Friday, 30 August 2013

The Catholic Church in Somalia: Next step forward

Since the establishment of the Federal Government last year, Somalia and particularly the nation’s capital of Mogadishu, has made historic steps forward in terms of peace, stability and economic development. While no one denies that Somalia still has a long way to go, and that the present hard earned peace is still very fragile, it must be said that the current situation is more hopeful than any period since the start of the civil war in 1991.

Given this situation, and that there is an official and somewhat stable government authority to deal with, the Catholic Church seeks to officially reestablish her presence in Somalia, and particularly in Mogadishu. To this end, H.E. Msg. Giorgio Bertin OFM, the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Mogadishu, has approached the Somali government, explaining the Church’s desires.

In a letter to the Somali Minister of Foreign Affairs, Msg. Bertin expresses in point form a number of requests for the Church in Somalia. The letter mentions how the Church has been present in Somalia for the past 22 years of turmoil, mainly through humanitarian projects worked often in conjunction with local Somali partners; as well as through public interventions of the Pope on the situation in Somalia.

Among the requests the letter makes, the desire for a ‘physical and permanent presence’ comes to the fore. This presence will be expressed in the reopening of a place of worship for Christians, particularly among the expatriate community, as well as an office for CARITAS Somalia, the Church’s humanitarian branch.

Among other things, the letter makes reference to Church property and buildings that have been destroyed and, in many cases, have been inhabited by displaced persons. The letter also mentions the possibility of a visit by the Papal Nuncio which could lead to obtaining full diplomatic ties between the Holy See and the Federal Republic of Somalia.

As such, there remains much to pray for. The acceptance of these points by the Somali government would be a huge step forward for the Catholic Church in Somalia, who for the present is severely hampered in her mission of peace and justice among the afflicted peoples of Somalia.

Our Lady of Africa, pray for Somalia and for the Church in this land. Amen.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Jesuit Refugee Services/USA: Horn of Africa Appeal

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has released an appeal for the work they are accomplishing in the Horn of Africa. Please support them in their efforts to help the displaced peoples of the Horn of Africa. The following is taken from the appeal page on the JRS website:

"The Horn of Africa
Somalia, Eritrea and the Horn of Africa are at the center of one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. Years of conflict and regularly recurring droughts have displaced nearly two million Somalis. People fleeing the autocratic regime of Eritrea, and refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan trek to Ethiopia seeking safety. In addition to providing services for urban refugees in Addis Ababa, Jesuit Refugee Service operates several projects in the largest of the Ethiopian camps for Somalis, Melkadida. More than 40,000 refugees live in tents at Melkadida, and JRS provides counseling, adult literacy and a variety of youth programs. To the north, Jesuit Refugee Service provides programs for 13,500 Eritrean refugees at the Mai Aini Refugee Camp.

Melkadida Somali Refugee Camp Ethiopia

"We have been serving Somalis for many years and are aware of their needs. We are preparing to help increased flows of traumatized survivors restore normality to their lives. This is a long-term commitment, as psychosocial and education services are key to helping bring stability to refugees' lives," Rev. Fr Frido Pflueger, S.J. Director of JRS East Africa

To see examples of the work JRS is doing for refugees and to support their work visit:

Please pray for Somalia, and for the work that JRS and other humanitarian groups are accomplishing here and elsewhere around the world.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Persecution update: Christian mother of two abducted by Somali Islamic militants

Our Lady of Sorrows, who witnessed the cruel death of thy Holy Son, pray for this family and for all the Christians of Somalia!

Your prayers are urgently requested for the young Christian mother of two children who was abducted by suspected Al-Shabaab militants from her home on August the 5th. Her husband and two young children have gone into hiding. She has not been heard from or seen since the kidnapping. It is feared that she is dead, as Al-Shabaab has vowed to rid Somalia of all Christians and traces of Christianity- and they accomplish this with brutal and efficient force. Please offer up Masses, Holy Communions, Rosaries and other prayers for this mother and her family, as well as for all the heavily persecuted Christians of Somalia. The following article is taken from Christianity Today, and can be read at the original site here.-RCMS

Islamic extremists suspected to be rebel Al-Shabaab militants have kidnapped a Christian mother of two young children in Somalia and threatened her husband because of their faith, her husband said.

