Catholic Exchange: Christ and Marriage in a Time of War

I have been watching the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere for a while now. About a year ago, some friends and I organized a grassroots campaign to raise awareness for their plight, as well as raise money for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA). We called the project Help Nasara in honor of the Arabic ن (pronounced “noon”) painted on people’s houses in Syria and Iraq to identify them as Christian so that they could be forcibly converted, live in dhimmitude, or face martyrdom.

It can be difficult for those of us who live quiet and comfortable lives in the West to comprehend or even ponder the unspeakable terror and violence these people live with every single day. It is not something we have experienced and we can easy fall into an “it’s over there” mentality. For Christians, however, this is not a correct understanding of the Mystical Body. These Christians are not a “them” they are in fact “us” in a very real way. We are all united in communion with Christ as our head. They are our brothers and sisters in a way that runs deeper than blood, but that is also bound in the blood of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our blindness to them is a great dishonor to the Church and to them. While most of us cannot run to Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, the Ukraine, or other regions; we can pray, fast, raise awareness, and give alms within our means. We can also pay close attention to their witness because they are teaching us, and the world, something truly profound.

Last Friday I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when a posting of three pictures caught my attention. They were photographs of a wedding at St. George’s Church in Homs, Syria. The church was completely bombed out. There was no roof, no windows, no altar; there were only bare stone walls still standing. One of the pictures showed the surrounding buildings which were also bombed out and reduced to rubble in areas. What caught my attention was the picture of the couple standing before the priest to be joined in Holy Matrimony.

There is no doubt that all in attendance have lost much during the Syrian Civil War that continues to rage on today. Many have lost family, friends, homes, churches, and nearly everything. The couple themselves have probably lost much, and yet, there they stood in hope. Rather than despair and focus on what has been lost, they have chosen to stand up and come together in conjugal communion, even if it is only for one day. I could see the face of Christ clearly in their witness. It is truly an awe-inspiring witness to the true definition of marriage, to the Blessed Trinity, the love Christ has for the Church, and the power of the Cross.

God has constantly referred to His love for His people in marital language. The Jewish people were His Bride and often they were “adulterous” when they gave into sin and idolatry. The covenant God has established between His people and Himself is the basis for the theological understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage and the reason the Church teaches as she does about the nature of marriage. A man and woman coming together is to mirror the communion God has established with His Church and the communion that is in Him through the Blessed Trinity.
Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange…

Catholic Exchange: Mary, Mother of the Persecuted

Today I am writing for Catholic Exchange on how Our Lady can be our guide during periods of persecution.

There is little doubt that the situation for Christians in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Kenya, and other countries is dire. The number of martyrs for this year alone has reached well into the thousands. In the West attacks on Christian conscience have left multiple business owners with no livelihood or exorbitant fines. To the person who is paying attention to the times, there can be little doubt that the persecution promised by Our Lord is very real in our present age.

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Be-el’zebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
Matthew 10:24-25 (RSV)

Persecution of the Church has been a reality since the beginning of the Church. If Our Lord and Savior was crucified, what makes us think that our fate should be any different? That persecution may come in a variety of forms, but one thing that is certain, there will be periods in our lives in which we will be maligned for our faith. In those moments we should turn to Our Heavenly Mother. She is the Mother of all Christians and she is the Mother of the persecuted.

Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange.

Don’t forget to enter my Marian book GIVEAWAY for the month of May. Details can be found here.

Changes in My Writing

For some of you who have been reading my blog off and on for months, you may have noticed a shift in focus in my writing.  Yes, my writing is sporadic.  I am a wife, mother, Lay Dominican, and now, a full-time graduate student in Theology.  So my time is limited.  The shift you will notice is a changing in my own understanding and deepening of what it means to be a member of the Mystical Body of Christ.  It is to suffer with the other Members.

The world will change drastically over the next few decades.  Demographically, the rise of Islam and secular humanism will be great.  The world has always been Fallen, but we are here to serve now.  I am no longer in a position to rush to the aid of those in need.  Instead, my vocation is teaching me that I must pray, fast, give alms, and raise awareness of different issues.  We can no longer go about woefully ignorant.  In our decadence we have forgotten that we are engaging in very serious, and very real, spiritual warfare.  There may come a day, on THIS side of eternity, where you and I will have to give testament to what we believe.

