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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Jesus King of the Universe Wants to be King of Every Aspect of Our Entire Lives

He Will Lead Us in All Things!

by Fr. Joseph Mungai 

Happy Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe!  This is the last Sunday of the Church year which means we focus on the final and glorious things to come!  It also means that next Sunday is already the First Sunday of Advent.

When we say Jesus is a King, we mean a few things. First, He is our Shepherd. As our Shepherd He desires to lead us personally as a loving father would. He wants to enter our lives personally, intimately and carefully, never imposing Himself but always offering Himself as our guide. 

The difficulty with this is that it’s very easy for us to reject this kind of kingship. As King, Jesus desires to lead every aspect of our lives and lead us in all things. He desires to become the absolute ruler and monarch of our souls. He wants us to come to Him for everything and to become dependent upon Him always. But He will not impose this sort of kingship upon us. We must accept it freely and without reservation. Jesus will only govern our lives if we freely surrender ourselves over. When that happens, though, His Kingdom begins to become established within us! And through us in the world.
 

Additionally, Jesus does wish for His Kingdom to begin to be established in our world. First and foremost this takes place when we become His sheep and thus become His instruments to help convert the world. However, as King, He also calls us to establish His Kingship by seeing to it that His truth and law is respected within civil society. It’s Christ’s authority as King that gives us the authority and duty as Christians to do all we can to fight civil injustices and bring about a respect for every human person. All civil law ultimately gains its authority from Christ alone since He is the one and only Universal King. 

But many do not recognize Him as King, so what about them? Should we “impose” God’s law upon those who do not believe? The answer is both yes and no. First, there are some things we cannot impose. For example, we cannot force people to go to Mass each Sunday. This would hinder one’s freedom to enter into this precious gift. We know Jesus requires it of us for the good of our souls, but it must still be embraced freely. 

However, there are some things that we must “impose” upon others. The protection of the unborn, poor and vulnerable must be “imposed.” The freedom of conscience must be written into our laws. The freedom to practice our faith openly (religious liberty) within any institution must be “imposed.” And there are many other things we could list here. 

The Lion of Judah is also the Lamb of God Who
takes away the sins of the world. 

What’s important to point out is that, at the end of all time, Jesus will be returning to Earth in all His glory and He will then establish His permanent and unending Kingdom. At that time, all people will see God as He is. And His law will become one with “civil” law. Every knee will bend before the great King and all will know the truth.  At that time, true justice will reign and every evil will be corrected.  What a glorious day that will be!

Reflect, today, upon your own embrace of Christ as King.  Does He truly govern your life in every way?  Do you allow Him to have complete control over your life?  When this is done freely and completely, the Kingdom of God is established in your life.  Let Him reign so that you can be converted and, through you, others can come to know Him as Lord of all!





Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Nigerian Roman Catholic Priest Reflects on "What is a Priest?" -- During His First Anniversary of Ordination.

 “Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” (2 Samuel 7:18.) 

(The pictures in this piece come from a visit Fr. Jude Eze made to the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria early in the first year of his priesthood.)

In his first year as a priest,
Fr. Jude Eze visited the Byzantine
Chapel of the International 
Theological Institute in Trumau, 
Austria 

by Fr. Jude Chinedu Eze, IShc.

It’s already a year since my ordination to the Catholic Priesthood. 

I was ordained in the midst of a raging wave of scandal perpetuated by some derailed priests, while incessant persecutions, kidnappings and killings of Christians and priests took place in my country of Nigeria. 

In an age, when the priesthood is maltreated, scorned, crucified and vilified in my many quarters, I still chose out of my own freewill to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood, for the Schoenstatt Fathers on May 25, 2019 by Bishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah of Nsukka Diocese. This day is as important as the day I was born. It is the happiest day of my life.  It is a day that Christ laid hold of me and made me his Priest, (Philippians 3:12). On a day like this it is important to reflect on my nascent journey into the priesthood. 

In the first place, I must say that my religious commitment to the Schoenstatt Fathers and my ordination to the Catholic Priesthood have changed my life tremendously. It has brought countless blessings, challenges and opportunities for which I am eternally grateful. My experiences thus far, have affirmed the promise of joy and peace that God gives us as long as we are obedient and authentic in following his divine will for our lives. Indeed, I can say, I do not regret my decision to commit all of my life to God, the Church and my religious family—the Schoenstatt Fathers. 

