A Message from National Director Mr Bernard Toutounji
This message was published with Mirror 3 - 2020 - it is published online (for those who elect to receive The Mirror newsletter via email and not a printed copy in the post).
Dear friend in Christ,
As we move through Holy Week and into the glorious season of Easter please accept the greetings and prayers of our team. Thank you for what you do as a member of our ACN family in support of our suffering Catholic brothers and sisters.
As I write this letter coronavirus (Covid-19) is dominating the headlines. It is evident that we are in unsettling times. We are being asked to isolate ourselves from others; this feeling of being cut off and alone can cause fear and unrest, even in those of faith. In an address on 15 March, the Holy Father stated that it is precisely because of this necessary isolation that, “we are invited to rediscover the value of the communion that unites all the members of the Church”. He went on to say, “United in Christ we are never alone, but we form one body, of which He is the head”. No matter what happens we need to recall the words of the Psalmist, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid” (118:6). You may not be aware of it, but we pause every day in our office to pray for you and your intentions, and at this time, we include the unfolding situation. We have compiled a page on our website (www.aidtochurch.org/coronavirus) with several prayers, including one composed by Pope Francis. Providentially, we write in some detail below about the power of the Mass, and what it means to offer a Mass. Perhaps you might consider arranging a special Mass for the multitude of needs around this pandemic.
Correction - There was an error in the last mailing, which I need to correct. My letter, when speaking about the icon eggs, stated they came from “Kiev, Russia”, but Kiev (or Kyiv) is the capital of Ukraine, an independent nation. My sincere apologies for this mistake, especially to our benefactors of Ukrainian heritage. While my error was certainly not deliberate, it was most unfortunate.
Martyrs - This edition of the Mirror focuses on that life-ending, but in a mystical way, life-giving reality that is Christian martyrdom. Each year thousands of Christians lose their life. These are not Christians who die due to disease, hunger or accident; these are Christians who are killed precisely because they are Christian. An even greater number, while not losing their physical life necessarily, exist through the ongoing reality of constant oppression and persecution on account of their faith. The topic is so important that we will be running a special campaign on the martyrs as heroes of the faith. Look out for that inspirational campaign.
Masses - Those who have been journeying with ACN for any length of time would have come to understand that arranging Masses in support of poor priests is a major part of our mandate and mission. This particular work is powerful on numerous levels:
1) One hundred percent of the Mass offering amount you give (also called a stipend) is passed on to a poor priest allowing him to survive and continue to minister to his people. This is a corporal work of mercy.
2) Your requested Mass is offered by the priest in the presence of his people, bringing to his community the nourishment of the Eucharist, nourishment they may otherwise have been deprived of.
3) Masses can be offered for any occasion or need, and often a Mass card is given to the person for whom the Mass is being offered. This act becomes a public witness to one's own faith and also strengthens the faith of the recipient.
The Mass is the most perfect prayer possible as every Mass renews the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and brings about unfathomable graces through the provision of the Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. We would do well to remember these words of St Bernard of Clairvaux, “One merits more by devoutly assisting at a Holy Mass than by distributing all his goods to the poor and travelling all over the world on pilgrimage.”
By arranging a Mass though ACN you are devoutly assisting at a Holy Mass! You are supporting our priests - and only priests can bring about the Eucharist - and only the Eucharist brings about the Real Presence of Christ.
For these reasons, and wanting to encourage Catholics in the venerable tradition of Mass offerings, we are offering to you three complimentary Mass cards (as pictured) when any donation is given this month.
You can gift a Mass and one of these cards on any occasion, a wedding, condolence, anniversary, birthday, or just when someone needs prayers. You might choose to have the Masses arranged now and then use the cards immediately - or as many others do - keep a supply of cards at home, and when you need a Mass offered, contact ACN to have the Masses arranged. Then complete and distribute the cards to those for whom the Masses are being offered.
Did you know that ten percent of the world's priests are sustained by Mass offerings made by ACN benefactors? Unfortunately though we have to say no to thousands more requests for support. So please, make an offering this month for the needs of the suffering Church and receive your Mass cards.
Thank you again for walking this journey with the suffering Church. Let us never forget the words of Our Lord, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me.”
In Jesus and Mary,
P.S. Allow me to also share the joyful news that my wife gave birth to our fourth child on 26 February. We named her Isabel Jane; and if you like statistics, she weighed 3.59kg (7lb 14oz) and was 48cms long (19”). My wife is recovering well and we are now in that phase of adjusting to a new family member.
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