This is not meant to be gloomy.  Rather, it is a reminder of the things that truly matter, namely our Faith in Christ and His Church.  We must prepare and grow in holiness.  We must remain vigilant because the Enemy is on the move.  Yes, I post a lot about Help Nasara right now and that is because over a hundred thousand Christians are being openly and violently persecuted in Iraq and Syria alone.  That does not include the countless other countries being impacted.  We are not impotent.  God hears our prayers and cries for justice.  Trust in God and that he will answer our prayers.  Fast for others, but also to prepare and discipline our own bodies.  Give alms to help others.  This is how we will defeat this enemy.  God bless you and thanks for reading my blog.

Remember this prayer daily.  My dad sent it to me when I was a 9-11 relief worker.  It brings great courage and hope.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen..

Why You Should Buy Our “Nun” Sticker

IMG_1801-0

It’s hard.  You are inundated with letters and emails asking for money.  There are starving children everywhere, unborn babies being murdered, children are sick, diseases are all over, and the list goes on and on.  I get it.  I receive address labels from various charities every year and I feel a pang of guilt every time I use one because I did not send money to that particular charity.  We can’t all give money to every group that asks us.  I completely understand.  Then it hit me. This matters because it impacts everyone, throughout the world.  If we cannot live freely in our beliefs then no one has freedom. 

My experiences may be drastically different from yours.  I feel the suffering of those fleeing from ISIS in Iraq and Syria acutely.  You see, I have seen in person the horrific nature and unspeakable acts that are going on there right now.  Thankfully, God is merciful and I have not yet seen someone beheaded, but I was a 9-11 relief worker at the Pentagon.  The first time I saw the crash site a dark wave washed over me and I felt like I was staring into the gates of Hell.  I wasn’t standing there alone.  I was there with over 400 people who had lost loved ones.  People whose entire lives were wrapped up with the 184 people who were slain when those men chose evil and drove that plane into the Pentagon.  I wept with the survivors.  I listened to their stories.  I witnessed their agony. 

Those same men who chose evil are of the exact same bent as the men who are massacring Christians and other minority groups in Northern Iraq and Syria.  They have stolen their homes, their freedom, sold women and children into slavery, and murdered thousands of people.  And the real secret is, that this will not just stay in Iraq.  It will not always be over there.  In fact, its already been here through the multiple terrorist attacks on our own soil.  This is not just an Iraq and Syria problem.  This is not just a Christian problem.  This impacts every single human being on this planet.

So why on earth should you spend $3.50 (FREE SHIPPING IN THE US) on our bumper sticker or magnet?  We have an obligation to stand up to evil.  No you and I cannot go over there and provide food, shelter, water, and other necessities.  However, we can give a small part of our money to groups who do exactly that.  The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) does precisely that.  But, I am not just asking you to give up your latte today.  I am also asking you to pray and fast in solidarity with the persecuted throughout the world.  We also show strength when we stand up in solidarity with others. My sticker on my car tells the world that I have taken notice of the atrocities taking place and my heart is with those people.  It also educates others on what is going on.  We will regularly update our website: www.helpnasara.org so that you can get the latest news on what is going on in Iraq and Syria.  Even if one person sitting behind you in traffic checks out our site, then somebody else knows about the persecution that is going on.  Let’s face it, our mainstream media is completely ignoring the slaughter of Christians.

I know it does not seem like much to buy a sticker and give a couple of bucks to CNEWA, but one person multiplies into two and three and so on.  This is a grassroots movement.  A bunch of Christian Facebook friends got together and built this website, logo, and Facebook page.  This is the power we have to help others.  We can unite and serve.  That is precisely what Christ calls us to do.  This is not a scam.  Your money will go to CNEWA. We are too small to cover printing costs, so that will come out of the $3.50 and $2.30 of every item WILL GO to CNEWA. Please buy one sticker or magnet.  Slap it on your car or your laptop and show the world that you stand with the suffering.  You can purchase a magnet or sticker at our Etsy page.  They cost the same.

Check out our homepage: www.helpnasara.org
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/helpnasara

You can get the word out, share our website, Facebook page, and Etsy store with your friends.

Thank you for your support and may God bless you always.

IMG_1803

If there are any issues with the store of any of our sites, please let me know immediately in the comments section.  Thanks!

