Sunday, April 30, 2006

Andrea Clark situation: Problems again

Please keep them in your prayers. It appears the place that was going to take her may not have the ability to provide the care. She now has, we hope, until Tuesday to get this resolved.

Here is a quote from an article that just shows the total disrespect for life:

Andrea's attending physician, Dr. Ronald Giveon, made the decision to remove Andrea from life support and then left for vacation.

Order a death then take a holiday.

Here are updates:

(link) Lone Star Times
(link) Pro-Life Blogs

But the mainstream media has picked up the story to a degree (link)

Let us Pray and do everything else we can. Do not lose faith. Do not lose Hope.

This list of Contacts is from here (link)

PLEASE make some calls/send some emails; you may save a life.

but the standard reminder to be polite still applies…

Senator John Cornyn (scroll down, there’s a form)

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison: (scroll down)

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee:

Washington Office
(202) 225-3816
(202) 225-3317 Fax

Houston Office
1919 Smith Street
Suite 1180
Houston, Texas 77002
(713) 655-0050
(713) 655-1612 Fax

Heights Office
420 West 19th Street
Houston, Texas 77008
(713) 861-4070

Acres Home Office
6719 West Montgomery
Suite 204
Houston, Texas 77091
(713) 691-4882

State/local people–these are important:

Rep. Martha Wong (R - Houston), 512-463-0389
Senator Mario Gallegos, District 6 (Harris County/Houston)
(713) 678-8600
(713) 678-7080 (fax)

Senator Jon Lindsay, District 7 (Harris County/Houston)
(281) 583-1011
(281) 444-0189 (fax)

Houston Mayor Bill White:
PHONE: 713.247.2200

Mayor’s Office for People With Disabilities

Governor Perry:

Contact the Governor by Mail or Telephone.


  • Citizen’s Assistance Hotline: (800) 843-5789
    (for Texas callers)

  • Citizen’s Opinion Hotline: (800) 252-9600
    (for Texas callers)

  • Citizen’s Assistance and Opinion Hotline: (512) 463-1782
    (for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers)

  • Office of the Governor Main Switchboard: (512) 463-2000
    (office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. CST)

  • Citizen’s Assistance Telecommunications Device

    If you are using a telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD), call 711 to reach Relay Texas

  • Office of the Governor Fax: (512) 463-1849

  • Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth:

  • And of course, St. Luke’s Episopal Hospital: 832-355-1000
    General email (but calling is better!)

Saint Demiana

It is a story of love and courage. A story that shows the bond between a parent and a child. It takes place during the reign of Diocletian. I have already addressed the horror of Diocletian's rule in the post on the Theban Legion. It is at this dangerous time to be a Christian that the story of St. Demiana begins:

Saint Demiana was the daughter of Mark, Governor of El-Borollus, El-Zaafran, and Wadi Al-Saysaban in the Northern delta of the Nile Valley. She was the only daughter to her parents. When she was one year old, her father took her to the church of the monastery of Al-Maymah and offered alms, candles and oblations so that God may bless her and keep her in His care.

When she was fifteen years old, she vowed herself to live as virgin for the sake of Christ. She asked her father to build her a place where she could worship God in seclusion with her virgin friends. He fulfilled her wish and built her the house that she wanted. She lived in it with forty other virgins. They spent their time reading the holy scripture and in worship.

St. Demiana wanted nothing more than to worship her Lord. She vowed herself a virgin, giving God all that she was. Think for a moment of the parents. This is your only daughter, and we hear of no other children to the house of her father.

St. Demiana makes the choice of a religious life. There will be no grandchildren. There will be no weddings or dances. Are we told of here parents reaction to this? We are told that her father:

He fulfilled her wish and built her the house that she wanted.

It is a difficult choice when a person wishes to vow virginity. Nuns, monks and Priests (depending on what church and if they are married before ordination) all make a very difficult choice. In this day and age the common thought is that such a vow is insane. I won't enter into that debate, but I will look at another view from today. The view that it is not the buisiness of the parents what the child chooses to do. The thought that nothing is shown of St. Demiana's father by the line:

He fulfilled her wish and built her the house that she wanted.

In another version it says:

Knowing her deep desire for a righteous life, her father reluctantly granted Demiana her wish.

But it is one of the most telling lines in the story. For a parent to support a child in what is god's will for them, is sometimes the most difficult thing to do. It is, and act of Love. An act of Faith. So the line tells us that Mark, the father of Demiana, loved his daughter and had faith in the Lord.

So knowing that, what happens next shocks us:

Shortly after, Emperor Diocletian sent for Mark, Saint Demiana's father, and ordered him to worship the idols. He refused at first, but after the Emperor appeased him, he obeyed his order and worshipped the idols.

At first he refuses. But in what seems to be a short time he obeys Diocletian. Why? It says:

after the Emperor appeased him.

Another version says:

by promising to give him a higher position in the Roman Empire.

Power. Greed. This sways the man. Is this the man we know? Is this the man who loves his daughter and God? Is this the man who supports his child in a very difficult decision? No. But he is human, and power can sway us. So can fear. He must have known what the next step should be, should he refuse Diocletian's "kind" offer. Greed and fear turned him from the Lord.

Next we are told of the reaction of St. Demiana:

When Mark returned to his official seat, and Saint Demiana knew what had transpired, she rushed to meet him. She did not greet him, but said, "What is it that I heard about you? I would have preferred to hear about your death rather than to hear that you have renounced your faith and forsaken the God Who created you from non-existence into being, to worship gods made by hands. Take note that if you do not return to your first faith and renounce the worship of stones, you are not my father and I am not your daughter," and she left him.

What did we know of the man? He loves his daughter and has faith in God. He has the promise of a high position and his life. But everything around him is shattered. His loving child has said:

You are not my father and I am not your daughter!

It is a hammer blow. Do I picture St. Demiana striding with confidence away from this meeting? Walking away unaffected? No, I imagine that there are tears. Tears from her. Tears from her father. But there is truth. St. Demiana has made another hard choice. It is becoming what we know of her. She will walk strongly the path of God, no matter what the sacrifice. No matter the pain.

What of her father? Is he a good man? Is the the man we know from the beginning or from later? Is he:

He fulfilled her wish and built her the house that she wanted.

or is he:

after the Emperor appeased him, he obeyed his order and worshipped the idols.

Each of us has a Gethsemane. Each of us has, at least once in our life, an agony in the garden...where we can commit the sin of Adam and lose our trust in God or follow the path of Christ. We are told:

Then he got up immediately and went to Diocletian. He crossed himself in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in front of everybody, and cried with a loud voice, "Let every one know that I worship the God of heaven and earth, my only God and Lord Jesus the Christ." Diocletian was troubled and tried his best to change Marcos' mind, but this time the Holy Spirit had filled his heart, and he testified even boldly that he was willing to die than to deny his Savior. Diocletian became infuriated, and ordered the soldiers to kill him.

And then Diocletian shows his evil and St. Demiana shows the strength of the Lord. She shows that the will of a petty and evil emperor can not overcome faith:

When the Emperor learned that it was Marcos' daughter Demiana who had changed her father's mind, he ordered one of his commanders to take one hundred soldiers and attack the palace. "First, try to convince her to worship our idols," said Diocletian. "But, if she refuses, threaten her, torture her, and even kill her so that she will be an example for the other Christians."

And indeed she will, but not in the way Diocletian would think:

When Demiana saw the soldiers approach the palace, she prayed to God to strengthen their faith until death. Then she told her friends, "If you are willing to die for Jesus' sake you can stay, but if you cannot stand the torturing of the soldiers, you would do better to hurry and escape right now." The forty virgins answered that they would not lose the eternal life just to enjoy a few moments in this evil world.

When the commander relayed Diocletian's message to Demiana, she answered, "How can I leave my Lord and God Jesus Christ and bow in front of blind, dumb, and deaf statues! You and your Emperor should be embarrassed of your shameful deeds, and I am telling you that even if you kill me, my faith will not be shaken."

The commander was very embarrassed, and he ordered the soldiers to torture Demiana in different cruel ways. As she felt the terrible pain through her body, she lifted her face up toward heaven, and prayed, "My Lord Jesus, the Son of the Most High who was crucified in order to save me, give me the strength to stand the pain." The forty virgins were watching and crying, but Demiana told them, "Do not cry, my sisters, our Lord Jesus Christ was tortured and killed because He loved us, even though He did not commit one sin. How much more should I welcome death in His name, especially if I am sure of the heavenly glory awaiting me!"

After the soldiers got tired of torturing Demiana, they threw her half-dead body in jail. But the Archangel Michael appeared to her, touched her with his heavenly wings, and healed her wounds. The next day, the commander thought that she had died, but when she stood in front of him in perfect health he was very puzzled. When some people saw what had happened, they cried, "We are Christians. We believe in the God of Demiana. We have no other God but Jesus Christ." The commander was even more troubled, and killed all of them.

The torturing of Demiana continued in an even cruelerr way for many days, but again, and again the Archangel Michael appeared and healed her.

On the last day before her martyrdom, our Lord Jesus Himself came to her and told her, "Have courage, my chosen one. I have prepared for you the crown of your wedding in heaven. Your name will be remembered forever as it will be the cause for many miracles, and in this place a great church will be built to honor your blessed name."

It is said that at one point she said to her persecuters:

Me, I am the servant of my Master, King and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is my God together with His Father and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity, King Eternal, the Giver of life, Creator of heaven and earth, Him I confess! Him I rely on! And by His name I should live or die!"

It is a story of the love of a father for his daughter, the love of a daughter for her father, their love for God and God's love for them. It is a story of a child instructing a parent.

