Trappist Monastery Near Jerusalem Victimized by Arson, Defaced
Why are Christians again the target?
The Christian community awoke to discover with horror that once again it is the target of forces of hatred within Israeli society. In the early morning, the door of the Cistercian (Trappist) monastery in Latroun was burned and anti-Christian graffiti was sprayed on the walls.
Father Louie, the Abbot of the monastery of Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Sept-Douleurs, at Latrun in Israel
JERUSALEM, Israel (Catholic Online) - Oz Rosenberg and Nir Hasson of Haaretz newspaper in Israel were the first to report the troubling story. There was another arson attack outside of Jerusalem on Tuesday, August 3, 2012.
However, this time, the Cistercian ("Trappist") monastery of Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Sept-Douleurs, at Latrun - and the monks who live, work and pray inside - were the victims of this senseless act of anti-Christian hatred. This beautiful monastery was established by monks sent from the motherhouse of Sept-Fons Abbey in France at the request of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1890.
Father Louie, the Abbot of the monastery, told the BBC that "at around 3:30 on Tuesday, a monk sleeping in one of the guest rooms had heard a noise, went outside and saw the door burning. The monks managed to put out the fire with an extinguisher."
A part of monastic life and spirituality is labor, immersed in prayer. Monks support themselves through hard work, dedicated to God and caught up in the ongoing redemptive work of Jesus Christ in and through His Church. They follow a "Rule", a Way of Life. The Cistercians follow the Rule of St. Benedict and the Benedictine motto "Ora et Labora', Work and Prayer.
This holy place, where peaceful monks spend their days in hard work offered up for the salvation of the world - and in intense prayer for authentic peace in the Holy Land - was also defaced - with horrid anti-Christian graffiti. The BBC report noted the graffiti included the phrase "Jesus is a monkey". It also included the words "mutual responsibility", along with the names of the settler outposts of Upper Migron and Maoz Esther."
Jon Donnison, the BBC's reporter stationed in Ramallah, noted that "such vandalism is sometimes referred to as a "price-tag" attack, where settlers retaliate against Israeli government curbs on settlement growth, generally by attacking Palestinian property but occasionally by vandalising religious sites." However, the speculation is a theory. Israeli Police have begun a thorough investigation.
Too often, people mistakenly believe that the Christian monk retreats from the world because of its "corruption". In fact, the monk retreats (in differing ways in accordance with their particular monastic response) precisely in order to transform the world by his prophetic witness and powerful prayer. The dedicated monk is an essential part of the Lord's plan for the whole Church.The presence of these monks in Israel is a gift.
The monastic life is one of the greatest treasures of our Church. Monasticism in the first millennium gave us the treasury of theological wisdom which still inspires the Church. Those who went into the desert became the great teachers, fathers, confessors and prophets. Their prayer and witness kept the Church in the Divine embrace so that she could effectively continue the redemptive mission of the Lord.
The Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land issued a joint release entitled a "Declaration of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land". The tile asks the question, "Why are Christians again the target?" It is set forth in full below:
"The Christian community awoke . Tuesday, September 4, 2012, to discover with horror that once again it is the target of forces of hatred within Israeli society. In the early hours of the morning, the door of the Cistercian (Trappist) monastery in Latroun was burned and anti-Christian graffiti was sprayed on the walls.
"The monks of Latroun have dedicated their lives to prayer and hard work. The monastery is visited by hundreds of Jewish Israelis each week and they are received with love and warmth by the monks. A number of the monks have learned Hebrew and promote mutual understanding and reconciliation between Jews and Christians, according to the teachings of the Catholic Church."
"Sadly, what happened in Latroun is only another in a long series of attacks against Christians and their places of worship. What is going on in Israeli society today that permits Christians to be scapegoat and targeted by these acts of violence?"
"Those who sprayed their hateful slogans, expressed their anger at the dismantlement of the illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank. But why do they vent this anger against Christians and Christian places of worship? What kind of "teaching of contempt" for Christians is being communicated in their schools and in their homes? And why are the culprits not found and brought to justice?"
"This morning, the Christians in Israel are asking many questions as they grieve and seek consolation and assurances. The time has come for the authorities to act to put an end to this senseless violence and to ensure a "teaching of respect" in schools for all those who call this land home."
"Which of you desires life, and covets many days to enjoy good?
Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it." (Psalm 34:12-14)
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Israel, Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land, cistercian monks, trappists, Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Sept-Douleurs, Latrun, Arson, settlers, graffitti, anti-Christian, anti-Catholic, Deacon Keith Fournier
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