Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014 - Litany Lane Blog: Ascetic, Psalms 23, First Samuel 1:1-13, John 9:1-41, Pope Francis Daily - How one becomes a Priest, Saint John of the Ladder, Mount Sinai, Siant Catherine's Monastery, City of Saint Catheine Eqypt ,Catholic Catechism Part Three: Life in Christ Section Two: The Ten Commandment Chapter Two: Fifth Commandment Article 5:1 Respect for Human Life

Sunday,  March 30, 2014 - Litany Lane Blog:

Ascetic, Psalms 23, First Samuel 1:1-13, John 9:1-41, Pope Francis Daily - How one becomes a Priest, Saint John of the Ladder, Mount Sinai, Saint Catherine's Monastery, City of Saint Catherine Egypt , Catholic Catechism Part Three:  Life in Christ Section Two: The Ten Commandment Chapter Two: Fifth Commandment Article 5:1 Respect for Human Life 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift of knowledge, reason and free will, make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone to our eternal home in Heaven. The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, wonder and awe (fear of the Lord) , counsel, knowledge, fortitude, and piety (reverence) and shun the seven Deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony...Its your choice whether to embrace the Gifts of the Holy Spirit rising towards eternal light or succumb to the Seven deadly sins and lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to the Darkness, Purgatory or Heaven is our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...~ Zarya Parx 2013

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Prayers for Today:   Sunday in Lent

Rosary - Glorious Mysteries


 Papam Franciscus
(Pope Francis)

Pope Francis March 30 Daily:

  How one becomes a Priest

(2014-03-30 Vatican Radio)
One enters the priesthood only through the Lord's initiative. “He calls each of those whom he wills to become priests”. The Sacrament of Holy Orders was the focus of Pope Francis' catechesis at the General Audience on Wednesday morning, 26 March, in St Peter's Square. The following is a translation of the Pope's address to the faithful, which was delivered in Italian:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have already had occasion to point out that the three Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist together constitute the mystery of “Christian initiation”, a single great event of grace that regenerates us in Christ. This is the fundamental vocation which unites everyone in the Church as disciples of the Lord Jesus. There are then two Sacraments which correspond to two specific vocations: Holy Orders and Matrimony. They constitute two great paths by which the Christian can make his life a gift of love, after the example and in the name of Christ, and thus cooperate in the building up of the Church.

Holy Orders, in its three grades of bishop, priest and deacon, is the Sacrament that enables a man to exercise the ministry which the Lord Jesus entrusted to the Apostles, to shepherd his flock, in the power of his Spirit and according to his Heart. Tending Jesus’ flock not by the power of human strength or by one’s own power, but by the Spirit’s and according to his Heart, the Heart of Jesus which is a heart of love. The priest, the bishop, the deacon must shepherd the Lord’s flock with love. It is useless if it is not done with love. And in this sense, the ministers who are chosen and consecrated for this service extend Jesus’ presence in time, if they do so by the power of the Holy Spirit, in God’s name and with love.

1. A first aspect. Those who are ordained are placed at the head of the community. They are “at the head”, yes, but for Jesus this means placing ones authority at the service [of the community], as Jesus himself showed and taught his disciples with these words: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served by to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:25-28/Mk 10:42-45). A bishop who is not at the service of the community fails to perform his duty; a priest who is not at the service of his community fails to perform his duty, he errs.

2. Another characteristic which also derives from this sacramental union with Christ is a passionate love for the Church. Let us think of that passage from the Letter to the Ephesians in which St Paul states that Christ “loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing” (5:25-27). Through Holy Orders the minister dedicates himself entirely to his community and loves it with all his heart: it is his family. The bishop and the priest love the Church in their own community, they love it greatly. How? As Christ loves the Church. St Paul will say the same of marriage: the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. It is a great mystery of love: this of priestly ministry and that of matrimony are two Sacraments, pathways which people normally take to go to the Lord.

3. A final aspect. The Apostle Paul recommends to the disciple Timothy that he not neglect, indeed, that he always rekindle the gift that is within him. The gift that he has been given through the laying on of hands (cf. 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6). When the ministry is not fostered — the ministry of the bishop, the ministry of the priest — through prayer, through listening to the Word of God, through the daily celebration of the Eucharist and also through regularly going to the Sacrament of Penance, he inevitably ends up losing sight of the authentic meaning of his own service and the joy which comes from a profound communion with Jesus. 

4. The bishop who does not pray, the bishop who does not listen to the Word of God, who does not celebrate every day, who does not regularly confess — and the same is true for the priest who does not do these things — in the long run lose their union with Jesus and become so mediocre that they do not benefit the Church. That is why we must help bishops and priests to pray, to listen to the Word of God which is one’s daily nourishment, to celebrate the Eucharist each day and to confess regularly. This is so important precisely because it concerns the sanctification of bishops and priests.

5. I would like to conclude with something which comes to mind: how does one become a priest, where is access to the priesthood sold? No. It is not sold. This is an initiative which the Lord takes. The Lord calls. He calls each of those whom he wills to become priests. Perhaps there are some young men present here who have heard this call in their hearts, the aspiration to become a priest, the desire to serve others in the things of God, the desire to spend one’s entire life in service in order to catechize, baptize, forgive, celebrate the Eucharist, heal the sick... the whole of one’s life in this way. If some of you have heard this call in your heart, it is Jesus who has placed it there. Pay attention to this invitation and pray that it might grow and bear fruit for the whole Church.

Special Groups
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from the United Kingdom, England, Australia, Denmark, Malta, China, Japan and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke joy and peace in Christ our Lord.

I address a special thought to the young people, the sick, and newlyweds. Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord to the Virgin Mary. Dear young people, especially the scouts who are present, may you know how to listen to the will of God as Mary did; dear sick, may you not become discouraged in difficult times, knowing that the Lord never gives a cross that surpasses one’s strength; and may you, dear newlyweds, build your married life on the solid rock of God's Word.


Liturgical Celebrations to be presided over by Pope:  Winter

Vatican City, Winter 2014 (VIS)

Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for  Winter 2014

Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.

  • Vatican News. From the Pope. © Copyright 2014 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed 03/30/2014.


November 2, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World: "Dear children; Anew, in a motherly way, I am calling you to love; to continually pray for the gift of love; to love the Heavenly Father above everything. When you love Him you will love yourself and your neighbor. This cannot be separated. The Heavenly Father is in each person. He loves each person and calls each person by his name. Therefore, my children, through prayer hearken to the will of the Heavenly Father. Converse with Him. Have a personal relationship with the Father which will deepen even more your relationship as a community of my children – of my apostles. As a mother I desire that, through the love for the Heavenly Father, you may be raised above earthly vanities and may help others to gradually come to know and come closer to the Heavenly Father. My children, pray, pray, pray for the gift of love because 'love' is my Son. Pray for your shepherds that they may always have love for you as my Son had and showed by giving His life for your salvation. Thank you."

October 25, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World:  “Dear children! Today I call you to open yourselves to prayer. Prayer works miracles in you and through you. Therefore, little children, in the simplicity of heart seek of the Most High to give you the strength to be God’s children and for Satan not to shake you like the wind shakes the branches. Little children, decide for God anew and seek only His will – and then you will find joy and peace in Him. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

October 2, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World: "Dear children, I love you with a motherly love and with a motherly patience I wait for your love and unity. I pray that you may be a community of God’s children, of my children. I pray that as a community you may joyfully come back to life in the faith and in the love of my Son. My children, I am gathering you as my apostles and am teaching you how to bring others to come to know the love of my Son; how to bring to them the Good News, which is my Son. Give me your open, purified hearts and I will fill them with the love for my Son. His love will give meaning to your life and I will walk with you. I will be with you until the meeting with the Heavenly Father. My children, it is those who walk towards the Heavenly Father with love and faith who will be saved. Do not be afraid, I am with you. Put your trust in your shepherds as my Son trusted when he chose them, and pray that they may have the strength and the love to lead you. Thank you." - See more at:

Today's Word:  ascetic  as·cet·ic  [uh-set-ik]  

Origin:  1640–50;  < Greek askētikós  subject to rigorous exercise, hardworking, equivalent to askē-  (see askesis) + -tikos -tic

1. a person who dedicates his or her life to a pursuit of contemplative ideals and practices extreme self-denial or self-mortification for religious reasons.
2. a person who leads an austerely simple life, especially one who abstains from the normal pleasures of life or denies himself or herself material satisfaction.
3. (in the early Christian church) a monk; hermit.
adjective Also, as·cet·i·cal.
4. pertaining to asceticism.
5. rigorously abstinent; austere: an ascetic existence.
6. exceedingly strict or severe in religious exercises or self-mortification.


Today's Old Testament Reading -   Psalms 23:1-6

1 [Psalm Of David] Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 In grassy meadows he lets me lie. By tranquil streams he leads me
3 to restore my spirit. He guides me in paths of saving justice as befits his name.
4 Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death I should fear no danger, for you are at my side. Your staff and your crook are there to soothe me.
5 You prepare a table for me under the eyes of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup brims over.
6 Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life. I make my home in the house of Yahweh for all time to come.


