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 July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Middle East

ISIS DOOMSDAY PLAN: Islamic State plans to invade India to draw United States into conflict Watch

Image of The document says that reparations for an attack on India are already underway, in  which ISIS leaders hope concludes with a war with the U.S.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A nefarious plot to draw the United States into armed conflict with Islamic State has been revealed in a top-secret document. In an attempt to bring about "the end of the world," the document states that ISIS will invade India in a bid to draw the U.S. into an all-out ... continue reading


Taliban leader, 'One-Eye' Mullah Omar confirmed dead Watch

Image of Mullah Mohammad Omar is confirmed to be dead according to the Afghan government.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Afghan government confirmed Taliban leader "One-Eye" Mullah Mohammad Omar has been dead for more than two years. The militant leader died "under mysterious circumstances" in a hospital in Karachi City in Pakistan in April 2013, according to Abdul Hassib Seddiqi, a ... continue reading


Australian reality TV stars 'shot at' by ISIS in Syria Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Australian public broadcaster, SBS defended the reality show where participants were shot at by ISIS militants in Syria. The incident was said to be a part of a trip retracing refugees' journeys and that those involved had wide security provisions. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


'End of the world' ISIS document reveals terrorist group's world domination plan Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A suspected ISIS recruitment document discovered in Pakistan's anarchic tribal lands revealed that the religious extremist group has ostentatious ambitions of building a new terrorist army in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in addition to triggering a war in India to provoke ... continue reading


STARVATION: One in two families in Yemen has no idea where their next meal is coming from Watch

Image of The problem is so severe, one in two of Yemen's people, or nearly 13 million struggle to find bread for their mouths.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

One of the greatest casualties of war is displaced civilian populations left without the necessities of life. In Yemen, nearly 4,000 people have been killed with more than 1.2 million people displaced. On ongoing battle between Houthi rebels and forces loyal to exiled ... continue reading


Iran's Assets Uncovered: Iran cash windfall from Iran nuclear deal estimated at $150 billion Watch

Image of Iran celebrates nuclear deal.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A total of $150 billion is estimated to be the amount Iran will receive from the Iran deal. This amount will provide the country more than the $124.3 billion the U.S. has given to Israel in total financial aid since 1948. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


Refugee boy beaten for selling tissues at Turkish restaurant galvanizes nation Watch

Image of Ahmet's story is one of millions of Syrians. Forced to flee to Turkey because of his homeland's civil war, his family lives in a two-bedroom apartment without electricity and running water.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was a shocking incident that drew attention to the plight of millions of refugees living in host countries. Thirteen-year-old Ahmet Hamdo, whose large Syrian family fled the war-torn town of Aleppo, was beaten mercilessly by a Turkish restaurant owner for selling ... continue reading


ISIS leader sentences a woman to be beheaded as wedding present to cruel female Sharia judge Watch

Image of [Photo By: Jamie Wiseman/ Mail Online]

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi personally sanctioned a women to be beheaded, as a wedding present to a brutal female "judge" in the terror group's feared religious police. The cruel woman asked to slaughter an unbelieving "infidel" in return for taking a new husband after the ... continue reading


Australian man anxious to fight against Islamic State - is detained and arrested Watch

Image of Jamie Reece Williams was in court in Melbourne after counter-terrorism officers charged him with preparing to enter a foreign country with the intention of engaging in hostile activities.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Australian authorities have clamped down a misguided attempt at heroism. Jamie Reece Williams, from suburban Melbourne was arrested after he allegedly try to fly to northern Iraq to join Kurdish forces battling Islamic State. It remains illegal for any Australian to ... continue reading


YOU WILL NOT TAKE MY HEAD! - Notorious ISIS executioner 'Jihadi John' now on the run from his former bosses Watch

Image of There are rumors that Jihadi John had been moved by ISIS to Libya, where he supposedly attended a terror training camp with Sousse gunman Seifeddine Rezgui.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

He was at one time the most visible and dreaded figure in the Islamic State terror group . now, "Jihadi John" has fled for his life, afraid that his ISIS overlords were planning to kill him with as much leniency mercy as he did captive journalists. 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, Leviticus 23:1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34-37
1 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said:4 "These ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 81:3-4, 5-6, 10-11
3 blow the trumpet for the new month, for the full ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:54-58
54 and, coming to his home town, he taught the people ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 31st, 2015 Image

St. Ignatius Loyola
July 31: St. Ignatius was born in the family castle in Guip˙zcoa, Spain, ... 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