Archive | December, 2011

“We are at the Sea of Galilee”

31 Dec

Father James Martin, S.J., takes us on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The title of this video on YouTube is: “Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Part 1.” That means there must be at least one more. Yes!

I can’t help myself, being pastor of St. Andrew. I must mention that “St. Peter’s house” is also “St. Andrew’s house.”

The Cure of Simon’s Mother-in-Law in Mark 1:29-31 — “On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.”

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. He is “our” Andrew, after all.

“You read it in the Enquirer”

30 Dec

Pat Davis of Hebron, Kentucly, is the wife of U.S. Representative Geoff Davis, R-Kentucky. Her guest column, Shock, inspiration in Holy Land, appeared in the online version of the Cincinnati Enquirer at 1:31 PM, Dec. 28, 2011.

Gary Greenberg, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, responded with his guest column, Israel’s many peace efforts thwarted, at 9:22 AM, Dec. 29, 2011.

See how they shove one another

29 Dec

There was a “fight” between the Greek Orthodox and the Armenians in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on December 28. Some 50-60 priests and monks were swinging broomsticks at each other, until Palestinian police came in to break it up.

The fight started while they were cleaning the church. It often happens between the three religious denominations that have rights and services within the church. There is a principle that asserts that “if you clean it, it must be yours.” The Greeks and the Armenians have certain sections of the church that are under their authority. Apparently, someone was sweeping a spot that belonged to the other, or at least so it must have been charged. 

Fortunately, from the Catholic point of view, the Franciscans were not involved in this one.

Father James Martin, S.J. cleverly commented, “See how they shove one another.”

the Joy and Hope of being Remembered

28 Dec

Mr. Waseim, the computer teacher at the Latin Patriarchate School in Beit Jala (Bethlehem) had visited with us in November, along with other teachers and school personnel from the West Bank (Palestine), Israel and Jordan.

At Christmas he sent to us a photo of the candles that he lighted in Bethlehem. The first one (in the photo above) is for “Father Rob” and the fourth is for “St. Andrew parish.” The fifth one is for our school and his school. The last one is in thankful memory of all the people he met in the USA. Candle two and three are for Nancy and JoAnne, two of our parishioners here at St. Andrew who spent a great deal of love – and sweat and blood – preparing for the visit of the teachers and dealing with all the intricacies and details during their days with us.

At Midnight Mass here at St. Andrew we lighted a peace candle for them. I had purchased the peace-dove at the Catholic parish in Taybeh in the West Bank, and brought it back with me for this purpose on this night.

Our hope is that it was as good for our friends in the Holy Land to know that we remembered them as it was for us to know that they remembered us in the very town where Jesus was born on the very night on which we celebrate his birth.

a healthy and holy thing to do on Christmas

27 Dec

Our goal was to make everyone as welcome and as comfortable at Christmas Masses as possible, by having ready for them a worship aid in which the “new words and chants” would follow one page after another, along with every song and response. We think we succeeded. It was expensive – and worth it. On the opening page was a message from yours truly.

Merry Christmas!

Look around you and feel the anticipation and excitement in the air. All these people share your longing for healing and hope on this holy day.

For just a couple weeks now, we have been using, as all the Catholic parishes in the whole English-speaking world have been using, a new translation of the Mass prayers and responses. We are all new to this adventure. None of us are used to the changes yet, including me. We are all fumbling and stumbling our way through the new texts and chants. In this Mass, in the midst of inevitable missed cues, we will have occasions to smile while we pray, which is a healthy and holy thing to do on Christmas.

This booklet has been created just for you, to help make this Christmas one of your best ever. In your hand you have everything you need to pray the prayers and sing the songs of this Christmas Mass.

Among the new words of the Mass, we say this: I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ … For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was “incarnate” of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

It is the feast of the Incarnation, the feast of the “incarnate” God. God took on human flesh. Be filled with joy!

Father Rob Waller, Pastor

Bethlehem: “Let us tear down the walls”

26 Dec

Below are excerpts of the 2011 Christmas homily of His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, close to the Holy Grotto where the Virgin Mary swaddled her son and laid him in a manger. The full text is on the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

– The song of the angels in the sky above Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago still echoes: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth.”

– If we glorify God, we shall enjoy his peace. If we glorify ourselves, we shall be denied this peace.

– Among all the continents and countries of the world, God chose Palestine, our beloved land, to be the homeland of the Saviour … and so, we are duty-bound to follow the host of angels in forever repeating: “Glory to God in the highest”.

