Amb. Zara Juan

Monday, January 20, 2014

Top pope ally urges Vatican doctrine chief to loosen up. (By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor PARIS) (Reuters) - An influential aide to Pope Francis criticised the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog on Monday and urged the conservative prelate to be more flexible about reforms being discussed in the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the head of a "kitchen cabinet" the pope created to draw up reform proposals, said that Archbishop Gerhard Mueller - who has opposed any loosening of Church rules on divorce - was a classic German theology professor who thought too much in rigid black-and-white terms. "The world isn't like that, my brother," Rodriguez said in a German newspaper interview, rhetorically addressing Mueller in a rare public criticism among senior Church figures. "You should be a bit flexible when you hear other voices, so you don't just listen and say, 'here is the wall'," Rodriguez said in an interview with the daily Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger. Rodriguez, archbishop of the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, did not cite any possible reforms in particular but said the pope's critics, such as those upset by his attacks on capitalism, were "people who don't understand reality." - Yahoo News Philippines

CLICK LINK TO READ >>>> Top pope ally urges Vatican doctrine chief to loosen up - Yahoo News Philippines: "Former Pope Benedict picked Mueller in 2012 to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the successor office to the Inquisition. Benedict ran that office as a powerful and feared guardian of Church orthodoxy for 24 years as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, until he was elected pope in 2005.
But its influence has waned under Francis, who soon after his March 2013 election was reported as telling visiting South American priests and nuns not to worry if the CDF wrote to them criticising what they were doing."

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Friday, January 17, 2014

The U.S. Embassy spoke out after a stone-hurling mob attacked a suburban Colombo mosque in August, calling it "particularly troubling in light of a number of recent attacks against the Muslim community in Sri Lanka." Muslims say they are also the targets of ludicrous conspiracy theories, including rumors that they spit three times in any dish before serving it to a non-Muslim, or that Muslim shops sell women's undergarments tainted with chemicals that cause infertility. Many Muslims feel they are being victimized because of their visibility in the economy — a role they have played for more than 1,000 years since Arab traders brought Islam to Sri Lanka and allied with the Sinhalese against Spanish and Dutch colonial forces. Today, they control at least half of small businesses and hold near-monopolies in the textile and gem trades. Because most speak Tamil, and not Sinhala, they were key players in military intelligence during the civil war against ethnic Tamil rebels. "We never thought the government would turn on us," said Mujibur Rahman, a Muslim member of Colombo's provincial council. He and other critics contend that the 2009 civil war victory left a triumphant Buddhist Sinhalese majority searching for a new target. "The president needs to create a new security problem to avoid actually having to govern," Rahman said. "He has built an image for himself as a Sinhalese Buddhist hero and savior. He needs a new enemy to keep that up." The government dismisses the idea as absurd, and Bodu Bala Sena denies any role in organizing attacks. But even some Sinhalese have their suspicions. "The BBS is trying to push the country toward racial and religious conflict," said a Sinhalese business owner who would only give his first name, Susantha. "Sometimes I suspect they are carrying out a contract for the government to turn attention away from issues such as the economy, health care and education." Gnanasara and Kirama Wimalajothi started Bodu Bala Sena after splitting from a group they said was not militant enough in protecting Buddhist interests in Sri Lanka. The brawny, bespectacled Gnanasara said that, with about 70 percent of the population practicing Buddhism, the tropical nation has a duty to uphold the religion's traditions, preserve its heritage sites and police against conversion to other religions. "The secret to my popularity is that I speak the truth," he said in an interview held within the Bodu Bala Sena headquarters, in a Buddhist cultural center set among twisted tree trunks and a lush jungle canopy near Colombo, the capital. Gnanasara said there are "extremist forces trying to create divisions, buy our lands, marry our wives and recruit our children. The same thing happened in Malaysia, the Maldives and Bangladesh — all now Muslim countries. The same thing may happen in Sri Lanka if we're not careful."- Hardline Monks Rally Sri Lanka as Buddhist Front - ABC News

CLICK LINK TO READ ARTICLE >  Hardline Monks Rally Sri Lanka as Buddhist Front - ABC News: ""We're seeing a pattern of really severe human rights violations right across the board," Amnesty International director Steve Crawshaw said. "The government can't stand any forms of protest or criticism, and yet it appears to actively turn away from violence and lawlessness against other ethnic minorities and religions.""

