Tag Archives: Christianity

Sunday AfterWords: Sing a Little Louder

Juliana Taimoorazy who is an Iranian refugee has made an incredible commitment for many years now to awaken our conscience to the plight of the persecuted minorities in Iraq and Syria.

She not only has raised our awareness but offers us a way to respond to the ongoing genocide that our nation refuses to recognize. Juliana is a Chaldean Catholic and Cardinal George of Chicago encouraged her to take upon herself this very vital mission.

Juliana and Catholic Witness produced a film based on the true story:

Inspired by the true story of an elderly man who in his youth witnessed the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust from the pews of his Church, Sing a Little Louder provides a stunning message for the twenty-first century and a revelation of the genocides that continue to exist today. From the creators of the viral hit Test of Fire, Sing a Little Louder seeks to embrace a culture of life and freedom.

This film helps us connect the dots and see the magnitude of the evil that has saturated the 20th century. We are no strangers to terrorism.

In all this discussion about immigration it is sobering to take a look at the facts, to see kind of life persecuted minorities must face because they hold fast to the faith.

Once again the Knights of Columbus give us a way to respond to those whose lives have been disrupted because of this ongoing genocide.

The Christian population during Saddam’s regime was in number at about 1.5 million. Because of the sectarian violence unleashed, the Christian population of Iraq today is less than 200,000. And Syria, four years ago before the Syrian war, over 10% of the Syrian population was Christian. Today so many have been displaced and are refugees due to this bloody conflict. In the meantime on November 21st a news article pointed out while Washington debates religious refugees Iraq’s Christians felt Uncle Sam’s boot and in October the US admitted 187 refugees from Syria. – only 3 or 4 from the community of persecuted minorities.
See: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/419582/iraqs-christians-need-sanctuary-and-west-should-provide-it-nina-shea and
and http://cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/syrian-christians-are-greatest-peril-least-likely-be-admitted .

The Lord has given us the way to respond to help alleviate the suffering of those who hold fast to faith. Consider making a Christmas gift to either the Knights of Columbus or Juliana’s efforts or perhaps even both.

I would like to commend to your reading these articles and links from Nina Shea.

What We Truly Value

UnitedInPrayerSince the Paris attack on Friday there has been a lot of talk about where we go from here. I hope and pray that we do not lose fact of the ongoing persecution of Christians whose suffering has been ignored.  This article keeps an issue before our eyes with continues to be ignored by both this administration and the previous one. The lack of concern for over a decade now on the part of the west speaks about what we truly value.

Iraq’s Christians Need Sanctuary and the West Should Provide It


Rabbi Sacks on Nostra Aetate

On Sunday during my homily I spoke of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ new book: Not in God’s Name. I have also linked the article he recently wrote about Nostra Aetate which was issued 50 years ago at the Vatican Council . This document may be brief and often ignored however it invites us to be leaders in interfaith dialogue.

Please, do see the video of Rabbi Sacks here .  The interviewer ends the conversation with a quote from the conclusion of  Rabbi Sacks’ book and this quote provokes a deep emotional response within my soul because it touches the heart of the truth.

ISIS’ Apocalyptic Endgame

In an article by Professor Gabriel Said Reynolds, he says…

What motivates them is neither insanity nor political radicalism. They are driven by a powerful religious impulse — and a craving for a bloody, apocalyptic showdown with the West….

ISIS will wage war, and wage it constantly, in the hope of luring the United States into a massive invasion, in the hope of provoking a final battle that will usher in the end of the world….

This does not mean that the United States should rule out ground forces unconditionally. There may come a time, and it may come soon, when ISIS’ brutality will reach the level of genocide, and it would be a crime not to intervene.

Nevertheless, any decision to intervene should be taken with the knowledge that we will be giving ISIS the very battle for which they are yearning.

Another article worth reading is by Peggy Noonan, An Administration Adrift on Denial .

Enlightening: What ISIS Really Wants

Come and Worship With Us

Fresco from Romania

Fresco from Romania

As we worship this weekend at Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Norfolk, Virginia, Princess Ann Road at Upper Stockley Gardens) may we offer our prayers for the people of France, wounded in mind, body, and spirit by the terrible attack of Friday, November 13 in Paris.

The Vatican has said,  “At the Vatican we are following the terrible news from Paris. We are shocked by this new manifestation of maddening terrorist violence and hatred which we condemn in the most radical way, together with the pope and all those who love peace. We pray for the victims and the wounded, and for all the French people. This is an attack on the peace of all mankind which requires a decisive and supportive response by all of us to counter the spread of homicidal hatred in all of its forms.”

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

UPDATED: Iraq Patriarch Protests New Iraqi Law Targeting Children

UPDATE to this post: in a positive development, that part of the law has been retracted. More details here: http://dzehnle.blogspot.com/2015/11/iraq-will-not-require-christian.html .

Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad said that the legislation, part of a new national identity card law approved by the Iraqi parliament on Oct. 27, would “oblige children under 18 to automatically embrace the Muslim religion,” even if only one parent decides to convert to Islam.

Please read the rest at Aleteia.

Theological Conversations

In light of all the political instability in the Middle East, Professor Gabriel Said Reynolds of Notre Dame gives us some good theological understanding of ISIS as an apocalyptic vision of Islam. The following articles by Professor Reynolds can help us understand more about this turmoil in the Middle East.

