, is a healthy living and life in all its ramifications but at home with the world is exposition to various sources of ill health. God in His creation of things did not create diseases or infirmities. I will not be wrong to say that these disorders came to man through man. Demonic possessions came in through the fallen angels who are Lucifer and his cohort (the devils). We are enriched on how to keep away from their possessions. However, ill health is not a sign of one's sinfulness. Illness among humanity is a sign of the sinfulness nature of humanity.

Our counterparts in the bush, the mammals do not have hospitals and pharmacy shops but they enjoy good health, vitality and healthy long life through the created things in the bush. In addition to the use of herbs, richly and freely provided by the Creator, is also His invitation to come to Him in FAITH for our healing. If God permits one to be sick, it is for the purpose of the manifestation of his Glory. How can we claim that God is a healer if there is no sickness. How can we say that God is a miracle worker, if there is no miraculous healing of a sickness known to man as incurable and deadly.

In the face of any form of illness, do not be afraid because WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.

This introduction to healthcare is to give everybody the opportunity to henceforth get a copy of THE PROMISE Newspaper. Get your copy every month; send copies to your friends and to your dear ones. You are welcome once again, to Health matters on THE PROMISE Newspaper.
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CBCN Tasks Nigerian Leaders On Peace And Reconciliation

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has urged the leaders and the led in Nigeria to sincerely work for peace and reconciliation through dialogue, mutual respect and justice in order to salvage the land from those who would destroy it and its peoples.

This was contained in a statement issued at the end of the Administrative Board Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) held at the Pope John Paul II Social Centre, Wuse II, Abuja.

The statement which was signed by the President of CBCN, Archbishop of Ibadan, Most Rev. Felix Alaba Job and the secretary CBCN Bishop of Abeokuta Diocese Most Rev. Adewale Martins, maintained that “we cannot fail to recognize the urgent need for reconciliation, justice and peace in the face of serious security challenges in our country. … Nigerians must learn to live together in peace or perish through violence and mutual distraction.”

Continuing, the statement revealed that it is “Needless to restate that in Nigeria, corruption, bad leadership, unemployment, armed conflict and robbery do rob us of people of hope”. It stressed that more recently, activities such as Boko Haram “menace” and kidnapping have driven many almost to despair and added that they simply can no longer “hide our heads in the sand.”

More, the shepherds of souls commended the Arewa consultative forum for bringing the issue of reconciliation, dialogue, justice and peace to the fore in its recent conference just as the Church's Justice, Development and Peace organs continue nationwide to invest in and promote dialogue, justice and peaceful coexistence.

On same- sex- union issue, the CBCN reiterated that the Nigerian senate had voted to out law same sex union and all such public manifestations to the great relief of most Nigerians. According to them “we note that the senate took this courageous and hope- inducing decision in the face of considerable internal and international pressure to do the exact opposite … we wish to strongly support the prohibition of same sex union as an expression both of our cultural values as Nigerians and our religious belief as Christians”.

The statement further stressed that “far from being a denial of the fundamental right of some Nigerians who would engage in it, such a prohibition protects our society from the usurpation of its right to moral health and cultural decency”. The CBCN noted “We declare that no country has the right to impose on another such conditions as likely to upset its common cultural and societal values just to satisfy the exotic desires and tendencies of a few”

Commenting on the return of schools to the Church, the Bishops stressed that “we have never ceased to ask successive government in Nigeria to redress the injustice perpetrated by the nationwide take-over of schools from the missionaries and private owners in the 70's especially where no compensation was paid for such an action”. They commended the efforts of some state governments which have taken some steps to return schools to their original owners.

Reacting to the removal of fuel subsidy, the prelates noted that no one can deny how complex the controversy on fuel subsidy has turned out to be, adding that it was because Nigerians have made so much sacrifice in the past with little or no reward to show for their pains. “We wish to state clearly that such an important issue as this be decided only by a reasonable consensus after thorough consultation. It is the only way indeed to build up new hope in the life of the people being governed”, the statement added.

No Hopelessness For Those Who Embrace The Cross -Bishop Dunia

Pauline Innih

The Catholic Bishop of Auchi Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia, has reiterated that there is no hopelessness for those who embrace the cross of Christ, even if the whole world sees them as failures, stressing that working with the cross, victory will be theirs no matter the difficulty they may face in life.

Bishop Dunia gave this hint recently at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi in a mass to receive the National Youth Day Cross and Icon of Blessed Virgin Mary moving round the provinces and dioceses in Nigeria.

