Archive | April, 2012

“Based on our years as parish priests in Palestine”

23 Apr

Good Friday Procession in Jerusalem (Photo: Travelujah)

Father Faysal Hijazeen is the parish priest of the Ramallah’s Holy Family Church and head of Latin Patriarchate Schools in Palestine. Father Ibrahim Shomali is parish priest of the Annunciation Church in Beit Jala.

Together they wrote an op-ed piece that is published in the online Jerusalem Post on 04/16/2012: “The plight of Palestinian Christians.”

Fathers Hijazeen and Ibrahim began by saying that they “were appalled by the false allegations regarding Palestinian Christians made in recent weeks by Israeli spokespeople, such as (Israeli) Ambassador (to the U.S.) Michael Oren.”

They make it quite clear that they think that “the end of the Israeli occupation would allow all our people, Christians and Muslims, to develop all our potential living side by side.”

It is not persecution by the Muslims but the (Israeli) occupation itself that is at the root of the problem of the dwindling numbers of Christians in the Holy Land. “The Israeli occupation and settlement activities are the main reason for Christian emigration.” 

Taybeh: the last Christian village in the Holy Land

22 Apr

While reporting on the Holy Land’s vanishing Christian population, 60 Minutes stumbled on Taybeh — a tiny village where Jesus stayed on the eve of his crucifixion.

Online at CBS “60 Minutes: Overtime” you can watch a short video segment on Taybeh: the last Christian village in the Holy Land. 

Christians of the Holy Land – CBS “60 Minutes”

22 Apr

On Sunday, April 22, CBS “60 Minutes” broadcast a 14-minute segment that is bound to receive more “comments” than many of their other topics.

The exodus from the Holy Land of Palestinian Christians could eventually leave holy cities like Jerusalem and Bethlehem without a local Christian population. Bob Simon reports.

Here is a link to Christians of the Holy Land.

“Kairos Palestine” Document

22 Apr

For the sake of my fellow pilgrim-teachers here is a link to The Kairos Palestine Document – A moment of truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering.

“The secret to life …………… ………….. is serving.”

16 Apr

One of our St. Andrew parishioners drew a large crowd of men, younger and older, to the annual Holy Name Society Prayer Breakfast – Butch Jones, head coach of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats football team.

Coach Jones spoke with energy and faith (and with examples) about how a “spiritual component” has first place in his football program. Most movingly, Coach told  the crowd of 175 in the parish gymnasium about his respect for his  own father and his experience of his father’s dying. He recounted how, as a teenager, his goal was to protect the good name and the reputation of his father, who was the police chief in their hometown. He ordered his life and made his decisions about what he would do and what he would not do, so as not to publicly embarrass his father. This grew later into his advice to his players, “Do everything you can to protect your good name and your reputation.” Coach Jones had words about discipline, often addressing fathers, and just as often speaking directly to the young men who were present, including two of his sons. He had words about character: “Character is how you act when no one else is watching.” 

Toward the end of his talk, he spoke about some advice a former player gave to his team. Coach said he was surprised when he heard it himself. The player, returning to the college locker room that he had left years before, gave the team what he said was the “secret” to living life. “The secret to life,” the player said (and the Coach repeated to us), “is serving.”

Here at St. Andrew we were well served on Sunday by our faithful parishioner, Coach Butch Jones.

or as the French say, “Merci”

15 Apr

On Easter Sunday night, when Jesus showed the disciples, minus Thomas, his hands and his side, it was an act of Divine Mercy. Jesus was helping them to believe. 

On the Sunday after Easter, which is today for us, when Jesus offered his hands and his side to Thomas, he was not reprimanding or scolding Thomas; he was not making an example of Thomas. It was an act of Divine Mercy. Jesus was helping Thomas to believe. 

See Thomas not as doubting, but as wanting to believe, and finding it hard to believe. 

You know how it can be, wanting to believe, longing to believe, and finding it hard to believe. You pray and pray and pray, but you do not see physical evidence that your prayers are heard. The situation is not fixed; there is no cure. You say things like, “My prayers are not working.” It doesn’t mean that you are doubting. You do believe. You just want to be able to believe more deeply. 

Thomas is not stomping his foot, in a “terrible two” moment. He is not being stubborn with an, “I will not believe, until I have the same religious experience that you had!” Rather, hear him sighing and longing, “I will not be able to believe, unless …” Thomas wants to believe, but finds it hard to believe. For a week, Thomas is in that horrible misery. The more the other disciples rejoice, the more his heart hurts. 

With his appearance to Thomas, with that show of hands and heart, Jesus is pleading with Thomas to believe, as much as Thomas was pleading to be able to believe. Jesus wants Thomas to believe, as much as Thomas wants to believe. 

On some rare occasions, yes, we do “see our way into believing.” We see glimpses of evidence of Divine Mercy. Most often, however, we “believe our way into seeing.” Without evidence, we hold on to our hope that somehow God is in here somewhere, that Divine Mercy “is” flowing upon us through the heart of Jesus. 

One of three prayers may seem appropriate today. Which one do you most earnestly pray? 

1.      Lord, have mercy on me! 

2.     Jesus, I trust in you.

3.     – or the French say – Merci (thank you) for your Mercies, O Lord.

My Watch is “Two-Faced”

10 Apr

Usually I wear a wristwatch that has two “faces.” One is set for local, Milford, time – 10:47 a.m. in the photo below. The other is seven hours ahead: 5:47 p.m., which is “Bethlehem time.” I keep myself on track … and I am constantly reminded of my friends in Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, Nablus, Nazareth and Jerusalem.

Sunday morning as I reached into my dresser drawer for a clean handkerchief, I noticed my “good” watch. I wear it on special occasions. Easter is special! So, onto my wrist went my good watch. As a reminder that Easter Day is actually an Octave, I will wear my special watch for eight days, until next Sunday evening.I can easily and quickly add seven hours to remember whether my friends in the Holy Land are awake or asleep.

happy and holy “Good” Friday!

6 Apr


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