Today's Epistle -  First Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13

1 Yahweh said to Samuel, 'How much longer do you mean to go on mourning over Saul, now that I myself have rejected him as ruler of Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have found myself a king from among his sons.'
6 When they arrived, he looked at Eliab and thought, 'This must be Yahweh's anointed now before him,'
7 but Yahweh said to Samuel, 'Take no notice of his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him; God does not see as human beings see; they look at appearances but Yahweh looks at the heart.'
10 Jesse thus presented seven of his sons to Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, 'Yahweh has not chosen these.'
11 He then asked Jesse, 'Are these all the sons you have?' Jesse replied, 'There is still one left, the youngest; he is looking after the sheep.' Samuel then said to Jesse, 'Send for him, for we shall not sit down to eat until he arrives.'
12 Jesse had him sent for; he had ruddy cheeks, with fine eyes and an attractive appearance. Yahweh said, 'Get up and anoint him: he is the one!'
13 At this, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him, surrounded by his brothers; and the spirit of Yahweh seized on David from that day onwards. Samuel, for his part, set off and went to Ramah.


Today's Gospel Reading -  John 9:1-41


A blind man sees the light
Our eyes open when we live with Jesus
John 9:1-41


1. Opening prayer

Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.

Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

2. Reading

a) A key to the reading:
The text of the Gospel of the fourth Sunday of Lent invites us to meditate on the healing of a man born blind. It is a short but lively text. It is a concrete example of the way the Fourth Gospel reveals the deep hidden meaning of the events in Jesus’ life. The story of the healing of the blind man helps us open our eyes to the picture of Jesus that we each carry within ourselves. We often think of a Jesus who looks like a glorious king, removed from the life of ordinary people! In the Gospels, Jesus is presented as a Servant of the poor, friend of sinners. The picture of the Messiah-King that the Pharisees had in mind, kept us from recognising Jesus the Messiah-Servant. As we read the Gospel, let us try to pay attention to two things: (i) the expert and free way the blind man reacts to the provocations of the authorities, and (ii) the way the blind man himself opens his eyes concerning Jesus.

b) A division of the text as a help to the reading:
John 9:1-5: Blindness before the evil that exists in the world
John 9:6-7: The sign of the “One sent by God” who will provoke various reactions
John 9:8-13: The reaction of the neighbours
John 9:14-17: The reaction of the Pharisees
John 9:18-23: The reaction of the parents
John 9:24-34: The final judgement of the Pharisees
John 9:35-38: The final attitude of the man born blind
John 9:39-41: A closing reflection

c) The Gospel: John 9:1-41
1 As he went along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should have been born blind?' 3 'Neither he nor his parents sinned,' Jesus answered, 'he was born blind so that the works of God might be revealed in him. 4 'As long as day lasts we must carry out the work of the one who sent me; the night will soon be here when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world.' 6 Having said this, he spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man, 7 and said to him, 'Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam' (the name means 'one who has been sent'). So he went off and washed and came back able to see. 8 His neighbours and the people who used to see him before (for he was a beggar) said, 'Isn't this the man who used to sit and beg?' 9 Some said, 'Yes, it is the same one.' Others said, 'No, but he looks just like him.' The man himself said, 'Yes, I am the one.' 10 So they said to him, 'Then how is it that your eyes were opened?' 11 He answered, 'The man called Jesus made a paste, daubed my eyes with it and said to me, "Go off and wash at Siloam"; so I went, and when I washed I gained my sight.' 12 They asked, 'Where is he?' He answered, 'I don't know.' 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 It had been a Sabbath day when Jesus made the paste and opened the man's eyes, 15 so when the Pharisees asked him how he had gained his sight, he said, 'He put a paste on my eyes, and I washed, and I can see.' 16 Then some of the Pharisees said, 'That man cannot be from God: he does not keep the Sabbath.' Others said, 'How can a sinner produce signs like this?' And there was division among them. 17 So they spoke to the blind man again, 'What have you to say about him yourself, now that he has opened your eyes?' The man answered, 'He is a prophet.' 18 However, the Jews would not believe that the man had been blind without first sending for the parents of the man who had gained his sight and 19 asking them, 'Is this man really the son of yours who you say was born blind? If so, how is it that he is now able to see?' 20 His parents answered, 'We know he is our son and we know he was born blind, 21 but how he can see, we don't know, nor who opened his eyes. Ask him. He is old enough: let him speak for himself.' 22 His parents spoke like this out of fear of the Jews, who had already agreed to ban from the synagogue anyone who should acknowledge Jesus as the Christ. 23 This was why his parents said, 'He is old enough; ask him.' 24 So the Jews sent for the man again and said to him, 'Give glory to God! We are satisfied that this man is a sinner.' 25 The man answered, 'Whether he is a sinner I don't know; all I know is that I was blind and now I can see.' 26 They said to him, 'What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?' 27 He replied, 'I have told you once and you wouldn't listen. Why do you want to hear it all again? Do you want to become his disciples yourselves?' 28 At this they hurled abuse at him, 'It is you who are his disciple, we are disciples of Moses: 29 we know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this man, we don't know where he comes from.' 30 The man replied, 'That is just what is so amazing! You don't know where he comes from and he has opened my eyes! 31 We know that God doesn't listen to sinners, but God does listen to people who are devout and do his will. 32 Ever since the world began it is unheard of for anyone to open the eyes of someone born blind; 33 if this man were not from God, he wouldn't have been able to do anything.' 34 They retorted, 'Are you trying to teach us, and you a sinner through and through ever since you were born!' And they ejected him. 35 Jesus heard they had ejected him, and when he found him he said to him, 'Do you believe in the Son of man?' 36 'Sir,' the man replied, 'tell me who he is so that I may believe in him.' 37 Jesus said, 'You have seen him; he is speaking to you.' 38 The man said, 'Lord, I believe,' and worshipped him. 39 Jesus said: It is for judgement that I have come into this world, so that those without sight may see and those with sight may become blind. 40 Hearing this, some Pharisees who were present said to him, 'So we are blind, are we?' 41 Jesus replied: If you were blind, you would not be guilty, but since you say, 'We can see,' your guilt remains.


3. A moment of prayerful silence so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.


4. Some questionsto help us in our personal reflection.

a) What part of this text touched me most? Why?
b) A popular saying goes: “None so blind as those who will not see!” How does this apply to the conversation between the blind man and the Pharisees?
c) By what titles is Jesus hailed in the text? Who pronounces these? What do they mean?
d) What title do I like best? Why? Or, what picture of Jesus do I carry in my mind and my heart? Where does this picture come from?
e) How can I purify my eyes to see the true Jesus of the Gospels?


5. For those who wish to delve deeper into the text

a) The context within which the Gospel of John was written:
As we meditate on the story of the healing of the blind man, it is good to keep in mind the context of the Christian communities in Asia Minor towards the end of the first century for whom the Gospel of John was written and who identified with the blind man and his healing. Because of a legalistic view of the Law of God, they were blind from birth. But, as happened with the blind man, they too were able to see the presence of God in the person of Jesus of Nazareth and were converted. It was a painful process! In describing the steps and conflicts of the healing of the blind man, the author of the Fourth Gospel recalls the spiritual journey of the community, from the darkness of blindness to the full light of faith enlightened by Jesus.

