Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

9/7/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

To those who truly have a heart for Syria (for mankind, for truth.) we ask for prayer.abounding, heartfelt, courageous prayer

The people are straining their eyes and ears in front of the television: all they're waiting for is a word from Obama! A word from Obama? Will the Nobel Peace Prize winner drop his sentence of war onto us? Despite all justice, all common sense, all mercy, all humility, all wisdom?  The Pope has spoken up, patriarchs and bishops have spoken up, numberless witnesses have spoken up, analysts and people of experience have spoken up, even the opponents of the regime have spoken up. Yet here we all are, waiting for just one word from the great Obama? And if it weren't him, it would be someone else. It isn't he who is "the great one," it is the Evil One who, these days, is really acting up.

The Trappist nuns of Syria make me proud to be a Catholic Christian. Their life is beautiful. Their prayer is powerful; more powerful than any weapons of mass destruction, be they chemical weapons or tomahawk missiles. They reveal the prophetic mission of the Catholic Church. We need to hear their cry and respond.

The Trappist nuns of Syria make me proud to be a Catholic Christian. Their life is beautiful. Their prayer is powerful; more powerful than any weapons of mass destruction, be they chemical weapons or tomahawk missiles. They reveal the prophetic mission of the Catholic Church. We need to hear their cry and respond.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/7/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Syria, Trappist Nuns of Syria, pope Francis, Jihad, Islam, Sharia, beheading priests, G20, President Obama, Putin, Alleppo,


ALEPPO, SYRIA (Catholic Online) - While the President of the United States is attending the G20 summit in Russia, seeking support for his announced intention to bomb Syria, opposition to that plan continues to grow at home. The outcome of the debate in the US Congress concerning the plan is in doubt.

Every single person of conscience deplores the use of chemical weapons against innocent people. There is a dispute concerning who deployed these weapons of evil against innocent women, men and children. However, the central question is whether the action of bombing Syria is, in any way, justifiable as a response.

On September 3, 2013, Pope Francis used his Sunday Angelus address to implore the parties engaged in the atrocities in Syria to cease, crying out with prophetic voice, "War begets war, violence begets violence." He announced to the faithful that on Saturday, September 7, 2013, he will lead a historic day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the world.

In a world spiraling out of control, Christians are called to be peacemakers. At the Last Supper, right before he walked the Way of the Cross, Jesus spoke these words to his disciples: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)

We also need to hear these words of Jesus, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Mt. 5:9) The path to peace passes through prayer - and fasting is one of its most powerful weapons. The horrors being inflicted against the innocent in Syria must move us to the most powerful action a Christian can engage in.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood; but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Eph. 6:12,13) He wrote to the Christians in Corinth: "For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds
. (2 Cor. 10:4,5) 

Evil like what is being perpetrated against the innocent people in Syria must be exposed and opposed by the only force able to vanquish it, the love of the God whose heart breaks for the victims; the God whose Mercy 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 is happening 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, Syria.  In April I reported on good news in the midst of the seemingly unending stream of bad news out of Syria.

Il sussidiaro.net featured a marvelous interview with a Trappist nun who is a part of a community which moved to Syria to focus the greatest weapon against the growing encroachment of evil in that land rooted in Church history. That weapon is prayer. You can read the interview here. Last year, Asia News ran a feature on these wonderful nuns.

The Trappist nuns of Syria make me proud to be a Catholic Christian. Their life is beautiful.  Their prayer is powerful; more powerful than any weapons of mass destruction, be they chemical weapons or tomahawk missiles. They reveal the prophetic mission of the Catholic Church. We need to hear their cry and respond.

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; I mean REALLY know Jesus Christ, in the way we all better get to know him as this new missionary age unfolds.

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 a complete account of the life and sacrificial service of these holy women of the Catholic Church here.

These Trappist nuns in Syria stand at the center of the Lord's plan for this beautiful land which is the home of some of our most inspiring brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. After all, we must always remember that we are, first, last and all in between, Christians - first, last and forever!

The nuns 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.

Through their prayers and holy witness of the Christian faith and way of life they keep the lawlessness and evil of the devil at bay in the beautiful land of Syria. They remind all of us that the Catholic Church is Christ's Church, spread throughout the whole world, with the call to carry on His continuing redemptive mission.