The Chief shepherd of the diocese noted that the message of Christ will not be complete without the cross and that Christ through the cross has redeemed the world and called on all present to adore Christ who died on the cross to save mankind.

Continuing, the prelate reaffirmed that nothing is as real as the knowledge of salvation adding that no matter the technological advancement in the world nothing can take the cross away, stressing that the cross of salvation is the centre of it all. He stated that man cannot afford to neglect the cross because of material wealth, be it position or rank.

Speaking further, the Bishop tasked faithful to understand the true meaning of salvation through the cross while urging them to be happy to receive the National Youth Day Cross in the diocese which is moving round the countries of the world. He enjoined all present to utilize the opportunity to meditate and enrich themselves with the blessings of the cross.

More, the shepherd of souls hinted that the cross personify Jesus Christ who came to carry them across the ocean of difficulty, stressing that Mother Mary stands to invite all faithful to cross over to her son in order for them to enjoy His glory.

In addition, the homilist said that Mother Mary through her experience of the suffering of Christ the cross, brings them closer to God the father and reminded the youths of the diocese to come closer to God by always meditating on the cross.

He prayed that God would continue to instill in them through the cross the zeal to meditate and carry the cross by embracing God's call to worship adding that the cross of Christ would enable them to conquer absolutely.

Highpoint of the mass was the veneration of the cross led by the bishop, priests, seminarians, youths and lay faithful present.

In his vote of thanks, the Auchi Diocesan youth chaplain, Rev. Fr. Francis Emodogo who appreciated God Almighty for making the day a reality, commended the bishop for his presence at the celebration. He appreciated all the priests present and praised the effort of the youth for their love for the cross of Christ and prayed God to continue to bless them all.

Other priests at the mass were Rev. Frs. Charles Dania, Alfred Ebalu, Leonard Anetekhai, Philip-Neri Ebakhaye, Martin Alokwe and Valentine Anaweokhai


Auchi Polytechnic Holds 19th Convocation Ceremony

Ibharayi Wilson

The 19th convocation ceremony of Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi was held recently at the polytechnic sports complex.

In her welcome address, the Rector of the polytechnic, Dr. (Mrs.) P.O Idogho who congratulated the grandaunts reiterated the management determination to lift the institution to enviable standards, stressing that the infrastructural development taking place in the school was to make the polytechnic stand as one of the best institution of higher learning in Nigeria.

Continuing, Dr. Idogho congratulated the four distinguished Nigerians honoured by the polytechnic for their contribution to education and society in general. They were, the Governor of Edo State; Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Chief of Staff to the President; Chief Mike Ogiadomhe, former Chairman Code of Conduct Tribunal; Justice Constance Momoh and Minister of Education; Prof. Rikyatu Amend Rufai.

Speaking earlier at the inauguration of Centre for Entrepreneurship Development programme (CEDAP) in the polytechnic CEDAP village, the minister of education Prof. Rukayatu Amend Rufai who represented President Goodluck Jonathan at the occasion commended the effort of the rector towards promoting entrepreneurship and tasked students of the institution to utilize the opportunity to gain practical knowledge needed in life. She stated that the step was to complement Federal Government effort towards equipping Nigeria graduates with the required skill to self employed.

Meanwhile, over 6,000 grandaunts received awards and diplomas.

Ethics To Church Communication Is Important Says -Bishop Badejo

The Episcopal Chairman of the Directorate of Social Communications and Catholic Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr.) Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, has stressed on the importance of ethics to the Catholic Communication apostolate, noting that it is only in this perspective that Catholic media professionals can discharge their duties in consonance with the social teachings of the Church.

He made this remarks recently in Abuja while addressing the workers of the Directorate of Social Communications, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) at the second plenary meeting of the directorate for the year 2011.

According to the prelate “Catholic Media practitioners must not only be proactive but impact positively on the life of others in the course of discharging their duties”. He called on the workers to avail themselves of the various guidelines of the Church on professional ethics for all mass communications service.

Also, the Shepherd of souls commended the staff of the Directorate for their sacrifice, stressing that there is the need for them to be abreast of their profession through on-going formation, pointing out that “In the area of communication technology, the world is so fast paced that we cannot afford to be complacent.”

Continuing, Bishop Badejo charged the staff to avail themselves of every available opportunity to improve their professional capacity. He also added that “the Catholic Bishop's Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in recognition of the importance of communication to the evangelization mission of the Church will continue to facilitate the work of the directorate through the provision of necessary amenities and infrastructures.”

