Lent season has started and the Holy week will open up the month of April this year. Have you made your preparations yet? Lent is not like any other holiday such as Christmas or New Year’s Eve where in celebration is tradition. Lent is solemn and is practiced with fasting and many other things. This is done so that it mimics Jesus when he was in the wilderness and was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-2). Jesus fasted for 40 days and forty nights then the devil appeared to test Him.
Many Christians practice lent starting from Ash Wednesday wherein foreheads are being marked with ash. This marks the start of a life of prayer, repentance and fasting during the entire season of Lent. Practices may differ individually and some don’t fast just by abstaining for a certain food such as meat. Some forms of fasting are giving up vices and un-Godly things such as smoking, drinking. Some may proceed to more mundane stuff like giving up computer games, watching Dr. House or even drinking Coffee.
What have you decided to give up during lent? Have you prepared yourself physically, mentally and spiritually for this? In General, the meaning of Lent for us Christians or at least to those groups that practice lent is somewhere between the lines of: “Preparing one’s heart for remembering Jesus’ Death and resurrection. It is a season of personal sacrifices and to pray and cleanse oneself with dedication and sincerity of the spirit and mind.” Well you get the big picture more or less.
Lent based on the Bible
As Christians, the Bible is our main source of instruction. It is God’s holy word so to speak and is written through his inspiration. According to the same Bible, there is no mention of a Lenten season. It is quite a paradox that something we so sincerely practice was not written in it – or was it?
Ash Wednesday, the day we are supposed to start Lent, isn’t also in the Bible. There was no mention that in 40 or so days before Easter, people were being marked by Jesus Christ with ash on their foreheads. Other things we put into the spotlight is the Holy Week itself. If the Romans know and documented the exact week where Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected, wouldn’t it be a fixed date? The term Romans here was used as it was their era during the time of Jesus. They were sure with Christmas but how come now it isn’t as clear?
Another to take into consideration are the days – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, something that’s marked in our Calendars as “holidays.” This was lately incorporated and based on the Bible; it falls right about in Passover Season. (I Corinthians, 5) May scholars have disputed this and was actually practiced by Christ and the Apostles and have branched out to the New Testament Churches.
Lastly, the Bible dictates that we are forgiven and become pure from our sins when we accepted the convent of Jesus. That is when we believe in him as our savior, knowing that he died for our sins already. But then again, we always fall short of God’s Glory. That is why we are working hard spiritually in studying his word and following His teachings. This simply means that no fasting or whatever extremist practice such as self torture can replace God’s covenant for us.
So what is Lent? As painful as it may sound, Lent was created by the Roman Catholic Church. Funny how there it is again “Roman.” They established the church as a religion to conquer and expand their Kingdom. It was hard back then to control a Kingdom without religion. And all of these dates were created so as to coincide with Pagan Holidays so that Conversion would be easy – Christmas included.
In order to be Christians we must live out a life that Jesus started. He didn’t say that you must give up this and that for 40 something days just so you’ll get it back later. This is quite funny and useless. There is more to Christian life than we know, and that is all in the Bible.
Throughout our existence, angels have had many different representations in our society. Some may picture them in the clouds as they make loops and figures, moving through the skies. Others see them in simple instances such as a stranger helping you up in the street; or in life-threatening ones like a fireman saving a trapped woman in a burning building. These range from many encounters to extremely bizarre ones like seeing it in your coffee in the morning!
Do you picture angels as those brave winged warriors, armor- clad and armed for God’s battle with the demons? Or do you see them as those sentient beings, with rosy cheeks and little wings? You know those little chubby ones you see on greeting cards?
The fact remains that whatever form they might actually be, they play quite a role in life-changing events for some people. Some may refer to it as mere imagination but with all due respect to those, we can never tell. Seeing and hearing may be one thing, experiencing is another.
There are thousands of stories and thousands more of pictures of angelic encounters. With humans getting smarter, some may not be even real stories. Technology has changed and we could almost make any photo seem real with a myriad of computer applications. These made society more skeptic, and thus made miracles less significant.
But what about those claimed encounters? Since the early days of man from the Bible, to people getting cured by pure faith; society is left boggled and divided. Although not all are as dramatic as the “pillar of cloud” in the Bible, some may actually be right around the corner. In our modern life things go so fast. Sometimes we forget to slow down a little and appreciate things around us and contemplate on our situation. After all, angels are God’s workers. When you did your best and couldn’t do more, they might offer a hand if you let them.
Some angels might be the ones you least expected – like the everyday people, which includes you. Before Christianity, Moralists taught us one simple rule: “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.” This ponders on the fact that by nature, humans are morally good given the situation. Some might argue that humans are also fully capable of being evil but isn’t that what “choice” is for?
