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

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7,8 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.

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

What toil we must endure, what fatigue, while we are attempting to climb hills and the summits of mountains! What, that we may ascend to heaven! If you consider the promised reward, what you endure is less. Immortality is given to the one who perseveres; everlasting life is offered; the Lord promises His Kingdom.

St. Cyprian