More, the communications chairman told the workers that the conference appreciates their invaluable contributions to the communications evangelization work of the Church and assured them that the conference will continue to ensure of job satisfaction for the staff through remuneration, incentives and training.

Further, the Bishop pointed out, that, there are still challenges for the staff of the directorate, in order to ensure the realization of the communication evangelization goals and objectives of the Church and enjoined them not to rest on their oars, stressing that their perseverance and sacrifices in working for the Church will never be in vain.

Jattu Holds 2011 Annual Adult Harvest

Julius Omokhunu

St Philip-Neri Catholic Church, Jattu has recently marked their 2011 annual adult harvest thanksgiving/bazaar with appreciation to God for the gift of another year and for His blessings in the past year.

In his homily, the parish administrator Rev. Fr. Ignatius Omunagbe, called on faithful to remain vigilant as they await the coming of Christ and commended the turn-out of parishioners from all walks of life to the harvest, stressing that parents should always encourage their children to assist the Church and their community.

Fr. Omunagbe frowned at the attitude of some people who do not want to return home for the fear of witchcraft and said that anyone who puts his trust in God's protection and saving grace, has nothing to be afraid of. He further appreciated the parishioners and guests present, while urging them to thank God for the blessing received in 2011.

Highlight of the mass was a thanksgiving procession by societies, groups, families and individuals led by the parish administrator, Rev. Fr. Omunagbe, who danced to the altar with various gift items in appreciation to God for His blessings.

Dignitaries present at the mass were the secretary to the Edo State Government Dr. Simon Imuekemhe, the Speaker Edo State House of Assembly, Chief Uyi Igbe, the Chief Whip Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA), Hon. Folly Ogedegbe, Edo State Commissioner for Health Mrs Cordelia Abu- Ameaze, the Vice Chancellor of Ambrose Alli University, Prof. Agbebaku among others.

Thereafter at the bazaar, chairman of the Harvest Prof. Andrew Okwilague who expressed delight at the invitation to chair the occasion, said that harvest thanksgiving was a time of reflection on the blessings received from God all through the year and called on all present to always give thanks to God and assist in evangelization mission of the Church.

On his part, the harvest planning committee chairman, Mr Anthony Omogbai noted that the success recorded in the 2011 harvest was as a result of cooperation from parishioners both at home and abroad.

Speaking on the success recorded at the 2011 harvest thanksgiving, the majority leader of the Edo State House of Assembly Hon. Philip Shaibu, expressed joy for the harvest and described it as the most interesting and colourful event of recent times.

Meanwhile, the occasion was also used to appreciate some deserving personalities, including the Senior special Assistant to Edo State Governor on Petroleum Affairs; Romeo Omoike.

Highpoint of the event was the bazaar sales, dance presentation by some groups as well as the crowning of the 2011 prince and princess of the parish.


Igiode Honours Christ The Universal King

Joseph Alemoh

The mother station of Holy Family Catholic Church, Igiode with her three outstations, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Uzanu, St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, Egori in-land and St. Patrick Catholic Church Ukpeko, have recently marked the solemnity of Christ the Universal King.

Flagging off the celebration with an opening mass, the parish administrator Rev. Fr. Ambrose Alumiasunya in his homily, enjoined all present to always strive to live up to their faith in their daily interactions with their neighbours.

Fr. Alumiasunya who further prescribed some of the ways through which a good Christian can develop healthy relationships with his or her neighbours, stressed that a good Christian must endeavour to be generous to others, a virtue which he noted is rare to find among Christians, adding that faithful should show more concern when their neighbours are in need of help.

Further, the priest tasked all present to ensure that their conducts within their families and neighbourhood attracts others to God and urged them to extend the blessings that God has endowed them with to others. He added that Christ who is the king that occupies the throne of glory, will one day honour those that serve Him with joy in His kingdom.

Continuing, the homilist charged the parishioners to always assist and encourage one another in performing their duties, stressing that to love one another is like Christ’s love for the church. He prayed God to give all present wisdom and understanding to enable them be of good conduct towards their neighbours.

Highpoint of the celebration was a procession round the three Igiode communities led by the parish administrator.

Etsako, Christian Traditions Have Ethical And Moral Values -Fr. Ekpenyong
...As Ogiadomhe Condemns Extremism

The Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Very Rev. (Dr.) Michael Ekpenyong, has affirmed that Etsako and Christian traditions have ethical and moral values for life, here and hereafter.

He made this remark recently at the public presentation of the book: “Human life, here and hereafter, eschatology and anthropology in the Judeo- Christian and Etsako religions”, written by Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Cornelius Omonokhua, Director of Mission and Dialogue, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) in Abuja.