Three masked men abducted Shamsa Enow Hussein, 28, on August 5 in Bulo Marer, Lower Shebelle Region, at 7 pm outside her home after determining that she was a secret Christian, 31-year-old Mohamed Isse Osman told Morning Star News.

"I just heard screaming from my wife and the children as I approached my house," Osman said.

That night, his wife was able to send him a text message saying he should flee the area, he said.

"Please leave immediately because of what we believe," she said in the text. "They have abused me sexually saying I am an infidel."

According to the East Africa correspondent for the news service, Osman said he has received anonymous, threatening text messages from the kidnappers from a withheld number, including one reading, "Your wife has told us all about your Christian involvement and soon we shall come for you too."

A leader of the underground church in the undisclosed town to which Osman and his daughters, ages 3 and 5, have fled said Osman has not heard from his wife since her August 5 text message.

"Our two young daughters are crying for their mother," Osman told the church leader.

The story went on to say that a resident of the Bulo Marer area whose name is withheld confirmed that Hussein was abducted but that local residents knew little else about it.

"What little we knew about Osman's family was that they were not very committed to attending the mosque during Ramadan time," he said.

Somalis consider themselves Muslim by birth, and apostasy, or leaving Islam, is punishable by death.

"Al-Shabaab, said to have ties with Al Qaeda, reportedly has a base in Bulo Marer. The group has vowed to rid Somalia of Christians, who meet secretly due to persecution. Al-Shabaab is battling the Somali government that replaced the Transitional Federal Government a year ago, on August 20, 2012," added the East Africa Correspondent.

"On June 7 in Jamaame District in southern Somalia, insurgents from the group shot 28-year-old Hassan Hurshe to death after identifying him as a Christian, sources said. Al-Shabaab members brought Hurshe to a public place in the town of Jilib and shot him in the head, they said."

The insurgents have lost control of several areas of Somalia since Kenyan military forces helped to dislodge them in the past year, but they are suspected in the shooting death of a Christian pharmacist on the outskirts of Kismayo in February. Two masked men killed Ahmed Ali Jimale, a 42-year-old father of four, on Feb. 18 as he stood outside his house in Alanley village.

According to Morning Star News, these are some of the other attacks:

* On April 13, Al-Shabaab rebels shot his widow, 42-year-old Fartun Omar, to death in Buulodbarde, 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Beledweyne, leaving their five children orphaned.

* On March 23, Al-Shabaab militants in Bulo Marer jailed and tortured a Christian, 25-year-old Hassan Gulled, for converting from Islam, sources said.

* On December 8, 2012 in Beledweyne, 206 miles (332 kilometers) north of Mogadishu, gunmen killed a Christian who had been receiving death threats for leaving Islam. Two unidentified, masked men shot Mursal Isse Siad, 55, outside his home, Muslim and Christian sources said. Siad and his wife, who converted to Christianity in 2000, had moved to Beledweyne from Doolow eight months before. The area was under government control and there was no indication that the killers belonged to the Al-Shabaab rebels, but the Islamic extremist insurgents were present in Buulodbarde, and Christians believed a few Al-Shabaab rebels could have been hiding in Beledweyne.

* In the coastal city of Barawa on November 16, 2012, Al-Shabaab militants killed a Christian after accusing him of being a spy and leaving Islam, Christian and Muslim witnesses said. The extremists beheaded 25-year-old Farhan Haji Mose after monitoring his movements for six months, sources said. Mose drew suspicion when he returned to Barawa, in the Lower Shebelle Region, in December 2011 after spending time in Kenya, according to underground Christians in Somalia.

"Kenya's population is nearly 83 per cent Christian, according to Operation World, while Somalia's is close to 100 percent Muslim," concluded the story.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Missionaries Murdered in Somalia: Bishop Pietro Salvatore Colombo O.F.M.

