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

Ancient Roman amphitheatre in Palmyra scene of mass execution by ISIS Watch

Image of ISIS seized the opportunity to use the city's ancient Roman amphitheater for a mass execution. Twenty men, accused of being government supporters, were lined up and shot and killed ISIS.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While there is widespread concern about the destruction priceless antiquities in the Syrian town of Palmyra - now in the hands of the Islamic State - ISIS has seized the opportunity to use the city's ancient Roman amphitheater for a mass execution. Twenty men, ... continue reading


NOWHERE TO TURN: Iraqi civilians fleeing Ramadi chained up and led through desert by Iraqi militia Watch

Image of Hundreds of civilians who escaped the Iraqi city of Ramadi after it fell to the hands of Islamic State learned that their ordeal had only begun.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hundreds of civilians who escaped the Iraqi city of Ramadi, after it fell to the hands of Islamic State, learned that their ordeal had only begun. Suspected of being terrorists themselves, the fleeing civilians have been rounded up and arrested by Iraqi ... continue reading


Anti-ISIS art exhibit in Iran shows the most appalling ISIS atrocities as cartoons Watch

Image of Iran holds anti-ISIS art competition to show the real ways of ISIS.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Artists from around the world participated in an anti-ISIS cartoon and caricature competition held in Iran. The images, showing shocking depictions of ISIS atrocities, went on display at cultural centers in Tehran, Iran's capital. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Ancient water line: 2,000-year-old water supply system uncovered in Jerusalem Watch

Image of The Lower Aqueduct for nearly 2,000 years remained one of Jerusalem's principal sources of water, which is why city rulers kept the structure so well preserved.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It appears the Biblical times had a much more complex infrastructure than previously believed. An ancient aqueduct built more than 2,000 years ago to transport water into the city of Jerusalem was uncovered during a construction project. The level of ... continue reading


ISIS' horrific sexual crimes against Yazidi women unveiled

Image of ISIS militants execute horrific sexual acts on kidnapped women.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

New reports from the United Nations exposes ISIS' horrific sex crimes against women and girls. Women and young girls kidnapped by the terrorist extremists are often sold off to the fighters, and if they do not abide, they are brutally punished. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


HERITAGE OF HATE: Osama bin Laden called for bombers to kill Americans for 'alien satanic practices' Watch

Image of Osama bin Laden, the dreaded terrorist leader behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks left behind convoluted, hate-mongering documents before his death at the hands of U.S. agents in May of 2011.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Osama bin Laden, the dreaded terrorist leader behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks left behind convoluted, hate-mongering documents before his death at the hands of U.S. agents in May of 2011. Among the papers found in his compound is a 15-page document that urges ... continue reading


ISIS MAY DETONATE NUKE IN THE U.S. - NEW NUCLEAR THREAT: Islamic State claims it will buy nuclear weapon from Pakistan, smuggle it into the United States Watch

Image of Nuclear Explosion

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Terror group Islamic State now claims they're now infinitely closer to buying a nuclear weapon from Pakistan to smuggle into the United States. As published in their propaganda magazine Dabiq, in an article reportedly by a hostage journalist, The scenario is ... continue reading


Wholesale slaughter of Palmyra residents begins as Islamic State invades Watch

Image of Will this marble altar depicting the Goddess Allat with a lion from the Temple of Baal Shamin in Palmyra be destroyed by ISIS jihadists?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Shocking images have emerged of decapitated bodies strewn across blood-filled streets in Palmyra While the world worries that the Islamic State will destroy the cities many priceless historical treasures, the wholesale slaughter of Palmyra's citizens has begun. ... continue reading


OOPS! Comment riles Iran, threatened to rain down '80,000 missles on Tel Aviv and Haifa' Watch

Image of The misquote was most likely based on Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's comments from the May 5 Shurat Hadin conference.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon made a comment recently that was taken out of context. The comment was so misunderstood that it prompted war talk from Iran. While the war talk was mostly bluster, Iran obviously took the comment seriously as Iran's United ... continue reading


Foreign Legion: 17,000 men and women from more than 90 countries wage Muslim holy war for ISIS Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State continues to round up and recruit foreign fighters to join their "Muslim holy war." During the past three and a half years, ISIS has gained between 16,000 and 17,000 men and women from 90 countries, according to The Jakarata Post. LOS ANGELES, CA ... 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, Sirach 44:1, 9-13
1 Next let us praise illustrious men, our ancestors ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9
1 Alleluia! Sing a new song to Yahweh: his praise in ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 11:11-26
11 He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple; and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 29th, 2015 Image

St. Maximinus of Trier
May 29: Bishop of Trier, Germany, from 332, and a miracle worker. He was ... 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