Choosing the path of a paragon can be quite hard but it can be the most rewarding. You don’t need fancy wings and nifty powers to become an angel. If you have faith in God and in yourself, you can always choose to do the right thing and become an angel to others and in the community. Being nice isn’t being lame; it’s just doing the right thing. Humans respond better with positive reinforcement thus contributes to the cycle.
So in whatever endeavour you are in, be an angel. There are others like you and you’ll never know when they might come in handy. Being nice has its perks and doing the right thing never hurts. God is always watching, and He’s just letting you grow. No one said it was easy but He always stated that it was more glorious.
Everywhere you go, you can see different designs of crosses worn by people, individuals and clergies. Some people wonder about the meanings of the different designs of Christian crosses. What is the difference between these designs? Does each cross design signify something different compared to other designs of Crosses?
What is the importance of cross to Christians?
For centuries, the cross has been used by Christians to signify the human symbol of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice to save the people from their sins and to restore their broken relationship with God the Father. Jesus Christ gave his life by dying on the cross to give people the chance to have everlasting life by repenting their sins and by putting their complete trust to Jesus Christ.
From ancient times to the present, it is the most important and common Christian symbol that separates Christianity from other religion such as Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism.
It consists of two bars or lines which are perpendicular to each other and dividing the two lines in half. These lines run both horizontally and vertically. Did you know that there exist several designs of the Christian cross?
History and origin of the word cross
The word “cross” came from the Latin word “crux,” a Greek translation of stauros. During the Roman times, the cross served as a torture device for criminals and it was use for crucifixion.
The Latin word “crux” later became “cros” by Old Irish and introduced as “cross” to the English language during the 10th century.
The different types of Christian crosses:
• Latin Cross – is the most common design and widely used cross nowadays characterized by its simple design of short and long vertical lines intersecting. This design is not only seen in jewelries and literature, but it is also preferred by individuals who want to have a cross tattoo on their bodies. Individuals of various nationalities incorporated Latin cross on their lives.
• Anchor Cross – This type of cross design is popular and wide used among sailors. It is originated in Egypt and later used by the Christians. It is one of the most widely used cross design nowadays.
• Celtic Cross – It is also known as Cross of Iona. It is commonly seen and used by early Christians in Britannia. It is characterized by the Latin cross as base and a small circle around the intersection of arms. It is also widely used in tattoo designs.
• Greek cross – It is used by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the early Christian church. It is characterized by a equal length of arms. Moreover, the thicker version of this cross is used as the American Red Cross symbol.
• High Cross – It is used by the Celtics in churches and graveyards. It is commonly seen in the United States, Ireland and Great Britain.
• Jerusalem Cross – Commonly known as Crusaders Cross. It is considered as the symbol of Jerusalem’s Crusader Kingdom and characterized by the two equal arms length with four small Greek style cross on its four corners signifying the direction where the Gospel of Jesus Christ was spread.
Designs of these crosses are different from each other. Be sure to evaluate and do some research before deciding which cross you like to use.
For centuries there have been numerous rumors and myths about angels. Many different cultures, sects and religions talked about them and the different shapes and forms angels assume. Disbelievers aside, there are some proven studies and proofs of their existence.
According to some, there existence is just a matter of belief and faith in the hearts of those who believe them. Some individuals believed that angels are there as messengers of God and they are there to serve and protect mankind. According to some people, they are loving creatures who are filled with kindness and love n their hearts.
They are beautiful beings with deep compassion, understanding, healing, wisdom and protection. According to religious intellectuals, astral guides and angels can talk to individuals who have extrasensory perception (ESP). With their ESP powers, they can speak and can communicate with them. Religious books and facts show that angels exist in different levels each with different powers. Angels are categorized into cherubins, seraphims, dominions, principalities, powers, archangels and demigods. Despite their ranking, they are there to serve God and follow whatever His orders are.
Religious history shows that angels existed since Creation itself. Their existence are very well manifested, read and heard in mythologies, stories, fables, beliefs and other stories. Much more, some religion even talked about them, their existence and their works.
Despite the varied ways on how the personalities and beings of angels are being interpreted, they exist and are often mentioned in the Bible. Did you know how many times the word “angels” or “angel” are mentioned in the Bible? According to religious scholars and intellectual, angels are talked or mentioned approximately 273 times throughout the entire 34 sections of the Bible such as Genesis, Job, Luke, Matthew, Mark, Psalms, Romans, Revelations and many more.
Did you know about the categorization of angels and their differences. These are all mentioned in the Bible.
