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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
16 October 2014
Greg Kandra




A Kurdish refugee woman from the Syrian town of Kobani cooks on a fire as her children accompany her in a camp in the Sanliurfa, Turkey. (photo: CNS photo/Umit Bektas, Reuters)



15 October 2014
Greg Kandra




Strong coffee sweetened to taste is served in the traditional manner in Lebanon.
(photo: Marilyn Raschka)


In 2002, we took a look at the customs and cuisine of Lebanon — including some traditions surrounding coffee:

Coffee is a household essential. It is served if a visitor has stopped by just to say hello and it is also served following a meal. The serving of coffee signals “time to leave” so gracious hosts delay serving it. And no guest would leave before receiving it.

At weddings, coffee is served sweet, but it is also served unsweetened at funerals to show grief.

When at home, guests are asked how they prefer their coffee — the answers reflect the amount of sugar to be added. For the sake of ease, the Lebanese will often serve a pot of unsweetened coffee and include a tiny sugar bowl on the tray as cups are passed around to the guests. With the last sip, guests will put down their cups and say, which is a very short version of the above proverb.

Excavations in Beirut have unearthed coffee cups that date to the 16th century. The Arabic has been westernized to coffee and the word comes from the Red Sea port of Mocka, in Yemen.

Coffee still plays an important role in trade and business in Lebanon. There is no such thing as a business meeting without coffee being served. The big brew in the little cup accompanies the exchange of pleasantries that kick off the meeting.

In times past, it was considered disrespectful to refuse a cup of coffee. It was like refusing a handshake. There are Lebanese who do not drink coffee, but it is still considered good manners to give an explanation for one’s refusal. There is no decaffeinated Lebanese coffee, so refusing coffee in the evening is acceptable.

Also accompanying coffee drinking is the custom of reading the coffee cup. Turned upside down, the sediment slowly runs down the inside of the cup leaving expressive patterns. Valleys and peaks suggest travel or trouble, other patterns promise money or romance. Readers speak with confidence about these possible events and even the most doubting of Thomases will listen.

Read more about coffee customs in Food for Thought from the September-October 2002 issue of the magazine.



14 October 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from last month, a displaced Iraqi child, who fled from violence by Islamic State militants in Mosul, sits with her family outside their tent at a camp in Erbil. Gathered with Pope Francis, members of the Synod of Bishops on the family issued a message of solidarity, support and prayers for all families suffering from the impact of war and violence, especially
in Iraq and Syria. (photo: CNS Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters)




10 October 2014
Greg Kandra




Internally displaced children eat inside a tent in Aleppo, Syria, on 8 October. Christians cannot follow Jesus while turning away from people who are hungry, Pope Francis said. To help the suffering people of Syria, please visit this link. (photo: CNS /Jalal Al-Mamo, Reuters)



8 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Antonina Harutinian sits in her domik home in, Gyumri, Armenia. Though meant to be temporary shelters for those displaced by the 1988 earthquake, the tiny domik structures remain the only home many Armenians have known in the decades since. To read more about challenges facing Armenian pensioners, read Shaken by the Earthquake of Life, in the Summer 2014 issue of ONE. (photo: Nazik Armenakyan)



Tags: Armenia Poor/Poverty Caring for the Elderly Pensioners

7 October 2014
Greg Kandra




Father Kevin O’Connell baptizes a child at Sacred Heart Church in Amman.
(photo: Tanya Habjouqa)


In 2011, we took a closer look at the lives of Filipino migrants working in Jordan, and discovered they were finding sustenance in their faith while far from home:

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem established Sacred Heart parish in 1996 to serve Amman’s swelling Catholic migrant community. Among the families are a scattering of Europeans and North Americans, most of whom work in the foreign embassies of the posh Jabal Al Weibdeh neighborhood that surrounds the church. A few wear bright salwar kameez, the traditional pajama-like trousers worn by men and women from the Indian subcontinent. The vast majority, however, are Filipino women.

“It was a little strange for me in church at first,” says Father Kevin O’Connell, who has led the parish since its inception 15 years ago. “You’d look out to an entire congregation of women.”

A congenial 67-year-old Jesuit priest from Boston, who wears slacks and sandals under his vestments, Father O’Connell, looks and acts the part of a wise, friendly grandfather.

He helps the choir and he holds the lease on a house where the choir rehearses and other church groups gather. Father O’Connell also oversees the Sacred Heart youth basketball team and helped a group of youngsters from the church secure a space in the Jesuit Fathers’ center where they can breakdance.

Most important, Father O’Connell spends much of his energy responding to the spiritual, emotional and material needs of his predominantly Filipino congregation and other Filipino migrants in the country.

“I understood that the first task was to give people a place where they could be at home,” says Father O’Connell. “For these people, just the ongoing, regular liturgy — with Filipino music, with people reading, with them being able to participate in whatever way they want — gives a strand of consistency and continuity. It’s their home. It’s their place. In most cases, there’s no place else they can gather.”

Though some have jobs at the Philippine Embassy or in international organizations, most are domestic workers. They live in their employers’ homes and work long hours. Many experience intense feelings of loneliness and homesickness. They often have families back home whom they miss desperately.

Read more about Filipinos Far From Home in the November 2011 issue of ONE.



