Archive of September 9, 2012

Youth's foreign internship teaches a smile speaks volumes

Salt Lake City, Utah, Sep 9, 2012 (CNA) - Jenna Franklin spent eight weeks as a nurse intern in Bosnia/Herzegovina, and not knowing the language, she found that hugs and smiles could speak volumes.

Franklin, whose parents are members of Saints Peter and Paul Parish in West City Valley, Utah, is a senior in the nursing program at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn. Having never traveled outside the United States, she wanted to study abroad and also wanted to do volunteer work.

The Bosnia/Herzegovina internship dealt with the historical and cultural aspects of the country following the 1992-1995 war, Franklin said. "I’ve lived so comfortably and safe in Oregon until I was 9, and in Utah, and I wanted to experience how other people live in another part of the world."

Franklin’s internship was twofold. She spent time in Sunce, a day care center for people aged 9 to 60 with both mental and physical disabilities, assisting them with health education workshops, horse therapy, swimming in the Adriatic Sea, engaging them in daily activities and as a personal assistant on a week-long trip to Montenegro.

"As a personal assistant I was a nanny to two girls throughout the day," said Franklin. "At Sunce, I basically gave the members a lot of love through my actions. It was difficult but very rewarding because only one other person spoke English. I learned that only 7 percent of communication is through words and that body language, tone of voice and hand gestures also aid in communicating. I also learned some Bosnian words and they learned some English."

In addition, Franklin worked in the Eco Center, a nature conservation and environmental awareness center that works with endangered Griffon vultures and donkeys. "I gave some English guided tours, cared for the donkeys, created a website and did some janitorial work," she said. "At one point I wanted to be a veterinarian, and I have always wanted to work on a farm, so it was fun to have a rural experience."

What stood out for Franklin in her experience was that the unemployment rate in Bosnia/Herzegovina is 43 percent, the education system is poor, bombed out abandoned buildings remain throughout the city, and at first glance the city looks like there can’t be much hope.

"What I found was that the people are so beautiful and have such a rich spirit that it overshadows the poverty," Franklin said. "They are really strong and sincere, and affectionate once you get to know them."

Franklin spent time on the Stari Most Bridge, which stands over the Neretva River. "It was rebuilt after the war and is a beacon of hope for the people because it shows how the people are rebuilding their lives following the war," she said.

Franklin also learned the Bosnian people are hospitable; a value she learned from the Rule of St. Benedict. "When you visit them, they offer you coffee in their fine china," she said.

"Once they cooked a dinner for me that took eight hours to prepare. The homeless rate is low in the community because families take care of each other and live in multi-generational households. They also openly shared their stories from the war and I learned of horrors that I can’t even imagine."

The Croatians, who are associated with the Catholic religion, live on one side of the river and the Bosnian Muslims, referred to as Bosniaks, live on the other side of the river, said Franklin.

"A lot of the conflict was over religion and their solution is segregation," Franklin said. "I made friends with both Catholics and Muslims and it was sad to see the tension. It made me thankful to live in a place where many religions and different ethnic backgrounds can live peacefully together."

Posted with permission from Intermountain Catholic, official newspaper for the Diocese of Salt Lake City.

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Caritas increases aid as refugees flood out of Syria

Rome, Italy, Sep 9, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Caritas Internationalis is ramping up its efforts to help the growing number of Syrian families who have fled the conflict in their homeland.

“Within Syria, Caritas is distributing food,” said Laura Sheahan of Caritas told CNA. “It’s been a little hard in terms of cooked food because it’s difficult to even get fuel in Syria, but we’re providing things like sandwiches. Meanwhile, Boy Scouts are distributing some of the food in places like Aleppo and Homs.”

Caritas Internationalis is the Catholic Church’s confederation of charitable and development agencies. Overall, it is helping more than 13,000 Syrians affected by the present crisis.
The armed revolt against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, which began in March 2011, shows no sign of abating.

“In Jordan, we are providing a number of services: food, medical care, things like diapers and blankets. So, Caritas Jordan is providing these emergency items to families who have just shown up in the country with nothing,” explained Sheahan.

“In Lebanon, we’re also providing things like food and blankets, but also we have a sort of roving medical van.  The doctor goes around in this big white van and takes care of Syrian refugee children.”

The United Nations refugee agency estimates that nearly 250,000 Syrians have now fled to the neighboring countries of Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. Meanwhile it is thought there are more than 1.2 million internally displaced people in Syria, with 2.5million in need of humanitarian assistance.

Sheahan recently visited both Lebanon and Jordan to witness the Syrian refugee crisis first hand. There she found “families who had basically fled for their lives.”

“They were fleeing bombs, shootings in the streets, sniper attacks. These were people who for months had been hiding in their houses afraid even to go out for groceries, even doing that was hard. They were keeping their kids home from school.”

“Finally,” she said, “they just gave up and realized that they were in danger” and so “by bus, by car or even on foot they went to neighboring countries like Lebanon and Jordan.”

Behind the statistics and logistics, Sheahan said she also found many individual stories that brought home the personal tragedy of the present situation for thousands of Syrians.