This is the first in a series of short biographies of Catholic men and women who have given their lives while serving God in Somalia. I do not wish to say they lost their lives in Somalia- these people knew what dangers they were to face, what risks they were to undertake, and for the sake of the Kingdom of God, and for the salvation of the people of Somalia, they freely gave their lives. May these short biographies inspire a new generation of selfless and zealous missionaries who will freely give their lives for God and their Somali brothers and sisters.

The Most Reverend Dr. Pietro Salvatore Colombo O.F.M. was born in Carate Brianza, Italy on the 28th of October 1922. On the 6th of April 1946 in Milan, Pietro was ordained a priest, within the Order of the Friars Minor, better known as the Franciscans. That same year he was sent to Somalia as a missionary. From that year until the year of his death in 1989, a total of 43 years, he faithfully served the people of Somalia.

In the 16th of March 1976, Father Colombo was consecrated as the first Bishop of Somalia. On the 20th of November 1975 the Vicariate Apostolic of Mogadishu was elevated by the Holy See to the Diocese of Mogadishu, on that same day Father Colombo was appointed by the Holy See to become the first Bishop of the Diocese of Mogadishu. The Diocese of Mogadishu encompasses the entire territory of Somalia.

Bishop Colombo was respected and well regarded by his small Catholic flock as well as by the non-Catholic Somalis, whether Muslim or secular. Under the regime of President Siad Barre proselytizing was not allowed, but the Church's humanitarian and charitable efforts were tolerated. Bishop Colombo skillfully guided the Church through this delicate period, as well as over seeing the running of various humanitarian aid projects. 

On the 9th of July 1989 Bishop Colombo was killed inside Mogadishu's Cathedral. He was shot by an unknown gunman. There is controversy surrounding the murder of Bishop Colombo, particularly in regards to who killed him. President Barre blamed the murder on Islamic militants and offered a reward for their capture.

Many people however believed that Barre had ordered the assassination himself, for various reasons. Bishop Colombo had been an outspoken critic of the Barre regime. The Bishop also helped a clan, out of favour with Barre, to purchase some land. And thirdly, the death of Bishop Colombo was a convenience means of appealing to Western governments for military and other aid. None the less, the death of Bishop Colombo was seen as a turning point in Muslim and Secular relations due to Barre's crackdown in response to the death of Bishop Colombo.

Since the Bishop's murder the Holy See has not appointed a successor to his post. The vacant see of Mogadishu will most likely remain that way until the restoration of peace and stability in the country. For the time being, the Diocese is run by the Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Giorgio Bertin O.F.M. the Bishop of the neighbouring country of Djibouti.

Many considered Bishop Colombo to be a very holy man of God, some might say a Saint- this decision we leave in the hands of Holy Mother Church. But it cannot be denied that Bishop Colombo was a sincere and zealous servant of God, who gave his whole life to the people of Somalia. On Sunday the 16th of July 1989, Blessed Pope John Paul II gave a speech in memory of Bishop Colombo. The words were documented and can be read in the Italian from the Vatican's website here.

Here is an extract from the Holy Father's speech, a fitting testament to the life of Somalia's first and so far only Bishop:

"His death has aroused deep emotion and regret. He had the gift of his priesthood to the mission in Somalia, lavishing it with great zeal and apostolic charity in the care of souls and the service of others. The testimony he gave to the cause, the many initiatives of his concern for the needy, the work of peace are constantly turning into a blessing in the memory of the Church and of all the people of Somalia. For him implore the reward that the Lord reserves to his 'good and faithful servant.'"

May God indeed bestow upon His faithful Bishop the reward of the good and faithful servant, and may He deign in His infinite goodness and mercy to let His servant, Bishop Colombo rest in peace, in the joyous and radiant presence of His glory and majesty. And may this good and holy Bishop look down from his heavenly home upon the Church and land and people he served for so many years, and through his prayers and ours, may Somalia and her people prosper in peace and holiness, united to Christ Jesus in His holy Catholic Church. Amen!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today, the 15th of August, is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. This doctrine of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, was solemnly defined by Venerable Pope Pius XII on the 1st of November 1950, in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus. If you wish to read the full text click here.

