#ShortNews : Tens of thousands of Syrian Catholics flee Islamist advance

More than 90% of the people of Qaraqosh, a largely Catholic city of over 40,000 in Syria, have fled as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant moved to capture the area.

The jihadist group now controls approximately one-quarter of Syria and one-third of Iraq.

Archbishop Youhanna Boutros Moshe, who is among the few who remain in the city, told the Fides news agency that he appealed “to the consciences of political leaders around the world, to international organizations and to all men of good will: it is necessary to intervene immediately to put a stop to the deterioration of the situation, working not only at a humanitarian level, but also politically and diplomatically.”

“Every hour, every day lost, is likely to make all unrecoverable. Inaction becomes complicity with crime and abuse of power,” he added. “The world cannot turn a blind eye to the tragedy of people who have fled from their homes in a few hours, taking with them only the clothes they are wearing.”

— taken from http://www.fides.org/en/news/35976-ASIA_IRAQ_Syrian_Catholic_Archbishop_Moshe_s_appeal_to_the_international_community_Save_us

#ShortNews : Sudanese Christian woman again freed

A Sudanese Christian woman who was convicted of apostasy, freed, and then rearrested, has been freed again, according to an Associated Press report.

Meriam Ibrahim, 27, is the daughter of a Muslim father and Christian mother. Though raised a Christian, she was convicted of renouncing Islam and sentenced to death before an international diplomatic outcry helped lead to her initial release.

— taken from http://bigstory.ap.org/article/sudanese-christian-woman-freed-again

#ShortNews : 40 Christian leaders arrested, released in Nepal

More than 40 Protestant leaders in Nepal were recently arrested on charges of forcibly converting Hindus.

“A Hindu mob gathered outside the prison, threatening an uprising if the Christians were released. Most of the detainees were released, however, a few hours after the arrest,” the Fides news agency reported.

The Himalayan nation was officially a Hindu state until 2006.

— taken from http://www.fides.org/en/news/35947-ASIA_NEPAL_40_Christian_leaders_arrested_for_forced_conversions_religious_freedom_at_risk

True Charity

But when you do merciful deeds, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does,Matthew 6:3

There are some people who want every good thing they do well advertised. If they give money to some good cause, they want to have it noticed in the papers. If they are kind to the poor or relieve some case of distress, they are particular that the matter should be duly published. They take pains that their charities shall not fail to be credited to themselves. But this is not the kind of spirit our Lord enjoined on His disciples. He told them that seeking publicity marred the beauty of their alms-giving; that instead of announcing to all men what they had done, they should not even let their own left hand know that their right hand had been doing commendable things.

Of course Christ did not mean that we should not be good before people, that we should never give alms save where the act would be absolutely secret. It is the motive that Christ was enforcing. His disciples should never give for the sake of men’s praise. Religious acts instantly lose all their value when any motive but the honor of God and desire for His approval is in our heart. We should not even ourselves think about our charities, but should forget them as the tree forgets the fruits it drops. We should train ourselves therefore to do our good deeds without seeking praise or recognition of men. We should not be so anxious to have our card tacked on every gift we send. We ought to be willing to do good and let Christ have all the glory, while we stay back unknown and unrecognized.

Florence Nightingale, having gone like an angel of mercy among the hospitals in the Crimea until her name was enshrined in every soldier’s heart, asked to be excused from having her picture taken, that she might be forgotten, and that Christ alone might be remembered as the author of all the blessings which her hand had distributed.

From “The Vine”.

The journey of holiness

How often have you heard: “It’s okay if I do this or that, even though I’m not supposed to. God understands. He loves me anyway.” For example: “It’s okay if I swear. It’s only words. God understands that I’ve had a really bad day.” Or “It’s okay if I had an abortion. I don’t believe it was a real person yet. And God understands my reasons.”

Remember Moses emphasized how important it is to observe (obey) the decrees of God. He said: “Observe them carefully….” Well, what if someone wants to claim ignorance as an alibi? For example: “I don’t see how abortion can be breaking God’s commandment of ‘Do not kill,’ because the fetus is not a real person yet.”

God has made his commands known to us. He speaks to us in the scriptures and, in the Catholic tradition of Christianity, through the teachings of the Magisterium, which are carefully based on the scriptures to explain how to apply the scriptures to modern situations.

So why does knowing God’s will sometimes get muddy and messy? Because we convince ourselves that a sin isn’t really a sin. Saying that a fetus isn’t a person doesn’t make it a blob of meaningless tissue; we don’t have that kind of power. Saying that God understands doesn’t make him approve of what we do; we don’t have that kind of control.

Jesus warns us in today’s Gospel passage that “whoever breaks the least significant of these commands and teaches others to do so shall be called least in the kingdom of God.” Although we’ve been saved from hell because we know that Jesus has redeemed us through the cross, we are not saved from eternal repercussions if we cling to disobedience through excuses and rationalizations.

Which sin is worse: swearing or having an abortion? It doesn’t matter. Jesus says, “Whoever breaks the least significant of these commands and teaches others to do so….” What are we teaching by our examples? We never sin alone. How terrible to enable others to sin by being lazy about our journey of holiness!

Saint Zeno of Verona

saint-zeno-of-verona-01Zeno of Verona (Italian: Zenone da Verona; about 300 – 371 or 380) is a saint in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

According to a Veronese author named Coronato, a notary of the 7th century, Zeno was a native of North Africa, from Mauretania (northern Morocco and Algeria). He taught the children of africa about the Catholic religion and he also helped them with their school work. The children could rely on someone who could help them. Another theory is that Zeno was a follower of Athanasius, patriarch of Alexandria, who accompanied his master when the latter visited Verona in 340.

The style of the 90 or so Sermons attributed to Zeno has also been considered evidence of his African origins due to its literary style, since Christian African writers of the time frequently used neologisms and wordplay. Many of the Sermons concern Old Testament exegesis and “have a definite anti-Semitic element in them”.

Zeno was a silver-tongued priest from the province of Mauretania who had received a classical education in the finest Roman tradition.  He was much sought after for his oratory, and he travelled widely throughout the Roman Empire before eventually settling in Verona. Staying in the city, Zeno entered the monastic life, living as a monk until around 362, when he was elected successor to the See of Verona after the death of Bishop Gricinus (Cricinus, Cricino).

Zeno had “received a good classical education”, and as bishop baptized many people, won converts back from Arianism, lived a life of poverty, trained priests to work in the diocese, set up a convent for women, reformed how the Agape feast was celebrated, and forbade funeral masses being accompanied by attendees’ loud groans and wailing. Zeno’s other reforms included instructions concerning adult baptism (which occurred by complete immersion) and issuing medals to people newly baptized to the Catholic faith.

According to legend he was stolen at birth and briefly replaced by a demonic changeling. One story relates that Saint Zeno, one day fishing on the banks of the Adige, which he did in order to feed himself (rather than as recreation), saw a peasant crossing the river in a horse and cart. The horses began to get strangely skittish. Zeno, believing this to be the work of the devil, made the sign of the cross, and the horses calmed down. Zeno was often said to combat the devil, and is sometimes depicted treading on a demon. Another story relates that he exorcised a demon from the body of the daughter of the Emperor Gallienus (though Zeno probably did not live during the reign of Gallienus). The story relates that the grateful Gallienus allowed Zeno and other Christians freedom of worship in the empire.

Zeno’s episcopate lasted for about ten years, and the date of his death is sometimes given as April 12, 371. He is the patron saint of fishermen and anglers, the city of Verona, newborn babies as well as children learning to speak and walk.