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Several of our AmericanCatholic.org editors recently traveled to Middle East. Here you will find their reports and resources from the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Synod news from Catholic News Service, photos, videos, interviews and coverage from St. Anthony Messenger magazine. The feature will grow in the coming months, in the wake of the Synod for the Middle East.

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Christians in the Middle East

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(CNS/Paul Haring)
Christianity in the Middle East, the Holy Land, once thriving, is diminishing rapidly. The land of Jews, Muslims and Christians is changing, at least due to the Israel/Palestine impasse, along with the growth of Islam. Pope Benedict XVI called a Special Synod on the Middle East not only for the Catholic Church, but also for all Christian Churches to understand the problem of declining Catholics, Christians in the land of Jesus and the Apostles, and how to address it.

Several of our AmericanCatholic.org editors recently traveled to Middle East. Here you will find their reports and resources from the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Synod news from Catholic News Service, photos, videos, interviews and coverage from St. Anthony Messenger magazine. The feature will grow in the coming months, in the wake of the Synod for the Middle East.

The map below shows the stops on the first of the two-part tour of the Middle East, sponsored by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Click on each balloon for a brief summary of the people and places visited at each location.


View ACO in the Middle East in a larger map

Here is the map from Jennifer Scroggins' trip to Lebanon in November 2011


View ACO in Lebanon in a larger map

Click on each blue marker on the map to see the location and description.

On Location Reports

John Feister, AmericanCatholic.org editor, provided daily reports from his 10-day trip to Jordan, Palestine and Israel.




Video Features

We have a wide variety of video reports from the Middle East, including both candid conversations and interviews. Below is a clip from a dinner discussion with Bishop Salim Sayegh on the expectations his people have for the Bishops' Synod on the Middle East.

Click here for our Video Gallery




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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, keep me in your care. Guard me in my actions. Teach me to love, and help me to turn to you throughout the day. The world is filled with temptations. As I move through my day, keep me close. May those I encounter feel your loving presence. Lord, be the work of my hands and my heart. Amen.


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