Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona

10/29/2013 (8 months 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 (8 months 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 July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Middle East

'I will not let another Holocaust happen!' Sign the petition in support of Iraqi Christians forced to flee from persecution Watch

Image of Christians in Mosul embrace one another as they are forced to leave absolutely everything behind at gunpoint.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The plight of Iraq's Christians has now lasted longer than a decade, and recent militant uprisings in Mosul threaten to expunge the neighboring Chaldean-Assyrian-Syriac villages. Iraqi Christians have fled Mosul in droves, but some remain behind, awaiting their ... continue reading


WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - Islamic Caliphate celebrates Eid with VIDEO OF MASS CHRISTIAN GENOCIDE Watch

Image of This video capture shows the moment an ISIS terrorist finishes the last man our of what appears to be hundreds systematically killed near Tikrit. Christians are next and may already be included in this number.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic Caliphate terrorists continue to produce and disseminate videos of their brutal executions. In their most recent release, they celebrate the arrival of Eid, the end of Ramadan, by rounding up and executing hundreds of young men, setting the macabre events ... continue reading


WARNING GRAPHIC, RAW PHOTOS -- ISIS on Christians: 'There is nothing to give them but the sword' Watch

Image of Soldier's heads were hoisted on poles as they were killed in Syria.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State has warned Christians, possibly for the last time, saying "there is nothing to give them but the sword." Across Northern Iraq, Christians are huddled in refugee camps, trapped in the desert, or trapped in their homes, waiting for death. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


'LEAVE US ALONE!' top Israeli official says to Obama Watch

Image of Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel wants President Barack Obama to cease his interference with the Jewish state during its conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While the United States and Israel remain the staunchest of allies, top Israeli official, Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel wants President Barack Obama to cease his interference with the Jewish state during its conflict with Hamas in Gaza. "Leave us ... continue reading


Holy month of Ramadan ends with Eid Mubarak 2014 Watch

Image of Ramadan is an annual celebration held during the ninth month of the 12-month Islamic calendar, starting after the sighting of the new moon.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The holy month of Ramadan ended this year as Muslims worldwide celebrated with prayer and food during the Eid al-Fitr festival this past Monday. The end of Ramadan 2014, the Islamic holy month of fasting, lasted for three days. The event marked the anniversary ... continue reading


Christians flee as Islamic ISIS gets ready for a 'Christian Holocaust' Watch

Image of Christians are fleeing for their lives in parts of northern Iraq where Islamic militants issued an ultimatum to convert or be killed.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Iraq will soon be a Christian free nation, the only vicar of the only Anglican church in that country warns. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Canon Andrew White, also known as 'the bishop of Baghdad' gave this warning after the deadline set by Islamic militants to ... continue reading


Massive underground bunkers empower Hamas in Israeli conflict Watch

Image of Other than giving Hamas tax revenue and weapons, the tunnels supply in-demand civilian goods like food and medicine, as well as infrastructure materials including concrete and fuel.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cut off from the rest of the world with three sides enforced by Israel and Egypt, coupled with shelling maintained by sea and in the air above its coastal strip, Gazans have found a way around their confinement by tunneling underground. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


BLOWN TO BITS: Video surfaces of Jonah's tomb being destroyed Watch

Image of Militants belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, are said to have planted explosives around the tomb and detonated the explosion remotely.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's horrific footage, and many pray that it was faked - but knowing of the ruthlessness of the people involved, it probably wasn't. Jonah's tomb, a holy shrine in Mosul, Iraq is depicted being blown to bits. The demolition of this shrine occurred in seconds. ... continue reading


WARNING VERY GRAPHIC UNCENSORED CONTENT: Islamic State terrorists from Australia pose with the severed heads of their captives - CHRISTIANS ARE NEXT Watch

Image of Mohamed Elomar poses with a pair of his victim's heads, taking delight in the slaughter of fellow Muslims.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a gruesome series of images, an Islamic State terrorist is tweeting images of a friend posing with the severed heads of decapitated victims. Terrorist, Mohamed Elomar who was born in Australia and traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State is clearly having a good ... continue reading


ISIS denies claims that they will enforce mandatory female genital mutilation Watch

Image of Stories of intended FGM in Iraq have been circulating in the local media for the past few days.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

They've seized Iraqi towns, blown up shrines and have threatened the nation's Christian minority - but ISIS is now hotly denying that they intend to enforce mandatory female genital mutilation. As claimed by a senior United Nations humanitarian official this ... 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, Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
10 A disaster for me, mother, that you bore me to be ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18
2 rescue me from evil-doers, from men of violence ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:44-46
44 'The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 30th, 2014 Image

St. Peter Chrysologus
July 30: St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church ... 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