The Three Findings of John the Baptist’s Head

On August 29 the Church commemorates the beheading of St, John the Baptist, the precursor of the Lord and he who first identified the Messiah to the world. But what became of the head of John the Baptist after his death?  Our tradition has many stories about the post-mortem adventures of St. John’s head. There […]

Source: The Three Findings of John the Baptist’s Head

Anointing of the Sick: A Sacrament of Faith, Healing, and Peace

We live in a society where there is a great fear of illness and suffering, as demonstrated by the response to the coronavirus and the legalization of assisted suicide in some states. One way to lessen this fear among Catholics is to make them more aware that there is a sacrament that can provide graces […]

Source: Anointing of the Sick: A Sacrament of Faith, Healing, and Peace

Accountability: Servant-Leadership in Sales

The Acronym Model of SERVANT-Leadership Slide Summary - On the Right the Acronym is spelled out as Selfless Empathetic Resolute Virtuous Authentic Nonpartisan and Thorough

It really ticks me off when people describe servant-leadership as “soft management”. This misconception often leads to the fear of poor accountability. So, when an executive recently described their need to build greater accountability in their sales department, I took the opportunity to frame an example through the lens of servant-leadership.

Explain Why Accountability Matters

A chalkboard with the words I Have Excuses, where excuses is Crossed Out and Beneath it is written in larger text RESULTS

Often, poor accountability stems from a lack of clarity on why it is important. Make sure your leadership and sales team understand why accountability is important for your company. These may include…

  1. Trust: If there is commitment to an objective and the consequences are the same whether that objective is hit or missed, trust is damaged.
  2. Dependencies: Company resources are often allocated according to sales expectations. When expectations are missed, it hurts other departments, which impairs overall business.
  3. Culture: If some are held accountable, while others are not, you culture is, at best, inconsistent. Likely, your best people will leave.

Developing Accountability in Sales

As you seek to establish greater accountability with your sales team, consider taking these actions…

  1. Model It: Lead by example. Hold yourself accountable and share your own missteps and failings. Vulnerability enables the team to see nobody is beyond accountability.
  2. Hire Right: Don’t hire someone you’re uncertain is the right fit. Don’t hire someone until you absolutely require the full-time employee. This reduces the likelihood of terminations.
  3. Set Expectations: Before they join your company or move into the role, make expectations clear. Include the team in the goal setting process. This fosters commitment from the team.
  4. Hold Skip-Levels: Team members should meet regularly not only with their direct supervisor, but with a supervisor one level above their boss, as well. This reinforces commitments and alignment.
  5. Check-in Frequently: Leverage regular meetings on progress toward goals. Utilize tracking tools that require hard numbers and definitive data. This empowers difficult conversations.
  6. Request Needs: Ensure the team is regularly provided the opportunity to ask for help. If they’re falling short, it should never be because they did not have a chance to seek support.
  7. Praise Over Punishment: Accountability does not require being an ass when someone misses their goal. In general, invest in praising those hitting their goals more than in reprimanding those who missed.
  8. Sin vs. Sinner: Keep your conversation focused on results. Make it clear the consequences are not a judgement on them as a person, but on their results.
  9. Support: If it comes to reprimand or termination, remain supportive. You and / or the company made a commitment when hiring them. You should support the employee, even if you fire them.

As a SERVANT-Leader, Remember Your Principles

The Acronym Model of SERVANT-Leadership® provides a framework to guide our decisions and actions. When it comes to sales accountability, the principles remind us…

  1. Selfless: You serve others before yourself. Your discomfort in accountability conversations is outweighed by your responsibility to investors, owners, customers, and other stakeholders.
  2. Empathetic: There’s no need for jack-assery. Be compassionate with your people, especially those struggling to meet goals. Walk a mile in their muddy boots and be sure you understand their unique circumstances.
  3. Resolute: As the leader, drive for higher standards, raise the bar, and generally push through difficult barriers. Clear any obstacles for the sales team.
  4. Virtuous: Never allow immoral or unethical aspects of your business to interfere with making the right decision.
  5. Authentic: Be consistent in your character. Maintain your character and composure in good times and bad, through easy conversations and hard.
  6. Nonpartisan: Don’t play favorites. Accept insights and feedback from anyone, anywhere, anytime.
  7. Thorough: Put the long-term sustainability over short-term quick wins. Consider the implications of key decisions from all angles.

