Tag Archives: Eastern Christianity

Iraqi Christians pray Mass in assaulted Church for victims and the attackers

candle memorial Syrian Church.JPGThe pain and suffering endured but not consumed by some people is an extraordinary testimony to Grace. The AP news stories about the Mass prayed in the church assaulted by the slayings of Syrian Christians on October 31 brings tears to my eyes especially when I read that the walls retained the blood and flesh of the victims. No doubt poignant relics of the witnesses of humanity and Christ. I bet you no one entered Our Lady of Salvation Church expecting to lay down their life in such a dramatic manner.

Our Lady of Salvation Church has become the School of the Cross and Resurrection in which new life is being formed and born. The Christian response is exactly what Jesus taught his followers: pray for your enemies and those persecute you for love of Me. The priest who celebrated the Divine Liturgy the other day told his congregants that “We will perform a strange kind of prayer because Christ tells us: ‘Love your enemies.'”  Father Mukhlis also said that “We will pray for those who assaulted our church and shed the blood of our martyrs.”
Father Mukhlis recalled for his people that one of the murdered priests, Father Thair, said to his attackers: “Kill me, not the families and children.”
Have the Syrian Catholics become 21st century icons of love? How have we changed since hearing of these brutal deaths? What does Christ want us to learn from these events?

Saint Josaphat of Polotsk, a martyr for unity

Striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit.


Lord, fill Your Church with the Spirit that gave Saint Josaphat
the courage to lay down his life for his people. By his prayers may Your Spirit
make us strong and willing to offer our lives for our brothers and sisters.


God, you are the martyrs’ crown!St Josaphat of Poltosk.jpg

Hear the hymn we raise in gladness, 

Praising good Saint Josaphat,

Who in midst of earthly sadness

Followed Truth, and Way, and Life,

Braving trouble, scorn, and strife.

Josaphat, a preacher bold,

Was a bishop strong and fearless.

In his love for all his flock

And his ardor, he was peerless:

“That in Christ we one may be”

Was his earnest, heart-felt plea.


Strong defender of his Church,

Lover of the Eastern teaching,          

Faithful priest and leader true

Urged his people through his preaching,

And, by God’s mysterious grace,

Took in heav’n a martyr’s place.


God the Father, God the Son,

God the Spirit, hear our praises

With our hymns on this glad day;

 Which your Church in glory raises.

With Saint Josaphat, in song,

Echoing the ages long!

J. Michael Thompson

Copyright © 2009, World Library Publications


Melkite Patriarch calls for unified talk & acting to build better future

A friend sent me this letter of His Beatitude, Patriarch Gregory III addressing the killing and violence inflicted on the Syrian Christian community on October 31 (there’s discrepancy in the letter). His Beatitude is known for straight-talking and this letter indicates that sensibility. Let’s pray for peace in all of our hearts and minds as we pray for our enemies.

Patriarch Gregory III .JPG

Rabweh, 8 November 2010

Christian bloodbath in the Cathedral
of Our Lady of Deliverance, Baghdad

The carnage which took place on Sunday,
November 1, 2010 in the Syrian Catholic Cathedral of our Lady of Deliverance in
Baghdad was of an unprecedented cruelty and barbarity. It was an attack capable
of undermining the good will of genuine bridge-builders between cultures, brave
heroes of inter-religious dialogue, as well as the optimism of the Special
Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

I offer my sincere
condolences and the assurance of my prayers and those of our Church to His Beatitude
Patriarch Ignace-Joseph III (Younan), to His Eminence Cardinal Emmanuel III
(Delly) and to all those who are broken-hearted at this crime.

We know that
this criminal act is not the work of authentic Islam, and cannot be based on
it. Despite that, we hold Muslims in Iraq and in all Arab countries to be
responsible for Christian security, since they have power, and control the army
and police force.

We urge Arab countries to study the reality of fundamentalist
terrorism and the trends that feed on it. This is a global Islamic
responsibility, because showing Islam under that guise is a disfigurement of
authentic Islam. The real enemies of Islam and Muslims are neither
“Islamophobia” nor “Christian Europe,” but rather these fundamentalist organisations
and trends.

They are also the enemies of Christianity and of every Christian
and Muslim social and human value, whether Arab or not.

Christians are
peaceable, patriotic, loyal, faithful to their homeland and countries, tolerant
and naturally inclined to forgiveness. But they are not passive, cowardly,
timid, any more than they are inclined to be humiliated. They are not sheep,
designed to be slaughtered by fundamentalists. Christians are builders of
values, nations and cultures, including Islamic culture itself.

