Kidnapped Priest Killed, Chopped Up by ISIS as ‘Christians Become a Form of Currency’ in Mid-East War, Says Aid to the Church in Need  ✂︎

From The Christian Post, another horrific story of the slaughtering of Christians in the Middle East:

“Christians have become a form [of] currency in this tragedy,” John Newton told The Christian Post. Newton is spokesman for Catholic relief agency Aid to the Church in Need. “I know of one priest who was kidnapped for two months … they asked for a ransom of $120,000, which the family managed to raise and deliver. … But hours later, the priest was killed and his body cut up, with pieces of him sent in a box to the family.”

ISIS-supporter confirms the Anchoress’s point: West too hip to deal  ✂︎

The Anchoress, Elizabeth Scalia, on one of the biggest, yet unspoken or unrecognized elements in the war on Islamic extremists:

Everyone wants to possess the thoughts, and the resources, of the young but no one is wooing their souls. Increasingly, the West “does not do God”, does not approve of soul-chasing; it routinely discourages or politicizes soul-talk.

To young people seeking what they have been taught not to learn, secularist indoctrination offers a series of short soundbites, while a theological embrace presents a massive sky-full of thunder. It offers books of fast-burning matches, while religion offers books of sustained lightening.

If ISIS is the only supernatural game in town — the only one they’re hearing anything about and the only one that seems both dynamic and undying — it will attract many into making a grave mistake with their lives.

Giving thanks in days of fear, uncertainty, and doubt

Two months ago yesterday, filled with a mix of anger, disappointment, and some level of relief, I spent nearly all day cleaning out my office. The contract on which I had worked for nearly ten years had been awarded to a different company, and rather than move wholesale to the new company, my team decided to break apart and move on to new opportunities.

The days leading up to that final one were horrible. Realizing the exodus of talent, both our customer and our competitor, rather than reach out to us in good faith and professionalism, decided to treat us like criminal suspects in need of questioning to attempt to fill in the knowledge gap. After two weeks of being subjected to this, my anger, frustration, and cynicism reached a high point. At one point after ranting and reeling off a series of uncharitable jokes, I realized that I had become the worst version of myself.

After I finished cleaning my office and said goodbye to people who had been my second family for nearly a decade, I walked out of the door unsure of what was in store for my life. It was pretty easy to start feeling sorry for myself and think about how the world or more particularly, my former customer had screwed me over. It was also easy to let that one negative overshadow nearly every other positive that I had in my life.

Life tends to do this to people. Uncertainty challenges our faith, causes fear, and fills us with doubt. Unfortunately, the world is filled with uncertainty. As I was experiencing my own personal issues, much larger scale events were unfolding. It started with ISIS marching across Syria and Iraq and killing anyone in their path. It continued with ebola leaving thousands dead and sparking a worldwide health crisis. Even as I write this, violent protests are breaking out around the world after a grand jury chose not to indict the police officer involved in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Ten minutes of watching the evening news can easily leave one cynical instead of thankful.

This global uncertainty helped put things into perspective for me. It made me realized how incredibly blessed I am. While the disruption in my career was difficult, it was temporary. As it turned out, my unemployment lasted for only 31 days, and my former employer provided a severance package that kept food on the table and bills paid without having to dip into our savings. Now a month into a new job, the anger and negative emotions of two months ago seem ages away.

Caught up in my own adversity, I forgot how fortunate I am, especially considering the hardships in which others find themselves. Many have lost jobs and are left wondering how they will make ends meet. Many are dealing with tragedy and illness. Many find themselves in the middle of the global tragedies that are filling the news cycles. Blessings and bad fortune alike tend to be relative, and we often view our circumstances in the vacuum of our own joy or frustration.

For this Thanksgiving, I am taking time to realize how great I have it. I have a great family, a great new job, and a litany of other blessings that God has chosen to pour out on me. While not without its minor drama and struggle, this has been a great year for my family and me.

I hope that you can say the same today. If you are struggling to do so, I hope that the difficulties in your life are just as temporary as mine have been and that blessings are just around corner. Even in days of fear, uncertainty, and doubt in our own lives or those of others, we can be thankful that God works all things for good according His purpose.

“Prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom”  ✂︎

A letter written to Marquette Magazine by James Foley, the journalist captured and apparently murdered by ISIS, about his time as a captive in Libya:

I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. 
I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.

Clare and I prayed together out loud. It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone.


Sunday Afternoon Matinee – ‘No place to hide’

Iraq's Christians face ISIS slaughter as country disintegrates

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On a Sunday when the Church reminds us of St. Paul’s encouraging words that nothing can separate us from God’s love, the situation for Christians in Iraq is putting those words to the test. May we all heed Pope Francis’s call to pray for our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East and for peace around the world.