Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

10/27/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

These nuns in Syria reveal this Church in all of her beauty and prophetic grandeur

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 fully revealed in Jesus Christ.

Thetrappist nuns in Syria reveal the Church in all of her beauty and prophetic grandeur

Thetrappist nuns in Syria reveal the Church in all of her beauty and prophetic grandeur

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/27/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Syria, Aleppo, cistercians, prophetic, monastic, mission, anti-Christian, Azeir, nuns, trappist, Deacon Keith Fournier


ALEPPO, SYRIA (Catholic online) - Like most of my readers, the continual images coming out of the Syrian tragedy plague me. The horrors inflicted upon men, women and children by a regime which seems to have no conscience continually fill our television, computer and smart phone screens with an almost surreal regularity.

The infliction of wounds and murderous behavior is not limited to the current regime in Syria. Some who claim to be combating the regime seem just as hell bent on killing, maiming and inflicting evil upon the people of Syria.

Evil knows no bounds. It must be exposed by the only force able to vanquish it, the love of the God whose heart breaks for the victims; the God who is fully revealed in the Sacred Heart of His beloved Son which was pierced by the soldiers spear on Golgotha's Hill.  

In the face of all that happens in the Middle East, I try to pay special attention to the plight of the Christians in that ancient land which has such a rich place in our Christian history.  I also try, as Editor in Chief of Catholic Online, to call regular attention to the plight of our Christian brethren who suffer such intense persecution precisely because they remain faithful to the ancient faith.

Our Catholic Christian faith precedes in time and history the presence of Islam in Syria. I am helped in my efforts by some of our excellent writers like Michael Terheyden, whose coverage of the challenges faced by Christians in the Middle East is one of the many great resources we offer our readers.

I am always happy to find good news to report on in the midst of the seemingly unending stream of bad news. When I do, I want to bring it to you, our dear readers, whose prayer propels its multiplication. On Thursday I read a great report in Asia news entitled "Trappist nuns in Azeir, a sign of hope for Syria at war". 

This reliable news service is one of my "go to" sources for news on the Middle East. Here is an excerpt: "Amid the chaos of the Syrian civil war, when the main noise has been the sound of bombs going off and the screams of those they wounded, there are still some places where the prevailing hatred is held at bay. One of them is a Trappist monastery in the small Maronite village of Azeir, located in western Syria between the cities of Tartous and Homs." 

"Five Italian nuns from the Monastery of Valserena (Pisa) call it home. Despite the fighting raging around them, they chose to stay in the country. "Despite our Italian nationality," said Sister Monica, superior of the Mother House, "and the resources we might have because of it, we are part of this community and cannot leave at a time of trial. Its fate is our fate."

"In letters written over the past few months and posted on the monastery's website, the nuns describe the tragedies of the war and the suffering endured by the residents of the villages that surround them. For the sisters, the monastery is a tangible sign of hope.

"A place where God is worshiped in his real presence, both Eucharistic and Ecclesial, through prayers and brotherly communion, is a blessing for all." However, "Our neighbours are discouraged," said one of the letters posted. "Even in our small village, civilians and young conscripts have been killed."

"The country," wrote another, "has become a battleground for adversaries that are bigger than Syria, people who came to fight in this land and this people to settle their own conflicts." In each post, the Trappist nuns call on all Christians to pray for the Syrian population that welcomed them. According to them, "people want justice, freedom, democracy but also jobs and a chance to go out with the family."

"During the months of war, Muslims came to the monastery, not only to ask for basic items, but also for some comfort."Some young people began turning to us because they needed someone to help them think, grow and reflect," one nun said.

"The nuns responded to such requests with their life, full of prayers and small actions, like growing vegetables in the garden and tending the orchard, which produces all sorts of fruit," another nun said. Bearing witness in this simple fashion helps people have hope and stand up to hatred,  mindful of the traditions of this land where Christians and Muslims have lived in peace for centuries."