It was the wish of the Venerable Pontiff that the solemn definition of this dogma would remind us all of our own final destiny, and thinking on that we would aim for Heavenly glory. This teaching, this truth of the Catholic Faith, reminds us and in fact shows us what awaits those who faithfully follow God and live a life of sanctity and virtue. And what is that? If we live a life of virtue, and persevere in the grace and friendship of God, we know that He will reward us by raising us up, body and soul, into the glory of Paradise. Our bodies, as well as our souls, are destined for great and holy things, so we should not corrupt them by foul sin. Nor should we be deceived by the passing vanities of the pleasures and honours of this empty world. The only true honour and glory is that of being a pure child of God. And it is Holy Mary, who was the most perfect child of God, after the very Son of God Himself, that will help us poor creatures to live a life worthy of the destiny we are called to.

It was granted to the Blessed Virgin Mary alone to receive the great privilege of being assumed into Heaven, body and soul, without having to wait for the General Judgement, like the rest of mankind. And as is explained in the above mentioned Apostolic Constitution, God saw fit to preserve His Blessed Virgin Mother from the corruption of the grave, as He had already preserved her from the corruption of sin.

But while us poor sinners must all face death and the subsequent corruption of the grave, those of us who die in the friendship or grace of God, have the blessed hope that we too will be raised up- and this hope is reinforced, not only by the glorious Resurrection of Our Blessed Lord Jesus, but by the Assumption of His Holy Mother too. For  the Mother was like unto the Son- she was His perfect imitator and follower. And this should give us unbounded hope and courage, because she is also our Mother, and she wishes to help us reach Heaven.

But there is more, something pertinent to this blog. While the world, and in this case, while Somalia is trapped in a whirlpool of sin, violence and corruption; a paralyzing and seemingly unending tale of woes and sorrow. It is the glorious Assumption of Mary that cuts through the jungle of darkness and sin, and blazes a bright light of hope and true freedom from all the mayhem. Because the Assumption reminds us, as mentioned already, that this life here below is not our final end. That the true purpose of all mankind is to love and serve God, and to be with Him, happy and glorious in Paradise.

It is easy to become discouraged by the continual flow of tragedy and killing that swamps Somalia- but Our Lady Mary gives us hope- because she is a clear proof to the world that God has not abandoned us.

And for you, my dear Brothers and Sisters of Somalia, you who are true believers in the Son of God and His Holy Church, remember that Holy Mary suffered in hiding and fear too. She was the bulwark of the early Church, when all around the forces of the devil sought to extinguish the light of the infant Church. But through her prayers she gave strength and courage to the Apostles, and they went bravely to preach the Gospel- even at the cost of their lives. Holy Mary remembers you in your suffering now, and be sure she will pray for your strength and courage. Have no fear. God is with you, if Holy Mary is with you.

Let us all turn to this Blessed and Holy Mother of God and ask her to bless and protect us, and give us the graces we need to be faithful to God, and to one day join her in Heaven, singing the praises of Our Holy God.

Mother Mary, Assumed gloriously body and soul in Heaven, pray for us and for Somalia! Amen.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

This is bad...

"After working continuously in Somalia since 1991, the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) today announced the closure of all its programmes in Somalia, the result of extreme attacks on its staff in an environment where armed groups and civilian leaders increasingly support, tolerate, or condone the killing, assaulting, and abducting of humanitarian aid workers."

"MSF pulling out of Somalia is the equivalent - in most ordinary countries - of shutting down the entire national health service overnight. In many parts of the country there is simply no other health provision. Hundreds of thousands of people will lose the most basic of services."

Lord have mercy on Somalia.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Somalia's Cathedral: Past and Present Continued

Mogadishu Cathedral in it's glory.

What it looks like today in the interior.