The Priesthood

The priesthood is a gift from God. “No one takes the honour upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.” (Heb. 5:4). I am not a Priest because I am qualified to be one. As a matter of fact, I am only a sinner elevated by grace. Like St. John Chrysostom said, “The infirmity of my spirit renders me useless for this ministry,” yet, God choose me. Surely, he has chosen me because he has trust in me and has a mission for me. My ministry as a Priest will not finish the work of God here on earth but it will surely add value to the Body of Christ and the work of evangelization.  

My motivation in the Priesthood

My priesthood is fundamentally ignited by a deep yearning for God and unreserved desire to serve others. I think this is the major mandate of every minster of the Gospel. We are called to serve and not to be served. Our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated this vividly shortly before his passion, when He washed the feet of his apostles, giving us an example to follow: Christ said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. (John 13:14.) A life of service demands self-emptying, denial or immolations as the case maybe for the good and satisfaction of others. This is the life of a Priest; a life lived totally for others. 

Fr. Jude was able to meet with Dr. Dagny Kjaergaard, ITI professor
and an editor of the Catholic Catechism 

I draw a lot of inspiration as a priest from the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe. In the hell on earth known as Auschwitz,   Father Maximilian Kolbe offered his life in place of a married prisoner who had been selected for death by starvation. He was asked who he was, with the implication, why are you doing this? He responded simply. "I am a Catholic Priest."  His identity was his mission, and like his divine Master, he went to his death as a priest and victim. 

A life of a Priest is a life of sacrifice. A life devoid of charity and sacrifice is fruitless and insignificant. Life is more meaningful when is lived for others in harmony.  

My Experience

Dependence on the grace and wisdom of God is the bedrock of any successful pastoral enterprise. Thus far, I have found out that there’s a difference between studying the theories of theology and the actual application of the knowledge gained to the realities of life found on the pastoral field. What is encountered in study is often comprehensible but the realities of the pastoral life are very hard to understand at times. No doubt, our theological knowledge offers a lot of insight; help and guide for our pastoral work. However, pastoral realities are sometimes theologically challenging and mind boggling.

  

Fr. Juraj Terek assists Fr. Jude during 
the Byzantine Rite. Fr. Jude is a Roman Rite priest
unfamiliar with the Byzantine Rite. 

My experience in the last one year have being interesting and challenging. According to St. Gregory of Nazianzen, the primary task of a Priest is cura animarum (care of the soul). In other words, A priest is primarily a doctor of the soul. And the task of caring for the soul is obviously a daunting assignment because the soul is delicate, and precious to God. Since, after my ordination, it’s been a great privilege to encounter, to help, to support and to be with the people of God in joyful moments as well as in challenging and frightening times of sorrow and distress. 

As a priest working in a local Parish in the suburb of Lagos, people come to me with all their existential and metaphysical concerns, worries, questions, problems and the significant suffering they are going through in life. This ranges from sickness of all kinds like cancer, stroke etc., family members dying, family crisis, marriages falling apart; Father, I have no job or I just lost my job, Father, I am hungry—no money to feed my family, no money to pay house rent, no money to pay medical bills etc. There are also cases of enslavement and demonic manipulations and oppression that are brought forth.  They don’t understand why these things are happening to them despite their love for God and efforts they have put into their work, business and life. Of course!  I don’t have a magic answer or solutions to these myriads of challenges and questions.  But it’s even more onerous helping these people to understand, find hope and meaning from their sufferings in life. It takes grace, love and a fatherly disposition to listen and entertain the life issues of the people of God. This for me has been an interesting aspect of my life as priest in the last one year. 

Again, I found great spiritual joy and fulfilment whenever I am opportune to listen to confessions. 1 John 1:9 says: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. At the confessional, my spiritual fatherliness becomes more evident as I stand as Alter Christus listening, counselling and reminding the people of God’s love, justice, mercy and forgiveness. These sublime encounters often remind me of my own weakness and the need to also seek the merciful face of God. 

Lastly, the current pandemic has offered me a wonderful opportunity for a long retreat to nurture and grow my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Covid-19 is an epoch making pandemic which has affected everything in the globe including my life as a young priest. I am newly posted to work in a parish and just after few months here, the Church is closed to public worship. In the past, times like this were only seen in the pages of history and no one ever imagined that it would happen again in our time. Like a joke we are restricted to staying at home, restricted from having social contact, and restricted from gathering at our places of worship and saying Mass together. Pondering on all of these realities, I came to a conclusion that God indeed had a reason for slowing us down. Humanity prior to the Covid-19 era was driving in a fast lane. We had so much noise and distraction, no time for the family, no time for God due to the transient hustling and bustling of life which often prevent us from paying attention to the things that really matter. 

