The landlord of the Nun's nearly doubled their rent and they are being evicted. The nuns who run the kitchen on one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods have been feeding the homeless for eight years. In January they got a notice to pay almost 60 percent more rent — from $3,465 a month to $5,500 — or leave.Their only income comes from selling at farmers markets the fruit-topped cakes and other French pastries they bake at the kitchen. They feed hundreds of homeless people weekly and sleep in the back. Robbins said he would provide another $25,000 within the next year, to move to another location. Offers of help Hundreds of people from around the nation and Canada have e-mailed or phoned the soup kitchen and The Chronicle to offer help for the nuns. Within two days, it had raised more than $10,000. Mary Benedicte said. “Thank you, Mr. Tony,” she said quietly. “The homeless people are so sad, and we are here to love them. We have to find a way to keep doing." (Edited from San Francisco Chronicle)
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p. Sami Hallak,sj
AsiaNews publishes Fr Sami Hallak’s ‘daily journal’ on Aleppo’s crisis, in which he slams the lack of water, and the ways people save it and reuse it. Fighting and shelling have recently intensified, with deaths among Christians as well. The statue of Our Lady is a sign of hope for the community.
Aleppo (AsiaNews) – A Jesuit priest stranded in Aleppo describes in his ‘crisis journal’ what people in Aleppo have to go through: lack of water, acts of violence and shelling. And yet, for the city’s Christians, this has not shaken their faith.Amid devastation and loss, the latter see some signs of hope, some "miracles" that are stronger than war and death, Fr Sami Hallak writes in his journal, which was brought out thanks to his confrere Fr Bimal Kerketta, for whom "Syria lives the period of Lent in a special way”.
As he presents the Jesuit missionary’s journal, Fr Bimal says that "the situation in Syria is worsening day by day”. After "the destruction of Homs," in which a Jesuit priest died, now "Aleppo’s turn seems to have arrived”. Two priests, Frs Sami Hallak and Ghassan, have remained in the city operating on behalf of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). They put their lives in harm’s way in “the service of humanity", whilst Islamic State militias "are getting closer” in a city of “still half a million”, where “streets are inaccessible, where one risks get killed at any time”.
What follows is the Crisis Journal from Aleppo by the Indian Jesuit for AsiaNews:
January 22, 2016
The morale of the population is very low. Water is cut off from the city, and there is talk of a long break. Daesh, the Islamic State that controls the dam that supplies water in Aleppo, cut the water for reasons still unknown. For desperate people, one more reason to leave the town, and as you leave, take the destination to the West. It is learned that more and more families are leaving for Canada. In our Jesuit property we have a big water tank (22,000 litres), but we also have a large consumption. With JRS (Jesuit refugee Service), the number of those working in our residence (offices on the 2nd floor) exceeds 20 people. The reservoir can provide water for 12days. I'm worried now like others.
January 27, 2016
Always the stories of heavy shelling! This time it fell in front of the St. Michael's Church at 11am. We have a broken window, two or three glass panes have cracks. The noise was tremendous.
Water is still cut off. The desperation of people is such that I was forced on Sunday Holy Mass to say in my homily that the water will come back in a week: An affirmation of faith and hope. This has a good effect on people, while others asserted without reference, like me, that water will be cut off for long. For months, I encourage people to have positive and encouraging thought. This is our only way to survive. Still, since yesterday, rumours speak of the return water on Saturday –Inshallah (God willing!).
I bring every other day 50 litres of drinking water to offer hot drinks (tea, coffee, anything warm) to students. We comply with non-portable water from a nearby well the area, but some cheat sometimes when we buy water (the water might be from a very dirty area as well).
For three days, the great battle for Aleppo began. The government army attack and the sound of gunfire is heard all night till morning. We do not need an alarm clock because we are dreaming during intermissions.
In response, the shells fell on the neighbourhoods of the regime. A shell fell close to the Franciscan Church (Church of St. Bonaventure known as Ram Church). The large statue of the Virgin of this church is broken. This is a bad sign for the people. My family home is in front of it, but I do not care, three-quarters are already demolished by explosions seven months ago, and there are only two rooms left. The door of one of the rooms is broken by the explosion. I asked one of our neighbours, to move out because her house is demolished. She should distribute or sell the few remaining things of her house as anything can happen in the near future. It's me, I say the same phrase: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." A mystical experience of the war.
February 14, 2016
We learnt in school in Syria that oil is black gold, cotton is white gold. Now we discover that water is gold without any colour. As gold must be treated as does the goldsmith, that is to say very carefully –since a month ago that the city is without water. People buy it at a high price; an expense that adds to the power and drives many to stay all night in the dark because they cannot afford both: water and electricity, and they choose the most necessary.
