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Remembering James Foley

After his release from his first captivity in Libya James Foley wrote this letter to his alma mater, Marquette University. He said:

Myself and two colleagues had been captured and were being held in a military detention center in Tripoli. Each day brought increasing worry that our moms would begin to panic. My colleague, Clare, was supposed to call her mom on her birthday, which was the day after we were captured. I had still not fully admitted to myself that my mom knew what had happened. But I kept telling Clare my mom had a strong faith.

I prayed she’d know I was OK. I prayed I could communicate through some cosmic reach of the universe to her.

I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed.
I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.

Clare and I prayed together out loud. It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone.

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.



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Just saw a vdeo talk by him today from 2011 ....


how moving to watch this articulate, searching young man; and how terribly poignant to hear him say (at about 27:40 of the video) concerning his Libyan guards who did not torture him: "there's some humanity in these guards."

I have many intentions for Evening Prayer. Now James Foley and his family overwhelm them all. I was able to watch the first thirty minutes. Then, ....

There are much better accounts of the Pope's call, but they were beyond my limited pasting skills. See especially, Francis X. Rocca on the Catholic News Service site.

Thanks Crystal for that link. John, he also talks of communicating with someone in the neighboring cell who had inspiring bible quotes memorized, and at the end of the video, in answer to one of the last questions, he talks about praying the rosary.

He comes back several times to his responsibility and lack of good judgment, and about the fact that his colleague's children are now orphans and he feels obligated to do something for them. Those seem to be his main worries.

I would have liked to know him. 


When celebrating weekday Mass, I often use the Eucharistic Prayer from one of the four "Masses for Various Needs." This morning, on the feast of Saint Rose of Lima I remembered in a special way James Foley and his loving family:

Remember our brothers and sisters (N. and N.), who have fallen asleep in the peace of your Christ, and all the dead, whose faith you alone have known. Admit them to rejoice in the light of your face, and in the resurrection give them the fullness of life.

The Men Who Killed James Foley

By Jon Lee Anderson

Thank you, Claire, for your gentle encouagement. I tried again, and this time made it through to the finish. My Evening Prayer intention will continue.

With Lazarus, who is poor no longer, may James Foley have eternal rest.


I started to read this article, but realized that I wouldn't be able to without getting sick to my stomache, so I stopped.  But I will predict that the most murderous and vicious of the future converts to Islam will come from the West, one reason being that hatred of the West is now routinely taught and advocated in academia (See Ward Churchill and ilk).


Bob Schwartz:

I take it that you stopped reading the article because of the horror it portrayed, not because you felt it was slanted ideologically.  Am I right?  If so, I would only point out that in stopping, you missed other things which, far from making you sick to your stomach, would have, I think, given you at least a modest bit of hope.  For example:

[Foley’s mother] wrote in a Facebook post, “We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.” She added a plea for the lives of the remaining hostages, and wrote, “We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person.”

But yes, you’re right that the article leaves one shaken.  Still, I think it’s very important that, for those who may not have time to read the whole piece, I’m going to include a few excerpts:

. . . . hundreds and perhaps thousands of people, many of them noncombatants, have been similarly murdered, their last moments videotaped, at the hands of extremists in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. There is no longer any doubt that the Internet, with its power of contagion and usefulness for recruiting, has become a preferred, particular tool of terrorists. . . . Freed and encouraged to kill and to horrify, it seems, many people will do so, even people raised in Western democracies. . . .

Sadly, if it was once difficult to conceive of people capable of such unfathomable cruelty, it is no longer. Yesterday’s guerrillas have given way to terrorists, and now terrorists have given way to this new band, who are something like serial killers. ISIS, an organization of thugs, is the Middle East’s answer to the psycho-killer narco gang Los Zetas, trying to out-bad their enemies, to frighten them into submission, and to somehow draw themselves into an ugly cartoon of evil.

At the end of the piece, Anderson speaks of a conversation he had with a man who lost his young son and daughter-in-law to “the dark enticements of ISIS:”

I asked Faisal what he thought of ISIS, and about what his son is doing. He shook his head sadly, raised his hands helplessly in the air, and said, “They are the new barbarians.”


It is all discouraging.  I suspect awful brutality like this has always exsited but that now, with global news and the internet, we are much more intimately aware of it, and probably some people are encouraged to engage in it even more because of the financial rewards ... the NYT has an editorial about terrorist hostage taking as a way to finance terror groups ...

I read novels by Daniel Silva that are probably atypical for a political/social liberal like myself ... they have as the main character an Israeli art restorer/agent ... but anyway, years ago  some of the novels set in Britian told of the situation that is only now coming to light because of James Foley's murder.  Scary stuff ...

Gene Palumbo:

You are correct.  It was the satanic cruelty, not any ideological slant.  I thank you for encouraging me to soldier on and finish the article.

I once believed that this kind of casual and deliberate and sneering cruelty existed only in the forbidden annals of abnormal psychology.  ISIS is kind of a traveling circus of horror, a kind of Busbey Berkely musical of sadistic carnage, with hooded black clad monsters instead of gilrls.  And now I understand that this kind of thing is considered cool and hip in certain circles that populate the disintegrating skeleton of what was once Western Civilization in Europe, now denuded of Christian behavioral and literary norms.

I fully expect that in the coming decade, as secular liberalism continues it's relentless deconstruction of the United States of America, the only remaining center of Judeo-Christian culture with any balls, we will see prominent entertainment celebrities advocating for such as ISIS.

But then, there is the Risen Christ and His hope that gets me back on an even keel.

Blessed be Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, blessed be His angels and His saints, and Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.

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