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The Holy See has long insisted that it was not responsible for the crimes of priests committed around the world, saying priests are not employees of the Vatican but are rather citizens of countries where they reside and subject to local law enforcement. It has maintained that bishops were responsible for the priests in their care, not the pope. But victims' groups and human rights organisations provided the UN committee with the Vatican's own documentation showing how it discouraged bishops from reporting abusers to police. Thursday’s hearing is seen by some as a test of Pope Francis, who has enjoyed widespread popularity and made big promises, and of whether he can make amends on the issue of sexual abuse and allegations of cover-up. Francis has called for openness and transparency on the issue of priest sex abuse. In December, he established a committee to advise him on the subject. - Vatican defends record on child sex abuse - Europe - Al Jazeera English

Vatican defends record on child sex abuse - Europe - Al Jazeera English: "The Vatican has come under sharp criticism from a UN committee for its handling of child sex-abuse cases among Roman Catholic clergy.

The scandal tarnished the reputation of the church and drawn accusations that it deliberately hid the rapes of thousands of children by protecting paedophile priests.

The Vatican, now facing its most intense public grilling over the allegations, acknowledged at Thursday's hearing in the Swiss city of Geneva that it had been slow to act, but insisted that it was now committed to facing the crisis.

"The Holy See gets it," Monsignor Charles Scicluna, Vatican's former sex-crimes prosecutor, told the committee.

"Let's not say 'too late' or not. But there are certain things that need to be done differently."

The Holy See is recognised by international law as a sovereign entity headed by the pope."

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Hindu groups in South Africa have expressed outrage at photographs taken at a music festival which depict models in provocative positions, posing with t-shirts featuring various Hindu deities. The photographs posted on a website showed several models stretching out their hands pretending to be a six-limbed deity. Another picture showed a model lifting her t-shirt as she stands against paintings of Hindu deities. The pictures were taken at a music festival during New Year festivities. The National community leaders have unanimously condemned these actions, but the photographer defended saying it was within the rights to freedom of expression. South African Tamil Federation President Karthi Moothsamy said his organisation would pursue the matter with both the ruling African National Congress and government institutions. “While it is so that freedom of expression is embodied in the South African Constitution, the same Constitution does not grant absolute rights in this regard,” Moothsamy said. “We will call on government to introduce legislation that protects Hindu and other religious iconography from being denigrated.” - South African Hindus outraged by ‘provocative’ pictures involving deities | The Indian Express

CLICK LINK TO READ ARTICLE >> South African Hindus outraged by ‘provocative’ pictures involving deities | The Indian Express: "South African Hindu Maha Sabha president Ashwin Trikamjee said these type of action reared its head from time to time, usually from people who were ignorant of its religious significance.
“We have to find a way to address the increasing use of Hindu iconography in a derogatory way with impunity,” he said."

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Wellness Pilipinas! - WELLNESS IN CULTURE: National Day of Prayer declared in typhoon-hit areas. Jan 20 National Day of Prayer and Solidarity with the theme ‘One Nation in Prayer’ will be held as the Filipino people’s way of recognizing the power of the Almighty God who guides us in our journey towards a brighter future,” Coloma told radio dzRB yesterday. “President Aquino will lead the nation in prayer in a simple program to be held in Malacañang,” he said. Coloma said the declaration serves as a call for all sectors to pray for the country, which was battered by successive calamities last year.

