14 Nov 2010

To send letters to the Christians of Baghdad

We all watched in horror and read with disgust about the attack on the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad on 31st October, an attack against people who were at prayer to God.

"Exactly two weeks ago, late on a Sunday afternoon, a young woman named Raghada al-Wafi ran to her local church, with some wonderful news to share with the priest who had married her: she was going to have a baby. She asked the priest for a blessing. He was happy to give it. It ended up being one of the last acts of his life. Moments later, the priest, Raghada and her unborn child were slaughtered. They were among the Catholic faithful killed by terrorists at a Baghdad cathedral - Our Lady of Salvation -- on October 31st. It was a horrific attack. Gunmen stormed into the church and accused the Christians of being infidels. Then they began randomly firing on them. Dozens of worshippers sought sanctuary in the church sacristy. But many more weren't as lucky. The siege lasted four hours. When it was over, more than 50 Iraqi Catholics had been killed, including two priests. It was one of the deadliest attacks on Christians since the Iraq war began. It wasn't the first. It won't be the last."

It seems appropriate today to recall the martyrs of this attack in the context of todays gospel Luke 21:5-19

“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately..........You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls."

The gospel calls on us to trust in God and is a harsh gospel to us in our safe, secure lives.

Deacon Greg Kandra also has a challanging homily this week.

A member of Communion & Liberation, Maria Teresa Landi came up with an idea during the week; send letters of encouragement to the Christians of Baghdad, who are suffering horrible persecution and killings. They are the Church's modern-day martyrs. 

By day's end, the Nuncio at the United Nations was offering his diplomatic pouch (direct mail). He proposed to have all letters and messages sent to him by Tuesday night in a package and he will send the package to the Nunciature in Iraq on Wednesday morning. Please address your emails to the families, to His Beatitude Emmanuel Delli, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad at tonuncio@gmail.com. He will print out the emails and put them in the pouch.

Why I am Catholic blogger Alison Salerno has posted some quotes from Maria Teresa Landi's email:

"I kept thinking at their suffering, at their mysterious participation in the cross of Christ, and what this means for me and for the history of Iraq, the Middle East and the entire world. I thought to offer my work for them, to do it very seriously as my way to be present to them. And to pray for them, to ask the pastor of my Church to say a Mass for them, that they could be sustained in this difficult time and not feel alone in their struggle. That they could recognize Christ in these challenging circumstances.

Suddenly, I had an idea and this is why I am writing to you.

In addition to praying for them, why don’t we all write letters to them, many, many letters as soon as possible, also from our kids, to tell them that we are with them, that even if we are far away, we are One in Christ, we pray for them, and we thank them for their presence in that precious land and in our lives? We can witness to them the miracles we see in our lives, the path we are following, our certainty in the presence of Christ in any circumstance, so they could be sustained in their faith.

It is a small gesture, like a drop in the ocean, but Christ can use it to make great things, because, as He said, when two or three are gathered in His name, He is in their midst."

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