The Problem With Catholics


I’ve been wondering if I should go ahead and write this post. I think there is a very serious problem among Catholics.

Let me tell you a small personal story. For years my spiritual father was trying to make me understand that I had doubt in my heart, that I had fear and wasn’t showing real faith in God. Of course, being spiritually blind as a mole, I could not understand what he was saying. I mean, I was a Catholic! I went to Liturgy, prayed, went to Confession, occasionally gave a few dollars to homeless people, and got outraged about all the right things to be outraged about on social media. WHAT is my spiritual father talking about?!

And then it happened. Crisis of faith. The biggest one I’ve had in years, probably actually the biggest I EVER had. However, even there God was waiting to open my eyes. In doubting His existence so painfully and strongly, I finally started to understand what real faith should look like… and that for years I have had almost none!

That crisis is gone now. There are too many proofs for Catholicism, including the complete beauty of Christ, History, the willingness of the Apostles to die for their claims of the Resurrection, miracles tested to the extremes of science, apparitions like Fatima where the seers dedicate their lives to a religious order having believed so much in what they saw along with the thousands of other witnesses present, etc… I am still a (mediocre, sinful and struggling) Catholic and happy to be in the Church. However, here is what I realized: if I were to wake up one day as a full fledged Atheist, I would change NOTHING in my life. This shows me two things:

1-I believe in everything the Catholic Church teaches, not because it makes no sense and I’m obliged to follow blindly, but because even in a world without God, Catholic Teachings, Writings, and Saints will remain the most beautiful experience the human in all his/her being can have. If I were to become Atheist, I know I will be heartbroken. Having known the beauty that is Christ, realizing that the world does not actually have such beauty will break my heart in two and leave it thirsting after something remotely close to the joy and peace that is the Christian life. Here is an example: people keep saying that Catholic chastity standards are tough and unrealistic. It is often the first argument, interestingly, that people raise against the Church in our discussions. Having learned through the Church that true love is to give one’s life for another, would I as an Atheist be able to lie to myself that love is just finding a temporary companion not to feel lonely? Can someone who has learned the theology behind the Eucharistic Love, turn around and find joy in one-night stands, open relationships, and bar hookups? Can someone who has read the theological genius that is the Song of Songs turn around and be happy singing Beyoncé songs and believing she is actually a good role model?

2-The fact that nothing would change between an Atheist me and a Catholic me says the following: I have not been Catholic. Sure, I attended Liturgies and recognized the authority of the Pope and Bishops. But where was the faith that moves mountains? Even as an Atheist, I would still think Jesus is a nice man, the best there ever was. I probably would still take my children to Melkite Liturgies because they’re dignifying! Recently, even Richard Dawkins tweeted about how beautiful the Latin Christmas chants were! Yes, THAT Richard Dawkins who thinks God is a delusion. But where is the faith that screams with all its strength with the blind man: “Son of David, have mercy on me!”??

Where is the faith that feeds the poor before accepting to eat? Instead, we’re arguing if vegan-cheese is ok?

Where is the faith that trusts that Christ can heal ALL leprosy in us? Instead we’re wondering if Game of Thrones’ perversion is fine to watch?

Where is the faith that runs towards the Cross, looking for ways to be purified and to pray for sinners? Instead, we say that a God who allows us to slip on ice in winter is not a benevolent deity? (The saints begged for sufferings, and we think cancer means there is no God?)

Where is the faith that runs to prison, refusing to be free under laws that murder babies in the womb and legalize perversions? Instead, we are actually begging Catholics for a $2 monthly donation for pro-life organizations? (I work in one, so I know what I’m talking about here)

Where is the faith that looks for misery around us to embrace these friends in a way that shows we see the face of Christ in them? Instead, we’re annoyed by that parishioner who is a bit weird and we take every chance to roll our eyes and laugh?

No, we are not Catholics. We are Atheists, the coldest and most hypocritical Atheists… with a partially Catholic culture.

We are Catholic when we go to Confession asking for mercy, but we are Atheists when we ask for vengeance and express disgust and turn away in horror at the brokenness of the other, as if Christ died only for the level of our brokenness, and anything beyond that should just go to Hell.

We are Catholic when we fast from meat and dairy and make jokes about how difficult the Great Fast is, but we are Atheist when a thousand souls are going hungry in our city and we’re busy wondering if vegan mayonnaise is ok.

We are Catholic when we measure the length of our skirts and wear a tie to show respect for Liturgy, but we are Atheist when we have 13 sweaters that we don’t even like or wear and another homeless man/woman froze to death last night.

