FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK
Amid the turmoil in the Middle East our fellow Christians are facing greater persecution than ever before. As the article below suggests, it is about time we do something about it.
With my prayers,
Persecution against Christians today is actually worse than in the first centuries of the Church, and there are more Christian martyrs today than in that era. —Pope Francis
The Exodus of the Endangered (and Largely Unknown) Middle Eastern Christians
By Dr. Adam A.J. DeVille
Each semester, I teach a course called “Eastern Christianity and the Encounter with Islam…. One reason I started teaching this course in 2008 was because of the vast ignorance about Eastern Christianity in any form, and the even greater ignorance about the 1,400-year history of Eastern Christians living alongside Muslims in places such as Syria, Egypt, the Levant, Iran, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula.
Another motivation, moreover, was the urgency I felt to draw attention to the appalling, enraging, and deeply saddening exodus of Eastern Christians out of Iraq following the 2003 war, which the late Pope John Paul II so rightly opposed. Since the war, Iraq’s ancient population of Chaldean Catholics, Assyrian Christians, and others has declined drastically—by well over 50 percent. Many of those Christians have been killed, but many more have been driven from their homes by the rise of fanatical Islamic groups. The latest such group is ISIS, an exceptionally nasty alliance of murderous thugs who have all but decimated the Christian population in Mosul—a population that has been in that northern Iraqi city for nearly 2,000 years.
When I begin teaching the long history of indigenous Christian populations in today’s Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and the Arabian Peninsula, I am invariably greeted with complete amazement that such peoples exist. The concept, in particular, of such a creature as an Arab Christian is especially incomprehensible to most of my students. All Arabs are Muslims, right? Arabic is only used in the Quran, right?
The idea that Arabic is the language of anything other than the Quran, and not also one of the myriad languages early Christians spoke (see Acts 2:11), as well as one of the myriad languages into which the Bible has been translated and still read today by Arab Christians (whose New Testament uses the same word for God as Muslims use: Allah) is a bridge too far for far too many American Christians. But, to be fair, even among scholars knowledge of Eastern Christianity has been low until the start of this century, and knowledge even among specialists of Assyrian, Chaldean, Arabic, and Coptic Christians (inter alia) has been even lower….
It is very sad, and a bit ironic, that the world is finally waking up to the reality of these communities just as they are being violently extinguished or otherwise extirpated from their homelands. These incredibly patient, long-suffering groups, who have seen many invasions and lived under many regimes, almost all of them ugly and exploitative in some form at some point, are now on the verge of extinction. As the Iraq-based Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako recently put it, even at his worst the maniacal tyrant Genghis Khan was not as murderous and bloodthirsty as ISIS and similar groups today.
And what are we doing about it, now that we are at least minimally aware of the existence and persecution of Christian minorities in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and elsewhere in the region? This is not an idle or optional question: much of this suffering has been caused by American interference in the region since 2003, and so America must face up squarely to the question of responsibility…So, to repeat, what are we going to do about it? I do not think that the US government is going to do anything, which is a badge of shame and a blood-stain on its reputation.
I direct my question in particular at American Christians, and especially Catholics. We, as members of the largest religious body in the world, should surely be able to command more attention than we do, and bring more pressure than we do on events around us. We could, and should, bring pressure to bear on Washington in a variety of forms, but we can more easily, and perhaps more profitably, bring discipline to bear on ourselves. Last year Pope Francis garnered headlines by calling for a day of prayer and fasting for Christians in Syria. Let us use this ancient and powerful spiritual weapon on a weekly basis. Eastern Christians have long fasted on both Wednesdays (the day of Christ’s betrayal) and Fridays (the day of his death).
Perhaps, starting next week, Christians in the West should adopt this twice weekly fast for the express purpose of begging God, as the Byzantine liturgy for the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14) states, to “save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance, granting victory to Your faithful people against enemies and protecting Your Church by Your Cross.”
This article was published in the internet edition of Catholic World Report on July 24, 2014
Call our Senators & Congressman and tell them you are concerned about how Christians are being persecuted, especially in Iraq. They should know that this is an important issue for Christians.
You can reach their offices at:
Sen. Barbara Milkulsi 202-224-4654.
Sen. Ben Cardin 202-224-4524.
Cong. Steny Hoyer 202-225-4131
ATTENTION YOUNG ADULTS
Theology on Tap BBQ-August 16 All Young Adults are invited for an end of Sunner YA BBQ and Theology on Tap talks at St. Ignatius Chapel Point on Saturday, August 16th hosted by DCCatholic and 301 Catholic.
