Lord, Be With Them

This morning, I saw the following text begin to trickle onto my Facebook newsfeed:

From Sister Monique, via Filles de la Charite, PARIS

FROM : Sister Monique

Late Sunday afternoon on 1 March 2015, I received a message from M. Francoise, a delegate of the International Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and I managed to reach her by telephone.

She was leaving for Paris, and collapsed at the news she had just received: members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Syria were kidnapped, along with their wives and children. The children were isolated and put into cages. Adults who do not deny their faith will be decapitated, and their children burned alive in the cages. M. Francoise had been in regular contact with several of them before all this occurred. She asked me to transmit the news and make a fervent appeal for prayers for these people, and all who are held hostage.

Let us remain fervently united in prayer, and have as our intention the welfare of all brothers and sisters in our Christian faith who are being held hostage

Now, I have no way of knowing whether this information is true (I haven’t found any mention of it in the media), but it is posted on the website of the Eastern Province (USA) of the Vincentians, a Catholic order of priests and brothers. I would hope that they confirm such accounts before sharing them.

(Please note that there was a publicity stunt in February, in which Syrian protestors dressed children as ISIS hostages and placed them in a cage to protest the Assad regime. So if you see any pictures purported to be the children referenced by the Vincentians, please know that you might actually be seeing images of children who are alive and well – other, of course, than the fact that they live under a brutal, oppressive, even murderous regime.)

But in any event, thinking of the Christian hostages held by ISIS in Syria and Iraq (and we know that there are indeed many of them), I pray, over and over:

Lord, be with them.

Lord, protect them. Comfort them. Strengthen them. Give them Your peace.

Lord, touch the hearts of their captors. Kindle in them the virtues of prudence, justice, and charity. Guide them to feel sympathy, to have mercy, to love.

Lord, help the hostages to know that they are loved and prayed for by their brothers and sisters in Christ the world over. Move us to offer them whatever help and solidarity we can.

Lord, shield them. Cover them. Hold them.

Lord, be with them.

This morning, shortly after I read the disturbing news above, I heard my own child cry. He was fine – just frustrated with his clothing. But his cries were like daggers to my sense of wellness, of stability, of the way the world should be. All I could think of were those parents, having to wrestle with the most horrible decision one could possibly face.

Their children’s cries… surely their children would be crying.

I have no idea what I would do in that situation. No idea. I am cowed just by the suggestion of such a choice. Though half a world away, I feel injured by the kidnappings, the rapes, the mutilations, the beheadings of my fellow Christians in Africa and the Middle East. I am wowed by the grace with which some of those who are actually close to the victims have borne their losses. I feel pain, too, for the Muslims and other non-Christians who have suffered at the hands of ISIS and Boko Haram.

Over and over, I recognize Evil in the work of those extremists. Over and over, I mourn and I pray:

Lord, be with them.

I hope you’re praying too. I hope that you and I and the elderly lady at my church choir practice who lead us in prayer for the Jordanian fighter pilot, First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, on the day we learned of his immolation – I hope that we (whatever Faith we call our own) will always far outnumber those who claim to do God’s will, but instead do the work of the one who opposes Him.

Lord, be with them.

2 thoughts on “Lord, Be With Them

  1. Seldom have I seen anything that seemed so relentlessly Evil as ISIS. And yet, they think they are acting for God, or at least that’s what they say. I pray for them too, because what can that do to a person’s soul? To harden your heart enough to burn children alive? There are people who do atrocities simply to get drug money, so how much more evil can a person do who thinks they are doing God’s will? It must be Satan’s favorite trick, to get someone to degrade themselves and others in the name of religion.

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