Wellness Pilipinas!: "In his toast during the vin d’honneur held last Friday, Aquino said the Filipinos’ constant faith in God enabled them to weather the disasters that confronted them

"“Some of you have marveled at the resilience of our nation, a people whose faith, though challenged, remains constant and only deepened. Our unbreakable spirit and ability to recover find root in our firm belief in a benevolent God who has the perfect plan for all of us,” he said.  “These tragedies tell us that despite all our efforts, we are indeed powerless without God,” he added." CLICK LINK TO READ MORE: National Day of Prayer declared in typhoon-hit areas | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star |"

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

See How Black Nazarene Devotees Unite the Philippines - Grand procession of the Jesus of the Black Nazarene in Manila | View photo - Yahoo News Philippines

Grand procession of the Jesus of the Black Nazarene in Manila | View photo - Yahoo News Philippines: "Devotees climb a steel fence to catch a glimpse of the image of Jesus of the Black Nazarene as it enters the Quiapo Church after the grand procession in Manila January 10, 2014. The wooden Black Nazarene, carved in Mexico and brought to the Philippines capital in the early 17th century, is cherished by Catholics who believe it performs miracles. REUTERS/Al Falcon (PHILIPPINES - Tags: SOCIETY RELIGION)"

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM: Tawhid (Arabic: توحيد tawḥīd; English: doctrine of Oneness [of God]; also transliterated Tawheed and Tauheed) is the concept of monotheism in Islam.[1] It is the religion's most fundamental concept and holds God (Arabic: Allah) is one (wāḥid) and unique (āḥad).[2] The Qu'ran asserts the existence of a single and absolute truth that transcends the world; a unique, independent and indivisible being, who is independent of the entire creation.[3] God, according to Islam, is a universal God, rather than a local, tribal, or parochial one—God is an absolute, who integrates all affirmative values and brooks no evil.[4] Tawhid constitutes the foremost article of the Muslim profession.[5] The first part of the Shahada is the declaration of belief in the oneness of God.[2] To attribute divinity to a created entity, known as shirk, is the only unpardonable sin mentioned in the Qur'an.[4] Muslims believe that the entirety of the Islamic teaching rests on the principle of Tawhid.[6] There is an uncompromising monotheism at the heart of the Islamic beliefs which is seen as distinguishing Islam from other major religions.[7] - Tawhid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tawhid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Islamic intellectual history can be understood as a gradual unfolding of the manner in which successive generations of believers have understood the meaning and implications of professing God's Unity. Islamic scholars have different approaches toward understanding it. Islamic theology, jurisprudence, philosophy, Sufism, even to some degree the Islamic understanding of natural sciences, all seek to explain at some level the principle of tawhid.[8]"

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UNDERSTANDING BUDDHISM: Pure Land Buddhism, which began in India around the 2nd century B.C., offered a path to salvation for those who found difficulties with the more rigorous forms of Buddhist practice. It later spread to China and, by the 6th century, to Japan, where it is now the second most popular form of Buddhism. This exhibition features paintings, sculpture and other works related to Pure Land beliefs, which in Japan is taught by four sects Jodo-shu, Jodo Shinshi, Yuzu-nembutsu-shu, and Ji-shu. Some of the highlights include “Tosotsuten Mandara” (“Mandala of Tusita”), which depicts the fourth devaloka (plane of existence) in the realm of desire, and the “Hiten” (“Flying Apsara”); Jan. 10-Feb. 11.- 'Tokutechikai Buddhism Art' | The Japan Times

CLICK LINK TO READ MORE: 'Tokutechikai Buddhism Art' | The Japan Times:

