wataninet.com - The church of the Holy Virgin and Mar-Girgis (St George) in the village of Sheikh Alaa’ in Minya, some 250km south of Cairo, was founded in 2015, and is the only church in the village. It was established without licence, owing to the near impossibility of obtaining licence despite the dire need for a church in the village. The church is housed in a 170 sq.m two-storey building which Minya bishopric purchased in 2014. The first floor incudes a reception hall and offices; the second includes the church.

Once the building was purchased, the bishopric renovated it and started preparing the upper floor to serve as a church. It was almost ready to receive worshippers in 2015, when extremist Muslim villagers waged an attack against it, destroying a large portion of the interior and furnishings. The police hastened to close the building under the pretext of avoiding violence against the Copts, but caught no culprit.

The building remained closed till last month when the priest Fr Moussa Thabet, encouraged by the 2016 law for building churches, decided to reopen it. He held Mass there; it was attended by hundreds of villagers who were happy to finally be able to worship in a place in their village. But the same extremists who had attacked the church two years ago attacked it again. Again, the police decided to close the building and, again, no culprit was caught.

This time, however, the Copts refused to leave the church and, in a gesture of protest, some 70 of them conducted a sit-in inside the church. Since the police refused to allow anything to be handed to the protestors, the neighbours started throwing to them food and drink on the church rooftop from neighbouring rooftops.

An arrangement was reached with the police whereby the women and children were made to leave the church and go home, then most of the men left too; now only Fr Moussa remains in the building with three deacons. The police allow foodstuffs in, but no one is allowed to go in to them, nor are they allowed to leave. Fr Moussa prays daily Mass with the deacons.

A church said that, according to the law for building churches, the bishopric has filed an official application to legalise the status of the church, but no decision has so far been taken on that score.

Watani International
25 October 2017

Link and Photos: http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs-coptic-affairs/sectarian/minya-priest-conducts-sit-in-in-his-closed-church/21772/


Teachings of Christ

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?" (Mark 8:34-37 ESV)

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Random Proverb

"My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge." (Proverbs 5:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

While the Bridegroom tarried, they slumbered and slept: Give ear, ye prudent, to our Lord's parable, for it is all light. All of them slept, both the foolish and the wise -- Which signifies that the good and the wicked die until the resurrection. The same sleep comes upon the ten of them, which is as much as to say, That death is the same for all creation without distinction. One was the sleep of the wise and of the foolish, For one is death, both of the righteous and of sinners. The good die, as the wise virgins slept; And the bad die, as the foolish also slept. Behold, all creation looketh for the coming of the Bridegroom, Christ, Who cometh at the end with His angels. But since He hath tarried, all generations slumber and sleep with the sleep of death, while looking for when He cometh.

A Homily on the Ten Virgins by Mar Jacob, Bishop of Serugh