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Marian Pilgrimage: A Moment of Reflection
Auchi Diocesan Marian Pilgrimage to Igarra is an annual event in the Catholic Diocese of Auchi which gives an opportunity for faithful within and outside the Diocese to converge at the Marian Shrine at Igarra to reflect and offer prayers through the intercession of our Blessed Virgin Mother Mary.

Unarguably, Pilgrimage is a journey to a Holy place for prayers and other religious activities and our Diocese has provided that opportunity for faithful for a three-day intensive reflection on our spiritual life and re-dedicate ourselves to God.

Sadly, many have turned it to a mere annual exercise, contrary to the main purpose for the celebration.

Indeed Marian Pilgrimage as the name implies, should serve as an avenue for us to re-unite ourselves and pray through the intercession of our Mother Mary, the Mother of our lord.

Again, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on our attitude to religious activities and learn how to respect the Mother of Christ our Saviour in sincerity and faith.

Interestingly, as the nation celebrates her 53rd independence this year, it is also wise for us as faithful to present our nation in this Pilgrimage to our Mother Mary, Queen of peace to restore peace to our nation.

Also, we implore all to always offer our families, society and nation in general to the care of our Mother, who is a caring and loving Mother to enable us continually enjoy perpetual health of mind and body.

May God through the intercession of Mother Mary, hear and answer our prayers. Amen.

As part of efforts to further educate our avid readers on Biblical issues, a new column has been introduced to replace “Truthline” been handled by Rev. Fr. Stan WIlliam-Ede, with “Bible Truth” by Rev. Fr. Mario Aigbefo of Uromi Diocese, starting from this edition.

Bible Truth, as the name implies, is to educate, inform and impact on our readers the true teachings of the Bible as well as clarifying issues concerning doctrines of the Church that may seem nebulous to people.
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The Fire Of Divine Love
One of the definitions of God and most probably the shortest is that: “God is Love” (lst.John 3:16). Another of the definitions of God which is a bit longer than the preceding one is that: “God is the Supreme Spirit, who alone exists by himself and infinite in all perfections” (penny catechism number 17).

By the second definition of God as stated above it means that God is the greatest or highest Spirit above whom no other is, can and will be and that not having been created but exists of his own accord, his powers, might and all goodness are eternally boundless.

Collaboratively, the first definition of God which states that God is Love leads us to the knowledge that, the entire being of God is boundlessly Summum Bonum (the highest good). Hence, it is reasonably followed that all the doings within the boundlessness of the existence of the God of infinitely highest goodness should and are necessarily actions, operations, productions unto perfections in their highestness flowing from the one and only infinitely highestness of God in all HIS infinite Majesty. This foregoing presentation construes us with deep meditation on the meanings of “Glory to God in the highest” and “nothing impure shall see God” (Luke 2:14 and Ephesians 5:5), respectively.

The two statements: (1) “Glory to God in the highest” and (2) “Nothing impure shall see God” are actually embedded in the statement: non erit impossibile apud deum omne verbum = nothing is or can be impossible within the being of God (Lk 1:37). That is to say in the entire WORD of God which is God (cf John 1:1) anything it is sent to fulfill, which is always for utmost good, is most possible. In other words, the fulfillment of the purpose of the entire WORD or BEING of God is most undiminishably and unchallengeably possible always and everywhere at any given point in time and eternity. Hence, if any other being were to attempt any opposition to the fulfillment of the purpose of the WORD, such opposing attempt would certainly end in an abysmal futility, as it would not even live to conceive such an attempt talk-less of giving birth to it. The reason is that the entire being of God is LOVE and this love is all goodness through and through which burns maximally and perpetually for the generation of all actions, operations and productions in perfection in which contrary actions, operations and productions are incapable of existing and surviving; this is the reason for Love (God) to be the greatest abomination, as it were, to the devil, his agents and wiles. The devil's awareness of the presence of God alone constitutes the fire that burns him, the devil and his agents, perpetually. What would happen were it possible for the devil to stand in the presence of God? He would be annihilated long before a further move to behold God. This is the meaning of the definition of God as WHOLE (Holy), most totally apart from all that is impure and contrary to the eternally burning DESIRE for that, which is all GOODNESS through and through.

The Love of God which is God Himself is an inestimable light so bright that before it, it is most impossible for the devil to exist and operate at all. Those people who, with the help of Divine grace are incorporated into the divine love are actually the only ones who can be freed from the terror, torture and death posed by the devil and his agents. Hence, the continual call on the people of the world to firmly and convincingly take refuge in the love of God wherein unconquerable refuge to which the devil remains most impotent to dare is found.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary present the said Divine Love in which people can behold, learn, know and inhabit as their unconquerable vessel unto salvation now and for all eternity. Invoking the most unfailing intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we pray, that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit win for us the necessary worthiness with which our entrance into Divine Love will actually be made possible for us sooner than later. AMEN.
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» By Prof. Michael Ogunu
In the first part of this article, the writer examined nine characteristics of authentic Christian living. In the present section, I shall describe four others and state the major challenges to living as authentic Christians in our contemporary society and suggest some ways to meet the challenges.

1. The authentic Christian is prayerful.
According to the teaching of the angelic St. Thomas, the worship of God takes the first place in the order of moral virtues; it is occupied more with God and leads us nearer to Him than the others. For every Christian, therefore, who is striving after perfection it must be a matter of no little concern to make this virtue his own in the highest degree. Now the easiest means of doing so, a means that we can employ at all times and in all places, is found in prayer. Whether it be the prayer of praise or thanksgiving or impenetration or propitiation, we are worshipping God, for every prayer is a humble acknowledgment of the greatness or goodness or fidelity or mercy of God.

Vocal prayer, or prayer pronounced by the lips, is very pleasing to God because by it the endless Majesty of God is acknowledged and glorified. “The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me”, says the Lord by the mouth of the prophet David, “and there is the way by which I will show him the salvation of God” (Ps. 49:23). St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi was almost beside herself with joy when she heard the sound of the bell that called the community to prayer. She left everything at once to devote herself to this holy exercise, for she felt that she was performing the function of an angel in proclaiming the praises of God.

The easiest means of practicing vocal prayer consists in uttering fervent ejaculations. These pious outpourings of the heart need not be restricted to any particular place or time. They are in order at all times and in all places, at work, at meals, at recreation, at home or away from home. They may take the form of acts of desire, conformity, love, oblation, or self-denial; they may be acts of petition, thanksgiving, humility, confidence and the like. The saints of God placed greater value on these little prayers than on long devotions because the former are more calculated to keep us in the presence of God.

St. John Chrysostom says that he who frequently utters ejaculations closes the door against Satan and prevents his constant annoyance with wicked thoughts. It is by acts of love, conformity and self-oblation, together with the invocation of the holy names of Jesus and Mary, that we give the greatest pleasure to God. One who loves, thinks constantly of the object of his love. A soul that loves God will therefore always think of Him and seek occasions, by fervent sighs and ejaculations, to manifest his love.

In addition to vocal prayer, the authentic Christian also practices mental prayer or meditation. The eternal truths are spiritual things; they cannot be seen with the bodily eyes, but only with the eyes of the soul, that is to say, by reflection and meditation. It is for want of reflection that, as the Holy Spirit says, “all the land is made desolate because there is none that consider the heart” (Jer. 12:11). Hence the exhortation of Our Lord: “Let your loins be girt and lamps burning in your hands” (Luke 12:35). These lamps, says St. Bonaventure, are devout meditations, for during interior prayer the Lord speaks to us and enlightens us. “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my paths” (Ps. 118:105).

Without meditation or mental prayer we are lacking in strength to resist the assaults of the enemies of our soul and to practice the Christian virtues.

2. The authentic Christian practices mortification and self denial:
The virtue of mortification is twofold, exterior and interior. Exterior mortification consists in doing and suffering what is opposed to the exterior senses, and in depriving oneself of what is agreeable to them. In as far as it is necessary to avoid sin, every Christian is bound to practice mortification. With regard to those things which we may lawfully enjoy, mortification is not obligatory, but it is very useful and meritorious. For those, however, who are striving after perfection, mortification, even in things that are lawful, is absolutely necessary, for as St. Paul says in Gal. 5:17, “The desires of self-indulgence are always in opposition to the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are in opposition to self-indulgence: they are opposites, one against the other; that is how you are prevented from doing the things that you want to”.

It is certainly true that the world and the devil are great enemies to our salvation; but the greatest enemy of all is our own body because it is always with us. “The enemy that dwells with us in the same house”, says St. Bernard, “injures us most”. A fort has no more dangerous enemies than those within, for it is harder to protect oneself from these than from the enemy without. While worldly-minded people are intent solely on gratifying their bodies by the pleasures of sense, souls that love God think only of mortifying themselves as much as they can.

Interior mortification consists in restraining our inordinate self-love and self-will. There is a twofold love of self, the one good and the other bad. The former spurs us on to strive for eternal life, for which God has created us; the latter prompts us to seek for the good things of this earth, to the great detriment of our immortal soul. Christ Our Lord has said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself” (Matt. 16:24).

Many Christians perform acts of devotion, go frequently to Holy Communion, fast and spend much time at prayer, but they neglect to mortify their passions, and harbor feelings of revenge and aversion, and entertain dangerous attachments. They make no effort to bear with contradictions, to give up certain associations and to be subject to obedience and the will of God. What progress can such hope to make on the way to perfection? They always have the same faults, and according to St. Augustine they are outside the right way. “They run well”, says the saint, “but outside the path”. “Watch over thyself”, says Thomas a Kempis, “stir up thyself, admonish thyself; and whatsoever becometh of others, neglect not thyself. The greater violence thou offerest to thyself the greater progress thou wilt make”. (Im. Bk. 1, 24).

3. The authentic Christian must have a forgiving spirit. Our inability to forgive those who have offended us is one of our greatest hindrances in our spiritual growth. Unless we learn to forgive those who have injured us, we can never be holy. Unforgiveness is a sin and anyone who commits such a sin makes himself a candidate of hell. Long prayers before God with an unforgiving heart cannot bring down God's blessings. I wish to repeat with Jesus Ben Sira: “Resentment and anger are foul things and both are found with the sinner. He who exacts vengeance will experience the vengeance of the Lord, who keeps strict account of sins. Forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven. If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord? Showing no pity for a man like himself, can he then plead for his own sins? ... Remember the last things and stop hating ... and live by the commandments … Remember the commandments, and do not bear your neighbour ill-will; remember the covenant of the Most High and overlook the offence” (Sirach 27:30; 28:7).