Establishing and sustaining accountability in your sales team can be difficult. Servant-leadership requires accountability and provides a great framework for sales leaders. How do you ensure accountability in you sales team?

What is the 1260 days in the Book of Revelation?

By Dr. Eli Lizorkin Eyzenberg

Chapters 11-13 contain five references to various periods of time that come into play when it comes to determining the identity of the woman:

Leave out the courtyard which is outside the temple and do not measure it, because it has been given to the nations; and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.  (11:2)

And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” (11:3)

Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for 1,260 days. (12:6)

14 But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time, times, and half a time, away from the presence of the serpent. (12:14)

A mouth was given to him speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. (13:5)

You will notice that in these three chapters, we have the following three periods of oppression/persecution: 1,260 days, mentioned twice (11:3; 12:6); 42 months, also mentioned twice (11:2; 13:5); a time, times and half a time, mentioned once (12:14). First, if we count that there are 30 days in a month, how many days are there in 42 months? The answer is 1,260 days. Second, 42 months are how many years? Since there are 12 months in a year, 42 months are 3 ½ years, which is most probably the equivalent of “a time (1 year), and times (2 years), and half a time (half a year)” (12:14), for 1 + 2 + ½ = 3 ½. The above calculations and summaries bring us to unavoidable conclusion that all three periods of time are in fact the same: 1260 months = 42 months = 3.5 years

Sokoto Diocese Concludes Eucharistic Congress

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah says it is regrettable the level of irreverence to the Holy Eucharist by Catholics in modern day Catholic life.

Such poor reverence he said was not limited to the lay faithful. Some priests he added are not giving reverence to the Eucharist as they ought to do. He asked for a change of attitude so as to place the Eucharist properly as the highest point in our life as Catholic Christians.

The Bishop made the remark the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress Wednesday at the Holy Family Cathedral, Sokoto with reflections on Becoming The Eucharist We Celebrate and the Necessity of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Catholic life.

A priest of the Diocese of Sokoto, Rev. Fr. Cyril Chidi Ibe reflected on Becoming the Eucharist we celebrate, a call to live as one and serve the weak, said the Eucharist is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in which Christ is present as Priest and Victim.

The eucharist he said is the greatest gift of Jesus Christ to humanity because it is the gift of himself, really and truly present under the appearances of bread and wine. He stated that, “we come to the wonderful sacrament to be fed at the table of Jesus and grown into his likeness”. This he said was expressed by an atheist philosopher who was quoted as saying that “man is what he eats”, meaning that a Christian is truly what he eats. St. Leo the Great was quoted as stating that “because of the Eucharist, a Christian is truly what he eats”

Fr. Cyril Ibeh said “the first effect of the Eucharistic meal is a deeper union with Christ himself”, adding that a “two-fold faith is required to eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord in a worthy manner – faith in the presence of th Lord in the assembly and in the bread and wine”.

The Eucharist when properly received he explained, increases one’s union with Christ, separates us from sin and a pledge of future glory.

In the second reflection, Rev. Fr. Zacharia Danbako observed that a number of Catholics show signs of coldness to the Sacrament of Reconciliation while at the same time receiving the Holy Communion. The implication is that such people run the risk of committing the sin of sacrilege by receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin.

He cited the instance of a man who approached him in the confessional, not for confession but to question the rationale for continuing with the Sacrament of Penance proudly stating that he had not gone for auricular confession for three years and he had always received the Eucharist.

During the congress, discussions were held in syndicate groups to digest the reflections. General questions were field by participants most of which bothered on reasons for people’s coldness or nonchalance towards the Sacrament of Penance. Answers were given, reminding all of the necessity of auricular confession and forgiveness in order to receive the Eucharist worthily.

Time was created for individual confession by all, priests, religious and laity alike. The session was followed by the Eucharistic celebration which concluded the Congress.

Participants were treated to refreshment at the end of the Congress.

In Nigeria, Catholic Church Ordains Three Priests In Security Challenged Northwest Nigeria

Three priests were ordained for the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Northwest Nigeria. The Diocese of Sokoto covers four states in the Northwest – Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara and Katsina states. It has the largest land mass.

During the ceremony, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah commended the courage of the young men in answering God’s call to the vocation of priesthood.

Most Reverend Kukah urged all priests of the Catholic church to live above board as models for the lay faithful in all that they do. To ensure that they feel what the people feel and minister to them properly, he said priests should be up to date in information on developments in education, politics, the economy and even prices of foodstuff and things of value and concern to the faithful.

He advised the new priests to see themselves as servants and beacons of hope to the faithful at all times, even when their comfort is tasked.

Bishop Kukah further said it is God who calls people to service. He said it is a sad reality that some people got into positions of power but that rather than serve the people, they bring to play bigotry, ethnicity and selfishness, thereby alienating the larger major of the population which they should serve.

The ordination of Reverends Reuben Amodu and Paschal Salifu, both of Kogi State and Solomon Chieve from Benue State was held at the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, Sokoto. Forty five priests from across Sokoto Diocese and other Dioceses joined in the celebration.

The ordination of three new priests Thursday brings to 52, the number of priests serving in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto. Friends, families and parents of the new priests were on hand to witness the ordination.

Leaked files shed light on financial structures behind oligarchs’ seized yachts

Amid a wave of sanctions against President Vladimir Putin’s allies, complex networks of offshore companies are making for choppy waters for authorities looking to confiscate high value assets.

By Will Fitzgibbon

Image: ANDREA BERNARDI/AFP via Getty Images

August 24, 2022

An Italian Finance Police car is parked in front of the Lady M yacht, owned by Russian oligarch Alexei Mordashov and seized by Italian authorities in March 2022.

See all of ICIJ’s Russia coverage

Russia Archive

It has been almost six months since the launch of a crack global anti-oligarch squad that has labored to find and seize luxury assets of politicians and others close to the Kremlin.

So far, the U.S. Treasury Department says, the squad known as the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force has worked with other governments to block and seize more than $30 billion belonging to those close to President Vladimir Putin.

“We will ensure that our sanctions continue to impose costs on Russia for its unprovoked and continuing aggression in Ukraine,” Treasury said in a statement marking the task force’s first 100 days.

The Treasury’s confiscatory crackdown is targeting many of the same hidden oligarch assets that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its media partners exposed last fall as part of its sweeping Pandora Papers investigation. Based on more than 11.9 million leaked confidential financial records from 14 offshore service providers, the project revealed the secret offshore holdings of more than 130 billionaires from 45 countries including 46 Russian oligarchs.

The Pandora Papers’ Russia findings, along with those of past ICIJ projects on the offshore financial system (compiled into a single repository of stories known as The Russia Archive), became a go-to resource for oligarch-asset hunters worldwide after Western governments rushed to impose economic sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in February. While much attention has focused on the imposition of sanctions on billionaires, their family members and even a reported girlfriend of the Russian president, authorities have also moved to actually confiscate their luxury assets, a much bigger legal lift.

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The U.S., European and Ukrainian governments have suggested that the sale of yachts, private jets and other items would help finance Ukraine’s reconstruction from a war that has destroyed or damaged almost 1,000 health centers and will cost billions of dollars.

Imposing sanctions has almost become commonplace. The U.S. government says it has conducted rigorous research into hundreds of Russian oligarchs, politicians and their family members who have been sanctioned or banned from entering the United States.

But going the next step and confiscating assets is a complex legal process that can tie up governments for months – if not years. In some cases, officials struggle through labyrinthian offshore corporate structures to establish who owns what. In other cases, oligarchs are fighting back in court. Billionaire Alexei Mordashov recently failed to persuade a judge to allow him to regain access to his $68 million yacht, Lady M, on the basis that the yacht’s formal owner wasn’t him personally — it’s owned by a shell company.

Here’s breakdown of official efforts to seize assets of oligarchs named in the Pandora Papers and other ICIJ investigations.

Timchenko’s yacht

In March, Italian authorities seized the 130-foot Lena yacht, believed to be owned by Gennady Timchenko, a former KGB schoolmate of President Putin.

The link was first reported by Pandora Papers media partners, and ICIJ subsequently revealed how attorneys in the British Virgin Islands and the United Kingdom, shipbuilders in Italy and bankers in Monaco had all helped Timchenko buy the Lena in 2010.

Application to register the Lena superyacht in the name of offshore company Roxlane Corporate Limited

Read document

A checklist assembled by attorneys in the BVI to comply with local laws included reference letters for Timchenko from bankers and other details about the billionaire oil trader.

One secret document, a 2009 trust agreement, showed Timchenko controlled the BVI shell company that, according to public paperwork, owned the yacht. Months later, the company granted Timchenko, his friends and family the right to use the Lena “exclusively for pleasure purposes.”

In March 2014, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Timchenko for his ties to Putin amid Russia’s efforts at the time to destabilize Ukraine. Months later, an internal document produced by law firm Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee described Timchenko’s company as “low risk.”

Records show the shell company, Roxlane Corporate Ltd., continued for years to make payments in U.S. dollars for the yacht’s upkeep. Despite the sanctions against Timchenko, records show the BVI law firm paid $300 in September 2014 to cover the yacht’s “Annual Register Maintenance Fee” and another $250 in April 2016 for “VESSEL M/Y LENA” on behalf of his company.”

The seized Lena superyacht, owned by Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko, at the port in Sanremo, Italy, in March 2022. Image: Giuliano Berti/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chemezov family’s yacht

In March, Spain reported seizing the Valerie, a $153 million super-yacht owned by Sergei Chemezov, the billionaire chief executive of Russian defense contracting giant Rostec. Like Timechenko, the U.S. sanctioned Chemezov in 2014 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Pandora Papers revealed how Chemezov’s wife, Ekaterina Ignatova, and his step-daughter, Anastasia Ignatova, were central players in the family’s offshore empire. Pandora Papers records show the family was worth more than $350 million and linked to nine companies registered in the BVI and Belize between 2005 and 2016.

One of the BVI companies owned the Valerie, according to ICIJ media partner IStories’ reporting as part of the Pandora Papers project.

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Mordashov’s yacht

In March, Italian authorities seized a luxury yacht linked to Russia’s richest man, Alexei Mordashov. Months later, an Italian court rejected a request to unfreeze the yacht, the Lady M. The court found that Mordashov was the true owner of the yacht — not the company whose name appears on official paperwork.

An ICIJ investigation based on the Pandora Papers trove revealed how Mordashov used a Cypriot holding company and more than 60 shell companies registered in the BVI to invest in European companies and, inside Russia, take big stakes in the coal, logging and media industries.

The Pandora Papers describe how accounting giant PwC’s Cypriot unit helped Mordashov build the offshore infrastructure of his business empire. ICIJ found the advisers also helped him and his life partner, Marina Mordashova, register companies to own the Lady M and a Bombardier luxury jet.

Leading ChangeThe Old Way vs. The New Way

f there is one thing that we can count on, it is that things will change. Especially in the last two years, how and where we work has changed, and the workforce itself is decidedly different. Organizations are facing new changes every day, and it is essential for leaders to exploit the advantages that these changes can give. But how can leaders make change appealing to their team members, especially after constant change has been thrust upon us over the past two years?

Here are four actions to lead team members through the stages of change and ensure that the change is fully accepted, whatever that change may be. Whether it be transitioning the team back into the office or implementing a new production process, taking these steps will help ensure the change will not only be accepted but fully integrated into your team and its processes.         Communicate

When team members are first introduced to the change, they may feel shock as they face uncertainty and a loss of control. The leader must advocate for the change’s importance and communicate its necessity. Offer specific details about what is likely to happen while recognizing and respecting the unsettled feelings that your team members are likely experiencing. Communitcate Educate Educate

As the change continues, team members may resist as they desire to continue doing things the “old way” instead of the “new way.” When met with resistance, leaders should educate and help team members learn how to cope with this change. Provide opportunities for learning and resources to deal with these new challenges. Coach

Eventually, team members will start to accept the change and no longer oppose it. At this point, the leader must coach their team members on desired new practices and maintaining their willingness to move forward in order to help them grow and develop from this change event. Establish expectations for both your team members and yourself so that the team can continue to grow. Coach Reinforce Reinforce

Team members will ultimately fully accept and assimilate the change as they gain confidence in their performance. The leader should provide support and reinforcement for their team members as they solidify the new practices or processes. Continue to optimize and refine these new activities but let others take ownership and receive credit. You are going through this change as a team, so you should include your team members as much as possible.
  While resistance to change is inevitable, by taking these steps, leaders can address team members’ anxieties and uncertainties. As you help your team members navigate and assimilate change, you will also show your abilities as a coach and leader. Caring about your team members’ reaction to and acceptance of change directly leads to both increased performance as they execute the changes and increased trust in you as their leader.