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UNDERSTANDING HINDUISM: Shiva and Shakti Consciousness and Energy Amongst the attributes of the Chakras we meet two important symbols: Shiva and Shakti. SHIVA symbolises consciousness, the masculine principle. SHAKTI symbolises the feminine principle, the activating power and energy. Whenever a power becomes active, and wherever energy exists, Shakti is working. Other terms for these primal principles are PURUSHA and PRAKRITI; Purusha is consciousness and Prakriti is nature. Lord Shiva is generally portrayed holding a trident, which represents the trinity of Īshwara, Purusha and Prakriti . Īshwara is the omnipresent, eternal, formless divine principle; Purusha is the Ātmā and Prakriti is the manifestation, nature. An electric light can be used to explain their relationship. The electric current, which is the source of the light, is Īshwara; the light is Purusha, and the object that is illuminated is Prakriti. SHAKTI (or Prakriti) means energy, power, movement, change, nature. It is the maternal principle – the provider, abundance. In the human as well as in the animal kingdom the mother offers nourishment, warmth and security. There is no greater love than the love of a mother. The mother carries and nourishes the child in her own body. When it is born she provides it with mother’s milk and raises it at the sacrifice of her own self until it becomes self-reliant. SHIVA (or Purusha), on the other hand, is pure consciousness – the unchanging, unlimited and unswayable observer. Purusha has no desires whatsoever; these are inherent only in Prakriti. Purusha is the empty, clear screen onto which Prakriti projects her colourful film. Shiva and Shakti are manifestations of the all-in-one divine consciousness - different sides of the same coin. In many pictures these two primal powers are each depicted as being one half of the same image; one side female and one side male. The left side is the Divine Mother, Pārvatī, the “feminine” energy, and the right side represents Shiva, the “masculine” consciousness. Through the splitting of the primordial principle at the advent of creation the duality within our lives came into being, together with a strong force that is constantly striving to re-unite with the other part. Only when Shiva and Shakti combine can action, movement and creation arise. Until energy is impregnated with consciousness it is ignorant, disordered, aimless and “blind”. Energy alone can produce nothing; consciousness bestows upon it content, form and direction. Conversely, consciousness without energy is dormant power, sleeping energy, and on its own is unable to be the cause of anything. Just as Prakriti without Purusha is unable to act, and vice versa, Purusha without Prakriti is also incapable of creating anything. The meaning of Shiva and Shakti is occasionally misunderstood when Shiva and Shakti are looked upon as “man” and “woman” and their union is regarded as a sexual relationship. Sexuality is something completely natural, and misunderstanding arises only when sexuality and spirituality are mixed. Sexuality is the union of man and woman Spirituality is the union of the human and the divine consciousness. Shiva and Shakti exist within each of us as the masculine and feminine principles. This has an effect on the physical level – it is the cause of sexual attraction. Within man there exists a tendency towards the feminine qualities, and within woman a tendency towards the masculine. Through this the masculine consciousness is attracted by the feminine and vice versa. If both are in balance there is no sexual attraction. But if a tendency for the masculine predominates in man, or the feminine in woman, this results in a preference for a homosexual partner. Shiva resides in the Sahasrāra Chakra and Shakti in the Mūlādhāra Chakra. When Prakriti and Purusha unite in the Sahasrāra Chakra, knowledge, knower and the object of knowledge become one. Once we have experienced this no desires remain within us because we realise unequivocally that everything we have ever yearned for is carried within us. In this state of absolute consciousness there are no polarities and therefore no more sorrows; there is only everlasting joy, unconditional love, unlimited compassion and total understanding for all living beings. For as long as consciousness is connected to the physical body it is unable to remain constantly in the Sahasrāra Chakra and so returns to the residence of the Ātmā in the Heart Centre (Anāhata Chakra). A realised person always thinks, feels and acts from the heart. Embedded in eternal love and eternal happiness, that person is always conscious of the immortal Ātmā, the ocean of bliss, and their consciousness is forever connected to the divine consciousness. Shakti is the motherly love of God that surrounds us with warmth, caring and protection. Shiva is the paternal love of God that gives us consciousness, clarity and knowledge. I wish for you the blessing of the Divine Mother who lives within you as energy and vitality, and the blessing of the Divine Father who resides within you as consciousness and knowledge. May they always take care of you, protect you and guide you, and in their infinite love lead you to the cosmic consciousness.

