Advent calendar and prayer for 19 December

Wiam in a place of refuge CAFOD

Wiam, 19, was sold as a bride in Syria

The Lord has done this for me, now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered among men.

Luke 1: 5-25

Elizabeth was a woman who was devoted to God. But for years, she suffered in silence because she couldn’t bear a child. How painful this must have been. At the time, if a woman was barren it was seen as a punishment for sin. Elizabeth felt humiliated.

But God did not want her to suffer this way. The angel brought news that she would give birth to a son, who would be her “joy and delight”.

Throughout Scripture, we hear again and again how God is closest to women and men who are broken-hearted.

“They humiliated me”

Wiam, 19, is staying at a shelter funded by Caritas in Lebanon. She suffered a heart-breaking life in Syria, but the Lord rescued her. 

Wiam’s father and brother were killed in the conflict in Syria. She was left alone and went to live with her uncle. When she was most vulnerable, she trusted her uncle to look after her. But he took her to Lebanon where she was sold as a bride.

“During the period I lived with my husband,” Wiam says, “I was always beaten by him and by his family. They also humiliated me. They said we have bought you and you are our slave so we can do what we want.”

For two years, Wiam was forced to work as a slave and lived in constant fear. She gave birth to a son, but was still forced to work.

One day, she escaped to her neighbours’ house. Thankfully, her neighbours took her to the Caritas Refugee and Migrant Centre. Wiam is safe now.

But, unimaginably, she had to leave her young son behind.

“It is very hard for me,” she says, “but I am being patient, hoping that one day I will be able to meet my son again”.

Wiam is getting stronger every day. Looking back, she says, “I am speechless about what has happened to me. I am grateful for the help for women and I have faith there will be justice. I have learnt now to live outside and stand on my own two feet again.”

In Wiam’s words, we hear echoes of today’s psalm: “Be a rock where I can take refuge, a mighty stronghold to save me” (Psalm 70). We thank God that Wiam has found refuge, and we pray for the best possible outcome for her son.

Advent prayer

God our refuge, may we remember that we never suffer alone, for you are always with us. Guide the feet of those who are fleeing violence, poverty, and persecution, and help us to make known your saving help. Amen. 

Act

Pray to Mary, Mother of the Poor, and ask her to intercede for all migrants and refugees. Download this Marian prayer and share it with your friends and family. 

Download the prayer

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