Sunday, December 25, 2011

Nigeria: Islamists bomb churches for Christmas

St. Michael, Defend Us
Christ, Save us!
Santiago y Matamores!!!!!

From Rueters By Felix Onuah and Camillus Eboh

ABUJA | Sun Dec 25, 2011 11:17am EST

(Reuters) – Five bombs exploded on Christmas Day at churches in Nigeria, one killing at least 27 people, raising fears that Islamist militant group Boko Haram – which claimed responsibility – is trying to ignite sectarian civil war.

Boko Haram, which wants to impose Islamic sharia law across a country of 160 million split roughly between Christians and Muslims, has increased the sophistication of the explosives it uses this year and has increased the number of its attacks.

St Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madala, an Abuja satellite town about 40 km (25 miles) from the centre of the capital, was packed when the bomb exploded just outside.

“We were in the church with my family when we heard the explosion. I just ran out,” Timothy Onyekwere told Reuters. “Now I don’t even know where my children or my wife are. I don’t know how many were killed but there were many dead.”

Boko Haram – which in the Hausa language spoken in northern Nigeria means “Western education is sinful” – is loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.

The group’s low level insurgency used to be largely confined to northeastern Nigeria, but it has struck several parts of the north, centre and the capital Abuja this year.

The sect was blamed for dozens of bombings and shootings in the north, and has claimed responsibility for two bombings in Abuja this year, including Nigeria’s first suicide bombing on the U.N. headquarters in August that killed at least 23 people.

Rights groups say more than 250 people have been killed by Boko Haram since July 2010.

Hours after the first bomb, blasts were reported at the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church in the central, ethnically and religiously mixed town of Jos, and at a church in northern Yobe state at the town of Gadaka. Residents said many were wounded in Gadaka, but there were no further details.


A Reuters reporter on the scene of the explosion close to Abuja saw the church’s front roof had been destroyed in the blast, as had several houses near it. Five burnt out cars were still smoldering.

“The officials who counted told me they have picked 27 bodies so far,” Father Christopher Barde, Assistant Catholic Priest of the church, said.

There were scenes of chaos after the incident.

“Mass just ended and people were rushing out of the church and suddenly I heard a loud sound ‘gbam’. Cars were in flames and bodies littered everywhere,” Nnana Nwachukwu told Reuters.

“The blast occurred on the road by the church and not inside the church. I happen to also live close by the church. Help was very slow in coming to the injured.”

The later blast in Jos, a tinderbox of ethnic and sectarian tensions that sometimes sees deadly clashes between Muslims and Christians, was accompanied by a shooting spree by militants, who exchanged fire with local police, said Charles Ezeocha, special taskforce spokesman for Jos.

“We lost one policeman and we have made four arrests. I think we can use them to get more information and work on that,” he said.

Police found four other explosive devices in Jos, which they deactivated, he said.

Last Christmas Eve, a series of bomb blasts around Jos killed 32 people, and others people died in attacks on two churches in the northeast of Africa’s most populous nation.

Benedict XVI’s Urbi et Orbi Message for Christmas

Here is the Holy Father’s Urbi et Orbi message for Christmas:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world!

Christ is born for us! Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to the men and women whom he loves. May all people hear an echo of the message of Bethlehem which the Catholic Church repeats in every continent, beyond the confines of every nation, language and culture. The Son of the Virgin Mary is born for everyone; he is the Saviour of all.

This is how Christ is invoked in an ancient liturgical antiphon [The final O Antiphon]: “O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, hope and salvation of the peoples: come to save us, O Lord our God”. Veni ad salvandum nos! Come to save us! This is the cry raised by men and women in every age, who sense that by themselves they cannot prevail over difficulties and dangers. They need to put their hands in a greater and stronger hand, a hand which reaches out to them from on high. Dear brothers and sisters, this hand is Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He is the hand that God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire of sin and to set us firmly on rock, the secure rock of his Truth and his Love (cf. Ps 40:2).

