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Tribulation Times

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November 17, 2017  

(Rom 12:9-15) Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good, Loving one another with the charity of brotherhood: with honour preventing one another. In carefulness not slothful. In spirit fervent. Serving the Lord. Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer. Communicating to the necessities of the saints. Pursuing hospitality. Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice: weep with them that weep.

GALWAY ADVERTISER: A journey in Syria, among its resilient people

ALETEIA: Syria claims victory over ISIS amidst signs of rebuilding and new life

Reuters reported last week that Syria’s army and its allies have fully liberated the largest remaining stronghold of the Islamic State group. The news came from Hezbollah-controlled media, but Reuters said it signals the “imminent fall of the militant group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.” ISIS’ last Syrian stronghold, the report said, is in the eastern border town of Albu Kamal.

Victory over the militant jihadist group does not mean an end of difficulties for Syria, of course, as Reuters points out:

In Syria, the end of major battle operations against Islamic State may only prefigure a new phase of the war, as the rival forces which have seized territory from the jihadists square off.

But there have been positive signals from various parts of the shattered country that a resurrection is beginning. Even before the latest victory, Metropolitan Jean-Clement Jeanbart, Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, wrote in a September 22 pastoral letter that “the war against Syria is over.”

“Syria is preparing the launching of reconstruction projects to rebuild its infrastructures and the innumerable institutions which were destroyed,” wrote Archbishop Jeanbart, who said that “all the sectors of the city of Aleppo are now secure” and that houses have electricity and running water. “Our schools are functioning; our universities and institutes which are still standing have energetically restarted their activities. The economy is reviving; this will offer numerous opportunities for those looking for work. And this is only the beginning as many important projects, financed by other countries and international companies will now be looking for competent and reliable workers to be part of their enterprises in order to achieve satisfying and significant profits.”

The archbishop, who has spent the past six or seven years trying hard to stem a mass exit of Christians from Aleppo, said at the Knights of Columbus international convention in August that more than half of the Christian population had left Aleppo because of the fighting. He expects only around one-quarter of those to return.

He said in the new letter that in the months to come Syria will need doctors, teachers, executives, skilled technicians and laborers.

“We have noticed that many industrialists and businessmen have returned to Aleppo, either to repair their factories or to reestablish their offices and businesses,” the archbishop said. “In addition, there are government projects for the construction of affordable accommodation as well as the rebuilding of schools and public and social institutions.”

Avvenire, an Italian daily, said that Syria is “returning to life” after six and a half hard years of civil war. Aleppo is no longer a ghost town, the news outlet affirmed, which described residents repairing their houses or operating pastry shops and hardware stores.

“We have been financing these activities for more than a year now,” said Father Ibrahim Alsabagh, a parish priest. A local engineer said that there have been 900 requests from “Christians who want to return to the city.” So far, the homes of 90 have been rebuilt.

In Damascus, “water and electricity are back,” Avvenire noted.

“It seemed absurd to think it just a few months ago,” says Franciscan Father Bahjat Karakach, guardian of the Friary of St. Paul, “and now we can breathe a sigh of relief.” The market in front of the big mosque is hard to walk: tourists are not there, but traders welcome all those who can finally buy a scarf or some coffee. “Tell everyone that here is no longer so terrible, I recommend.” “Education is the first step in starting to rebuild Syria,” a Sister Yola, who runs a children’s shelter next to where tradition holds that St. Paul encountered Christ, told Avvenire. Many of the 140 children aged 3 to 5 are refugees.

Archbishop Jeanbart encouraged those who have suffered this far to continue to have patience. “This blessed land has given us a sweet and comfortable life under the eyes of God; it will be even more favorable and generous with the end of this senseless and crazy war,” he wrote. “Our trial is ended; be prepared for a future radiant with promise.”

CRUX: Vatican gravely concerned about Palestinian refugees in Syria

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[II Thess. 2:13-3:5; Luke 13:1-9]

Pilate mingled the blood of Galileans with their sacrifices — the Lord said: except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish; the tower of Siloam fell and killed 18 people — the Lord again said: except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. This gives an understanding that when some misfortune befalls others, we must not reason about why it happened, but rather look at ourselves and examine whether there are any sins on us deserving temporary punishment for the instruction of others, and hasten to wipe them out with repentance. Repentance cleanses sin and removes the cause which attracts a catastrophe.

While a person is in sin, an axe is laid to the root of the tree of his life, ready to cut it down. It does not cut because it waits for repentance. Repent and the axe will be taken away, and your life will flow to its end in the natural order of things; if you do not repent — expect to be cut down. What man can know whether he will live to the next year? The parable about the fruitless fig tree shows that the Saviour prays that Divine justice spare each sinner in the hopes that he will repent and bring forth good fruits. But it sometimes happens that Divine justice no longer hears the intercessions, and perhaps He will only agree to allow somebody one more year to remain alive. How do you know, sinner, that you are not living your last year, your last month, day and hour?

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 19- "On sleep, prayer and psalmody"

5. It is possible for all to pray with a congregation; for many it is more suitable to pray with a single kindred spirit; solitary prayer is for the very few.

Prayer request?  Send an email to: [email protected]

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