Deacon Bob’s Homily for Thursday, 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine

Here is my homily from this morning. God bless all!

Stay awake! You know not the time or the hour.

Could our Lord be any clearer? God our Father has over the course of history revealed to us who he is. He has given us the presence of his Son Jesus Christ. He has given us the faith. He has blessed us with so much! And we now are to be faithful stewards, custodians, of what we have been given.

The faith which is ours has been given to us to preserve and protect. The Church treasures the deposit of Faith, and proclaims it to our world. Yes, the Church takes a lot of heat for doing so, yet it must. We too, as members of the Church, must defend and preserve the Faith with which we have been blessed.

Our faith has so many daily implications. All the men out there this morning, the majority of whom are married, God has given you a precious gift in your wife. Do you treasure her, preserve her? Are you keeping faithful custody of the gift of your wife?

We have been given the presence of God’s only Son. We have been given the Eucharist. Do we treasure this gift which we approach every morning here at the altar? Do we preserve and proclaim God’s presence in our lives? Are we faithful stewards?

God has gifted us beyond measure, and he has entrusted to us the preservation, development and passing on of his gifts until the day of his return. They are ours to treasure. They are ours to value.

God values us higher than any other created thing. He hold us in his awareness constantly.

Ought we not strive to do the same with Him?

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Need some inspiration today? Watch this and be moved to tears.

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Guest Homily for the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary

Today is the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary. It is also the 5th Anniversary of my Ordination. I, along with eleven other men were ordained deacons at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Winona Minnesota on this day in 2009.

To commemorate both of these, I am posting for you a guest homily for today. The homilist is Deacon Joseph Weigel, my classmate and good friend. To him and all in the class of ’09, I extend my diaconal blessing.

August 22, 2014

Deacon Joe Weigel

I wish to share a few thoughts about today that make it rather  special. First, this is the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary, a late feast of the Church, officially established in the 1950s. Note its placement, eight days after the feast of the Assumption; an octave of Mary, so to speak. This day used to be the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which instead was moved to the second Saturday after Pentecost. As with all feasts surrounding Mary the key is not Mary but God working through her. She herself is mainly revered for the one thing that really sets her apart … she said yes. Through her yes, God set things in motion which gave us our redeemer who offers us redemption and eternal life with Him in heaven. Everything about Mary is about her Son. God overshadowed her with the Holy Spirit, He assumed her into heaven, and He crowns her as queen. As she said in front of her cousin Elizabeth, “my soul magnifies the Lord”. When we use a magnifying glass to look at a rare stamp or coin or precious jewelry we don’t do it to expound on the rare qualities of the magnifier, but rather we look through it to the object we are most interested in. Mary isn’t Queen of Heaven because of any great quality that she had or anything she had done… it was to point out who she was in relationship to Jesus. People get confused about queenship. We tend to focus on the medieval or even modern definition of royalty. But Christ’s kingship is based on the Davidic view of royalty. The queen in that view isn’t the wife of the king (for they had many) but it is the mother of the king. King Solomon’s queen wasn’t one of his wives, it was his mother, Bathsheba. Mary is Queen because Jesus is King. In the same vein, Mary was named Mother of God by the council of Ephesus in 431 not because of who she was, but to emphasize that Jesus was truly God and truly human. It’s all about Jesus. Mary is like the moon. She shines because of the Son. Without the sun we would never even see the moon. She reflects the Son, as we should.

Two other points about today… on the last day of this mini-octave of Mary I am thinking of my mother-in-law Mary who passed away three weeks ago. She and my father-in-law Chuck would have celebrated 63 years together on Monday and this Mass is celebrated in their honor.