With the lockdown, the serenity and peace of the earth was obviously seen around the cities. This time reminds me of the fact that we have a common humanity and a common responsibility for one another and to earth that is hosting us. I was so much fascinated to see from across the globe that love couldn’t be locked down as many offered help and support for the poor and disadvantaged around the world. Around my local parish many made sacrifices to see that everyone had something to eat and drink while staying at home. My parishioners have also ensured that we don’t go hungry at the Rectory. For me, the pandemic has a lot to teach us as the world advances into a new era. The love and friendship shown during this time globally should be treasured and sustained for the good of our humanity and world.  

Challenges

The priesthood confers a superhuman dignity on every ordained, and we pay a heavy price for it. For by the grace of ordination a Priest is transformed into another Christ. A Priest is consecrated and set apart to offer sacrifice and supplication to God and service to his people.  However, the grace of ordination does not obfuscate the humanness of a Priest.  Certainly, the sacred nature of the life of a Priest sets him up against Satan and the world; all eyes are on him, for the ideal is expected of him in every respect and at all times. And often, many forget that But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Cor. 4:7.) Hebrews 5: 2 says that a priest is subject to weakness. This is not an excuse for one to live a reckless life of debauchery but a reminder that priests are also humans.  

From the times leading to my ordination I knew and understood fully well that I am not being ordained into an easy life, the modern priesthood is laden with crosses; but isn’t that the glory of it? The glory of our salvation was born out of the cross, which Jesus bore with obedience, love and perseverance. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus says:  “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  In the last one year, I have accepted and carried my cross, in obedience, love and perseverance to follow Jesus.  I have had moments of discouragement and loneliness, weakness and failures, sorrows and pains. However, my strength and help through this times has being the assurance of God’s love, the sufficiency of God’s grace and faith in his promise that he will  be with me always, even to the end of the age. (Matt. 28:20).  

Conclusion

In sum, I think it’s been a good start and I am very happy with my life as a priest. I look forward to the future with the same enthusiasm I had from my ordination.  I am only an instrument of grace; on my own, I can do nothing absolutely. The scripture says in 1 Sam. 2:9 “…for by strength shall no man prevail.” God remains the chief anchor of my life and my priesthood. My greatest wish is for my priesthood to be more like that of Jesus Christ who laid down his life for his friends even while we were still sinners. What does the future holds for me? Jesus is the way and knows the way, so into his hands I place my future. Wherever, he leads I follow.


Fr. Jude delighted in saying the Divine
Liturgy with Fr. Juraj Terek in ITI's
Byzantine Chapel. This is the part
where the priests offer the people's 
prayers and sacrifices to God by 
raising and lowering the altar cloth.
Our prayers are going up! 


Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, many in Africa are facing unprecedented challenges, and the Priests are not left out. Please support Fr Jude' s Life, Work and Mission  in Nigeria with a token; He will be grateful for this kindness and shall be ready to offer Mass for all your personal intentions. 

You can contact Father Jude Eze on 
Twitter:  @FrJude_Eze
Phone: +234806066906 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

How shall I vote?

by Lawrence Fox


Does the candidate or party platform ridicule the worship of God or prevent people from worshipping God in public or prevent another person's display of piety and patriotism -- as a means of advancing the party's own and your own personal end? (yes/no)


Does the candidate or party platform tell you it is okay to dishonor your parents (sneak, rebel against your biological sex, contradict parental moral authority, curse, & accuse them of being supremacists) --  as a means of advancing the party's and your own personal end? (yes/no)


Does the candidate or party platform tell you it is okay to commit violence against people (especially the unborn) and to commit violence against other's property (to play with fire) -- as a means of advancing the party's and your own personal end? (yes/no)


Does the candidate or party platform tell you that sexual pleasures with no accountability are okay -- as a means of advancing the party's and your own personal end? (yes/no)


Does the person or party platform tell you it is okay to loot and take what belongs to others -- as a means of advancing the party's and your own personal end? (yes/no)


Does the candidate or party platform tell you that it is okay to lie and  destroy another person's reputation -- as a means of advancing the party's and your own personal end? (yes/no)


Does the candidate or party platform tell you that it is okay to envy and trash the dignity of marriage (between one man and one woman in unity for life, and ordered to the procreation and education of children) -- as a means of advancing the party's and your own personal end? (yes/no)


Does the candidate or party platform tell you that it is okay to covet another person's lively hood, personal property, security, virtue, valor, and all other things which are the fruit of hard work -- as a means of advancing the party's and your own personal end? (yes/no)


If the answer is YES to any of the above objective standard questions (not imaginary goodies) than consider the other candidate.