Faith, in it's home in our hearts, resists the will of the emperor and performs the will of the King of Heaven.

St. Demiana, pray for us in the difficult choices that we may encounter in life, And may the Lord give us the strength to do His will.

The Story of St. Demiana (link)
and (link) and (link)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Andrea Clark is safe and will be moved to Chicago

This is a letter that was from Andrea's sister. It was first posted on Pro-Life Blogs (link). I'll repost here:

Melanie Childers wrote a thoughtful letter to you, all those who fought and prayed for the life of her sister, Andrea Clark:

My family has made the decision to move our sister to the hospital in Chicago. Thank God there is someone willing to take her. And, really, it is best to get her out of Texas, because of the futile care law here.

St. Luke's played hardball with us on this issue. We were told that we could make the decision today and they would pay the entire amount of $14 thousand to move her, but if we made the decision tomorrow, they would only pay half of it, and if it were the day after tomorrow, they would pay nothing.

As you know, I'm a Democrat, but one that is against abortion. I agree with the Republicans on that issue, at least. After this experience, though, I have to tell you: I am in absolute awe of the power that the right to life people generate. I, of course, first posted on Democratic Underground, and I have to give them some credit: they let my post stand against the rules about posting something like this under the wrong topic. They also let it stand, even though it had people's (my sister's and mine) personal numbers in it. And, of course, some people there forwarded it to other blogs. And everyone there was very supportive in their comments, as well.

But the pro-life people stepped forward and just absolutely ground St. Luke's into submission on this issue. You have, without a doubt, saved my sister's life. I want you to know that. Without the pro-life/right to life people stepping in from the very first of this fight for Andrea, we would have lost. I have never in my life seen such a centered, focused and energized group of people.

You used that energy and focus to do some good in this world and you didn't care whether you were fighting for a Democrat's life or a Republican's. Now, that's conviction.

There are not enough words in the English language to tell you how grateful I and my family are, for what you people have done. When we protested at St. Luke's last Saturday, the strangers that showed up were people that had had relatives killed at St. Luke's in much the same way that St. Luke's had planned to kill my sister. These people hadn't known any better, and they hadn't known that there was such a powerful group of individuals out there, devoted to this one cause, that might be able to help them.

Because of the people in the pro-life movement, a light has been shown on the truth, for all of Texans; indeed, for all of the world to see. May God bless you for your works. And, please, do not hesitate to ask myself or my family, for anything that you may ever need in order to continue your fight for these precious lives. We are here for you and your cause, as you were here for us in ours.

Melanie Childers

Democrat or Republican. Your average daily Democrats and Republicans (not the extremes). For a few days in the "blogspehere" there was no difference between the two on this issue, and a human life did not pass at the hands of men. And on a side note...Way to go Chicago and all of Illinois! May God bless your great state for having Doctors willing to be caregivers and true healers. And hospitals who know that the bottom line is not cash, but life.

A Thank You to all my readers

In the last month there have been very few happy things to write about. But as I get ready for bed it occurs to me that the responses from everyone who reads this blog serve to give me hope.

From the persecution of Coptic Christians to the case of Andrea Clark, I have seen true Christian behavior and love from all of you who read this blog.

What I see is a group of people who, regardless of differences on some theological issues, care about life. You all care about people and bring Christ to others daily.

The mainstream media does not really cover the issues mentioned often on this blog, but the events of the last month show us that a difference can be made.

Some peaceful protests have placed the plight of Coptic Christians in the view of more people. And the Andrea Clark case, covered only by bloggers, has resulted in her being moved to a hospital that will care for her.

Oh...there is a way to go:

Copts are still second class citizens in their homeland and they suffer for the love of Christ.

Texas can still remove treatment from a patient even if they want to live.

People still ignore the Armenian Genocide.

And those who work with the poorest of the poor are still sometimes killed by those they try to help, like Sister Karen Klimczak.

There is still suffering.

But today, even though a family had their hearts wrenched by the medical system, a woman's life was saved.

Think for a moment. A life. The outcome was not perfect, but bloggers covered a story the media would not touch and people responded.

Some people called the hospital. Some mentioned the story to a friend who mentioned it to another and some Prayed. Even for a moment, they raised their minds to our Lord and prayed. And we can see, we are blessed to see (because He knows we need to see sometimes) that a life...a human life, goes on.

Peter, who in alot of ways was the first (followed shortly by Bent, I think you guys got here the same day) constant reader of this blog (other than my wife, her father and my good friends Prashant, Sarah and Julia) posted a comment today that describes all of you:

I Read this the other day and thought about you and your blog.

"There should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it."

1 Cor. 12:25-26

I read this and I think of all of you, those whose names I know and those I do not.

I have some running around to do tomorrow and I wanted to get this thank you out there before the weekend. I'll keep doing what I'm doing and all of you (with blogs and without) keep doing what you are doing.