And lastly, today is the fifth anniversary of my ordination to the diaconate. I ask you to please support all deacons but especially those in my class who celebrate today. They really are a great group of guys who have done and continue to do good works across our diocese. If my class did anything right, it was our choice of representative to speak at our ordination. We didn’t pick the man with the highest degree, or the most dynamic speaker, or oldest, or anything like that. We picked the humblest, unassuming, and most sincere man of our group. A man who worked for 30 years with his hands out in the fields or in the shop servicing farm equipment. He was and is a true servant, and just like Mary, his greatness is in his reflection of Jesus.


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Quote for the Day

“He alone is true God, without beginning and without end. He is unchangeable, invisible, indescribable and ineffable, incomprehensible, unfathomable, blessed and worthy of all praise.” — St. Francis of Assisi

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Iraqi bishop warns that West will suffer from Islamism :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Today I read with interest this article from the Catholic News Agency. It is a sobering assessment from a man who is in the midst of a terrible persecution.

We here in the West seem to be turning a blind eye to all of this. One has to ask, “Why?” Why do we seem to minimize or even deny the reality of what is happening in the Mideast, the war that is in fact occuring, and the annihilation of huge swaths of minority peoples there?

I truly believe we must prepare ourselves, spiritually, religiously, and culturally, for what will be a huge struggle here in the West in a matter of years.

Log on to this link to read the Archbishop’s comments.

Iraqi bishop warns that West will suffer from Islamism :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for Thursday, 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Year II

Here is my homily from this morning’s Mass. God bless each of you.

Our Lord presents to us many different images of the “Kingdom of God” in the gospels, especially the Gospel of Matthew. You know the images. The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, yet when planted grows into a large tree in which birds of the air find a home. The Kingdom of God is like a field in which is buried a great treasure which a man sells everything he has to go and buy that field. The Kingdom of God is like a pearl of great price. The Kingdom of God is like a net thrown into the sea which collects both the good and the bad, the old and the new. In today’s gospel, we hear that the Kingdom of God is like a great wedding feast to which many are invited but few are chosen.

Why does our Lord use so many images to convey to us the Kingdom of God? Perhaps it is because with each image we are given an idea of the various ways we must prepare ourselves if we are to enter that Kingdom.

If the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, then we must have faith. If the Kingdom of God is like a treasure buried in a field or a pearl of great price, then we must be willing to give our all, to fully commit ourselves to the Lord if we are to enter into his Kingdom. If the Kingdom of God is like a net thrown into the sea, then we must have courage to encounter the world, like our Holy Father is reminding us so often in the past year. Finally, in today’s first reading from Ezechiel, in our responsorial psalm, and in our Gospel reading, we learn that we must be pure to enter God’s Kingdom. Our Lord said on the Sermon on the Mount that “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”

Yes, to enter into the Kingdom requires that we be pure, that we be cleansed of all that separates us from God. Before we can approach that Kingdom this morning here at this altar, we must be cleansed from our impurities and with a clear conscience come forward. Ezechiel said that God would put within us natural, cleansed hearts, that He would wash us from all our idols, all our impurities. The Gospel spoke of the wedding feast and the patron of that feast inviting many, but only a few showed up, and one of them was improperly prepared, impure.

My friends, let us approach this altar this early morning with a clear conscience, with a pure heart, a heart that has been cleansed, so that we may, in faith, see clearly the God whom we love.

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Mass for 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Here is the televised Mass for last Sunday. The video is courtesy of the Diocese of Winona.

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Holy Father’s Words to the Asian Bishops

Take the time to not only read this, but study it. It is rich! From the Holy Father in spelling to the Asian bishops.

Dialog with others, he recalls St Pope John Paul II saying, is rooted in the incarnation itself.

Here are the pope’ words.


I offer you a warm and fraternal greeting in the Lord as we gather together at this holy site where so many Christians gave their lives in fidelity to Christ. I have been told that some are nameless martyrs, since we do not know all their names: they are saints without a name. But this makes me think about the many, many holy Christians in our churches: children and young people, men, women, elderly persons… so very many of them! We do not know their names, but they are saints. It is good for us to think of these ordinary people who are persevering in their lives as Christians, and the Lord alone recognizes their sanctity. Their testimony of charity has brought blessings and graces not only to the Church in Korea but also beyond; may their prayers help us to be faithful shepherds of the souls entrusted to our care. I thank Cardinal Gracias for his kind words of welcome and for the work of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in fostering solidarity and promoting effective pastoral outreach in your local Churches.