Fr. Ekpenyong who identified justice, dialogue and reconciliation as some virtues that can guarantee eternal happiness in heaven after a fruitful earthly life, added that “…apart from teaching us about the doctrine of eschatology or hereafter, the theologian varies the question of the virtues necessary here to get us meaningfully to heaven.”

Continuing, the priest used Nigeria as a case in point of survival in the midst of plenty and stressed that “In Nigeria, the truth is that the majority of Nigerians are in between being and well being. Nigerians daily struggle to survive in the midst of plenty... the theologian challenges the Churches, mosques, Civil society, the governments, the lawmakers and the least of us to make the issue of justice, governance, human rights, human dignity, democracy, dialogue, reconciliation and common good integral parts of our struggle, to attain the level of well being in the hope of the beatific mission.”

While expressing concern on the negative effects of imported civilization and cultures on the moral and religious values of the African nation, Fr. Ekpenyong raised some posers in the face of the present moral crises which he anticipated the book has answers to, and further commended the ingenuity of Fr. Omonokhua for using his talents to serve the Church effectively in the area of inter-religious dialogue and mission, reiterating that “we must all speak up on the evils that daily blind our people's eyes from our vision of higher values. This is the vision and mission of the theologian and it must become our vision and mission here and hereafter.”

In his address, the author of the book Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Cornelius Omonokhua, expressed gratitude to the Chief presenter, CSN Secretary General, members of his family, his brother priests and others who have stood by him in his vocation and literacy activities.

Speaking also at the occasion, the chief of staff to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Chief Mike Ogiadomhe, has condemned extremism by some members of the two major religions in the country; Christianity and Islam, stressing that those who unleash violence in the name of religion are not true followers of the two religions as their actions negate the teachings and ethics of the religions.

According to him “religion connotes peace and love and should therefore be used to promote the peaceful coexistence of all peoples, irrespective of their differences in order to facilitate meaningful development in the country.”

Chief Ogiadomhe who was the chairman and chief presenter at the ceremony, stated that government has been cautious on the issues of religion in the country so as not to be seen as favouring one group at the expense of the other inorder to promote peaceful co-existence of the people and the cherished unity of the country.

He commended the Catholic Church for promoting inter-religious dialogue through the activities of the mission and dialogue department of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, adding that dialogue and not violence is the most appropriate measure for handling differences among the people of the different religions in the country.

Further, Chief Ogiadomhe also praised the author of the book for the comparative approach of the book which he said brings to the fore the importance of dialogue and love in the two religions.

Thereafter, the reviewer of the book, Prof. Paul Oba Idornigie who outlined the importance of the book to the promotion of cordial relationship among the people of different religions, commended the author for the good presentation of the book.

Couples Must Be In Consonance With One Another -Fr. Ayala

Ibharayi Wilson

The parish administrator of All Saints Catholic Church, Ighaewo and the assistant Director, Education Board Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Rev. Fr. Peter Ayala, has charged couples to always be in consonance with one another to make their marriage fruitful.

He gave this admonition recently at St. Joseph Catholic Church Iviari-Weppa, in a mass concelebrated with Rev. Frs. Anselm Ekhelar, Director, Education Board Auchi Diocese and Romanus Akpejioi, Rector of the mass centre, on the solemnization of holy matrimony between Precious Izekojie Edomhen and Nelson-Michael Asekhamhe Ivienagbor.

Fr. Ayala stressed that once a man and woman have decided to be together, no one should put asunder, noting that in a family, the man represents God, the woman represents Jesus, while the children represents the Holy Spirit and added that it is God who has made a family to comprise man, woman and children.

Continuing, the assistant Director Education Board, charged the new couple to live together in agreement as arranged by God from the beginning when He created Adam and Eve. He tasked them to always be in consonance with one another as one body, one bone and one flesh, stressing that it would strengthen their family.

Fr. Ayala reminded the couple on the need for them to invite God into their family by praying fervently and pointed out that prayer would enable them to succeed in their marital life no matter the situation.

Further, the homilist also enjoined them to always learn to tolerate each other in whatever conditions, while adding that the exchange of rings during marriage is the invocation of the Holy Spirit to witness the celebration.

In his remarks, Rev. Fr. Anselm Ekhelar who congratulated the couple on behalf of the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia, commended the groom for his selfless service as the secretary Education Board Catholic Diocese of Auchi and prayed God to continue to help them so that they will be a role model for others to emulate.

Highpoint of the mass was a thanksgiving procession by the newly wed couple to the altar, presentation of Catholic Women Organisation (CWO) uniform to the bride led by the Mass Centre CWO President Mrs Omomian Anthonia, as well as signing of marriage register by the couple and their sponsors.


Don't Allow Fear To Destabilize You Says Fr. Momoh

Thomas Oyode

Christians have been charged to be bold and should not allow fear to destabilize them as they embark on their daily endeavours, as it would deter them from achieving the promises of God in their lives.

This charge was given recently by Rev. Fr. Francis Momoh in a homily delivered in a mass concelebrated with Rev. Fr. Clement Anaedevha on a three-day prayer, held at St. John Catholic Church, Sabo Iyakpi, tagged “let my people go”.

Fr. Momoh noted that there is the need for all present to be empowered spiritually, adding that the reason why many Christians are not living up to expectation is that they have allowed fear to destabilize and confused them.

Earlier, Mr. Prosper Ilekhojie who spoke on the need for Christians to embrace repentance, called on all present to follow God stressing that the spirit of God cannot abide in the midst of people who have strayed through sin.

Mr. Ilekhojie enjoined all present to prepare their hearts for a new out pouring of the Holy Spirit which the faithful would receive if they embrace repentance and reconciliation with God.

Speaking also at the closing mass, the Rector of St. Paul Catholic Church, Iyerekhu, Rev. Fr. Clement Anaedevha who was the chief host of the programme, tasked all present to appreciate the gift of abundant life which the spirit of God gives, noting that the prayer programme was for them to receive in abundance God's blessings in all aspects of their lives, which includes, health, grace, peace, joy, comfort and prosperity.

Highpoint of the event was a rosary procession round Sabo-Iyakpi community and a prayer session.

Seminary Of All Saints Uhiele Holds Christmas Carol

The Catholic Major Seminary of All Saints, Uhiele-Ekpoma has recently held their annual Christmas festival of Nine Lessons and Carols with the theme “Christmas of love, peace and joy”.

In a message delivered at the occasion, Rev. Fr. Matthew Ihensekhien who is the Head, Department of Theology and Music Director in the seminary, centred his message on the relevance of peace, love and joy in the country, noting that peace is needed in Nigeria to enable all experience the love and joy of Christmas, praying against security challenges in the country.

Rev. Fr. Ihensekhien admonished all present to create an atmosphere of peace, love and joy by putting smiles on the faces of many around them in the course of their celebration.

More, the celebration was spiced by the members of St. Gregory and St. Francis choirs who rendered songs to the glory of God. Also featured were the Acapella group of Uromi, Solo presentations by Mr Cyril Edebe, Owumi Precious, Angela Okafor, thank Zenith choreographers from Uromi as well as choir groups from St. Gregory the Great and Mary the Queen Catholic Church, Ekpoma among a host of others.

Meanwhile, the Benediction was given by Rev. Fr. Anselm Ekhelar, the Vice Rector of the seminary.

Some of the priests present at the occasion were Rev. Frs. Augustine Ojei and Christopher Ojeaga.

GAD Computer Training Institute Holds Graduation Ceremony

Thomas Oyode

The Gaudium Angelis Dei (GAD) Computer Training Institute owned by the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, has recently held her annual graduation ceremony at the school’s premises

In his welcome, the Director of the institute Rev. Fr. Clement Anaedevha who on behalf of the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel Dunia, congratulated the graduating students, charged them to be good ambassadors of the institute while urging them to utilize the knowledge acquired to improve their lives for the good of the society.

Speaking also at the occasion, the chairman of the occasion, Sir Patrick Owie, enjoined the students and the parents present to be thankful to God and appreciated the bishop of the Diocese for setting up the centre that has trained many computer since its inception

Highlights of the celebration were presentation of songs, choreography, jokes and comedy as well as display of students creativity in computer.

Other guests present were Chief F.O. Ogege, Mr Norbert Ukatu, Mr Jude Ojei as well as other guests.

Ogbona Holds Adult Harvest

Johnson Azoganokhai

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Ogbona has recently celebrated their 2011 annual harvest thanksgiving/bazaar tagged “Harvest of Building for the Lord”.

Delivering the homily at the mass concelebrated with the parish administrator Rev. Fr. Isaac Agabi, Rev. Fr. Valentine Anaweokhai the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Administrator Auchi, tasked the parishioners to always give thanks to God stressing that what they have was given to them by God.

He reminded all present on the need for them to contribute generously towards the completion of the Church building project and prayed God to continue to bless them.