Thank you all, from the deepest part of my heart.
May God bless you. And may God bless us, The One Body in Christ.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Update on Andrea Clark

I'll repost this from Lone Star Times (link):

The family learned of a facility in Illinois that is willing to accept Andrea and offer her the opportunity to live, an expensive move that would require Andrea to be far removed from her family.

However, placing corporate greed ahead of all patient interests and the interests and wishes of the family, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital has just notified the family that they are willing to pay the almost $17,000 to move Andrea to Illinois if they will immediately - that’s TODAY, move Andrea out of St. Lukes to the Illinois facility. If the family waits until tomorow to decide, St. Lukes will only pay half. And if the family can’t make a decision by tomorow, the hospital may consider to pay absolutely nothing. In other words, the hospital is attempting to force Andrea out of the hospital in order to stop the financial drain of the cost of her care.

Meanwhile, the family is struggling to find a facility in Texas that will accept Andrea, who has insurance, but is being squeezed also by the insurance company. Is this fair?

The family needs time to make such a momentous decision, one that places their mother and sister far away from them and a patient that needs her family far removed from home. Although moving Andrea to Illinois is better than the alternative - essentially being euthanized by St. Lukes Hospital in Texas under an incredible law that encourages murder for profit, the family deserves time to descide.

Although I rejoice that a facility will take her, this proves that it is all about money.

National Review Online also has an article on it (link).

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Andrea Clark: State Sanctioned Murder (Contact info to make a difference)

Here is a link with more information and contact info to make a difference (link)

If you call, no matter how upset you may be, make sure to be polite

Erudit over at Erud-awakening (link) is also covering the Andrea Clark story. She also has some stuff I didn't know and some good links.

There is also some reporting on this at Texas Rainmaker with more contact info and ways to help (link)

Remembering the Armenians

Turkey still will not admit it happened. There is an article today that I'll repost here:

Valencia, Apr. 26, 2006 (CNA) - This week, the Armenian community in Valencia, Spain, commemorated the 91st anniversary of the deaths of 1.5 million Armenian Christians who were killed by Muslim Turks in 1915 during a massive religious persecution.

The commemorations took place April 24th at the Church of St. Monica in Valencia and were organized by the Armenian Apostolic Church and Pro-Commemoration Committee. Among those in attendance, was the Armenian Republic’s Honorary Consul in Spain, Luis Barbera.

Beginning on April 24, 1915, the Ottoman Empire ordered a crackdown on Armenian Christians, which resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million people.

Although modern-day Turkey has never acknowledged that it took place, the persecution became the first case of genocide during the 20th century.

When he was going to start killing the Jews, Hitler asked: Who now remembers the Armenians?

Sadly, the answer to that question still goes in the favor of not many. The article above, is from two days after the event.

When I say Turkey denies it, I don't mean they casually deny it. They aggressivly deny and attempt to discredit any evidence. But the truth will not be silenced. The evidence is overwhelming.

On April 24th 1915, commemorated worldwide by Armenians as Genocide Memorial Day, hundreds of Armenian leaders were murdered in Istanbul after being summoned and gathered. The now leaderless Armenian people were to follow. Across the Ottoman Empire (with the exception of Constantinople, presumably due to a large foreign presence), the same events transpired from village to village, from province to province.

The remarkable thing about the following events is the virtually complete cooperation of the Armenians. For a number of reasons they did not know what was planned for them and went along with "their" government's plan to "relocate them for their own good." First, the Armenians were asked to turn in hunting weapons for the war effort. Communities were often given quotas and would have to buy additional weapons from Turks to meet their quota. Later, the government would claim these weapons were proof that Armenians were about to rebel. The able bodied men were then "drafted" to help in the wartime effort. These men were either immediately killed or were worked to death. Now the villages and towns, with only women, children, and elderly left were systematically emptied. The remaining residents would be told to gather for a temporary relocation and to only bring what they could carry. The Armenians again obediently followed instructions and were "escorted" by Turkish Gendarmes in death marches.

The death marches led across Anatolia, and the purpose was clear. The Armenians were raped, starved, dehydrated, murdered, and kidnapped along the way. The Turkish Gendarmes either led these atrocities or turned a blind eye. Their eventual destination for resettlement was just as telling in revealing the Turkish governments goal: the Syrian Desert, Der Zor. Those who miraculously survived the march would arrive to this bleak desert only to be killed upon arrival or to somehow survive until a way to escape the empire was found. Usually those that survived and escaped received assistance from those who have come to be known as "good Turks," from foreign missionaries who recorded much of these events and from Arabs.

Some of the horror is reflected in a quote from Talat Pasha the Grand Vizer of the Ottoman empire when asked about the Armenians in 1918. He said with a smile:

What on earth do you want? The question is settled. There are no more Armenians.

