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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Egyptian Court Sentences Christian Family to 15 Years for Converting from Islam

"The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt.  We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary — and asked for — to pursue a credible transition to a democracy.  I’m also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity — jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight.  And I know that a democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world."
 Barack Hussein Obama

Today's headline about an Egyptian woman and her seven children being sentenced to 15 years for converting from Islam falls on the Feast Day of Saint Anthony of Egypt, the father of monks, whose life of oblation, fasting and prayer in the desert fortified him with a profound sense of Christian realism.  His life is a reminder that this world is not our home; instead we are on a journey, confronting great evil along the way.  It is an evil which can no longer be viewed as foreign or in the past.  It touches us every day.  It resides in the highest places, it appeals to our vanity, and it seeks our destruction.  But it is fleeting and can be withstood and overcome, as it was by Saint Anthony of Egypt,  only with Christ in whom "we live and move and have our being."

In the past Americans would look to our government to express our collective outrage at injustice and the persecution of Christians around the world.  Perhaps it is better, through silence and prayer, that we recognize, as did the third century saint, our only sure path and true hope:
"Let it be your supreme and common purpose not to grow weary in the work you have begun, and in time of trial and affliction not to lose courage and say: Oh, how long already have we been mortifying ourselves! Rather, we should daily begin anew and constantly increase our fervor. For man's whole life is short when measured against the time to come, so short, in fact, that it is as nothing in comparison with eternity. . . . Therefore, my children, let us persevere in our acts of asceticism. And that we may not become weary and disheartened, it is good to meditate on the words of the apostle: 'I die daily.' If we live with the picture of death always before our eyes, we will not sin. The apostle's words tell us that we should so awaken in the morning as though we would not live to evening, and so fall asleep as if there were to be no awakening. For our life is by nature uncertain and is daily meted out to us by Providence. If we are convinced of this and live each day as the apostle suggests, then we will not fall into sin; no desire will enslave us, no anger move us, no treasure bind us to earth; we will await death with unfettered hearts."
Saint Anthony of Egypt


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