Help Raise Awareness and Funds for the Persecuted in Iraq and Syria

IMG_1801-0.JPG

A group of us got together on Facebook to raise awareness and funds for Christians being persecuted in Iraq and Syria. All funds we raise above printing cost will go to Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA). We designed a car magnet and sticker to sell. Please go on Facebook and like our page, www.facebook.com/helpnasara and then share it with your friends. We are in the process of linking to Etsy and Ebay in order to sell the product. There will be updates on both the Facebook page and our homepage which is www.helpnasara.org. Your support is greatly appreciated. If you are interested in purchasing magnets or stickers in bulk at cost in order to sell them at your church or to family and friends to raise funds for CNEWA write a comment on this post and I will get in touch with you.

Also, be sure to pray, fast, and give alms. This is very much a spiritual war and we are well armed in Christ. It may seem like there is not much we can do from here, but every little bit helps and prayers will win this war. God bless you.

If you have a blog, we would greatly appreciate if you shared our effort. Thank you!

IMG_1803.JPG

Wake Up America: A Call to Prayer and Fasting for Our Persecuted Brethren

I have been watching with horror as Christians are being systematically murdered, exiled, or placed in dhimmi status in Syria and Iraq. Over the past few years, Christians have endured public executions to include crucifixions, the loss of their homes and property, rape, torture, and the total loss of their homeland. Nary a word has come from our President. A President who is either so inept at foreign policy that he does not know what to do, too arrogant to mind, or worse, supports the persecution of Christians. I don’t know what the answer is, quite honestly. His actions tell me that he has very little regard for the dignity of any human person, but himself. But, no matter what, it should be deeply distressing to Christians here. I have no control over our current President who I believe is totally morally corrupt. But, I do have power to pray and work to bring awareness and funds to those who need it.

As Americans, we live in an insular bubble. Most of us have a roof over our heads, too much food, water, and a plethora of possessions. We go throughout our day oblivious of what is going on throughout the world. It does not matter that a good portion of the world is in flames, and that Russia has decided to make a power grab reminiscent of the days following World War II. It cannot last. I repeat, our oblivion cannot last. Human nature has always been at war. That is why Christ came. Peace is a wonderful blessing, but one that never lasts. We need to wake up and pay attention. We need to fall on our knees and pray for those countless slaughtered and for the conversion of souls throughout the world. My weapons of choice: the Rosary and the Holy Eucharist. Only Christ himself can save us. We are soldiers. Our weapons are spiritual and we are waging a battle against the forces of evil: Satan himself. It is time to wake up from our stupor and get to the business of working and serving Christ.

What can we do? First, since our mainstream media refuses to give air time to the murder of Christians, share news stories that detail the horrors of what our brethren are enduring in Syria and Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, China, etc. Second, show the world that we stand in solidarity with all Christians. As the Cross was turned into a symbol of hope, we shall turn any symbol (see the picture below) used to murder Christians or take away their history or livelihood and turn it into a symbol of power: The power of Jesus Christ. Third, find reliable charities who provide resources to persecuted Christians and donate. It does not need to be a large donation, whatever you can spare. Give up a couple of lattes or a trip to McDonald’s, then use the money for charity. Fourth, pray, go to Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, however you pray, do it. Pray for the persecuted, the dead, the persecutors, and for our leadership and leaders around the world. Fifth, fast. I mean serious fasting. Take a day a month or a week and live on bread and water. Offer it up in solidarity with the victims and the poor. It is good for you and fasting can save souls. Did I mention, PRAY?!

image

 

This makes a great social media profile picture.  It is no longer a symbol of fear, it is a sign of strength, solidarity, and the power of the Living God, Jesus Christ.
This makes a great social media profile picture. It is no longer a symbol of fear, it is a sign of strength, solidarity, and the power of the Living God, Jesus Christ.

We all must wake up from the slumber that peace, wealth, and prosperity has put us in. We have it all, so why does the rest of the world matter? First, because we are all members of the Mystical Body of Christ and when one portion is hurt, the whole body hurts. Second, because this mess is not always going to be “over there”. History tells us that war and violence is common, not peace. Prayers can prevent wars and bring peace. So let’s get on our knees and pray now before the cancers of secularism and radical Islam spread even more. May God bless you always. Onward Christian Soldiers!!!

Do you have any suggestions to add?