The Fast of Nineveh

Dear friends,
Monday to Wednesday, January 18th – 20th, will be the 3 days of the Fast of Nineveh.
Chaldean Patriarch Louis Rafael I has described the Fast in the accompanying article from Fides below.
The fast is from midnight to noon.
As the Chaldean people enter this ancient traditional period which is sacred for them, we have the opportunity to pray to God for them.
Given the current plight of many people from that region, we join in prayer solidarity.
The ancient ruins of Nineveh are adjacent to modern Mosul in northern Iraq.
The biblical story of fasting for Nineveh is in the Book of Jonah, chapter 3.
Our local intentions will be to pray for peace and mercy in the Middle East,
and for the safety and support for the Christian and other minorities of Mosul and the Nineveh Plains who have been exiled from their home.
Some are currently in refugee camps in Kurdistan, others have moved to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and other nations.
Some have drowned while making their way from Turkey to Greece.
With them particularly in mind, we extend our prayer to all who suffer this exile from their homes in  the Middle East.
Some might like to fast, others might choose a special time of prayer each day. I offer a prayer below.
You might compose your own prayer. Or perhaps make music or silence a background to your heartfelt prayer to God.
In solidarity.
Fr. Gerry Hefferan
Loving God,
Over these days,
Remember those who lived in Mosul and the Nineveh Plains.
In your love for them,
Grant them freedom, peace and mercy.
Bless those who support them in the camps.
Bless those who provide food, water, clothes and security.
Open our hearts to them in their suffering.
Open our hearts to them in prayer.
Hear the cry of the people of the Middle East for peace and healing.
Hear our desire to be in  prayerful solidarity with them.
Uplift those in exile and sustain them.
Grant them a safe return home.
Article from Fides
The Chaldean Patriarch: we offer the “fast of Nineveh”
Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) – Chaldean Christians, in accordance with their liturgical tradition, are preparing to observe the so-called “fast of Nineveh” (Bautha of Ninwaye), preceding the  weeks of Lent. For three days, from Monday, January 18, the Chaldeans are eager to follow this spiritual practice abstaining from food and drinks from midnight until noon the next day, avoiding to eat foods of animal origin during the three days.
On the eve of the “fast of Nineveh”, the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Luis Raphael I has invited all the faithful of the Chaldean Church to pray and live abstinence from food in order to ask the Lord for the return of the gift of peaceful coexistence in Iraq and throughout the troubled region of the Middle East.
The practice of the “fast of Nineveh” refers to the fasting called by the prophet Jonah to the inhabitants of that corrupt city, which stood in the present Mosul, now in the hands of the jihadist of the Islamic Caliphate (Daesh). That fast – so we read in the Bible – touched God and saved the city from annihilation. In the statement released by the official media of the Patriarchate, the Primate of the Chaldean Church also recalls the words of St. Ephrem, who highlighted that the fasting of Nineveh was a model of sincere repentance. In the statement, sent to Agenzia Fides, Patriarch Louis Raphael repeated that Iraq is faced with a “deadly conflict”, fueled by religious fanatism, and calls everyone to prayer and penance to ask for conversion and invoke the waiver of all violence and war. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 12/01/2016)
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Jonah Chapter 3
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”
So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water.
Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands.
Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

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