On this vast continent which is home to a great variety of cultures, the Church is called to be versatile and creative in her witness to the Gospel through dialogue and openness to all. This is the challenge before you! Dialogue, in fact, is an essential part of the mission of the Church in Asia (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 29).

But in undertaking the path of dialogue with individuals and cultures, what should be our point of departure and our fundamental point of reference, which guides us to our destination? Surely it is our own identity, our identity as Christians. We cannot engage in real dialogue unless we are conscious of our own identity. We can’t dialogue, we can’t start dialoguing from nothing, from zero, from a foggy sense of who we are. Nor can there be authentic dialogue unless we are capable of opening our minds and hearts, in empathy and sincere receptivity, to those with whom we speak. In other words, an attentiveness in which the Holy Spirit is our guide. A clear sense of one’s own identity and a capacity for empathy are thus the point of departure for all dialogue. If we are to speak freely, openly and fruitfully with others, we must be clear about who we are, what God has done for us, and what it is that he asks of us. And if our communication is not to be a monologue, there has to be openness of heart and mind to accepting individuals and cultures. Fearlessly, for fear is the enemy of this kind of openness.

The task of appropriating and expressing our identity does not always prove easy, however, since – being sinners – we will always be tempted by the spirit of the world, which shows itself in a variety of ways. I would like to point to three of these. One is the deceptive light of relativism, which obscures the splendor of truth and, shaking the earth beneath our feet, pulls us toward the shifting sands of confusion and despair. It is a temptation which nowadays also affects Christian communities, causing people to forget that in a world of rapid and disorienting change, “there is much that is unchanging, much that has its ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Gaudium et Spes, 10; cf. Heb 13:8). Here I am not speaking about relativism merely as a system of thought, but about that everyday practical relativism which almost imperceptibly saps our sense of identity.

A second way in which the world threatens the solidity of our Christian identity is superficiality, a tendency to toy with the latest fads, gadgets and distractions, rather than attending to the things that really matter (cf. Phil 1:10). In a culture which glorifies the ephemeral, and offers so many avenues of avoidance and escape, this can present a serious pastoral problem. For the ministers of the Church, it can also make itself felt in an enchantment with pastoral programs and theories, to the detriment of direct, fruitful encounter with our faithful, and others too, especially the young who need solid catechesis and sound spiritual guidance. Without a grounding in Christ, the truths by which we live our lives can gradually recede, the practice of the virtues can become formalistic, and dialogue can be reduced to a form of negotiation or an agreement to disagree. An agreement to disagree… so as not to make waves… This sort of superficiality does us great harm.

Then too, there is a third temptation: that of the apparent security to be found in hiding behind easy answers, ready formulas, rules and regulations. Jesus clashed with people who would hide behind laws, regulations and easy answers… He called them hypocrites. Faith by nature is not self-absorbed; it “goes out”. It seeks understanding; it gives rise to testimony; it generates mission. In this sense, faith enables us to be both fearless and unassuming in our witness of hope and love. Saint Peter tells us that we should be ever ready to respond to all who ask the reason for the hope within us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15). Our identity as Christians is ultimately seen in our quiet efforts to worship God alone, to love one another, to serve one another, and to show by our example not only what we believe, but also what we hope for, and the One in whom we put our trust (cf. 2 Tim 1:12).