In addition to having a forgiving spirit, the authentic Christian practices both corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Thus, he feeds the hungry, gives drink to the thirsty, cloths the naked, gives shelter to those who need it, visits the sick, ministers to prisoners and buries the dead. He also admonishes the sinner, instructs the ignorant, counsels the doubtful, comforts the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgives all injuries as already stated and prays for the living and the dead

4. The foundation of the above stated virtues which an authentic Christian must have is the virtue of humility. Without humility, all other virtues are nothing. Without it, there can be no salvation for any Christian, for “God resists the proud and gives His grace to the humble” (James 4:6) and our Lord expressly tells us that “unless you change and become like little children (by humility) you will never enter into the kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 18:3). Humility is the firm bedrock upon which every Christian should build the edifice of his spiritual life. “If you wish to lay good foundations”, says St. Teresa of Avila to her daughters (her nuns) “each of you must try to be least of all” that is you must practice humility. “if you do that … your foundation will be so firmly laid that your Castle will not fall” (cf. Interior Castle Ch. 7:4).

Challenges to authentic Christian living in Nigeria

Rev. Fr. Jude Ogunu OMV, the first African Priest of the Congregation of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and current Rector of the Lanteri Oblate Seminary, Ibadan, summarises the major challenges to living an authentic Christian life in Nigeria as follows:

1. Insufficient depth of faith, and superficiality.
2. Excessive materialistic attitude and behaviour
3. Inadequate catechesis on Christian teaching.
4. Disintegration of family values.
5. Pride and the other deadly or capital sins.
6. Disorienting ethical relativism, and excessive or paralysing religious conservatism.
7. Lack of inculturation (with the consequent frequent practical absence or insufficiency of an integrated identity and sense of belonging as a Catholic and Nigerian in other words, a schizophrenic attitude or conduct).
8. Egoism or self-centredness
9. The frequent disconnect (absence of link) between the socio-economic and professional pursuit of individuals and their spiritual or religious zeal, daily convictions and practices.
10. An excessive spiritualist/idealist attitude that alienates individuals from the practical realities and problems (be these social, economic, cultural, political or even religious challenges) on ground.

To meet the challenges enumerated above, the Church should intensify her efforts to encourage the lay faithful to deepen their knowledge of the Catholic faith. On-going formation programmes should be mounted at parish and diocesan levels to enable the lay faithful acquire better understanding of Catholic faith and practice, especially how to incorporate their faith in their daily living. Lay associations and organisations should also organise spiritual enlightenment programmes in which experts can be invited to give talks on the moral and social teachings of the Church. Priests and lay leaders, particularly parents, should teach the younger ones the value of simplicity and holiness of life through their personal life-styles. The pre-eminence of moral values over the material should also be inculcated in our youth through personal witness to the teachings of Christ.

In this article, I have identified some of the unmistakable hallmarks of authentic Christian living as well as the major challenges to its practice in Nigeria, and suggested some ways the challenges can be met. The main thrust of the article is that justice, righteousness, goodness, and purity of heart, truth, love and holiness of life, faith and trusting hope in the Gospel of salvation, are the core of Christian life (cf. 1 Tim. 6:11; Ti. 1:1). We should always strive to live spiritually authentic lives. What we are in private and what we are in public should be similar. We can't expect the world to give credit to our testimonies of faith while we are both witnesses of Christ and puppets of corruption, injustice, dishonesty and immorality.

Authentic spirituality doesn't happen overnight. Just like physical strength, spiritual strength takes exercise and time. Our walk with Christ is not defined by rare strokes of spiritual brilliance; consistent effort and prayer define it.

As Christians, we are held to high standards. We represent Christ. We represent His Church. Though we are not perfect, the Bible says that we should be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1). The journey is long and the goal is a lofty one, but the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to challenge us to it.

Are we ready to face the challenge? We can, by the grace of God and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians.
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God's Presence And Healing Experience (Part I)
» By Rev. Fr. Anavhe Thomas
Alleluia and joy is the basic experience in being in the presence of God. For God's presence helps to resolve all forms of ill health within us and restore us to a life of true happiness. If you desire to be healed from your wounds, you simply need to live in His presence. Sometimes, we feel that there is nothing in life, as such we experience emptiness. This is a sign that His presence is n. fully rooted in us. For His presence in our lives, is the true strength we need overcome every challenge before us. For it produces peace, joy, satisfaction and frees us from all forms of fear, shame, anxiety and depression. If we need rest in our lives; we must learn to live in His presence, for His presence gives meaning to our lives. Therefore, we must forever be ready to be in His presence. It is the spiritual energy that makes healing possible in our lives.

The Divine presence of God, releases healing power in us that enables us to experience peace of mind and strength in our bodies. The healing experience we encounter in His presence grants us wholeness in mind, body and emotion. So, when human circumstances seem to overwhelm us, we need His presence to neutralize the situation. Therefore, we must seek the face of God our activities to keep His presence in our lives. God said to David, “Come worship”, and David answered, “I will come Lord” (Psalm 26:8). The divine presence of God helps us to overcome every unpleasant situation before us. Hence we must learn to always seek the face of God in our lives.

We must desire more of His presence as union with God will change our lives completely. “For no one has ever seen or heard of a God like you, does much deeds for those who put their hope in Him (Isaiah 64:4 )”. To be with Him, is to experience newness of life in every aspect of our lives. It makes us to experience the glorious things that flow from His presence. His presence is not emptiness but a life of fulfillment.

There are no challenges or situation that can withstand His presence, because all challenges before His presence are completely put to check. God's presence in our lives has the capacity of protecting us from our enemies and any disappointment. It sets us apart for greatness. To live in His presence, is to have control over every other thing especially situation that seems to be imposable before men. The Egyptians were under the power of the Israelite but because of the divine presence that went with them in their daily journey. During the day, the lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud to show them the way, and during the night he went in front of them in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel both night and day. The pillar of cloud was always in front of the people during the day and the pillar of fire at night (Exodus 13: 2 -22).

The pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night which guided and allowed the Israelites to travel by day and night is not a mere symbol but a real phenomenon that happened out of His presence. When we are in His presence everything that belongs to us will be directed by the king of glory. In fact His presence will bring in us a physical manifestation of God's glory in our lives. It is His presence that we need in our lives and families for a new beginning. When there is divine presence in our lives, there is bound to be a newness of life, favour and blessing. For it is the force and energy that bring miracles into reality. Every challenge submits and bow to His presence, as it overpowers every other force that exist. Just before dawn the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptians army and threw them into panic (Exodus 14:24). So, to live in His presence, is to experience abundant living that no other force has power to stop. Even the little effort we put into our daily activities will become more meaningful and fruitful.

In every blessing, there is always hindrances to it. We need His presence in every aspect of our lives to dispel these hindrances. It was His presence that brought down the walls of Jericho that served as hindrance to the Israelite's Promised Land. To achieve success in life, His presence is needed to continuously turn down every wall that may come between us and our promised land.
Let us set aside every wall that may prevent His presence to flow in our lives. God's presence has no regard for the degree of our challenges, but capable of bringing down every challenge that is standing against us. We must not allow the nature of our situation to scare us, rather, we must be Conscious of His presence in our lives, for His presence is capable of delivery us from every bondage. When Elisha's servant got up early in the morning and went out of the house, he saw the Syrian troops with their horses and chariots surrounding the town. He went back to Elisha and exclaimed, “we are doomed, Sir! Don't be afraid, Elisha answered. “We have more on our side than they have on theirs. Then he prayed, “O Lord Open his eyes and let him see? The Lord opened His servant's eyes and he saw. The Lord answered Elisha's prayer, and Elisha's servant looked up and saw the hillside covered with horses and chariots of fire all round Elisha (2 king 5:15-17). For His presence attracts victory and transformation in our lives.

Our spiritual exercises may lack the capacity to create changes in our lives if we do not draw God's presence in them. They become mere religious activities for those who cannot dispose themselves to draw Gods presence from their spiritual exercises. We must therefore, ensure to give room for His presence to flow in our spiritual exercises. For it was not just the marching of Joshua with his soldiers praising God seven time around the walls of Jericho that brought down the walls. It was the Ark of the Covenant which they carried, as the symbol of God's presence that brought the walls of Jericho down. So, he told this group of men to take the Lord's covenant Box round the city once. So the Priests blew the trumpets and as soon as the men heard it, they gave a loud shout, and the walls collapsed. Then all the army went straight up the hill into the city and captured it (Joshua 6: 11, 20). In His presence, there is aboundant living that saves us from all forms of depression, unhappiness, frustration, unfulfilled hopes and dreams.
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Mary And The Catholic Church: Why Does The Catholic Church Honour Mary? (Pt. 1)
» By Rev. Fr. Mario Aigbefo
The Catholic Church gives a high regard to the Blessed Virgin Mary and encourages all children of God to give honour to the Blessed Virgin Mary because she is an important person in salvation history of mankind. However, some think that Mary should not be honoured because there is no scriptural basis for this act. Could this be correct? Let us now reason with the Bible for an answer to this question.

The Scriptural Reasons why the Catholic Church honours the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Catholic Church honours the Blessed Virgin Mary for the following scriptural reasons:

1. The Most Holy Trinity honoured Her First
In the Gospel of Luke 1:28, God sent his messenger, Angel Gabriel to Mary. As soon as he got to her, he said: Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee (KJV). In our secular world. It is a great honour to you when the ruler of your society offers you an invitation for a dinner for instance. If this is so with worldly issues, then it is far more an honour when the heavenly Father; creator of all things offers you an invitation to partake in his plan of salvation as was the special case of Mary.

Again, that the Angel Gabriel pronounced Mary highly favoured was so because the Father already pronounced her highly favoured to the knowledge of the angel-messenger who only repeated what he received from the Father because he had not the authority to pronounce Mary so if it is not the Father's position on the issue.

In Luke 1:41-42, the scripture tells us that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed about Mary at her visitation: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. In other words, her exclamation was influenced by the Holy Spirit. With this exclamation, the first part of the Hail Mary that Catholics pray was formed. In popular Catholic parlance, it is said that Angel Gabriel and Elizabeth formed the first part of the Hail Mary. But if you ask me, I will say that the Father and Holy Spirit honoured Mary by giving mankind the beautiful prayer called The Hail Mary through the instrumentality of Gabriel and Elizabeth.
Finally, just as it is a great honour for your earthly king to send a message to you that he is coming to pass a night in your house, it is far more an honour for the Son of God who is God himself to find a home in Mary's womb and house, making her his own mother: God choosing to become the son of the woman Mary. If the Most Holy Trinity could give Mary this great honour, who are we to say Mary should not be honoured or the God-given gift of the Hail Mary should not be prayed?

2. The Scripture says that all Mankind should honour Her
With reference to Mary, the Gospel of Luke 1:48 says: Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed. The honour that Catholics give to Mary, therefore, is the honour which the Bible says she should be given. If the scriptures tells us to call Mary blessed, who are we not to pray the Hail Mary: a prayer that pronounces Mary blessed according to the mind of God?
3. Mary is the New Eve and our Mother; and Exodus 20:12 (see also Ephesians 6:2) says that we should honour our Mother

Mary is the New Eve: the spiritual mother of the redeemed mankind in Christ who is the New Adam; and a mother must be honoured (Exodus 20:12). 1 Corinthians 15:45 tells us about a first Adam who became a living being, and the second Adam who became a life-giving spirit. The first Adam who was the father of mankind is usually associated with Eve who was the mother of mankind. Now, if there is a second Adam the father of the new spiritual mankind of God, then there must be a second Eve who must also be the mother of the new spiritual mankind of God because from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female(Mark 10:6).