Shiva and Shakti:


Priest hitches ride on popemobile during papal audience - An Argentine priest hitched a ride on Pope Francis' popemobile during the pontiff's general audience in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday after the pope recognised him in the crowd. The pope thought he had heard a familiar voice when someone shouted out "Holy Father, Happy New Year" as he was driven through a crowd of thousands. He turned and spotted Father Fabian Baez, a priest he knew from his days as archbishop of Buenos Aires. He asked his driver to stop the popemobile and gestured to the priest to come out of the crowd, video footage showed. The pontiff then invited him to hop on the white vehicle and the priest joined him for the rest of the ride through the crowd.- Yahoo News Philippines

Priest hitches ride on popemobile during papal audience - Yahoo News Philippines: "The two embraced when Baez boarded and the pope was heard telling him, "This photo is going to go around the world".
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)"

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Pope Francis drew 6.6 million to the Vatican in 2013, three times Benedict | News | GMA News Online. Francis, who last month was named Person of the Year by Time Magazine, has drawn people to the Vatican because of his outgoing, simple and friendly style. Benedict was more reserved and far less spontaneous. The first non-European pope in 1,300 years, he took over an institution rocked by sex abuse and other scandals, and losing faithful to other religions. Reinvigorating the church, he has forsaken many of the trappings used by his predecessors. He gave up the spacious papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace for a small apartment in a guest house and is driven in a regular car instead of the papal limousine. Francis has also proven to be popular because of his statements urging the Church to be closer to the poor and to be more merciful and less condemning. The Vatican said the figures released on Thursday did not include the crowds that turned out to see the pope during his trips to Brazil, and to Assisi and Lampedusa in Italy. More than 3 million people attended the pope's final event of the Brazil trip on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro on July 28. The crowds at Francis' general audiences and Sunday addresses have often topped 100,000, forcing police to close off the boulevard leading to the Vatican to accommodate more people. Tickets to audiences and Masses are issued for free by the Vatican's Prefecture of the Pontifical Household and usually distributed through parishes and Church institutions. — Reuters

Pope Francis drew 6.6 million to the Vatican in 2013, three times Benedict | News | GMA News Online: "Figures released last month which were limited to the number of people who attended weekly general audiences showed that Francis had drawn around four times as many people in about nine-and-a-half months of 2013 than Benedict had in all of 2012. Francis was elected on March 13, 2013."

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Islam Finds Home Among Latino Americans - Americas - News - Finding Islam, Mujahid Fletcher wanted other Latinos to find this too. Therefore, he launched a company called Islam in Spanish in which he began doing translations and making audio recordings of the verses. He and his father, who also converted to Islam, have recorded more than 500 CDs and 200 cable access TV shows about Islam. “The end goal with Islam in Spanish is to educate Latinos about Islam worldwide,” he said. Now, Fletcher attends the Maryam Islamic Center in Sugar Land, an affluent suburb of Houston. The large mosque looked like something you'd find in the Middle East or Turkey — an attractive building with high, arched entrances, pillars and two minarets. Fletcher says Latino Muslims are spread out in small pockets in big cities like Houston. Thirty minutes away from Fletcher’s mosque, Daniel Abdullah Hernandez, a Puerto Rican-American who was raised Catholic, works as an imam at a mosque in the city of Pearland. Hernandez, also a gang member, said Islam helped turn him into a responsible husband and father. “In the beginning, people think it’s a phase. My mother, after two years of seeing my transformation, she became a Muslim,” Hernandez said. His father and brother converted as well. Together, the family visited Egypt to study Islam, a trip that cleared up any doubts they had about becoming Latino Muslims. “Me and my family were feeling that we were going to be lonely during the holidays,” he says. “And that first year, we’re sitting with other Hispanics breaking bread and eating, and we were all amazed.” It’s difficult to estimate how many Latinos in the US have converted to Islam. Ewing puts the figure somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000.

Islam Finds Home Among Latino Americans - Americas - News - "The 2011 US Mosque Survey, which interviewed leaders at 524 mosques across the country, found the number of new female converts to Islam had increased 8 percent since 2000.

Of that number, Latinos accounted for 12 percent of all new converts in the United States in 2011."

