First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak out because I was Protestant.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
~Pastor Martin Niemöller, 1946
The conquering army identifies its prey with a symbol. In a past era, the mark was a yellow Star of David.
Today, ISIS, the latest monstrous marauders, tag the home of Iraqi Christians with an Arabic “N” for Nazarenes, the pejorative word for
Christians, to denote a Christian home for death and destruction.
Since the first and second centuries, Mosul has been the home of Christians when the Assyrian people converted to Christianity through the evangelization of St. Thomas and St. Thaddeus. The blood of Christian martyrdom courses through their veins. The Christians in Mesopotamia have endured persecution and martyrdom for 14 centuries.
Tragically, history repeats savagery. Once again, the Christians in Mesopotamia, the ancient cradle of civilization, modern day Iraq and Syria, endure daily slaughter and destruction by ISIS. Since 2003, approximately one million Assyrian Christians have been forced to become refugees inside and outside of Iraq. Hundreds of churches have been bombed into dust.
Today, there are no longer any Christians in Mosul, Iraq. They have been brutally expelled out of their homes and churches by ISIS. The magnificent major cathedral in Mosul stripped of its Christianity and now turned it into a mosque. The systematic ethnic cleansing of Christians from Iraq is nearly complete with brutal rampage of ISIS.
The Assyrian Christians and other minorities of the Nineveh Plain in northern Iraq wonder when, if ever, the world will intervene to stop this genocide of an innocent and peaceful people. Those that miraculously escaped ISIS live now as refugees, with their heritage and homes in ruins.
Their churches have been bombed and turned into mosques, their women and children have been kidnapped and sold into slavery, or slaughtered. Crucifixions, beheadings, hangings, burning alive, wholesale slaughter by the brutal army of ISIS. And the world’s response: silence and inaction.
It is impossible to keep track of the daily body count and mass destruction of this ancient Christian civilization. Until the world leaders wake up and destroy this monstrous enemy, all that is left is to pray and support the few aid organizations that bravely support the Christian refugees.
Mankind’s need for the message of Divine Mercy took on dire urgency in the 20th Century, when civilization began to experience an “eclipse of the sense of God” and, therefore to lose the understanding of the sanctity and inherent dignity of human life. In the 1930s, Jesus chose a humble and simple Polish nun, Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska, to receive private revelations concerning Divine Mercy that were recorded in her Diary. John Paul II describes the dangerous world of Sr. Faustina when God revealed the gift of divine mercy:
“This was precisely the time when those ideologies of evil, nazism and communism, were taking shape. Sister Faustina became the herald of the one message capable of off-setting the evil of those ideologies, that fact that God is mercy—the truth of the merciful Christ. And for this reason, when I was called to the See of Peter, I felt impelled to pass on those experiences of a fellow Pole that deserve a place in the treasury of the universal Church.” – St. Pope John Paul II, Memory and Identity (2005)
St. John Paul II promoted the message of Divine Mercy during his pontificate and canonized Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the nun who received revelations from Our Lord, and finally establishing Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday following Easter. Then, as now, the words of John Paul II are so apt for the suffering Iraqi Christians:
“The truth revealed in Christ, about God who is the “Father of mercies” (2 Cor 1:3), enables us to “see” Him as remarkably close to man, especially when man is suffering, when he is under threat at the very heart of his existence and human dignity. And for this reason many people and groups guided by a lively faith are turning almost spontaneously to the mercy of God in today’s situation in the Church and world.” – Encyclical Rich in Mercy (Dives in Misericordia)
As St. John Paul II points out “when man is suffering, when he is under threat at the very heart of his existence”, that is when “God, the Father of Mercies is remarkably close to man.” The Iraqi Christians are ‘under the threat at the very heart of their existence.’ It is appropriate and right to call upon the Divine Mercy on this blessed feast day to intervene for the Christians of Mesopotamia.
Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on April 12, 2015. For Catholics and Christians around the world, this feast of mercy evokes and demands a special devotion and prayer for the suffering and persecuted Christians of the Middle East. If every parish would dedicate a Mass and recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet on Divine Mercy Sunday for an end to the genocide of Christians in the Middle East, imagine the graces. Imagine how a united prayerful call to arms for mercy for our Christian brothers and sisters would serve as a powerful spiritual weapon against the diabolical ISIS.
While the bloodshed and violence seems overwhelming, hope remains the message of Divine Mercy.
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and Hallelujah is our song.” – St. John Paul the Great.
Pray this beautiful prayer for the protection of persecuted Christians Here.
To support Iraqi Christians, visit here
For more information on Divine Mercy Sunday. here