b) A commentary on the text:
John 9:1-5: Blindness before the evil that exists in the world. When the disciples see the blind man, they ask: “Rabbì, who sinned, this man or his parents, for him to have been born blind?” In those days, a physical defect or sickness was thought to be a punishment from God. Associating physical defects with sin was the way the priests of the Old Testament kept their power over people’s consciences. Jesus helps his disciples to correct their ideas: “Neither he nor his parents sinned…he was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him!” The works of God is the same as Sign of God. Thus, that which in those days was a sign of God’s absence, is now a sign of his brilliant presence in our midst. Jesus says: “As long as the day lasts I must carry out the work of the one who sent me; the night will soon be here when no one can work. As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world.” The Day of signs begins to manifest itself when Jesus, “on the third day” (Jn 2:1), makes present the “first sign” in Cana (Jn 2:11). But the day is about to end. The night is about to fall, because it is already “the seventh day”, the Sabbath, and the healing of the blind man is now the sixth sign (Jn 9:14). The Night is the death of Jesus. The seventh sign will be the victory over death at the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn 11). In John’s Gospel there are only seven signs, miracles, that announce the great sign, namely the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.
John 9:6-7. The sign of the “One sent by God” who will provoke various reactions
Jesus spits on the ground, forms mud with his saliva, puts the mud on the eyes of the blind man and tells him to wash in the pool of Siloam. The man goes and comes back healed. This is the sign! John comments saying that Siloam means sent. Jesus is the One sent by the Father who works the works of God, the signs of the Father. The sign of this ‘sending’ is that the blind man begins to see.
John 9:8-13: The first reaction: that of the neighbours
The blind man is well known. The neighbours have doubts: “Is this he?” And they ask: “How do your eyes come to be open?” The man who was blind testifies: “The Man called Jesus opened my eyes”. The basis of our faith in Jesus is to accept that he is a human being like us. The neighbours ask: “Where is he?” - “I don’t know!” They are not satisfied with the answer of the blind man and, to clarify matters, they bring the man before the Pharisees, the religious authorities.
John 9:14-17: The second reaction: that of the Pharisees
That day was a Sabbath and on the Sabbath it was forbidden to heal. When asked by the Pharisees, the man tells everything once more. Some Pharisees, blind in their observance of the law, say: “This man cannot be from God, he does not keep the Sabbath!” They could not admit that Jesus could be a sign of God because he healed the blind man on a Sabbath. But other Pharisees, faced by the sign, answer: “How could a sinner produce signs like this?” They were divided among themselves! So they asked the blind man: “What have you to say about him yourself, now that he has opened your eyes?” And he gives witness: “He is a Prophet!”
John 9:18-23: The third reaction: that of the parents
The Pharisees, now called the Jews, did not believe that he was blind. They thought that it was a matter of deception. So they called his parents and asked: “Is this man really your son who you say was born blind? If so, how is it that he is now able to see?” Very carefully the parents reply: “We know he is our son and we know he was born blind, but we don’t know how it is that he can see now, or who opened his eyes. He is old enough: let him speak for himself!” The blindness of the Pharisees before the evidence of the healing produces fear among the people. And anyone who professed faith in Jesus Messiah was excluded from the synagogue. The conversation with the parents of the blind man reveals the truth, but the religious authorities will not accept it. Their blindness is greater because of the witness given, now they will not accept the law that says that the witness of two persons is valid (Jn 8:17).
John 9:24-34: The final judgement of the Pharisees concerning Jesus
They call the blind man again and say: “Give glory to God! For our part we know that this man is a sinner.” Here: “give glory to God” meant: “Ask pardon for the lie you just pronounced!” The blind man had said: “He is a prophet!” According to the Pharisees he should have said: “He is a sinner!” But the blind man is intelligent. He replies: “I don’t know if he is a sinner; I only know that I was blind and now I can see!” There are no arguments against this fact! Again the Pharisees ask: “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” The blind man answers with a touch of irony: “I have told you once…. Do you want to become his disciples too?” Then they insulted him and said: “You can be his disciple, we know that God spoke to Moses, but for this man, we don’t know where he comes from”. Again with a touch of irony the blind man replies: “Now here is an astonishing thing! He has opened my eyes, and you don’t know where he comes from! …. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t do a thing”. Faced with the blindness of the Pharisees, the light of faith grows in the blind man. He does not accept the logic of the Pharisees and confesses that Jesus comes from the Father. This profession of faith costs him his expulsion from the synagogue. The same was happening in the communities of the end of the first century. Those who professed faith in Jesus had to break all family and community ties. This happens today: those who decide to be faithful to Jesus run the risk of being excluded.
John 9:35-38: The attitude of faith of the blind man towards Jesus
Jesus does not abandon those who are persecuted for his sake. When Jesus hears of the expulsion and meets the man again, he helps him to take a further step by inviting him to take on his faith and asks: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He replies: “Sir…tell me who he is that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him: “You are looking at him; he is speaking to you”. The blind man exclaims: “Lord, I believe!” And he worships Jesus. The faith attitude of the blind man before Jesus is one of absolute trust and total acceptance. He accepts everything from Jesus. It is this faith that sustained the Christian communities of Asia towards the end of the first century, and that sustains us today.
John 9:39-41: A final reflection
The blind man who could not see, ends up seeing better than the Pharisees. The communities of Asia Minor who were once blind, discover the light. The Pharisees who thought that they saw well are more blind than the man born blind. Bound by an ancient observance, they lie when they say they can see. None more blind that those who will not see!

c) A broader view:
- The Names and Titles given to Jesus
Throughout the story of the healing of the blind man, the Evangelist registers various titles, adjectives and names given to Jesus by a host of people, the disciples, the Evangelist himself, the blind man, the Pharisees and Jesus himself. This way of describing the events in the life of Jesus was part of the catechesis of the time. It was a way of helping people to clarify their own ideas concerning Jesus and to identify themselves in his regard. Here are some of the names, adjectives and titles. The list shows the growth of the blind man in faith and how his vision becomes clear.
* Rabbì (master) (Jn. 9:1): the disciples
* Light of the world (Jn 9:5): Jesus
* The One sent (Jn 9:7): the Evangelist
* Man (Jn 9:11): the healed man
* Jesus: (Jn 9:11): the healed man
* Does not come from God (Jn 9:16): some Pharisees
* Prophet (Jn 9:17): the healed man
* Christ (Jn 9:22): the people
* Sinner (Jn 9:24): some Pharisees
* We do know where he comes from (Jn 9:31): the healed man
* Religious (Jn 9:31): the healed man
* Does the will of God (Jn 9:31): the healed man
* Son of man (Jn 9:35): Jesus
* Lord (Jn 9:36): the healed man
* Lord, I believe! (Jn 9:30): the healed man

- The Name: “I AM”
To reveal the deep meaning of the healing of the blind man, the Fourth Gospel records the words of Jesus: “I am the light of the world” (Jn 9:5). In several places, in answer to questions people put to Jesus, the Gospel repeats this same statement “I AM”:

* I am the bread of life (Jn 6:34-48)
* I am the living bread come down from heaven (Jn 6:51)
* I am the light of the world (Jn 8:12; 9:5)
* I am the gate (Jn 10: 7.9)
* I am the good shepherd (Jn 10:11,25)
* I am the resurrection and the life (Jn 11:25)
* I am the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6)
* I am the vine (Jn 15:1)
* I am king (Jn 18:37)
* I am (Jn 8:24.27.58)

This self revelation of Jesus reaches its peak in his conversation with the Jews, when Jesus says: “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He” (Jn 8:27). The name I am is the same as Yahweh, the name God took in Exodus, an expression of his liberating presence between Jesus and the Father (Ex 3:15). The repeated affirmation I AM reveals the deep identity between Jesus and the Father. The face of God shines in Jesus of Nazareth: “To have seen me is to have seen the Father!” (Jn 14:9)

6. Prayer: Psalm 117 (116)

A resume of the Bible in one prayer
Alleluia! Praise Yahweh,
all nations, extol him, all peoples,
for his faithful love is strong
and his constancy never-ending.


7. Final Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


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Saint of the Day:  Saint John of the Ladder

Feast DayMarch  30

Patron Saint: n/a

Attributes:  Clothed as a monk, sometimes with an Abbot's paterissa (crozier), sometimes holding a copy of his Ladder

St John Climacus
Saint John Climacus (Greek: Ἰωάννης τῆς Κλίμακος), also known as John of the Ladder, John Scholasticus and John Sinaites, was a 7th-century Christian monk at the monastery on Mount Sinai.[1] He is revered as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches.

There is almost no information about John's life. There is in existence an ancient Vita, Life of the saint by a monk named Daniel of Raithu monastery. Daniel, though claiming to be a contemporary, admits to no knowledge of John's origins—any speculation on John's birth is the result of much later speculation, and is confined to references in the Menologion. The Vita is generally unhelpful for establishing dates of any kind. Formerly scholarship, on the basis of John's entry in the Menologion, had placed him in the latter 6th Century. That view was challenged by J.C. Guy and others, and consensus (such as there is) has shifted to a 7th Century provenance. If Daniel's Vita is trustworthy (and there is nothing against which to judge its accuracy), then John came to the Vatos Monastery at Mount Sinai, now Saint Catherine's Monastery, and became a novice when he was about 16 years old. He was taught about the spiritual life by the elder monk Martyrius. After the death of Martyrius, John, wishing to practice greater asceticism, withdrew to a hermitage at the foot of the mountain. In this isolation he lived for some twenty years, constantly studying the lives of the saints and thus becoming one of the most learned Church Fathers. When he was about seventy-five years of age, the monks of Sinai persuaded him to become their Igumen. He acquitted himself of his functions as abbot with the greatest wisdom, and his reputation spread so far that, according to the Vita, Pope Gregory the Great wrote to recommend himself to his prayers, and sent him a sum of money for the hospital of Sinai, in which the pilgrims were wont to lodge.

The Ladder of Divine Ascent

John Climacus is shown at the top of theThe Ladder of Divine Ascent, with other monks following him, 12th century icon (Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt).
Of John's literary output we know only the Κλίμαξ (Latin: Scala Paradisi) or Ladder of Divine Ascent, composed in the early seventh century at the request of John,[2] Abbot of Raithu, a monastery situated on the shores of the Red Sea, and a shorter work To the Pastor (Latin: Liber ad Pastorem), most likely a sort of appendix to the Ladder. It is in the Ladder' that we hear of the ascetic practice of carrying a small notebook to record the thoughts of the monk during contemplation.[3]

The Ladder describes how to raise one's soul and body to God through the acquisition of ascetic virtues. Climacus uses the analogy of Jacob's Ladder as the framework for his spiritual teaching. Each chapter is referred to as a "step", and deals with a separate spiritual subject. There are thirty Steps of the ladder, which correspond to the age of Jesus at his baptism and the beginning of his earthly ministry. Within the general framework of a 'ladder', Climacus' book falls into three sections. The first seven Steps concern general virtues necessary for the ascetic life, while the next nineteen (Steps 8-26) give instruction on overcoming vices and building their corresponding virtues. The final four Steps concern the higher virtues toward which the ascetic life aims. The final rung of the ladder—beyond prayer (προσευχή), stillness (ἡσυχία), and even dispassion (ἀπαθεία)--is love (ἀγάπη).

