It's confusing, is it not? We're told -- we know -- that we should love everyone without conditions, and that we must respect all religions (we hear this in Church teachings, apparitions of Mary, and from near-death episodes). Yet we weigh that with the inherent difficulties in faiths such as Hinduism (that revere dozens of goddesses and gods, the classic definition of paganism, and persecute Indian Catholics) and of course Islam (which seems to have violent opposition, to anyone who is not Muslim, in its very theological DNA).
We must love -- though we are also allowed to defend ourselves, and that brings us to the devastation of Catholic and orthodox churches in countries such as Syria and Iraq.
Remarkably, both nations were the site of apparitions warning of a coming "apocalypse" -- which certainly has occurred, among Christians, in those two nations.
It was in the vein that we spoke, last week (11/17/15) to Commander Emanuel Khoshaba Youkhana, who heads a small band of fighters known as the Dwekh Nawsha who are defending Christians in Syria and Iraq -- especially the Nineveh Plain -- against ISIS.
It is a prayer urgency: more and more ISIS are expected to move into that territory, especially Mosul, site of the Iraqi apparitions (approved by Orthodox officials) to a young woman named Dinah Basher, as ISIS flees French and Russian bombardments of the terrorist "capital" in Raqqa.
Though Commander Youkhana did not know what happened to two of the key churches where Dinah experienced her apparitions (and prophecies), the Church of the Blessed Virgin in Baghdad and St. Thomas in Mosul, and though no one has been able to tell us, for years now, the fate of this seer, Youkhana told Spirit Daily that "all the churches now -- in Mosul city I don't know the number, but maybe more than 52 destroyed or damaged, just in Mosul, and in Nineveh Plains all the church were damaged. They make it like a jail for the prisoners and torture them and even kill people in churches there."
Pray for Dinah -- and every other Christian, as radical Muslims seek to eradicate them. (If Nineveh rings a bell, it is the area of Jonah's warning many centuries ago.)
"St. Michael and St. Mary and St. George have been attacked," he told us. "St. Thomas I didn't hear [about]. The situation of the Christians is a bad situation for sure: everything lost after 2014. Worse than ever."
He is in the U.S. seeking help.
They protect monasteries, churches, and relics in what the Pope calls a new "world war."
As a biography explains, "In August 2014 after Islamic State mortar attacks, kidnappings, killings and massacres of hundreds of Assyrians and the capture of towns and villages on the Assyrian Nineveh Plain precipitated a mass exodus of 100,000 people, a group of 12 men under the leadership of Emanuel Khoshaba left Erbil to coordinate their defense, rescue and evacuation. Fortunately, and just as they were about to move out with zero firearms and just two vehicles, five of the Assyrian wives in the group stepped forward and offered their wedding rings and gold crosses to be sold for the purchase of weapons and ammunition.
"Thus armed, they drove off down the road into the battlefield, recovering weapons others had abandoned. Before them and scattered in dozens of pockets and in dire jeopardy of death or capture by ISIS were thousands of elderly, mothers and their children, women giving birth and wounded who struggled to move towards safety in blistering August heat."
ISIS is now attacking everywhere and in every area and city, he explains -- "they fight in Syria and Iraq and now are taking the fight to Europe. All the area was Christian but when Islam came and occupied, they said, 'Become Muslim and you will be safe.'" Radical Muslims, he says, "explain Islam is in the wrong way."
It is hard to love the misguided who persecute us. "Those who are not Catholics are no less creatures made in the image of God, and destined to rejoin one day the House of the Father," the Virgin was quoted as saying. "Salvation is available to everyone. Only those who refuse God deliberately are condemned. To him who has been given little, little will be asked for. To whomever has been given much (to Catholics), very much will be required. It is God alone, in His infinite justice, Who determines the degree of responsibility and pronounces judgment." Is it best to find commonality or point out differences?
Yet we get back again to defense and a segment of a religion that -- according to one Cardinal -- is "satanic."
"For sure they can defeat ISIS -- USA and France, coalition forces, with many ways," adds Khoshaba, who has a devotion to the Blessed Mother (Mart Mariam, "mother of my Lord") and prays the Rosary. To win, he says, outside forces "have to fight with locals who have a stake in it, whose future depends on it" -- not with paid soldiers.
"The Vatican and Pope are major targets for them," warns the commander. "When Islamic state threatens any country. We must take threat in a serious way. We need to save Christianity in the Middle East. If we lose Christianity from that area, that means there is no peace in all the world. So help support the Assyrian Christians." The commander can be reached at this e-mail for those willing to help, or at least offer encouragement and the greatest weapon: prayers.