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this region aches

21 Sep

The Jerusalem Prayer for  2014

For the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel

21-27 September

World Week for Peace in Palestine 21-27 September Israel 2014Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. Hebrews 13:3

With these words we pray together for those who are in prison all over the world, those easily forgotten. We pray especially for the political prisoners of Palestine and Israel. We pray for the sick among them and those who cannot handle the hardship of a prison cell, for the children and women who are mistreated behind bars. We also remember those left behind, the families who are bereaved as their beloved ones are sent to prison. We pray for inner transformation for those who committed crimes, and in need of conversion. We pray for hearts and minds that are haunted by hatred and fear, that we will soon find peace and reconciliation in souls and in the societies.

This region aches with so much troubles of the body and soul, both presently and in history. In Palestine and Israel today many lack freedom and too many are behind bars. For too long injustice, violence and fear have shaped this region. We pray and ask for human treatment and justice for all, as we are all children of God.

At last we pray for a just peace settlement and reconciliation, a peace where there will be no more political prisoners behind bars and where harmony will prevail in the hearts of all the peoples of this region. We pray for God’s mercy, for freedom for those in shackles and for peace in our time.

As we observe this week with our brothers and sisters from churches all over the world we pray:

Do not hold against us the sins of past generations;

may your mercy come quickly to meet us,

for we are in desperate need.

Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name;

deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.

Why should the nations say,Where is their God?”

Before our eyes, make known among the nations

that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants.

May the groans of the prisoners come before you;

with your strong arm preserve those condemned to die.

Psalm 79, 8-11

it’s time

20 Sep

World Week for Peace in Palestine 21-27 September Israel 2014

World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel

21 – 27 September 2014

An initiative of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches

It’s time for Palestine. It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.

It’s time to respect human lives in the land called holy. It’s time for healing to begin in wounded souls. It’s time to end more than 60 years of conflict, oppression and fear.  It’s time for freedom from occupation. 

It’s time for equal rights.  It’s time to stop discrimination, segregation and restrictions on movement. It’s time for those who put up walls and fences to build them on their own property. It’s time to stop bulldozing one community’s homes and building homes for the other community on land that is not theirs. It’s time to do away with double standards.

It’s time for Israeli citizens to have security and secure borders agreed with their neighbours.  It’s time for the international community to implement more than 60 years of United Nations resolutions. It’s time for Israel’s government to complete the bargain offered in the Arab Peace Initiative.   It’s time for those who represent the Palestinian people to all be involved in making peace. It’s time for people who have been refugees for more than 60 years to regain their rights and a permanent home.   It’s time to assist settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to make their home in Israel. It’s time for self-determination.

It’s time for foreigners to visit Bethlehem and other towns imprisoned by the wall. It’s time to see settlements in their comfort and refugee camps in their despair.  It’s time for people living more than 40 years under occupation to feel new solidarity from a watching world.

It’s time to name the shame of collective punishment and to end it in all its forms. It’s time to be revolted by violence against civilians and for civilians on both sides to be safe. It’s time for both sides to release their prisoners and give those justly accused a fair trial.  It’s time to reunite the people of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It’s time for all parties to obey international humanitarian and human rights law.

It’s time to share Jerusalem as the capital of two nations and a city holy to three religions. It’s time for Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities to be free to visit their holy sites. It’s time in Palestine as in Israel for olive trees to flourish and grow old.

It’s time to honour all who have suffered, Palestinians and Israelis. It’s time to learn from past wrongs. It’s time to understand pent-up anger and begin to set things right. It’s time for those with blood on their hands to acknowledge what they have done.  It’s time to seek forgiveness between communities and to repair a broken land together. It’s time to move forward as human beings who are all made in the image of God.

All who are able to speak truth to power must speak it. All who would break the silence surrounding injustice must break it. All who have something to give for peace must give it.

For Palestine, for Israel and for a troubled world, it’s time for peace.

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.”

recently “renovated”

7 Aug

This is the chapel where the Sisters used to live at Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza, prior to the warring between Israel and Hamas. The chapel had been recently renovated.Holy Family chapel 01

Here’s the chapel after it was “renovated” during the shelling of Gaza. Notice that the tabernacle was “moved” from its place. 

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The typical room of one of the sisters looked, prior to the warring, like you would expect a sister’s room to look: simple, neat and clean, desk cleared, bed made, statues.Holy Family sisters room 01

Thankfully the sisters had left before the room was shelled. 

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The priest who heads the Chancery, the official administrative office of the Archbishop Twal of the Latin Patriarchate Jerusalem, sent these photos to me to me by email today. I had asked for a couple photos to help me ask my parishioners for money to send to Jerusalem to help the people of Gaza. Father George was kind and quick with his response.

Here at our St. Andrew parish we will continue to pray until peace prevails. May the temporary mutual ceasefire lead to lasting safety and justice, followed by peace for all. May the cautious calm now lead eventually to a final peace – for Israelis and Palestinians, for Christians, Jews and Muslims.

this war is absurd

30 Jul

So, how can they leave? And where can they go?

Father Jorge said, “This war is absurd.”

Father jorge Gaza

Read the article on Catholic News Service: “Text said to evacuate, but Gaza Catholic parish priest had nowhere to go.”

 

not “all pray and no play”

29 Jul

In the dark and sickening days of the Gaza-Israel war (Hamas-Israeli conflict), it is good for me to remember being in the Holy Land with pilgrim-teachers, and laughing, eating, drinking, smoking and dancing with our friends.

In Madaba, Jordan, our friends (and their family and their friends) took us out drinking and dancing one Saturday night. They wanted to feed us with an evening feast of salads and meats and vegetables and on and on and on, but we had eaten dinner just an hour before they came to the hotel and dragged us off to the third floor restaurant overlooking the roundabout at the town’s center.

Singing and clapping and dancing, Americans and Jordanians, all believing Christians, under a spinning ball reflecting colored light onto the floor and our clothes and our faces! A local priest and a college professor each took the microphone away from the keyboard player that they had hired for our evening’s entertainment, so that they could sing some of their favorite Arabic dance tunes.

At the tables new wine bottles kept appearing as others kept disappearing. Nuts and humus were abundant, and, of course, there was the required hookah (water pipe) with its gentle, flavored (and legal!) tobacco.

1 Dancing and Hooka DSC_0237

And to Taybeh a few of us went to visit the brewery owned by our Palestinian Christian friends. For the sake of perspective, the village of Taybeh is but a few miles from the Qalandia Israeli military checkpoint where the most extensive and violent clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youth  have taken place in the West Bank. Members of the family that own and operate the brewery welcomed us, spread out appetizers and offered us a taste of as many of their beers as we liked, while walking us on tour and explaining the challenges of running a business in the West Bank that requires a regular supply of water. 0 Taybeh beer 04

I left the brewery with two cases of beer, twelve bottles each of their four most popular beers: dark, amber, golden and their yet-to-go-public “white” beer.

It lightens my heart to remember that our pilgrimage was not all pray, but included some play.

our holy fifty-nine minutes

27 Jul

holy 59 minutes 01

A holy hour is by tradition an hour of prayer, often in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament placed in the monstrance on the altar.

This evening at St. Andrew there was a holy hour for peace in the Middle East. After the time of prayer, spoken and sung and silent, one attendee teasingly informed the deacon that the prayer was one minute short of the promised hour, so that technically, it was not a holy “hour.”  

But holy it was!holy 59 minutes 03

We sang the chaplet of divine mercy, repeating over and over in a haunting and massaging melody,

“Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.”

“For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

“Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

holy 59 minutes 02

Then we prayed a “litany of presence.”

Make your presence known, Lord,

to the people of Gaza

to the people of Israel

to the people of the West Bank

to the people of Jordan

make your presence known, Lord,

to President Rivlin of Israel

to Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel

to President Abbas of Palestine

make your presence known, Lord,

to the people of Syria

to the people of Iraq

to the destructive forces in Syria and Iraq

make your presence known, Lord,

to Pope Francis

to Archbishop Fouad Twal of the Holy Land

to Bishop William Shomali of the Holy Land

to Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako of Iraq

to Father Jorge Hernandez of Gaza

make your presence known, Lord,

to the children in the Middle East who live in fear

to the children who are orphaned

to the children who are wounded

to the children living in refugee camps

make your presence known, Lord,

to all those who are wounded and have died in the conflicts

to all those who mourn for them

to the living and the dead lost in the rubble

make your presence known, Lord,

to the Salesian Sisters and Monks of the Cremisan

to the Salesian school children

to the decision makers of the Cremisan land

make your presence known, Lord,

to those who pray for peace in the Middle East

 make your presence known, Lord.

holy 59 minutes 04

After the prayer a bow appeared in the sky, reminding us of God’s promise to Noah after the flood of destruction never to allow the earth to be destroyed again. God placed a bow in the sky to remind himself. This bow tonight, ever so faint,  helped us to remember, too.

“literally deteriorating”

26 Jul

0 Holy Family Gaza 03

Bishop William Shomali of the Latin Patriarchate Jerusalem speaks about the Catholic church in Gaza:

“The Christian community in Gaza is less than 1,500. Among them, 200 are Catholics. The others are mainly Orthodox and some Anglicans. We run three Catholic schools and one Anglican hospital. The Christian presence in Gaza is stronger than its percentage.

For the moment, we don’t have special news about the destruction and losses incurred by the Christian community, although we are in contact on a daily basis with its courageous parish priest, Fr. Jorge Hernandez. We know from him that the faithful did not come to Mass last Sunday. They were afraid to come. Many people are deprived of basic needs such as sleeping at night because of what they hear.

Our Catholic school in Gaza, which is part of the parish compound, welcomed many homeless, who escaped the shelling of their quarter in Al Shujaieh and Al Zaitouneh. They are around 600 people living and sleeping in the school without the necessary equipment. They need food and water.”

For the entire interview with Bishop Shomali, click on Situation in Gaza ‘literally deteriorating’ says Latin Rite Auxiliary Bishop

“open the school and let them in”

25 Jul

Holy Family School in Gaza, run by the Latin Catholic Church, now plays host to 800 refugees bedded down in classrooms and corridors.

0 Holy Family Gaza 01

The man who guards the school called the priest and immediately he said, “Open the school and let them in.”

Gaza’s Christians are a tiny and diminishing community of about 2,000 in a total population of 1.8 million. Today, there are only two active churches in Gaza and five Christian schools, although most of their pupils are Muslims. 0 Holy Family Gaza 02

Read the rest of the article: Gaza churches open doors to refugees from Israel offensive