THE LORD HAS ANOINTED ME TO BRING GOOD NEWS TO THE AFFLICTED (Is.61:1)

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto is unarguably the conscience of the Nigerian society. He has spoken on the challenges facing the Nigerian people in all sectors, principally on insecurity in the entire landscape, killing and all forms of violent criminality on a scale that has never been witnessed in Nigeria since independence.

Bishop Kukah has also in clear terms criticized the nepotistic stance of the current Nigerian government of President Muhammadu Buhari. For the first time in Nigeria’s history, northern Nigeria muslims have been appointed into most key positions in the administration, including the heads of all the country’s security apparatuses.

For the truth he espouses, apologists of the government have unsuccessfully tried all the time to smear the irrepressible Catholic Bishop as he has been found incorruptible.

The following is the text of his sermon at the ordination of five deacons as priests of the Diocese of Sokoto. It makes interesting reading.

1: Our first reading from the prophet Isaiah sets the pace for the very essence of our pastoral life as priests. Today, we as Priests and you who are soon to be ordained can also dare to say: The spirit of God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted, to bind up the broken hearted and to proclaim liberty to captives (Is. 61: 2). The freshness of this text and its direct reference and relevance to our current tragedy in Nigeria is one of the greatest assurances that we have, that the word of the Lord is; a treasure house that contains treasures both old and new (Mt. 13:52), a guarantee that; Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13: 8). An entire country today is afflicted, conflicted and threatened to its very foundations. Everywhere we turn, the bodies and the emotions of men and women are irretrievably broken. Our people, fleeing their homes after over ten years have now turned Refugee camps into their habitats. Our identity as citizens is being traded for the status of migrants and refugees. The civic space is slowly closing as citizens are losing ordinary freedoms to the crippling hands of totalitarianism.
2: There are many reasons for us as Priests to live in trepidation over the mission that Jesus entrusted to us. Every day, we have to reflect on the meaning of the Priesthood, a life changing and an almost eternal Sacrament that Jesus instituted on the eve of his passion and crucifixion. We who are called, mere mortals, unworthy in all ramifications are gratuitously entrusted with bringing God to earth daily on the altar so as to feed His people. Do this, He said to the newly ordained Priests on the night before His passion, in memory of me (Lk. 22:19). From there, the Eucharist would become the centre of the teaching of the risen Christ, the foretaste of our life to come and our means of spiritual nourishment as God’s people till He comes again to take us to the eternal banquet. So decisive is the Eucharist that when Judas stepped out from the table, the Bible says, darkness fell. Thus, by virtue of our ordination to the Priesthood, we join the line of priests, freely chosen and made so in the order of Melchizedek. By being priests according to the order of Melchizedek, a seal of eternity is placed on our vocation and ministry as we join the eternal High priest Himself, Jesus Christ. We shall see in the course of the ceremony that the Deacons will be anointed with Chrism, they will hold the Chalice and Ciborium as a sign of what they will offer to God, they will hold the Book of Scripture, all symbols of the mission entrusted to them.
3: Change is happening around the world at a dizzying pace and the challenge is what we make of that change, how we keep a confused world focused. Here, the spirit of discernment becomes very important. Unless moved by the spirit, we cannot call Jesus Lord (1 Cor. 12:3). Our world is in the grip of insecurity which breeds fear. The boat of life is in turbulent seas and today, many Christians are convinced that God must be either too busy or asleep. The effects of a corrosive political culture are upon us.
4: In our fear, some of us are finding new gods; sorcery, voodooism, shamanism, false prophesy are all on the rise and even decent Christians are in total confusion. As the boat tutters on the high seas, we are tempted to believe that the Lord is sleeping and to ask why He does not care that we are sinking (Mk. 4:38). Even though many prophets are being exposed by the day, many young Priests are tempted to anchor their priesthood on the vain altar of healing, miracles, multiplication of fortunes often for criminals and so on. I saw a poster of a rich man who went to consult a magician seeking protection from kidnappers. On arrival, when he told the sorcerer’s apprentice that he had come to see his master, the apprentice said: Sorry, Sir, my oga was kidnapped yesterday! The priest and the prophets must seek to offer a clearer path, ensuring that even when the Lord sleeps, He is awake and that the boat will not sink. We only need to banish our fears and trust in Him.
5: Let us reaffirm our commitment to the fact that, as the holy book says, There is a time for everything under the sun. A time for corona and a time for ending corona. A time for kidnapping and a time for stopping kidnapping. A time for living and a time for dying. It is for a time like this that the priesthood was instituted. Times like these compel us to rethink why the Lord instituted the priesthood. We then pause and thank Him for this wonderful gift. We must encourage our people to return to the silent sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament and avoid the betnaija mentality that believes that everything simply depends on magic and luck. Faith is not based on luck. It is, as the Catechism says, “a gift of God which enables us to believe”.
6: In his book, A Holy Longing, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser tells the story of a community that lived at the bend of a river. One day, the children went to play in the river and saw some dead bodies floating. They ran home in fear and reported to the elders. The elders in the village came and removed the dead bodies and buried them. Next day and the day after, other dead bodies floated and the elders came and took them for burial. After some time, it became routine to pick up dead bodies from the river for burial. A strange thing is that no one asked whose bodies these were nor did anyone ask where they were being killed. Let’s stop there! The problem is that, today in Nigeria, we have become so traumatised and sedated by horrible news that have gripped our nation that we are comfortable in this swamp of evil. No number of horrific deaths, murders, sexual violence and kidnapping of children or adults can make us stop our life of debauchery. Life goes in Nigeria! We become experts at burying the dead, but refuse to ask why the killings continue.
7: Nigeria is a broken country. It is decomposing from within. Our heart is broken and lives are hemoraging by the day. Morally, we cannot tell what time it is. We cannot overstate the reality. It is clear that neither politics nor economic models can fix the country. The political class is in the state of inebriation with the drug of power and loot. We neither know what is wrong nor who is wrong. We are hiding under the belief that the proponents or the apostles of this culture of death that has turned our country into an inferno have neither name or address. The federal government has told us it is not ready to publicise the names of those funding Boko Haram. We cannot go on like this. Interrogating, questioning these existential threats to our common humanity is the apostolate that we Priests are called to. We know that this road is dangerous, it is rocky, it is treacherous, it takes lives, but it is all too familiar. We Christians know its name: it is metaphorically called Golgotha. If Golgotha was a footpath, the resurrection blasted a high way to redemption on it.
8: It is the duty of a prophet to hold those entrusted with the welfare of the people to render account. The prophet himself is not free from this duty and responsibilityof rendering of account. We are mistaken if we think that only politicians and public officers can be held accountable. Indeed, an unaccountable political class draws its oxygen and inspiration from an unaccountable society led by unaccountable Imams, Bishops or Priests. After all they are under our care. Our society has often created the impression that certain people because of their offices are answerable only to God. They believe those who are below them are there to serve them only. Jesus warned us Christians that: You know the rulers of the world lord it over their people. But it should not be so among you. Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant (Mt. 20:25ff).
9: The priest is not a social commentator as in one who simply speaks about the issues of the day and wants a new society based on changes in the social fabric of society. His concerns are not on which party wins elections or which individuals are in power. His duty is to help design a template against which the building of a good society can be measured. The Four Way Test of the Rotarian questions is a model: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all? Will it build goodwill? Will it benefit everyone? The political Party in power will always call you a political priest and they will warn you to drop your cassock and join politics while the opposition hails you as a voice of the voiceless, a hero, a revolutionary. Hold your head high because when today’s winners loose elections and yesterday’s losers win elections, the rigmarole, the name calling will change. Only a deep conversion of heart, a turning to the ways of God by us all, leaders and led can change our country. While politicians play their games, the Priest must maintain a moral distance enough to remain well above the fray of partisanship.We can only be partisan on the side of truth. We have already been warned that we have been sent out as; lambs among wolves (Lk. 10:3). The future depends on upholding these values and teachings.
10: My dear brethren, the Psalmist tells us today in the Responsorial Psalm that: The Lord will send from Zion the scepter of power to rule in the midst of your foes. How, we might ask, can one rule in the midst of one’s foes? In our daily lives, we know what to do with our foes. In our country where victory in politics offers the winners licenses to share the booty as they wish with their cousins, nephews and inner family circles and their supporters or friends, the winners go with everything while the losers lose everything and often, their lives too. The business of the loser is to sulk while that of the enemy is to plot. Yet, we are told to rule in the midst of our foes. By asking us to both forgive and also pray for our enemies (Mt. 5:4), asking us to let a thief go with our garment if he steals it (Mt. 5:40), to walk extra miles at the command of our enemies (Mt. 5:41), to turn the other cheek if we are slapped on one is the most outrageous view anyone can express (Lk. 6:29). Jesus set up standards that are totally at variance with human reasoning. St Paul would also say: If your enemy is hungry feed him, if he is thirsty, give him water. By doing so, you will be heaping hot coal on his head ( Rom. 12:20). It is little wonder that even His followers would later call His teaching intolerable language (Jn. 6:60). Yet, my dear brethren, strange as these teachings are, they have stood Christianity for over two thousand years. We must help our fellow Christians rediscover these truths. Outside these values, we are merely a windbag, a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal ( 1 Cor.13: 1).
11: In all of this, Prayer remains the key to the survival of the Priest. Without prayer, we cannot be intermediaries, we are powerless. We are to plead constantly before God’s throne of grace on behalf of his people. Our duty is to carry their dreams, hopes, fears, and anxieties to the throne of God. In return, we bring back God’s promise of consolation and succour. While his people lift up their eyes to the hills wondering and asking where their salvation will come from, it is his duty to assure them that;our salvation and help shall come from the Lord (Ps. 121: 1). Prayer is the source of our salvation, it is the spring from where we must draw our strength.
12: We cannot lead others to Jesus if we are weighed down by worldly attachments. When Jesus called Peter, Matthew and other disciples, we often heard the expression, they left everything and followed him (Lk. 5:11, Lk. 5:28). The calls of Matthew or Zacchaeus were most dramatic because of their stupendous wealth. At the words, Follow me or Come down, for example, Matthew got up and left everything, no hand over notes to the authorities while Zacchaeus made commitments of reparations without assessing his financial status. Our priorities must be Jesus Christ, for the Lord has already warned us: You cannot serve two masters, for you will love one and hate the other. You cannot serve God and money (Mt. 6:4). St Paul warned Timothy over the love of money and how because of it, some have wandered away and broken their hearts with many sorrows (1 Tim. 6:10).
13: To follow Jesus is not merely a matter of taking physical steps which is what most of us beginning with myself tend to fall for. The real battle is for us to seek to become by virtue of our ordination, alter Christus, that is other Christs. The ordinations today bear heavy spiritual and moral weight and meaning. However, ordination is not the priesthood. Ordination is sacred ritual but it is still a ceremony. The real task is living out all the promises we have made before God and His people. We have problems among us as Priests. Today, most of us Priests know our brothers who have not heeded the warning of St. Paul to Timothy and have; wandered away and pierced themselves with sorrows. They are not living in obedience to the Church or those in authority over them. Some have left the Lord they promised to serve, others are living their own personal lives and not in solidarity with the Church, some are in the vineyard but harvesting into their own personal barns. We keep praying for ourselves. Every ordination is a call to sobriety, a time for those of us who are already ordained to look back. It is not enough to celebrate our endless anniversaries. Those celebrations should be a rear mirror for us to look back.
14: Finally,as I end, let me thank the parents of our Deacons, our Priests and Religious, those holy men and women who, by love and devotion have encouraged these young men. We thank their teachers and formators and ask God to bless them. To the members of our Vocation Committee, Fr. Cornelius Tagwai and his team, all those who have contributed to bringing this day about, thank you.
My dear brothers in the priesthood, St. Paul reminds us in the second reading today that Grace is given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. The admonitions in the Gospel today are the hallmark of Christianity. They speak to us as Priests and the good people of God. Jesus tells us that: You are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. We are a city set on a hill, cannot be hidden. Our light must therefore shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven(Mt. 5: 13ff). This is our mission as priests. May God give us the grace to uphold His light and vision against the hastening clouds of darkness that threaten us. Please, my dear people, pray for us your Priests that God will help us to serve you better and to make you holier vessels. Amen.

At 61 Nigeria, A giant with challenging crises amid opportunities

Nigeria’s Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, leader of the Northern region, Ahmadu Bello and the Governor General, Nnamdi Azikiwe, at the celebration of Nigeria’s independence, on October 1, 1960. Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

As Nigeria marks its 61st anniversary of independence, its citizens are stuck in a general anomie of despondency. This is as a result of general insecurity in the country, rising unemployment and high-cost of living.

It is also an age of anxiety, with many measures of Nigeria’s socioeconomic progress painting a picture of a nation in great distress. Nigeria’s economy has been stagnant, growing at less than 1% cumulatively during the past six years, far below population growth of 2.6%. It also has about 40% of the population of about 200 million living below the poverty line.

The country is equally beset by security and political challenges. Boko Haram insurgents still operate in the North-East. In the North-West, bandits are overwhelming the security forces. In North-Central Nigeria, deadly clashes between farmers and herders continue. And separatist and irredentist agitations resonate in the South-East and the South-West of the country.

Despite these problems, Nigeria has made substantial socio-economic progress, at least since 1999 when it returned to democracy after decades of military rule. It is also a country with huge resources that have yet to be fully tapped. The biggest of these is Nigeria’s educated citizens. The country had a literate population of less than 5% at independence. Now, more than 60% of the population is literate. Also, enrolment into tertiary education keeps increasing.

The past 60 years

A review of the past six decades shows that the Fourth Republic, which took off in 1999, has been Nigeria’s golden era in terms of economic and social indicators. This reality is, however, a difficult one to present to the millions of unemployed who are out of work and struggling to cope with inflationary pressures on food and other basic livelihood requirements.

Since 1999, Nigeria’s economy has grown more than sevenfold. A big chunk of this is explained by the rebasing of the economy in 2014. It was found that the economy was 60% bigger than previous estimates.

Before 2014, Nigeria had been using the 1990 prices and the composition of economy to determine its size. Yet, a lot had changed since then. For example, telecommunications had grown substantially with the introduction of mobile telephony. Nollywood, Nigeria’s movie industry, has also expanded and morphed into a more professionally organised and run sector.

Nigeria moved from lower income to lower-middle income status, based on national income per head of population, during the Fourth Republic. That’s based on World Bank rankings. Other countries in this category include Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Tunisia, India, Iran and Ukraine.

Economic difficulties

Nigeria’s economic difficulties started in the mid-2010s. Nigeria’s economic fortunes are closely aligned with oil prices which showed a sharp decline between 2014 and 2016.

The World Bank has described the 70% drop during that period as one of the three biggest declines since World War II, and the longest lasting since the supply-driven collapse of 1986.

In response, Nigeria’s economy, which had recorded an average growth rate of 6.68% between 1999 and 2015, has plunged in and out of negative figures since 2016. Within this period, it entered recession twice.. Cumulative growth since 2016 has averaged below 1%.

Nigeria has taken steps to reduce its reliance on oil. These measures include revival of the agricultural sector as well as reducing government reliance on oil revenues by tax revenue from other sources. These have yet to pay off. And the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the economic downturn, plunging more into unemployment and poverty.

Nigeria’s government has invested in agriculture and has articulated economic programmes for other sectors, progress has been hampered by inflationary pressures, low oil prices and a weak currency. Government’s inability to arrest the security crises in several states has also affected agricultural productivity. Other factors include government’s inability to articulate a clear economic agenda for the country. In addition,its monetary and fiscal policies favouring dual exchange rates, and restrictions on foreign trade through border closures have limited recovery and growth.

A national call to action

Nigeria requires a national leadership with the understanding and capability to set the tone and direction for national growth and development. This must incorporate all citizens, irrespective of ethnic or geopolitical affiliation in a grand vision of collective dynamic growth.

A lack of such political leadership denies the country of the possibility of meaningful growth and critical citizenry.

Nigeria remains a country of great potential. Her fountain of possibilities can be found in its growing population of educated citizens. The population of the educated at this very moment in the country’s history is at the threshold or point of national acceleration. An example is the country’s burgeoning tech ecosystem largely driven by young people. It is at a point conterminous with those of the Asian Tigers before their rapid transformation to developed world and high income status.

All the fundamentals are indicative of a country at the point of a great leap forward, the role of an enlightened and well-educated population is crucial to that process.

Despite limitations in the education sector, Nigeria has more than over 190 universities, the largest university and tertiary education sector in Africa. The country churns out millions of graduate annually, creating the most educated workforce on the continent.

This growth represents both a challenge and an opportunity. It will be a challenge and a huge economic burden if productive opportunities are not found for their engagement. Gainfully employed, these educated millions can be harnessed to drive Nigeria’s economic growth, thus promoting social stability.

Political leadership

Nigeria challenge is not that its political leadership has been corrupt, but that its has had limited ability to govern the country effectively. Nigeria needs a modern political administration where the state is not about maintenance of the status quo and the mere allocation of existing economic values for project and self-aggrandisement.

The state should be reoriented, and directed purposely towards a more expansive interpretation with focus on rapid economic growth and the provision of public goods that empower citizens to become meaningful actors in the overall positive transformation of their society.

Such purposeful action by the national leadership, who must be clearly reformist, is required to alter the trajectory of poor economic growth. It is also required to foster sustained productivity gains in the country’s economy to generate growth to average 6%-10% annually. Such growth is what will enable Nigeria to triple and possibly quadruple its economy within the next 10-15 years in a repeat of the first 20 years of the Fourth Republic.

Inevitably, a growing economy represents the best pathway toward addressing many of the social and economic challenges Nigeria now faces in its seventh decade of independence.

Coordinated Attack on Ivermectin Is Crime Against Humanity

62 Ivermectin Photos and Premium High Res Pictures - Getty Images

By /
Just as we saw with hydroxychloroquine last summer, government alphabet agencies, the medical industrial complex, and their willing accomplices in the media have recently made it clear that there is yet another safe, effective treatment for COVID-19 they wish to torpedo. It’s the latest naughty word which will get you censored on social media and mocked and belittled by late-night “comedians”: ivermectin.

While ivermectin has been used by certain brave doctors around the world to treat COVID-19 for over a year now, it only recently became the target of a multi-pronged attack, with the U.S. government, the media, and Big Pharma all playing important roles in the deadly dystopian disinformation campaign against the drug. As more Americans became aware of ivermectin’s efficacy against COVID-19, like clockwork the government and its propaganda arm in the press jumped in to discredit it, referring to the drug snidely as a “horse dewormer.”

We watched the FDA embarrass itself with its ridiculing tweet telling people “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” while linking to an agency article on why people should not use ivermectin to treat or prevent the China Virus. We saw Rolling Stone magazine forced to admit that its recent story about Oklahoma hospitals being overwhelmed by patients who overdosed on ivermectin was completely false.

Omar Marques/SOPA Images via Getty Images

Pharmaceutical company Merck, which produces ivermectin, discredited its use for COVID by irresponsibly stating, “We do not believe that the data available support the safety and efficacy of ivermectin beyond the doses and populations indicated in the regulatory agency-approved prescribing information.” It is worth noting that Merck and Pfizer are developing their own oral antivirals that would directly compete with the cheap and effective ivermectin. These antivirals, unlike ivermectin, would be patented, creating the potential for pharmaceutical companies to rake in billions of dollars from their use.

What the globalist elites and the medical establishment won’t tell you is that those who discovered ivermectin and its use to treat parasitic diseases won a Nobel Prize in 2015—it was the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine’s only award for treatments of infectious diseases in six decades.

Almost 4 billion doses of ivermectin have been prescribed for humans, not horses, over the past 40 years. In fact, the CDC recommends all refugees coming to the U.S. from the Middle East, Asia, North Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean receive this so-called dangerous horse medicine as a preemptive therapy. Ivermectin is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be an “essential medicine.” The Department of Homeland Security’s “quick reference” tool on COVID-19 mentioned how this life-saving drug reduced viral shedding duration in a clinical trial.

To date, there are at least 63 trials and 31 randomized controlled trials showing benefits to the use of ivermectin to fight COVID-19 prophylactically as well as for early and late-stage treatment. Ivermectin has been shown to inhibit the replication of many viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties and prevents transmission of COVID-19 when taken either before or after exposure to the virus.

Ivermectin also speeds up recovery and decreases hospitalization and mortality in COVID-19 patients. It has been FDA approved for decades and has very few and mild side effects. It has an average of 160 adverse events reported every year, which indicates ivermectin has a better safety record than several vitamins. In short, there is no humane, logical reason why it should not be widely used to fight against the China Virus should a patient and doctor decide it is appropriate to try in that patient’s case.

Critics argue that ivermectin hasn’t been approved for use in the fight against COVID-19 and therefore should not be prescribed to patients. Doctors, however, often prescribe drugs to help patients that aren’t necessarily approved for their particular ailments—it’s called “off-label” prescription and according to the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, 10-20 percent of all prescriptions are prescribed in this fashion.

Make no mistake, the evil, deadly, coordinated globalist attacks we are currently witnessing on ivermectin will go down in history as a vicious crime against humanity; a grievous public health policy error that can only be explained by following the money. Many top doctors agree that hundreds of thousands of American lives could have been saved had early treatment protocols such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine not been so maliciously vilified by authority figures, some pharmaceutical companies, and healthcare providers who just so happen to have financial incentives to suppress the truth about these cheap, effective drugs.

St. Jerome’s strong words to priests seeking fame and fortune

SAINT JEROME

Public Domain

Philip Kosloski09/30/21

The cranky St. Jerome didn’t mince words when writing about the duties of priests and the temptation of fame.

St. Jerome was a straight shooter when it came to speaking the truth, not afraid of what anyone thought about him. Most often his words drew the ire of his fellow priests.

This can be seen clearly in a letter to the priest Nepotian, who abandoned the military for the clerical calling. St. Jerome wrote extensively about the duties of a priest and had harsh words for those who sought fame and fortune.

Under Christ’s banner seek for no worldly gain, lest having more than when you first became a clergyman, you hear men say, to your shame, Their portion shall not profit them. Welcome poor men and strangers to your homely board, that with them Christ may be your. A clergyman who engages in business, and who rises from poverty to wealth, and from obscurity to a high position, avoid as you would the plague. 

St. Jerome had a preference for the poor, not only in ministering to them, but also for the simplicity of ministers. He believed a priest should be humble and not seek after wealth.

It is the glory of a bishop to make provision for the wants of the poor; but it is the shame of all priests to amass private fortunes.

When it comes to accepting large donations for personal needs, St. Jerome urges priests to refuse them.

Let us never seek for presents and rarely accept them when we are asked to do so. For it is more blessed to give than to receive … Showiness and slovenliness are alike to be shunned; for the one savors of vanity and the other of pride. To go about without a linen scarf on is nothing: what is praiseworthy is to be without money to buy one. It is disgraceful and absurd to boast of having neither napkin nor handkerchief and yet to carry a well-filled purse.

Above all, St. Jerome tried to express in his letter that a priest should practice what he preaches, being a poor man among the poor, serving them and seeking no earthly fame.

Mother who chose adoption over abortion is reunited with her son after 33 years

Giovanna Bincipublished on 09/30/21
She took a leap and got a DNA test, betting on the probability that her son would do the same.

It had been 33 years, but Melanie Pressley had hope in that thin thread that binds a mother and child. She wondered how many times might they have found themselves on parallel paths, even at the same crossroads, but going in opposite directions, without really meeting.

It started with one certainty: “no” to abortion

Pressley was 18 years old and had no certainty about the future—not her own future, nor much less the one she’d be able to offer to the child she was carrying. Would just a little more help have been enough? An outstretched hand?

Pressley was young and felt alone, with a partner who suggested abortion as a solution to the “problem” she was carrying. In the maze of roads she could have taken, instead of that dead end (for the baby, but also for her), she chose life. 

She gave birth to a baby boy, and decided to make an adoption plan for him thanks to the support of her family and the services of an adoption agency. It was June 1988.

She surrendered her son without giving him a name. She told News 5 Cleveland that she wanted his adoptive parents to have that honor. Perhaps she also realized that she’d already given him what mattered most: the gift of life and the possibility of having the love of two (adoptive) parents.

The nurse allowed her to hold her son a few moments despite protocol not allowing it, and Pressley’s sister snapped a photo. It would be a memory she would cling to even after she was happily married and the mother of three other children. Life went down unexpected paths, but she always kept that thread tied around her heart.

Thirty-three years have passed and that child today is named Greg Vossler, and he has known he was adopted since he was 9 or 10.

He never wanted to ask too many questions, “I’d always joke saying, you know, ‘I don’t see a celebrity that looks like me,’ or, ‘No one who’s a king or queen in some faraway land resembles me,’” he recounts in the News 5 Cleveland interview.

One day, having become a dad himself, and perhaps with newfound courage to look deeper into his past, he decided to try to follow that one thread that was left to him. He didn’t know if it had been broken over the years, if there would still be someone on the other end, or if he would be able to find the end of the thread.

He bought a “23andme” genetic test on sale. It was the same brand of test that Melanie took two years after he did, in May 2021, when one of her daughters bought her the test for her birthday.

Rewinding the ball of yarn

Thanks to the company’s database, which allows you to find DNA matches and discover your family and ethnic background, Pressley and Vossler found each other. After an initial contact via messaging, they met and hugged this summer.

“I believe we’re related,” was Melanie’s first somewhat hesitant message. Soon after, she was more concrete, writing confidently, “I believe I am your birth mother.”

Vossler’s wife snapped the photo of them together 33 years later.

Our body is a living memory—not only of somatic traits, diseases, or predispositions, but of the choices of many people. We are a series of unique chromosomes, but above all a series of “yeses” which are all equally unlikely to be lined up if we look at them now, from where we find ourselves at a point in the labyrinth of choices and unexpected events, with the end of an unraveled ball of yarn in our hands. Our very body reminds us that we are not just the result of pure luck, but more a tangled story of salvation which, if we could rewind it to the end, would lead us all to a first great love for life.

This Day in History: October 1

Biblic St. Jerome Roars In Latin

Though he is a saint, Jerome was also a man—and saints who were more human than angelic are sometimes the best ones to emulate

Latin may be a dead language, but it lives on as the language of the Roman Catholic Church. That living on can be attributed in large part to the life of one who had the fearlessness and the ferocity to tackle the most consequential linguistic challenge in all of humanity’s history. Long ago, there lived a man of God who was a veritable lion for courage and whose den was the ancient scriptorium. This was St. Jerome, who filled all of Christendom with his roaring—and he roared in Latin.

In her first few hundred years, the Church succeeded in launching from the East but failed to bring her language to her new children. By 380, Greek was “all Greek” to the Western world, and the few Latin translations that existed of the Bible were about as rough and ready as a schoolboy’s scrip. So, under Pope Damasus (c. 304-384), the Catholic liturgy was translated into Latin, the language of the people—but to complete the project, a solid translation of the Gospels was required.

It was then that an ingenious, irascible Italian monk returned to Rome from the Holy Land, where he had been mastering Hebrew. The pope came to meet the shabby linguist with the sharp tongue and, taking a liking to him, appointed Jerome as his personal secretary. Pope Damasus soon gave Jerome the task of translating the Gospels to Latin for the Christian West.

Jerome firmed his jaw and set to the task with vigor, though he longed for the prayerful solitude of a hermitage. The teeming life of Rome was too much for Jerome’s God-given measure of charity, which was often on the shorter side. But even as he spurned and sparred with those around him, the Vulgate flowed from his pen—that pen that scratched and stabbed like a lion’s claw—to the page to help all men get to heaven.

For all his impatience and impertinence, Jerome was also a man of good deeds and an inexhaustible work ethic. He was just not a man of good humor. He was a man of discipline, but not a man of tolerance. He was quick-tempered, cantankerous, and confrontational, and his reputation always preceded him for both good and ill—but more for ill than good, it often seemed.

Pagans hated him for his bristling condemnations, like “it is idle to play the lyre for an ass.” Heretics hated him for his erudite put-downs, such as, “it is worse to be ignorant of your ignorance.” Christians hated him for his barbed disposition, from which he said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” And all the while, Jerome growled in response, “I thank God I am deemed worthy to be hated by the world.”

When Pope Damasus died, rumors rumbled that Jerome would be his successor. But his enemies rippled the Roman waters with their own rumors about Jerome having unsavory dealings with the holy women he communed with spiritually in the first convent of Rome, most notably St. Paula. Jerome was run out of Rome by these slanders and fled to Bethlehem to live a life of strict asceticism and prayer. In a cave near the birthplace of Christ, Jerome translated the Old Testament from Hebrew to Latin, completing his great work, and gave Sacred Scripture to the Latin-speaking people of God in the vernacular.

Pious legend has given Jerome a far less cranky and critical persona, presenting him instead as the calm and comforting hermit who removed a thorn from the paw of a raging lion. It was, however, Jerome himself who was the raging lion of his story, pricked by thorns that he, though a holy hermit, had by nature.

Though he is a saint, Jerome was also a man—and saints who were more human than angelic are sometimes the best ones to emulate. Jerome is such a saint, clearly a man who also happened to be a saint rather than a saint who also happened to be a man; a man who clearly relied on the grace of God to do what he was called to do on earth—and he did it like a lion, despite the thorny shortcomings of his nature. A lion Jerome was, truly, and so that king of beasts is rightly associated in poetry and pageantry with that king of theologians.

Jerome is credited with saying, “The scars of others should teach us caution”—a wise saying from a lion who doled out plenty of scars and a man who bore as many himself. “They please the world most, who please Christ least,” Jerome was also known to say. So should we all sharpen our claws and cut our teeth and shake out our manes, prepared to stand with Jerome in the pride of the Catholic Church.