On this Holy Saturday we unite our prayers with our Arabic Christian brothers and sisters who suffer persecution for their faith in the middle east.
“Iraqi Christian leaders are pleading with western countries to accept their people along with their priests, so that these Christians can rebuild their lives and save their culture. Thus far, the West’s response has been craven and cruel…” Read the rest at http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2016/02/isis-genocide-and-us
“There is only one word capable of capturing what is happening to the Christians in the Middle East: martyrdom. The unarmed witness exposes the jihadist’s counter-testimony and reveals the virus that has destroyed whole countries, from Syria to Iraq: the quest for victory at any price through the annihilation of those who are different. Distracted and narcissistically self-absorbed for far too long, Europe now is powerless.”
Pray the Rosary every day, for the persecuted.
As we discuss immigration we must not lose our humanity for refugees. Fear must not rob us of our virtue. Juliana Taimoorazy notes that winter is coming and that this year again IraqiChristianRelief.org will try to provide relief for over 100,000 Iraqi Christians forced from their homes for their faith in Christ. You can help them by contributing to
Iraqi Christian Relief Council
P.O. Box 3021
Glenview, IL 60025
This is one good way to help.
Brothers and sisters: Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ. ~2 Phil 1:20c-24, 27a
The past two days have been very special to me as I anticipate the completion of the pilgrimage to Santiago to venerate the tomb of the apostle Saint James in order to honor him, because he gave his life for Christ rather than deny the faith. My prayers have focused on the Iraqi Christians and other Christians in the Middle East who are faced with a decision to surrender everything rather than deny the faith.
The road into Portomarin three days ago was very precarious with so many rocks on the path of descent. My feet suffered greatly and I have blisters on the pads of my feet under my toes. Two days ago it so slowed me down so that I began to notice the beauty of the walk. I took a picture of a little mushroom embedded in a tree trunk. A newborn calf, all sorts of flowers… My slow camino these past two days has also made me think about entering Santiago. When I think about it I get very teary-eyed. This is such a privilege to have walked a month in the footsteps of so many faithful Catholics who have made this pilgrimage for over 1000 years.
In the last week and a half there has been more coverage on mainline American TV about the plight of Iraqi Christians and persecution of religious minorities in Iraq. About one and a half years ago, the German TV Deutsche Welle produced a program (in English) concerning the persecution of Iraqi Christians. Although the Iraqis have been under intense persecution for many years now this points out that in no way does it diminish their sense of mission to advance the cause of the Gospel through education that can be the hope of reconciliation. The church is very resilient.
Please watch this short documentary from Deutsche Welle (in English), shot last year in Northern Iraq.
You will see Christians who have not lost a sense of hope, who are trying to survive, and who are persisting in trying to make the world around them better, too. (Note, horrific images from about minute 9:00-9:45, but only there).
Also highly recommended, an interview here with Archbishop Warda, who serves the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil in northern Iraq.
“What are three things you would like American Catholics to know about Catholics in Iraq?
First, that Christianity has had a presence in Iraq for 2,000 years. It’s a very old community. It has not been converted from Islam. We were there before Islam. Our schools were always the best, even from the sixth and seventh centuries. Second, we’ve been through a very difficult time. We are grateful to the many people who have held out a hand of charity and solidarity with us, the various Catholic charities. However, we would like to leave this path of charity for the path of opportunity. Yes, we are a minority, but we have the capability to stay and build a good future for Iraq. Third, I would like to see more of a commitment by the media to raise the awareness of the issues in Iraq to build schools and hospitals. We are not benefitting from the wealth that Iraq has. We need to find ways to stay and build the community. When we leave Iraq, it’s a big loss. When I visited our communities in Detroit, the second and third generations are no longer speaking the language. Our whole culture is gone.”