‘N’ for Nazarene

The power of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, for social awareness is being recognized with an Internet campaign urging people to change their profile picture to the Arabic letter “n.” The “n” is for “Nazarene,” which is a title used for our Lord, Jesus of Nazareth. It is this title that is used to signify Christians in many parts of the Muslim world.

It is an “n” that is written on the homes of Christians throughout Iraq. It is the symbol for the Christian in Iraq, painted on their homes to identify them. These brothers and sisters in the faith are given a few options by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – pay an extraordinarily high tax, leave their homes forever, convert or die by the sword. This is the harsh reality that many people face today, a reality that is making many of them martyrs of the 21st century.

We urge all those who use the tools of social media, we urge all those of good will and human decency to change their profile “pic” to the “n.” Do this as a sign of unity with these suffering people. Do this as a living reminder to the world that these Christians in the Middle East do not stand alone. Make people aware of their plight. Through this small act, bring awareness to a situation that is certainly not getting enough coverage in the popular press.

If you are inclined to do more, here are three other options that one can do to make a difference. First, donate to the Catholic Near East Foundation. Visit http://www.cnewa.org and click on “Give Now!” These funds go directly to support the needs of Iraq’s Christian population.

Another concrete way to assist these persecuted Christians is to sign a petition to the White House asking our president to officially address this modern-day holocaust. To sign your name, go to https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/help-christians-mosul-and-iraq-who-are-part-modern-day-holocaust/S0cLfXZg

Finally, we urge prayer, serious prayer, before Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist and intercession before Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows and as Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs in the Rosary for our brothers and sisters. Priests should think concretely about offering a Votive Mass for Persecuted Christians (Roman Missal, Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions, No. 19) when the liturgical calendar permits it. Nothing is as powerful as the power of Christ in the Eucharist and the intercession of Mary in the Rosary.

We are all “n,” those of us in Iraq and those of us in Brooklyn and Queens. May we never fail to live up to the name of Christian.


Reality Check


“Bloom declares war on Bieber” and the like were the recent headlines of some our local tabloids.

As interesting as it might be to some that actor Orlando Bloom had a confrontation with teen heartthrob Justin Bieber, one might be tempted to ask a genuine question: Why is this news? Why is this the headline of a major newspaper with the events going on in our world, in our nation and in our city?

Are we aware of some of the events going on in the world? Are we aware of the reality, the harsh reality, that is the daily events of the world of many of our brothers and sisters? In Gaza, cease-fire after cease-fire fails, and Palestinians and Israelis are locked in a perpetual conflict. Throughout major sections of the African continent, the Ebola virus is infecting victims and some health care workers alike.

Isn’t it time for a reality check?