The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter — a Clerical Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical right dedicated to the traditional Latin Mass and priestly service of the faithful — has called for a day of prayer and penance for our persecuted fellow Christians in the Middle East.
Anyone who has been following the news knows things are bad. Beheadings, crucifixions, and the driving of Christians out of some regions entirely. Regions where Christianity has been rooted for millennia.
At Christianity Today, young, anonymous Iraqi Christian wrote of what she has seen in recent days in the Iraqi city of Mosul:
I can’t believe what’s happening now. And it’s all happening all so fast. 2,000 years of Christian history and presence is being destroyed. I am confused and sad. Everybody is. On the news I saw the extremists replaced the cross on our church in Mosul with the black flag of the Islamic State. They are doing a call of Islamic prayer from our church. They have turned it into a mosque.
I can’t believe it. I wanted to cry when I saw this on the news. This past weekend, the Islamic State gave Christians in Mosul an ultimatum: convert, pay a high tax, leave before Saturday at noon, or die. All Christians chose to leave. This is what we have feared for a long time.
My aunt and her sons were the last of my family to flee from Mosul. They left after the threat of the Islamic State last weekend and are staying with family here in the north now. They are devastated. My aunt kept crying. Her husband died a long time ago, and she has raised her children on her own. She cried, “What do I do now? I have nothing left. They even took my house.”
It’s a situation most of us can scarcely imagine. And it only seems to be getting worse.
In their press release announcing the occasion, the FSSP implores the faithful to support those Christians enduring hardship through our spiritual efforts:
August 1 is the First Friday of the month and the Feast of St. Peter in Chains, which is celebrated as a Third Class Feast in FSSP houses and apostolates. It is the feast in which we read of the great power of the persevering prayer of members of the Church: “Peter therefore was kept in Prison. But prayer was made without ceasing by the Church unto God for him.” (Acts 12:5)
This feast of our Patron should be an invitation to the faithful to join us in Holy Hours and other fitting prayers to beg the Most Holy Trinity that these members of the Mystical Body may persevere in the faith, and that, like St. Peter, they may be delivered from this terrible persecution. May such a day serve as a reminder to us of the stark contrast that stands between our days of vacation and ease, and their daily struggle for survival as they are killed or exiled from their homes.
The day is not yet past. We can still join Catholics around the world in our efforts, and ask God to give fortitude to our suffering brethren and deliver them from this tragic state of affairs.
Pray an extra rosary. Skip a meal. Get to adoration. Perform a religious act we have the luxury of taking for granted on behalf of those who face brutality simply for their desire to do the same.
We may not be able to gain them freedom, but at the very least, we may be able to obtain for them some much needed solace and strength.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.