We are Catholic when we sit alone in Church for hours praying, but we are Atheist when we turn our face away from a lonely friend begging for love.

I have seen kindness, selflessness, patience and love in Atheists that has made me cry in shame at my own unworthiness. This is not a mockery of anyone or a shaming or even a condemnation of specific situations and conditions. You determine how to fast and dress and walk and talk with your spiritual father/mother, not with a blog post. However, as we go forward in our fast, let us truly look at ourselves. Do we see a moderately-nice Atheist who likes Byzantine Chant and the idea of a nice man named Jesus…

or do we see a soul that has encountered, touched and become united to the Divine Flame, the fire that burns all brokenness, the God called “Lover of Mankind”, the God who SO thirsted to pour Himself out in love that He subjected Himself to the deepest depth of human rage and brokenness?

We are like an unconverted Peter, exclaiming and in his illusion thinking he will follow Christ even unto death, and instead deny Him not once, or twice, but three times.

Let us not be Atheists in our lives. We should not agree to be mediocre and slothful Catholics. Let us show such faith, shouting with the blind man against all opposition:

“Lord Jesus Christ Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

And let us proclaim it persistently till Christ replies: “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” (Luke 18:42).

Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.



This Sunday of the Prodigal Son is the last one before we start giving up certain forms of food during Meatfare and Cheesefare Sundays. It is a form of theoretical study before the tangible application of what we are learning. This pre-Lenten preparation is placed by the Church so that every soul may come to the same conclusion as the Prodigal Son: We are, in our passions and vices, lusting after pig food.

The “freedom” from rules that we desire and pursue in our lives is an illusion. Instead of being used to serve the Lord, it is used to turn away from Him, to sell ourselves to the prostitutes that Saint Paul speaks of in today’s Epistle. “I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor 6: 12). However, we use this week to look interiorly and admit that we have been mastered by a thousand different passions that abuse us and throw us away. This does not only include the major addictions like alcohol, porn, weed, etc… . Who among us does not crave that extra video on facebook? Who doesn’t cut a slightly bigger piece of dessert than needed? Who among us does not get frustrated and allows their heart to be corrupted by jealousy, bitterness, or fear? You see, we have all united our bodies with these adulterous passions, spending our treasure, our skills and gifts on material prostitutes like the Prodigal Son.

Still, the Great Fast will be our chance to turn back to God. We will leave these passions behind, this finite material food, and seek the eternal spiritual riches that the Father grants us. During this Fast we will understand the mercy of this Father who is waiting for us even before we turn back! “But while he was still a long way off, his Father saw him and was filled with compassion for him (Luke 15:20). The Father sees us like He saw the Prodigal Son from afar and RUNS to us, even when we are “still a long way off.” Saint John of the Cross proclaims: “Whoever seeks the Beloved, the Beloved is seeking him even more!”

And when we do return to the Father, especially through the Mystery of Reconciliation (Confession), He clothes us with His “finest robe” and puts “sandals on our feet” (Luke 15:22). This is the very same robe we were clothed in before the Fall. We are clothed with Christ, the New Adam. This is the hymn we chant in our Byzantine Catholic Churches: “All of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal 3:27). In repentance, we regain this first glory and purity. 

The Prodigal Son also is given sandals. We remember that when Moses met God in the Burning Bush, he was required to take his sandals off, to take off his will and self-guidance and recognize that he stands before God. In other words, he was asked to die to himself and live to God through obedience to the Divine Will. In giving His son new sandals, the Father is giving him the TRUE form of freedom through self-command that the son had sought in all the wrong ways. Despite what the modern world says, true freedom is not to turn AWAY from God, His Church and His laws, but true freedom is gained once we start to turn TOWARDS that. When our will, our sandals, are made to follow God, THAT is true Freedom. Freedom from our passions. Freedom from our slavery.

In addition to the Father and the Prodigal Son, the second son remains an important figure. He is older and thus wiser, having never turned away from the Father. However, he shows an imperfection of the spiritual state we all fall into. He expects divine consolations from the Father as if he should be rewarded for having sought his own good by remaining faithful. He is the imperfect soul that seeks signs and good feelings from God. Many times I hear people ask “why should we struggle our whole life while others do what they please and repent at the last moment and be saved without effort?” Well, besides an obvious ignorance of how purification and theosis works, or the risks of waiting for a last-moment repentance, this also shows a clear misunderstanding of the Christian life. It is not a sorrowful life-long depressive asceticism until we die and suddenly start enjoying Heaven. The spiritual life IS a foretaste of Heaven. It is a sharing here below in the life of the Divine. When we enter a Byzantine Church, the Iconostasis centre doors show the Icon of the Annunciation. When these doors are opened to us during the Divine Liturgy to reveal the Tabernacle and the True Presence of the Lord, it summarizes the story of Salvation in that one theological and architectural design: God and all of Heaven with Him have descended to us, we have received the Good News, and now we are sharing in that Heavenly joy. God has shared in our misery so that we may already share in His glory. He has died with us so that we may already live with Him. The Divine Liturgy IS Heaven on Earth.

As such, when we, as the unwise older brother, are Catholics who wait for consolations and signs, digging for them like children unsure of the love of their Father, we are still blind. If we envy sinners and those who have not yet been illuminated with divine Wisdom, then we do not truly understand God. To be Catholic is to already, as the Father answers His son, know that “everything that is Mine is yours”. In other words, all the glory of Heaven and Earth that belongs to God, all the glory of God Himself, belongs to us. We as Catholics are giving ourselves to our passions like the younger son, but we are also like the older son unaware of the Heavenly treasures we share in when we live in the house of the Father. Saint Therese of Lisieux summarized the Catholic life so simply when she exclaimed: “EVERYTHING IS GRACE!”

What a poor soul it is that kisses the Body and Blood of Our Lord in the Mystery of Holy Communion and still in lust envies those whose lips touch the food of pigs!! What shame and blindness! What tragedy!

Let us then during this Great Fast focus more on gratitude, genuine gratitude. Let us turn away from our passions, of course, but mostly turn towards God. Let us make sure to realize everyday that as Catholics, everything is indeed Grace. This Fast, we will be filled with gratitude:

For the sun but also for the rainy/snowy cold days that reflect Baptism, purity and internal peace. For our joys, but more profoundly for our sorrows that identify us with the Crucified Bridegroom. For our health, but more so for our illness, our weakness through which we are purified and humbled and made strong in the Lord. Love those who test your charity even more openly. Give more freely of yourself. Rise up, turn away from your passions and courageously open your arms. At the end of the Fast and the end of our earthly struggle, our Pascha (Easter) will be to see the Father “run to His son, throw His arms around him and kiss him” (Luke 15:20). That kiss will be unlike the ones we share with our passions and vices, these foods for the pigs. No! This Divine Kiss is the life-giving one spoken of in the Song of Songs: “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for Your love is sweeter than wine.”

So today we start our return to the Father, saying with the Prodigal Son:

“Lord Jesus Christ Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Icon of Saint Anthony the Great


“When three monks went one day to Anthony the Great in the desert of Egypt, two among them questioned him on specific points concerning salvation. After a while, the holy man challenged the third visitor: “You have been here a long time without having asked me a single question. Then the visitor replied, “It is enough for me to look at you, Father! “

Saint Anthony’s external countenance inspired him more than his words.

History of the Icon: 

It was commissioned for the Maronite monastery of Saint Anthony the Great in Montreal, Canada. On Sunday, January 21st, 2018, it was blessed by the visiting Bishop Hanna Rahmé, Eparch of Baalbek – Deir el Ahmar in Lebanon.

Interpretation of the Icon:

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Window of the soul, the eyes constitute the door of the heart in its spiritual dimension.
Saint Anthony’s eyes are wide open. He is now “all eyes” in this face-to-face encounter with Him whose countenance he inherits.

These eyes follow you in each of your movements in the church, benevolent but insistent
and who are trying to tell you something. They draw you from the visible to the Invisible.
The large brow arches and the last touches of light reinforce these dynamics given to the face by the eyes.

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With the eyes, the first of our senses, ears deserve special attention. Half hidden under the Schema, these ears are detached from the foreign noises that surround them. They are focused on the murmur and the breath of the Spirit!

Odours are an important part of everyday life. In the figure of the icon, the nose is tapered and rather elongated. He perceives the good odour of Christ through the breath of the Holy Spirit.

Each organ thus becomes an instrument in the service of the Kingdom.

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Reduced to the extreme and hidden behind an abundant beard, the mouth testifies to the abandonment of all sensuality. The fall of Adam and Eve, partly related to orality with the desire to taste the forbidden fruit, is the symbol of the greed of the insatiable man. The return to God begins with fasting that reestablishes a right relationship between earthly and spiritual goods. Saint Anthony spent the whole of his life fasting.

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The cheeks are chiseled and carved because of asceticism. The forehead is hidden by the hood, which symbolizes obedience. The chin disappears under his beard. The beard is braided and ending in a point that marks an overflowing movement. The white lines reflect the long and hectic life that Saint Anthony lived.

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Qualified as a “little face”, the hands testify to a fine treatment. The finesse of the fingers recalls the nobility and wealth of the saint before his conversion. But the fingers are tapered due to the frequency with which he browsed, read and pondered the Word of God. That is why both hands lead us to that Word: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21). 

This inscription in Arabic is made by the Lebanese calligrapher Georges El Murr. The ‘Nousskhi’ (النسخي) style, which combines simplicity with depth, was chosen. As indicated by its name, it was the style used by the ‘Noussakh’ (Arabic for ‘scribes’).

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All religious icons bear the name of the subject they represent since God calls by our name. The names are often split on both sides of the character’s head.

Two inscriptions appear on our icon in Syriac: ‘Mar Antonios’ (Saint Anthony) and ‘abo ddayroyeh’ (Father of Monks). The inscription is made by an Iranian artist, Bahar Taheri.

The Estranghelo form of Syriac was chosen because it is the oldest and the most rounded. The name comes from the Greek στρογγύλη/strongylê (rounded).



“Whoever lived in the desert is still here! His way is perpetuated from country to country following He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life!”


Translated  by:MM Logo




See the original explanation in French.

Earth is the Forefeast of Heaven


Today the Melkite Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of Hieromartyr Ignatius of Antioch, as well as the Forefeast of the Nativity.

Tradition tells us that St. Ignatius was probably the child held by Christ in today’s Gospel when He said: “Unless you become as children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” He was also a disciple of St. John the Apostle and grew up to be martyred by being thrown to wild beasts.

St. Ignatius’ willful martyrdom reflects the joy with which we are to embrace death, knowing that what comes after is Eternal Life. He begged the Christians to let him go to his death, because he was conscious that our life is a “forefeast” of Heaven. Today, as the forefeast of the Nativity starts, we remember that even as we still practice the strict fast, we begin to already closely anticipate and rejoice in the coming of Christ.

Our whole life must be a forefeast, remembering that though we mourn in the shadow of the Cross, we as Christians already anticipate and taste the coming Beatific Vision. Do we not share in the life of Heaven when we are united to the Beloved in the Eucharist? Do we not already sing the thrice-holy hymn with the Cherubim? Why, then, do we despair from our sufferings?

When we look at the Icon of the Nativity, we see that Christ is wrapped in a shroud and laid as a child in a tomb. The cave He is born into has ominous and sharp rocks. The Icon of the Nativity already foreshadows His coming death. That is the purpose of His coming to Earth, to die for our salvation. However, we should not stop there and mourn. We rejoice because we know His death is a celebration, yes a CELEBRATION of our Resurrection. The Nativity of Christ, His life and His death are all forefeasts, an anticipation and early experience of the crushing of death by His death. The purpose of Christ’s coming was not just to be incarnated. It went beyond that to His act of perfect immolation. Similarly, the purpose of our life is not to just walk around and waste our time. It goes beyond that by practicing daily immolation and asceticism, fasting and prayer, to prepare ourselves to be citizens of Heaven.


St. Ignatius understood this, which is why he exclaimed: “I am God’s wheat and I shall be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may become the pure bread of Christ.” The end of the holy Christian life is never the dying of the wheat. It is the abundance of the divine bread that follows.

So today, let us offer our sufferings to Christ with St. Ignatius, trusting that though we are ground by the teeth of beasts (human, spiritual, emotional, psychological, etc…), if we place this death in Christ we will be transformed into pure bread.

We ask Him for this grace by saying:

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

Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Living the Law to Completion

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“Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no Resurrection, came to Jesus with a question: ‘…at the Resurrection, whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?'”

The Sadducees were questioning Jesus on the details of a matter they did not believe in to begin with. And how many times are we the Sadducees in the spiritual life? We go to Christ, the Church, our Spiritual Father/Mother, and ask about the legalistic aspect of our life while remaining completely blind to the purpose of all laws.

Some of us are already going through with the Nativity Fast, others about to start it based on their traditions. We might be worrying about how much we’re eating, if there’s a drop of oil in our plate, or whether having cheese at a dinner we’re invited to is sinful. However, in following the rules to the last iota, we still have not even begun our conversion. Like the Sadducees asking about the details of a Resurrection they do not believe in, we do not truly believe in the matter we are inquiring about. Do we believe, to the core of our hearts, that we are unworthy dust, and as unworthy dust we need to die to our nothingness through the fast in order to prepare ourselves for the condescension of He-who-is-all into that nothingness? Do we believe, as we’re scrupulously making sure we attend the Akathist on time, wearing the right length of skirt and the proper tie for Church, that we are nothing but beggars and poor sinners who would have and be nothing if the Panagia did not in Her gentle humility embrace us? Do we truly understand what we are saying and struggle to hold back tears as we read the Gospel of the Paraclisis, wondering and exclaiming with Elizabeth: “And why has this happened to me, that the Mother of my Lord (Greek: Mitéra tou Kyriou mou) comes to me?” Or do we stand there sighing as if we bestow a great service on the Theotokos to hymn Her with the rightly-deserved praise and prayers?

Christ Himself questions our internal state through the response He gives to the Sadducees. He asks them, and us, “how do you say that the Messiah is the son of David? David calls Him ‘Lord’!” In other words, how do you put the lesser matter above the greater one? Why do you worry about the legalism of your Fast, your Confession, your clothes, etc… and not the greater matter: your soul? The Fast, the Confession, your prayers, your clothes, your liturgies, even the very way you breathe are not in themselves the purpose of your life. They, like David, have the role to bring about the glory of God. It is true that they all matter, and a healthy soul is reflected in a healthy respect and obedience to the guidance of the Church. However, let them not be technical and empty obediences. Let their purpose be to inflame your heart with the love of God and bring about your ‘Theosis’ (deification). It is technically true that the Messiah is the son of David. He is descended through the Davidic line. However, that is the limited reality that material eyes can manage to see. Spiritual eyes can understand greater things: the Messiah is the Son of the Living God descending from the Davidic line to represent His royalty. He is greater than David, speaking of Himself by declaring: “Before Abraham was, I AM.”

By all means follow the guidelines and rules of the Church, but do not lose sight of the purpose of these laws: to make you Living Fire as God is. If your fasting is respecting the strictest tradition and the hardest rules but not leading you by the end of it to a greater love for God through love for neighbours, then your fasting is not serving its purpose. If you’re running to Confession daily but do not leave it believing that you are unworthy of praise, that everything you receive is a blessing, that even the unfairness of others is a gift for your spiritual growth that sheds light on your imperfections, then your spiritual state needs more work.

I realized a while ago that as happens often, I had been praying the right words but with the wrong disposition. I had been praying to “become a saint,” but not out of a desire to do the will of God. You see, technically to pray to become a saint is correct. However, what is the purpose behind this desire? Mine was self-serving and prideful. I desired to be perfect, holy for the sake of being deserving of praise. My prayer for holiness, like the Sadducees’ question, was not serving the greater purpose of true knowledge of God and self. I wanted to be an adulated saint, but not a soul that has died to itself, that has loved God freely and willingly through joy and suffering, that has embraced the Cross (which is the very nature of a Saint). No, I wanted the glory of the Resurrection without the toil of Golgotha. I know of another Being who desired the glory of Heaven without the will of God, and that Being fell from the highest Heavens to the depths of Hell. This desire, as far as my discernment can tell, does not come from God. As such, and for now, the prayer will no longer be “to become a saint” but “to have the humility and fortitude of desiring and working for the will and love of God.” Technically they are the same, but spiritually they draw from very different dispositions.

At this we remember the final verses of Psalm 50 as we continue our spiritual struggle in general and the Nativity Fast in particular:

“You will not be satisfied with whole-burnt offerings.

Sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit: a crushed and humbled heart God will not spurn.

In Your kindness, O Lord, be bountiful to Sion; may the walls of Jerusalem be restored.

Then will You delight in just oblation, in sacrifice and whole-burnt offerings.

Then shall they offer calves upon Your altar.”

So let us make sure that our efforts are not empty burnt offerings like the dead corpse of calves. Let us first desire “a broken spirit” and a “contrite heart.” Let us struggle towards rebuilding the walls of our soul’s Jerusalem lying in ruin, and only then could we “offer calves and sacrifices” pleasing to the Lord.

Recognizing our utter poverty, let us answer the call we hear during the Divine Liturgy exclaiming: “lift your hearts to the Lord,” and let us in humility ask for the spiritual discernment to know the true state of our souls, saying with the generations of the saints:

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

Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.