5 Things You Can Do Right Now as ISIS Threatens Iraqi Christians and Shiites – UPDATE

The headlines are coming fast and furious, and they are horrifying:

Execution or Exodus: Iraqi Christians face grim choice

Iraq is heading towards a humanitarian, cultural and historical disaster

Jihadists seize Iraq monastery

A Desperate Cry from Iraqi Christians

Religious Freedom in Peril

“ISIS took the keys of their convent in Mosul.”

ISIS Attacks 1800 Year Old Christian Church, And Completely Burn It Down And Destroy It

ISIS in Mosul, Iraq “No aid to Christians and Shiites”

Pleading at the Vatican (Muslim neighbors in Mosul bid farewell to their distraught Christian neighbors.)

“It’s too bad you’re not a Muslim

And, as noted here, Christian Holocaust Underway in Iraq, USA and World Look On.

Yep. If you want news on this impending genocide, thank God for the Near-Eastern press because the Western leadership hasn’t much to say about it, and the press coverage is rather thin. Nothing like the saturation coverage of the World Cup, or the launch of a Beyonce album.

This is the latest piece I could find from Western media: The last Christians in northern Iraq are fleeing from places where their communities have lived for almost 2,000 years, as a deadline passed for them to either convert to Islam, pay a special tax or be killed.

One of Christendom’s oldest and deepest roots is being ripped from an ancient garden, and many in positions of power, even among so-called “Christian” nations, seem content to let it go unremarked upon and unchallenged.

Perhaps they feel inadequate to the task of pleading on these Christian’s behalf.

Perhaps they believe that any engagement in their defense would embroil them in a larger conflict they are unwilling to face — as though mad tyranny will simply burn itself out if left uncontested.

Perhaps they think there is nothing to be done but fling hands to heaven, in which case they expose not only a lack of imagination, but a distinct misunderstanding of time and space, which they want to accept as linear.

We people of faith
— people of all faiths, no less, not simply Christians — who believe in things seen and unseen know better. We know that time and space are constructs, and that they may be penetrated with the powerful (and brilliantly subversive) weaponry of prayer. We may not be able to provide the rhetoric that can capture and encapsulate the brutal reality happening as you read this; we may not be able to influence governments; we may not be in the position to stake personal and material things, or even our lives in order to defend these people (like this Muslim man who gave up his life for his Christian neighbors), but we are not wholly powerless in the face of this evil.

Here are five things you can do, no matter what your religious tradition, or even if you claim no tradition. You can do these things even if you are not a believer at all, but know a humanitarian crisis-of-justice when you see one:

1) Extend your prayer or “well-wishes” with a candle or a wheel: The Judeo-Christian practice of lighting a candle at prayer is not very different from the Buddhist act of spinning a prayer wheel. In both cases, a prayer is begun, and allowing the candle to burn in vigil, (or slipping the prayerwheel into a windy place or in flowing water) allows the prayer to continue — even as one must leave to attend to the rest of one’s day — for as long as the wick burns, the waters flow, or the wind blows. So, say a prayer for these persecuted people, who are losing everything, and whose heritage is being destroyed, and then set something in motion to continue that prayer.

2) Make a sacrifice; offer it for the sake of these people: It needn’t be a big thing. Give up a seat on public transportation; give someone else the right-of-way; resist an urge to snark; forgo tonight’s glass of wine; bite back a clever retort meant to wound; turn off the television. Any of these small sacrifices, done mindfully, will make a difference, because a thought is a thing. “Offering it up” may be an oldie but it’s still a goodie. A small sacrifice, offered intentionally for a greater good, is efficacious in battle. It is a spiritual warrior’s grenade, strategically released.

3) Begin a fast: If sacrifice is a spiritual grenade, fasting is a spiritual cannonade. It being Ramadan, a great portion of the world is already fasting. Muslims, as I understand it, are fasting for no other purpose than to grow near to God. That’s one reason to fast; the other is to fast in supplication, for the good and welfare of others. Fasting for these Iraqis under siege is a way to bring everything together into one resonating whole — both the power of extended prayer and of sacrifice — within one’s own body and in that way to make an offering of one’s self. It is to make one’s whole body a channel through which the will of God may flow. If there is no greater gift than for one to lay down his life for another, fasting, when it is undertaken with a whole-hearted intention for another, is potent variation on that theme; your life gets to be used, but not used up. If, because of illness or age one cannot fully fast, make a partial fast by refraining where one can, always with mindfulness.

4) Offer Material Assistance; Make a donation to the the Catholic Near East Welfare Association to assist in addressing the needs of Iraq’s refugee Christians:

What can you do today to help Iraq’s Christians and give them hope?

You can support the brave priests, nuns and brothers — CNEWA’s partners — who are on the ground and ready to care for the injured, the orphans and the frightened refugees. Please be as generous as you can. You can share the love of Christ with those who need him the most.

CNEWA is on the ground, serving and assisting people of faith where their lives are most challenged, and they do great work.

5) Write a letter; ask your leadership to address this ongoing violent and history-destroying purge of people from their ancient homelands. Begin a letter-writing campaign in your church or temple. If you have already given up on political leadership, write to your bishop urging condemnation and attention. If you’re sending a donation to CNEWA, add a note of prayerful solidarity to the people of Iraq and ask CNEWA to see it forwarded. I’m sure they’ll do it. They’re good people.

We are the people of a resurrected savior, the very Word, of whom it is written,

All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.

“Nothing” can only be where He is not. We are never powerless; in Christ’s name, there is never “nothing” to be done. The Word is Life; it is the continually expanding “thought that is a thing.” It is the constant assent of God, unfurling ever-further, into eternity.

We are never powerless.

UPDATE: I thought of a sixth thing we can do:

. . .let us call on the great Cloud of Witnesses who have preceded us in our 2,000 year history, and ask them for their prayers before the Throne: Saint Francis, himself, friend of the Sultan. The Maronite monk, Saint Sharbel Maklouf. Saint Macarius the Great, of Egypt. Blessed Mary of Christ Crucified the Syrian Carmelite known in Palestine as “Al Qiddisa” (The holy one). Amma Syncletica of Alexandria, the Desert Mother. Blessed Charles Eugène de Foucauld, martyr.

As I said yesterday, we are not powerless; we are in possession of the most subversive weapon of ambush, which is prayer, which moves through and pours forth from time and space, intercepting and impacting our times, beyond what we can comprehend.

Our brothers and sisters in the ancient province of Nineveh are fleeing, shocked and without hope. They are “Flattened, destroyed.” They have been pulled off of long-traveled footpaths and watched them become erased before their eyes. It might be too early for them to realize that, in the supernatural way of Christ, their stronghold and inheritance remains — that there is still a path to follow, and a future. But we must help them to know it, to feel it within, by the force of our prayers, our fasting, our alms.

In my life, I have known when people are praying for me. I have felt it; been sustained by it. Help them to feel it.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Romulus

    The United States owes every one of these people reparations and refugee status. What we did to them is sickening and criminal.

  • http://www.ryanhaberphotography.com Ryan Haber

    Ms. Scalia, your article is, as usual, very good and prescient. You list some possible explanations for our Western leaders’ silence on the matter. There is another possible explanation: they are sympathetic to the anti-Christian cause. Which anti-Christian cause hardly matters. They can only conceive of Christians as oppressive, sexually deranged bigots, and they will not lift a finger to help them abroad. Indeed, they are doing all the can to uproot us, though with less a head start, at home.

  • gullycat

    One other thing you can do – oppose Barack Obama and his minions at every turn. This is as much his fault, with his either “hands off” or active support of these barbarians Muslins as anyone else. This would not be happening if these people (and I use the term loosely) had not been empowered by his support of Islamist leaders in countries such as Egypt. And, just to point out, Elizabeth, you supported him.

  • MeanLizzie

    That is a falsehood almost to the point of slander. I hv never supported him; go into my archives and show me where I ever did? Don’t lie.

  • John Wilson

    It is offensive to equate a prayer candle with a Buddhist prayer wheel. Not to belabor the theological distinctions, the Buddhists worships an amoral energy, which is why most theologians classify Buddhism as philosophical/atheism. Their concept of prayer is totally different from Judaeo-Christian prayer. The Buddhist prayer wheel is a machine that excites a celestial energy, like the accelerator on a car. There is no moral component to it. After many years of studying the subject, it is distressing to encounter “Catholics” who speak off the top of their head about these matters. The Chucrh was wise to require “nihil obstats” but thse do not apply to “Blogs” where any amateur can set himself/herself up as a self-appointed theologian. God save us.

  • John Wilson

    Christian candle-prayer = Buddhist prayer wheel? Please try to avoid commenting on religious matters. You are uninformed.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I agree. I’ve said any Christian in any muslim country should be automatic refugee status to the US.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    She has never supported Obama.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I’m not good at fasting but I’ll do the rest. Certainly a contribution is the least I could do.