May God raise up a mighty Church in Somalia to praise His Holy Name! And may this beautiful Cathedral once again be opened that the worship and praises of God may be sung by His Somali children. Amen

Thursday, 8 August 2013


It was recently brought to my attention that Vatican Radio broadcasts two programs in Somali every week. Every Saturday at 18:15 CET and 16:15 UCT and every Sunday at 05:45 CET and 03:45 UCT.

Click here, here, and here for the various schedules.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Most Holy Trinity

The following article is taken from the Catholic website: Fisheaters, it explains clearly and as simply as possible, what the true Catholic and Christian belief is concerning the Most Holy Trinity, and why we believe in the Blessed Trinity. Among Muslims there seems to be a lot of misrepresentation and misunderstanding concerning this doctrine of Christians. I hope this article will clear away any such misunderstandings, and may it pave the way to your acceptance of this fundamental truth if you do not believe in it. And if you do already believe and adore God as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, may this article serve to strengthen your Faith. RCMS Administrator

It's a Mystery, the single greatest Mystery of the Christian faith. God is One -- but three Persons? What? What are the orthodox beliefs surrounding the Trinty? Why do Christians believe that? How can a person wrap their mind around the idea that there is one God in Three Persons?

Before I get into all that, I want to stress the importance of trying to understand this Mystery! The Trinity is WHO GOD IS, it's What He is. In order for us to love someone (or Someone), we have to know whom it is we are loving. How can a bride please her Groom if she doesn't really know him? We love best when we know the object of our love. This being so, I urge all to meditate on the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.

What Christians Believe

The Athanasian Creed states,
Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith. For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever. This is what the catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit.

But the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have one divinity, equal glory, and coeternal majesty. What the Father is, the Son is, and the Holy Spirit is.

The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated. The Father is boundless, the Son is boundless, and the Holy Spirit is boundless. The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, and the Holy Spirit is eternal.

Nevertheless, there are not three eternal beings, but one eternal being. So there are not three uncreated beings, nor three boundless beings, but one uncreated being and one boundless being. Likewise, the Father is omnipotent, the Son is omnipotent, the Holy Spirit is omnipotent.

Yet there are not three omnipotent beings, but one omnipotent being. Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.

However, there are not three gods, but one God. The Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Spirit is Lord. However, there are not three lords, but one Lord. For as we are obliged by Christian truth to acknowledge every Person singly to be God and Lord, so too are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say that there are three Gods or Lords.

The Father was not made, nor created, nor generated by anyone. The Son is not made, nor created, but begotten by the Father alone. The Holy Spirit is not made, nor created, nor generated, but proceeds from the Father and the Son. There is, then, one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits. In this Trinity, there is nothing before or after, nothing greater or less. The entire three Persons are coeternal and coequal with one another. So that in all things, as is has been said above, the Unity is to be worshiped in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity.

He, therefore, who wishes to be saved, must believe thus about the Trinity. It is also necessary for eternal salvation that he believes steadfastly in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and man. As God, He was begotten of the substance of the Father before time; as man, He was born in time of the substance of His Mother. He is perfect God; and He is perfect man, with a rational soul and human flesh. He is equal to the Father in His divinity, but inferior to the Father in His humanity. Although He is God and man, He is not two, but one Christ. And He is one, not because His divinity was changed into flesh, but because His humanity was assumed unto God. He is one, not by a mingling of substances, but by unity of person. As a rational soul and flesh are one man: so God and man are one Christ. He died for our salvation, descended into Hell, and rose from the dead on the third day. He ascended into Heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there He shall come to judge the living and the dead. At His coming, all men are to arise with their own bodies; and they are to give an account of their own deeds. Those who have done good deeds will go into eternal life; those who have done evil will go into the everlasting fire.