This is the meaning of the Child’s name, the name which, by God’s will, Mary and Joseph gave him: he is named Jesus, which means “Saviour” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31). He was sent by God the Father to save us above all from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the evil of separation from God, the prideful presumption of being self-sufficient, of trying to compete with God and to take his place, to decide what is good and evil, to be the master of life and death (cf. Gen 3:1-7). This is the great evil, the great sin, from which we human beings cannot save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry out to him: “Veni ad salvandum nos! – Come to save us!”

The very fact that we cry to heaven in this way already sets us aright; it makes us true to ourselves: we are in fact those who cried out to God and were saved (cf. Esth [LXX] 10:3ff.). God is the Saviour; we are those who are in peril. He is the physician; we are the infirm. To realize this is the first step towards salvation, towards emerging from the maze in which we have been locked by our pride. To lift our eyes to heaven, to stretch out our hands and call for help is our means of escape, provided that there is Someone who hears us and can come to our assistance.

Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition (cf. Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone, but divine. Only the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose to save us in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue and cooperation.

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, on this Christmas 2011, let us then turn to the Child of Bethlehem, to the Son of the Virgin Mary, and say: “Come to save us!” Let us repeat these words in spiritual union with the many people who experience particularly difficult situations; let us speak out for those who have no voice.

Together let us ask God’s help for the peoples of the Horn of Africa, who suffer from hunger and food shortages, aggravated at times by a persistent state of insecurity. May the international community not fail to offer assistance to the many displaced persons coming from that region and whose dignity has been sorely tried.

May the Lord grant comfort to the peoples of South-East Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines, who are still enduring grave hardships as a result of the recent floods.

May the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts which even today stain the earth with blood. May the Prince of Peace grant peace and stability to that Land where he chose to come into the world, and encourage the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. May he bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed. May he foster full reconciliation and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan. May he grant renewed vigour to all elements of society in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East as they strive to advance the common good.

May the birth of the Saviour support the prospects of dialogue and cooperation in Myanmar, in the pursuit of shared solutions. May the Nativity of the Redeemer ensure political stability to the countries of the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and assist the people of South Sudan in their commitment to safeguarding the rights of all citizens.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us turn our gaze anew to the grotto of Bethlehem. The Child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has brought to the world a universal message of reconciliation and peace. Let us open our hearts to him; let us receive him into our lives. Once more let us say to him, with joy and confidence: “Veni ad salvandum nos!”

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Merry Christmas to everyone from Chief Knight!!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Feast of Our Lady Of Guadalupe

¿No estoy aquí, yo, que soy tu madre?
Am I not here, who am your Mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not the fountain of your joy?

December 12th will be the feast-day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Aztec Indian Juan Diego in December of 1531 generated the conversion of Mexico, Central and South America to Catholicism. Indeed, the Blessed Virgin Mary entered the very life stream of Central America and became an inextricable part of Mexican life and a central figure to the history of Mexico itself.Her appearance in the center of the American continents has contributed to the Virgin of Guadalupe being given the title "Mother of the Americas." This is a very special day not just for Hispanics but for all of the Americas because she is the patron of all of the Americas. Having just celebrated the patronal feast of our country (US) with the feast of the Immaculate Conception we now have the extra benefit of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. How fortunate we are to share in the love of our heavenly mother. And as a result of her Yes, to God's plan of salvation we also will soon celebrate the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ who was born of the Virgin Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit.

O Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, who as Our Lady of Guadalupe didst aid in the conversion of Mexico from paganism in a most miraculous way, we now beseech thee to bring about in these our times the early conversion of our modern world, from its present neo-paganism to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of thy divine Son, Jesus Christ, starting in the Americas and extending throughout the entire world, so that soon there may be truly "one fold and one shepherd", with all governments recognizing the reign of thy Son, Jesus Christ the King. This we ask of the Eternal Father, through Jesus Christ His Son Our Lord and by thy powerful intercession - all for the salvation of souls, the triumph of the Church and peace in the world. Amen.

Also see Fr. Z's post on the miracle of St. Juan Diego
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, please pray for us.
St. Michael, Defend us!