At the Caritas Center in Jordan she met a Syrian woman with a badly wounded leg.

“Her neighbor had gone out to get milk for her family. She had wanted to go out and get milk. Her neighbor said, ‘No, it’s too dangerous.’ He got shot by a sniper and when she went out to help him, she was shot. She survived, he didn’t.”

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Egyptian monk and bishop St. Paphnutius celebrated on Sept. 11

Denver, Colo., Sep 9, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Sept. 11, the Catholic Church honors Saint Paphnutius, an Egyptian monk who became a bishop, endured torture for the faith, and participated at the Ecumenical Council of Nicea in its confirmation of Christ's divinity.

While there is no record of Paphnutius' early life, it is known that he – like many other men of his day – became a disciple of the monk Saint Anthony of the Desert, whose direction of a community of fellow hermits marked the beginning of traditional Christian monasticism.

Having spent several years pursuing spiritual illumination in the austerity of the desert under Anthony's direction, Paphnutius was eventually chosen to become a bishop for the Upper Thebaid region.

This placed him in direct conflict with Maximinus Daia, the Roman imperial ruler of Egypt and Syria from 305 to 313, who persecuted the Church in these regions and attempted to undermine it by strengthening the institutions of paganism.

Under Maximinus Daia's rule, Paphnutius had his left leg partly mutilated and his right eye put out, in an unsuccessful effort to make him renounce the Catholic faith. Not yielding before torture, he was condemned to manual labor in the mines.

Imperial policy toward Christians shifted between 311 and 313, in the midst of a power struggle between the various co-emperors of the time. The Emperor Constantine began to embrace the faith in 312, and he proclaimed its legality the following year, during which Maximinus Daia also died.

Since he survived the ordeal of persecution, Paphnutius was regarded with reverence by the first Christian leader of the Roman Empire. Constantine is said to have met frequently with the bishop from the Upper Thebaid, showing his respect by kissing the wound left by the loss of his eye.

The Egyptian bishop is also reputed to have played a role at the First Ecumenical Council, which condemned Arianism and promulgated the Nicene Creed. While celibate himself, Paphnutius successfully resisted an effort by some council participants to change the Eastern Churches' traditions regarding married members of the clergy.

During the years of doctrinal confusion that followed the Council of Nicea, Paphnutius stood in defense of Christian orthodoxy alongside Saint Athanasius of Alexandria and other Church leaders who upheld the doctrine of Jesus' eternal preexistence as God.

In 335 Paphnutius joined a large group of Egyptian bishops in attending the regional Council of Tyre, where they found the majority of bishops adhering to the Arian heresy.

Paphnutius was especially distressed to see his fellow bishop Maximus of Jerusalem mingling with the Arian clergy, since Maximus, like himself, had once suffered torture rather than compromise his faith. The Egyptian bishop took his fellow confessor aside, and personally persuaded him to back St. Athanasius in the struggle against Arianism.

The year of St. Paphnutius' death, like that of his birth, is unknown. He should not be confused with another prominent Egyptian monk of the same name (who appears in the “Conferences” of Saint John Cassian), nor is he the same Paphnutius whose martyrdom the Eastern churches commemorate on April 19.

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'Be opened' sums up Christ's mission, Pope says

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 9, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI says that the public ministry of Jesus Christ is encapsulated in one “small but very important” Aramaic word: “Ephphatha.”

“‘Ephphatha – be opened,’ sums up Christ’s entire mission,” said the Pope in his midday Angelus address Sept. 9. 

“He became man so that man, made inwardly deaf and dumb by sin, would become able to hear the voice of God, the voice of love speaking to his heart, and learn to speak in the language of love, to communicate with God and with others,” the Pope explained.

Speaking to several thousand pilgrims gathered at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict dwelt upon the Sunday reading from the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus cures a deaf man in the non-Jewish area known as the Decapolis, between the coast of Tyre and Sidon, and Galilee.

“Jesus took him aside, touched his ears and tongue, and then, looking up to the heavens, with a deep sigh said, ‘Ephphatha,’ which means, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately the man began to hear and speak fluently,” the Pope summarized.

The Pope observed that the “closure of man” and his “isolation” are not solely dependent on the sensory organs.

“There is an inner closing, which covers the deepest core of the person, what the Bible calls the ‘heart’,” said the Pope. “That is what Jesus came to ‘open’ to liberate, to enable us to fully live our relationship with God and with others.”

It is for this reason, he said, that the word and gesture of “Ephphatha” is included in the Rite of Baptism when the priest touches the mouth and ears of the newly baptized.

“Through Baptism, the human person begins, so to speak, to ‘breathe’ the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus had invoked from Father with that deep breath, to heal the deaf and dumb man.”

Pope Benedict drew his comments to a close by turning to the example of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was always fully “open” to the will of her son given that “her heart is constantly listening to his Word.”

“May her maternal intercession help us to experience every day, in faith, the miracle of ‘Ephphatha,’ to live in communion with God and with others,” prayed the Pope.

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