I was once riding in a shuttle-bus with a number of older folks on the way from an airport. They noticed that I was a priest and started asking questions about it.“Do you do all of the priest stuff?”“Yep.”“Even the Confession thing?”“Yeah. All the time.”
One older lady gasped, “Well, I think that that would be the worst. It would be so depressing; hearing all about people’s sins.”I told them that it was the exact opposite. There is almost no greater place to be than with someone when they are coming back to God. I said, “It would depressing if I had to watch someone leave God; I get to be with them when they come back to Him.” The Confessional is a place where people let God’s love win. The Confessional is the most joyful, humbling, and inspiring place in the world.What do I see during Confession?I think there are three things. First, I see the costly mercy of God in action. I get to regularly come face to face with the overwhelming, life-transforming power of God’s love. I get to see God’s love up-close and it reminds me of how good God is.Not many folks get to see the way in which God’s sacrifice on the Cross is constantly breaking into people’s lives and melting the hardest hearts. Jesus consoles those who are grieving their sins . . . and strengthens those who find themselves wanting to give up on God or on life.As a priest, I get to see this thing happen every day.I see a saint in the making.The second thing I see is a person who is still trying – a saint in the making. I don’t care if this is the person’s third confession this week; if they are seeking the Sacrament of Reconciliation, it means that they are trying. That’s all that I care about. This thought is worth considering: going to Confession is a sign that you haven’t given up on Jesus.This is one of the reasons why pride is so deadly. I have talked with people who tell me that they don’t want to go to Confession to their priest because their priest really likes them and “thinks that they are a good kid.”I have two things to say to this.1. He will not be disappointed! What your priest will see is a person who is trying! I dare you to find a saint who didn’t need to God’s mercy! (Even Mary needed God’s mercy; she received the mercy of God in a dramatic and powerful way at her conception. Boom. Lawyered.)2. So what if the priest is disappointed? We try to be so impressive with so much of our lives. Confession is a place where we don’t get to be impressive. Confession is a place where the desire to impress goes to die. Think about it: all other sins have the potential to cause us to race to the confessional, but pride is the one that causes us to hide from the God who could heal us.
Do I remember your sins? No!
By Blanca Ruiz
Erbil, Iraq, Jan 9, 2015 / 12:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Emil Nona is the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, the Iraqi city overrun by the Islamic State last summer. Since then, he has brought the voice of the Christians of Iraq to the West.”For us the faith is everything. It is our life, our identity, our history and our way of life. We can’t separate ourselves from our faith in any way,” Archbishop Nona told CNA. “Our faith, which has been in this land for more than 2,000 years, cannot come to an end so easily.”
He speaks with the clarity of someone who knows that without international help soon, more of the region will become territory of the Islamic State. Christians will have to abandon Iraq for good in order to save their lives and escape persecution and they will leave behind a land where Catholics have been present for more than 2,000 years.
The Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul said, “Most Christians plan to leave Iraq because they thought the crisis would be short-lived and after we would return to our homes, but this has not been the case. There have been no positive signs in the last six months that our land will be liberated. The Islamic State is becoming increasingly stronger.”
No plans for liberation
Although shortages are widespread in Iraq, thanks to Aid to the Church in Need shelter is being provided for more than 120,000 displaced Christians in northern Iraq. There temperatures in the winter drop to single digits, and so large tents have been set up so families can come together and stay warm. Space is limited but the people are grateful not to be exposed to the elements.
In addition, help from Aid to the Church in Need made it possible for thousands of refugee children to receive a Christmas present, and plans are underway to set up schools so that children can continue studying until the situation becomes normal again.
The shortages are widespread, but what this group of Christians lacks most isn’t material things, but hope, as there are no signs things will improve.
“They have lost faith in their land, where they have lived for thousands of years. They have lost faith in Muslim society because they helped loot our homes. Now they live in waiting, not knowing what is going to happen. The only thing they haven’t lost is their Christian faith. We are proud because none of the 120,000 people in this area has converted to Islam,” the archbishop explained.
Faced with the choice of converting to Islam or death, the Christians of Mosul have preferred to die rather than deny the faith.
In this desperate situation, Christians there do not complain or cry out to God for justice. “When something like this happens, we in the East thank God for everything. Because we know well that man is the cause of this problem, not God. In this situation, the existence of God is more necessary than ever, the presence of God is more powerful,” Archbishop Nona said.
“When there is such brutal violence on the part of man, the presence of God is even stronger, because He is good. We believe even more, because it is more necessary than ever to believe amidst a situation as extreme as this one.”
The question of where is God in this persecution is a question “only you in the West pose. In the East we never ask that question. For us faith is enmeshed with our identity and the faith cannot be separated from our identity.”
These martyrs of the faith only ask that the rest of the world not forget about them, about their suffering, about the injustice they have endured each day for more than six months. For this reason, whenever they receive help it means much more than just a solution to the lack of shelter or food.
“This aid is not only material but also shows that other Christians have not forgotten about us and experience the needs of Christians in Iraq as their own. We cannot ask them to stay in their land suffering if we do not help,” Archbishop Nona said.
“We can’t know what will happen but up to now we have not seen any positive signs that our land and peoples will be liberated. Islamic militants are in the city of Mosul, on the Nineveh plain, in much of Iraq, but the Iraqi army does nothing to liberate these lands. We do not know the exact reason why we are not liberated and why there are only air raids. Up to now we haven’t seen any region liberated, much less any plans for liberation,” Archbishop Nona said.
Radicalization in Iraq since 2003 read more via
Choudary argued that what we’re witnessing is a “clash of two civilizations,” with al-Baghdadi leading on one side and Barack Obama leading on the other, leading Shapiro to ask about Obama’s portrayal of Islam:
Shapiro: President Obama has repeatedly attempted to what he has characterized as “defend” Islam, saying that ISIS is not Islamic. He has said that “the future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam” […] But the way he characterizes Islam is not the way you characterize Islam […] How many people do you represent versus how many people does President Obama represent when it comes to Islam? Are you in fact representative of a “tiny minority” within Islam or are you representative of something larger?
President Obama, Choudary said, is “lying” about Islam, along with other Western leaders. The Koran itself shows that “Barack Obama is a liar” about the religion’s true nature:
Choudary: Islam for them is whatever they think Islam is in terms of their own interests. Islam is in accordance to the Koran, of the sayings and actions of the Prophet. That’s it. […] I say to you, look at the Koran, look at the sayings of the Prophet, and check for yourself. Is Barack Obama a liar or am I lying? I think that you will find that he’s a liar. He’s only inventing Islam according to what his own foreign policy is.
Shapiro asked Choudary if he took offense to being called a “radical” by the Western media, to which he responded that in Scripture “every prophet of Islam was demonized,” adding that he simply teaches Sharia Law as it truly is.”
O God, let me climb
the Lord’s mountain,
That I may be changed,
Charged, and sent.
Going up to Jerusalem,
May sinful Man
Grab on to the tassels
Of my garment,
And run with me,
By Your Cross.
On this mountain,
This all hallowed mountain,
From which the bones of Adam,
And the faith of Abraham, cry out,
My Redeemer comes.
©2011 Joann Nelander