Originally written simply for the monks of a neighboring monastery, the Ladder swiftly became one of the most widely read and much-beloved books of Byzantine spirituality. This book is one of the most widely read among Orthodox Christians, especially during the season of Great Lent which immediately precedes Pascha (Easter). It is often read in the trapeza (refectory) in Orthodox monasteries, and in some places it is read in church as part of the Daily Office on Lenten weekdays, being prescribed in the Triodion.

An icon known by the same title, Ladder of Divine Ascent, depicts a ladder extending from earth to heaven (cf. Genesis 28:12) Several monks are depicted climbing a ladder; at the top is Jesus, prepared to receive them into Heaven. Also shown are angels helping the climbers, and demons attempting to shoot with arrows or drag down the climbers, no matter how high up the ladder they may be. Most versions of the icon show at least one person falling. Often, in the lower right corner St. John Climacus himself is shown, gesturing towards the ladder, with rows of monastics behind him.

St. John's feast day is March 30 in both the East and West. The Eastern Orthodox Church and the Byzantine Catholic Churches additionally commemorate him on the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent. Many churches are dedicated to him in Russia, including a church and belltower in the Moscow Kremlin. John Climacus was also known as "Scholasticus," but he is not to be confused with St. John Scholasticus, Patriarch of Constantinople.

Several translations into English have been made, including one by Holy Transfiguration Monastery (Boston, 1978). This volume contains the Life of St. John by Daniel, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, and To the Pastor, and provides footnotes explaining many of the concepts and terminology used from an Orthodox perspective, as well as a General Index.[4]


  1. Zecher, Jonathan L. (2013), "The Angelic Life in Desert and Ladder: John Climacus's Re-Formulation of Ascetic Spirituality", Journal of Early Christian Studies 21 (1): 111–136, doi:10.1353/earl.2013.0006, ISSN 1086-3184
  2. Duffy, John (2010), "Reading John Climacus: Rhetorical Argumentation, Literary Convention and the Tradition of Monastic Formation (review)", Journal of Early Christian Studies 18 (1): 145–146, doi:10.1353/earl.0.0303, ISSN 1086-3184
  3. Stroumsa, Guy (2008), "The Scriptural Movement of Late Antiquity and Christian Monasticism", Journal of Early Christian Studies (Johns Hopkins University Press) 16 (1): 61–77, doi:10.1353/earl.2008.0011, ISSN 1086-3184
  4. Climacus, John (1 October 1991), The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, ISBN 978-0-943405-03-2, retrieved 13 March 2013

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Today's Snippet I: Mount Sanai, Egypt

summit of Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai  also known as Mount Horeb, is a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt that is a possible location of the biblical Mount Sinai. The latter is mentioned many times in the Book of Exodus in the Torah, the Bible, and the Quran. According to Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition, the biblical Mount Sinai was the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments.


Mount Sinai is a 2,285-metre (7,497 ft) moderately high mountain near the city of Saint Catherine in the Sinai region. It is next to Mount Catherine (at 2,629 m or 8,625 ft, the highest peak in Egypt). It is surrounded on all sides by higher peaks of the mountain range.


Mount Sinai's rocks were formed in the late stage of the Arabian-Nubian Shield's (ANS) evolution. Mount Sinai displays a ring complex that consists of alkaline granites intruded into diverse rock types, including volcanics. The granites range in composition from syenogranite to alkali feldspar granite. The volcanic rocks are alkaline to peralkaline and they are represented by subaerial flows and eruptions and subvolcanic porphyry. Generally, the nature of the exposed rocks in Mount Sinai indicates that they originated from different depths.

Religious significance

The biblical Mount Sinai was one of the most important sacred places in the Abrahamic religions. According to Bedouin tradition, it was the mountain where God gave laws to the Israelites. However, the earliest Christian traditions place this event at the nearby Mount Serbal, at the foot of which a monastery was founded in the 4th century; it was only in the 6th century that the monastery moved to the foot of Mount Catherine, following the guidance of Josephus's earlier claim that Sinai was the highest mountain in the area.

Orthodox Christians settled upon this mountain in the third century AD. Georgians from the Caucasus moved to the Sinai Peninsula in the Fifth Century, and a Georgian colony was formed there in the Ninth Century. Georgians erected their own churches in the area of the modern Mount Sinai. The construction of one such church was connected with the name of David The Builder, who contributed to the erecting of churches in Georgia and abroad as well. There were political, cultural, & religious motives for locating the church on Mount Sinai. Georgian monks living there were deeply connected with their motherland. The church had its own plots in Kartli. Some of the Georgian manuscripts of Sinai remain there, but others are kept in Tbilisi, St. Petersburg, Prague, New York, Paris, or in private collections.

Suggested locations

Modern scholars differ as to the exact geographical position of Mount Sinai and the same has long been true of scholars of Judaism. The Elijah narrative appears to suggest that when it was written, the location of Horeb was still known with some certainty, as Elijah is described as travelling to Horeb on one occasion, but there are no later biblical references to it that suggest the location remained known; Josephus only specifies that it was within Arabia Petraea (a Roman Province encompassing modern Jordan, southern modern Syria, the Sinai Peninsula and northwestern Saudi Arabia with its capital in Petra), and the Pauline Epistles are even more vague, specifying only that it was in Arabia, which covers most of the south-western Middle east.

The Sinai Peninsula

Map of Sinai Peninsula with country borders shown.
The Sinai peninsula has traditionally been considered Sinai's location by Christians, although it should also be noted that the peninsula gained its name from this tradition, and was not called that in Josephus' time or earlier (The Sinai was earlier inhabited by the Monitu and was called Mafkat or Country of Turquoise.) In early Christian times, a number of Anchorites settled on Mount Serbal, considering it to be the biblical mountain, and in the 4th century a monastery was constructed at its base. Nevertheless, Josephus had stated that Mount Sinai was the highest of all the mountains thereabout, which would imply that Mount Catherine was actually the mountain in question, if Sinai was to be sited on the Sinai peninsula at all; in the 6th century, Saint Catherine's Monastery was constructed at the base of this mountain, leading to the abandonment of the monastery at Serbal, and two monks, allegedly in 300 CE, claimed that one of the bushes in the monastic grounds was the biblical Burning Bush, and according to monastic tradition this bush still survives (rather than another having grown in its place).

Unlike these Christian traditions, Bedouin tradition considered Jabal Musa, which lies adjacent to Mount Catherine, to be the biblical mountain, and it is this mountain that local tour groups and religious groups presently advertise as the biblical Mount Sinai; this claim goes back to the time of Helena of Constantinople. Evidently this view was eventually taken up by Christian groups as well, as in the 16th century a church was constructed at the peak of this mountain, which was replaced by a Greek Orthodox chapel in 1954.

According to textual scholars, in the JE version of the Exodus narrative, the Israelites travel in a roughly straight line to Kadesh Barnea from the Yam Suph (literally meaning "the Reed Sea", but considered traditionally to refer to the Red sea), and the detour via the south of the Sinai peninsula is only present in the Priestly Source. A number of scholars and commentators have therefore looked towards the more central and northern parts of the Sinai peninsula for the mountain. Mount Sin Bishar, in the west-central part of the peninsula, was proposed to be the biblical Mount Sinai by Menashe Har-El, a biblical geographer at Tel Aviv University. Mount Helal, in the north of the peninsula has also been proposed.


The Siq, facing the Treasury, at the foot of Jebel al-Madhbah
Since Moses is described by the Bible as encountering Jethro, a Kenite who was a Midianite priest, shortly before encountering Sinai, this suggests that Sinai would be somewhere near their territory in Saudi Arabia; the Kenites and Midianites appear to have resided east of the Gulf of Aqaba. Additionally, the Song of Deborah, which some textual scholars consider one of the oldest parts of the Bible, portrays God as having dwelt at Mount Seir, and seems to suggest that this equates with Mount Sinai; Mount Seir designates the mountain range in the centre of Edom.

Based on a number of local names and features, in 1927 Ditlef Nielsen identified the Jebel al-Madhbah (meaning mountain of the Altar) at Petra as being identical to the biblical Mount Sinai; since then, as well as a number of scholars, a number of amateur investigators such as Graham Phillips, Andrew Collins, and Chris Ogilvie-Herald have also made the identification. The biblical description of a loud trumpet at Sinai fits the natural phenomenon of the sound of a volcano erupting or the loud trumpeting sound caused by wind being funnelled down the Siq the local Bedouins refer to the sound as the trumpet of God.[ The dramatic biblical descriptions of devouring fire on the summit, would fit with the fact that there have been many reports and sightings of plasma phenomena at al-Madhbah over the centuries; the pre-requisite that storm conditions exist before plasma phenomena usually occur would fit with the storm-like biblical description of thunder, lightning, and a thick cloud.

The valley in which Petra resides is known as the Wadi Musa, meaning valley of Moses, and at the entrance to the Siq is the Ain Musa, meaning spring of Moses; the 13th century Arab chronicler Numari stated was Ain Musa was the location where Moses had brought water from the ground, by striking it with his rod. The Jebel al-Madhbah was evidently considered particularly sacred, as the well known ritual building known as The Treasury is carved into its base, the mountain top is covered with a number of different altars, and over 8 metres of the original peak were carved away to leave a flat surface with two 8 metre tall obelisks sticking out of it; these obelisks, which frame the end of the path leading up to them, and are now only 6 metres tall, have led to the mountain being colloquially known as Zibb 'Atuf, meaning penis of love in Arabic. Archaeological artifacts discovered at the top of the mountain indicate that it was once covered by polished shiny blue slate, fitting with the biblical description of paved work of sapphire stone; biblical references to sapphire are considered by scholars to be unlikely to refer to the stone called sapphire in modern times, as sapphire had a different meaning, and wasn't even mined, before the Roman era. Unfortunately, the removal of the original peak has destroyed most other archaeological remains from the late Bronze Age (the standard dating of the Exodus) that might previously have been present.

