Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona

10/29/2013 (10 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 (10 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 August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Middle East

Fleeing imminent death, three million Syrians now registered in other countries. That's half the population of Syria. Watch

Image of A bride crossing the Israel-Syria border.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"The Syrian crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and the countries hosting them," Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement. As of this ... continue reading


Video shows rows of bodies as 250 Syrian soldiers DEATH MARCHED, forced to chant praises to their executioners before being killed (Warning: PHOTOS)

Image of Forced to chant praised to their executioners, jubilant ISIS terrorists killed approximately 250 Syrian prisoners.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State has committed another atrocity, this time murdering as many as 250 Syrian soldiers following a half-naked death-march across the desert sand to their place of execution. The entire way, as a video reveals, the men were compelled to chant and sing ... continue reading


Yazidi women held prisoners by IS sold as sex slaves, jihadist brides Watch

Image of Women held captive by ISIS have their newborn babies taken from them -- to never be seen again.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In just the latest devaluation of humanity in the ongoing war in Iraq and Syria, hundreds of Yazidi women being held prisoner by Islamic State fighters to be sold off as sex slaves or wives. They are selling these women for as little as $25. They are repeatedly ... continue reading


Islamic State invasion 'pure and simple religious cleansing and attempted genocide' Watch

Image of Patriarch Younan says that in the Kurdistan region,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan has returned from the Kurdish region of Iraq, and what he has seen has been harrowing indeed. What he made of the handiwork of Islamic State, he said, "is a pure and simple religious cleansing and attempted ... continue reading


Second American confirmed killed fighting for ISIS in Syria Watch

Image of Neither overtly religious nor politically vocal, Abdirahmaan Muhumed appears to have been radicalized by jihadi rap videos, romanticized notions of revolution and first-hand accounts of the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A father-of-nine from Minneapolis has become the second confirmed American jihadi to die fighting for ISIS in Syria. Twenty-nine-year-old Abdirahmaan Muhumed is believed to have died last week in the same battle as U.S. rapper Douglas McArthur McCain, likewise ... continue reading


Children forced by IS to watch shootings, beheadings Watch

Image of Other acts of inhumanity include amputations, the stoning to death of women by

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Children in both Iraq and Syria are being forced to watch as IS beheads or shoots its victims at close range. According to a United Nations report, corpses are then displayed on crucifixes with decapitated heads exhibited on sticks -- for days long afterwards. ... continue reading


Gaza ceasefire holds: Israeli PM Netanyahu says war in Gaza ended in 'victory' Watch

Image of At least 2,140 people, chiefly civilians, have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Another 11,000 people have been injured.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Saying that the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement was "hit hard and got none of its demands," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the seven-week conflict in Gaza ended in "victory." In the meantime, Hamas has also claimed the truce ... continue reading


Would you drink this? 3,000 year old wine found in Israel Watch

Image of Radar imaging of the ancient cellar where more than 40 wine vessels were found, dating back more than 3,000 years.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new excavation of a Bronze Age palace in Israel has revealed a massive wine cellar filled with a collection of over 40 large vessels that each contain a differently flavored wine including mint, honey and juniper, researchers say. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Islamic State threatens to execute U.S. woman if ransom demands not met Watch

Image of In addition to the ransom money, Islamic State is also demanding the release of MIT-trained neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted in 2010 of trying to kill two U.S. officials.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State is threatening to execute a 26-year-old American woman if it does not receive $6.6 million in ransom. Remaining unidentified, at the request of her family, the woman was reportedly doing humanitarian relief work in Syria when she went missing ... continue reading


Casualty of War: Iraq's rich, culturally diverse society destroyed by IS Watch

Image of Yazidis who were assisted by the YPG are now shifting their allegiance to the group. Since coming off the mountain, hundreds of Yazidi have received training at YPG military training camps; some have already returned to Mount Sinjar to fight as new recruits for the YPG.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Islamic State forces have advanced further into Syria and overtaken cities in northern Iraq. Those who don't submit to their militant cause are tortured, imprisoned or killed. The border between northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria has effectively ... 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, First Corinthians 1:26-31
26 Consider, brothers, how you were called; not many ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:12-13, 18-19, 20-21
12 How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh, the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 25:14-30
14 'It is like a man about to go abroad who summoned ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 30th, 2014 Image

St. Rumon
August 30: St. Rumon, also known as Ruan, Ronan, and Ruadan, was probably a ... 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