Trappist Nuns in Syria Challenge Us to Live as Messengers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace
They also reveal the beauty of the prophetic and timeless mission of the whole Catholic Church. In 2005 they left their beautiful Monastery of Valserena in Italy to found a monastery in Syria.They left a place of peace for a place plagued by the intrinsic evil of war. Why would they do this?
First, because they really know Jesus Christ. They also did so because they were inspired by the heroic witness of seven Cistercian monks of Tibhirine who were martyred in 1996 in Algeria. The witness of these heroic monks is chronicled in an extraordinary film entitled "Of Gods and Men"
You can read more about the life and sacrificial service of these holy women here. I call them to your attention in order to encourage you to pray for them and with them. They are the ones who stand at the center of the Lord's profound plan for this beautiful land which is the home of some of our most inspiring descendants as Christians.
They explained their decision to leave Italy and travel to Syria in these words: "There is another important reason for choosing this land to build a new monastic foundation, even if, indeed, we were led to Syria by the providence. Here, in fact, the development of Christianity started. It shortly spread throughout Minor Asia , Greece, Rome and then Armenia, India up to China."
"Since (the) first centuries, the missionary action was borne and carried out by a very much lively monastic movement, arisen in the same time and independently as regards to the Egyptian one, more well-known. Saints like Aphrahat, Ephrem the Syrian, Simeon Stylites, Maron, Isaac of Nineveh and many others following their marks like John Chrysostom and John of Damascus, started a very rich spiritual tradition. We want to follow in the wake of them, starting from our Latin and Benedictine tradition, convinced about the fruitfulness coming from a deep exchange between the Eastern and Western heritage."
Their prophetic life should inspire all of us, no matter what our state in life or specific vocation within the one call to discipleship, to respond in a similar way. I recently wrote an article entitled "Blessings, Peace and Harmony: Monks are Prophetic Seeds of Renewal in a World Waiting to be Reborn" to call attention to the wonderful apostolate of monks who released a recording which is climbing the charts in the USA. These monks, though perceived by some to be irrelevant, hold the world up by their prayer and prophetic life.
I write of these dear Christian sisters, these Cistercian nuns, who through their prayers and holy witness keep the lawlessness and evil of the devil at bay in the beautiful land of Syria, in order to challenge my readers. The Catholic Church is Christ's Church, spread throughout the whole world, to carry on His continuing redemptive mission.
These nuns in Syria reveal this Church in all of her beauty and prophetic grandeur. Pray for these nuns and allow their example and prayers to inspire your own participation in the work of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
We are living in a new missionary age. Whether in the West, where the memory of Christian influence fades under increasing persecution inflicted by rabid secularism and godless modernism, or in the East, which bleeds under the overt persecution from Jihadists and despots, the challenge is the same. We are called to prophetically bear witness to the Truth as fully revealed in Jesus Christ.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Syria, Aleppo, cistercians, prophetic, monastic, mission, anti-Christian, Azeir, nuns, trappist, Deacon Keith Fournier
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