Once again, it is our living faith in Christ which is our deepest identity, our being rooted in the Lord. If we have this, everything else is secondary. It is from this deep identity – our being grounded in a living faith in Christ – it is from this profound reality that our dialogue begins, and this is what we are asked to share, sincerely, honestly and without pretence, in the dialogue of everyday life, in the dialogue of charity, and in those more formal opportunities which may present themselves. Because Christ is our life (cf. Phil 1:21), let us speak “from him and of him” readily and without hesitation or fear. The simplicity of his word becomes evident in the simplicity of our lives, in the simplicity of our communication, in the simplicity of our works of loving service to our brothers and sisters.

I would now touch on one further aspect of our Christian identity. It is fruitful. Because it is born of, and constantly nourished by, the grace of our dialogue with the Lord and the promptings of his Spirit, it bears a harvest of justice, goodness and peace. Let me ask you, then, about the fruits which it is bearing in your own lives and in the lives of the communities entrusted to your care. Does the Christian identity of your particular Churches shine forth in your programs of catechesis and youth ministry, in your service to the poor and those languishing on the margins of our prosperous societies, and in your efforts to nourish vocations to the priesthood and the religious life? Does it make itself felt in their fruitfulness? This is a question I raise, for each of you to think about.

Finally, together with a clear sense of our own Christian identity, authentic dialogue also demands a capacity for empathy. For dialogue to take place, there has to be this empathy. We are challenged to listen not only to the words which others speak, but to the unspoken communication of their experiences, their hopes and aspirations, their struggles and their deepest concerns. Such empathy must be the fruit of our spiritual insight and personal experience, which lead us to see others as brothers and sisters, and to “hear”, in and beyond their words and actions, what their hearts wish to communicate. In this sense, dialogue demands of us a truly contemplative spirit of openness and receptivity to the other. I cannot engage in dialogue if I am closed to others. Openness? Even more: acceptance! Come to my house, enter my heart. My heart welcomes you. It wants to hear you. This capacity for empathy enables a true human dialogue in which words, ideas and questions arise from an experience of fraternity and shared humanity. If we want to get to the theological basis of this, we have to go to the Father: he created us all; all of us are children of one Father. This capacity for empathy leads to a genuine encounter – we have to progress toward this culture of encounter – in which heart speaks to heart. We are enriched by the wisdom of the other and become open to travelling together the path to greater understanding, friendship and solidarity. “But, brother Pope, this is what we are doing, but perhaps we are converting no one or very few people…” But you are doing it anyway: with your identity, you are hearing the other. What was the first commandment of God our Father to our father Abraham? “Walk in my presence and be blameless”. And so, with my identity and my empathy, my openness, I walk with the other. I don’t try to make him come over to me, I don’t proselytize. Pope Benedict told us clearly: “The Church does not grow by proselytizing, but by attracting”. In the meantime, let us walk in the Father’s presence, let us be blameless; let us practice this first commandment. That is where encounter, dialogue, will take place. With identity, with openness. It is a path to greater knowledge, friendship and solidarity. As Saint John Paul II rightly recognized, our commitment to dialogue is grounded in the very logic of the incarnation: in Jesus, God himself became one of us, shared in our life and spoke to us in our own language (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 29). In this spirit of openness to others, I earnestly hope that those countries of your continent with whom the Holy See does not yet enjoy a full relationship, may not hesitate to further a dialogue for the benefit of all. I am not referring to political dialogue alone, but to fraternal dialogue… “But these Christians don’t come as conquerors, they don’t come to take away our identity: they bring us their own, but they want to walk with us”. And the Lord will grant his grace: sometimes he will move hearts and someone will ask for baptism, sometimes not. But always let us walk together. This is the heart of dialogue.

Dear brothers, I thank you for your warm and fraternal welcome. When we look out at the great Asian continent, with its vast expanses of land, its ancient cultures and traditions, we are aware that, in God’s plan, your Christian communities are indeed a pusillus grex, a small flock which nonetheless is charged to bring the light of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. A true mustard seed! A very small seed… May the Good Shepherd, who knows and loves each of his sheep, guide and strengthen your efforts to build up their unity with him and with all the members of his flock throughout the world. And now, together, let us entrust your Churches, and the continent of Asia, to Our Lady, so that as our Mother she may teach us what only a mother can teach: who you are, what your name is, and how you get along with others in life. Let us all pray to Our Lady.