In the face of the evidence, does the United States recognize the genocide? The answer is no.

39 of 50 states do, but there is no national declaration of recognition. The states that do and have made public recognition are:

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin

What countries have made similar declarations:

Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela.

These are small lists. Too small. Armenia was the first Christian nation and their Christianity played a part in why they were killed by the Ottoman empire. All of the Apostolic Churches hold the founder of Armenia, St. Gregory the Enlightener (Illuminator) as a Saint. But the Christian world is still silent when it comes to the Armenian Genocide.

As long as this situation remains unchanged we must ask the same question as a man who was pure evil: Who now remembers the Armenians?

I do. Their Loving Father in Heaven does. And I ask that you do. In our daily prayers and our efforts for Christians persecuted across the world, remember the innocent souls lost in the horror of the Armenian Genocide.

Online petition to get the Genocide recognized (link)

(Link) Armenian National Institute
(link) The Forgotten

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The case of Andrea Clark, this is almost beyond belief

No matter where people fell on the Teri Schiavo case, this one is different. a hospital is going to take a woman off of life support, despite her being awake and aware. She wants the treatment. Her family wants it. But a hospital ethics board can rule to remove a person even if they want the life support and it does not matter if it kills them.

It is a law to benefit insurance companies. It is the logic that a life in pain is not of the same value as the rest of us.

I don't have alot of time at break right now, so I'll write more later.

The story

Coptic Rights: Images from the Peaceful demonstration In New York

The Free Copts (Link) has images from the peaceful demonstration in New York for coptic rights.

St. Bishoy

St. Bishoy is virtually unknown in the west, and that is indeed a great pity. The example and devotion of this great man is a beacon to all. From the beginning of his life, we see that God has called him by name:

Anba Bishoy was born in the town of Shesna to a family of six children. One day, his mother saw an angel in a dream, asking her to give one of her children to the Lord. She was very pleased and left the choice to the Lord to pick one of her kids. So, the Lord picked Anba Bishoy. His mother was very worried because Anba Bishoy was physically very weak, and she asked the Lord to pick a stronger child to serve Him; but the angel insisted that Anba Bishoy was the one the Lord had chosen.

Human logic. He is frail Lord. He is physically weak. He is not worthy of You. But the Lord knows us better than anyone. We are weak, but He is our strength. We often cry out, "What is so special about that person? They are not worthy, not up to the task!" But the Lord's word, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." (Isaiah 43:1). For if we are weak and can still be the beloved of the Lord, what can we not do?

And St. Bishoy did much in the service of the Lord. What he did, he did simply. He was a good man. A good monk who served the Lord in others. This simple lifestyle was focused on hospitality to others. We are told:

One of Saint Bishoy's distinguished merits was his hospitality to the strangers. One day while he was sitting outside his cell, he saw a stranger weary from walking. He invited the stranger to his cell and brought some water to wash his exhausted feet. While washing his feet, he heard the Lord’s voice saying, “My chosen Pishoy! You are an honorable man.” Realizing that he was washing the Lord’s feet, he knelt down and worshiped Him. The Lord gave him peace and comforted him..

In washing the feet of a stranger, we wash the feet of the Lord. St. Bishoy was blessed by actually washing the feet of the Lord Himself. But so often, we could serve the Lord in others. St. Bishoy, as I learned about him, reminded me much of Mother Teresa. Do you wish to see our Lord? Look to your neighbor. Serve others with Love.

St. Bishoy Also defended the faith. We are told:

In his days, an old preacher appeared in the mountain of Ansina. He became so famous for his preaching that a lot of people gathered around him. It came to be that he lost his way and the devil misled him until the point when he denied the Holy Spirit. All this news reached Anba Bishoy who went to see him taking with him sacs each having three handles, something that amazed the old preacher, and he asked Anba Bishoy the reason for that and he answered "I have a trinity, and I do everything accordingly", and he started to explain to the people the words of the Bible until he convinced them all.

It was not by walking up an yelling at people, but by a simple everyday example that St. Bishoy opened the door to their hearts. St. Bishoy had seen Christ face to face. Did it make him arrogant? Did it make him feel better than others? It is an honest question, is it not? We are told:

The saint fulfilled his life of flesh and wished he could see Jesus, and in the middle of that, he got a promise from God that He will appear to him on the mountain of Shehet. So, he gathered the monks and told them the good news. Everyone was filled with joy and they were waiting for that big event to happen. On the appointed day, everybody was in a great hurry rushing to see Jesus. On their way, they passed by man who was trying to join them but had great difficulty because of his age; so he stretched out his hand asking for help, but nobody stopped or even paid him any attention. When Anba Bishoy passed by him, he stopped and carried him on his shoulders, gradually he started to feel that his load was becoming lighter and lighter, then he realized that the old man was Jesus the Lord, the one that everybody ignored. Finally, he died in peace giving his soul the freedom to go and live with the one he always wanted to be with, and that is Jesus Christ.