For these questions are each based on the 10 commandments.  

 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The New Racism: Coloured Images Are Erased from History

Aunt Jemima's image is gone and so are the lives of 19 million black children


by Lawrence and Susan  Fox 

Aunt Jemima's name and image are being removed from Quaker Oats Company products in order to promote racial equality.


The company seems to think erasing the images of coloured people brings about equality. Planned Parenthood apparently agrees. They strategically placed their clinics in black neighbourhoods -- 79 percent are found within walking distance of minority communities -- resulting in the death of 19 million black children since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. 

In 2011, about 14 percent of the nation's child bearing population was black, but this group accounted for 36 percent of all abortions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's 474 abortions per 1,000 live births, the highest ratio of any racial group in the U.S. 

Abortion was the leading cause of death in the black community in 2011. About 360,000 black babies were aborted, while black deaths that year from all other causes totalled 287,072, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute.

Those 19 million black children and Nancy Green, the original Aunt Jemima, deserve to be remembered, not erased from history. That those black lives have been snuffed out is a national tragedy. 

Nancy Green -- a former slave from Chicago -- played the living version of the Aunt Jemima character at the 1893 World's Fair. She did so well, she was hired to play the role for the rest of her life until her death at age 89. 

Green was a philanthropist and a founding member of Olivet Baptist Church, the oldest active black Baptist church in Chicago, according to Sherry Williams, who extensively researched the woman' life over 15 years as the Bronzeville, Illinois, Historical Society president.


"Black mothers are not irrelevant," Williams told GPB Radio News. "I look at Nancy Green as a black mother figure, and black women are the lifelines for generations, both black and white."
"My mother and grandmother cooked and cleaned in white homes," the black historian said. "My grandmother received little money for her labor, and then she had to turn around from those households and come back to her own house and take care of her own aging mother and young children."

Instead of erasing Aunt Jemima's image altogether, Williams wants Quaker Oats to invest money into preserving the legacy of women like Green and all black women caretakers.

"There's no other segment in society who did everything to take care of everybody," she concluded. "That has always been the black woman."

But what has been Green's reward for a life well lived? The role she played as Aunt Jemima has been erased and she herself is buried in an unmarked grave, forgotten like the the tiny black lives left in their own unknown resting places.  Williams is raising money to put a headstone on Green's last resting place.


Nancy Green's suspected grave in
Oak Woods Cemetery in
Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood.
So now I get it. The Democrat National Committee and Planned Parenthood have been promoting equality for decades by snuffing out the names and the lives of God's little coloured images nestled in the womb of their coloured mothers.

Now I know why members of the DNC, Black Lives Matter, and AntiFa march and loot in favour of Planned Parenthood. They consider aborting coloured babies as a means of promoting racial equality.

And people ask me, Lawrence Fox,  "Why don't you take more seriously the message of so many decent 'Social Justice Warriors'?"

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Screen Time: Grandma Finds Covid-19 Affects More than Jobs & Health

It Also Affects Relationships: A Poem

by Phoebe Wise

(One month into the Covid-19 quarantine, April 20,2020, in Southern California. It’s technically against the law right now to meet with another household, even if they are family.)

Peter, I cannot see you.
On the screen, yes.
But not you.

A streaking form,
Shrieking your babble,
"Bad lion, dinosaur,
Bite you!” 
Chomp!
Your mommy’s leg
Gets the real bite.

I’m left laughing, 
Holding my screen.
Image upside down now;
Your phone, Peter, I mean
Your Mommy’s phone,
Dropped on the floor,
Camera staring at
The ceiling fan, 
Twirling around.

You, unheedful,
Off to chase
Your big brother
Through the tunnel
Of a safari tent, 
Set up in your bedroom
To amuse a three- 
And a five-year-old.

Outside the virus blows.
Smaller than a prowling dinosaur
But real, more deadly.  

Deadly for grandmas.
You, the dangerous carrier,
Locked in your house, to keep me “safe".

But how can I live without my heart?
My.  Sweet.  Heart.  
Just turned three.
Still a baby.  
Little man.  All boy.
Roars like a lion,
Big as Tyrannosaurus,
But wants his diapers
And his nursies.  

