(from Beirut) “How can you talk of peace when some are fuelling wars in the Region? What are the consequences of the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen? Only death, hatred, and violence! Where is the democracy that some wanted to bring? We see nothing but desolation. Despite everything, I believe we can still hope and live in dignity and respect”. Father Paul Karam, President of Caritas Lebanon, said this yesterday as he met a group of delegates from some Italian Diocesan Caritas on their solidarity visit to Lebanon promoted by Caritas Italy. “Lebanon – the Maronite priest said – can no longer pay the bills of other people’s wars unleashed on our borders” – a clear reference to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria which have pushed into the Country of the Cedars over one million Syrians and countless Iraqis, who add their numbers to the decades-long presence of Palestinians. It is estimated that one third of the Lebanese population is made up of refugees, with serious social, political and economic repercussions for the country. And their numbers are rising. According to Father Karam, “in the first half of 2017 alone, 170 thousand children were born to refugee families. These children have no rights or citizenship, they are born invisible”. Father Karam explained that Caritas “is trying to do its utmost to meet the needs of both local and refugee populations with dedicated projects, also thanks to the support of other bodies such as Caritas Italy. The Lebanese have increasingly been the focus of our projects. Indeed, recent studies have shown that about 35% of Lebanese people live below the poverty line. And the conditions of Palestinian refugees are also worsening”. To revive its aid programs, Caritas Lebanon has launched a Lenten campaign based on three actions, to “help, donate and support, where material aid goes hand in hand with sharing and spiritual support. Let us not be fooled by large buildings, by shopping malls full of lights, by building sites that churn out luxury apartments”, the President of Caritas said. “Many of these, approximately 60%, are owned by businessmen from the Gulf countries. Here in Lebanon, the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. The middle class no longer exists. Young couples struggle to get married, to find a home and a job. Were it not for the remittances of the approximately 18 million Lebanese of the diaspora, Lebanon today would be on the verge of bankruptcy. Families live on the aid they receive from their relatives abroad”.

https://agensir.it/quotidiano/2018/2/21/lebanon-father-karam-caritas-the-country-can-no-longer-pay-the-bills-of-other-peoples-wars/


Teachings of Christ

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Encounter

Rejoice, O Mother of God, Virgin full of grace. * From you has risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * shining upon those who are in darkness. * Rejoice also, you righteous Elder; * for you received in your arms the Deliverer of our souls, * Who has given us resurrection. (Troparion, Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

O Christ God, through Your birth You sanctified the Virgin's womb; * and blessed, as it was proper, the hands of Simeon. * Now, having come, you saved us. * Give peace to Your commonwealth in times of war * and strengthen our civil authorities, whom You have loved, O You who alone loves mankind. (Kontakion, Tone 1)

(The Feast of the Encounter is February 2nd - the 40th Day of Christmas)

Random Proverb

"My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you." (Proverbs 3:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

"And when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. And for three days he could not see." (Acts 9:9)

By no means would he [Saul] have been able to see well again unless he had first been fully blinded. Also, when he had rejected his own wisdom, which was confusing him, he could commit himself totally to faith. Since he had not believed that the Lord had conquered death by rising on the third day, he was now taught by his own experience of the replacement of three days of darkness by the return of the light.

Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles from the Venerable Bede