Ways on how angels are presented in the Bible include:
To know more about how angels are distinctively mentioned in the Bible, you can scan or peruse the Bible and see the differences yourself.
Have you heard of the story of the Angels of Mons and how it save the lives of the British army during World War I?
Who are the Angels of Mons?
It was a popular legend about group of angels who saved and protected the British soldiers during the Battle of Mons during the start of World War I. It was a fictitious story written by Arthur Macheon which created tremors, hysteria and propaganda among the masses. The short story was published on September 10, 1914 in the London newspaper “The Evening News.” The short story entitled “The Bowmen” was inspired and based on the war of the British force at Mons.
The short story was about phantom bowmen of the Battle of Agincourt who were summoned by soldiers who asked the assistance of Saint George. During those times, Machen’s story was never labeled as fiction and it has been reprinted several times in the same newspaper. Despite of his unintention to create tremors and hoax of the reading public, there were requests from different sources requesting him to provide his sources for the story. He responded the readers and told them that the short story was complete imaginary and fiction and he had no intention of attracting attention.
The story does not end there and it did not fade into history. When the worship of angels recurred in 1980s, the story of the Angels of Mons found its way back to the reading public. Those who loved and worshipped angels surely know and can relate to the story. It paved its way back to the popular mythology and retold by the masses for centuries and without criticisms. Much more, it can also be found in the historical records of the military.
Story of the Angel of Mons
The story began in August 1914 in Mons, Belgium. The plot started when the German army took a sweep move to France during the start of World War I. Even though the destruction of the British army was already assured due to the vast numbers of Germany army sweeping against the British Expeditionary Force, some strange event happens when at the last moment of their destruction, a brigade angels from heaven appeared and protected the British army from their destruction.
According to historical military records, it was not the first time that the German and British armies encountered and it was not also a British victory. During the Battle of Mons, the British army was outnumbered by about 4 to 1, but they were Lee-Enfield rifles. Despite their expertise, their ammunition ran low because they were outnumbered by the Germans. During the war the British army teased and joked each other because they knew they were already dead men. One of the soldiers prayed and asked the help of Saint George, the patron saint of England. From that moment on, the British soldiers felt they were protected by heavenly presence of shining bowmen surrounding them. They soldiers believed that Saint George protected them and brought along with him the ghosts of bowmen who fought the battle in Agincourt in 1415. The Angels of Mons were the ones who fought the battle and protected the British army by their arrows.
Residents, patrons and visitors were overjoyed as the True Cross religious relics were recovered by Gardai and returned safe to the Holy Cross Abbey in Co Tipperary. According to Gardai, the religious items are recovered during their search operation on yesterday, January 19, 2011.
Despite the recovery of the items, authorities refused to confirm the location where the relics were recovered due to operational reasons, but they affirmed that the object is found in an undisclosed field in the rural area.
According to parish priest Father Tom J. Breen, a number of religious artifacts and relics of the True Cross were stolen by three men in October 11, 2011. The burglars used a portable grinder to cut open the steel cabinet where the relics were stored. Breen said, “The return and recovery of the relics clearly proves the power of prayers.”
Breen said that the True Cross relics are part of the whole crucifix where Jesus Christ died and which have been subject of pilgrimage and devotion for about 900 years ago.
According to history, the True Cross was brought to Ireland in 1233 by Isabella of Angouleme, the Plantagenet Queen. She was King John’s widow who bestowed and gave the relic to the Cistercian Monastery in Thurles. The monastery was rebuilt by her and renamed Holy Cross Abbey.
One of the stolen relics contained twelve-inch high bronze and gold cross with glass center piece which was presented to the Holy Cross Abbey in 1977 by the Vatican. Ancient raiders took the twelve-inch silver cross hung from a chain. It was also found that the silver chain contain two other holy crosses and two dark stones. These religious relics had been kept and protected by the Holy Cross Abbey since 1180.
The loss of True Cross saddened not only the people in the parish, but the whole Catholic community. It has devastated and saddened the people, thus Breen appealed to the public to return the relic. The people prayed earnestly for the recovery and return of the religious object.
With the extensive search and investigative efforts of the Gardai, the relics were found unharmed, safe, intact and returned to Father Tom Breen.
Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel and Emly states, “It is truly delightful and wonderful that the precious True Cross relics from the Holly Cross Abbey are found through the efforts of Garda Siochana. On behalf of the Cashel and Emly diocese and the people, we express our heartfelt thanks to Gardai ”
Clifford and Breen wondered why the burglars stole the relics as they only have little market value. Because of the incident, the Holy Cross Abbey will find additional security measures to protect the Relics.
Results of the investigation of the Gardai reveal that the burglary was correlated with the three sets of keys stolen from the sacristy while Father Tom Breen was busy celebrating a wedding several months ago. Undisclosed witnesses saw the perpetrators leaving the church and boarding a red Volkswagen Touareg.
On November 28, 2011 the Palestinian government announced its intent to restore and to renovate the Nativity Church, the oldest church in Palestine and the birthplace of our savior Jesus Christ. It is a historic site that draws millions of tourists and visitors to Palestine. Preparations for the facelift of the 1500-year-old church moved ahead as planned amidst the religious and political conflicts.
According to the Ziad Bandak, one who oversees the restoration of the Nativity Church, the restoration of the church will cost millions and would take several years to complete. The first and foremost aspect of the restoration is to replace the church’s roofs and its ancient wooden beams which are no longer safe for visitors. They also found that the leaks in the roofs ruined the priceless paintings and mosaics inside the church.
Bandak mentioned that the project is the first comprehensive repair project of the Nativity Church since its completion in the 4th century. He said that they need to fix the damages brought by the wear and tear of time.
According to history, the Nativity Church was constructed in 326 AD by Emperor Constantine to honor and to commemorate the three important events in the life of Jesus Christ. Since Jesus Christ was believed to be born in the cave, architects were able to construct the cave according to the devotional and architectural requirements. It was found that the case was encased in an octagonal structure which formed the sanctuary of the basilica and which stretched away to the west by five aisles and four monolithic columns.
When the church was damaged by an earthquake in 1927, it took three decades for the rival sects, Catholics, Armenians and Greek Orthodox, to agree on the repairs and completion of the project.
Due to the huge amount of funds needed for the project, the Palestinian government appeals to the Arab and European countries to help in funding the project. Even though, the three sects agreed to pursue the project, they could not be reached for comments.
Despite the pending overhaul of the historic Nativity Church, the government believed that the project will not affect the tourism industry nor hinder the group tours and pilgrimage to the church. According to Palestinian Tourism Minister Khouloud Daibes, local and foreign worshipers are on the rise during Christmas and at least two million people visited the Nativity Church annually. Daibes informed tourists and travelers that they are welcome to visit the church during the restoration stage.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas applied to the UNESCO to recognize Nativity Church as a World Heritage Site, but its application is not accepted because UNESCO did not recognized it as a state. When the decision triggered a cut off of funding from the United States, the United Nations cultural arm decided to approve the application.
Abbas also signed a decree that mandates the restoration and repair of the church. Government officials hope that the project will start in 2012, which is projected to cost between ten to fifteen million dollars.
Christmas has come and gone, everyone was busy doing their share of preparation for the most awaited event of the year. Some start buying gifts for their loved ones, friends, relatives and colleagues, while others commence saving money for the holidays. Some people even organize parties, reunions and get-together events during Christmas. Since majority of us have long vacation during the holidays, it is the perfect time to share precious moments with loved ones.
Regardless of what you did during the Holiday, there are some individuals who had a lonely and bitter Christmas because they cannot afford to buy the things and food their hearts desire, especially those coming from poverty-inflicted areas, war-damaged countries and calamity-afflicted nations. Is there are chance for them to be happy this Christmas?
The cadets of the United States Air Force Academy heeded their needs and stepped up their efforts to make less fortunate children from across the globe happy this Christmas. They initiated the Operation Christmas Child, where they collected shoe boxes containing toiletries and toys from kind-hearted Samaritans who want to help and make Christmas special for these children. In just a matter of weeks, cadets managed to collect thousands of shoe boxes containing items which would make children happy.
According to Darren Duncan, Air Force Chaplain and the cadet who initiated the Operation Christmas Child, it is one of the several relief initiatives sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian affiliate organization initiated by Bob Pierce in 1970. In 1978, Reverend Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham took over as president of Samaritan’s Purse. The Operation Christmas Child runs from November 14 to 21, 2011, giving individuals from overseas enough time to deliver their gifts just before Christmas.
They asked that any gifts donated be age specific to either boy or girl, thus one shoebox should not contain a mixture of items suitable for boys and girls, but it should concentrate only to one gender. The shoe boxes collected under the Operation Christmas Child scheme contain balls, cars, dolls, crayons, jump ropes, notebooks, toothpaste, soaps and lollipops. The gifts are sent to different countries worldwide who are poverty-affected, nations which are hit by calamities and those who are damaged by war. The people in these areas, especially the children, need all the support and assistance to make them happy during the holidays.
