Sunday, December 31, 2006
We pray that the New Year 2007 will be a year of building bridges of understanding that will UNITE persons and nations into a compassionate COMMUNITY,,,
Pax et Bonum!
Jun Mercado, OMI
Meditation: Mary & Joseph gave us an example of loving care and concern for their son, Jesus… They looked for him “with great anxiety”. Do we do it, likewise, in our genuine search for the Lord…?
Friday, December 29, 2006
December 12, 2006
The Honorable Dr. Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of StateU.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Rice:
We are writing on behalf of religious leaders of twenty-nine national Jewish, Christian and Muslim organizations to ask for a meeting with you to discuss the urgent situation in the Middle East. We have also written members of Congress to encourage and support active, fair and firm leadership by the United States to promote a comprehensive and lasting Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace. Enclosed you will find a copy of the remarkable consensus we achieved on “Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace: From Crisis to Hope.”
We acknowledge and appreciate your personal commitment to the creation of a viable, independent, and democratic Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel, with security and peace for both peoples, and the crucial role you played in negotiations to reach an agreement on access to and from Gaza after the Israeli unilateral withdrawal (cf. our letter, 11/20/05).
Our statement comes at time when the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians raises hope for restarting negotiations and in the wake of the Baker-Hamilton Report that supports renewed efforts for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace as essential for achieving U.S. goals in the Middle East.
His Eminence Cardinal Theodore McCarrick expressed our present hopes very well when he acknowledged at the meeting that led to our new interreligious consensus, “We gather at a time of crisis in the Middle East. But times of crisis can also become opportunities for change.” The events and suffering in Gaza, Lebanon and Israel demonstrate once again that there is no such thing as a safe, stable status quo in the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that there is no military solution to the conflicts. The only solution is a negotiated one based on U.N. Security Council Resolutions, realistic compromises, and monitored security arrangements with international guarantees.
In the aftermath of the war in Lebanon and in light of the ongoing crisis in Gaza, there is a new urgency for achieving an effective ceasefire and returning to the path of negotiations among Palestinians, Israelis and neighboring Arab states. This urgency is shared by European and other world leaders. While Palestinian and Israeli leaders have essential roles, U.S. leadership is crucial to halting the violence, and restarting and successfully completing Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab negotiations for peace.
The principles and practical ideas found in the Road Map, model peace agreements and earlier Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese negotiations provide important evidence that peace is possible. They help to define the reciprocal steps that will be necessary to achieve a just peace and they offer outlines of what could be accepted by majorities on all sides.
What is most needed now is a renewed commitment by the United States to provide active, creative and determined leadership, in coordination with the Quartet, as a top priority of U.S. foreign policy. Whatever develops in terms of a possible change of course for U.S. policy in Iraq, we believe a commitment by the Administration, with the support of Congress, to actively reengage in pursuing Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace is essential and will have positive reverberations in the region and around the world.
As members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative we are committed to working with the Administration and with Congress to support active, fair and firm U.S. leadership to help Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab states achieve a just peace. We commit ourselves to building public support for peace with justice for all in the region.
We look forward to receiving your response to our united appeal for a meeting to discuss this urgent matter.
His Eminence, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archdiocese of Washington*His Eminence, William Cardinal Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore*Most Reverend William Skylstad, President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops*His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, Primate, Greek Orthodox Church in America*His Eminence, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate, Armenian Apostolic Church in America*Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America*Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop Episcopal Church*John H. Thomas, General Minister & President, United Church of Christ*The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister, President, Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)*The Reverend Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)*Ann B. Sherer, Bishop, The United Methodist Church*The Reverend Michael E. Livingston, President, National Council of Churches USA*The Reverend John M. Buchanan, Editor and Publisher, Christian Century*Richard J. Mouw, President, Fuller Theological Seminary*The Reverend Leighton Ford, President, Leighton Ford Ministries*David Neff, Editor and Vice-President, Christianity Today*
Rabbi Harry K. Danziger, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis*Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President Emeritus, Central Conference of American Rabbis*Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism*Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism*Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism*Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Rector, University of Judaism*Dr. Carl Sheingold, Executive Vice President, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation*Rabbi Brant Rosen, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association*Rabbi Amy Small, Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association*Rabbi Peter Knobel, Member, Council Parliament of World Religions*Rabbi Alvin M. Sugarman, Vice President, A Different Future*Rabbi Merle S. Singer, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Beth El, Boca Raton, Florida*
Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America*Imam Mohammed ibn Hagmagid, Vice President, Islamic Society of North America*Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder, American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA)*Imam Yahya Hendi, Chaplain, Georgetown University*Dawud Assad, President Emeritus, Council of Mosques, USA*Iftekhar A. Hai, Founding Director, United Muslims of America*
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
The Lord is BORN... Allelulia. With his birth we are all empowered to tear down walls that divide...
A Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year 2007!
The challenge of Christmas, then and now, remains the same… to see and believe God’s life-giving presence in that child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger…
Wishing you a Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year 2007!
Pax et Bonum!
Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, OMI
25 December 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
ROME, DEC. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The theological dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches "can give witness of Christ," says a Greek Orthodox prelate. Bishop Agathangelos of Fanarion is director general of the Apostoliki Diaconia, which in the Greek Orthodox Church is in charge of the missions, the formation of seminarians and publishing.
Last spring Bishop Agathangelos came to visit Rome with a Greek-Orthodox delegation, to get to know better the tradition and culture of the Catholic Church. According to the bishop, it is important to discover everything that united the two Churches in the first millennium, when they were not yet divided, to get to know and listen to each other. He shared his views in this interview.
Q: What do you think of the relations between the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church?
Bishop Agathangelos: John Paul II's visit to Greece in 2001 was decisive in the improvement of relations between our Churches. In the Areopagus, the Pope met with Christodoulos, the archbishop of Athens and All Greece. In the years after the visit, that is, since I have headed Apostoliki Diaconia, we have come closer in our relations with the Catholic Church, especially with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
One of the fruits of our collaboration is the preparation of a facsimile of the ancient and richly decorated manuscript "Menologium of Basil II" on the lives of the saints, which is kept in the Vatican Library. It is a most important work because it was made after the iconoclast period. This manuscript marks a turning point in the history of the Church of the East, which again begins to venerate icons and discovers the importance of beauty. On the occasion of the manuscript's publication, we invited the librarian of the Holy Roman Church, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, to Athens, who brought greetings on behalf of Benedict XVI. On that occasion, Archbishop Christodoulos was invited to visit the Vatican.
Last year we offered, through the Apostolic Nunciature in Athens, scholarships to 30 Catholics so that they could visit our country, learn the language, get to know our culture and Orthodox tradition. In this way, Catholics could draw near the "other part" of the Church with which we "were one" for 1,000 years.
Q: Can the Greek Orthodox Church serve as example for the other Orthodox Churches of ecumenical dialogue with the Catholic Church?
Bishop Agathangelos: I think that every man of good will can discover the meaning of such dialogue and learn to dialogue. Collaboration between the Churches cannot be compared to relations between states. This collaboration has many aspects and one of these is the visits which make it possible to overcome prejudices. It is something that is very important, especially now, when we are beginning the new stage of dialogue between our Churches. I want to underline a fact: many Churches and patriarchates -- the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Patriarchate of Alexandria, of Jerusalem, Church of Cyprus, of Albania -- collaborate with us and appoint Greek professors of theology for the ecumenical contacts.
Q: The Catholic Church is very concerned about the way certain things are going in the European Union, especially in the promotion of the new vision of man and the family, which contradicts Christian anthropology. Does the Orthodox Church share this concern?
Bishop Agathangelos: We have the same fears that you do. We see with sadness that Europe, especially Western Europe, is abandoning Christianity. Politicians do not recognize the identity of our continent which is the fruit of our history and cannot be denied. It is a grave problem therefore which we must address cooperating among ourselves.
Q: But how can one convince the politicians of the European Union to give up the policies that attack the family if certain Protestant churches recognize homosexual unions?
Bishop Agathangelos: That is why the dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Church is so important. Very many things unite us: common tradition, theology, apostolic succession, opinions on bioethics, human rights, peace in the world. For 1,000 years, we have lived together, for 1,000 consecutive years we were separated. In the course of history there were dramatic moments, we often felt wounded, but this does not mean that today we cannot live like brothers.
Q: In what way can our Churches oppose jointly the anti-Christian policies and the process of secularization of the Western world?
Bishop Agathangelos: I wish to make only one reflection. Our theological dialogue can give witness of Christ. Today people who are searching for the truth ask us: Why are you divided? How can we convince our faithful of the love of Christ if we are divided?
Q: You have already met with Benedict XVI.
Bishop Agathangelos: For me, it was very important to meet with Pope Benedict XVI and hear his words personally. After the visit, we left strengthened in spirit to work still more for the reunification of our Churches. These are our human plans. But if we have good intentions and open hearts, God will bless us: The history of the world and of the Church are in his hands.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Meditation: The preparation for the coming of the Lord is to accept the challenge to live a life of sharing and solidarity with those who have less in life…
O God of Compassion,
you promise a day of abundance,
when all people shall walk in your way.
Open our ears to your guidance and our
hearts to your teaching.
May we turn neither to the left nor to the right
but walk always in the path of salvation
and so finally reach your holy mountain
where Christ lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Meditation: What are the “valley”, “hill”, “winding roads” and “rough ways” in our lives? We need to do something about them… to see the salvation of God!
Prayer for the 2nd week of Advent
O God whose will is justice for the poor and peace for the afflicted,
let your herald’s urgent voice pierce our hardened hearts
and announce the dawn of your kingdom.
Before the advent of the one who baptizes with the fire of the Holy Spirit,
let our complacency give way to conversion,
oppression to justice and conflict to acceptance of one another in Christ.
We ask this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near; Your son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Friday, December 01, 2006
Extend to me, O God, Your love that never fails.
My heart exults in the Lord,
my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in my victory.
There is no Holy One like the Lord,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
God brings low but also exalts.
The Most High raises up the poor from the dust,
lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s
and on them God has set the world.
The most High will guard the feet of the faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might does one prevail.