Mount Sinai in culture

In Classical rabbinical literature, Mount Sinai became synonymous with holiness; as it was said that when the Messiah arrives, God will bring Sinai together with Mount Carmel and Mount Tabor, rebuild the Temple upon the combined mountain, and the peaks would sing a chorus of praise to God.


  • Joseph J. Hobbs, Mount Sinai (University of Texas Press) 1995, discusses Mount Sinai as geography, history, ethnology and religion.
  • Sinai Geology".
  • "Mount Sinai, Egypt". Places of Peace and Power. 
  • New Advent, The Catholic Encyclopedia
  • The Lost Mountain, 1956-12-03, TIME


Today's Snippet II: Saint Catherine's Monastery

Saint Catherine's Monastery
Saint Catherine's Monastery (Greek: Μονὴ τῆς Ἁγίας Αἰκατερίνης, Monì tìs Agìas Ekaterìnis), in Arabic دير القدّيسة كاترينا commonly known as Santa Katarina, its official name being Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai (Greek: Ιερά Μονή του Θεοβαδίστου Όρους Σινά, Ierà Monì tou Theovadìstou Òrous Sinà), lies on the Sinai Peninsula, at the mouth of a gorge at the foot of Mount Sinai, in the city of Saint Catherine in Egypt's South Sinai Governorate. The monastery is Orthodox and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built between 548 and 565,[1] the monastery is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world, according to UNESCO report 60100 ha / Ref: 954. In the area around the monastery, a small town has grown, with hotels and swimming pools, called Saint Katherine City.

Christian traditions

According to tradition, Catherine of Alexandria was a Christian martyr sentenced to death on the wheel. When this failed to kill her, she was beheaded. According to tradition, angels took her remains to Mount Sinai. Around the year 800, monks from the Sinai Monastery found her remains.

Though it is commonly known as Saint Catherine's, the monastery's full official name is the Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai. The patronal feast of the monastery is the Transfiguration. The monastery has become a favorite site of pilgrimage.


Bell tower at Saint Catherine's Monastery
The oldest record of monastic life at Sinai comes from the travel journal written in Latin by a woman named Egeria about 381-384. She visited many places around the Holy Land and Mount Sinai, where, according to the Hebrew Bible, Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.[2]

The monastery was built by order of Emperor Justinian I (reigned 527-565), enclosing the Chapel of the Burning Bush (also known as "Saint Helen's Chapel") ordered to be built by Helena, the mother of Constantine I, at the site where Moses is supposed to have seen the burning bush. The living bush on the grounds is purportedly the one seen by Moses. Structurally the monastery's king post truss is the oldest known surviving roof truss in the world.[3] The site is sacred to Christianity and Islam.

A Fatimid mosque was built within the walls of the monastery, but it has never been used since it is not correctly oriented towards Mecca.

During the seventh century, the isolated Christian anchorites of the Sinai were eliminated: only the fortified monastery remained. The monastery is still surrounded by the massive fortifications that have preserved it. Until the twentieth century, access was through a door high in the outer walls. From the time of the First Crusade, the presence of Crusaders in the Sinai until 1270 spurred the interest of European Christians and increased the number of intrepid pilgrims who visited the monastery. The monastery was supported by its dependencies in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Crete, Cyprus and Constantinople.

The monastery, along with several dependencies in the area, constitute the entire Orthodox Church of Mount Sinai, which is headed by an archbishop, who is also the abbot of the monastery. The exact administrative status of the church within Eastern Orthodoxy is ambiguous: by some, including the church itself, it is considered autocephalous, by others an autonomous church under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem. The archbishop is traditionally consecrated by the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem; in recent centuries he has usually resided in Cairo. During the period of the Crusades which was marked by bitterness between the Orthodox and Catholic churches, the monastery was patronized by both the Byzantine Emperors and the rulers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and their respective elites.

Manuscripts and icons

The monastery library preserves the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world, outnumbered only by the Vatican Library. It contains Greek, Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Hebrew, Georgian, and Aramaic texts.

In May 1844, Konstantin von Tischendorf visited the monastery for research and discovered the Codex Sinaiticus, dating from the 4th Century, at the time the oldest almost completely preserved manuscript of the Bible. It left the monastery in the 19th century for Russia, in circumstances that are now disputed. It was later bought by the British Government from Russia and is now in the British Library. Prior to September 1, 2009, a previously unseen fragment of Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in the monastery's library.
In February 1892, Agnes Smith Lewis identified a palimpsest in St Catherine's library that became known as the Syriac Sinaiticus and is still in the Monastery's possession. Agnes and her sister Margaret Dunlop Gibson returned with a team of scholars that included J. Rendel Harris, to photograph and transcribe the work in its entirety. As the manuscript predates the Codex Sinaiticus, it became crucial in understanding the history of the New Testament.

The Monastery also has a copy of the Achtiname, in which the Prophet Muhammad is claimed to have bestowed his protection upon the monastery.

The most important manuscripts have since been filmed or digitized, and so are accessible to scholars. A team of imaging scientists and scholars from the USA and Europe is using spectral imaging techniques developed for imaging the Archimedes Palimpsest to study more than one hundred palimpsests in the monastery library.

Works of art

The complex houses irreplaceable works of art: mosaics, the best collection of early icons in the world, many in encaustic, as well as liturgical objects, chalices and reliquaries, and church buildings. The large icon collection begins with a few dating to the 5th (possibly) and 6th centuries, which are unique survivals, the monastery having been untouched by Byzantine iconoclasm, and never sacked. The oldest icon on an Old Testament theme is also preserved there. A project to catalogue the collections has been ongoing since the 1960s. The monastery was an important centre for the development of the hybrid style of Crusader art, and still retains over 120 icons created in the style, by far the largest collection in existence. Many were evidently created by Latins, probably monks, based in or around the monastery in the 13th century.


  • Forsyth, G. H.; Weitzmann, K. (1973). The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai - The Church and Fortress of Justinian: Plates. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-472-33000-4.
  • Soskice, Janet (1991). Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Found the Hidden Gospels. London: Vintage. ISBN 978-1-4000-3474-1.
  • Sotiriou, G. and M. (1956-8). Icones du Mont Sinaï. 2 vols (plates and texts). Collection de L'Institut francais d'Athènes 100 and 102. Athens.
  • Weitzmann, K. (1976). The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mihnt Sinai: The Icons, Volume I: From the Sixth to the Tenth Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Weitzmann, K.; Galavaris, G. (1991). The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai. The Illuminated Greek Manuscripts, Volume I. From the Ninth to the Twelfth Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-03602-0.


Today's Snippet III:  Saint Catherine, Egypt (city)

City of St Catherine, Eqypt
Saint Catherine (also spelled: St. Katrine) is the capital city of Saint Catherine Markaz in the South Sinai Governorate in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. It is located at the outskirts of El-Tur Mountains at an elevation of 1,586 m (5,203 ft), 120 km (75 mi) away from Nuweiba, at the foot of Mount Sinai and the Saint Catherine's Monastery. Its population is 4,603 (1994).

Geography and climate

Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as hot desert (BWh). It has the coldest nights of any other city in Egypt. The highest mountains ranges in Egypt surround the town with many smaller valleys leading from the basin to the mountains in all directions. The township is at at an elevation of 1,600 metres (5,200 ft). The high altitude of the town itself and the high ranges of mountains which embrace it provide a pleasant climate, with refreshing cool summer nights and excellent spring, while winter days are pretty cold and the nights could reach −14 °C (7 °F), making it extremely important to heat buildings and public places. Different sources give different average temperatures for Saint Catherine's town. Saint Catherine is considered to be one of the coldest towns in Egypt with Nekhel and many other places especially in mountainous Sinai. Snowfalls in Saint Catherine take place regularly in winter months December, January and February, yet it also occurs in autumn and spring.

Saint Catherine Town lies at the foot of the Sinai high mountain region, the "Roof of Egypt", where Egypt's highest mountains are found. Some trekking groups however prefer especially the winter season as they find it more interesting and lovely to hike and climb in these conditions.

The town also puts a great pressure on the water resources, as ground water in the valley is from the mountains. Today water has to be purchased and brought in by trucks. As of September 28, 2011 water from the Nile is being transported to Saint Catherine via a pipe line, built with the help of the European Union.


Pharaonic Era

Although Saint Catherine wasn't established as a city at that time, it was always part of the Egyptian Empire throughout history and it was part of the province of "Deshret Reithu".

In the 16th century BC, the Egyptian Pharaohs built the way of Shur across Sinai to Beersheba and on to Jerusalem. The region provided the Egyptian Empire with turquoise, gold and copper, and well preserved ruins of mines and temples are found not far from Saint Catherine at Serabit el-Khadim and Wadi Mukattab, the Valley of Inscription. They include temples from the 12th Dynasty, dedicated to Hathor, Goddess of Love, Music and Beauty, and from the New Kingdom dedicated to Sopdu, the God of the Eastern Desert.

