What Happens Now?

by Fr Duncan McVicar on 25/11/2013 -

This past year we have been celebrating the Year of Faith, a time in which we, the faithful, have been called to deepen our faith and to grow closer to Christ and his Church.  For many Catholics, this has been a time of renewal and grace. But for many in the Middle East—especially Christians—this time has been a period of extreme trial. I want to respond to the question of “What do we do next after the Year of Faith?” by looking at the witness of our persecuted brothers and sisters in the Middle East. There is a town by the name of Maalula (pronounced Mah-loo-lah) that is one of the most famous and important Christian places in Syria. It is a historically Christian town, where a version of Aramaic—the language Jesus spoke, can still be heard today. In the last two weeks, the inhabitants of Maalula have been on the front lines of the fighting between the troops of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels who are trying to topple his regime. The Christians are often suspected of siding with the government and are therefore treated with suspicion by the rebel fighters, whose ranks appear to contain some radical Islamists who are not Syrian. On September 7th, this year, armed rebels affiliated with the Islamist groups Al-Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda descended on the town and began entering houses.  As they went through Maalula, the rebels defaced any sacred images they found in the homes. In one house, the militants found three Catholic men and one woman. The rebels demanded that everyone present convert to Islam or face death. The young grandson, responded: “I am a Christian and if you want to kill me because I am a Christian, do it.” They were then killed in cold blood.  Some-how, the woman was only injured and miraculously survived.  She is currently being treated at a hospital in Damascus. I share this story because I believe it will help us to respond to the question: “What do we do once the Year of Faith is over?” Does our society understand this kind of sacrifice? Does our culture honour courageous faith like his? I think the answer to those questions is that Western society finds any faith-rooted sacrifice like his almost incomprehensible because our culture is so focused on self-promotion and self-satisfaction. These faithful Christians were able to stand for their faith because it was not just something they felt was right at the moment; it was integral to their identity and they believed it was the Truth. The natural consequence of their belief in Jesus and his Church was for them to give public witness to it, even if it meant death.   [Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver]


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