'To understand this fact very well, we shall study the book of Revelations 12: 1-1 7 carefully and take particular note of verses 5 and 17 because some questions will arise from there:
A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. Its tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron (sceptre). But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman tied into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God

So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. Then from his mouth the serpent poured water like a river after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman; it opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.

Note that Verse 5 says that the child was a male child, one who was to rule the world with an iron rod or sceptre as some translations put it. The rod or better put sceptre, is a symbol of authority used by kings or rulers and this child would be the ruler of the entire world; the Ruler of rulers and King of kings. The question is this, in the history of humanity, who has fit in as the King of Kings and Lord of lords? Jesus! (Revelation 19:16).

Furthermore, verse 4 says that Satan was after the life of the child to devour it as soon as it was born but he was saved by God. Another question is, at the time Jesus Christ was born, was there anybody who was after his life; to kill him? King Herod. Was his life saved by God? Yes! God spoke to Joseph in a dream to take the child to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill him (Matthew 2:13-21). Now, if your answer to the first question is Jesus, and you agree that only the person of Jesus totally fits this child-figure in this passage, then you will not but agree also that the woman talked about in this passage is Mary. To support this, read the book of Micah 5:1-4.

Finally, verses 13-16 say that Satan went off to attack the woman but God preserved her. Satan, however, did not relent. Since it could get neither the woman nor the son, it went after the rest of her children to attack them. Yet another question is this, who are the rest of the children of this woman? Verse 17 provides us with the answer: Those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus. Do you keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ? In other words are you a Christian? If yes, Mary is your spiritual mother: the new Eve of the renewed and redeemed mankind. You must therefore keep God's commandment, honour your father and your mother in relation to Mary because she is our mother.
Further on Mary the New Eve and Her Fulfilment of the Woman in Revelations 12

In Genesis chapter 3:15, after the fall of Adam and Eve. God spoke in the form of a prophecy when he said: 1 will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. The woman that God referred to here is not the Eve with whom Adam fell from grace, but another Eve who was to give rise to an offspring that would destroy Satan and the power of evil symbolized by the serpent. About Revelations 12, Edward Sri wrote:

Mary appears as the New Eve in the cosmic battle between God and the devil a battle foretold at the very beginning of Scripture ... After the Fall of Adam and Eve, God addressed the serpent in Eden, saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed [offspring] and her seed [offspring]: he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel' (Gen. 3:15). This prophecy involves three main characters: the woman, the woman's son, and the serpent. It foretells how the woman [i.e. the New Eve] Eve, will have a descendant (“her seed”) who will bruise the head of the serpent. In the Bible, striking-the-head imagery denotes a king defeating his enemies (2 Sam. 22:37 43: Ps. 89:23: cf Ps. 110:1). 1 Therefore, the woman's son bruising the head of the serpent tells us two important things about him: lie will be a kingly son and he will defeat the serpent, the devil.

This ancient prophecy about the devil's defeat is the key backdrop to Revelation 12, which introduces the same three characters of Genesis 3: 15. The woman has a royal son who is attacked h the dragon a figure that is explicitly identified as “that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan” (Rev. 12:9). In this battle, the child emerges victorious as he is taken up to heaven and seated at the right hand of God (Rev. 12:5), while the dragon is conquered and cast down to earth (Rev.12:7 12).

With the ancient serpent being defeated by the woman's royal son, Revelation 12 is clearly presenting the ultimate fulfillment of Genesis 3:15's prophecy about the devil's defeat. Mary is the long-awaited woman of Genesis, and Jesus is her royal Son whose coming brings about the serpents defeat. (1)

Do you notice that in Genesis 3:15 when the God was addressing the serpent he made mention of the woman and her offspring (or seed)? In the Bible, an offspring usually and generally gets his status by virtue of the father and not the mother. 'This is very evident in the account of the genealogy' of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1: 1-16). But in the case of Genesis 3:15, there was no mention of Adam. This however was intentional. Firstly, it is an indication that the prophecy was not directed to the first but another Eve. Secondly, so that the promised offspring or seed would not emanated from the corrupt stock of the Old Adam, and so would not have partaken from the sin that mankind inherited from the Old Adam by virtue of Adam's representative sinful act (Romans 5: 12 & 18: I Corinthians 15:22). It is only at this point that the seed or offspring, free from the evil corruption and influence of the serpent would be able to crush the head of the serpent and consequently free mankind from this corruption. Hence, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel (cf. Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14; Luke l :34-35).

This is why in the genealogy of Jesus, when the narrative got to the point of Jesus, the attention shifted from the fathers to Mary: Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary: of her was born Jesus who is called Christ (Matthew 1:16 - NJB). Now, observe that in Genesis 3:15, it was the woman and her offspring without the mention of a father. In Revelations 12, it had to do with the woman and her offspring (male child) without the mention of a father. And in Matthew 1:20-21, it was the woman Mary, and her offspring or seed Jesus (male child) without a father. (2)

If we say we are Christians, whether we like it or not, Mary is our mother. She is the New Eve: Mother of the new creation of mankind in Christ the New Adam. The Bible has commanded us to give honour to our Mother, so we who are Christians have the obligation to honour Mary. Anyone who says that Mary is not his mother, such a person is an enemy of Christ her son (Revelation 12:17): For we cannot claim to love someone when we have disregard for the person's mother who brought him to being. Let us therefore honour her with the very precious gift of the Hail Mary which the Father and the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of Angel Gabriel and Elizabeth have given to us.

However, some are of the opinion that when John the Apostle was writing the book of Revelations, he did not have Mary but the Church of Christ in mind. My answer to this is that it is not what John had in mind that matters but what God needs his people to know. God's thoughts are not john's thoughts. Revelation is not stagnant but on-going. If the reality of human history has shown that this revelation is fulfilled in the life of Jesus and Mary, then they are part of the revelation.

A similar instance is the book of Isaiah 52:1-15. As agreed by l3ible scholars, the writer of this book when he was writing had not Jesus Christ in mind but Israel as a nation whom he personified. So verses 13-15 which talks about the Suffering Servant of God, at the time it was written had not Jesus in mind as the suffering servant but Israel as a nation personified that was passing through difficulties of enslavement and bondage in the hands of her captors or enslavers. But today, Jesus has now been understood as the Suffering Servant of God because human history has shown that all about the Suffering Servant is fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ. So, if the reality of human history has shown that Isaiah 52 is fulfilled in the life of Jesus in his passion, then Jesus is part of the prophecy of Isaiah 52. The same thing also applies to the Messianic Psalms.

Excerpted from the book: “find out the bible truth” Vol. 1, by Fr. Mario Aigbefo
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Cheers of Lamentation
» By Rev. Fr. Leonard O. Anetekhai
At Fifty three, a man will look back and smile to himself for the achievements he has made in life, he looks at his children and friends and sees the worth of wealth in them, and he will be very happy. Even as a nation, one will look back and remember growing up in a time when life was simple, full of laughter and contentment; a time when discrimination and intolerance were taboos, a time when everyone no matter the status proudly sings the national anthem and proclaimed with national pride the solemn words that makes up our national pledge.

Then, ethnicity, religion or social status never really mattered to anyone. What matters then was what one wanted to make of oneself and how the ultimate achievement in life could positively impact on the lives of others. Fifty three years after, I find myself living in this same land where all things have changed. I find myself secretly hoping to 'port' out to a better place where I can live my life with dignity and in peace. A life where even though tomorrow is filled with its uncertainties, is filled with the promise that tomorrow's challenges will be sufficient unto itself.
In Nigeria today, none of us feel safe anywhere in the land and worst still, rather than embrace each other as a people with a common destiny; we have all risen against each other preferring to offer loyalty first to our ethnic nationalities, religions leanings and political affiliations. Trust and peace have become words we only hear but clearly the meanings of both are lost to the great number of us. Barely four decades ago, we were the gaint of Africa. We had struck it rich in not just petroleum but other natural resources which promised us great wealth and a future of progress. We were firmly positioned on the path to great wealth and the development such wealth could bring. Today the story has changed considerably. We are now a struggling people who strive against quite obvious socio-economic odds to make ends meet. Virtually nothing works in the manner it was meant to be and virtually everybody has become intolerant and belligerent.

All across Nigeria, hopelessness, chaos and fear have become the order of the day. Our treasury has been continually ravaged by the very people we expect to protect our interests. Those we entrusted to run our national affairs have alienated the rest of us from the process and have consciously deprived us of our share of the milk and honey that flows so abundantly from the land. It is a pity to see our Senator congratulating Nigeria and Nigerians at 53 with the declaration that its leaders, past and present, with the political class are responsible for its persisting woes.

The senators, “at their plenary session recently, unanimously described the state of the nation as pitiable, in comparison with some other countries that attained independence almost at the same time with Nigeria…also submitted that its past leaders, apart from those who fought for its independence, had failed to provide the required leadership that could make the nation great, by putting in place enduring social and economic development plans.” what a shame.

These words of lamentation was sequel to a motion moved by the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, on behalf of 12 other senators, calling for a reflection on the Nigerian nation, ahead of the forthcoming 53rd Independence anniversary celebration. A fellow Senator Smart Adeyemi, concurred to the fact that at independence, Nigeria was considered to be one of the emerging great nations of the world, adding that its present state, 53 years after, was more of a hope dashed. For him, “Unlike patriotic leaders like the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the late Nnamdi Azikwe, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and others, who started the Nigerian project on a very solid note, anchored on maximising the greatest good for the greatest number of people, most of the modern-day Nigerian leaders, being narrow-minded, have been running grounded the Nigerian nation.” And the problem of narrow-minded leadership had turned most of the state governors into ethnic group governors, just like some highly-placed public officers who were undermining the development of the country. Thus, For Nigeria to be great as hoped, there is the need for possible change of mindset of all, both followers and leaders, to the Nigeria project.

In agreement to these lamentations, other senators, submitted that teething problems like youth unemployment, poor power supply, incessant ethno-religious crises, among others, should not be the lot of the country at 53. And to conclude, Senate President, David Mark, in his remarks, said the attitude and behaviour of most Nigerians today were contrary to what the old National Anthem stood for, while using the phrase in the old anthem, “though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand,” to butress his point, he said Nigerians could not currently be said to be standing in brotherhood, going by various killings and other vices taking place in the country. At every level, we have Nigerians who are leaders. So, we must begin to look inwards and search our minds now, so that we can make progress…we want a nation where truth and justice shall reign. Again, going back to our old National Anthem, a nation where truth and justice shall reign. And once we have this as our cardinal point, I think every other thing shall follow.