I repeat, they are the realists in this time of travail. They know that the battle raging is a spiritual one - and prayer is the most potent force. Do we? God alone can bring peace to Syria and to a world which has forgotten Him. He works through people like the nuns of Syria who understand reality and truly believe in the power of God. We need to be those kind of people in every nation.

Now, I want our readers to listen closely and hear the plea of these dear nuns concerning the plans of the US Administration to bomb Syria. They sent a letter to President Obama on August 29, 2013 which was published in the Catholic World Report.  I offer it below.

******
Letter from the Trappist Nuns of Syria to President Obama

Today we have no words, except those of the Psalms that the liturgical prayer puts onto our lips in these days:

Rebuke the Beast of the Reeds, that herd of bulls, that people of calves.oh God, scatter the people who delight in war. The Lord has leaned down from the heights of his sanctuary, has looked down from heaven to earth to listen to the sighing of the captive, and set free those condemned to death.Listen, God, to my voice as I plead, protect my life from fear of the enemy; hide me from the league of the wicked, from the gang of evil-doers. They sharpen their tongues like a sword, aim their arrow of poisonous abuse.They support each other in their evil designs, they discuss how to lay their snares. "Who will see us?" they say. He will do that, he who penetrates human nature to its depths, the depths of the heart.Break into song for my God, to the tambourine, sing in honor of the Lord, to the cymbal, let psalm and canticle mingle for him, extol his name, invoke it.For the Lord is a God who breaks battle-lines! . Lord, you are great, you are glorious, wonderfully strong, unconquerable

We look at the people around us, our day workers who are all here as if suspended, stunned: "They've decided to attack us." Today we went to Tartous - we felt the anger, the helplessness, the inability to formulate a sense to all this: the people trying their best to work and to live normally.

You see the farmers watering their land, parents buying notebooks for the schools that are about to begin, unknowing children asking for a toy or an ice cream. You see the poor, so many of them, trying to scrape together a few coins. The streets are full of the inner refugees of Syria, who have come from all over to the only area left that is still relatively liveable.

You see the beauty of these hills, the smile on people's faces, the good-natured gaze of a boy who is about to join the army and gives us the two or three peanuts he has in his pocket as a token of togetherness.

And then you remember that they have decided to bomb us tomorrow. Just like that. Because "it's time to do something," as it is worded in the statements of the important men, who will be sipping their tea tomorrow as they watch TV to see how effective their humanitarian intervention will be.

Will they make us breathe the toxic gases of the depots they hit, tomorrow, so as to punish us for the gases we have already breathed in?

The people are straining their eyes and ears in front of the television: all they're waiting for is a word from Obama! A word from Obama? Will the Nobel Peace Prize winner drop his sentence of war onto us? Despite all justice, all common sense, all mercy, all humility, all wisdom?

The Pope has spoken up, patriarchs and bishops have spoken up, numberless witnesses have spoken up, analysts and people of experience have spoken up, even the opponents of the regime have spoken up. Yet here we all are, waiting for just one word from the great Obama? And if it weren't him, it would be someone else. It isn't he who is "the great one," it is the Evil One who, these days, is really acting up.

The problem is that it has become too easy to pass lies off as noble gestures, to pass ruthless self-interest off as a search for justice, to pass the need to appear [strong] and to wield power off as a "moral responsibility not to look away."

And despite all our globalizations and sources of information, it seems nothing can be verified. It seems that there is no such thing as a minimal scrap of truth. That is, they don't want there to be any truth; while actually a truth does exist, and anyone honest would be able to find it, if they truly sought it out together, if they weren't prevented by those who are in the service of other interests.

There is something wrong, and it is something very serious, because the consequences will be wrought on the lives of an entire population, it is in the blood that fills our streets, our eyes, our hearts.

Yet what use are words anymore? All has been destroyed: a nation destroyed, generations of young people exterminated, children growing up wielding weapons, women winding up alone and targeted by various types of violence, families, traditions, homes, religious buildings, monuments that tell and preserve history and therefore the roots of a people,all destroyed. 

As Christians we can at least offer all this up to the mercy of God, unite it to the blood of Christ, which carries out the redemption of the world in all those who suffer.

They are trying to kill hope, but we must hold on to it with all our might.

To those who truly have a heart for Syria (for mankind, for truth.) we ask for prayer - abounding, heartfelt, courageous prayer.