6 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Men gather for class in Navachaithanya, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center established in 1991 by the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Irinjalakuda, in Kerala. (photo: Cody Christopulos)

Al Jazeera recently published this video, calling attention to Kerala’s high rates of alcohol abuse:



In the July 2005 issue of ONE, we shined a spotlight on this issue, and on one institution the Syro-Malabar Church created to help address this problem:

Kerala has the highest consumption of alcohol per capita in the country (about 20 percent of Indians drink alcohol, and of that number 5 percent are alcoholics, reported The Hindustan Times last year). Each year, the state consumes 2.2 gallons of liquor per capita, about three times the national rate, according to India’s Outlook magazine.

“In Kerala, people tend to start drinking once they are 18 years old, which is the legal age for being able to purchase liquor,” said Father Titus Kattuparambil, a Syro-Malabar priest of the Eparchy of Irinjalakuda and assistant director of Navachaithanya.

“Among the bad cases, you’ll see people who earn about three dollars a day, and they’ll blow two dollars of that on alcohol.”

Both national and local governments have acknowledged the problem of alcoholism, and alcohol advertising is illegal. Kerala’s state government also funds several detoxification centers at public hospitals. But at the same time, Father Titus pointed out, the government in Kerala — as in other Indian states — draws revenue from liquor taxes and therefore has a fiscal disincentive to curb alcohol consumption.

Nonetheless, in 1996 the state government banned the consumption of arrack, a potent liquor made from fermented palm sap (and not to be confused with the arak liquor of the Arab world). The government thought the ban on arrack, which is much stronger than toddy, would help curb alcoholism. The prohibition, however, only encouraged illegal traffic and production. Hundreds of Keralites have been killed or blinded from drinking bad batches of home-brewed arrack. And alcohol consumption continues to rise.

It has largely been left to religious organizations and NGOs to treat Kerala’s alcoholics.

“Alcohol has always been a problem here, it’s not just recently,” said Syro-Malabar Bishop James Pazhayattil of the Eparchy of Irinjalakuda. “Several years ago, people approached me about the problem in our community and we started Navachaithanya.” Since then, the center has treated more than 8,000 men for alcoholism or drug addiction, though alcohol is by far the area’s larger problem.

Read the rest here.



Tags: India Kerala Health Care Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Alcoholism

3 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




In Gangapar, in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, a brick house protects the children of Jasvir Singh from floods. The children attend a school run by the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Bijnor and funded by CNEWA. To read more about life in Gangapar, read Caste Aside, published in the Summer 2014 issue of ONE. (photo: John Mathew)



Tags: India Children Indian Christians Indian Catholics Catholic education

2 October 2014
Greg Kandra




Displaced people fleeing violence in Iraq walk toward the Syrian border town of Elierbeh. Pope Francis opened a three-day summit on 2 October on the violence and persecution underway in the Middle East, saying arms trafficking was the root cause of many problems in the region. To help those Iraqis who have been displaced, please visit this page. (photo: CNS/Rodi Said, Reuters)



1 October 2014
Greg Kandra




Local residents stand next to the debris of a house hit by a mortar shell from the Syrian side of the border in Alanyurt village near the Turkish-Syrian border on 29 September. A Syrian priest on a U.S. mission trip says amid ongoing death and destruction in the Middle East, the Catholic Church continues to provide spiritual and material support for those in need.
(photo: CNS/Murad Sezer, Reuters)


The military attacks on Syria are having a powerful impact on the lives of ordinary families:

After telling parishioners and students in the religious education program at Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. James Parish about what is happening in Syria, Father Rodrigo Miranda was impressed that a 13-year-old girl was one of the first to respond.

“She came up to me and immediately asked: ‘What can we do to help?’” said Father Miranda, a priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word.

As the current pastor at the cathedral in Aleppo, Syria, Father Miranda is hoping that all Catholics would be just as quick to generously respond to the needs of fellow Christians in the Middle East.

For the past three years, he said, Aleppo has been embroiled in a violent civil war that has destroyed the once-thriving Syrian city that is home to about 2.5 million people. While the vast majority of inhabitants are Muslim, Father Miranda said there is a small contingent of Christians living in Aleppo. “A few years ago, I’d say maybe 15 percent of the population was Christian,” Father Miranda told The Anchor, newspaper of the Fall River diocese. “Now, I think it’s closer to 10 percent, if not less. We are clearly the minority within the community.”

He said that not only are Christians in the minority, they often find themselves caught in the middle of the warring factions on either side of the conflict. More than 70,000 people — mostly civilians — have been killed and more than 3 million Syrians have been displaced since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. In addition, some 1.1 million people have taken refuge in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

“The problem is you have Palestinians on one side, Arabs on the other, and the Christians are stuck in the middle,” Father Miranda said. “Both sides have preconceptions about the other,” he added.

“People have their own beliefs and they don’t understand or appreciate the other’s style of life.” While “everyone receives some form of help from the United Nations,” Father Miranda said Christians must rely solely on the Catholic Church for support. “Our mission (in Syria) is to evangelize the culture,” Father Miranda said. “We are trying to bring Christ to the people. We go to the places where the church can’t go due to circumstances.”

Read more about what CNEWA is doing to help the men, women and children of Syria here. And to offer your support, visit this page.







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