At 53, we do not need to begin to count our woes and pretend as if we are free from the guilt of our father's sins. The simple message at this year's Independence Day celebrations is that of sober reflection. We should see in the occasion the need for peace and tolerance as the only means through which we can achieve the benefits of nationhood. Though our yesterday seems better than our today, I see a faded flash of hope that the future could be better. There can never be enough of sacrifices for the good of the fatherland and we must see that we are a blessed generation who enjoy the unique privilege of contributing to national and global development in this era when all countries of the world are on developing.

Yes, Nigeria is passing through difficult times at present. It is not peculiar to us. Some other nations across the globe suffer worse fate. What makes ours different is that our leaders lack humility and sensibility. They are too self-centred to recognise that the masses are suffering and dying of poverty, hunger, sickness and diseases.

What good has God not blessed us with? We have clement weather all year round; arable land, rich human and mineral resources and a happy, understanding people. But we lack love. And when we lack love, we lack God. And when we lack God in our lives, we lack vision. And when we lack vision, we perish. It is the lack of love that breeds treasury-looters, kidnappers, armed robbers, child-traffickers, rapists, ritual-killers, terrorists, cultists, etc. Look at the looting that has taken place since the birth of our new democracy and you equally see the tragedy that has befallen us!

When we recall the days of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Aminu Kano, one will dare to ask from where did our present leaders get their blood, that wickedness and greed cannot be flushed out of them. These men were leaders that placed nation above self and sacrificed their lives for the good of the nation and others. I have been wondering what Nigeria would have become if our present crop of leaders had emerged 50 years ago. Probably, there would not have been any nation called Nigeria. Or better put, we would have gone into extinction. For 53 years of independence, Nigeria has been milked and sucked almost to a point of unconsciousness; yet it has continued to survive. Oil thieves have vowed never to allow it to exist in peace. Recent reports revealed that the nation loses over N2.3 billion daily to these faceless but very dangerous cabals that operate in the disguised name of oil thieves. If we look deeply we will see that the so-called oil thieves are top-placed Nigerians who use their acolytes to vandalize and steal oil from NNPC pipelines, providing them security cover. If this presumption is not risible then, why have efforts made by the government to stop them failed?
The simple truth we have all failed to appreciate is that we are systematically killing Nigeria by our greed, avarice and the large scale corruption that goes on daily. What future do we hope to bequeath to the coming generations of Nigerians? Is it a nation eaten up by locusts with nothing left to feed the majority that are hungry? Our political party system has been traumatized by the mindless and covert scheming of politicians. There is no stable political space for the people to exercise their franchise. Elections in Nigeria have become a mere academic exercise with the winners determined long before the due date. Those produced by this heavily-compromised process reign with terror and unconscionable dispositions. They do not listen to anybody or care for the masses they oversee anymore.

Where will our hope come from, from Party leaders who see splitting as a way of good governance without respect for the rule of law? Or from those who see the Provision of social infrastructure as a taboo to her citizens?

God certainly is our hope. Fifty three years after attaining nationhood, I have hope and know for sure that Nigerians like me still have hope that things will get better, with graces that come from above. We ask God Almighty to bring us out of our present coma and retrogression, and project our nation into the global and resourceful arena as we celebrate another year of our independence. Amen.
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Whose Woman's Turn Is It? - The Many Troubles With Polygamy (2)
» By Rev. Fr. Francis Ikhanosime

Different supports have been advanced for polygamy by its adherents. These supports have been advanced from the Bible, some from social living and others from economic viewpoints. But all these upon a close examination reveal many inconsistencies, dangers and problems. It is only expedient to recount in a summary view the biblical position about polygamy. In the Scriptures, God made them from the beginning, male and female (cf. Gen 5: 2; Matt 19:4); both in the singular. Thus, it is not the idea of God to have a man marry more than one wife. But God's original plan was gradually being disrupted by the corruption that had entered humanity through the fall of man in Genesis 2. Thus, the idea of Polygamy is the aftereffect of man's frailty and distortion of God's original plan. The first record of polygamy is with Lamech, a descendant of unfaithful Cain. (Gen. 4:19) But God's servant Noah had only one wife, as did each of his three sons. (Gen. 7:13; 1 Pet. 3:20) God's friend Abraham had one wife, Sarah. But Sarah, long barren, knowing that a “seed” had been promised to Abraham, induced him to have relations with her Egyptian slave girl Hagar, who thereby became a concubine to Abraham. (Gen. 16:1-4) Abraham's son Isaac, born later to Sarah through a miracle, and who was the promised “seed,” had only one wife. (Gen. 21:2, 12; 24:67) Isaac's son Jacob, however, had two wives, due to trickery on the part of his father-in-law Laban. Jacob also had concubines.Gen. 29:21-29; 30:1-13.

The citing of the instances of Polygamy by the Patriarchs like, Jacob, Abraham, etc is a case of taking the exception for the rule. The exception or anomaly does not negate or displace an original intent or template. In fact, if we look at those in the Bible who had multiple wives, misfortune always came to them as a direct or indirect result of their polygamy. For example, Jacob's sons, born from different mothers, develop rivalries among themselves, resulting in the selling of their brother Joseph into slavery. David's son's, born from different wives, fight and kill among themselves for the throne after his death. Solomon's many wives lead him away from God and into paganism in his later years, weakening the kingdom and leading to its breakup. When we fail to see the hermeneutical stress on the stories told, we lose sight of the teaching. Polygamy is clearly opposed to the divine positive law.

Reading the Old Testament in isolation is like reading a people's history in isolation. There is a progression of thought from the Old Testament to the New Testament and in fact, a fulfilment of that thought therein. The Patriarchs in the Old Testament where drawn from a culture that was idolatrous, polygamous and even murderous. But God was simply taking them through a process, showing them that some of these ill-cultures you were born into and which you also practiced is what he was calling them out of. God was simply in the process of raising a peculiar people, culture and race. Thus, we see the development from Abraham to Moses, through the kings and prophets. After the Babylonian exile, some of the ungodly practices were gone from their culture. In Jesus, we have the fullest expression of God's desire for the human race, and Jesus says that from the beginning, the original intent of marriage was to be between a man and woman for life. The foundation for the Catholic Church's (and many other Christians) teaching on marriage is the teaching of Jesus on the matter, found primarily in Matthew 19:1-12. In this passage, Jesus even says "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so." In Jesus, the weaning process was complete and distortion that was enabled at the fall of man was reconciled. Jesus being the new Adam restored what was lost in the old Adam. At creation, God made them male and female. Thus, we cannot begin to stick with a distortion as a norm. In the New Testament, which is the redemptive era, instances of polygamy were not seen or common.

Polygamy exists predominantly under polygyny. This leaves us with a number of factors to address. Since polyandry is not thriving, it reveals something about polygyny to us. Polygyny is a patriarchal issue; the issue of male domination. Patriarchy is an intractable and vexed problem of women subjugation that has created the greatest societal crack and imbalance. Once the walls of patriarchy are understood, women themselves would detest promoting its institution. Patriarchy has helped to define women's position in the family as subordinate and only recognizable in reference to men. Patriarchy with its contraption of polygyny opens up the avenue of violence against women. This violence cuts across culture, class, education, income, ethnicity and age. It may take the form of domestic violence or sexual assault, kidnapping or murder, forced suicide of widows or dehumanizing conditions widows are subjected to, genital mutilation or women trafficking. The correlations are endless.

Male polygamy is a bad idea and selfish because each of the men is trying to marry at least two wives in order to set up his "future kingdom," which is exaltation to godhood. The men compete intensely and the women are under implicit, but severe orders to provide themselves as means to the exaltation the men are striving to reach. For the polygynist men, women are not married because of affection or for anything mutually exclusive but for the satisfaction of some selfish motives. In this wise, women are seen as objects; they are not loved like persons but acquired like property. The more these “properties” are acquired, the more a man is considered rich or famed. Akin to this is an economic motive. More women are married by a particular man because it availed the family more hands in labour like farming. The more wives a man had, the bigger his farm was likely to be. Thus, the basis for the relationship was not hinged on love or companionship but on economic prosperity. Women in this system are thus, no less than machines. These women entered into such marriages as it were not because they completely understood the idea, but because, it was the only way to survive a fierce economic climate thrown in on them either from poor educational background, prevalent patriarchal structure and/or harsh post-widowhood experience.

Polygamy has such a horrid family style as women take turns to do things including sexually meeting their husband. Thus, it was said: “whose woman's turn is it?” Once it was not the turn of a particular woman to share sentiments with the husband, she dared not go in. This has really created a cold war amongst wives of a particular man. It is not uncommon to see women casting spell on each other and sometimes on their step-children. Sometimes too, the man even becomes subject of the malice of the other wives, should he show more interest in one over the other(s). To corroborate this point, it is strongly being argued by readings in human psychology and I share same sentiments that the human mind is made in such a way that, it cannot love two things or people at the same time equally. Scriptures adds, “no one can love two masters, it is either he hates the first or loves the second…” (Matt. 6:24). There is a kind of malice that springs from the mind of the first woman to others and it continues with the addition of a new woman to the others. This atmosphere makes a polygamous family a web of hatred, a chain of unhealthy competition and a circle of divisions. This hatred and divisions take different twists and turns.
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Justice And Religious Freedom
» By Rev. Fr. Cornelius Omonokhua
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (P.C.I.D), Vatican City and The Center for Interreligious Dialogue (C.I.D); The Islamic Culture and Relations organization (ICRO), Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran held the 8th colloquium in Rome (November 19-21, 2012). The theme was, “Catholic and Muslim cooperation in promoting justice in the contemporary world”. Papers were presented from the perspectives of Christianity and Islam. From the Christian point of view, The Cardinal President of the P.C.I.D in his welcome address affirmed that “As religious leaders and intellectuals we are called to meet the needs of the concrete life of peoples, and to contribute to make social life more human, more open to transcendence, and more open to the common good. It is there that justice comes in. When we speak of justice we speak of the capacity to love”. From the point of view of Islam, His Eminence, The President of the ICRO remarked that “justice is not only a basic norm for the world management and international relations, but also it is a causal reason for achieving freedom. Therefore, issues such as people's equal right for political-social participation and the right to choose and determine their own destiny are some practical examples of social justice and relationship between freedom and justice in Islamic Republic of Iran.

All the presentations from the delegates of the Vatican and Iran pointed to the reality of justice as a need for the human person and the human society.
The discussion at this level ought to touch both the Christians and Muslims in the world. However, the events at the Christmas of 2012 provoke the question of where we can locate justice in the context of religious freedom. Stuart Wilde (www.stuartwilde.com) reported on December 28, 2012 that “41 Christians were arrested in Saudi Arabia for the high crime of, “plotting to celebrate Christmas” with a tree and few presents for the kiddies”. A similar report from Russia stated that “The religious police in Saudi Arabia have raided a house in the Al Jawf Province and arrested 41 people, who were “plotting to celebrate Christmas.” The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that the police said that the detainees were Christian guests of an Asian diplomat and that Saudi Arabia forbids any religious practice that is not Islam.
Many people and nations have struggled with this question of religious freedom as an expression of justice. On the 10th anniversary of “Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act” (RLUIPA), the Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez remarked that “Religious freedom is one of the United States ' founding principles, protected by the First Amendment and other federal laws. The right against religious discrimination is likewise one of our basic civil rights. When Congress enacted the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 at the height of the civil rights movement, it also barred discrimination based on religion. This affirms the principles of George Washington that ”a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.”

In Nigeria the question of freedom of religion is still very much in the air. On May 1, 2012 Sahara Reporters, New York, reported that “Northern Christians cry for Justice and Religious Freedom” when 25 church worshippers on the campus of Bayero University Kano were killed by gunmen. Rev. Dr. Amb. Sam Kraakevik Kujiyat condemned these attacks and affirms that this continued onslaught against Christians in the core Northern States is a deliberate attempt to wipe out Christians from the region”. Kujiyat made a clarion call to all political, traditional/Islamic religious leaders and asked when all the Northern Christians will enjoy the religious freedom that is enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? He identified the problem of religious freedom in the denial of the rights and privileges of Christians by authorities who claimed to be just and want peace whereas the Christians in the Northern States are being short-changed as second class citizens. The case is different in the Eastern part of Nigeria where Muslims enjoy religious freedom even though they are in the minority. In the West Christians and Muslims enjoy equal liberty and live together like brothers and sisters who worship the same God.

The “jingle” that no religion preaches violence and that there is no compulsion in religion is often challenged in the face of visible injustice that has a religious colouration hence the pertinent puzzle that while Muslims and Christians live together in peace and harmony in some countries with a high regard for human dignity and religious liberty, others are grossly intolerant? Why is it that the Christians and Muslims in the Southern, Western, Eastern and Mid-western part of Nigeria coexist while those in the Northern part of Nigeria are still struggling to hold a common grip of coexistence? Is the problem in religion, politics or human nature that has been manipulated through indoctrination? Some people have postulated that in Nigeria, there are 95% good Christians and 95% good Muslims and that these high percentage should come together to conquer the remaining 10% of bad Christians and Muslims with dialogue.

It appears that the concept of justice means different things to different people but Aquinas position seem to be of universal relevance. Thomas Aquinas in his “Summa Theologica, (1225-1274)” asked “Whether justice is fittingly defined as being the perpetual and constant will to render to each one his right” as defined by lawyers? He responded that justice is a habit which makes a person "capable of doing what is just, and of being just in action and in intention”. God is Just and all His creatures must be just being they Jews, Gentiles, Hausas, Fulani, Edos, Yorubas, Ibos, etc. The light of Justice that Jesus came to establish in the world confirms "that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and co-partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." A world without Justice and religious freedom is poor. At best, it is a world of slaves. Can anyone imagine a world with ONE Religion! I wonder how developed that world can be! No one is an island hence those who hunger and thirst for justice are blessed (Matthew 5, 6). Pope Benedict XVI sees justice and religious freedom as not just a right but an act of “charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection” which is “the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity." (Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate 29th June 2009). God accommodates us in our differences. Why is it so difficult for us to accommodate one another? May no fear of conversion lead any one to perpetuate injustice against religious freedom?
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Tips To Improve Quality Of Life
» By Pharm. Nnzewi
We shall look at this with particular attention to High Blood Pressure (hypertension) and Stress. Extend a copy of this information to your friends and dear ones. This is a topic you must not ignore.

Measure your blood pressure regularly. Weekly measurement is of great benefit. You can own your own BP measuring device.
If you are hypertensive as well as diabetic with or without kidney problem, put strict control on your blood pressure. Consult your doctor if you do not understand the meaning of this. It is not the same as overdosing.

Once diagnosed a hypertensive, keep up with your medication and regular visits to your physician. Many people drop their medications only to end up in crises.
Treatment of hypertension is life- long, so don't be tired of controlling and monitoring your blood pressure.

Aim at a blood pressure less than 140/90mm. It is important for the protection of your heart from heart problems.
Your blood pressure is high if it is greater than 145/90. Sustained high blood pressure is dangerous.

Take your antihypertensive as prescribed by your doctor.
High blood pressure can cause heart disease, kidney problem, and incessant headache, damage to the eye, hardening of the arteries, stroke and even death.

Do not take Asprin even as low as 75mg when you are going through a sustained high blood pressure. This will worsen any incident of cerebra vascular accident.
Do not go off your medication or swerve from one medication to the other without the approval of your doctor.

Mild to moderate hypertension can be treated by engaging in weight reduction, and regular exercise.

Exercises such as STRETCHING are good for hypertensive patients. AEROBIC exercises strengthen the heart and tend to reduce blood pressure. Regular exercise helps to improve health as it enhances good blood flow. The importance of good blood circulation to healthy life cannot be over emphasized.

If you are elderly, avoid vigorous exercise. You should first consult your physician.

Change your lifestyle-Reduce salt intake. This will help to reduce your blood volume and hence reduce blood pressure.
Life changes and drugs will reduce the risks factors in high blood pressure.

Eat more of fruits, vegetables, and fat free diets.

Food rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium have been found to reduce blood pressure. These minerals can be found in banana, lemon, potato, peas, broccoli, tomato, cauliflower, sprouts and oranges.
Some fibrous foods such as apple, banana, orange, potato, carrot, tomato, cabbage, beans are source of soluble fibers. The fiber binds to cholesterol and gets it excreted out of the body. The effect of cholesterol on blood pressure is thus incapacitated.
Take a lot of water especially in the morning and in an empty stomach. This helps to thin the blood, improve blood flow and reduce the tendency for blood to clot.
Stop or moderate your alcohol intake.
Caffeine present in coffee, kola nut and other sources tend to push up blood pressure.
Create daily period of adequate and quality rest.
Avoid high sounds and over illuminated environs.
Avoid stress emotionally, mentally and physically.
Many elderly people go for libido enhancers. Consult your physician before such medication as your heart may not be able to withstand the effect.
Whether or not you are hypertensive, keep away from agitations, anger, malice, fight or fright, vengeance, bitterness, hatred, irritancy etc. The creator who so much loves His creatures told us to avoid these vices.
All forms of unrighteousness can elevate your blood pressure.
All forms of evil deeds will raise blood pressure.
It is an established fact that confession of one's sins and repentance calms the one and lowers blood pressure.
Finally, it is easy to acquire facts but quit difficult to practice them. I advice that you turn to God in prayer; for the grace and strength to succeed.
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Faith As An Essential Element Of The Christian Life
» By Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Okafor
Faith is an essential dimension of the Christian life. It is not uncommon to see or hear people who would claim be from a Christian or Catholic family; but the question that looms large is: Has my Catholic family background helped to express a deep faith in God? The longer we are in the Church the deeper is suppose to be our faith, but is that really the case? It is easier for one to trust in God when all is well, but can we express faith in God in difficult moment?

Faith is an antidote to doubt and fear. Where there is faith, fear and doubt have no reign or domain. Faith and fear or doubt cannot live together. If you are still fearful or doubtful, it means you have very little faith.

What is faith?
According to the Penny Catechism, “Faith is a supernatural gift of God which enables us to believe without doubting whatever God has revealed.”Faith is an assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval (Heb 11:1-2). Faith is a habitual disposition of the mind and heart towards God and Jesus Christ. It is a personal encounter or relationship with God; a self disclosure of the divine Father and a personal adherence to him. We come to know who a person is when we relate with the person. Faith is an inner disposition, or an illumination by which we see and comprehend reality in a new light. It is the knowledge of God which comes through the reception and acceptance of God's word. Through faith we come to understand who God is. The content of Christian faith is Jesus Christ.

Faith is a quality of the Christian community and it comes by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17). Faith is an acceptance of God's word, a trust in God's power. This acceptance of God's word and trust in God demand obedience to God's commandment. We have faith in God not because what God says can be seen with the light of reason, but because of the authority of God behind what God says. You only need to believe in order to understand. According to St. Augustine; “I believe that I may understand” (Credo ut intelligam). Jesus said to Nathaniel “Do you believe because I said I saw you under the fig tree, come you will see a greater thing” (Jn 1:50). This means that faith light as well as a journey with Jesus Christ, the light of the world (Jn 8:12) who leads us to see greater things.

According to St. Anselm of Canterbury; “Faith seeks understanding” (fides quaerens intellectum). This is why when the Angel Gabriel told the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would be the mother of the Saviour even though she was a virgin, Mary asked; “How can this be?” She tried to understand. And the Angel said to her that the power of the Most high would overshadow her (Lk1:34-37). Her question led her to enlightenment. Abraham had a similar experience. When God promised to give him the land of Canaan, he asked, “How am I to know that I shall possess it?” God said to him, “bring me a three-year old heifer, a three-year old ram, a turtle dove and a young pigeon” (Gen 15:8-12). We do not understand before we believe, but we believe in order to understand.

When we asked questions regarding our faith, we do not asked because we doubt, we asked in order to have a better understanding and be enlightened.

Without faith it is impossible to please (Heb 11:6). Let us approach God with a true heart in full assurance of faith (Heb 10:22). Our faith in Jesus Christ makes us to accept his promise with confidence in his fulfillment; as Abraham had confidence in God's promise telling him to leave his Father's land to a land that he would be shown even when there was no reason to hope or believe (Gen 12:1-9; 15:1ff).

We have confidence in a statement because of the one who is behind it. We take the statement of God serious because we know that God does not lie. Faith is not always reasonable or meaningful to the senses (Heb 11:8); it is only reasonable to a point. So we can talk of faith and reason. Reason can only accompany faith to a point.

The gauge for faith is trial. If you faint in the day of adversity it means that your faith is not strong (Pro 24:10).

Basic Elements in Faith:
1. Believe: To believe is to have confidence or assurance in someone and take his word to be true. It entails conviction and trust; and it is based on a personal relationship between individual and God. It is a firm assent of the mind to what the Church authoritatively teaches in the name of God. believe leads to an awareness or knowledge of God.
2. Conviction: Faith is not the interpretation of someone else's point of view on reality, but one's own interpretation of reality. Without conviction there cannot be trust.
3. Trust: Faith is an act of total self-surrender. We trust in God because we have assurance (believe) that God will do what he says w ill do. This is because his word has awesome power. This I call to mind, that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases (Lam 3:21-23). The just will live by faith, but I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away (Heb 10:38). We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7).
4. Obedience: Faith makes us to be obedient to God (Heb 11:8) and do what he commands us just as Abraham obeyed God (Gen 22:1-19).
5. Perseverance: Faith waits on God because of the trust one has in God. I trusted even we I said I am sorely afflicted (Ps 116:10).
6. Commitment: Faith entails trust and total commitment of the self to God, a commitment of heart and mind (Gen 22:1-19; Lk 12:32-34). A faith in the Lord that is merely at the level of words and does not lead to action is not real faith. Faith without good work is dead (Jas 2:14-26). The kind of faith that has value in God's sight is the one that leads to obedience and loving service. Faith moves us to action (Heb 11:5).
7. Faith looks to the past (Ps 77:12-13; Wis 18:6) and to the future (Lk 12:32; Heb 11:10). When one considers what God has done in the past one becomes more hopeful and exercise a greater confidence in God.