Highpoint of the mass was a thanksgiving procession by parishioners with their gift items in appreciation to God for a fruitful harvest.

Thereafter at the reception held in the Church premises, the harvest committee chairman Mr Raphael Edogamhe, appreciated the 2011 harvest committee for making the celebration possible through their efforts and charged all present to participate actively in the bazaar sales.

The climax of the bazaar sales was the cutting of the 2011 harvest cake by Rev. Fr. Isaac Agabi and other guests present. Meanwhile, the vote of thanks was given by the chairman of the occasion, Mr Philip Eghieye. In it, he appreciated all present for their contribution towards a successful 2011 harvest.

Auchi Diocese Holds 2011 Christmas Carol at Cathedral

Ibharayi Wilson

In commemoration of the birth of Jesus, the Catholic Diocese of Auchi has held her 2011 Christmas carol at the Immaculate conception Cathedral, Auchi tagged “Unto us a Child is born”.

Giving his Christmas message, the Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr). Gabriel G. Dunia, noted that as a people of God who a child is born, there is the need for them to keep praising God, stressing that one who is with Jesus Christ, with patience, would receive His Glory.

More, the Bishop said that the child that is given to human race should be a role for faithful in order for them to attain His glory, while adding that God's goodwill will never cease in the lives of those who trust in Him.

Continuing, the Chief Shepherd of the diocese called on all Nigerians to shun evil, corruption, nepotism, religious intolerance, terrorism and vices of all kinds, while charging them to embrace the unending love which the birth of Jesus Christ brings.

He also enjoined all present to learn the true value of the coming of Christ into the world and prayed that through the intercession of the Blessed virgin Mary, their hearts would continue to be overwhelmed with the glory of God.

While appreciating God for making this year's Christmas Carol celebration a success, Sir. S. K. Iluebekhai noted that the event was an opportunity of discovering new talents in the diocese, stressing that when sustained; it would provide an opportunity of diverting the attention of the youth from crimes to a more lucrative skill.

In his vote of thanks, the chancellor of the diocese, Rev. Fr. Leonard Anetekhai, appreciated God for making the event a memorable one and commended the Bishop for his presence at the occasion

Speaking further, Fr. Anetekhai appreciated the priests present, religious, choirs and lay faithful for attending the celebration. He also solicited for more support towards making next year's celebration a success and praised the effort of all those who contributed to the 2011 carol celebration while praying that God would reward them accordingly.

The event also featured readings, songs by choirs from various parishes and mass centres in the Diocese of Auchi as well as the choir from All Saints Anglican Church. Auchi. Also the event was spiced up by the colourful display of Santa Claus.

Be Dedicated Fr. Anaweokhai Tells Church Workers

Ochei Isaac

Church workers have been advised to dedicate themselves to duties with absolute loyalty and humility in the vineyard of God.

The Cathedral Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Rev. Fr. Valentine Anaweokhai gave the advice, while addressing a combined meeting of various usher groups in Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

Fr. Anaweokhai observed with dismay that inspite of the various usher groups in the Cathedral such as Church wardens, Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Nigeria (CCRN) ushers, Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria (CYON) ushers, Catholic Girls Organisation (CGO) ushers, the Cathedral still lacks manpower to serve in all the week day masses including Sunday masses and weddings on Saturdays.

Continuing, Fr. Anaweokhai pointed out that as priests and religious voluntarily answer God's call to serve the people, so do they voluntarily answer God's call to serve the people and charged the ushers to be prepared to bear any insult or condition they may find themselves like the priests.

Also, the Cathedral Administrator who acknowledge the fact that the duties of ushers in the church are not easy tasks appealed to the ushers to rededicate themselves to duties with humility, cheerfulness forgiveness, kindness, patience, tolerance, tact and diplomacy, perseverance, love and absolute loyalty, stressing that service to humanity is service to God.

Further, the priest reminded the ushers that because of their services to God and humanity, their sins could be forgiven by God and prayed for the Holy Spirit and God's grace on them, to empower them to do their work conscientiously without grumbling.

More, he announced the establishment of the Cathedral ushers association which would comprise all the various groups of ushers in the Cathedral.

In addition, the Cathedral administrator hinted that a seminar would soon be organized for the ushers by the church to be followed by election of officers for the new association, adding that the newly elected officers would be sworn-in in the church.