Put yourself in the place of St. Bishoy. You have seen our Lord. You are nearing the end of your life and He has told you that He will come to you again. You tell everyone that he is coming and they rejoice. Everyone rushes to see Him. Your hearts desire is only a little distance away. Everything in you burns with love to see Him.

On the way there is an old man, weak and frail. He is crippled and can not get there. He is in the way. always something in the way on our path to the Lord. The others have passed him by. They are running up the mountain and going to see the Lord. The men who have passed this man by are your brothers. They are good men. To you they deserve to see the Lord.

But the Lord is coming for you. If you stop for this inconvient man, the other will see Christ and you might not. Is it not your right? Is it not you that He is coming to see?

So easy to leave this cripple and run to the Lord. But St. Bishoy knew, leave the cripple...leave the Lord. Not that He knew that this was Christ in disguise, but he knew that Christ is in our brothers and sisters and the poorest of the poor. So this man, the weak one, carried this old man on his back to see Jesus. And this old man was our Lord.

There is always something in the way to Christ. Something blocking our path. Us. We are often in the way. Our weakness is in the way.

At the beginning of this post were the words of St. Bishoy's mother:

She asked the Lord to pick a stronger child to serve Him.

But the Lord knew who he had called. By name He calls us all. We are not the potter, but the potter's clay. He knows our name before we are born. He loves us by name before we are born.

Lord, let me serve you in others as St. Bishoy did. Let me see You in others so I may see You in my heart. I am weak. I am not the strongest in body and spirit, but it is not by my strength that I accomplish is by Yours. Do not pick a stronger child to serve You, but make me stronger by Your love. Pick me to serve You Lord. Pick this weak child of Yours, and lend me Your strength. Like St. Bishoy, I would rather carry the weak and suffering with You as my strength, than carry the world and not have You in my heart.

Neferteeti's Series on Catholic Saints

Over at her blog Neferteeti is doing a series on Catholic saints as I am doing Coptic saints. We are trying to share the great stories of the faith as One Body in Christ. She has an excellent post on St. Benedict (link). May God bless our joint effort, and may all learn more as one Body in our Beloved Lord.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Prayers for the victims of the Dahab explosions

Freedom for Egyptians has a post on the explosions in Dahab (link).

May our prayers be with the victims and their families, both Egyptian and international.

St. Maurice and the Theban Legion

"Emperor, we are your soldiers but also the soldiers of the true God. We owe you military service and obedience, but we cannot renounce Him who is our Creator and Master, and also yours even though you reject Him. In all things which are not against His law, we most willingly obey you, as we have done hitherto. We readily oppose your enemies whoever they are, but we cannot stain our hands with the blood of innocent people (Christians). We have taken an oath to God before we took one to you, you cannot place any confidence in our second oath if we violate the other (the first).

You commanded us to execute Christians, behold we are such. We confess God the Father the creator of all things and His Son Jesus Christ, God. We have seen our comrades slain with the sword, we do not weep for them but rather rejoice at their honour. Neither this, nor any other provocation have tempted us to revolt. Behold, we have arms in our hands, but we do not resist, because we would rather die innocent than live by any sin.''

A testament of faith. These words set the stage for a massacre. It is said:

Thebian Legion was composed of 6600 men. This unit had been recruited from upper Egypt and consisted entirely of Christians. They were good men and soldiers who, even under arms, did not forget to render to God the things of God, and to Caesar the things of Caesar.

The legion balanced supporting the unity of the empire and their faith. Their faith did not prevent them being Christian and supporting their nation, but the emperor did:

Under "Maximian", who was an Emperor of the Roman Commonwealth (Empire) with Diocletian as his colleague, an uprising of the Gauls known as "Bagaude" forced Maximian to march against them with an army of which one unit was the Thebian Legion composed of 6600 men. This unit had been recruited from upper Egypt and consisted entirely of Christians. They were good men and soldiers who, even under arms, did not forget to render to God the things of God, and to Caesar the things of Caesar.

After the revolt was quelled, the Emperor Maximian issued an order that the whole army should join offering sacrifices for the Roman gods for the success of their mission. The order included killing Christians (probably as a sacrifice to the Roman gods). Only the Thebian Legion dared to refuse to comply with the orders. The legion withdrew itself, encamped near Aguanum and refused to take part in these rites.

Here a name rears it's ugly head. A name that is forgotten by too many Christians in the west: Diocletian. Maximian was vicious and a tyrant who, later in life, would try and kill his own son.

Diocletian was evil. Modern historical viewpoints want to paint Diocletian as a brilliant emperor whose persecution of Christians was at first at the urging of Galerius. Historians wish to sing the praises of this man who is one of the only people to resign from being emperor and made great administrative reforms.

They wish to paint him as a strong and powerful man with a singular will that held the empire together...and that he was. Possessed of a vicious will that was not prone to manipulation or falling to the urges of another.

