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.”

 
Further information:


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)

Theophany

When You were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (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.

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge sing praise to You: * "You have come, and You have appeared, O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Random Proverb

"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." (Proverbs 3:11,12 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Let us go forward with the heart completely attentive and the soul fully conscious. For if attentiveness and prayer are daily joined together, they become like Elias' fire-bearing chariot, raising us to heaven. What do I mean? A spiritual heaven, with sun, moon and stars, is formed in the blessed heart of one who has reach a state of watchfulness, or who strives to attain it.

St. Philotheus of Sinai