(Eph 6:17-18) And take unto you the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God). By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit: and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints:
USCCB: Bishop Pates Asks Bishops, Parishes To Offer Special Prayer On August 17 For Peace In Iraq
Bishop Pates recounted the struggles of Christians and others in Iraq who have faced the destruction, burning and looting of churches, homes and businesses and, under threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) to join their extremist brand of Islam, have fled for their lives. Accordingly, he urged Catholics to let their elected representatives know of their concern that humanitarian assistance reach Christian and other religious minorities who are suffering in Iraq, Syria and other countries.
Bishop Pates also noted Pope Francis’ calls for peace in Iraq and his observation that “violence generates more violence; dialogue is the only path to peace.”
The full text of Patriarch Sako’s prayer for peace follows:
The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to you forever.
FROM THE MAILBAG
VIA Catholic Relief Services: Greetings from Erbil in northern Iraq. I write from a place and time of tremendous need. The scene around me is dire. Tens of thousands of people—families who just weeks ago lived quiet, middle-class lives—are sleeping under the open sky, in fear. Thousands of Christian families are sleeping on the grounds of Church compounds, finding shade and relief where they can. The needs, while basic, are immense. People need clothes, water, food, soap, blankets—everything. They are living day to day, wondering what tomorrow will bring.
Catholic Relief Services and Caritas are working tirelessly to help. Our Church partners have given thousands of families refuge and are doing their best to provide for their needs. Iraqi communities are coming out to help, too—bringing bottles of water and warm, cooked food. The solidarity expressed by Iraqi families is moving. But what they have to give barely scratches the surface.
The situation got especially personal on Monday. I was visiting a Catholic Church compound in Erbil and was stunned to find one of our Caritas colleagues there, living and sleeping on the grounds among hundreds of other disheveled and displaced people. A few days ago, we learned that the offices of our Caritas partners in another part of the country had to be abandoned because of the violence. Some of our Caritas colleagues were forced to flee their homes and towns, and we had tremendous concern for their whereabouts and safety. And here was Bashar, protecting his family, including four children, under a small tree. This is a colleague I had come to know in far better circumstances, a warm-spirited peer. And now here he was, with nothing but the clothes he was wearing when they fled, sleeping on the dirt. We greeted each other warmly, and I sat with him near their small tree. He showed me a video he made with his phone of their harrowing, 10-hour journey. His children were resting on the ground next to us in the only clothes they had.
Despite all that Bashar is going through, I was treated like a guest. They boiled water to offer me tea. Their hospitality was so deeply generous—it reminded me of the grace of humanity.
The questions I am asked by Bashar and families in these Church compounds are, "Where do we go? What do we do?" I tell them that there are people around the world praying for them and doing what we can to help. And I let them know that whatever is to come, we will be with them. I feel confident in saying this because of the incredible support, spirit and reach of our CRS family.
These recent days have brought so much bad news from the Middle East. Desperate families continue to flee the violence in Syria, pouring into neighboring countries. CRS and our partners have assisted 350,000 war-affected Syrians across the region with shelter, food, medical care, and trauma counseling and education for children. In Gaza, we wait for breaks in the violence to rush in medical supplies and relief kits. As I write this, a cease-fire is holding and we pray it remains. But we know just how fragile the situation is. Despite all of this terrible news, I am hopeful. CRS is committed to meeting the most urgent humanitarian needs in Iraq, Syria and Gaza, and we will remain in each of these war-torn areas for as long as there are families who need help.
But we cannot do this alone. We need your support to expand these critical efforts to more families and communities. Please donate to the CRS Middle East Emergency Fund to help Bashar and his family—and countless others in Iraq, Syria and Gaza.
Please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers. They need our help. They pray for relief. They deserve our humanity.
With sincere thanks from Erbil,
Kris H. Ozar Head of Programming,
CRS Egypt and CRS Iraq Catholic Relief Services
HOZANA.ORG: Let us pray the Lord for our Iraqi brothers and sisters!
The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion
44. Joseph asked Poemen, 'How should we fast?' Poemen said, 'I suggest that everyone should eat a little less than he wants, every day.' Joseph said to him, 'When you were a young man, didn't you fast for two days on end?' He said to him, 'That's right, I used to fast three days on end, even for a week. But the great hermits have tested all these things, and they found that it is good to eat something every day, but on some days a little less. They have shown us that this is the king's highway, for it is easy and light.'
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