Nun speaks of Palestian Christians' lack of bitterness

 There is a Christian hymn which has as its refrain: 'The rocks would shout if we kept still and failed to preach the word' It is the Lord's insistent will that truth be told and heard.' I am reminded of these words as I write my weekly report. If 'truth be told' it is evil. Yesterday I went to the lovely Christian village of Aboud, where several people have been, as the Israeli government puts it, 'liquidated'. Land has been confiscated, agricultural groves, orchards and fields, have either been destroyed, or Palestinians have been prevented from harvesting their crops. The village has been closed off as all major roads in and out of the area, are for 'for Jewish drivers only'. Homes have been demolished, families terrified. The list goes on and on. Yet in spite of all this devastation and terror, there remains an inner strength and dignity about these Christians. It is a strength and dignity that reminds me of the Christian martyrs, both in the early Church and throughout the ages. Perhaps it was the ancient shrine to St. Barbara, high on the hilltop above Aboud, that caused the connection in my mind. Over the centuries, Palestinian Christians have know persecution. Many have fled for their lives, but some have stayed to keep the faith alive here in the land of the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Without them the churches would be just museums for the pilgrims from other countries to visit; there would be no living indigenous community of Christians here. These days, they are not allowed by the Israeli Occupation Forces to travel to the major churches of our faith: the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, the Basilica of the Annunciation, the church of the Nativity, the church of the Dormition. Yet they continue to celebrate the feasts in Aboud, and other village churches. When the Palestinian Christians speak, I hear the sorrow of their souls. But they do not harbour hatred in their hearts. Rather they personify a courage and forgiveness toward their oppressors, as well as those who provide Israel with the weapons and money to confiscate their land and build villas for settlers on it. The Palestinian Christians continue to baptise their sons and daughters, pass on to them by faith and actions what it means to be a Christian in this land; and they continue to allow their children to enter the priesthood or religious life. It is an honour to be part of their faith community as they struggle to make ends meet and hold on to an inner peace in the most trying of circumstances. We Catholics all over the world owe the Palestinian Christians of the Holy Land a great deal of gratitude. Please keep that in mind as you read or see the news coming out of this land. The situation here has deteriorated to such an extent that now even the mainstream media are beginning to write about certain events which for the past ten months only got the attention of the church, of human rights and peace groups. 'It is the Lord's insistent will that truth be told and heard.' Sr Mary is an Ursuline nun working in Jerusalem

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