When these basic elements are absent in one's relationship with God, then it is becomes a shallow faith.
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CBCN sue for Moral, Ethical Principles in Leadership

...Rejects anti-life laws.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), has reiterated the need for Nigeria leaders to be guided by moral and ethical principles of good governance, stressing that good governance is characterized by animating development and improving the lives of people.

This was contained in the Communiqué issued at the end of the CBCN second plenary meeting at the Double K. Resort, GRA, Otukpo, Benue State, titled “our faith commitment in action”.
The Prelates bemoaned that “Nigeria that is abundantly blessed with resources do not reflect in the lives of her children, is very disconcerting,” stressing that “fraudulent use of public resources robs the citizens of basic amenities like quality education, befitting health service, pliable roads, steady electricity, portable water supply and more.” They observed that “cost of governance is disproportionately high compared to funds released for development of infrastructure and provision of services, noting that with regard to some public authorities, abuse of power with impunity has been elevated to an art of governance”.

The Shepherds of Souls urged that “we continue to appeal to the conscience of our people to cultivate values of accountability and transparency as they serve the nation and their communities for guinue growth in the democratic culture,” pointing out that “according to Pope Paul VI … development cannot be authentic until it is complete, integral and promotes the good of everyone and of the whole person.”

Emphasizing on the need for all to respect life and reject anti-life laws; the Bishops hinted “we have observed with keen interest the continuous attempt made by foreign agencies to introduce unwholesome value to our society in their campaign for abortion, supply of condoms and promotion of same sex unions. We here by condemn such moves”, adding that “we appeal to the people of Nigeria to also reject such moves, lest we stand to lose our faith, cultural identity and pride,” while reiterating the need for commitment to the sanctity of human life from the very moment of its conception to the time of natural death.

On the use of capital punishment as the easiest way to rid the society of dangerous criminals, the Communiqué described the move as improper, noting that “the lives of condemned criminals remain sacred and demand deep compassion,” affirming that “capital punishment does not offer criminals the opportunity for repentance in accord with the vision of God about man's Salvation. Given modern developments for the safety of citizens, public authorities are increasingly called upon to explore practical measures to prevent criminality and to foster human ways that would lead to the reformation of criminals”.

Commending the federal government on the level of security in Nigeria, the CBCN noted, “we congratulate the government for the bold measures to combat terrorist attacks, especially in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States”, stressing that “we observe at the same time that a lot still needs to be done to obviate the menance of armed-robbery, kidnapping, perpetuated through our land”, adding that “we note the illegal importation and dangerous circulation of small- arms among our citizens”.

While sympathizing with all the families who have lost their loved ones since the Boko Haram menance began, the Bishops pointed out that “we call on federal and state government to improve the security networks and measures to proactively arrest such insurgencies, rather than wait till they happen” and added that” we appeal to government to assist deserving victims and relatives of the deceased”.

Commenting on the current issue between Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the federal government, the communiqué revealed that “university students have again been made to roam about following the indefinite strike of the members of the ASUU who are protesting the level of the implementation of the 2009 ASUU/Government Agreement”. The Local ordinaries pointed out that “we are disturbed by the crippling effect of this strike” and appealed to the federal government and the ASUU to take the higher ground of mutual exchange and shifting of grounds, for the collective responsibility of saving university education and getting the youths back to the classrooms.

Further, the Prelates prayed that “the Virgin Mary, the first disciple and Mother of the Church, be our model and intercede for us in this year of faith”.

Youths Constitute the Promise of Hope for the Future-Pope …As Fr. Ndubisi Task Youths on Moral Laxity

The Holy Father Pope Francis has reiterated that Youths constitute the promise of hope for the future, stressing that as the craftsmen of the future, it is a beautiful thing to go towards the future with illusions, with so many beautiful things, adding that it is also their responsibility to become craftsmen of the future.

This was contained in his address to youths who were on Pilgrimage to the Vatican from the Italian Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio.

According to the Holy Father, “young men and young women carry within them three desires, these are, beauty, goodness and truth. Beauty reflects in music, theatre or art is a manifestation of their search for beauty,” noting that “young persons within themselves want to do great things, despite the difficulties and challenges facing the world in today's day and age”.

Continuing, the Shepherd of Souls hinted that “Youths are the prophets of goodness and this goodness is contagious and it helps others.” While calling on the Youths to accept the challenge of manifesting these three desires by moving against the current civilization and proclaim the good news, he added that the three desires in their hearts will bring them forward to the future and make a future with beauty, goodness and truth.

Further, the Bishop of Rome who urged the youths of the world to go against the current of modern day civilization which promotes drug addiction, alcohol and other social vices which are harmful and impede them from going forward in life, enjoined them to embrace the values of beauty, goodness and truth.

In a similar vain, the Secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria youth committee, Rev. Fr. Charles Ndubisi has tasked Catholic Youths and their Chaplains to raise up to the challenges of moral laxity and the drifting of Youths from the Catholic Faith.

He stated this in his address at the 74th National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of Catholic Youth held recently in Benin City, Edo State.

Fr. Ndubisi noted that “it is on record that since our inception in office in 2009, all who travelled with us to Spain and Brazil, came back at the end of the events. Our success measured in the high level of participation in the world Youth Day events and the possible religions experience accrued to it” adding that “…it is about the religious experience with Jesus, who invites us, through the Church, for reconciliation. World Youth Day remains a Pilgrimage which is a journey of faith to a place of faith by the people of faith for the purpose of faith”.

The CBCN Youth Committee Secretary hinted that the theme of the Rio celebration “Go therefore make disciples of all nations” was a clarion call on individuals to repent and live their lives rooted and built in Jesus Christ and be firm in their faith, adding that if they are rooted in Christ, that is the only way they can be disciples of all nations.

More, Fr. Ndubisi reiterated that “we must do everything within our power to develop friendship with Jesus and be ready to shared this experience with others” and urge all who attended the Pilgrimage to step down and share their spiritual and Catechetical experiences with their colleagues in their various Archdioceses and Dioceses.

Auchi Diocese Hold Prayers At Sobe

As the Catholic Diocese of Auchi continues to pray for the Soul of the Parish administrator of St. Thomas Moore, Sobe Rev. Fr. Peter Ayala who died on the 25th of August, 2013, the Bishop, Priests, Religious and lay faithful of the Diocese and beyond, recently converged at the Parish to mark the Feast of Exaltation of the Cross.

Delivering the homily at the Mass, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev. (Dr) Gabriel G. Dunia who noted that the Cross is the source of Christianity, stressed that faithful must love and embrace it dearly. He advised that they should not have any reason to run away from it, no matter the problems and challenges they are facing, as the Cross is the splendor of the glory of God both in heaven and on earth.

Continuing, the Shepherd of Souls who reiterated that those who embrace the Cross of Christ will enjoy His glamour, hinted that no artificial bullet prove can save anyone except the Cross which is the only absolute bullet prove which no weapon can penetrate.

More, the homilist affirmed that faithful who discover the glory of God through the Cross, cannot be used by the devil in discharging his mischievous act of hatred, pointing out that receiving the Cross of Christ will enable human race conquer all their challenges and difficulty. He also stressed that Emperor Constantine was able to defeat his enemies with the Cross of Christ, while assuring all that the Cross is what they need to survive their Christian faith.
Further, the Prelate who frowned at the attitude of some faithful who patronize and take pleasure in the activities of the devil, urged all present to dispose themselves to be sanitized through the Cross of Christ, stressing that the victory from the Cross are immeasurable and also admonished all present to repent of their evil ways and take refuge in Christ who conquers through the Cross.
The Local Ordinary enjoined faithful to shun inordinate attraction to earthly possession as it will make them fall prey to the devil, charged them to continue to strive to see things from the mirror of God, as the devil is out to distract them. Bishop Dunia however assured them that focusing on the splendor and glory embedded in the Cross guarantees success in all their endeavours.

More, the homilist hinted that the Cross is a sigh of victory which all Catholics should not shy away from wherever they are, while bemoaning the faith of Catholics who are not bold to make sigh of the Cross in public places. He affirmed that the Cross is an amour of Salvation which terrifies the devil, stressing that it is the most powerful sign for all to behold.

While tasking all present not to subject themselves to the devil, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese tasked all present to see the death of Rev. Fr. Peter Ayala as the will of God, noting that although he was at his prime age, but has contributed meaningfully towards the growth of the Parish, deanery and the Diocese in general and cautioned those spreading unnecessary rumours to desist, adding that God is the author of all things, as God allowed Jesus Christ to die through Cross for the Salvation of the world, hence no one can question God. He prayed God to console the family, Parishioners and the Diocese of Auchi and also prayed God to receive his soul in His bosom.

Fr. Onimhawo is Diocesan Communication's Assistant Director

The Catholic Bishop of Auchi Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia, has appointed Rev. Fr. Gregory Onimhawo as the new Assistant Director of Social Communication, publisher of THE PROMISE Newspaper.

Addressing staff at the introductory meeting, the Director of Communications and Editor- in- Chief of THE PROMISE Newspaper, Rev. Fr. Leonard Anetekhai, thanked all present for making out time to be present at the meeting and presented the new Assistant Director, Fr. Onimhawo to all. Fr. Anetekhai intimated him about the job operation and noted that the Communication department is an office for all, as they all work together in unity for the growth of the Diocese.

In his speech, the new Assistant Director thanked the Director and Staff of the Newspaper outfit for accepting him to THE PROMISE family and promise to give his best to the office, work in harmony with others to ensure that the paper maintains its leadership position in the area and beyond.

Continuing, he thanked the Bishop for giving him the privilege to serve in God's vineyard, noting that it is not because of his goodness but God's grace and prayed God to strengthen him to carry out the assignment successfully. More, the new Assistant Director hinted that the Church is built on tradition which serves as a guide and promised to do his best to serve in the growth of the office and the Diocese.

Welcoming Rev. Fr. Onimahwo to THE PROMISE family on behalf of other members of Staff, the Editor Mrs. Chioma Agboh, noted that it is the spirit of brotherliness that has kept the office waxing stronger.

She also noted that the form of administration of Rev. Fr. Anetekhai has instilled discipline, focus and burning desire to give their best and that has made Staff to bond like a family. While promising to work co-operatively with the new Assistant Director, Mrs. Agboh urged him to focus on the strength of Staff rather than their weaknesses, so that together, they can all move THE PROMISE Newspaper to a higher height.

Diocesan CWO Holds Provincial Seminar At Agenebode

It was a beehive of activities at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Agenebode in the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, as they recently hosted the provincial seminar of Catholic women organization (CWO).

