IRAQ: Voices of Suffering and Hope
In Iraq, Christianity is holding on by a thread. In June 2014 Daesh (ISIS) fighters gave Christians in Mosul three choices: ‘Convert, Pay the Jizya Tax or Face the Sword’. Over 120,000 Christians from Mosul and the Christian villages of the Niniveh Plain fled north to Erbil and other towns. Since then, Christian families have been utterly dependent on the Church for their survival. ACN has been a key partner in providing aid and Archbishop Warda of Erbil, who is co-ordinating the survival operation, recently said that without ACN’s support there would be no Christians in Iraq – a humbling thought, considering that the surrounding area is the cradle of Christianity in the country.
Daesh is at war against Christianity and understands the significance of the Holy Eucharist. That is why the first thing Martin Banni did when fleeing Mosul by car was to go straight to his parish Church to rescue the Blessed Sacrament. Daesh routinely desecrate churches to demoralise Christians and they also desecrate the Blessed Sacrament – stamping on it, setting fire to it and perpetrating other indignities against the ‘living presence’ of Jesus Christ.
In Iraq, Christians are fiercely proud of their faith and have a strong community bond. There, as in other parts of the world, priests are community and spiritual leaders and Christians draw great strength from their presence. This makes priests a target though and in recent years a number priests in Iraq have been kidnapped and tortured or killed.
Despite the risks, since fleeing Mosul, Martin Banni has completed his studies and in 2016 was ordained to the priesthood. He is now in Baghdad – a dangerous place –especially for priests but in future says: ‘I want to serve my people in Mosul’. He adds, “We must stand up for our rights; we must not be afraid. Thank you for your prayers, we count on your support.”
Your parish fundraising for SURVIVAL PACKS will give hope to the huge numbers of Christians in Iraq who – until they can go home – in the next few years are still reliant on the Church – on us – for their survival.
IRAQ: A message of thanks
Sixth Sunday of Lent, Sunday 9th April
In Holy Week, please pray for the thousands of Christians in Iraq who still need our urgent support to survive the effects of genocide and who need our prayers to help them face the future. Also too, for the courageous priests and sisters who minster to them and the Christ’s light may continue to shine in the Middle East. #DontGiveUpOnThem
“I appeal for your prayers so that God may show the people of Iraq his infinite mercy – comfort the mourners, bind up their wounds and heal the broken-hearted in those biblical lands that have been a cradle of civilisation.” (Bishop Declan Lang)
Dear Jesus, you are grateful to us every time we help our brothers and sisters to carry their cross, although we are simply doing our duty.
Jesus, you are at the origin of this cycle of compassion. You bear our cross, thereby enabling us to assist you in your brothers and sisters to carry the cross.
When we come to the aid of our brethren in the persecuted Church, make us mindful that in reality it is we who, to an even greater extent, are being helped by them. (Cardinal Zen)
We pray for the Christians who have been forced to flee Mosul and the Christian villages of the Niniveh Plain: Our Father…, Hail Mary…, Glory be…
We pray for those completely dependent on the Church for survival: Our Father…, Hail Mary…, Glory be…
We pray for Archbishop Warda of Erbil and the work of ACN that aid will continue to reach those who need it most: Our Father…, Hail Mary…, Glory be…
We pray for Fr. Martin Banni and all those who have protected the Eucharist in Iraq. We also ask you Lord to protect the priests and sisters who are being targeted by Daesh: Our Father…, Hail Mary…, Glory be…
“When we go before the Blessed Sacrament, let us open our heart; our good God will open His. We shall go to Him; He will come to us; the one to ask, the other to receive. It will be like a breath from one to the other,”
“Without the Holy Eucharist there would be no happiness in this world; life would be insupportable. When we receive Holy Communion, we receive our joy and our happiness. The good God, wishing to give Himself to us in the Sacrament of His Love, gave us a vast and great desire, which He alone can satisfy. In the presence of this beautiful Sacrament, we are like a person dying of thirst by the side of a river — he would only need to bend his head; like a person still remaining poor, close to a great treasure — he need only stretch out his hand. He who communicates loses himself in God like a drop of water in the ocean. They can no more be separated…” (St. John Vianney)
Based on John 16:20-33
“Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything.”
As we enter Holy Week we remember those with heavy crosses in Iraq. Comfort them in their grief, pain, loss and fear.
“Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
We journey with you this week remembering that you bring good out of all evil. Even the greatest evil; Jesus’ death on the cross, led to the greatest victory. We trust that you will bring greater good from the sufferings we endure.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
As we approach the great feast of Easter, we profess our faith in God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who has overcome all that troubles, afflicts and causes us pain. We are God’s children who will inherit eternal life, because Jesus overcame death itself.
Download ACN’s Way of the Cross prayer and reflections