  • mollysdad

    Another thing you can do is to stand, fully and unconditionally, with the State of Israel, which stands alone in fighting God’s war (milkhemet mitzvah) against the Muslims while Christians are trounced in a one-sided slaughter-fest from Nigeria to Mosul. Study the Scriptures at Exodus 17, Deuteronomy 25, 1 Samuel 25 and the book of Esther. Read the decree of Pope Urban II at Clermont in 1095. Don’t be afraid to follow the argument wherever it leads and to draw the conclusion that there is such a thing as Christian holy war, and that Christ Himself commands it.

  • goodman

    Well it seems that this is the mess of Iraq Occupies left behind and they knew this will happen and this is the real Distruction which does not start last week but from 1991 to this day bomming B52 from above innocent people since 1991 poisoning their soil with chemicals which will stay there in next few 100 years and so on from great a government as we call united state of America, and while they doing that their good excuse was they are a mother of Democracy rather were a hypocrisy and there are more to come im sure in effect of that invasion innocent people will suffer for very long time now and cristian community is part of depressed people of iraq and that is the reality up there and so what is the response you have been waiting from the western leaders to say the mess which the created I hope you are think like a human being and not like animals from now on guys ok and that is if you honest what you are saying here.

  • http://star-www.st-and.ac.uk/~pr33/ Paul Brandon Rimmer

    This is wrong in almost all ways possible. First, Obama’s a good president. Second, Elizabeth’s not one of his supporters. I think she’s on your side of the political spectrum. In your defence, it’s hard to tell where people stand when you’re teabagging.

  • Leah Keever

    Where are the bishops? Where are all of the religious people working on our border to give aid and comfort to the children flooding our border right now? Isn’t this at least as great a humanitarian crisis?

  • Victor

    (((Don’t lie.)))
    This cat, “I” mean gullycat is only teasing you Anchoress, “I” mean, after all, the invisible angels are the ones with the true agenda so don’t let “IT” get to YA and……………………………………………………..and…………………………and…
    Go figure folks!
    There’s still so much to read that “I” probably won’t get a chance to even comment about this post. LOL :)

    God Bless

  • TerryC

    If Obama is such a good president why are his job approval ratings so low?

  • E.F. Pyn

    “teabagging”? A morally reprehensible term. Think before you type.

  • tj.nelson

    Excellent post and suggestions for what we can do – pray, fast, and give alms: support Catholic Near East Welfare Association is the best advice. God bless you!

  • JohnnyCuredents

    Israeli soldiers are dying on the front lines of the international war against this Mohammedan menace that, regardless of the brand name it wears, is the same poison the world over. The least we can do is defend Israel with our letters, Internet posts, and in any other way that allows us to counter the anti-Israeli smear campaign orchestrated by Mohammedans and their atheist allies in the West (allies whose heads will role quickly once the official Religion of Peace gets a firm control of currently non-Muslim countries). Don’t forget to pray for the IDF soldiers now ferreting out Hamas thugs and blowing up their caves in Gaza. Remember, they are fighting for YOU as well as the survival of their country.

  • http://www.thepracticingcatholic.com/ Lisa Schmidt

    I had a whole lot of votive candles blessed on Candlemas. Thank you for the simple reminder to use candlelight and set my prayers in motion. Seems the perfect way to use these blessed candles right now.

  • http://star-www.st-and.ac.uk/~pr33/ Paul Brandon Rimmer

    I remember Jesus’s job approval ratings weren’t great at the end of his first term.

  • MeanLizzie

    I don’t know why you folks keep bringing up Obama, since this isn’t about him, but that said, the above comment may be deleted for sheer stupidity and offensiveness. Are you equating Obama with Jesus the Christ? Because his approval ratings are low? By that logic, I guess you were also equating George W. Bush with Christ, b/c of his low ratings? This is a very stupid collection of comments. I might bounce all of you just for the sake of sheer cussedness as I enter my eight week of illness. Feh, I say.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    ROTFLMAO. Are you serious? That is one of the most inane anaology I’ve ever heard. Maybe the most.

  • LT Brass Bancroft

    A guy named “Rimmer” has no business making a “teabagging” joke.

  • jenny

    God, have mercy on us….

  • MeanLizzie

    Comments closed. My editorial judgement is: Enough. This is way too serious a topic for the stupidity and vulgarism being dropped here.