Join us for a Vigil Mass at 5pm, Happy hour and BBQ at 6pm followed by two TED-style Theology on Tap Talks at 7pm. Must have a valid 21+ ID to drink. Learn more at: adw.org/TOT
Healing Signs & Wonders Conference
Pope Francis has called us to share The Joy of the Gospel, highlighting not only what we have been saved from, but what we have been saved for – a life-changing encounter with the love of God in Jesus Christ. On Saturday, August 23, British evangelist Damian Stayne will be the featured speaker at Trinity Washington University (125 Michigan Ave., NE) for a daylong (9am-10pm) conference on how receiving this joy sets our hearts aflame with a contagious love from which the greatest “signs and wonders,” even changed hearts and minds, naturally flow. The conference includes Mass with Fr. Dan Leary as principal celebrant and homilist, time for confessions, the teachings, and prayers for healing and receiving of gifts for ministry. Google “Acts 430 on Eventbrite” to register. For more information, please contact Fr. Fred Close at (240) 731-7433 or email@example.com.
NEW Charles County Young Adults Ministry
301 Catholics Young adults (college age to late 30's) are invited to join our new regional YA Ministry 301 Catholic. We will be hosting monthly spiritual, social & service events. Learn more at facebook.com/301 Catholic. Send us an email to join our email list at 301Catholic@gmail.com
*~* PARISH AND SCHOOL NEWS *~*
Offertory Collection from Last Weekend: $7,234.00. Of the 709 registered households in the parish we received donations from 241 identifiable contributors (34% of the parish) using envelopes or checks. Their average donation was $30.02. The unidentified donations totaled $469.50.
We received $107.00 for our Religious Ed/School support.
MASS INTENTIONS FOR THIS WEEK:
SUN: 8 am Mary H. Butler, 10am Alexander Fort, 12n Parishioners, MON: David C. Kempel, TUES: Verian Guillory, WEDS: Wilfred Guillory, THURS: Benjamin M. Edelen, FRI: 9:30am Mary T. Edelen, SAT: 9am John Crowley, 4pm Paul Therres
PLEASE REMEMBER IN YOUR DAILY PRAYERS: Mel Adkins, Prudente F. Baysic, Jose’ Beder, Philip & Ruth Booth, Joel Bray, John Buchnam, Roger Burnette, Joseph Chapman, Harry Curtin, David Fiske, David Ford, Alan “Tiny” Howard, John Jedrlinic, Regina Kijesky, Mary Knobel, Lillian Komar, Mac & M.L. McHugh, Mary Emma Middleton, Cecelia Milstead, Henry Mudd, Mary Nelson, Margaret Reeves, Ray Shumaker, June Snellings, Teresa Soares, Aiden Wingard, Thomas & Matthew Woloszyn and John Yamnicky.
1Are You or is Someone You Know Being Called to full Initiation in the Catholic Church? Do You need to know more about Your Faith?
Our Adult catechism program begins in the Fall. The program will be taught by Fr. Conley & Fr. Barry with the assistance of lay volunteers. These classes are for those who wish to enter the Church, for adult Catholics who wish to receive all the sacraments of initiation, and for folks who would just like to learn more about the Faith. We also welcome those who simply want to learn more about the faith. Please contact Fr. Conley if you are interested in these classes.
Faith Quest Pilgrimage This summer the archdiocese is sponsoring the 2nd Faith Quest Pilgrimage as part of our 75th Anniversary celebration. Gather some friends and visit the more than 20 churches and shrines that tell the story of the Church in the Archdiocese of Washington. The pilgrimage is self-guided between June 7 and September 7. It is also free, but you will need a Faith Quest passport to participate. If you visit eight or more sites, you will be invited to a celebration including Mass, a reception and prizes for participants. For more information, contact Jenny Bernal de Baker (301-853-4551; firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit www.adw.org/faithquest. Our Parish is one of the sites so you have a head start. Information sheets on Faith Quest are in the gold box marked “Faith quest” by our parish mailboxes in front of the rectory.
CANNING JARS WANTED!!! The Catholic Daughters have started canning for the Country Store at the annual church dinner in November and are in need of canning jars. If you have jars you no longer need, please donate them and help keep our costs down. We’ll gladly accept a few or a dozen. Call 301 274 3368 for info or pickup.
ST. GEORGE CATHOLIC CHURCH in Valley Lee Md will have their annual August Dinner on Sunday, Aug. 17 from 12 noon to 5pm. Adult dinners are $26, children 6-12 years cost is $10 and children under 6 years can eat for free. All carry-outs are $26.00. Crab cakes, fried chicken, baked ham and all the trimmings are on the menu with baked goods, raffles and white elephant table as well. Come to enjoy the food and meet new people.