|Christian refugees in a Chaldean Catholic church in Erbil|
The Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad Raphael Louis Sako calls on Iraqi Christians to fast on Christmas Eve in order to implore the Lord for the return of refugees in Mosul and the Nineveh plains. At the same time, he asks the faithful not to organise "any worldly celebration" for Christmas and New Year as "a sign of solidarity with their displaced brothers and sisters, who are going through indescribable suffering."...For this reason, he urges them to fast from Monday 22 December until night on 24 December, not touching food or drink until noon, as "in the days of Ba'utha". The Fast of Ba'utha commemorates what the prophet Jonah brought to the people of Nineveh for their conversion."We fast," the Patriarch said, "for the liberation of Mosul and the villages of the Nineveh plains, so that peace and security will return to these areas, and everyone will be able to return to his or her home, job and school." (Source)
Let us, Catholics living outside Iraq, join the Catholics of Iraq and Syria in this special strong fast for their liberation. May God, through the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin and all Saints, "in mercy and goodness hear our prayers for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of our holy Mother and Church".
(It is important to note that until 1959, Christmas Eve was a day of fasting and abstinence for Latin-Rite Catholics worldwide. From 1959 to 1965 the fast could be observed by the faithful either on the 24th or the 23rd. See our post here. In joining the special pre-Christmas fast of the Chaldean Catholics we will therefore also be reviving what used to be a universal practice among Latin-Rite Catholics.)