Peter, you can’t see me.
Me--who once was
Your preferred diaper changer.
Mom you pushed away,
Chose me to deal
With the smelly mess.  
Privilege unparalleled-- 
If you’re a Grandma.
And know how to reckon
In baby coin.  

Coin I have 
But none to spend.
I can't trade up,
Can’t take you to the park
Or mall, to ride the little cars
That go nowhere, everywhere
You can go in your baby mind:
Legoland.  The county fair.  Outer space.


Just out.  Space.  The playground.
Places you can’t go.  Grandma’s house.

Oh, you came once.  One time.
Your mommy brought you with her
In her car when she was
Dropping something off.
I knew you were coming,
And left.  Escaped in my car.

I knew how it would be--
You would want the full ritual:
Come inside, shoes off,
Straight to the play kitchen,
That becomes our pretend Starbucks,
Make a mocha for grandma,
In a plastic cup,
Accept intangible payment
On your delicate, upturned palm.
Then onto the carpet
To play with trains and blocks.
Finally, outside, 
bubbles to chase,
Balls to kick
On the lawn, with Granddad.

Time to go.  Shoes back on.
Into your car seat.  
A Hershey’s Kiss for your baby hand,
A bribe from Grandma—don’t make a fuss--
Think of me as you ride back home,
Not just me, but all of it--the whole shebang
That happens at Grandma’s house.
I wait patiently as you sit in your car seat,
peeling the foil away, 
Neatly handing me each tiny piece,
Until you pop the Kiss in your mouth,
And give me five.

Car doors slam and you drive away 
With your mom and your brother.

“Goodbye, Grandma!”  he yells.
You wave goodbye, too,
your mouth full of chocolate.

"Goodbye.  Goodbye till next time,
My pride and joy boys!”

That’s it.  That’s all there is
To this precious ritual
that looms so large
in the three year old brain.

All there was.

Peter, you won’t understand
Why you have to forego
The beloved rite,
The pleasant routine:
Pretend Starbacks greeting,
Hershey’s Kiss farewell."

I fled.

Granddad stayed on bravely
To face the happy greeting,
Peter waving “Hi, Granddad!”
From his car seat.  
Then the disappointment
And wailing
When there was no 
Getting out
And going inside to play--
A mocha for Grandma,
Bubbles for Peter.
Just a long ride back home,
Tears, exhausted sleep.

I’m a coward.  I can’t face it.
The tears.  The incomprehension.

His brother is bigger.  James understands.
Knows it’s a germ.
A tiny thing you cannot see.
But it can kill you. Me.  Mostly me,
One of the “vulnerable”, 
Because I am old, a grandma.
He misses me but understands.
He must protect me.

But Peter, you're three.
You cannot see me.
Except on a screen.
And screens are not real.
Babies know.  Know better than we do.
Screens cannot change diapers 
Or draw bubble baths.
Screens have no kisses,
Chocolate or otherwise.
Drop the screen,
Run away laughing,
Leave Grandma 
To stare at the ceiling fan,
Twirling above.

Sometimes at night
I come to visit you.
Drive the few miles
That divide us.  
Come bearing gifts 
That are just the excuse
To be near, even though
I can’t touch,
Can't see.  

I go when you are sleeping, 
upstairs, safe in your room,
Safe in the safari tent
That at night becomes your bed.
Curled up together,
With your brother, 
Breathing as heavily
As baby dinosaurs,
Or so I imagine.
I cannot hear you.  

I put my offering on the doormat:
A loaf of homemade bread
For mom and dad,
Toys for my grandsons.

I see there is something for me:
A sack of geranium stems
For starting new plants.
I pick it up with gloved hand
And back away.

Taking out my phone 
I ring the parents.  
Mom comes to the door,
Screen in hand,
My baby, once, my own, 
Her face all grown up
In the porch light. 
Behind her Dad, 
Face in the shadows,
My son-in-law.
The last time I saw them,
A month ago?  I’ve lost track.

They are smiling, funny,
Charming as ever,
Standing warily behind their screen door.
Me at a good distance,
Six feet minimum.

Why this mandated measure, six feet?
That’s how far down we put our dead!

Is this forever, I wonder?
Or is it just till the memories fade
In a baby man’s brain,
Of bubbles and chocolate and Grandma’s lap.
And screen time is all that remains,
Cold, flat, odorless, tasteless.  Empty.  

“I love you,” I whisper
And drive back home.

  • California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 19, 2020, making it one of the first states to issue mandatory social distancing policies in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.