Apr 30, 2017
In 2007, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice established the International Women of Courage Award. It is presented to women who show exceptional courage, even at great risk to their own lives. Each year, U.S. embassies around the world put forward candidates for this award from their country of service. This year, on March 29, First Lady Melania Trump presented the awards. Among the recipients from countries as diverse as Colombia, Papua New Guinea and Botswana was Sister Carolin Tahhan Fachakh, a member of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
Salesian Sister Carolin lives in war-torn Syria. In the midst of the constant bombing, she goes about her work. Increased bombings in Syria have only served to intensify her selfless service, especially for the safety of the traumatized children in her nursery school. In addition to the school, she runs a tailoring workshop to help displaced women acquire needed job skills. She is constantly attending to the needs of refugees. Sister Carolin's work has been hailed as a beacon of hope both for Christians and Muslims.
Every day, Sister Carolin faces life or death situations. We do not. In terms of our physical well-being, our situation in America is not the same. But, in terms of our spiritual well-being, there is a similarity. Our cultural and political environment is becoming increasingly hostile. Because there are no bombs, no gunfire, no explosions, many are lured into thinking that our values as Christians are not under serious attack. Nonetheless, a war against the Christian faith is taking place.
The constant drumbeat championing diversity attempts to drown out the Christian voice in the public square. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." But, many today are no longer speaking of the free exercise of religion. Rather they talk about the freedom of religion. This change in language promotes the idea of limiting the practice of religion to only within the walls of a church, synagogue or mosque. It stems from the desire not to respect the freedom of individuals who refuse to participate in activities that contradict their religious beliefs.