Aside from drinking water which is used once, every drop of water is used two or three times. If one takes his bath, he puts hot water in a bucket, and the bathing water is carefully collected again in a vessel. Every drop of water flowing from his body is collected with untiring effort which will be used for the toilets (use two times). When using the washing machine, the remaining water contains detergents, it is collected in buckets and is used for various cleaning purpose (wipe the floor). Then the filthy water that remains will be used for the toilets (use three times). With this idea, water and detergents are saved at a time, which is a costly affair because you have to buy things which was not needed earlier.
Our 20,000 litre tank is almost empty . . . For three days, we seek to supply us with water, but we have to wait our turn; the waiting list, we can imagine, is long. By relationships with other associations, Fr Ghassan could get a tank yesterday. We had 15,000 litres of water, an incredible amount. We can, Inshallah, spend the month with . . . Rumours say that water will return in a month.
Anecdote: Today is Valentine's Day. The slogan: "I love you even though you stink." The most popular gift is a red can . . . provided it is filled with water.
February 15, 2016
Macabre day. The fighting is intense and the response too. The shells fell everywhere, but Christians are not very sensitive so they do not fall in their neighbourhoods. The dead remain for them numbers. But when the bombing reached Christian areas, the figures become people. Before yesterday, three people were killed; yesterday, six. A state of fear pervades all Christian inhabitants. They stayed in the city because they do not have the means to leave. For the first time, to pro-government private television is passed cries of Christian women who call the President saying we've had enough, finds a solution. Typically, pro-regime television channels and the official interview Aleppans saying they accept the difficulties and humiliations in the name of resistance and armed terrorist groups, the nation's enemies. I know some of these people. They complain about the situation, but to appear on television, they are willing to say what the chain wants. It is always the attraction of the screen.
February 18, 2016
Water is still cut off. There are rumours that we will have water in two days, news say that the water in the wells dug in the city are getting down to an alarming low level. Consumption is high. Two million people are in need of water. Everywhere in the streets, you see the trucks that carry water day and night. The price per litre is between 1.5 and 2 Syrian pounds for non-portable water. The bottle of drinking water is 125 pounds (600 pounds for someone who has the means to buy half a dozen.).
But Christians manage to find signs of hope. Last Sunday, I was talking with a plumber. He asks me if I saw the miracle of the statue of the Virgin that the shell blew broken. The miracle? I asked, but the statue is broken! Yes, he said, but the face of the Virgin and almost the entire front of the statue remained intact. Her hands clasped in prayer are slightly broken, that's all. It's a miracle Father! I say: Your faith is the miracle. The statue fell, broken, and you see in the debris for signs that the Lord is with us. This man made me think of the centurion before the dying Christ, said, "Truly this man was the son of God." The plumber is not alone. Many have forgotten that the statue fell and remember only parts that remained "miraculously" intact, even if such parts make up only one third of statue.
Shared from AsiaNewsIT
Fr Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic bishops' public affairs office, said: "This is really in the Bible. There is this quote he (Pacquiao) uses from the Bible and we cannot change that." He said it was "unfair" to condemn Pacquiao for echoing what he reads in the Bible when he was asked about same-sex marriage. But Fr Secillano also said the boxing hero should not have used such offensive language. "The Church... says that if this is your lifestyle, if this is your orientation, then we respect that, we cannot condemn them," the priest said. (Text Edited from Yahoo News - Pictured with his daughter from Facebook)
155 at Smyrna
against dysentery, against earache
MARTYR AND BISHOP OF SMYRNASaint Polycarp (69-155), whose feast day we celebrate today, was a holy and learned bishop of Smyrna—a second generation Christian who heard the word of the Lord directly from the apostle John. He is the first Christian martry whose acts of martyrdom were written at the time of his death, and preserved to demonstrate his faith and lack of fear in persecution. In a time of struggle an unrest in the fledgling faith, Polycarp, along with his friend Saint Ignatius of Antioch, looked to the life and Word of Christ as the example of how to celebrate the liturgy, how to worship, and how to live. Saint Ignatius said of Saint Polycarp, “Your mind is grounded in God as on an unmovable rock.”
Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna at a time when Roman persecution of Christians was in full effect. Despite the constant rear of arrest, torture, and death, Polycarp remained resolute in his faith, candidly preaching his belief in Christ, and telling those of other faiths who demanded recognition and respect, “Yes I recognize you- I recognize you as the son of Satan.”