Recommended articles and resources:

“My research is focused on the study of the Quran in general and the relationship of the Quran to the Bible in particular…. A secondary area of research is the relationship between Muslims and Christians through the centuries, including theology, culture and politics.”

ISIS’ apocalyptic vision of Islam

Why ISIS enslaves: It’s a religious thing

Jesus the Muslim Hippie

“I Am A Christian, And I Will Remain A Christian”: What We Can Learn From Meriam Ibrahim

Evangelizing Islam


Articles on this blog


https://thewonderoftruth.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/theological-conversations/ : Good videos in this blog post.

Recommended books:

Ishmael Instructs Isaac: An Introduction to the Qur’an for Bible Readers (Connections)

The Bible and the Qur’an

111 Questions on Islam: Samir Khalil Samir on Islam and the West

Muslims Ask, Christians Answer

Dialogue and Difference: Clarity in Christian-Muslim Relations (Faith Meets Faith Series)

The Story of Christianity

The Emergence of Islam: Classical Traditions in Contemporary Perspective | Fortress Press

Finally, please see this video:

United in Prayer

On Tuesday September 29, 2015, the Most Reverend Francis DiLorenzo opened the doors of his cathedral to representatives of Christian churches under persecution in the Middle East: the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, the Maronite Church, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Armenian Orthodox Church.

Monsignor Mark Lane preached the homily (click to read). It sets out the reality of the persecution of Christians all over the world.

It makes a great difference because our brothers and sisters suffer hostility because they identify as Christian. It makes a difference because the sheer magnitude of Christian persecution is enormous and the Christian church probably suffers a greater share of global religious persecution than any other religious community. It makes a difference because there is a global war on Christians. (Read the rest).

The bishop is following the lead of Pope Francis who is like a lone voice crying in the wilderness keeping the plight of the persecuted Christians before our eyes. The intensity of the persecution calls for the response from each of us.

The Knights of Columbus invite us to respond to their national ad campaign. See the 30-second commercial here:

So many Iraqi Christians and now Syrians are on the ground trying to promote comfort for so many who are suffering. Sister Donna’s testimony is very moving.

The persecution of Christians is a reality the secular media in the West continues to ignore; therefore religious people need to continue to bring the intensity of the persecution ever before the eyes of the world so all of us can respond to those who suffer for faith.

The Sistine of the Balkans

The Church of the Nativity in Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria, was built in the 15th century and repainted in the 17th century. It is also called the Sistine Chapel of the Balkans due to its many frescoes.

The icon screen.

The Pantocrator.

The Pantocrator.

All the doors would be low in order to make sure the Muslims would not ride their horses in the church as they did in Constantinople.

The church has a two hall configuration.

In 1538, the sultan approved the construction of a church only on the condition that is be low and not look like a church to demonstrate the superiority of Islam.

The church is dedicated to the Nativity so notice how the Pantocrator looks like a child: Emmanuel.

The Dormition, on the west wall.

The Virgin Mother in the apse dominates the nave.

The Annunciation.

When you approach the church, it does not appear to be a church at all. It has a low roof and looks like a barn. This is a 17th century church that blends into the agricultural landscape and for a reason.


This is the church of the Assumption that was established in 1600 however the current church was built in 1830, hence it does not look like a church on the outside.

While the exterior does not look like a church, the interior does!

The church houses the three-handed miraculous icon of the Holy Mother however pictures are not allowed.

What a blessing that I witnessed the baptism of Victoria! And after the sacrament she came forward to venerate the icons. This was so moving.

Followed by a celebration to which I was invited.

Reflections on the Midsummer Nights Seminar on Paul

THANK YOU so very much for giving me a wonderful opportunity to share my love for St. Paul, who is so often not only misunderstood by modern Christians, but often time maligned as well.  Although I was not able to exegete the final passage from Romans (12:1-12), and discuss the passage on the veiling of women in Corinthians, I will offer an evening; “Midsummer Sequel” in the fall and address both the passages and also speak about how Paul’s rhetoric in Romans is a way in which he tries to overcome the Roman Christian community’s misgivings about his mission.

Please visit the Pauline lectures at Villanova University held in 2008.  These lectures will expand the many themes we touch on during our summer seminar. Also visit my blog, The Wonder of Truth.

The lecture by Fr. Jerome Murphy O’Connor will be a good synthesis of the timeline of Paul’s ministry that we discussed.  His mission was not only in words, but in deeds.  He manifested the life of Jesus in his body through a total commitment to the very end.

The lecture by Dr. Paula Fredriksen, delivered at Stanford on the “god-congested” world of St. Paul, was intriguing.  Of course, we too live in a god-congested world.  The lecture by NT Wright: “What Gods Do We Believe in Now?” will be a good reflection for ourselves.

Thank you to the many people who made Midsummer Nights happen.  From the great food, the awesome decorations, the beautiful children’s music and the teens who worked to bring Paul to the children.  

Again, I thank you so very much for this wonderful opportunity to share my love for the scriptures that strengthens me in my commitment to the Catholic faith of the ancient Christian Church: a faith celebrated with such beauty and enthusiasm at Sacred Heart.  If Paul walked into our assembly he would feel right at home in a robust and orderly community.