This is the Catholic faith. Everyone must believe it, firmly and steadfastly; otherwise He cannot be saved. Amen.
The Three Persons are not each a "partial God" or "aspects of God" or "manifestations of God." The Three Persons are each fully and truly 100% God in their essence and have each existed from the very beginning of time. One did not create or precede the Other. At the same time, the Three Persons are not Three separate "Gods"; they are ONE God! Later on, I will present some ways of trying to imagine this, but for now I'd like to focus on why Christians believe this.

Why Christians Believe This

We believe what we believe because we place our faith in the Church whose Sacred Scripture is replete with proofs of the Trinity!  (see relevant Scripture with commentary below) In the Old Testament, from the very first chapter of Genesis, when God says, "Let US make man in OUR image," to God's use of two different persons in Malachi 3:1, each and every Book of the Old Testament (Tanach) speaks of the triune nature of our God. Isaiah, in the 9th chapter and 6th verse of his book, very clearly predicts that the Messiah will be called "a Mighty GOD" -- and the Gospels make clear that's Who Messiah is! From the Catholic Encyclopedia: 
  • He declares that He will come to be the judge of all men (Matthew 25:31). In Jewish theology the judgment of the world was a distinctively Divine, and not a Messianic, prerogative.
  • In the parable of the wicked husbandmen, He describes Himself as the son of the householder, while the Prophets, one and all, are represented as the servants (Matthew 21:33 sqq.).
  • He is the Lord of Angels, who execute His command (Matthew 24:31).
  • He approves the confession of Peter when he recognizes Him, not as Messias -- a step long since taken by all the Apostles -- but explicitly as the Son of God: and He declares the knowledge due to a special revelation from the Father (Matthew 16:16-17).
  • Finally, before Caiphas He not merely declares Himself to be the Messias, but in reply to a second and distinct question affirms His claim to be the Son of God. He is instantly declared by the high priest to be guilty of blasphemy, an offense which could not have been attached to the claim to be simply the Messias (Luke 22:66-71).
At His Baptism, the Three Persons were manifest at once:
Matthew 3:13-17
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
And the "Great Commission" to evangelize and baptize is crystal clear in naming the Three Persons:
Matthew 28:19
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The most common argument against the divinity of Christ (as opposed to His "mere" Messiah-ship) revolves around the Sh'ma (or "shema"), Deuteronomy 6:4, which reads, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD" First, no Catholic doubts that God is one God! Second, the point of the verse is to emphasize that the ancient Israelites worshipped the true God as opposed to false, pagan, polytheistic gods. The text in Hebrew would read better as "Hear, O Israel: God is our God; God is One." Thirdly, the relevant Hebrew words include:
  • YHWH, singular name for the Godhead
  • Elohim, which is the plural of Eloah, or "God"
  • echad, which usually indicates a composite, such as "a flock" (singular) of geese (plural) or "a bunch" (singular) of grapes (plural)
Putting it all together we get: "Hear O Israel: YHWH (singular) is ELOHIM (plural) of us; YHWH (singular) is ECHAD (a word usually indicating a composite)."

But How Can a Man be God?

From the New Testament, some argue that Jesus wept, and ate, and slept -- how could He possibly be God? Humans can't be God! Mystery of mysteries! Jesus Himself told us He didn't expect us to easily understand (Philippians 2:6)! He took on a human nature. And He is divine, His humanity and divinity being in complete and perfect hypostasis. To believe this is not possible is sheer anthropomorphism; it is to limit God and try to "box Him in" to human understanding and daily experience. Humans can't be God? OK. But God can -- and did -- take on a human nature, just as Isaiah predicted:
Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty GOD, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
...and a man named Jesus walked out of His grave 2,000 years ago (see this site: Shroud of Turin. Will open in new browser window).

Understanding the Trinity (well, almost!)

In some ways we might not ever truly understand the Trinity, at least while we're on earth. It seems so paradoxical, so illogical to those who think of the Three Divine Persons as Three separate "Beings": 1+1+1=3? Yes! But change your operators -- 1X1X1=1! We have to loosen up our minds a little, and think in terms of Essences, not separate ontological realities. God is one Essence; He is "Being" itself. He is He Who called Himself "I AM." The Three Persons are of this same Divine Essence; they are the sameBeing, and are only distinct in Their relations with One Another.