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A guide to the gods and enlightened beings: Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism in the Cleveland Museum of Art's West Wing | Aside from the purely visual pleasures they provide, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s new Chinese, Indian and Southeast Asian galleries constitute an invitation to learn about Hinduism and Buddhism, the predominant religions represented in the new displays. This admittedly incomplete guide is intended as a rudimentary introduction to some of the religious ideas and holy figures represented in the galleries and to encourage deeper looking, learning and appreciation. Definitions Hinduism: The religion, native to India, includes a belief in reincarnation and the existence of a Supreme God whose qualities and attributes can appear in many forms. These include avatars, the physical form a deity takes when descending to earth. Hindus hold that existence is part of a cycle of birth, death and rebirth ruled by karma, the principal that positive or negative actions can determine how the soul reincarnates in the next life. AX195_01F4_9.JPG View full size Guanyin, the merciful bodhisattva closest to the Buddha. Lisa DeJong, The Plain Dealer Buddhism: Buddhists hold that suffering is caused by desire, which can be transcended through enlightenment, an elevated state of being that releases the individual from the cycle of birth and death. The faith was founded by the Indian prince Shakyamuni, or Siddhartha Gautama, who achieved enlightenment in the sixth or fifth century B.C. after renouncing his wealth, living as an ascetic and meditating under a bodhi tree – a symbol often found in depictions of him.

A guide to the gods and enlightened beings: Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism in the Cleveland Museum of Art's West Wing | "Jainism: A minority religion within India, Jainism, like Buddhism, emerged in response to various Hindu practices including the sacrifice of certain animals. Jains emphasize radical nonviolence and believe in the spiritual equality of all forms of life, including microorganisms. The faithful hold that enlightenment can be reached by practicing nonviolence and self-control."

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Urban Outfitters reportedly removes 'Lord Ganesh' socks, apologizes to Hindus | Fox News.Fashion retailer Urban Outfitters has reportedly removed its controversial “Lord Ganesh” socks from stores and issued an apology to Hindus. The red and blue crew-length socks featured an image of the Hindu deity Lord Ganesh above the ankle. The $8 socks featuring the god worshipped by many Hindu sects were described by the Philadelphia-based firm as “awesome” and an exclusive design, reports.

Urban Outfitters reportedly removes 'Lord Ganesh' socks, apologizes to Hindus | Fox News: "The socks, however, caught the attention of Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, who characterized them on his blog as highly inappropriate. Zed suggested that corporations send senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity before launching new advertising campaigns.

Crystal Carroll, public relations manager of Urban Outfitters, apologized in response to Zed’s complaint and said the socks would be removed from the clothier’s website immediately.

“We sincerely apologize if we offended the Hindu community and our customers,” Carroll said in a statement. “We appreciate Rajan Zed and the Universal Society of Hinduism for bringing this matter to our attention and for helping us understand the cultural and religious sensitivities this product carries.”"

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Be the Peace Leader

Be the Peace Leader
Pray for Peace by Amb Zara Jane Juan

Come & Join Inter-Faith Prayers & Inter-Cultural Dialogue for Peace

Come! Share your Peace! - Ambassador Zara Jane Juan, Sailing for Peace

2012 Video International Day of Peace Vigil by Sailing for Peace

Sailing for Peace Worldwide Peace Vigil

Sailing for Peace Worldwide Peace Vigil
Prayer Vigil for Vatican as Pope expresses sorrow over terrorist attacks and prayed that God will sustain all men of goodwill who courageously roll up their sleeves to deal with the plague of terrorism and this bloodstain which is gripping the world in a shadow of fear and bewilderment

Amb. Zara Jane Juan, Peace Ambassador

Amb. Zara Jane Juan, Peace Ambassador
I choose to be a Missionary of the Interfaith, Interracial, Intercultural Sailing for Peace Program inspired and guided by the discipline and life of the Virgin Mary of the Catholic Church. I am a Catholic, a Lady Datin of the Muslims, a Buddhist in my Healthy Lifestyle and a Hindu in Purifying my Soul. With Free Thinking and Scientific Approach to my Peace Work, my life on the over-all is a whirlwind of Faith and Fate. I refuse donations to my peace work to prevent corruption but rather I decided to live a very simple so that I can fund it personally through my own personal income as Professional Resource Speaker, Author, Visual Artist, Playwright and Director

JESUS CHRIST - 7 LAST WORDS - Lenten Recollection for Christians