Polycarp was well-known in the early community as learned, patient, and wise. He demonstrated forgiveness, humility, and diplomacy in settling conflict and controversy in the Church. He wrote prolifically, although few of his work survives. Only one letter, a letter to the Philippians, has been preserved. In this letter, Polycarp summarizes and transmits the teachings of Christ:
“Therefore, prepare yourselves. Serve God in reverence and truth, leaving behind empty, fruitless talk and the deception of the crowd, believing in the one who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and gave him glory and a throne at his right hand, to whom all things in heaven and earth are subject, whom every breathing thing worships, who is coming as judge of the living and dead, whose blood God will require from those who disobey him. But the one who raised him from the dead also will raise us if we do his will and follow in his commandments and love the things he loved—refraining from all unrighteousness, greediness, love of money, evil speech, and false witness, not paying back evil for evil or abuse for abuse or blow for blow or curse for curse, but remembering what the Lord said when he taught: Do not judge so that you may not be judged; forgive and then you will be forgiven; show mercy so that you will be shown mercy; with what measure you measure out it will be measured again to you; and that blessed are the poor and those being persecuted for the sake of righteousness; for theirs is the kingdom of God.” (Polycarp to the Philippians, 2) Saint Polycarp modeled his life after Christ. He did not seek out martyrdom as did some at the time, instead, like Jesus, waiting until the Lord decided it was his time. When the Romans, bloodthirsty for the death of Christians, called for his death at the hands of wild animals in the arena, Polycarp was persuaded by friends to hide in a small farmhouse outside of the populated area. While there, Polycarp had a dream in which his pillow caught fire, leading him to tell his followers that he would be martyred by fire. There he was eventually found, after the Romans tortured the servant boys providing him food. Hearing the soldiers approaching, Polycarp came out of hiding to greet them, saying “God’s will be done.” He offered them a meal, and asked permission to pray for one hour before being arrested. Given that he was 86 at the time, calm and gentle, and had showed them hospitality, the soldiers allowed him two hours of prayer, during which he prayed for the continuation of the Church, and “every person he had ever known.” Saint Polycarp was then led to the arena for martyrdom. Prior to release of the wild animals, expected to tear him to bits, the magistrate asked him to renounce Christ, unwilling to send an 86 year old man to his death. Polycarp answered, “Eighty six years have I been His servant, and He hath done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Again, the magistrate asked for Polycarp to renounce his faith and pledge an oath of allegiance to Caesar. Polycarp responded, "If you imagine that I will swear by Caesar, you do not know who I am. Let me tell you plainly, I am a Christian." Running out of options, the magistrate begged Polycarp to change his mind, or else be thrown to the wild animals. Unafraid, Polycarp responded, "Change of mind from better to worse is not a change allowed to us."
Polycarp, due to his lack of apparent fear, was sentenced to being burned alive. As they were tying him to the stake and lighting the fire, Polycarp prayed to Heaven:
"Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and powers, of the whole creation and of the whole race of the righteous who live in your sight, I bless you, for having made me worthy of this day and hour, I bless you, because I may have a part, along with the martyrs, in the chalice of your Christ, to resurrection in eternal life, resurrection both of soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, among those who are in you presence, as you have prepared and foretold and fulfilled, God who is faithful and true. For this and for all benefits I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be to you with him and the Holy Spirit glory, now and for all the ages to come. Amen."
The flames were lit, but miraculously did not touch the saint. Rather then spread around him like an arch, causing him to glow with a heavenly light. Seeing what was happening, the Roman soldiers stabbed him in the throat, killing him, his blood quenching the flames of the fire. His body was subsequently burned by the Romans to prevent him from being worshipped, although his bones were stolen by Christians and saved as relics. Saint Polycarp is an inspiration to us, especially during our Lenten season of preparation. He remained true in his faith, candid in his words, and did not go looking for a glorious martyr’s death. But when it came looking for him, he readily accepted the will of the Lord, proclaiming the Good News until the moment he expired. His courage and confidence in the face of persecution inspires us to step outside of our own perceived strength and power, and to look to Him who provides all for us—our Father in heaven. For he will provide us all that we need: hope, endurance, love, strength, and righteousness. All we need to do is repent, believe, and ask.
Therefore we should persevere unceasingly in our hope and down payment of our righteousness, which is Christ Jesus, who bore our sins in his own body on the tree, who committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth, but because of us, in order that we might live in him, endured all things. Therefore let us be imitators of his endurance, and if we should suffer because of his name, we should glorify him. For this is the example he set for us in himself, and this we have believed. (Polycarp to the Philippians, 8) Text shared from 365 Rosaries Blog