Chaplain Duncan said that the response and support of those who wanted to help are tremendous and overwhelming. He said that cadets sent emails to protestant Christians to solicit their participation. He is happy and blown away by its success, especially with the myriad phone calls and he received from interested individuals who want to participate in the initiative.
Since Samaritan’s Purse is a religious organization, the Air Force cadets need to collaborate with the Cadet Chaplain Corps to realize their toy drive. The Cadet Chaplain Corps advertises all events and programs to spread the word about the scheme and to gather donations.
It is the first time that cadets joined this type of toy drive, where they collected a total of 170 boxes, which boxes are delivered to different locations on November 20, 2011.
Apart from the Operation Christmas Child, the Air Force cadets also participate in different community projects countrywide.
We have read books about angels and seen movies about them. But despite their popularity in print, radio and television, we lack information on who they really are and what are their vital roles in our lives.
According to religious books, angels already existed even before the creation of the universe and of mankind. They are the loyal soldiers of God who are tasked to give protection and to guide mankind. For years, we have seen pictures of angels in religious books, mythology books and other literature of all cultures worldwide. Some of them have bodies and some have wings. To give you insights on what angels really are, read this article below.
What are they?
According to religious historical books, angels already existed before the Creation. They are beings from the lower region of heaven who act as special messengers and soldiers of God. According to religious experts, each of us has a guardian angel who guard and guide us in everything we do. They believed that angels are the ones who speak to us mentally giving warning when we do wrong.
According to religious intellectuals, there are about 30 types of angels and the most renowned according to spiritual hierarchy are:
Personas of Angels
Angels do not have gender and neither female or male. They are made up of love, energy and light, thus they do not have human form. You may ask why we see them in human personas, right? They exist and are shown in such form because it is in this manner that human beings are comfortable with. In some instances they appear in different forms like sounds, lights, feelings, colors and scents. Sometimes, they appear in dreams or in the form of departed loved ones to give special message to us.
Some people ask if they are worthy of reverence, while some inquire if we need to pray to them. It is only to God that we pray, thus we do not pray to them. We interact and talk to them to ask for guidance. Bear in mind that they do not have the freedom of choice and will do to what they want like human beings. They are not permitted nor they have the authority to interfere with our lives, unless they are ordered by God to carry out some special mission and orders.
If you are down and troubled and you have no one to turn too, you can always talk to them and discuss with them your problems. Remember that they see everything and they know everything about you. There is nothing wrong if you ask guidance and help from them when needed.
To contact your angel, you can call them anytime and anywhere you may be. You can also build an altar for them where you can meditate and where you can ask for their guidance.
You can choose a place for the said purpose. It can be a small table or a book shelf in the corner of your room where you can communicate with them and where you can speak to them. You can place table cloth, candles, stones, flowers or figures of angels on this area.
Olive trees are not just an ordinary tree that can be seen anywhere, but it is one type of tree which has numerous benefits.
Olive tree, also known as Olea Europaea, is the oldest fruit tree that plays a vital role not only in the trade, religion and health, but also in the rise and fall of ancient empires across the Mediterranean. It serves as the foundation of powerful Greek and Roman empires. It played an important role in the development of their political and economic forces and the decline of these empires was attributed to the destruction of thousand orchards of olive trees, thereby reducing their source of olive oil, olives, olive soap and olive wood. Historically, it was deemed as a symbol of peace and goodwill because during Israeli-Palestinian war, about 50,000 olive trees were destroyed which resulted to anger and demonstration of the people in West Bank and Gaza strip. Majority of farmers depended on them for their living and source of income.
According to the Old Testament, olive oil was used as an essential oil to anoint kings and prophets. It was also used as source of fuel to light lamps in the temples of Jerusalem and symbolized the sign of peace for God and mankind.
Olive trees are considered sacred because Jesus Christ preached and lived in areas where olive trees are bountiful. According to the Bible, majority of the woods that Jesus Christ worked during his carpentry years are olive wood.
Apart from these, there are numerous instances where the olive trees are mentioned in the Bible. According to religious history, the cross where Jesus Christ was crucified was made of olive wood.
The majority of religious gifts, statues and ornaments are carved out of olive trees. Farmers do not cut olive trees for the sole purpose of carving items from them, but the wood used in carving these ornaments are those which dies out due to old age.
Facts from the Holy Land reveal that olive trees are considered immortal because it can last for about two centuries. Even though their trunk disappears, new shoots start to appear, thereby paving way for the development of a new olive tree. In this manner, olive trees never die and live for several generations. It is for these reasons that the people of the Holy Land compared the rebirth of olive trees to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Apart from healing powers mentioned in the Bible, olive oil has numerous health benefits.
The known and common benefits of olive oil include: