(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”.


Teachings of Christ

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live." (Proverbs 4:4 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

If God is slow in answering your request, and you ask but do not promptly receive anything, do not be upset, for you are not wiser than God. When you remain as you were before, without anything happening, it is either because your behaviour is not worthy of your request, or because the paths in which your heart was travelling were far removed from the aim of your prayer, or because your interior condition is far too childish, when compared with the magnitude of the thing for which you have asked.

St. Isaac of Nineveh [Syria], The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life.