"Our trust in man comes from Christian hope and it is stronger than all the horrors," Sister Monica wrote. "Christians are called to bear witness to it in the world. Since we have been called to Syria, why leave?"

These holy and happy nuns of Syria make me proud to be a Catholic Christian. Their life is beautiful. 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.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Middle East

Kobane in apocalyptic rubble after Islamic State dislodged (PHOTOS) Watch

Image of A massive clean-up operation went into effect as residents tentatively returned to their homes.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Syrian town of Kobane following the storm of the Islamic State resembles the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. Aerial footage shows the overwhelming destruction. Buildings have been reduced to shells and all infrastructures have been destroyed. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Why pictures of the Prophet Muhammad are banned in Islam Watch

Image of Islam bans depictions of Muhammad in order to prevent prophet worship.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As fanatical as some of its followers are, the reasons for not depicting the Prophet Muhammad in all artistic interpretations - including painting and film, remains a mystery to many Westerners. A free speech event in Garland, Texas, left two attackers dead. ... continue reading


Battle against the Islamic State draws Kurdish women to combat frontlines Watch

Image of Forced to cut ties with their families back home, the women fighters come from all corners of the Kurdish region that spans Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The war against the Islamic State has reached the point where all available labor must draw upon the female population as well. Kurdish forces have been fighting the Islamic State since the al-Qaeda offshoot captured large tracts of land in Iraq and Syria. ... continue reading


ISIS shocks with horrific images of jihadi babies Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

ISIS continues to shock the world every day with horrible images of executions. However, the terrorist group's latest photographs do not display death; they are the picture of life. Infant children are posed with ISIS garb and dangerous weapons. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


ISIS demands unbelievable amount of money for return of 230 Christians Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

ISIS demands $23 million for return of the 230 Assyrian Christian hostages they captured in February. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Although some of the hostages were released shortly after the attack on February 25, 230 are still missing, including 84 women and ... continue reading


Iran foreign minister highly confident that U.S. Congress cannot stop Obama Watch

Image of In a show of self-confidence, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that all sanctions against his nation would be lifted from his country - and all U.S. lawmakers will be unable to stop it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a show of self-confidence, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that all sanctions against his nation would be lifted from his country - and all U.S. lawmakers will be unable to stop it. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Speaking to a New ... continue reading


Iranian General says U.S. carried out 9/11 attacks in order to invade Middle East Watch

Image of In a TV interview, Brigadier-General Ahmad Reza Pourdestan says the U.S. planned and carried out the attacks as a pretext for invading Middle Eastern countries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 9, 2001 - known as 9/11, many outrageous conspiracy theories were formulated that run the paranoid gamut. An Iranian military official has now offered one of the most bizarre and unsettling ... continue reading


ISIS does the unexpected in latest shocking execution images Watch

Image of The ISIS militants are photographed hugging the blindfolded accused gay men.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

New images claim to show ISIS militants showing compassion. Two accused gay men were set to be stoned to death, however, prior to the stoning, their executioners did something strange and unexpected. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The ISIS fighters were ... continue reading


White House admits fault: Two hostages accidentally killed in U.S. drone strike Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A U.S. counterterrorism operation targeting an al Qaeda compound in January accidentally killed two innocent hostages, including one American. President Barack Obama, making the announcement this week confirmed that a U.S. military drone that targeted the ... continue reading


U.S. warships monitoring Iranian traffic off coast of Yemen Watch

Image of U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters that America has been clear in its messages to Tehran on sending weapons to Houthi rebels inside Yemen.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United States has deployed warships to Yemen in order to monitor nearby Iranian vessels. Officials say this gives America "options" on how it could react to Iran's behavior in the region. Ships traveling from Iran could be trafficking arms to Houthi rebels. ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 15:1-6
1 Then some men came down from Judaea and taught the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they ... Read More

Gospel, John 15:1-8
1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 6th, 2015 Image

Bl. Edward Jones
May 6: Blessed Edward Jones and Anthony Middleton, Martyrs Edward Jones ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter