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Trappist Nuns in Syria Send Open Letter to Obama, Ask Him to Drop His Sentence of War
By Deacon Keith Fournier
September 7th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
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.
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:
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.
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?
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.
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
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