If Muslims do
nothing to safeguard this creative strain represented by Arab Christians in
Iraq and throughout the Middle East, the prosperity and drive of Islamic
culture will be in danger of collapse, and Muslims will then be their own worst
enemies, enemies of their faith and of their countries.

Dear Muslim and
Christian Arab brothers, let us adopt a unifying way of talking and act
together to build a better future for all our children and compatriots!


Patriarch of Antioch and All the East of Alexandria and of Jerusalem

The memory of the attack on Syrian Christians in Iraq

The brutality of the killings of Christians in Iraq just over a week ago can’t be forgotten. Someone wisely videotaped the bloodbath seen here. The images are horrific and rather hard to view but they do provoke one to think and pray about these facts.

Radical, Political Islamic leaders declare: “Iraq’s Christians are legitimate targets & now face the “doors of destruction”

There’s no doubt that Christians in Iraq are facing the significant trails of their lifetime. These are our brothers and sisters. Some call it a jihad against the Christian minority and others say this is an example of a more globalized efforts to squeeze out Christianity in the Middle East. The horrific attack is religiously motivated driving the Christians from the region, an ethnic cleansing. Multiple religious groups in Iraq create diversity, it creates democratic processes, no matter the size of the community.

The Islamists as a group is small, perhaps not more than 5% but they have money and are mobilized. But where is the outrage of the Islamic leaders of the reasonable sort speaking against these attacks? Barely is the media reportiing on last Sunday’s events.

Vatican Radio reported that “The victims of Sunday’s massacre in Our Lady of Salvation Church Baghdad were laid to rest Tuesday. A telegram from Pope Benedict to the leader of the Syro-Catholic Church in the Iraqi capital, Archbishop Athanase Matti Shaba Matoka, was read out to mourners during the funeral service. The Pope said ‘deeply moved by the violent death of so many faithful and their priests, Tha’ir Saad and Boutros Wasim, I wish, during the sacred funeral rite, to share spiritually in this occasion and pray that these our brothers and sisters are welcomed by the mercy of Christ into the Father’s House.for years this country has been suffering untold hardships and even Christians have become the subject of brutal attacks that, in total disregard of life – an inviolable gift from God – want to undermine confidence and peace. I renew my call that the sacrifice of our brothers and sisters may be the seed of peace and true rebirth, and that those who care about reconciliation, solidarity and fraternal coexistence, find the strength and motivation to do good.'”

Additionally, Asia News reported, “The so-called ‘War Department’ of the ‘Islamic State of Iraq’ (ISI) al-Qaeda in Iraq issued a statement on the Web to announce that the passing of the deadline of its ‘ultimatum’ to the Egyptian Coptic Church to release two Egyptian women, Camilia Cheh and Wafa Constantine, wives of Coptic priests, whom according to the terrorists are detained against their will in a convent after converting to Islam. Their conversion has been denied by all the Islamic religious authorities in Egypt, and the Muslim Brotherhood have harshly attacked the authors of the massacre in Baghdad. Al-Qaeda, however, confirms that all Christians and their churches have become “legitimate targets” of the terrorist group and are therefore are in danger. The message issued today by the Iraqi cell of al-Qaeda also makes explicit reference to the Vatican.”

Further, “While confirming its desire to attack the Christians, the terrorists say they want to give one more chance to the Catholics of the Church of Rome. They claim that ‘the War Office of the Islamic State of Iraq’ announced that starting today all the churches and Christian organizations and their leaders are a legitimate target for mujahedeen. These politicians and their bosses in the Vatican should know that the sword will not fall on the heads of their followers if they proclaim their innocence, and distance themselves from what has been done by the Egyptian Church. Al-Qaeda calls on Catholics to ‘send a clear signal to the mujahedeen of their effort to put pressure on the Egyptian Church in order to obtain the release of two women, their prisoners.'”

Martin Chulov of the Guardian in Britain, wrote “Resurgent al-Qaida threatens Christians in Iraq with ‘destruction”:  “Al-Qaida in Iraq has threatened more attacks on Iraq’s Christians, claiming that they are legitimate targets who now face the ‘doors of destruction.’ The warning, published today on militant websites, came three days after gunmen from an al-Qaida front group, the Islamic State of Iraq, raided one of Baghdad’s main cathedrals during Sunday mass. More than 50 people were killed and dozens were wounded when Iraqi forces stormed the church in an attempt to lift the four-hour siege. In its statement, ISI described the pope as ‘the hallucinating tyrant of the Vatican’ and warned that Christians would be ‘extirpated and dispersed’ from Iraq. ‘All Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the muhajideen wherever they can reach them… We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood.'”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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