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Stewardship and Trusteesh
  By A.J. Philip  
  I ACCOMPANIED Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to South Africa on the occasi  
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  DEVOTIONAL  
 
   
Letter to Metropolitan
  By Rev A.P. Jacob and five other priests  
  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar  
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  COUNSELING
 
Back to infancy -- they n
 
  By Shaheen Chander  
  ENJOYING a relaxed weekend, I was checking updates on the Facebook page. I came across a b  
     
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Right to buy and burn
  By Terry Mattingly  
  THE deaths of the 10 International Assistance Mission medical workers inspired headlines that were both shocking and numbingly familiar, since these are dangerous times for believers whose convictions steer them into Afghanistan.

A Taliban blandly leader told the press: "They were Christian missionaries and we killed them all."

If the gunmen had only waited a few weeks, they could have claimed that their victims were linked to a powerful global conspiracy to burn Korans.

That's the kind of statement that the head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission was worried about when he -- with countless other evangelicals -- urged the Rev. Terry Jones to cancel his "International Burn a Koran Day" event on Sept. 11. The leader of the tiny Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., did precisely that, but not before forcing religious and political leaders to wrestle with agonizing First Amendment issues.

"The behaviour of this church is not Christian. I cannot imagine Christ burning any religious texts," argued the Rev. Richard Land, in an online Washington Post forum. "This behavior is unfortunately one of the prices we pay for living in a free society with freedom of speech and freedom of expression, even when it is odious and reprehensible."

A protest of this kind would "besmirch the reputation of our Savior, and that makes it blasphemy," he said. The whole idea was "appalling, disgusting and brainless."

The bonfire would have made life more dangerous for missionaries, human-rights activists, diplomats and American soldiers. Those flames also would have made life much more dangerous for Christian converts and members of other religious minorities in predominantly Muslim lands.

Nevertheless, these clergy and politicos had to wrestle with the fact that Jones had every right to buy copies of the Koran and, after planning a fire small enough to wink at local laws, strike a match.

After all, this would, have been another act of painful symbolic speech.

Did the American Nazis have a constitutional right to march in Skokie, Ill., a Chicago suburb that was home to numerous Holocaust survivors? Yes, and demonstrators in the Reagan White House era burned the American flag. Muslims overseas have burned copies of the novel, "The Satanic Verses," by Salman Rushdie, and Bibles, too.

How many times have followers of the Rev. Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kan., waved their lurid signs -- "God Hates the U.S.A." is one of the mildest -- at funerals for soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan? On Sept. 11, the Westboro Baptist Church crew burned a Koran and an American flag at the same time. For once, most journalists elected to look the other way.

In the case of Jones and his church in Gainesville, the Council on American-Islamic Relations decided that the timing of his Koran travesty was simply too hot to ignore. Even though the group regularly ignores the videos that it receives of people burning, shooting or ripping apart Islam's holy book, CAIR decided to issue a July 19 press release announcing its own protest of "International Burn a Koran Day." The group handed out free copies of the Koran.

The word was officially out and the media storm kept growing as angry reactions -- from Arab streets to the White House -- rolled into the world's newsrooms.

Lost in the din were the quiet, measured words of many religious leaders who tried to walk a knife's edge of logic in their public statements.

For starters, they had to note the painful fact that the Dove World Outreach Center was an independent Pentecostal congregation and its members were responsible to no higher religious authority than their own pastor. Thus, there was no one who could stop this event, other than public officials who, in order to do so, would have had to trample the rights of Jones and his flock.

The bottom line: Blasphemy is not illegal in the United States of America.

As the clock ticked down, Land stressed that the "only thing more dangerous than what this pastor is doing would be to allow the government to interfere. This would set a terrible precedent and would diminish all our First Amendment rights. The best way to combat this is to exercise our free speech right to condemn what he is doing in the simplest way and most direct terms."
 
   
   
Witnessing Christ in a Buddhist country
  By Nou Achhekvichetra  
  By Nou Achhekvichetra, Phnom Penh

Nou Achhekvichetra, a Catholic youth leader, was one of 350 young Cambodians who attended the recent National Youth Synod in Battambang.

In this commentary, he talks about the meeting and the challenges Cambodian Catholics face in witnessing their faith in a predominantly Buddhist country.

Achhekvichetra, who is in his early 20s, is coordinator of the youth commission of Phnom Penh apostolic vicariate.
---
I am the Witness of Jesus Christ in Society was the theme of the National Youth Synod held Aug. 23-27. This was the fourth time the synod, which is held every three years, has been organized.

It was a good opportunity for young Cambodian Catholics across the country to meet one another.

It was really awesome to see young Catholics make a commitment and say they are ready to be "a witness of Jesus Christ in society."

We want to strengthen the faith of our young Catholics and those who are studying catechism. We know that nowadays young people are easily lured by materialism and influenced by the cultures and customs of other countries.

Sometimes Catholics don't go to church. Some go to church out of duty but they don't know why they go for Mass every Sunday. We have to understand and appreciate our faith better if we are to be the "light" of the world.

For several days, 350 youths shared their experiences and discussed how to be witnesses for Jesus Christ in society.

This is not easy because Cambodia is a Buddhist country. There are only about 20,000 Catholics in a population of more than 14 million.

In every difficult situation, we have Christ as our model and our salvation. It is with faith that we believe he gives us the Holy Spirit to accompany us and protect us. So then why should we fear?

