Trappist Nuns in Syria to President Obama: Send Us Your Prayers, Not Your Missiles UPDATED

We heard from Pope Francis earlier today, but how about testimony from folks who are a little closer to the action? Catholic World Report has a letter from Cistercian nuns who moved their monastery to Azeir, in Northern Syria, back in 2005. Here’s a snippet from an open letter they wrote to the world a few days ago.

We look at the people around us, our day workers who are all here as if suspended, stunned: “They’ve decided to attack us.” Today we went to Tartous…we felt the anger, the helplessness, the inability to formulate a sense to all this: the people trying their best to work and to live normally. You see the farmers watering their land, parents buying notebooks for the schools that are about to begin, unknowing children asking for a toy or an ice cream…you see the poor, so many of them, trying to scrape together a few coins. The streets are full of the “inner” refugees of Syria, who have come from all over to the only area left that is still relatively liveable…. You see the beauty of these hills, the smile on people’s faces, the good-natured gaze of a boy who is about to join the army and gives us the two or three peanuts he has in his pocket as a token of “togetherness”…. And then you remember that they have decided to bomb us tomorrow. … Just like that. Because “it’s time to do something,” as it is worded in the statements of the important men, who will be sipping their tea tomorrow as they watch TV to see how effective their humanitarian intervention will be….

Will they make us breathe the toxic gases of the depots they hit, tomorrow, so as to punish us for the gases we have already breathed in?

The people are straining their eyes and ears in front of the television: all they’re waiting for is a word from Obama!

A word from Obama? Will the Nobel Peace Prize winner drop his sentence of war onto us? Despite all justice, all common sense, all mercy, all humility, all wisdom?

The Pope has spoken up, patriarchs and bishops have spoken up, numberless witnesses have spoken up, analysts and people of experience have spoken up, even the opponents of the regime have spoken up…. Yet here we all are, waiting for just one word from the great Obama? And if it weren’t him, it would be someone else. It isn’t he who is “the great one,” it is the Evil One who these days is really acting up.

The problem is that it has become too easy to pass lies off as noble gestures, to pass ruthless self-interest off as a search for justice, to pass the need to appear [strong] and to wield power off as a “moral responsibility not to look away…”

And despite all our globalizations and sources of information, it seems nothing can be verified. It seems that there is no such thing as a minimal scrap of truth … That is, they don’t want there to be any truth; while actually a truth does exist, and anyone honest would be able to find it, if they truly sought it out together, if they weren’t prevented by those who are in the service of other interests.

Read and share the entire letter. Pray for them now, and again on September 7. And send this letter of theirs to your representatives in Congress, in the interest of justice, common sense, mercy, humility, and wisdom.

Here’s an earworm to bring it into sharp relief: It’s a Mistake.


It’s a sticky wicket. Perhaps it’s time to wage some serious diplomacy.

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  • So if Assad used chemical weapons 12 times this year alone, this last time killing nearly 500 children, what’s going to stop him from using them again? So if we don’t take action this time, and Assad uses them yet again, do you still say we shouldn’t take action? After how many times of gasing innocents do you think it takes for action to be morally correct?

  • A J MacDonald Jr

    The US is dedicated to protecting the Jewish state. The destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran is all part of that geostrategic plan: See: “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (commonly known as the “Clean Break” report) is a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then Prime Minister of Israel. The report explained a new approach to solving Israel’s security problems in the Middle East… Rather than pursuing a “comprehensive peace” with the entire Arab world, Israel should work jointly with Jordan and Turkey to “contain, destabilize, and roll-back” those entities that are threats to all three.”

    See: A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm

  • Heloise1

    Thank you for bring this letter to us. I will pray. I will send it on to all I know. I will send it to my representatives in Congress. And I will pray again.

  • JHShu

    How many innocents will die in the US and allies attacks? How many innocents died in the Iraq “liberation”? How may innocents died in Vietnam? Are memories so short? The death of innocents in Syria will not stop after the attacks. Assad is responsible for his action. We are responsible for ours.

  • JHShu

    How many innocents will die in the US and allies attacks? How many innocents died ion the Iraq “liberation”? How may innocents died in Vietnam? Are memories so short? The death of innocents in Syria will not stop after the attacks. Assad is responsible for his action. We are responsible for ours.

    • moseynon

      I share your concern about the innocent deaths which war brings, and I think this is a matter which is not given enough weight by those who make the decisions.

      However, I am disturbed by your last two sentences. You seem to be saying that the international community should, like Pontius Pilate, wash its hands of the situation, If we know a neighbor is physically abusing his wife, are we to shrug our shoulders and say “its not our affair” or are we under a moral obligation to put a stop to the abuse? Is there no reason to feel regret about the feckless response of the international community during the Rwandan genocide? Can we honestly claim that “we our responsible for our actions” if all we do is issue ineffectual statements, and allow the atrocities to continue?

  • ptpress

    I agree with the nuns. Prayer is still the best weapon. It’s just actually a simple law of attraction. If you go for war, you receive war. If you go for peace, you’ll receive peace. It simple as it is. All countries have rebels in it but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we forget those innocent people who are just living their lives.

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  • The Skeptical Bear

    P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }

    Hi Folks,

    First off I’m an agnostic atheist 🙂

    I’m also in the UK and was so glad when the commons voted out our
    participation in a war against Syria. However, if the UN decides it
    is time to intervene then I think that will be right.

    As a skeptic I would also ask what they are doing in a
    predominately Muslim country ? I’ve come across a few and found the
    idea of converting is mixed up with ‘ we are just here to help ‘.

    Sorry, but listening to the interviews with people that live there
    meant more to me than the generic call for help through prayer.

    As a pedantic point, shouldn’t they be called ‘ Trappistines’ ?

    All the best.