On January 25th at the close of the Week of Christian Unity, Pope Francis described the surge of violence against Christians as an occasion for an “ecumenism of blood” which unites all those who follow Christ whether Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant.

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Three weeks later, on February 18th Catholics gathered for Ash Wednesday just days after learning of the 21 Coptic Orthodox Egyptian Christians beheaded in Libya on February 15th.  Such great suffering and contemporary witness of faith has punctuated this year’s Ash Wednesday and prepared us for a Lenten Season particularly bound to prayer and unity with persecuted Christians.

unity-of-prayerAs we each make our personal resolutions and penances this Lent, let us also unite ourselves in prayer with those who suffer at great peril for their faith in Christ.  Let us remember our Christian brothers and sisters and the missionaries who serve them especially in Iraq, Syria, North Africa, and regions of West Africa effected by rising extremism and violence.  Below we share with you some links to recent events and the web-sites and new initiatives of our Religious Family in the Middle East.

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May we all draw close to our Crucified Savior this Lent so that we may “enter into the joy of our Lord” at His Resurrection.

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”  Luke 9:23

At the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity the Pope celebrates Mass at St Paul’s and recalls the martyrs of today (Osservatore Romano)

Coptic Church Recognizes Martyrdom of 21 Coptic Christians (News.VA)

Against Backdrop of ISIS Beheadings, Egypt’s Coptic Catholics Consecrate First Church in Sinai (Aleteia)

Bishop Martinelli vows to stay in Libya with his flock (Vatican Radio)

Chaldean Patriarch: fast this Lent for Iraq (Vatican Radio)

SSVM Sisters in their mission in Syria

SSVM Sisters in their mission in Syria

Websites and projects of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word in the Middle East:

Friends of Iraq (in English, Portuguese, Spanish and German) a blog of our IVE – friendsofiraq.verboencarnado.net

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Audio Misa IVE Medio Oriente (in Arabic, with interface in English and Italian), providing podcasts of the readings for the daily Mass in Arabic, a digital project of our missionaries in the Gaza Strip – audiomisaivemo.wordpress.com

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S.O.S. Christians in Syria (in English, Spanish and Italian) from our missionaries in Aleppo – soschristiansinsyria.wordpress.com

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Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.  John 15:20

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I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!  John 16:33