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

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

Encounter

Rejoice, O Mother of God, Virgin full of grace. * From you has risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * shining upon those who are in darkness. * Rejoice also, you righteous Elder; * for you received in your arms the Deliverer of our souls, * Who has given us resurrection. (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.

O Christ God, through Your birth You sanctified the Virgin's womb; * and blessed, as it was proper, the hands of Simeon. * Now, having come, you saved us. * Give peace to Your commonwealth in times of war * and strengthen our civil authorities, whom You have loved, O You who alone loves mankind. (Kontakion, Tone 1)

(The Feast of the Encounter is February 2nd - the 40th Day of Christmas)

Random Proverb

"Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching." (Proverbs 4:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

“The legalization of the termination of pregnancy is none other than the authorization given to an adult, with the approval of an established law, to take the lives of children yet unborn and thus incapable of defending themselves. It is difficult to imagine a more unjust situation, and it is very difficult to speak of obsession in a matter such as this, where we are dealing with a fundamental imperative of every good conscience — the defense of the right to life of an innocent and defenseless human being.”

- Saint John Paul II