CWN - The Grand Imam of al-Azhar condemned recent terrorist attacks on Coptic Christians “in the strongest terms” and called upon Egypt’s Muslims to celebrate Christmas to show their solidarity with Christians.

The Coptic Orthodox Church (background) celebrates Christmas on January 7.

“All Egyptian people are urged to stand firm against this evil conspiracy” and to join “their Coptic brethren in celebrating the anniversary of Christ’s birth,” said Ahmed el-Tayeb, whom some Muslims regard as the highest Sunni Muslim authority.

On December 29, gunmen on a motorcycle attacked a Coptic Orthodox church in Helwan, a city of 640,000 near Cairo, leaving 10 dead, including security officers. Egyptian state media reported that one gunman was killed by security forces in a shootout, while the other was arrested.

That same day, two Coptic Christians were killed in an attack on their store in Helwan.Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, decried the “treachery and cowardliness of the evils that were the reason for this painful incident.”

“All condolences to their families and to the police, the church and to Egypt, which will still be strong and capable of defeating insensitive and dark and violent forces which have no conscience,” he added.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, condemned the attack, stating that “the sign that Christians can give to the world is that of a great faith, a choice of life lived in the mystery of Christ.” Referring to persecuted Coptic Christians, he said that “we can learn many things from these believers.”

“The government is doing everything possible to protect churches, but fear remains,” added Archbishop Bruno Musarò, the apostolic nuncio to Egypt.

Following the recitation of the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on December 31, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to Coptic Christians and prayed for the conversion of “all violent hearts.”

 
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Teachings of Christ

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44 ESV)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O Lord! (Troparion, Tone 4)

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

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing." (Proverbs 9:13 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The Holy Eucharist is the first, most important, and greatest miracle of Christ. All the other Gospel miracles are secondary. How could we not call the greatest miracle the fact that simple bread and wine were once transformed by the Lord into His very Body and His very Blood, and then have continued to be transformed for nearly two thousand years by the prayers of priests, who are but simple human beings? And what is more, this mystery has continued to effect a miraculous change in those people who communicate of the Divine Mysteries with faith and humility. 

St. Ambrose of Optina