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Quote for the Day

So often we today can find our faith challenged by the world, and in countless ways we are asked to compromise our faith, to water down the radical demands of the Gospel and to conform to the spirit of this age. Yet the martyrs call out to us to put Christ first and to see all else in this world in relation to him and his eternal Kingdom. They challenge us to think about what, if anything, we ourselves would be willing to die for.  – Pope Francis, August 16, 2014

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Prayer for Iraqi Christians

Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Iraq has asked all Catholics to pray this prayer for Iraqi Christians and for peace in his country. I would ask all my readers to pray this prayer which he has written and sent to bishops throughout the world.


Prayer for Peace in Iraq


Lord, The plight of our country is deep and the

suffering of Christians is severe and frightening.

Therefore, we ask you Lord to spare our lives,

and to grant us patience, and courage to continue

our witness of Christian values with trust and hope.

Lord, peace is the foundation of life; Grant us the

peace and stability that will enable us to live

with each other without fear and anxiety,

and with dignity and joy. Glory be to you forever.

† Louis Raphael I Sako

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the Memorial of St. Maximillan Kolbe, Priest and Martyr

Our readings at Mass these past two days have been impressive, one might say. You recall yesterday’s first reading from the prophet Ezechiel in which we heard of the man dressed in linen going about killing and destroying those without the “Thau” mark on their foreheads. Today’s reading from the same prophet describes the inevitable exile God’s people were to experience. Yesterday’s Gospel told us how to reconcile a sinner to the community and today’s Gospel reminds us we must forgive.

What does all of this mean?

One thing we know about God is that He is perfectly pure. He has no mark, no stain, no blemishes. He is without wrinkle or defect. One thing we know about ourselves is that we are created in His image and likeness, and thus, we too are called to be pure as He is pure.

At times, God purifies us. There are times in our lives as individuals when really difficult things happen, when we are faced with great challenge, even persecution. God never wills pain or persecution or exile, but God will use those times that life and the world impose on us as opportunities for us to be purified from whatever may stain us, blemish us, or separate us from Him. God takes what is defective to purify those He loves so as to make them more like Himself, pure and spotless.

As our Gospel today and yesterday have taught, the best way to purification is through forgiveness. If we want to be purfied and increasingly reflect the goodness of God, in Whose image we are made, then we need to ask for forgiveness for ourselves, and we need to offer forgiveness to those who harm us. Not once or twice, but as the Gospel says, seventy-seven times. In other words, as often as we can.

Can you imagine St. Maximillan Kolbe? In a concentration camp in 1941, about to be executed. I have no doubt that at that moment, he asked God for forgiveness. I have no doubt that at that moment, he forgave those who were about to kill him.

He was purified.

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A Wonderful Catechesis on the Diaconate

I happened on to this video of a Eucharistic Congress in New Zealand back in 2008. The speaker is a permanent deacon who gives a wonderful catechesis on the diaconate that I would like to share. He is a splendid speaker. Here is the link:

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 2014

Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless one and all!


Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A 2014

August 9/10, 2014

1 Kings 19: 9a, 11-13a; Romans 9: 1-5; Matthew 14: 22-33


“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.

You have to be a bit daring to follow Jesus and be a member of his body, the Church; perhaps more than a bit. Actually, it takes courage and faith.

Imagine what Peter must have seen and felt that night on the sea He sees Jesus at a distance, and Jesus must have gestured to him is some way, telling him to come toward him, but Peter looked down and saw all that water that separated him from Jesus, water that was not calm, but stormy. Peter wasn’t going to risk being drowned for anyone except Jesus himself, so he said, “If it is you, Jesus, calling me, then command me to walk on the water.” And Jesus said, “It is I. I am calling you. Come!” For a moment or two, Peter’s courage and faith sustained him. He stepped out of the safety of that boat and he walked on that water, but then he lost his faith; he became frightened by the storm and the distance between him and Jesus. He couldn’t believe what was happening. He felt himself sinking and drowning and gasping for breath and only then to feel that grip, the grasp of a carpenter, rough and strong hands that saved him and pulled him up.

