I just finished watching the documentary that EWTN1 just ran on the Christians in Iraq. What a beautiful and moving piece of work! Bravo EWTN. This film traces the history and roots as well as the modern problems faced by the Catholic and Orthodox Christians who still remain in the region today2.
It is films such as these which brings to my mind the sharp contrast between the lives of Christians in the "developed" West and the turmoil and tumultuous lives that are lived by Christians in the so-called third world. From my comfortable temperature controlled living room with all the amenities that America has to offer, my conscience cries out against me as every minute unfolds the powerful drama that these our brothers and sisters in the faith endure day by day for the simple label of being called "Christian." My heart broke and I could not help from breaking down watching and hearing the small crowds of the courageous children, women and men walk down dirty streets singing hymns of praise, not knowing if a blast could take out dozens of families at any moment. In the face of the tired and depressed young widow who recalls the story of how her young husband told her to get back in the house when accosted and then shot I see the face of my wife. In the faces of the old gathered at holy day celebrations I see my grandparents. In the faces of the little girls dancing at a wedding I see the faces of my daughters.
Beloved, what does our King and Master promise us in His Holy Scripture?
"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matt 5:11-12).
This same promise is recorded by St. John (John 15:20), St. Paul (1 Cor 4:12) as well as the testimony of the early Catholic Church which was violently persecuted by the Roman Empire, and the Jews. Eusebius the historian records all these events in his Ecclesiastical History.
The Patristic Fathers as well tell us how in the hour of death even the "weaker sex" and children never showed fear or pain despite the most inhumane forms of torture and death, for they were convinced that Jesus Christ would manifest himself and give them the grace to endure these things in a supernatural way.
On the other hand we are called to help our brothers and sisters in the faith in times of need for they along with us are the Body of Christ. We are commanded in Scripture to feed, clothe and give aid too eachother, especially in desperate times of need. Please pray for our brothers in the middle-East and if anyone knows any links to legitimate sites that offer services/donations to help our brothers feel free to add through comment.
1. Catholic television network whose programs can be viewed on-line here, - http://www.ewtn.com/
2. Due to the immense persecution of Christians there has been a sort of mass exodus. Details can be read here - http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,270377,00.html