Journal Entry: John Dalaly-12/18/2023-Chaldean Catholics

Journal Entry

As I continue my journey through these days of reflection and growth during my time in the Hazelton prison camp, I find immense strength and solace in my faith and my connection to the Chaldean Catholic Church. Born in Iraq, my roots are deeply embedded in this ancient faith, which has played a significant role in shaping my life and providing me with unwavering strength, especially during times of struggle, and we move closer to the Christmas holiday.

Origins and Identity: The Chaldean Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church, part of the larger Catholic Church. It traces its origins back to the Church of the East, which itself developed in what is now Iraq, Iran, and Syria. The Chaldean Church formally united with the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. This church should not be confused with the ancient Chaldeans, who were an ancient Semitic-speaking nation that once inhabited the region of southern Mesopotamia.

My connection to the Chaldean Church is deeply rooted in my heritage and upbringing. Growing up as a child in Iraq, I was surrounded by the rich traditions, rituals, and teachings of this faith. It provided a moral compass and a sense of community that would guide me throughout my life. Our family continued those traditions once we immigrated to the United States and settled in the Detroit area.

Liturgical Language and Practices: The Chaldean Church uses the East Syriac Rite. Its liturgical language is Classical Syriac, a language closely related to the Aramaic spoken by Jesus. This unique liturgy has always felt like a bridge connecting me to the roots of Christianity, reminding me of the timeless nature of our faith.

Leadership and Structure: The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church is the Patriarch of Babylon, a title currently held by Louis Raphaƫl I Sako. The Patriarch is based in Baghdad, Iraq. The church is organized into archdioceses and dioceses, mostly located in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, but also with a significant diaspora in countries like the United States and Australia.

Community and Current Challenges: The Chaldean Catholic community in Iraq has faced numerous challenges, especially in the last few decades. Political instability, persecution, and violence, particularly since the Iraq War in 2003. It has led to a significant decline in the Chaldean Catholic population in their historic homelands. Many have been forced to flee to other countries.

Witnessing the struggles of my fellow Chaldeans and the challenges faced by the church in the Middle East has been heartbreaking. It has strengthened my resolve to support and uplift my community, both within the prison walls and beyond, whenever I have the opportunity.

Faith as a Source of Strength: Throughout my life, I’ve leaned on my faith during times of adversity. Whether facing the uncertainty of immigration to the United States as a child, the challenges of my career, or the difficulties that have brought me to this point in my life, my faith has been a constant source of strength.

The Chaldean Catholic Church has taught me the values of resilience, compassion, and forgiveness. It has instilled in me the belief that even in the darkest of times, there is a higher purpose and a divine plan. Through prayer and meditation, I find solace and guidance, and my daily recitation of the Rosary helps me stay connected to my faith.

As I reflect on my journey, I am reminded of the importance of faith in my life and how it has shaped me into the person I am today. It is this faith that compels me to make the most of my time in prison, to continue my work on “The Dalaly Mindset” workbook, and to support and inspire others on their own journeys of personal growth and transformation.

Critical Thinking Questions:

How has faith or spirituality played a role in your own life during challenging times?

In what ways can the teachings and values of your faith or belief system guide you to make a positive impact on your community or society at large?

What practices or rituals help you find strength and solace in times of adversity?

I look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead and to sharing the wisdom and lessons I’ve gained from my faith and experiences with others as I continue to grow on this path of self-discovery and personal development.