But more interesting that this is one explanation of WHY God is in Three Persons -- and this is where things get good.

God is Love

Christians say all the time that "God is Love". Oh, and it's so true! And it is this understanding that can give us a foothold in our attempt to understand this Mystery because love needs an object. You can't love if there's noone (or Noone) to love! The Father isn't in Heaven eternally loving Himself; He has the Son. And the Son has the Father. And they have the Spirit, Who has Them. The Godhead must be triune because: 
  • God is Love;
  • Love needs an object;
  • God is self-sufficient and needs no one outside of God;
  • Love is ever creative, abundant and life-giving! From Love proceeds Love!
The Father-Monarch did not create the Son, He begat Him. He did not create the Spirit, the Spirit proceeds from Him and the Son. But all this takes place outside of time, in God's dimension: He is Triune eternally, from the beginning, and is complete in Himself.

There have been many attempts to symbolize the Trinity to make God understandable to us: St. Patrick used the shamrock, some use the three states of water to show that liquid water, steam, and ice all have the same essence (H20) while being three easily-identified entities.

But I think the best symbol for the Trinity is the human family. Indeed, I believe that the family is an icon of the Trinity, that our being made in the image of the God, joining together as man and wife and becoming one flesh, helping God bring new life into the world, reflects beautifully the endless Love that is our triune God. Distinct persons, one family... Say there's a family whose last name is Caruso: each person of the Caruso family is fully, 100% "Caruso"; not a one of them is any less or more Caruso than another member of the Caruso family, though there are the Caruso father and the Caruso mother and the Caruso children. Each of these Carusos is a different person -- but the Caruso family is ONE family.

It is the same with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! Each is God, not One is less God than another: three Persons, one God, one Being, one Divine Essence.

This analogy of "family" has its definite limitations (there is inequality in human families, but no inequality among the Divine Persons, so please keep that in mind); nonetheless, the analogy is the best I've heard. Gloria in excélsis Deo!

Relevant Scripture

Genesis 1:26-27
And God said, Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in HIS own image, in the image of God created HE him; male and female created he them. [Note the switching back and forth between singular and plural]

Genesis 2:24
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one [Hebrew: echad, a word usually indicating a composite] flesh. [see Deuteronomy 6:4 below]

Exodus 3:14
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM [YHWH] hath sent me unto you. [see John 8:57-58 below]

Genesis 3:22
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of US, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Genesis 11:7
Go to, let US go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.

Genesis 16:7-13
And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou GOD seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? [NIV: She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." Here we have a Person being called "God" and "Lord", Who is making promises to Hagar that only God can fulfil -- and Who is referring to God in the third person]

Genesis 18:1-3
And the LORD appeared unto him [Abraham] in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, THREE men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, My LORD, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

Genesis 32:28-30
And he [the "Angel"] said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. [Compare with Exodus 33:20: "And he [God the Father] said [to Moses], Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live." See also John 14:8-19 below. We can't see the face of God the Father -- but we can see the face of "the Angel" -- the second Person of the Trinity-- Who is God!].

Deuteronomy 6:4
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD [see Genesis 2:24 above. Note that the relevant Hebrew words include echad, usually indicating a composite, and Elohim, plural of Eloah, or "God", such that it would read, "Hear O Israel: YHWH (singular) is ELOHIM (plural) of us; YHWH (singular) is ECHAD (a word usually indicating a compound unity)". This verse, known as theSh'ma, is meant to emphasize that God is Israel's God; the New Jewish translation translates it into English as, "the Lord our God, the Lord alone"]

Isaiah 6:8
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for US? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty GOD, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 44:6
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. [see Revelation 1:17 below]

Isaiah 45:23
[Thus saith the Lord:] I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. [see Philippians 2:10-11 below]

Hosea 12:3-5
[Referring to Jacob wrestling with the "Angel" in Genesis 32:] In the womb he [Jacob] grasped his brother's heel; as a man he struggled with God. He struggled with the angel and overcame him; he wept and begged for his favor. He found him at Bethel and talked with him there --the LORD God Almighty, the LORD is his name of renown!

Zechariah 12:10
And I [God] will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on ME, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for HIM as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

Malachi 3:1
See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before ME. Then suddenly THE LORD YOU ARE SEEKING WILL COME to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty.

Matthew 3:13-17
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Matthew 28:19
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. [note the use of the singular word "name" for the three Persons]

John 1:1-3
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

John 1:18
No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. [NIV: "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known." See Genesis 16:7-13, 18:1-3, 32:28-30 above]

John 8:57-58
Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM. [see Exodus 3:14 above. Jesus didn't say "Yes, my Father gave Me a vision of Abraham" or "before Abraham was, I was"; He said "before Abraham was, I AM". When Jesus said these words, his audience knew exactly what He was saying, took it as blasphemy, and wanted to kill Him]

John 14:8-19
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

John 20:28
And Thomas answered and said unto him [Jesus], My LORD and my GOD.

Acts 2:34-36
For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

2 Corinthians 13:14
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all

Philippians 2:6
[Jesus,] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God [NIV: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped]

Philippians 2:10-11
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [see Isaiah 45:23 above]

1 John 5:7
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

Revelation 1:8
[Referring to God the Father:] I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty [see Isaiah 44:6 above and Revelation 1:17 below]

Revelation 1:17
[Referring to the Jesus:] And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last [see Isaiah 44:6 and Revelation 1:8 above]

Revelation 2:8
And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: 'The words of the First and the Last, who died and came to life' [see Isaiah 44:6 above]

Further Reading

 The Trinity from the "Christian ThinkTank" 

Friday, 2 August 2013

Saint Alphonsus Liguori and a Muslim

Today being the Feast of that great and Holy Doctor of the Church, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, it is apt to relate the following inicident from his own life, illustrating the powerful example that Christian virtue can and ought to have on those around us. May we be inspired by Saint Alphonsus' example and dedicate our lives to striving diligently after holiness. Saint Alphonsus Liguori pray for us! This article is take from Canterbury Tales and the article can read from its original source here.-RCMS Administrator

"Saint Alphonsus Liguori is one of the thirty-three doctors of the Church and is the patron of Moral Theology. In fact, Saint Alphonsus’ Theologia Moralia is to moral theology what Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Summa theologiae is to dogmatic theology. Get a copy if you can. He crosses every t and dots every i in the realm of morals.

His biography is stunning. Here are a few examples of his sanctity. He made a solemn vow to God that he should never waste a minute of his life on pain of mortal sin! In contemporary terms, if he spaced out and played minesweeper or solitaire, he’d have to rush off to confession for breaking a solemn vow. He promised every moment for the salvation of souls. He founded the Redemptorist order with great struggle. His confessors said that he never committed a mortal sin from baptism until his holy and peaceful death. He is known popularly for his book Glories of Mary (which you should read this book ASAP if you haven’t.)
Saint Alphonsus received his license to practice jurisprudence at the age of 16. Imagine paying a 16 year old to represent you in court. Yet Alphonsus was one of the most sought after lawyers in Naples at that time.

Sometime between the age of 16 and 20, a wonderful event happened in his life. His family employed a Muslim servant in their household. Having lived in close quarters with Alphonsus and having observed his daily routine, the Muslim asked to be baptized into the Catholic Faith. When asked why, the Muslim servant answered, “A religion which produces virtue like his cannot but be the true one.”
This should teach us that it is sanctity that converts the unbelieving heart to Christ. I gulp when I think of applying it to my life. If a servant lived in my home and saw my every move and how I act and pray every day, would he come to the conclusion: ”A religion which produces virtue like his cannot but be the true one.” I fear that this would not be the case for my example. 

It is also a wake up call for the West. Why are Muslims not converting to the Catholic Faith? The answer may have something to do with how they do not observe Christianity producing virtue within us.
Saint Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us."