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'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Middle East

Hundreds rescued as Kurdish forces punch through Islamic State siege Watch

Image of Kurdish Peshmerga forces have fought through an Islamic State siege which held hundreds of Yazidi minorities trapped on Mount Sinjar.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the ongoing war with the Islamic State, Kurdish Peshmerga forces have reported a victory in northern Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Kurdish military says it has recaptured territory near the Sinjar Mountain, the site of the dramatic airdrops that ... continue reading


Islam is the religion of peace? You'll reconsider when you read the laws of true Islam Watch

Image of A crucifixion in the Islamic State.

By Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch

How refreshing it would be if some of the people, Muslim or non-Muslim, who insist that the Islamic State is not Islamic would show how this penal code is contrary to Islam and Sharia. But they will not do so, because they can't. "Islamic State (ISIS) Publishes Penal ... continue reading


In the wake of the Taliban's brutal attack in Pakistan, Christians come together in show of support and solidarity Watch

Image of 132 school children were killed by Taliban gunmen when they attacked an army school in Peshawar province.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Following the abominable and devastating attack on a Pakistani school by Islamic gunmen, the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church has condemned the massacre. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Taliban jihadists attacked an ... continue reading


U.S. GROUND FORCES ENGAGE ISIS - No U.S. casualties reported Watch

Image of U.S. troops firing a 60mm mortar.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

U.S. ground forces have finally clashed with the Islamic State in Iraq and defeated them handily, aided by F-18 fighter jets. The clash took place Sunday following an attack on an Iraqi airbase where American troops were stationed. Several enemy fighters were killed, ... continue reading


SOLD! In a unprecedented move of barbarity, the Islamic State authorizes rape of underage girls Watch

Image of Women captured by the Islamic State are put onto the slave market where they serve as a source of income for the state and as wives for fighters.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State has released a new pamphlet that gives instructions on the taking of sex slaves, selling or giving them, and having sex with prepubescent girls, and has circulated the pamphlet among fighters in occupied Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Islamist State releases video that shows drone's eye-view of Kobane Watch

Image of The footage depicts the Kurdish half of Kobane, in a battle scene that has become a test of the efficacy of the U.S.-led air campaign to defeat ISIS.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

Islamist State jihadists are keeping the propaganda war fresh and stylized: They've just released a video, easily available on YouTube which shows a drone's eye view of the beleaguered Syrian town of Kobane. By inference, they've portrayed the ongoing conflict ... continue reading


A world at war: Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram, united how much destruction could they cause? Watch

Image of Taliban fighters have waged a war of insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A study from the BBC and the London-based International Center for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) has revealed that in November alone, over 5,000 people died as a result of Islamic violence, or nearly seven every hour. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Islamic State BEHEADS four CHRISTIAN CHILDREN when they refused to renounce Christ and convert to ISLAM Watch

Image of A man breaks down in tears. Millions of men across the Middle East, from Israel and Palestine, to Syria and Iraq, know nothing but sorrow as conflict rages across the region, consuming their children.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Islamic State terrorists have beheaded four children who refused to convert to Islam according to the British Vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Canon Andrew White, Islamic State terrorists have beheaded a man's four ... continue reading


American hostage Luke Somers killed in rescue attempt in Yemen Watch

Image of Luke Somers, who was born in Britain but had American citizenship, was working as a translator for the National Dialogue Conference when he was kidnapped last September.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

A militant jihadist reportedly "relieving himself" spotted U.S. forces in Yemen - who altered his superiors, whereupon American journalist Luke Somers along with South African hostage Pierre Korkie were killed by al-Qaeda operatives. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Bad move: Netanyah's re-election plan may lead to political suicide Watch

Image of Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, may have just committed political suicide by calling for March elections.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new survey from the Jerusalem Post has found that a large majority of the Israeli population does not want Benjamin Netanyahu to be re-elected as prime minister. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The poll was conducted on December 3, just a day after Netanyahu ... 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, Judges 13:2-7, 24-25
2 There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:3-4, 5-6, 16-17
3 Be a sheltering rock for me, always accessible; you ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:5-25
5 In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 19th, 2014 Image

St. Nemesius
December 19: Martyr of Egypt. He was burned alive in Alexandria, Egypt, ... 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