Archive | August, 2014

things I will miss (1 of …)

28 Aug

Knowing that in ten months I will be leaving my beloved St. Andrew parish, this place and these people, I am more and more noticing things that I will miss. Last night as I was closing the blinds of my bedroom windows, preparing to prepare myself for bed, I looked out my back window. “There is something I will miss.”

I took three photos on my iPad, and deleted two: one with a stray cat roaming into the bottom right corner heading toward a drink of water from the fountain, and one that cut off the top of the statue and the top of the cross on top of the grotto. This one was the best of the three:

Things I Will Miss 01

I tried to enjoy the scene fully, hoping to engrave it in my memory.

Then I prayed a Hail Mary …

… and closed the blinds.

 

watch his hands

22 Aug

Watch the hands of Pope Francis, when he says,

“It seems there is …”

and,

“… but only that, nothing more.”

“It seems there is … but only that, nothing more.”

the Pope has a family, too

21 Aug

signing and singing

21 Aug

More than a year ago I signed a petition on Change.org, petitioning the Israeli authorities to “Save the valley in Cremisan: Support bridges, not walls.”

When prompted to write a reason for signing, I wrote:

“Our friends in Israel could clearly express their desire for reconciliation and security for all who live in the land by a decision NOT to build this section of the fence/wall in the Cremisan valley as it is proposed. Just think of the good public relations message that the Israeli government would put out and the good will that they would spread by making it known that they want the Christians to stay, that they want the people of Beit Jala to have a green space in which to rest and play, that they want the people of the area to have access to water, that they do not want the farmers to lose their livelihood, and that they want the children of the valley to feel safe and secure enough to live and learn as all children deserve – by making it known that they will NOT build that proposed wall/fence through the valley of Cremisan. The Israelis and the Israel government have an opportunity here that they do not often have to put their actions where their words are and their hearts where their minds are. An international audience would hear the message. Not building the wall/fence in the Cremisan Valley along the proposed route is a win-win situation for both the Israelis and the Palestinians, and especially for the children on both sides of that fence/wall that now divides them.”

Cremisan Society of St. Yves

This post appeared on August 8 on the Facebook page of the Society of St. Yves:

The Israeli Supreme Court informed today of its decision on the route of the separation wall in the Cremisan valley in Beit Jala, following the hearing which was held on August 4th, 2014.

The Court decided that as to Israel’s suggested route of the wall, Israel must take into consideration different possibilities by which both Salesian convents in Cremisan are taken in and included within the Palestinian side of the wall. The Court gave Israel until September 4th, 2014 to respond to its decision.

As such, St. Yves’ lawyer Zvi Avni, representing the Salesian Nuns Monestary in Cremisan said today that: “The Court’s decision cannot be considered a final ruling on the case. However, it is a sign that the Court has taken into consideration the importance of respecting religious rights and freedoms and the unity of the Salesian convents”.

The wall being built through the land and homes of Palestinian communities dividing families, isolating them from their farmland and their livelihoods, and cutting off religious institutions, has continually been condemned by international legal institutions. Notably On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice found the separation wall to be illegal under international law and international humanitarian law.

It is not finished yet, but this is a reason for singing!

three reasons

20 Aug

During the Mass in Cremisan valley our pilgrim-teachers saw three reasons for why they were praying and singing in the olive grove.

Here are two …

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… and here’s a third.

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These children deserve a green space in which to picnic and play.  

That’s why we sang and prayed.

 

this chalice

19 Aug

In June our pilgrim-teachers joined Father Ibrahim, the local parish priest of Beit Jala, for the every Friday afternoon Mass in an olive grove of the Cremisan valley. We prayed for a particular answer to a particular prayer: that the Israeli security wall not be built along the proposed route through the valley.

Father Ibrahim told the international visitors and the local people in attendance that the group of teachers that came from Cincinnati in 2012 brought a chalice with their names inscribed on the bottom as a gift to the parish of Beit Jala and as a sign of solidarity and continued prayers. Abouna (Arabic for Father) said that this chalice has been used every week since then.

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It was this chalice that I prepared for Mass with the wine and water.

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It was this chalice that Abouna Ibrahim raised high at the consecration of the Mass, holding the blood of Christ “poured out for us and for all.”

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spare our lives

17 Aug

0 Iraq prayer day 01

 

papal selfies

16 Aug

Two phenomena come together, when young people use opportunities to take selfies with Francis: the popularity and playfulness of the selfie itself, the playfulness and the popularity of Pope Francis.

The Holy Father seems delighted in this video. I know that it delights me when young people make a point of saying hello to me in public, unabashedly calling out to me as “Father,” and introducing their friends to me and me to their friends, “This is my priest.” Many of them I do not recognize from being in Mass on Sundays, BUT the fact that they feel comfortable and even proud to approach the local Catholic priest is a blessing to them and to me. It is a holy connection and a holy communion.

Lord, save us!

9 Aug

But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand.

Peter sinking 03

For the Christians in Iraq, who are given the choice between being killed, converting to radical Islam, paying a penalty tax, or fleeing their homes and belongings — may the persecution stop immediately and forever, let us pray to the Lord …

Lord, save us!

For the people who share the Holy Land as their home, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Muslims and Christians, particularly the suffering in Gaza — may the prayers and efforts of people of goodwill lead to lasting safety and justice, until peace prevails, let us pray to the Lord …

Lord, save us!

For the people of China suffering and recovering from the earthquake — may help arrive and hope be restored, let us pray to the Lord …

Lord, save us!

For those whose lives are in turmoil, and for those struggling to discern the movement of God in their lives — may their hearts be full of gratitude and trust, let us pray to the Lord …

Lord, save us!

Peter sinking 02

Lord, save us!

 

they are just children

8 Aug

Gaza omer2

There is a small Catholic community in Gaza. Holy Family Catholic Church has opened its buildings to Gazans seeking refuge and safety. In the church Mother Teresa’s sisters take care of 28 handicapped children and nine elderly women. There are 1,400 people being given shelter in the partially damaged school building. It is the only Catholic Church in Gaza. The priest refuses to leave his people and the people in his care.

Gaza Father jorge Gaza

Resources are scarce. I am going to wire a personal donation to Archbishop Fouad Twal of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Archbishop knows Milford and St. Andrew. Back in 2006 he slept in my house and celebrated Mass for our school children, baptizing one of our newborns. I will send my money to him, telling him that I want it to be used for the children of Gaza, and for the school and the parish of Holy Family.

Gaza AFP3394263_LancioGrande

If you want to add your donation to mine, send a check payable to “St. Andrew Catholic Church,” making a memo on the check and addressing the envelope to “Holy Family / Gaza.” Send your donation to St. Andrew Catholic Church, 552 Main Street, Milford, Ohio 45150. Get it to us by Monday, August 18. On Tuesday morning, August 19, I will wire my donation, along with yours, from the bank that holds the accounts of our parish to the bank in Jerusalem designated by Archbishop Twal. I will email the Archbishop to let him know that help is coming from the parishioners and friends St. Andrew parish.

To give assistance to the innocent and non-combatant people of Gaza can reduce desperation and is good for both Palestinians and Israelis. Please join me in giving some hope by offering some assistance.

See photos of damage done to the convent, the living quarters of the Sisters, in yesterday’s post, “recently renovated.”