CWNews.com - Eritrea’s human rights record came under the scrutiny of the United Nation Human Rights Council on December 1. Some 20,000 political prisoners there-- including 3,000 Christians-- are imprisoned by a regime known for torturing its opponents.

Colonized by Italy, Eritrea was awarded to Ethiopia in 1952 and eventually annexed, leading to a decades-long civil war. Eritrea regained its independence in 1993 under the leadership of Isaias Afwerki, a Marxist who received his military training in Mao Zedong’s China. Afwerki remains the totalitarian nation’s leader today. Reporters Without Borders deems Eritrea’s treatment of press freedom the worst in the world.

A longtime Christian area-- local bishops were part of an Oriental Orthodox Church that region ceased communion with the Holy See following the Council of Chalcedon in 451-- the nation of 5.5 million is now half Muslim, 30% Eritrean Orthodox, and less than 4% Eastern Catholic. The government recognizes the existence only of Islam, the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, and the Lutheran Church; according to the State Department, it systematically arrests and imprisons other believers, in some cases reportedly making their conversion to Eritrean Orthodoxy, obtained under torture, as a condition for release.

Official recognition does not provide immunity from persecution. In 2005, the government appointed a layman to administer the Eritrean Orthodox Church, and the following year, the Church’s patriarch was deposed. In 1998, the government took over Catholic schools and health clinics; last year, it took over all Catholic Church property in the nation’s capital.

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Teachings of Christ

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account." (Matthew 5:11 ESV)

Holy Angels

O Supreme Leaders of the heavenly armies, * we, who are unworthy, ever beseech you, * that through your prayers you may surround us * with the shelter of the wings of your immaterial glory, * watching over us who fervently fall down and cry out: * “Deliver us from perils, * for you are the commanders of the Powers on high!” (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.

O Supreme Leaders of the armies of God * and ministers of the Divine Glory, * princes of angels and guides of men, * ask for us what is expedient for us and for great mercy, * for you are the leaders of the Bodiless Hosts. (Kontakion - Tone 2)

Random Proverb

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things, unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye amid the other disciples, saying: "If, then, any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new" (2Cor. 5:17).

The Homilies of St. Gregory the Great On the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel