May 1 – I have been reading and responding to so many e-mails lately that I have not had time to reflect on some of the events that are taking place and the absurdity of the situation. Yesterday I was supposed to go downtown to Jerusalem, just about 9kms away, to attend a performance at the conservatory by “Banat Al-Quds” (The daughters of Jerusalem) an all-girls’ ensemble in which my granddaughter was playing the cello and singing as well. Unfortunately the Jewish Ethiopian citizens of Israel had a very big and violent demonstration in Jerusalem, that it was literally impossible for me to get beyond the first kilometer of my trip, but luckily the taxi driver found an outlet and drove me back home. Apparently what triggered this demonstration was the violence of the Israeli police against these Ethiopians citizens. Not much different from the brutality of the American police against the African Americans that we have been watching. I read a nice episode about four Swedish policemen who while in New York intervened very gently to quell some violence. The spectators were so amazed that they wished their American police would get some training in Sweden rather than in Israel. But after all “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.”Read More
This weekend marks the holy days of Pentecost and Shavuot, two of the most important holy days to Christians and Jews respectively. And both involve certain “gifts” that don’t come with wrapping and bows.
Q: What is Pentecost?
A: Pentecost Sunday marks the day most Christians believe the Holy Spirit descended on the followers of Jesus after his death, resurrection, and ascension. The story comes from the New Testament Book of Acts: “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
Jesus’ followers were amazed — they could speak languages they never knew before and they could understand others they had never heard. The Apostle Peter stood up and preached his first sermon — so many Christians think of this holiday as the “birthday” of the church.
Q: What does that have to do with Shavuot?
A: A lot! Shavuot is called the “Festival of Weeks” because it is held five weeks after the second night of Passover. Originally tied to an ancient grain festival, it eventually became the holiday that marks God’s giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai.
The link between the two holidays lies in their names. “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word “pentekostos,” which means 50. Pentecost comes 50 days after Easter, when Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead. And Shavuot comes 50 days after the second night of Passover. Some scholars believe Pentecost owes its name to Jesus’ Jewish followers who were gathered together to observe the festival of Shavuot.Read More
Abouna.org, May 20, 2015 – The Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) in Amman, represented by its director Fr. Rif’at Bader, took part on Wednesday, May 20, in a workshop focusing on the protection of the environment and biodiversity in Jordan.
The workshop, titled “Environment through Faith”, was organized by the Ministry of Environment, in cooperation with the German Agency for Technical Cooperation, and attended by a number of Christian and Muslim clerics.
It aimed at reflecting different environmental aspects on religious leaders and at mobilizing their views towards the community for the purpose of serving as a communicating and convincing example for environment protection.Read More
The ruins of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, now under Islamic State control
By Dale Gavlak/ Catholic News Service
May 21, 2015 – Church bells are ringing once again in the Assyrian Christian villages dotting the Khabur River in northeastern Syria after Islamic State militants were routed by a combination of forces.
It’s a stark contrast to the mounting concerns for one of the most renowned archaeological sites in the Middle East following the Islamic State militant sweep into the ancient Syrian city Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site. Some feared the extremists would hammer and bulldoze the revered antiquities site as they have done to archaeological areas in Iraq.
(Vatican Radio, May 22) The 3 day conference ‘Nostra Aetate – Celebrating 50 years of the Catholic Church’s Dialogue with Jews and Muslims’ concluded yesterday at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC. The President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity – and also responsible for the Church’s dialogue with the Jewish people – Cardinal Kurt Koch, was there. He says the Nostra Aetate declaration was a landmark in relations between the Catholic Church and other faiths.Read More
(Vatican Radio) Saying he was giving them a “mission,” Pope Francis has asked religious sisters from Bethlehem and the Middle East to pray for peace in the region and for two new Palestinian saints.
19th century Sister Miriam of Jesus Crucified Baouardy and Sister Marie-Alphonsine Ghattas were canonized in a big outdoor Mass presided by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s square on Sunday.
Many of the Carmelite and Rosary sisters who had attended the canonization had flown into Rome from Jordan – on the same plane as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who was also present as the two Palestinian religious were made saints. In receiving the visiting nuns in the Clementine Hall in the Apostolic Palace Monday, Pope Francis said the president had told him the flight was “full of sisters!”Read More
Father Dave Smith
Parish priest, community worker, martial arts master, pro boxer, author, father of four. www.FatherDave.org…
I thought it might prove difficult to get to Yarmouk. My God, it’s hard enough to get into Syria at the moment!
At first I thought we weren’t even going to make it out of Sydney! As soon as the airport authorities saw the word ‘Syria’ on our exit visas we were handed over to the counter-terrorism unit! Even so, we eventually got out of the country, made it smoothly through Beirut airport and then to the Syrian border by taxi, where we found, to our delight, that our visas had been approved. A short drive further and we were at the beautiful Dama Rose hotel, and you wouldn’t know that you were at the centre of a nation-wide war (except for the 40 or so checkpoints that we had to pass through to get there).Read More
(Vatican Radio) The many Christians who are being persecuted in our times “are martyrs” Pope Francis said on Wednesday, at the end of his General Audience.
The Holy Father praised an initiative of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) to make a special remembrance, on the Vigil of Pentecost, of the many “brothers and sisters” who have been exiled or killed for no other reason than being Christian. He expressed his hope that the moment of prayer for the new Christian martyrs would increase the recognition that “religious liberty is an inalienable human right.”Read More
JORDAN– Our Lady of Peace Center, in coordination with Caritas, has welcomed many Christians who fled from Iraq in the wake of Daesh assaults. The Latin Patriarchate launched an appeal not only to help them to survive, providing for their basic needs, but also to enable them to consider and rebuild their future without fear. For that purpose, a socio-educational program has been implemented, sponsored by the OESSJ Portuguese Lieutenancy, offering them classes of English, computer and physical education.Read More