Sees a Kind of Genocide Underway

ROME, MARCH 1, 2007 (Zenit.org).- A priest of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq laments that the faithful are "losing hope" in the war-torn nation.

Father Philip Najim, procurator to the Holy See for the patriarch of Babylon, commenting to ZENIT on the situation of Catholics in Iraq, said that the "only armament we have to create peace is our prayer."

Father Najim said that, in addition to traditional Lenten sacrifices, Iraqi Catholics need to witness the peace of Christ in their behavior and attitudes by drawing strength from God.

The priest described daily life in Iraq as a kind of genocide. The daily plague of kidnappings, deaths, bombings, fear and instability, coupled with the cumulative effects of the U.N.-imposed trade embargo that lasted 12 years, have all but demolished a culture that has roots deep in pre-Christian history.

He added that he hopes that Christians in Iraq will find new strength by turning to God anew this Lent: "When we find ourselves in very complicated situations, we often recognize the limits of our humanity and can find strength again in God, our Creator."

Father Najim said that Christians in Iraq date back to the first century. The Chaldean Church has its own patriarch, who is seated in Baghdad, and retains its own theological, liturgical and canonical traditions, while maintaining full communion with Rome.

In Baghdad before the war, 35 parishes were flourishing. Now, many of the churches have been destroyed, and priests are limited to celebrating the liturgy only on Sundays, he said.

Uprooted

Father Najim added that Chaldean Catholics in Europe number more than 80,000. These represent, in part, the "diaspora" who have fled Iraq to escape the bloodshed. In the United States, there are two Chaldean Catholic Dioceses that include many Iraqi expatriates.

Catholics in Iraq are a minority, but nonetheless, they play an important role, he added.

Regarding the role of the Church in Iraq, the priest said: "Christians bear a powerful witness by their attitudes and way of life.

"We have built our cultures and traditions, families, friendships and faith, and we have always been friends with our fellow Iraqis."

Father Najim said that Church leaders in Iraq have invited all people to pray for peace and unity during Lent.

He added: "The freedom and dignity of the person are primary in our Catholic faith, and they are the basis for peace.

"There can be no democracy unless it comes from within, and there can be no democracy without freedom."

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Teachings of Christ

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35 ESV)

Protection of the Mother of God

Protected by your coming, O Mother of God, * the faithful people celebrate today with splendor, * and, gazing at your most pure image, * we say with compunction: * "Shield us with your precious veil * and deliver us from all evil * imploring your Son, Christ our God, to save our souls.” (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the Virgin stands forth in the Church, * and with the choirs of saints she invisibly prays to God for us. * The Angels worship with the hierarchs, * and the apostles exult with the prophets, * because, in our behalf, the Mother of God entreats the pre-eternal God. (Kontakion - Tone 3)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God on October 1st.

Random Proverb

"Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold." (Proverbs 3:13,14 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Acts of charity, almsgiving and all the external good works do not suppress the arrogance of the heart; but noetic meditation, the labor of repentance, contrition and humility -- these humble the proud mind.

Elder Joseph the Hesychast