Responding, the chairman of the Cathedral church wardens, Mr. Augustine Obemiata, commended Rev. Fr. Anaweokhai for his plans to make the duties of the ushers in the Cathedral less burdensome and re-assured him of their maximum cooperation at all times.
Mr. Obemiata, however, called for more male ushers to join the new association in order to make the work easier.

Value The Gifts Of God - Fr. Omunagbe

Julius Omokhunu

A call has been made to Christians, to be appreciative of what they have and to live lives that will give glory to God. This call was made by the Parish Priest of St. Philip-Neri Catholic Church Jattu, Rev. Fr. Ignatius Omunagbe, while delivering a homily recently.

Fr. Omunagbe who made reference to the story of a land owner in the bible who planted a vineyard but had His servants and son beaten and killed by the tenants whom he leased the land to, compared the tenants to the children of Israel who turned their backs on God after He had given them the land of Israel and noted that after casting the tenants out of the vineyard, the land will be leased to other tenants who will deliver the produce to the land owner when the season comes.

Continuing, the priest likened the new tenants to the new children of God called by Christ in baptism and warned that the present day Christian should not fall victim of the same sin committed by the tenants of the vineyard and admonished them to bear in mind the expectations of God especially as they have been called to be heirs of the throne. He further urged them to shun violence, hatred, malice, disaffection, disunity and other vices that could lead to sin, as they are the tricks of Satan to prevent God's children from attaining eternal life.

More, Fr. Omunagbe also condemned the attitude of some Catholics who exhibit flagrant disregard for the body and blood of Christ and stressed that the reception of Christ's Body and Blood is a solemn exercise and not a mere activity as many have turned it to be.

Speaking further, he called on all Catholics to live a live that will be pleasing to God, adding that it is better to obey the commandments of God than to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving which he said adds nothing to the greatness of God.

Fr. Omunagbe noted that most of the problems faced by nations of the world is caused by the attitude of Christians who have received the promise of eternal life of Christ and have turned their backs on Him, like the landowner and the tenants. Thereafter, prayers were offered for God's intervention in the crises facing the country as well as for the individual needs of all present during the mass.

Cathedral Marks Solemnity Of Christ The King

Ibharayi Wilson

The Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi has marked the solemnity of Christ the King recently with a procession round the major route in Auchi town.

In his homily at the mass, the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia, reminded faithful on the need for them to proclaim Jesus Christ as the Universal King and bear witness to him when their service are most needed.

The Bishop reiterated that it is only those who work for what is good that will receive His everlasting heritage and added that it is when they proclaim Jesus Christ as their king that the victory of His kingdom would be sure. He charged all present to work dedicatedly not only in good times but also in difficult times, stressing that it is what distinguish them as true Christians.

The Chief Shepherd of the Diocese urged all present to desist from seeking temporary measures that cannot help by moving from one place to another and pointed out that to be desperate would put them into a more dangerous problems.

Continuing, the prelate advised them to stop running around for immediate needs while reaffirming that all men are going to appear before the true God who is the king of the world stressing that no one can hide and there is no opportunity for anyone to bribe but, assumed them that they would all appear before God to give account of their lives.

Speaking further, he implored those in position of authority to use it wisely for the benefit of others instead of depriving others and tasked them to always help the poor around them by using it as an opportunity for others to learn and gain experiences which would help them later in life.

The bishop noted that the voice of God is always clear in the life of all present so that those who can hear Him would listen no matter the circumstances, adding that God is always ready to hear all present if they obey Him.

He enjoined all present to pray for Nigeria and Nigerians so that they would have proper way of behaviour and always obey God.

Highlight of the celebration was a procession round Auchi town led by the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) G.G Dunia assisted by Rev. Frs. Valentine Anaweokhai, John Aligamhe and Charles Dania.

St. James Holds Annual Couples Day

Chioma Agboh

Married couples of St. James Mass Centre, Waterboard, Auchi have held their annual celebration of couples day to mark the end of the year at the church premises.

At the occasion, the chairman of the organizing committee, Mr. Thaddeus Eilenbalulagbon welcomed all to the ceremony and noted that the purpose of the celebration of couple's day is to celebrate the institution of marriage and encourage unity in the Church.

More, he stated that the occasion is an avenue to relax from the worries and stress of work, family issues and appreciate their spouses, hence invitation was extended to their brothers in St. Paul's Nichoho.

Also, Mr. Eilenbalulagbon stressed that the occasion strengthens the unity of the church, as they have been able to sustain it for four years, remarking that it is a feast that only the St. James family has achieved in the diocese and called on other parishes and mass centres to borrow a leaf from them in order to foster unity, progress and love in their church.

