Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona

10/29/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

How can we live our faith in a time of great difficulty? What can we do for those who are persecuted because of their faith? To ask this question means above all interrogating ourselves about the meaning of our faith. In order to be able to speak about the time of persecution Christians must really know their own faith.

The Archbishop, Amel Shamon Nona.

The Archbishop, Amel Shamon Nona.

Highlights

By Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/29/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona, Iraq, Mosul, violence, letter, hope, peace, faith


MOSUL, Iraq- In 2010, when I was appointed bishop of Mosul, I knew that I would be coming to a city facing an extremely critical situation with regard to security-for many Christians had already been killed, and many had been forced to leave the diocese. Brutal violence took the life of a priest, as well as a bishop, my predecessor: both were murdered in extremely gruesome fashion.

I came to Mosul Jan. 16, 2010. The very next day a series of reprisal murders of Christians began, starting with the killing of the father of a young man who was praying with me in church. For more than 10 days extremists continued to kill, one or two people each day. The faithful left the city to seek refuge in the small towns and villages nearby, or in the monasteries.

Visit the Aid Church in Need now!

Since then almost half of the faithful have now returned. What can we do for these people? What can one do for those who are living the difficult life of persecution?

These questions tormented me, forcing me to reflect on the right path to follow so I could fulfill my mission of service. I found the answer in the motto of my episcopate-namely, hope. I came to this conclusion: during a time of crisis and persecution we must remain full of hope. And so I remained in the city, strengthened in hope, in order to give hope to the many persecuted faithful who likewise continued to live here.

Is this enough? To remain with the faithful in hope is a crucial start, but it is not enough-there has to be something more. Saint Paul reminds us that hope is linked to love, and love to faith. To remain with those who are persecuted is to give them a hope founded in love and faith. What can we do to build up this faith? I began to ask myself how our faithful were living out their faith, how they were practicing it in the difficult circumstances of every day. I realized that, above all-in the face of suffering and persecution-a true knowledge of our own faith and the cause of our persecution is of fundamental importance.

By deepening our sense of what it means to be Christians, we discover ways to give meaning to this life of persecution and find the necessary strength to endure it. To know that we may be killed at any moment, at home, in the street, at work, and yet despite all this to retain a living and active faith-this is the true challenge.

From the moment when we are waiting for death, under threat from someone who may shoot us at any moment, we need to know how to live well. The greatest challenge in facing death because of our faith is to continue to know this faith in such a way as to live it constantly and fully-even in that very brief moment that separates us from death.
My goal in all this: to reinforce the fact that the Christian faith is not an abstract, rational theory, remote from actual, everyday life, but a means of discovering its deepest meaning, its highest expression as revealed by the Incarnation. When the individual discovers this possibility, he or she will be willing to endure absolutely anything and will do everything to safeguard this discovery-even if this means having to die in its cause.

Many people living in freedom from persecution, in countries without problems like ours, ask me what they can do for us, how they can help us in our situation. First of all, anyone who wants to do something for us should make an effort to live out his or her own faith in a more profound manner, embracing the life of faith in daily practice. For us the greatest gift is to know that our situation is helping others to live out their own faith with greater strength, joy and fidelity.

Strength in daily life; joy in everything we encounter along the path of life; confidence that the Christian faith holds the answer to all the fundamental questions of life, as well as helping us cope with all the relatively minor incidents we confront along our way. This must be the overriding objective for all of us. And to know that there are people in this world who are persecuted on account of their faith should be a warning-to you who live in freedom-to become better, stronger Christians; a spur to demonstrating your own faith as it confronts the difficulties of your own society; and the recognition that you too are confronted with a certain degree of persecution because of your faith, even in the West.

Anyone who wishes to respond to this emergency can help those who are persecuted both materially and spiritually. Help bring our situation to the notice of the world-you are our voice. Spiritually, you can help us by making our life and our suffering the stimulus for the promotion of unity among all Christians. The most powerful thing you can do in response to our situation is that you should rediscover and forge unity-personally and as a community-and to work for the good of your own societies. They are in great need of the witness of Christians who live out their faith with a strength and joy that can give others the courage of faith.

We are victims, and we suffer at the hands of fundamentalists coming from distant countries to fight against what they consider to be the infidels (us Christians), using as an excuse that their brothers are being persecuted in various countries.Their reaction is to kill others. Our reaction to persecution must be that of becoming more loving, more united, ever stronger in showing the world the true image of life, as taught us by Jesus Christ.

The Christian world defends its persecuted faithful through the revelation, the realization and the strength of the love which is the foundation of faith and which embraces everyone-even our persecutors. There is a great temptation to which persecuted Christians can fall victim and which I myself never tire of warning against: namely that because of being persecuted, we can, with the passing of time, end up becoming persecutors ourselves-turning to violence in our way of thinking, in treating our neighbor, in our way of living.

This temptation is very powerful: the sentiments that we develop in a climate of persecution can change our way of living-rejecting the Christian way which is imbued with love-to a manner similar to that of those who demand and speak of justice only, but never of love. Let us be very careful not to live out our faith feebly because other Christians are suffering. The difficulties of Christians should be a prompting to demonstrate true faith.

When Christians are persecuted, we should take on more firmly the responsibility of our own faith to joyfully give expression to love, fidelity and justice. If there are Christians in trouble, I should love my neighbor still more; I should be more positive in my way of looking at the business of life, in order to show those suffering the strength of my own faith.

You in the West are living in a way that persecuted Christians cannot: since they do not have freedom, you must live out the true meaning of freedom; since they cannot publicly celebrate their faith, you must give public witness of your faith in your own societies; since the women in our countries do not have the possibility of feely choosing to go outside their houses, women in the West should become witnesses to true Christian freedom.

Still, we are happy, because we have the chance of reflecting on our choice to be Christians. We are happy because we have the opportunity of making our freedom concrete-by defending with love the one who attacks us with rancour and hatred. Ultimately, persecution cannot make us sad or despairing, because we believe that human life deserves to be always embraced in a perfect manner, as Jesus showed us-even if death stares us in the face and we have no more than a minute left in this world.

Saint Paul says that "where sin abounded, grace did still more abound" (Rom 5:20). With him, we may also say that wherever there is persecution there too will be the grace of a strong faith-and therein lies our salvation.

Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Nona heads the Diocese of Mosul, Iraq. His letter was made available Oct. 29, 2013 to Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR LINK

---


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


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


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


Comments


More Middle East

As Houthis rebels advance on Aden, Yemeni president flees by boat Watch

Image of A Yemeni man says the child, pictured riding a horse, was killed in the Saudi air stirke in Sana'a this week.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Saudi Arabia-led airstrikes in Yemen are targeting military installations held by the Shia rebels. The militant factions swept into the country's south and drove Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee by sea. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hadi was ... continue reading


Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen dangerously clashing with archrival Iran Watch

Image of The greatest concern is that the conflict could evolve into a proxy war between Yemen and its neighbor Saudi Arabia, the leading Sunni power, and Iran, the leading Shia power.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The momentous divide between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the Middle East has turned into open conflict in Yemen. There are widespread fears that this will draw other nations into a much wider war. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A Sunni coalition of Arab states ... continue reading


DRIVING MILITANTS OUT: Houthi positions in Yemen targeted by Saudi Arabia Watch

Image of The air campaign began at 7 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday, according to Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Backed by other Gulf States and Egypt Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes against Houthi militants in Yemen. The airstrikes were in response to the Yemeni president fleeing his palace ahead of advancing fighters. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Saudi Arabia builds megacity in middle of desert at cost of $100 billion Watch

Image of KAEC has its own website showing plans for the city, including details on how to invest in its growth.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The King Abdullah Economic City, or KAEC -- pronounced "cake," is being constructed by Saudi Arabia. The planned megacity in the desert will be slightly larger than Washington D.C. and home to approximately two million residents. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


'Death to America' Iran's Supreme Leader declares on even on nuclear weapon agreement Watch

Image of When the crowd started shouting,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While the United States works with Iran for a comprehensive nuclear weapons treat, Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei called for "Death to America" this past weekend. It was contradictory news as it came shortly after President Barack Obama appealed to Iran to ... continue reading


The Obama administration steps on more toes: U.S. moves from Israeli-Palestinian peace talks toward United Nations forced two-state resolution in Middle East crisis Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The continuous efforts to get Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peaceful agreement on land has potentially reached its peak. The United States is edging closer to supporting the United Nations Security Council in forcing a final peace settlement, a lasting two-state ... continue reading


Netanyahu takes overwhelming victory despite left-wing busing Arabs to polls during Israeli election Watch

Image of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a message posted on Facebook declared that left-wing non-governmental organizations, or NGOs and foreign governments attempted to influence the Israeli election. He says that these entities bussed Arabs to the polls.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a message posted on Facebook declared that left-wing non-governmental organizations, or NGOs and foreign governments were attempting to influence the upcoming Israeli election. He says that these entities intended to bus ... continue reading


'We will blacken your life and blow up your White House.' ISIS makes direct threats in new audio accepting Boko Haram's allegiance Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"We want, Allah willing, Paris before Rome and before Al-Andalus [Spain and Portugal], [and] after that we will blacken your life and blow up your White House, Big Ben, and the Eiffel Tower, Allah willing," Islamic State spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani warns in a ... continue reading


ISIS may hate the West - but loves our junk food! Watch

Image of Most of their meals seem to be washed down with an assortment of cavity-inducing sodas.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Islamic State loves to videotape torture and mayhem to post to the shared outrage of the outside world. Now, ISIS has posted pictures glorifying their notoriously bad dietary standards. McDonald's food, sugary sodas, chocolate desserts are all on the menu for ... continue reading


Sickening new photos claim to show Iraqi troops torturing ISIS prisoners in 'revenge attacks' (Warning: Graphic Photos) Watch

Image of Horrific photos claim to show Iraqi troops imitating ISIS.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

New sickening ISIS-related pictures have been made public. The various pictures show every type of torture ISIS has inflicted in previous propaganda videos and pictures. However, there is one detail that makes these new photos stand out among the others. LOS ANGELES, ... 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, Isaiah 42:1-7
1 Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 27:1, 2, 3, 13-14
1 [Of David] Yahweh is my light and my salvation, ... Read More

Gospel, John 12:1-11
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 30th, 2015 Image

St. Peter Regulatus
March 30: Also Peter Regalado, Franciscan reformer. Peter was born at ... 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