– We are one with our people, for their suffering … their hopes are our own.

– We hope that, with the grace of God and with the support of people of goodwill, the physical and psychological walls that men build around themselves may disappear. God wants bridges that unite rather than walls that separate that which God has united. Dear brothers and sisters let us tear down the walls of our hearts in order to tear down walls of concrete!

– We ask that the road travelled by our ancestors – the Magi and the shepherds – to Bethlehem should remain open, without barriers or hindrance, open to the pilgrims of the whole world, including the Arab world.

– And on this holy night, the children of the Holy Land, fellow citizens of the Infant Jesus, beg us: “Let us grow up as normal children, grant us the time to play in the squares and market places of our towns and villages far from political intrigue.”

– O Child of Bethlehem, in this New Year, we place in your hands this troubled Middle East and, above all, our youth full of legitimate aspirations, who are frustrated by the economic and political situation, and in search of a better future. We implore you to grant their wishes and fill their hearts with courage and wisdom together with a spirit of responsibility.

+ Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

The tweet was a treat!

24 Dec

My kitchen is in a pre-Christmas mess, of course, having had a breakfast of fried goetta and eggs, but the most important preparations for Christmas are in their finishing moments. The homilies for the 3:30 p.m. and for Midnight Mass have pretty well come together – and I have rehearsed the new chants of the Masses of Christmas. The homily has a better chance of coming off well than the chanting does, but whatever.

So, in an inbetween moment, I tweeted Lisa Kelly, my favorite singer in Celtic Woman: How about a Christmas Eve RT for the “only priest you know who is on Twitter?” (When I saw Lisa in Atlanta after the concert-taping of their new “Believe” show – I have a photo on my phone to prove it – she met me with, “Father Rob, the only priest I know who is on Twitter.”) Don’t you know, minutes later Lisa re-tweeted to her 5, 678 followers a “Merry Christmas” to me. The tweet was a treat!

On March 24, Celtic Woman will be in Cincinnati. Tickets are available now only by way of a donation to our WCET-PBS station. I did some serious Christmas shopping through CET. My friends Sue and Paul, my friend Aimee, and my two sisters and their husbands will be enjoying the show with me.

Unfortunately, but happily, Lisa Kelly will not be with Celtic Woman at the March show. She will be staying home in Ireland to have her fourth child. Good for her and her husband, Scott. At Midnight Mass tonight I will remember the “six” of them. Perhaps remembering them at “the children’s Mass” would be more appropriate.

On my way back from a trip to the Holy Land in June with a group of teachers from the schools of our Archdiocese, I might be making a side trip to Dublin for the closing Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress, in order to concelebrate with the Latin Patriarch and a few of his priests from the Holy Land – and maybe my priest friend from Booterstown parish. Hmmm … I wonder when Lisa’s baby will be born and baptized.

You can find some lovely “Celtic Woman” Christmas music on iTunes. Their new “Believe” CD and DVD is available now from both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, for release at the end of January. And don’t forget, Dan Virzi and WCET has tickets available for the concert. You won’t be disappointed.

U.S. Bishops Express Solidarity with the Church of the Holy Land

23 Dec

In a letter sent to His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed solidarity and ecclesial communion with the Church of the Holy Land.

December 22, 2011

Your Beatitude:

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, the great Feast of the Incarnation of our God into human history, our thoughts turn to Bethlehem as did the shepherds and wise men of two millennia ago. A vulnerable Child was born in a stable, a Child whose death was sought by King Herod. In a special way, the Christ Child symbolizes the vulnerable community of today that bears His Name.

Our Conference of Bishops is acutely aware that the Churches of the Middle East are caught in situations of conflict and violence that have put enormous strains on the ancient Christian presence there.

As you have frequently affirmed, the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict needs a two-state solution: a recognized and secure Israel living alongside a viable and independent Palestinian state. We are also mindful of the suffering of the Church in Iraq where Christians are disproportionately represented among refugees, persons displaced from their homes, as well as victims of violence. We are anxious too for Christians who are being threatened in Egypt and other countries of the region and our world.

Please be assured as the Church in the United States celebrates the birth of Emmanuel, God with us, that we are with you. Our prayerful solidarity extends to all persecuted persons throughout the world, but in a particular way to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering in the region of our Savior’s birth.