Diocletian must be viewed as he was. And in that light he can not be repainted in history without being painted in the blood of the innocent. The blood of children. The blood of the Matryrs.

Popular history remembers Nero, but the second Nero who was more perverse and hateful than the first, is often forgotten. It is in a world tainted by this presence that the Theban Legion makes a stand more courageous than any military action.

Maximian was then resting in a near-by place called Octudurum. When these news came to him , he repeatedly commanded them to obey his rules and orders, and upon their constant and unanimous refusal, he ordered that the legion should be "decimated". Accordingly, every tenth man was put to death. A second "decimation" was ordered unless the men obeyed the order given but their was a great shout through the legion camp: they all declared that they would never allow themselves to carry out such a sacrilegious order. They had always the horror of idolatry, they had been brought up as christians and were instructed in the One Eternal God and were ready to suffer extreme penalties rather than do any thing contrary to their religion.

When Maximian heard these news, he got angrier than ever. Like a savage beast, he ordered the second decimation to be carried out, intending that the remainder should be compelled to do what they hitherto refused. Yet they still maintained their resolve. After the second decimation, Maximian warned the remainder of the Theban legion that it was of no use for them to trust in their number, for if they persisted in their disobedience, not a man among them would be able to escape death.

The Legion stood firm. Over 6000 men. They could have fought. They could have bathed in blood and escaped. When sword were raised against them they could have met them with swords. Did they? We are told they sent the message I have at the beginning of this post. And then:

When Maximian heard this, he realized that these men were obstinately determined to remain in their Christian faith, and he despaired of being able to turn them from their constancy. He therefore decreed, in a final sentence, that they should be rounded up, and the slaughter completed. The troops sent to execute this order came to the blessed legion and drew their swords upon those holy men who, for love of life, did not refuse to die. They were all slain with the sword. They never resisted in any way. Putting aside their weapons, they offered their necks to the executioners. Neither their numbers nor the strength of arms tempted them to uphold the justice of their cause by force.

They kept just one thing in their minds, that they were bearing witness to him who was lead to death without protest, and who, like a lamb, opened not his mouth; but that now,they them selves, sheep in the Lord's flock, were to be massacred as it by ravaging wolves. Thus, by the savage cruelty of this tyrant, that fellowship of the saints was perfected. For they despised things present in hope of things to come. So was slain that truly angelic legion of men who, we trust, now praise the Lord God of Hosts, together with the legions of Angels, in heaven forever.

Not all of the legion was camped at Aguanum. Some were posted in other places. They were hunted and killed. Spread across the empire, the blood of Martyrs watered the ground. What grew in it's place? We are told and know that:

Saint Eucher mentions that in his time (he died 494 AD), many came diverse provinces of the empire devoutly to honour these Saints, and to offer presents of gold, silver and other things. He mentions that many miracles were performed at their shrine such as casting out of devils and other kinds of healing "which the might of the lord works there everyday through the intercession of His saints."

In the middle ages Saint Maurice was the patron saint of several of the roman dynasties of Europe, and later on of the Holy Roman emperors. In 926, Henry I (919-936 AD), even ceded the present Swiss Canton (province) of Aargua in return of the lance of the saints. Some emperors were also anointed before the Altar of saint Maurice in saint Peter's Cathedral in Rome. The sword of Saint Maurice, was last used in the coronation of the Austrian Emperor Charles as King of Hungary in 1916.

Kings, noblemen, and church leaders vied to obtain small portions of the relics of the saints in order to build churches in their honour. The famous King Charlemangne offered the monastery one of the treasured thorns that came from the crown of thorns of our Savior in return for a small portion of the sacred relics. He later built a church in honour of the martyrs inside the court of his palace.

Saint Maurice has always been one of the most popular saints in Western Europe, with over 650 foundations in his name in France alone. Five cathedrals, innumerable churches, chapels and alters are consecrated in his name all over Europe. Aguanum (Saint Maurice en Valais) has always remained the main focus of veneration of the Thebans and a significant pilgrimage resort. In the monastery that bears his name there, the monks perform a special devotion to the saints every day, and celebrate their feast on September 22 of each year. An all night vigil, on the night before the feast is attended by nearly 1000 people. On the feast day, they carry in procession the relics of the martyrs in the ancient silver caskets. Over seventy towns bear the name of Saint Maurice.

In the Monastery carrying his name in Switzerland, the vigil "Tasbeha" has been chanted continuously (24 hours a day) without stopping for more than 500 years now.

What grew?

Devotion to the Lord


The blood of the Theban Legion, Egyptian blood, helped spread the Church west. Diocletian gave up being emperor to be a gardener. But there is the true Gardener. He who grows the greatest flowers and produces the sweetest fruit through His Holy Spirit. This Gardener turned the evil of Diocletian to good. This Gardener grew a lasting garden.

