My Beloved the benevolent
Grace and peace wishing every goodness and blessing
Our Coptic Orthodox Church is truly a church of martyrs. Across the ages the church has offered thousands of her children as martyrs for their Christian faith, who shed their blood for the love of Christ who loved and forsook Himself on our behalf.
In recent times, numerous terrorist attacks against the church and her blessed children have been carried out – St. Peter’s church, St. George’s church in Tanta, St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria on Palm Sunday, and lastly the attacks on the bus in El Menia.
Despite the pain and sorrow these events have caused, we look at the bright side, that these innocent victims are martyrs for their Christian faith and that God granted His grace that they may hold on to their faith till death, and by that same grace, solace was rendered to the hearts of their families.
We do not seek persecution, but always pray for the peace of the church. We do not seek martyrdom, but always pray for God to bless His people and turn the counsel of the enemies of the church as He turned the counsel of Ahithophel. We do not seek death, but pray for the healing of the sick. But when God permits persecution and allows that our children be martyred, we rejoice because we trust our Lord and His love, wisdom and care, and we trust that we are sojourners on the earth and have our home in heaven.
St. Paul did not seek to be imprisoned, but when God allowed for him to be imprisoned in Rome, he was not sad, but wrote to the Philippians and said, “For you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,” [Phil. 1:29]
God granted us that our church would be a church of martyrs and this is a great honor, but a great responsibility as well.
Our church in this age, which is a new era of martyrdom, has a responsibility towards her children:
- To encourage her children not to be afraid of martyrdom or when hearing of terrorist attacks. To trust in God who protects the church and all His people. For God to allow martyrdom is for the good of the martyrs and a witness to the strength of the faith. The most dangerous thing we face nowadays is for fear to enter the hearts of the church’s children. St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage – who was ordained in Carthage in the year 249 at the beginning of the age of persecution which was launched by Emperor Decius (249-251) – sent to the congregation of the church in Carthage, encouraging them saying, “In times of persecution the earth closes for us, but heaven opens. The anti-Christ threatens, but Christ helps. Death overcomes, but eternity follows us. The world refuses us and paradise accepts us. The short life ends so that eternity can start. How honorable, peaceful, and joyful to depart in glory in the midst of suffering and persecution. To close our eyes to the world and to open them in the face of Christ. What a short journey.”
- The families of the martyrs need special care – spirituality, materialistically, and socially. Truly, there is intense emotion when a terrorist attack happens accompanied by eagerness to care for the families of the martyrs, but with time this fervor dwindles and sometimes we forget those families. For this reason, we need continuous integrated work to care for those impacted families and offer them help to face life’s difficulties. Also, the injured or the confessors who suffered – who God did not allow to be martyred – they also need special care along with their families. Thank God that in the Holy Synod meeting held on June 3, 2017, it was decided that a special department be formed in the Episcopate for Public and Social Services for the families of the martyrs and the confessors.
- To care for the weak souls that weaken even further because of persecution and therefore could possibly deny the faith.
- An invitation for a communal life of repentance to be ready to meet Christ. We are at a new age that needs renewed thoughts that are inspired by the Early Church’s experience during the persecution era and how she faced it, protected the faith, and offered complete care for the children of her church.
I would like to thank you for your love and generous giving toward all the events that affected our beloved brethren in Egypt. The association of Santa Verena Charity, through your generous giving, supports the efforts given to care for the families of the martyrs and the confessors. The organization also coordinates with other Diocese of the Diaspora to help in providing security for the churches through The Project of the Two Martyrs Nabil and Neseem.
May the Lord bless your offerings to support Santa Verena Charity programs and grant you a blessed Apostle’s fast.