The Trappist nuns from Azeir, Syria
August 29, 2013 

---


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


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Middle East

There is no future for the Christians in Iraq, Anglican vicar warns Watch

Image of Christians in Iraq have been subjected to persecution, and more than a million have been forced to flee.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Terrorist fighters from the Islamic State are almost ready to enter the capital of Iraq, the vicar of St. George's Anglican Church in Baghdad warned on Facebook. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Rev. Canon Andrew White posted that "the Islamic State are on the ... continue reading


Netanyahu says threat of Hamas and ISIS reaches far beyond Israel Watch

Image of The spread of Islamic terrorism was compared by Netanyahu as a

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking at the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the threat of Hamas and ISIS reaches far beyond Israel. Islamic militants across the globe share the same goal of world domination, ... continue reading


Islamic State blasts Obama in powerful critique delivered by hostage John Cantile Watch

Image of John Cantile delivered the Islamic State's latest, scathing critique of Obama's strategy.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State has delivered a powerful critique of Obama's war speech, asking that if two Gulf Wars did not stop the spread of Islamic influence in the region, then why did he think a third would be more effective? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Whoever is ... continue reading


NO COMMUNION for first time in 2,000 years... Watch

Image of Iraqi Christians receive communion in the Kurdish city of Arbil. Sunday was the first time in 2,000 years no communion was offered in Nineveh, because no Christians remain.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Last Sunday there was no communion in Nineveh for the first time in 2,000 years. The Islamic State has finished Christianity in Iraq, having killed and forcing to flee the nation's population of over 200,000 Christians. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The ancient ... continue reading


More than 3,000 Europeans fighting for ISIS, anti-terrorism chief says Watch

Image of Seizing large parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months, Islamic State - or known as IS, ISIS and ISIL, has had active troops from the European continent within its ranks.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The number of Europeans joining Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq has risen to more than 3,000, the European Union's Anti-Terrorism Chief Gilles de Kerchove has told TV reporters. Even worse, De Kerchove warned that Western air strikes would increase the risk ... continue reading


ISIS executioner in Foley beheading identified - but not made public Watch

Image of ISIS has beheaded James Foley, American journalist Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines, gruesomely showing their killings in videos posted online.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

FBI Director James Comey says that the United States believes it has identified the ISIS militant in the video showing American journalist James Foley's killing - but did not publicly identify the man. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The reason this is so ... continue reading


URGENT email from Iraq asks Christians to pray for ISIS victims in Queragosh -- but is it a hoax? Watch

Image of Christians in Iraq are subject to intense persecution and hardship. They remain at risk and in need of emergency aid.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An email was forwarded to the editorial staff of Catholic Online, requesting urgent prayers for the people of Queragosh, who were being slaughtered by terrorists from the Islamic State. In investigating the matter, the editorial team quickly established the email is a ... continue reading


U.S. mission in Syria determined to be 'a matter of years,' Rear Admiral John Kirby says Watch

Image of Calling the torture and killing of Sameera Al-Nuiamy savage and cowardly, U.N. special representative for Iraq Nickolay Mladenov says that the Iraqi government and the international community must do all they can to ensure those responsible for her death are brought to justice.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The airstrikes against Islamic State strongholds in Syria will likely drag on for several years, according to Rear Admiral John Kirby. As airstrikes continue to pummel used by the terror group to help fund its operations, Kirby pulled no punches with his ... continue reading


Refineries used by Islamic State targeted in airstrikes Watch

Image of Fighter jets from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates flew alongside U.S. aircraft during the operation, hitting 12 locations. Initial reports say that the strikes were successful.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Mobile oil refineries in eastern Syria were pounded by U.S.-led warplanes this week in an attempt to hit Islamic State "in the pocketbook." The refineries have been fueling IS' terror brigade. According to Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby, the airstrikes were aimed ... continue reading


Bin Laden son-in-law sentenced to life in prison Watch

Image of Convicted in March on conspiracy charges, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith answered Osama bin Laden's request in the hours after the attacks to speak on the widely circulated videos used to recruit new followers willing to go on suicide missions.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was sentenced to life in prison for acting as al-Qaeda's spokesman after the September 11 terror attacks. Before sentencing, Abu Ghaith said through an interpreter that he "would not come here today and seek ... 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, Job 9:1-12, 14-16
1 Job spoke next. He said:2 Indeed, I know ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 88:10-11, 12-13, 14-15
10 Do you work wonders for the dead, can shadows rise ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:57-62
57 As they travelled along they met a man on the road ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 1st, 2014 Image

St. Therese of Lisieux
October 1: Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called ... 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