Giving the homily at the mass, the Bishop of Auchi diocese, Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia who welcomed all present to the diocese, noted that Mary is the seat of wisdom, stressing that Jesus is wisdom per excellence who was given birth to by Blessed Virgin Mary, adding that through Jesus Christ, peace was brought into the world.

Continuing, the shepherd of souls who urged all present not to be led astray by the actions of those around them who are not Catholics, enjoined them to continue to emulate the exemplary qualities provided by mother of peace. He urged them not to be discouraged no matter the situation, tasked them to always pray through the intercession of Blessed Virgin Mary who will see them through, while urging them to deliberate and pray on issues that will move their dioceses and parishes forward and wished them journey mercy back to their home.

Earlier in his remarks, the Diocesan CWO Chaplain Rev. Fr. Martins Enegbuma who welcomed all present to the Diocese, stressed that they were happy to host the women in the Diocese, stressing that the seminar was an opportunity for the women to be enlightened on better ways of moving their Dioceses, parishes and stations forward and wished them a fruitful seminar.

Appreciating all present at the celebration, the Benin provincial CWO President Mrs. T. O Enahoro who welcomed members to the celebration, thanked God for bringing them together, adding that the meeting was apt and timely and commended the Dioceses present for attending the seminar. While lauding Auchi Diocese for the warm reception accorded them, she hinted that the Benin Provincial CWO will continue to honour people who have distinguished themselves in their various professions.

Delivering a lecture titled “Love in action” sister Felicia Imokhai who described love as an affection toward someone, pointed out that loving others the way God loves them is the best, and reiterated that a society where there is sincere love is the best place to live and urged all present to emulate Christ who is love.

Further, Sister Imokhai tasked mothers present to always set good examples for their children to emulate, stressing that promoting authentic love among neighbors will guarantee a safe society devoid of crime and tasked all present to always put their love in action instead of mere words.
Commending the Diocese for hosting the Benin Provincial CWO, the Provincial Chaplain Rev. Fr. Raphael Amasowonhan, noted that the event was an opportunity for the women to share ideas and deliberate on issues affecting their dioceses and prayed God to bless them.

Highpoints of the celebration was presentation of CWO Agbi dance by Fugar Parish, presentation of gift items to best participating Diocese in match past among others.

Archbishop Akubeze Ordains Eight Priests At Uromi

The Catholic Archbishop of Benin City, Most Rev. (Dr.) Augustine Obiora Akubeze, has recently ordained eight deacons as priests for the diocese of Uromi at Patrick Catholic Church, Ebhoyi, Uromi. They were Revs. Ambrose Osy Obaze, Damian Ehiabhi Esene, Emmanuel Uade Obeyed, Jacob Neri Oshioria Ebhota, Joseph Living Okosun, Jude Odianonse Uhomoabhi, Kelvin Ibhaze and Mark Michael Okoh.

Delivering the homily at the mass, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze who noted that Priests are ordained for the church, noted that when Moses could no longer cope with the complaints of the Israelites in the Bible, God intervened by giving him seventy elders to help him. He added that a Priest is ordained to preach the gospel of Christ to His people and urged them not to be afraid of the task before them, assuring them that God who has called them will not abandon them.
Continuing, the Benin Metropolitan Archbishop noted that it is God who chose them to serve in His vineyard, stressing that should endeavour to put God first in all their dealings, pointing out that caring for the lost sheep of God is their primary assignment and tasked them to emulate Christ in their ministry, as it would enable them succeed.

Further, Archbishop Akubeze who also hinted that a Priest is a teacher and a shepherd of the people entrusted to them by God, urged them to shun any act capable of affecting their ministry.
Emphasizing on the need for faithful to continue to pray for priests, the Archbishop reiterated that faithful should always make it a point of duty to always pray for their Priests instead of criticizing their actions, affirming that praying for them would enable them to serve faithful better.

In his remarks, the Diocesan administrator Very Rev. Fr. John Akidue who appreciated the Archbishop for honoring their invitation to ordain the Priests, also commended Priests, Religious and all present for attending the celebration.

Highpoint of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession by the newly ordained priests accompanied to the altar by their families, friends and well-wishers.

Pray For Your Priests Always Bishop Dunia Urges Faithful

The Catholic Bishop of Auchi Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia, has hared on the need for faithful to always pray for their Bishop, Priests and Religious, stressing that their prayers would go a long way in protecting them.

He gave this remarks at the funeral Mass held in honour of Rev. Fr. Peter Odion Ayala, at the Priest's cemetery, Ivianokpodi, Agenebode, Edo State.

Continuing, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese who noted that Priests are called to preach, administer sacraments and stay with the people, stressed that faithful should endeavour to always work co-operatively with their Priests for the growth and development of the Church.

Further, the Shepherd of Souls affirmed that Priests are the successors of the apostles who are trained to emulate the footsteps of Christ to spread the gospel of Christ to all parts of the world both in good and bad times, asserting that the evangelization of the world would continue, and the gate of hell will not prevail against the kingdom of God.

The Local Ordinary who commiserated with the family of the deceased, the Diocese, Priests and friends, described Fr. Peter Ayala as a calm, modest and loyal servant of God, noting that he has held many positions in the Church and expressed joy that he was able to set exemplary qualities for others to emulate.

Catechist Obende Is Laid To Rest At Igarra

The Catechist in charge of St. Augustine Catholic Church Okpe, an Out Station of St. John the Apostle Catholic Church, Igarra, Catechist Mark Obende, who passed on to eternal glory recently, has been committed to mother earth at the Parish cementry, Igarra.

Delivering the homily at the funeral Mass, the assistant Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Reginald Adogamhe who noted that life is a gift from God which can only be taken by Him, stressed that faithful should endeavour to put God first in whatever they do and they should not be tired in serving God, as there are a lot of blessings embedded in the Lord’s service.

Fr. Adogamhe who commiserated with the family of the deceased, pointed out that Catechist Obende was a devout Catholic, a teacher and a lover of children, who gave his best to the service of the Lord and enjoined his children to emulate his exemplary qualities, while urging all present to always serve God deligently and prayed for the repose of his soul in the Lord's bosom.

In his remarks, the Parish Priest Very Rev. Fr. Isaac Bossey who commiserated with the family over the death of their father, described the deceased as a man who give his best to Christ, as he was a Catechism teacher who imparted on people positively, adding that the Parish would miss him dearly and appreciated him for his contribution towards the growth and development of the Out Station and also prayed God to grant his soul eternal rest.

The body of the deceased was interred at the Church cementry, Igarra.

NFCS Celebrates Harvest Thanksgiving

The Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students, St. Augustine Chaplaincy, Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi has recently celebrated her annual harvest, tagged “Harvest of Faith.”

Delivering the homily, the Chaplain Rev. Fr. Anthony ErinOla welcomed all present and thanked God for the gifts He has granted to all the students, staff and the entire parishioners.

Rev. Fr. ErinOla who reiterated that as Christians they should always put God first in everything they do, tasked all present to always examine their consciences, be at peace with God, stressing that God never sleeps nor slumbers but He is always there for all.

Continuing, the homilist urged all to live a life of faith and let their lights shine out, enjoining all present to put their faith in action so that the light of God can radiate in them while praying God to grant all the gift of faith so that their light will shine out to the whole world.

Giving her remarks, the Rector of the Polytechnic, Dr. Mrs. Philipa O. Idogho, enjoined all present to always have cause to glorify the lord everyday of our life, stressing that God never fails whenever one calls on Him with sincerity and encouraged the students to be determined and study hard and always be at peace with one another to enable them attain success in their education.

The chairman of the harvest, Sir Patrick Owie gave God thanks for the lives of all present and solicited for support to enable the church develop and attain enviable standard in the diocese and beyond.

High point of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession to the altar by the staff, students, parishioners, friends and well wishers.

Fr. Akpejioi Celebrates Fifth Priestly Anniversary

It was a moment of celebration at Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi as the assistant Cathedral Administrator Rev. Fr. Romanus Akpejioi marked his fifth Priestly Anniversary.

Delivering the homily at the celebration, the Cathedral Administrator, Rev. Fr. Valentine Aneweokhai who congratulated the celebrant on his anniversary, urged all present to always remain truthful to Christ no matter the difficulty or crises they may be going through in life. He stressed that God is ever faithful to anyone who speaks the truth, as it is a virtue which Christians should always seek at all times, adding that Jesus is the way, the truth and life, hence, whoever stands for the truth will reap the blessings of God in abundance.

Continuing, Fr. Anaweokhai hinted that though there are challenges associated with those who stand by the truth, he noted that they will not be over powered by such tribulation or difficulties, tasking all faithful to remain under the shadow of God who is Almighty and appreciated God in the life of those who are always for the truth despite all it may cost them.

The homilist who appreciated God in the life of the celebrant for his blessing and protection as he continues to serve in His vineyard, affirmed that no one can make himself a Priest if it is not the will of God, as it is God who chooses his servants and urged all present to learn to always appreciate their Priests instead of criticizing them, as they are humans who are full of limitations, stressing that constructive criticisms will go a long way to enable them correct their mistakes.

Highpoints of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession led by the celebrant, accompanied by friends, parishioners and well wishers, while a reception was later held at the Cathedral pavilion to make the celebration worthwhile.

Igarra Hosts Diocesan Laity Harvest

St. John the Apostle Parish Igarra, has recently hosted the 9th edition of 2013 Auchi Diocesan Laity harvest.

Delivering the homily at the mass celebrating with Very Rev. Fr. Isaac Bossey, Rev. Jude Amune welcomed all present at the celebration and thanked God for journey mercies granted the members. He tasked faithful not to be proud, but to humble themselves as whatever they are and have is given to them by God. He noted that they should be generous to one another as givers never lack and it is a way of giving out of the abundance God has given to them to give to the church, and to those who are in need.

Continuing, Rev. Amune who noted that God hates pride and does not like a proud person noted that, Jesus Christ humbled himself unto death as he died a shameful death, pointing out that anyone who desires God's blessings must live a humble life, as pride goes before a fall.

Shortly, in his welcome address, the diocesan laity chairman Sir George Umoru, appreciated all for the efforts they have made in the past in making previous harvests a successful one, noted that laity harvest is not being organized to compete with the clergy in the development of the church, but to complement their effort in the development of the church. He noted that the proceeds gotten from laity harvest is to complete the project they have decided to carry out, as the diocesan laity intends to acquire an evangelical bus for members, to attend meetings and other programs as well as build a secretariat.

Also, Sir Umoru reminded faithful that to be generous means that it is God who has blessed them with everything they have and that they should learn to give from what God has given them because he gives blessings so they can give to others who are in need, as Jesus Christ gave freely when he was on earth.

In his welcome address, the Diocesan Laity harvest chairman, Mr. Charles Dania, welcomed members from all the parishes who were present at the harvest celebration, noting that the harvest is an opportunity to appreciate God for his faithfulness and loving kindness towards them, and sow seeds of faith for more favours and protection in their lives. He also advised that all should give their time and resources to make the harvest a huge success.

Thereafter, the diocesan Laity chairman thanked Fr. Bossey for his cooperation for making time to plan the harvest and also making out time to stay with them throughout the Bazaar and also appreciated all for their efforts towards making the laity harvest a success.

Highpoints of the celebration were Bazaar sales and thanksgiving by all the parishes and Mass Centres present.

Rev. Fr. Ayala is laid to Rest at Ivianokpodi

It was a sorrowful moment for the Catholic Diocese of Auchi as the remains of Rev. Fr. Peter Odion Ayala, the Parish administrator of St. Thomas Moore, Catholic Church Sobe, was interred at the Priests cementry, Ivianokpodi on the 4th of September, 2013.

Delivering the homily at the funeral Mass concelebrated with the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia and over fifty Priests from within the Diocese of Auchi and beyond, Rev. Fr. (Prof.) John Onimhawo noted that death is inevitable and God is the owner of life and He knows when to take it, and no one can question Him.

Fr. Onimhawo who commensurated with the Diocese and the family, noted that as children of God who are hoping for the resurrection, they should allow the will of God to be done in their lives, pointing out that Fr. Ayala was 46years but Jesus lived 33years during His earthly ministry, adding that the number of days one spends on earth does not matter, but the quality of life lived by a man.

Continuing, Fr. Onimhawo noted that doing the will of God is what makes life honourable, hinting that the security of man does not depend on material things. He urged all present to stop taking pleasure in materialism but assured all faithful that doing God's will would guarantee the security of man.

Emphasizing the need for Priests to learn to follow the footsteps of Chris, Fr. Onimhawo tasked Priests to always endeavour to prepare for the best and worst, as Priests are like a candle burning for others to see and emulate, He also urged Priests to learn to relate to people and be very diplomatic in their dealings and cautioned them to be careful of the kind of gift items they receive from people, affirming that Priests are facing various challenges.

Reiterating the need for laity to continue to pray for their Priests, Fr. Onimhawo stressed that prayer for Priests from the faithful is relevant, as it will go a long way in helping them to overcome challenges and prayed God to make his will reign in our lives.

In his condolence message, the Bishop of Kontagora Vicariate, Most Rev. Bulus Dawa who was a classmate of Rev. Fr. Peter Odion Ayala, represented by Rev. Fr. Ignatius Alfred Eneche, commiserated with the Diocese of Auchi and prayed God to receive the Soul of Fr. Ayala in His bosom.

Giving the vote of thanks, Rev. Fr. Innocent Okhifo who appreciated God for the life of Fr. Ayala, described him as a kind, humble and hardworking colleague who lived and died for Christ and commended the Bishop of Auchi Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel Dunia for his love and care for his Priests. He also thanked the administrator of Uromi Diocese Very Rev. Fr. John Akhidue, Priests from Archdiocese of Benin City, Uromi, among others, for attending the funeral ceremony and appreciated all present for honouring the Priest by attending the funeral Mass.
The final commendation was done by the Bishop of Auchi Diocese, while the body was interred at the priest’s cemetery.

Fr. Onimhawo Heads Deanery Four
...As Sobe Gets Parish Administrator

Following the death of the Dean of Deanery four and the Parish administrator St. Thomas Moore Catholic Church, Sobe, Rev. Fr. Peter Ayala, the Catholic Bishop of Auchi Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia, has appointed Rev. Fr. (Prof.) John Onimhawo as the Dean of Deanery four and Rev. Fr. Polycarp Imoagene as the Parish administrator, St. Thomas Moore, Sobe.
This was contained in his remarks recently during the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross at Sobe Parish.

Continuing, the Chief Shepherd who tasked all present to continue to pray for the Soul of Rev. Fr. Peter Ayala and the Souls of all the faithful departed, noted that as a Diocese, they should continue to pray for their Parish Priests and the Diocese in general, stressing that the Gospel of Christ would continue to spread in the nooks and crannies of the Diocese and urged all present to always embrace the Cross.

Further, the Shepherd of Souls enjoined faithful to desist from spreading unnecessary rumour that will harm those around them, affirming that death is an end which everyone must face and urged all present to act positively and shun any act capable of bringing people to disrepute.
The Prelate who lauded the projects embarked upon by the deceased which includes fish and crops farm and other activities, solicited for continuous support for the new Parish administrator to enable him sustain the projects, while urging the faithful of the Parish and the deanery to continue to work closely with their Parish administrator and their Dean and prayed God to strengthen them in moving the Parish and the deanery forward.

Jattu Host Diocesan Lay Readers' Competition

The 10th edition of the annual reading competition of Auchi Diocesan Lay readers Association, has been hosted by St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, Jattu.

In his key note address, the parish Administrator of St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, Jattu, Rev. Fr. Ignatius Omunagbe who welcomed the Lay Readers to the parish, harped on the need for adult members of the association to endeavour to encourage youth to join the association to enable them proclaim the good news of God, while urging youth in the association to take the activities of the association seriously.

Welcoming members of the association to the parish, the Chairman Lay readers association Jattu parish, Mr. Osi Omogbai who appreciated participants for giving them the right to host the competition, noted that adequate arrangement were made by the parish to ensure a successful hosting and wished members a successful competition.

Commending all present for attending the ceremony, the Diocesan president of the Association, Mr. S.A Apologun who noted that the event was an opportunity for members to be equipped properly for the proclamation of the word, commended all the parishes and mass centers for participating in the exercise.

At the end of the competition, the following parishes and mass centers emerged as winners. In the male category Mr. Obomighe Samuel (immaculate conception Cathedral, Auchi), took the first position, Dominic Adebayo (Igarra parish) second position, and Samuel Etsewno (Udaba parish) third position, while in the female category Mrs. Ede Paulina (Igarra parish) clinched first position, Amedu Precious (Jattu parish) got the second position while Ohimai Antonia (Afuze parish) settled for the third position.

In the impromptu speech competition, Mr. Fortune Esheramhe (Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi), emerged first position, Badamosi Philip (Enwan parish), second position, while Mr. Oghuma Mike (Jattu parish), got third position.

St. Philip Neri Celebrates Children\Youth Harvest Thanksgiving

St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, Jattu has recently celebrated their 2013 Children\Youth harvest thanksgiving

Delivering the homily at the mass, the parish Administrator, Rev. Fr. Ignatius Omunagbe thanked God for giving them the privilege to celebrate with the children and youth of the catholic community

Continuing, the homilist noted that humility is the queen of all virtues, and advised all the children, youth, and lay faithful to be humble, as Christ himself lived a humble life while on earth.

Further, he defined humility as the process of seeing or accepting yourself the way you were created by God, adding that they should pray God to bless them with virtue of good things and not evil. He enjoined the youths and children of Jattu community to remain disciplined, hardworking, love one another, live a good Christian life, study very hard, and also tasked the youths to shun all worldly activities that is capable of hindering their future.

Also, Fr. Omunagbe prayed for all the children and youths in the church that God would bless them and make them good citizens and children to their families and the society in general. The chairman of the harvest planning committee, Mr. Ayemoba Thomas, appreciated God for giving them the privilege to serve him and also appreciated all who contributed generously towards the harvest and prayed God to meet them at their points of need and protect them.

Highpoints of the celebration was a thanksgiving procession to the altar by children and youths in the church, harvesting of fruits from the garden of blessings. Also, items were distributed among the children and youth present at the bazaar among others.

St. Anne Nursery/Primary School Holds Graduation Ceremony At Ojah

It was a fulfilled day for the pupils, management and staff of St. Anne Nursery/Primary School, Ojah, an outstation of St. Anne Catholic parish, Ososo, as they marked their 2013 graduation ceremony.

Delivering the homily at the thanksgiving mass, the parish Administrator of St. Anne parish, Ososo, Rev. Fr. Philip Omokhekhe who congratulated the children on the successful completion of the academic session, appreciated God in the lives of the children.

Continuing, Fr. Omokhekhe hinted that the school is committed to impacting quality education on children and urged parents present to enroll their children and wards in the school, adding that providing qualitative education for their children is the best legacy parents can give to their children. While commending the teachers for their services, he assured them of better welfare package to bring out the best in them and urged the graduating pupils to remain good ambassadors of their community, state and the nation in general.

Welcoming all present to the event, the chairman of the occasion, Mr. Leo Lawani, enjoined parents to enroll their children in the school, stressing that the school is one of the best schools in the community; hence parents should utilize the opportunity to enrich their children academically.

Appreciating all present, the acting head Mistress of the school Mrs. P.H Daniel who commended the management and staff of the school for their determination towards the growth and development of the school, appreciated the parish administrator for his support, while soliciting for more support towards the development of the school and wished the graduating pupils success in their future endeavours.

Highpoints of the celebration were the presentation of certificates to the six best graduating pupils, presentation of poems, drama, and traditional dance among others.

St. Vincent De Paul Society Gets New Executive
The society of St. Vincent de Paul, Immaculate Conception Auchi, has elected a new executive to run their affairs for 3years.

At the end of the election, the following members were elected as members of the executive team; Mrs. M.H Imodemhe (president), Mr.U.J Ovueni (V. president), Mrs. C. Uduapi (secretary), Mrs. G. Ehimen (assistant secretary), Mrs. F.V Ivarah (financial secretary), Mrs. M.I Anegbe (treasurer), and Mr. O. Isaac (PRO).

In her acceptance speech, the incoming president, Mrs. M.H Imoedemhe thanked the members for the confidence they reposed in her, deeming her fit to hold such an office. She solicited cooperation of members to enable her succeed in moving the society forward. She also prayed God to give her the grace and strength to carry out the task before her successfully.

Thereafter, a representative of the Auchi central council, Mr. P.A Imanogor, commended the new executive for making themselves available for the service of God. He advised them to be serious in the positions that God has placed them by always helping those who are in need and also dedicated to giving alms to the poor which is their duty. He also noted that the poor will never cease from the land, while advising them to do their best to care and live for others

Ayua Gets New Laity Executive Council

Following the completion of the tenure of the Laity executive of St. Paul Catholic Church, Ayua, an outstation of St. Philip Neri Parish Jattu, a new laity council executive has been elected to man the affairs of the station.

Shortly after the successful election, the following members emerged as members of the new Laity executive council Mr. Momoh Macaulay, (Chairman), Mr. Agbada Kingdom, (vice chairman), Mr. John Ughiovhe, (secretary) and Mr. Agbodion Ferdinand emerged as the (financial secretary). Other members of the new executive were Mrs. Florence A. Ogiri, (treasurer), Mr. Mathew Eshiomhomo, (provost) and Mr. Ughiovhe Colon who was elected as PRO.

Also, some members of the immediate past executive were co opted into the new council as ex officio, they include Mr. Victor Omoike, Mr. Ughiovhe Thomas, Mr. Albert Ogiri, Mr. Stephen Bello and catechist Benedict Umoru.
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