Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Holding the World in Prayer

Recently a friend said to me that it saddens her now that she can no longer hold the whole world in her heart!  That was a startling statement for me!  But, as I thought about it, I couldn’t help but think that it should  sadden us as Christians to read that our brothers and sisters are daily displaced from their ancestral Christian homelands because they have been given the  ultimatum to convert to Islam, leave or be killed!   

Today, suffering has reached unimaginable dimensions in Iraq and Syria where a campaign of religious cleansing has been carried out by the Islamic State group. How can we be blind to that? Is there still room in our lives to be deeply saddened?

In his 2013 book, The Global War on Christians,  John L. Allen explains that “Christianity is stereotypically associated with the West, often as an oppressor. However, today’s demographic and social reality tells a strikingly different story. Not only do 2/3 of the world’s 2.3 billion Christians currently live outside the West, but they also tend to be poor and often belong to ethnic, linguistic and cultural minorities.  As a result, they have become increasingly convenient targets of violence.”

How can we be deaf to that cry of the poor?  Is there still room in our lives to be deeply saddened?

Pope Francis, on April 6, 2015, asked for prayers for those who are “persecuted, exiled, killed, decapitated for the sole reason that they are Christian.”  He added, “They are our martyrs of today, and they are so many, we could say that they are more numerous than in the early centuries.”

How can we not pray for our martyred brothers and sisters?
O God, just as the blood of the early Christian martyrs became the seed of faith for other Christians, may the blood of our Middle Eastern Christian brothers and sisters stir up within us a deeper faith and trust in You and greater love for one another-- whoever and wherever we may live—and  especially for those on the margins of our global family. Amen.

Our prayers are needed nearer to home as well, for open hearts to welcome the many Muslim people who have immigrated to the USA, including the St. Cloud area, whose desire is to live in harmony with neighbors of all faiths and to work to make our society a better place. They need our prayers because they, too, have experienced prejudice and acts of violence against their community. This past Sunday, several of our Sisters attended an “Interfaith Picnic” at Lake George in St. Cloud. Shared experiences like this mean that, if disagreements arise, relationships already in existence which help us to talk, rather than fight or persecute. Those who took part expressed a desire to continue sharing – a way to make our prayer action and not just words.

Renée Domeier, OSB

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