To be a witness for Christ does not mean advertising him on radio, television or in newspapers. We have to do it through our actions. We must not only proclaim Christ but we must also love others as we love ourselves, attend Mass and pray always.

Synod participants talked about being the "salt" and "light" of the world. Christ's light is always with us but we have to be aware of this reality.

Sometimes we think we are useless but Jesus tells us we are children of God. So we must not be afraid, regardless of whether we are poor, rich, healthy or ugly. Our lives are important.

We must manifest the "salt" and "light' in us by caring for the people around us, especially the poor.

Finally to be witnesses of Christ, we have to be united.

The Church in Cambodia is divided into ethnic Khmer and Vietnamese Catholics and sometimes there are tensions. But faith is not divisive.

If we want to say that we believe in Jesus Christ, we have to love each other.

To proclaim the good news is not only talking about it but living it out because I am sure that those who want to know about Christ will be looking at our actions closely.
 
   
   
Hesitant father, willing son
  By Anonymous  
  EVERY Sunday afternoon, after the morning service at the church, the Pastor and his eleven year old son would go out into their town and hand out Gospel Tracts.

This particular Sunday afternoon, as it came time for the Pastor and his son to go to the streets with their tracts, it was very cold outside, as well as pouring rain.

The boy bundled up in his warmest and driest clothes and said, 'OK, dad, I'm ready.'

His Pastor-dad asked, 'Ready for what?'

'Dad, it's time we gather our tracts together and go out.'

Dad responds, 'Son, it's very cold outside and it's pouring rain.'

The boy gives his dad a surprised look, asking, 'But Dad, aren't people still going to Hell, even though it's raining?'

Dad answers, 'Son, I am not going out in this weather.'

Despondently, the boy asks, 'Dad, can I go? Please?'

His father hesitated for a moment then said, 'Son, you can go. Here are the tracts, be careful son.'

'Thanks Dad!'

And with that, he was off and out into the rain. This eleven year old boy walked the streets of the town going door to door and handing everybody he met in the street a Gospel Tract .

After two hours of walking in the rain, he was soaking, bone-chilled wet and down to his VERY LAST TRACT. He stopped on a corner and looked for someone to hand a tract to, but the streets were totally deserted.

Then he turned toward the first home he saw and started up the sidewalk to the front door and rang the door bell. He rang the bell, but nobody answered.

He rang it again and again, but still no one answered. He waited but still no answer.

Finally, this eleven year old trooper turned to leave, but something stopped him.

Again, he turned to the door and rang the bell and knocked loudly on the door with his fist. He waited, something holding him there on the front porch!

He rang again and this time the door slowly opened.

Standing in the doorway was a very sad-looking elderly lady. She softly asked, 'What can I do for you, son?' With radiant eyes and a smile that lit up her world, this little boy said, 'Ma'am, I'm sorry if I disturbed you, but I just want to tell you that * JESUS REALLY DOES LOVE YOU * and I came to give you my very last Gospel Tract which will tell you all about JESUS and His great LOVE.'

With that, he handed her his last tract and turned to leave.

She called to him as he departed. 'Thank you, son! And God Bless You!'

Well, the following Sunday morning in church Pastor Dad was in the pulpit. As the service began, he asked, 'Does anybody have testimony or want to say anything?'

Slowly, in the back row of the church, an elderly lady stood to her feet.

As she began to speak, a look of glorious radiance came from her face, 'No one in this church knows me. I've never been here before. You see, before last Sunday I was not a Christian. My husband passed on some time ago, leaving me totally alone in this world. Last Sunday, being a particularly cold and rainy day, it was even more so in my heart that I came to the end of the line where I no longer had any hope or will to live.

So I took a rope and a chair and ascended the stairway into the attic of my home. I fastened the rope securely to a rafter in the roof, then stood on the chair and fastened the other end of the rope around my neck. Standing on that chair, so lonely and broken-hearted I was about to leap off, when suddenly the loud ringing of my doorbell downstairs startled me. I thought, 'I'll wait a minute, and whoever it is will go away.'

I waited and waited, but the ringing doorbell seemed to get louder and more insistent, and then the person ringing also started knocking loudly...

I thought to myself again, 'Who on earth could this be? Nobody ever rings my bell or comes to see me.' I loosened the rope from my neck and started for the front door, all the while the bell rang louder and louder.

When I opened the door and looked I could hardly believe my eyes, for there on my front porch was the most radiant and angelic little boy I had ever seen in my life. His SMILE, oh, I could never describe it to you!

The words that came from his mouth caused my heart that had long been dead, TO LEAP TO LIFE as he exclaimed with a cherub-like voice, 'Ma'am, I just came to tell you that JESUS REALLY DOES LOVE YOU.' Then he gave me this Gospel Tract that I now hold in my hand.

As the little angel disappeared back out into the cold and rain, I closed my door and read slowly every word of this Gospel Tract. Then I went up to my attic to get my rope and chair. I wouldn't need them anymore.

You see-- I am now a Happy Child of the KING. Since the address of your church was on the back of this Gospel Tract, I have come here to personally say THANK YOU to God's little angel who came just in the nick of time and by so doing, spared my soul from an eternity in hell.'

There was not a dry eye in the church. And as shouts of praise and honour to THE KING resounded off the very rafters of the building, Pastor Dad descended from the pulpit to the front pew where the little angel was seated..

He took his son in his arms and sobbed uncontrollably.

Probably no church has had a more glorious moment, and probably this universe has never seen a Papa that was more filled with love & honour for his son... Except for One.
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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