With hope born of faith as we approach the Christmas Season,

Fraternally in Christ,

Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most Reverend Richard E. Pates
Bishop of Des Moines
Chairman, International Justice and Peace

2011 Christmas Message: Latin Patriarch Jerusalem

23 Dec

During a press conference on Wednesday, December 21, 2011, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem delivered his Christmas Message in the presence of his Patriarchal Vicars. Below are two paragraphs from the text.

Arab Spring and situation of Christians

I would like to go back to current events, to situations that we continue to follow closely, to what happened and is happening in the Arab countries. I have always defended the changes taking place in favor of freedom and democracy. I have repeatedly emphasized that Christians are not excluded from these movements. That said, I fervently hope that human rights and the dignity of each individual are respected. I also hope and pray that the competent authorities make every effort to calm the spirits without violence, and to protect the minorities who are an integral part of the population in the region. We must grasp this moment of opportunity to build a new society based on equal citizenship for all. The Catholic Patriarchs of the East together have asked our faithful to set a day of prayer for reconciliation and peace in the Middle East.

Application to the UN for membership of a State of Palestine

We want a just and comprehensive peace to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We adhere to the position taken by the Holy See, clearly acknowledging the two-state solution with security and internationally recognized borders. I often say that to be with one of the parties does not mean to be against the other. We are for the welfare and interests of the whole world: peace, security, mutual respect and dignity. The journey has begun but the process is long and tedious. I firmly believe and even more today, that negotiation is the best way to resolve the conflict.

In Miss Eman’s Own Words and Language

22 Dec

Below is an account of the December 20, 2011 “visit’’ (by way of Skype) between the 3rd grade class of Miss Eman in Beit Jala and the 4th grade class of Mrs. Schweickart in Milford. 

Miss Eman wrote this account, which is online at the parish website of the Church of the Holy Family, Ramallah, Palestine, the Holy Land – Pastor: Father Faisal Hijazin. It can be found here.

لقاء عبر الانترنت بين مدرسة البطريركية في بيت جالا ومدرسة القديس أندرو في أمريكا

 2011-12-22 02:59

   ضمن برنامج التوأمة مع مدرسة القديس اندرو في ولاية اوهايو في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية ومدرسة البطريركية اللايتينة في بيت جالا جرى يوم الثلاثاء 20/12/2011 أول لقاء عبر الانترنت باستخدام برنامج Skype وهو اللقاء الأول من نوعه جرى في مدارس البطريركية للصفي الثالث الاساسي في المدرسة في بيت جالا وطلاب الصف الرابع من مدرسة سانت اندرو..

وقد تم التغلب على مشكلة الوقت التي واجهت طاقم التحضير لهذا فقد جرى هذا اللقاء في الساعة الرابعة عصرا حسب التوقيت الفلسطيني والساعة التاسعة صباحا حسب التوقيت في ولاية اوهايو وقد تبادل الطرفان الأسئلة حول كيفية التدريس والوقت والحياة المدرسية والاجتماعية من كلا الطرفين وأيضاً تم القاء بعض الأسئلة من كلا الطرفين والإجابة عليها.

 وفي آخر اللقاء تم تبادل تهاني عيد الميلاد المجيد بين الطلاب الصفين وأيضاُ قام طلابنا بتقديم ترتيلة لعيد الميلاد فيا للغة العربية وهم بدورهم رتلوا لعيد الميلاد باللغة الانجليزية.

وقتم تعليمهم بعض الكلمات في اللغة العربية مثل عيد ميلاد وسعيد وغيرها وتم الاتفاق على أن يتم اعاد مثل هذه اللقاءات في المستقبل لما له من آثار ايجابية على الطرفين.
وقد اشرف على تجهيز تقنيات هذا للقاء الاستاذ وسيم كسابرة من مدرسة البطريكية اللاتينية في بيت جالا مسؤول قسم الحاسوب وتكنولوجيا المعلومات في المدرسة بالإضافة الى المعلمة ايمان عمرو معلمة اللغة العربية للصف الثالث التي قامت بتحضير الطلاب لهذا اللقاء وايضاً المعلمة روجيس قمصية المسؤولة الاكاديمية في الادارة العامة لمدارس البطريركية اللاتينية وكذلك الاستاذ سهيل دعيبس من الادارة العامة وبحضور معلمة اللغة الانجليزية المعلمة سهيلة صليبي للصف الثالث ايضاَ.

نتمنى الاستمرار لمثل هذه اللقاءات لسماع الصوت الفلسطيني وسماع الصوت المسيحي لكافة ارجاء العالم .

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