In the same vain, the Rector of the mass centre Rev. Fr. Francis Emodogo who had earlier declared the occasion opened with prayers, also welcomed the couples and thanked them for the impressive turn out.

Fr. Emodogo congratulated them for sustaining the programme for married couples, stressing that when there is love and peace in a home, it brings rapid growth and development in the church.

Further, the priest enjoined all to actively participate in the lined up activities put together by the planning committee inorder to make it a success.

While making his remarks, Mr Joseph Umoru who anchored the occasion, pointed out that it is important for couples to take out time from their busy schedule to be together in a relaxed atmosphere, hinting that it strengthens their union, encourages intimacy and also enables them to know each other better and appreciate their marriage. He also added that laugher in a relaxed atmosphere is a good medicine for the heart and helps marriage to last.

Thereafter, there was a general dance by all couples present, dance competition in which Mr & Mrs Otaugo Ohifueme clinched the first position, Mr and Mrs Deji Asipa placed second position while Mr & Mrs Joseph Ariku settled for the third position and they went home with cash prizes.

Other activities at the occasion were know your spouse game and soft drink competition.
In his closing remarks, the chairman planning committee of the occasion Mr Thaddeus Eilenbalulagbon, congratulated the winners of the various competitions and made a personal donation of a parcel of land to the best danced couple, Mr & Mrs Otaugo Ohifueme.

Rev. Fr. Emodogo who led the closing prayer, thanked all couples present for gracing the occasion and for making it worth while. He further thanked the planning committee for their well thought programme of activities which made the occasion a success and prayed God to bless them all while wishing all a Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year.

Among dignitaries present at the occasion were Sir and Lady Itemoagbon (the CMO and CWO Presidents), Sir and Lady Peter Stephen Oba, Sir Napoleon Ogbemeh, the laity chairman, Mrs Okunega, F.F. Oyakhire, Mrs Adima Okogie, Dr. M.U. Igbonazobi, Mr & Mrs C. Ighodaro, Mr & Mrs Kelvin Agboh.

Earlier in the homily at the mass celebrated in the Church, the rector, Rev. Fr. Francis Emodogo, charged the parishioners to always seek the face of God and not to lose faith in the face of trials and tribulations, stressing that God is able to deliver his people from their troubles if only they can shun their sinful ways of living and embrace His word.

Fr. Emodogo who lamented that the sins of the present generation is worse than the sins committed in Sodom and Gomorrah which attracted God's wrath, opined that God is giving mankind room for repentance, while urging all to also speak against the evils and ills in the society.

Make Thanksgiving A Part Of Your Life - Fr. Shola

Catherine Izuagie

Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Michael Shola of SS Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Bodija- Ibadan has charge Christians to imbibe the habit of thanking God in every situation of their lives, as it is a means of attracting God's favour and blessings in their endeavour, as thanksgiving and praise moves the hand of God.

He gave this admonition recently in a homily delivered at St Theresa parish, Fugar on the occasion of their 2011 adult harvest thanksgiving/bazaar tagged “Adult build for the Lord” concelebrated with Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Gregory Ogbenika and Rev. Fr. Nicholas Oshiokede.

Fr. Shola who noted that thanksgiving is a day set aside to give gratitude to God for the gift of another year and a fruitful harvest, called on all present to contribute generously in building a house of worship for the Lord.

Continuing, the homilist reiterated that when faithful imbibe giving thanks to God, the blessing of the Lord will never cease in their lives like the only leper who returned to appreciate God for His blessing, stressing that they should count it as a privilege to contribute in building the house of God which he said was a way of appreciating God for His graces in their lives.

Further, Fr. Shola appreciated God for making the celebration worthwhile and prayed God to continue to bless them bountifully.

In their individual remarks, the 2011 harvest committee chairman Chief J.M. Okhuetu and harvest chairman Mr Tony Erilama, appreciated all present for gracing the occasion and tasked them to continue to support the ongoing Church building project and added that it is worth while to build for the Lord.

Highpoint of the mass was a thanksgiving procession to the altar by families, societies and individuals with their gift items in appreciation to God for His blessings

Some dignitaries present at the mass were Mrs B. Kadiri, Sir F. Imhagwe, Chief Hon. Jossy Akhigbe Alemoh, Hon. J.D. Akhigbe, among other guests.

Thereafter at the bazaar, items were put up for sales, while the cutting of 2011 adult harvest thanksgiving cake was done by Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Gregory Ogbenika, Sir Peter Aliu and Mrs Catherine Izuagie, the parish CWO President.
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