Roman Era

Located at the foot of Mount Sinai, Saint Catherine's Monastery was the start of the city, it was constructed by order of the Emperor Justinian between 527 and 565.

Modern township

Saint Catherine City is one of the newest townships in Egypt, with all amenities of a modern place: there are several schools, including a high school, a hospital, police and fire brigade, a range of hotels, Post Office, Telephone Center, bank and all other important establishments.

The township's oldest settlement is Wadi El Sybaiya, east of the city's monastery, where the Roman soldiers, whose descendants the Jebeliya are, were accommodated. It started growing into a town after the tarmac road was completed in the 1980s and the tourist trade begun. Many of the nomad Bedouins moved to small settlements around the city's monastery, which collectively make up St. Katherine's Town. The districts of El Milga, Shamiya, Raha and Nabi Harun form the core of the town -Saint Katherine's downtown, at the end of the tarmac road where the valleys of Wadi el Arbain (Wadi El Lega), Wadi Quez, Wadi Raha, Wadi Shrayj and Wadi el Dier connect to the main valley, Wadi Sheikh. There are settlements in Wadi Sheikh before town and other smaller ones in the valleys.

Saint Catherine is the capital of the Municipality of Saint Katherine, which includes these outlying areas as well. The town's monastery lies in Wadi el Deir, opposite Wadi Raha (Wadi Muka’das, the Holy Valley). Mount Sinai can be reached from the monastery or, alternatively, from Wadi el Arbain where the Rock of Moses (Hajar Musa) and the Monastery of the Forty Martyrs are.


Saint Catherine is in a region holy to the world's three major Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is a place where Moses is believed to have received the Ten Commandments; a place where early Christianity has flourished and the Orthodox monastic tradition still continues in present day; a place which the prophet Mohammed took under his protection in his Letter to the Monks and where people still live in respect to others. Many events recorded in the Bible took place in the area, and there are hundreds of places of religious importance in the city. There are two ancient churches, and the Monastery of St. Katherine and the Rock of Moses.

Culture and population

The traditional people of the area, the Jebeliya Bedouin, are a unique people having been brought from Southern-Eastern Europe in the 6th century AD. Originally Christians, they soon converted to Islam and intermarried with other nomad tribes. Some segments of the tribe arrived relatively recently from the Arabian Peninsula. Their culture is very similar to other Bedouin groups, but they preserved some unique features. Contrary to other Bedouin tribes, the Jebeliya have always been practising agriculture and are expert gardeners which is very evident in the wadis around Saint Katherine. They have lived and still live in a symbiotic relationship with the monastery and its monks, and even today many Bedouin work with the monastery on its compound or in one of its gardens. There are also Egyptians who live there and work in governmental and public services and many Egyptians became aware of the importance of that unique, beautiful, snowy city and started to be in close relation with it. Greeks and Russians are also citizens of Saint Catherine city and they control the historic monastery. The chilly cold weather of the city, specifically in winter nights, made people used to stay at heated homes early, and keen on growing plants which could produce liquids to warm themselves. The Jebeliya are skilled gardeners and craftsmen who have been building gardens, houses, store rooms, water dams and other structures in the mountains for centuries.

The techniques used are very similar to the Byzantine methods, partly because of the natural environment, partly because of the interaction between the Bedouin and the Monastery. In fact, they have received seeds from the monks to start crops. They grow vegetables and fruit in stone walled gardens called bustan or karm, and mastered grafting where a branch of a better yielding low land variety is planted on a more resistant but low yielding mountain variety.

A variety of species of plants and crops grow here, such as almond, because of the moderate climate. Other fruits include apple, pear, apricot, peach, fig, pistachio, dates and grapes. Walnut is rare but grown at a few locations. Mulberry grows wild in some of the wadis and they belong to the whole tribe. Wild figs, tasty but small, grow in many places. Olives are very important, found in many location names. Vegetables are not grown to the extent as in the past because of less water. Flowers and medicinal herbs are grown everywhere. The gardens are usually built in the wadi floors in the main water course, and are encircled by massive stone walls. These walls have to withstand the regular flash floods, retain the soil - thus called retaining wall - and protect the garden from animals. Water wells are either built in the garden or a number of gardens have one but these wells freeze in winter and sometimes in spring and autumn. Today usually generators pump the water, but you can still see many shadoofs. Water is often found at higher elevations, either in natural springs or in wells made at dykes called jidda. The Bedouin built small dams and closed off canyons to make reservoirs. In either case water is channelled to small rock pools called birka, from where it was available for irrigation. Water was flown in narrow conduits made of flat rocks sometimes for kilometers - they are still visible but today gardens rely on plastic pipes (khartoom). These gardens are a unique feature of the high mountain area, along with other stone and rock structures. Bedouin houses are simple and small stone structures with cane roofing, either incorporated in the garden wall, or standing alone a bit further up from the wadi floor, away from the devastating flash floods that sweep through after occasional heavy rains. Houses are often built next to huge boulders; natural cracks and holes in it are used as shelves and candle holders. Smaller rock shelters and store rooms are constructed under boulders and in walled up caves, and are found everywhere in the mountainous area. Some of them are well visible landmarks, such as in Abu Seila or Farsh Rummana, but most hard to distinguish from the landscape. You can see ancient leopard traps in many places, either under boulders such as in Wadi Talaa, or standing alone as on the top of Abu Geefa. A goat was placed in as a bait, and the entrance was slammed closed with a big rock when the leopard entered. There are no more leopards left in Sinai; the last was spotted in the 1980s. In many places you can see big boulders with oval marks engraved on the surface. They are marriage proposal rocks, where a lover drew a line around his foot on the rock face next to his lover's foot print. If the two marks are encircled, their wish was granted and they got married. Wishing Rocks are boulders, usually a short distance from the main paths, with a flat top: if you throw a pebble and it stays on the top, your wish will come true.

According to the governmental plans, the population of the city is expected to increase from 4,603 to 17,378 in 2017. The increasing numbers of Egyptians living there, and visiting the city will succeed in accomplishing that developmental national plan. 3,031 (75.1%) of Saint Catherine's population is formed of Jebeliya Bedouins, while the rest are Egyptians, Greeks, Russians and western Europeans. Assuming a natural growth rate of 3% to the year 2017, the Bedouin population would become a minority in Saint Catherine, dropping to 36% of the total population if Ministry of Planning targets are achieved.


The city of Saint Catherine and other close towns fall within the region of Saint Katherine Protectorate, which was established in 1988. It is a unique high altitude eco-system with many endemic and rare species, including the world's smallest butterfly (the Sinai Baton Blue butterfly), flocks of shy Nubian Ibex, and hundreds of different plants of medicinal value. The region has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Area. Some of the species are endangered, but there are many wild animals, birds, flowers to see. There are many Sinai Agamas, foxes, and rock Hyraxes. Harmless for people, foxes regularly visit the town at night to steal and scavenge. Rock Hyraxes are frequenting gardens, and there is a wide range of migrating and resident birds from Europe. Also, there is a large number of feral donkeys in the mountains who migrate to the region and lower lying areas (reportedly as far as El Tur) in the winter and go back to graze for the more plentiful summer. Many of them belong to families and are stamped with marks. However, they put a big pressure on the eco-system and there is a move to reduce their numbers by the Saint Katherine City Council.

One of the principal goals of the Protectorate is to preserve the bio-diversity of the fragile eco-system, with an emphasis on the Nubian Ibex and the wild medicinal and aromatic plants. The St. Katherine Protectorate is another major job provider in the area, although the number of local Bedouins employed fell back sharply since the initial European Union support ended, according to local sources.

Snow is the best source of water as it melts slowly, thus releasing water at a steady pace, replenishing the underwater catchment areas better. Water from rains flows down fast in the barren mountains, which may cause flash-floods and less water remains.

The views from the highest mountains in Egypt are spectacular, and there are many other natural sights in the wadi system. There are springs, creeks, water pools, narrow canyons, steep wadis with huge boulders, amazing rock formations, and barren plains with islands of lush vegetation. On the top of the mountains there are many interconnected basins with a unique high altitude ecosystem, home to the world's smallest butterfly and other rare plant species.

The highest mountain in Egypt is Mount Katherine, and there are many other peaks in the area over 2,000 m (6,600 ft). Mount Katherine can be reached via Wadi el Arbain or Wadi Shag, either way a full day. Usually the trek makes a circle, with sleeping at the top. There is a small orthodox chapel at the top. The Monastery constructed a small stone hut where trekkers and pilgrims can stay for overnight in the harshly cold weather. There is usually a candle and matches in case one forgets, but one can also leave some if they have too many. There is also a broom and rubbish bins, and people are expected to clean up after themselves. From the peak there are spectacular views over Mount Sinai (Jebel Musa), and on a clear day one can see as far as Sharm el Sheikh and the Red Sea. Jebel Abbas Basha is another popular peak; from here one can see the villages and the city as well as the rest of the high mountains. It can be reached in one day, but if one wants to stay for the sunset, it is better to make it in two days, either sleeping on the top or in Wadi Zawatin or Wadi Tinya at the base of the mountain.