Yes, it can be scary for us too to step out into life, especially when all of life seems in turmoil. It can be scary for us as individuals, as a parish, as a diocese, as a Catholic Church to step out into the world. You have to have a bit of hutzpah in you. If you have the courage to obey his commands and become his follower, then you simply do not know what you will experience along the way. You will be molded and shaped by God and life. You won’t know what will happen ahead of time, but a few things are guaranteed. If you become Jesus’ follower, truly his follower, then you will become a very attractive person. Like we heard in the Gospel a couple of Sundays ago, you will be like a net thrown into the sea and you will catch many things, the good and the not so good, the old and the new. People are attracted to a real Christians. People are even more attracted to Catholic Christians. The Church gets a lot of press doesn’t it, both good and bad. Yes, it takes courage and faith to step out onto the waters to live life as Jesus commands us and to follow him and to remain a member of his Body, the Church. You will be both praised and ridiculed. You will be called both wise and crazy if you follow Jesus.

The Lord commands us all to follow him. As individuals and as a Church we must enter into the world, not avoid it. We must walk on the water, not hide in the boat. We must show our faith to the world, and not keep it in walls of this church building. We must go out to meet the world, as our Pope Francis so often tells us, a world that seems to be tossing and turning and in such turmoil, a world that will mock us and praise us. We must not shelter ourselves from it, but go out on the water, always with faith, always with courage, always relying, as Peter did, on the Lord, praying, “Lord save me!”

My friends, to follow Jesus can be difficult. We can easily become frightened yet God calls us to come to him and the only way to go to him is across water. We have to walk in faith and not just sit back and wait for better days, for the storms to stop, and we can do it because just as Jesus reached out and grasped Peter by the hand and pulled him up from the storming seas, saving him by his power and his strength, so too Jesus will grasp us by the hand to pull us up when our faith is weakened, when we seem to be overcome by life itself. Just as Jesus rescued Peter, Jesus has also promised to rescue his Church when it seems to be tossed and thrown about by the storms of the world. Jesus always has his hand on the rudder of that ship which is the Church. He will not abandon her. We must not abandon her. He will sustain her. We must sustain her too. The Church, which is all too often marred by human weakness and sin and led by imperfect and sinful men, never capsizes because it is always assisted by Jesus himself, always bringing us to the safety and security of the truth. It is Jesus who calms the waves and steadies the ship, not us. He only demands our faith. Faith is a necessity, not an optional thing, if we are to follow him.

Meditate on today’s Gospel when the going gets tough. Sit back and shut your eyes and imagine yourself in the scene. See him; see Jesus at a distance in the midst of whatever storm you are experiencing. See him motioning for you to come to him, to come to him across a stretch of water that you have never walked on before. When you feel like you are sinking, drowning, and you are afraid, feel his grip, the carpenter’s grasp, rough and strong hands saving you.

Yes, it takes a bit of daring to come to Jesus. In fact, takes courage and faith. Come to him nonetheless. Walk on the water. You will attract many along the way. God will be pleased.

“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”


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Quote for the Day

“I have been privileged to give great gifts from my empty hands.” — St. John Vianney, sfo

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The Plight of Iraqi Christians Grows More Desperate

With each passing day, the plight of Iraqi Christians grows more grave. They are fleeing by the thousands out of ancient Christian cities in northern Iraq and heading on foot across the desert toward a city and a mountain seeking refuge from the ISIS extremists. They face the real possibility of death.

Please log on to this website to do what you can to assist their material needs.

Keep praying. Pray hard.

Here is a video clip of a recent Iraqi Parliment plea from a member of parliment:

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