A little further is Jebel el Bab, which could be visited in two long days, but better included in a 3–4 days trek visiting other places as well. On the way up from Wadi Jebal you pass Ras Abu Alda, a rock formation resembling the head of a mountain goat, from where there are beautiful views to Mount Umm Shomar, another popular peak even further, and the southern ranges. From the peaks of Jebel el Bab and Bab el Donya you are looking over Mount Tarbush and can see El Tur and the Gulf of Suez. Under the peaks is the spring of Ain Nagila. Other popular peaks in the area include Jebel Ahmar, Jebel Serbal, Jebel Banat, Jebel Sana. There are many small ponds flowing under the rocks in lush Wadi Talaa Kibira, leading down to the biggest water pool of the area, Galt el Azraq, the Blue Pool. Its colour is actually changing according to the regular floods and melting snow; one brings sand from higher up, the next takes it further down and cleans the pool. It is safe to swim in it. There are permanent pools at the top of Wadi Shag Tinya, the Kharazet el Shag, in a dramatic setting. The water from Wadi Tinya drops into a granite pool from which it flows down to other pools and falls into a deep wadi, some places running under rocks, at other places resurfacing again. The water is clean enough to drink in the upper pool. At the beginning of Wadi Shag there is a narrow canyon where there are permanent granite waterpools, from which water is disappearing in the sandy floor at one place and only emerging before the end of the wadi. Water is trickling from the rock into a double fountain in Wadi Tubug. The lower fountain is for animals, locals drink from the upper one. It is considered safe, although you might need to treat the water. There is also a 1000 years old mulberry tree in Wadi Tubug, which is protected by tribal law. From Wadi Tubug you can descend to Sid Daud, a narrow and steep path leading through small caves under the boulders. In the narrow canyon of Wadi Sagar there is another water fountain. Because of the steep path, animals can't reach it and the water is safe to drink. A rarely visited route through Wadi Umm Surdi leads through a narrow canyon to Wadi Mathar and another mulberry tree which grows just outside a garden and belongs to everyone.

Places of interest

Rock of Moses (Hajar Musa)
Saint Catherine is full of attractions and various kinds of tourism. Apart from the Saint Catherine's Monastery and Mount Sinai, there are many other places worth visiting. One of the prime historical attractions in the area is the palace of Abbas I, the Walī and self-declared Khedive of Egypt and Sudan between 1849 and 1854. The palace was built on a mountain called at the time Jebel Tinya, but later named after him and today called Jebel Abbas Basha. The palace has never been finished as he died before it was completed, but the massive 2 metres (6.6 ft)-thick walls made of granite blocks and granite-sand bricks still stand firmly. The open quarry on the top of Jebel Somra, just opposite Jebel Abbas Basha, is still visible with many huge blocks lying around. Other blocks were cut from Wadi Zawatin, at the beginning of the ascent to the palace. The bricks were made on site while the mortar, made of lime and water, was burnt in kilns in the surrounding valleys. To be able to carry out the work, first he had to build a road accessible to camels and donkeys in order to transport the supplies. The road, starting at Abu Jeefa and going through Wadi Tubug and Wadi Zawatin, are still in use today.

Hajar Musa (Rock of Moses) in Wadi el Arbain, where Prophet Moses fetched water from the rock. A holy place to all the big monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Locals believe the twelve clefts on it represent the twelve springs mentioned in the Quran (Sura 2:60). It is also mentioned in the Exodus as the rock which sustained the children of Israel (1 Cor. 10:4). There is a small Orthodox chapel next to it. According to Swiss orientalist Johann Ludwig Burkhardt, the Jebeliya Bedouin believe "that by making [female camels] crouch down before the rock [...] the camels will become fertile and yield more milk". There is also a Bedouin marriage proposal rock in the walled compound.

Son and successor of the great reformist Muhammad Ali Pasha (1805-1848), Abbas Pasha was in many ways the opposite. He had "a lasting distrust of foreigners [and] strongly opposed many of the Western inspired change introduced by his father Mohammed Ali Pasha and he is remembered as a traditionalist and reactionary who undid many of his grandfather's modernising reforms. His secretive and suspicious nature led to much speculation over his death; it is uncertain whether he was murdered or died of a stroke." Abbas Pasha was suffering from tuberculosis so one of the reasons he wanted to build his palace in the high mountains was for medical reasons. On the other hand he liked a secluded lifestyle and had other remote palaces. According to traditions he selected the place after placing meat on the top of Mount Sinai, Mount Catherine and Mt. Tinya, and it was here at the former that the meat decayed later, suggesting a better environment and cleaner air. Another account recalls that this story was actually made up by the monks to keep him away from the holy peaks. In any case, his selection would have been just as good with magnificent views from the palace over the Sinai mountain range.

Although Abbas is "best remembered for the emancipation of the fellaheen and the construction of the Cairo-Alexandria railway line in 1851", he "had a significant influence on the immediate area around St Katherine. Besides the construction of the mountain top palace he commissioned the building of the camel path up to Mount Sinai and the Askar barracks on the way to the monastery, which now lies in ruins."

There are hundreds of ruins of Byzantine monasteries, churches and monastic settlements in the area, some of them not much more than a pile of rocks, others difficult to distinguish from Bedouin buildings, but there are several very well preserved ones. Many can be found in the wide and open Bustan el Birka area, approachable from the settlement of Abu Seila or Abu Zaituna, including churches, houses on hills overlooking gardens in the wadi floor, buildings in clusters and hermit cells under rocks. They are among the best preserved ones and they can be easily reached from the village. There is a graceful little church in very good shape in Wadi Shrayj, passing other somewhat more ruined Byzantine buildings. Further up from the church there are more ruins, some dating back to the Nabatean era (BC 200 - AD 100).

In Wadi Mathar (Wadi Shag) there is a hermit cell under a huge boulder, the remains of the monks who died in there centuries ago are still in the walled-up chamber. Further up is a well preserved monastic settlement with houses and a round building which might have been a storage room.

Byzantine Nawamises, burial places with rocks placed around in circles, are found at many locations, such as at the beginning of Wadi Jebal or in Wadi Mathar. Halfway in Wadi Jebal there is a Roman well before you reach a well preserved Byzantine church next to a walled garden and spring. There is another church at the spring of Ain Nagila, at the foot of Jebel el Bab. You can find ruins of other settlements and buildings in Wadi Tinya, Wadi Shag Tinya, in Farsh Abu Mahashur, and many other places.

The building technique of the Bedouin is taken from the Byzantine settlers, so it is often difficult to tell structures apart. Furthermore the Bedouin often used the ruins in later times. But there are telling clues. Byzantine buildings were scattered close to each other in small settlements, and round buildings are most likely to be from the Byzantine period. While the Bedouin have storage rooms constructed under rocks, they would have been too low for hermits to pray in an upright, kneeling position. "Rounded-walls, niches and shelves and tiny doors are typical of Byzantine stone dwellings. [Charasteristic] how the stones are laid without mortar and the absence of a roof. You can also find traces of ancient water systems or conduits which were used to direct rain water to the settlement and for irrigation use. Typical of the Byzantine era water conduits or channels directed the mountain rains to cisterns or pools. Water conduits were constructed using natural drainage lines in the granite and by cementing flat stones with a natural mortar. The outdoor courtyards are thought to be an area for meeting guests and for cooking.

A bit further afield, at Serabit al-Khadim, there are ancient turquoise mines and Pharaonic temples from the 12th Dynasty, dedicated to Hathor, Goddess of Love, Music and Beauty, and from the New Kingdom dedicated to Sopdu, the God of the Eastern Desert. It can be reached from Wadi Feiran via Wadi Mukattab, the Valley of Inscription.

There is a massive Nawamis close to the Oasis of Ain Hudra, as well as a Pharaonic Rock of Inscription. It lies not far from the main road to Dahab, but one should not attempt to find it yourself. You can probably find guides in Ain Hodra, or organize a safari in St. Katherine that includes it.

The Blue Desert (Blue Mountain), just before reaching St. Katherine to the left in a wide open wadi. Anwar Sadat, who loved the area and had a house in St. Katherine, paid with his life for this move. The display was made by Belgian artist Jean Verame in 1980-81, who painted many of the boulders over an area of ca. 15 km2 (5.8 sq mi) and a hill blue. From the air it looks like a dove of peace. A popular day trip from the city usually accompanied by a camp fire and music, it adds a bit of blue colour to the red of sunset.

Beyond the many religious places found around the Monastery of St. Catherine and on the top of Mount Sinai and Jebel Safsafa there are many other churches, monasteries and holy places in the area and a bit further afield:

The Chapel of St. Catherine is on the summit of Mount Katherine, the mountain where the body of the saint from Alexandria was placed by angels, according to Christian beliefs. The saint, born as Dorothea in 294 AD, was educated in pagan schools but converted to Christianity for which she was executed. Her body vanished, but some three centuries later, monks guided by a dream found it on the mountain. It was brought down and placed in a golden casket in the Monastery what became known since the 11th century as the Monastery of St. Catherine.

The Monastery of the Forty Martyrs, in Wadi el Arbain was constructed in the 6th century in honor of the forty Christian martyrs who died in Sebaste (central Turkey). Monks relate that forty Christian soldiers from the Roman Army in the 3rd century were commanded to worship pagan gods. They refused and were put to death by being exposed at night to the bitterly cold winds off a frozen lake. Those who survived until morning were killed by the sword. [...] In the grounds of this monastery is a chapel dedicated to the hermit Saint Onuphrius. Coming from Upper Egypt, he was said to have lived for seventy years in the rock shelter at the northern end of the garden, until he died in AD 390."

The Monastery of Cosmas and Damianos in Wadi Talaa, named after the martyred brothers who were doctors and treated locals for free in the 3rd century AD. The garden of the monastery, looked after by a Bedouin family, has a long olive grove, some tall cypress trees, other fruit trees and vegetables. There are more gardens belonging to the monastery further down in the wadi.

The Chapel of Saint John Klimakos, or St. John of the Ladder, was built in 1979 in Wadi Itlah to commemorate his devotional work in the 6th century AD. Also spelled St. John Climacus or Climax, the saint spent forty years in solitude in a cave above the existing chapel. "During this time, Klimakos was elected Abbot of Sinai and asked to write a spiritual guide. He composed The Ladder of Divine Ascent which likens spiritual life to the ladder seen by the Patriach Jacob extending from earth to heaven (Genesis 28:12-17)." According to the book the ladder "consists of 30 rungs, each step corresponding to a spiritual virtue. Through silence and solitude hermits and monks sought to climb the divine ladder. The first rung instructs the renunciation of all earthly ties and the next 14 relate to human vices such as talkativeness, anger, despondency and dishonesty. The final 15 rungs relate to virtues including meekness, simplicity, prayer, holy stillness and humility. The crowning virtue is love."

The Monastery of Wadi Feiran, with its chapel dedicated to Prophet Moses, is some 60 km before reaching St. Katherine. The wadi is mentioned in the Genesis (21:21) "as the place where Hagar dwelt with her son after Abraham sent her away. As late as the 7th century, Firan was a city and an important Christian center, with its own bishop."

The Monastery of El Tur was built by Emperor Justinian in the important port city, which was an early Christian center from the 3rd century AD. Today it lies in ruins but there is a new monastery in the city, as well as a church and a guest house. The Spring of Moses is reputed for its therapeutic value.

Other important monasteries in the region are the Monastery of Ramhan south of Mount Catherine, the Monastery of Hodra near the oasis of Ain Hodra, and several smaller, ruined monasteries and churches. Most of the best preserved places are found close to the village of St. Katherine in Wadi Shrayj, Wadi Anshel, Bustan el Birka, Wadi Abu Zaituna, and also in the High Mountains such as at Ain Nagila and in Wadi Jebal.

Places important to local people include the tombs of local saints such as Sheikh Harun (Aaron's Tomb) and Shaikh Salah (Nebi-Salah's Tomb) in the main wadi (Wadi Sheikh) before reaching town, or Sheikh Awad and Sheikh Ahmed in the mountains. Some of the Bedouin gather at these tombs to celebrate "Zuara", while others consider this practice to be "bidaa", an innovation and not consistent with Islam. (In fact, most of the bidaa is actually predating Islam and is rather a survival of a tradition than an innovation.) Zuara, also known as Sheik Day or Mulid (Moulid), "is performed by most Sinai tribes at the tombs of Sheiks, or in nearby shelters called mak'ad when a Bedouin or group of Bedouin wish to ask the Sheikh to intervene with Allah on their behalf. Zuara is the generic name for any activity of this sort. In addition to the Mulid, the bedouins often practice Zuara on a weekly basis. The sick Bedouins or their relatives, pregnant mothers looking for healthy children, or people looking for a good crop, go to a tomb. [...] Until the 1956 war in the Sinai, the Gebeliya and the Auled-Said shared a common Mulid (the annual Zuara) at the tomb of Nebi-Saleh; however the war forced them to conduct the ceremonies at separate locations; but the tribes are still apparently close. Now the Gebeliya go to Aaron's tomb down the road, and the Auled-Said go to Nebi Salah's tomb. Both go in the 8th month. The Garasha and Sawalha also go to Nebi-Salah's tomb for their Mulid but in the 7th Month." Some of the Jebeliya gather at the Tomb of Sheikh Awad on the second day of Eid el Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice.


  • "Egypt Climate Index". Climate Charts. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  • "St Catherine Climate and Weather Averages, Egypt". Weather to Travel. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  • "St. Katrine, Egypt: Climate, Global Warming, and Daylight Charts and Data". Climate Charts. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  • "Climatological normals of St. Katrine". Hong Kong Observatory. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  • Discover Sinai. Saint Katherine, South Sinai, Eqypt.


Catholic Catechism 

Part Three:  Life in Christ 

Section Two:  The Ten Commandments

Chapter Two:  Fifth Commandment 

 Article 5:1 Respect for Human Life



Jesus said to his disciples: "Love one another even as I have loved you."1 Jn 13:34
2196 In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' the second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."2 Mk 12:29-31; cf. Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18; Mt 22:34-40; Lk 10:25-28
The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: "He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."3 Rom 13:8-10

You shall not kill.54 Ex 20:13; Cf. Deut 5:17

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, "You shall not kill: and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment." But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.55 Mt 5:21-22
2258 "Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being."56 CDF, instruction, Donum vitae, intro. 5

I. Respect for Human Life
The witness of sacred history
2259 In the account of Abel's murder by his brother Cain,57 Scripture reveals the presence of anger and envy in man, consequences of original sin, from the beginning of human history. Man has become the enemy of his fellow man. God declares the wickedness of this fratricide: "What have you done? the voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. and now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand."58
2260 The covenant between God and mankind is interwoven with reminders of God's gift of human life and man's murderous violence:
For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning.... Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.59
The Old Testament always considered blood a sacred sign of life.60 This teaching remains necessary for all time.
2261 Scripture specifies the prohibition contained in the fifth commandment: "Do not slay the innocent and the righteous."61 The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. the law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere.
2262 In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, "You shall not kill,"62 and adds to it the proscription of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies.63 He did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath.64

Legitimate defense
2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. "The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one's own life; and the killing of the aggressor.... the one is intended, the other is not."65
2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful.... Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's.
2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another's life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge.66

Capital Punishment
2266 The State's effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. the primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender.67
2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.
"If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
"Today, in fact, given the means at the State's disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender 'today ... are very rare, if not practically non-existent.'[John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56.]
Intentional homicide
2268 The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. the murderer and those who cooperate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.68
Infanticide,69 fratricide, parricide, and the murder of a spouse are especially grave crimes by reason of the natural bonds which they break. Concern for eugenics or public health cannot justify any murder, even if commanded by public authority.
2269 The fifth commandment forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person's death. the moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger.
The acceptance by human society of murderous famines, without efforts to remedy them, is a scandalous injustice and a grave offense. Those whose usurious and avaricious dealings lead to the hunger and death of their brethren in the human family indirectly commit homicide, which is imputable to them.70
Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reasons, he has acted in a way that brings about someone's death, even without the intention to do so.

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.
From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.71
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.72
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.73
2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.
This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.
Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:
You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.74
God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves.
Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.75
2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense.
The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life.
"A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,"76 "by the very commission of the offense,"77 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.78
The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy.
Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.
2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:
"The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority.
These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin.
Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death."79

"The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law.
When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined....
As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights."80
2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.
Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit, "if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed toward its safe guarding or healing as an individual....
It is gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence."81
2275 "One must hold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but are directed toward its healing the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival."82
"It is immoral to produce human embryos intended for exploitation as disposable biological material."83
"Certain attempts to influence chromosomic or genetic inheritance are not therapeutic but are aimed at producing human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities.
Such manipulations are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being and his integrity and identity"84 which are unique and unrepeatable.

2276 Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible.
2277 Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons.
It is morally unacceptable.
Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator.
The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.
2278 Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment.
Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted.
The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.
2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted.
The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable
Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity.
As such it should be encouraged.

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him.
It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life.
We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls.
We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us.
It is not ours to dispose of.
2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life.
It is gravely contrary to the just love of self.
It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations.
Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.
2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal.
Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.
Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.
2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. the Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

57 Cf. Gen 4:8-12.
58 Gen 4:10-11.
59 Gen 9:5-6.
60 Cf. Lev 17:14
61 Ex 23:7.
62 Mt 5:21.
63 Cf. Mt 5:22-39; 5:44.
64 Cf. Mt 26:52.
65 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 64, 7, corp. art.
66 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 64, 7, corp. art.
67 Cf. Lk 23:40-43.
68 Cf. Gen 4:10.
69 Cf. GS 51 # 3.
70 Cf. Am 8:4-10.
71 Cf. CDF, Donum vitae I, 1.
72 Jer 1:5; cf. Job 10:8-12; Ps 22:10-11.
73 Ps 139:15.
74 Didache 2, 2: SCh 248, 148; cf. Ep. Barnabae 19, 5: PG 2, 777; Ad
   Diognetum 5, 6: PG 2, 1173; Tertullian, Apol. 9: PL 1, 319-320.
75 GS 51 # 3.
76 CIC, can. 1398.
77 CIC, can. 1314.
78 Cf. CIC, cann. 1323-1324.
79 CDF, Donum vitae III.
80 CDF, Donum vitae III.
81 CDF, Donum vitae I, 2.
82 CDF, Donum vitae I, 3.
83 CDF, Donum vitae I, 5.
84 CDF, Donum vitae I, 6.