The Theban Legion proved that the unity of a nation is not split by those who love Christ. True Christians follow justice, peace and love. Unity is only threatened when those in power make unjust demands or treat a part of the population as lesser than the rest.

If ever there are patrons of giving to Caeser what is Caeser's and to God what is God' is the Theban Legion and their leader St. Maurice.

The Story of St. Maurice and the Legion (link)

Copts march for peace and awareness in Melbourne

I'll repost the article:

"COPTS have been silent for 1400 years," the banner outside St Paul's Cathedral claimed.

Yesterday Melbourne's Copts broke that silence emphatically, more than 2000 marching from the cathedral to Parliament to protest against persecution in Egypt.

More than a fifth of Melbourne's 10,000 Copts (Egyptian Christians) joined the march, stopping at the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Egyptian consulate to present petitions. It was part of worldwide protests to put pressure on the Egyptian Government to halt attacks on churches by Islamic fanatics, and to stop the cover-ups.

Sydney's Copts will march on Thursday.

"We can't put up with this persecution any more," Bishop Suriel, Melbourne's Coptic bishop, told the marchers.

"We are calling on the Australian Government to say to the Egyptian Government, 'enough is enough'."

On Good Friday, four Coptic churches in Alexandria were attacked with swords, and one man was killed. When one congregation tried to chase the attackers, a policeman stopped them at gunpoint.

Bishop Suriel told The Age that the Egyptian Government claimed it was a madman working alone, but it was hard to see how he could attack four churches in different places at once.

Liz Attia, a spokeswoman for the Coptic community, said Copts, 10 per cent of Egypt's population, faced constant discrimination and fear of violence.

The march, led by white-robed clergy, was an unusual protest, with singing and prayers in different languages rather than slogans.

Bob Thomas, the head of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, also spoke, calling on the Australian Government to ask the Egyptian Government to make freedom of religion available to all.

Egyptian consul-general Fatma Glal told the marchers she understood their grievances. "What hurts you hurts us all, and the Government is doing all it can," she said.

By Barney Zwartz

Coptic Persecution: Prayer for the Peaceful Protest today

Today there are two peaceful protests to bring attention to the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

May our prayers and the King of Peace be with them. May they draw the eyes of the nation to these crimes against our brothers and sisters. May all of us who can not be there in body be there in spirit as the One Body of Christ.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

St. Moses the Black

I struggled a bit this morning trying to decide what to do. Should I do a saint story today or wait until tomorrow? Really, can any story compare with the events that act themselves out in our hearts and minds today for my brothers and sisters in the Orthodox faiths around the world? Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen!

But isn't every story worth telling, especially the story of a saint, the story of a Resurrection? Maybe not of the body, but the resurrection and redemption of the way of life we are called to and of our soul. With that thought, Moses the Black seems and obvious choice.

He is a Saint for Catholics and Copts, and I believe the Eastern Orthodox as well. Many Catholics know how St. Augustine turned from a life of vice and sin to our Lord. I have to imagine that when Augustine looks at the early life of St. Moses he blinks and says, "Wow....that'

St. Moses was, in his early life, was not (and this is putting it mildly) a nice man. He was a thief, murderer, part of a bandit pack and all around a scary individual. Just from the stories we know it is hard to imagine a crime he would not have hesitated to commit, if not enjoyed.

From his story we know:

He had been a slave of a government official in Egypt who discharged him for theft and suspected murder. He became the leader of a gang of bandits who roamed the Nile Valley and had the reputation for being associated with terror and violence.

Sometimes we think when we hear that someone was "Suspected" of murder in these types of stories that the accusation is false, or that there are circumstances that might justify the act. With St. Moses, I'd err on the side of caution and say that it is very likely that he killed someone.

Moses was a large and imposing figure; he became rather notorious for his escapades. On one occasion, a barking sheep dog prevented Moses from executing a planned robbery, so he swore vengeance on the owner. Carrying out his threat, he approached the hut of his victim from the opposite side of the Nile and, placing his weapons between his teeth, swam the river. The owner of the dog heard the approach, so he hid along the river bank, thus escaping disaster, Moses, not finding the shepherd, took four rams from the flock, towed them back across the river, flayed them, sold the skins for wine, cooked the best parts, and feasted before walking back 50 miles to his camp.

St. Moses did not only commit sin, he was dedicated to it. He was immersed in it. He was a hardened criminal. The kind the world says is irredeemable. So it is good that it is not the world that redeems.

When we hear of St. Moses again:

Attempting to hide from local authorities, he took shelter with some monks in a colony in the desert of Scete, near Alexandria. The dedication of their lives, as well as their peace and contentment, influenced Moses deeply. He soon gave up his old way of life, became a Christian, was baptized and joined the monastic community at Scete. (note: Some stories say he went there to rob them).

A series of amazing stories follow that move a man who bathes in violence toward being washed clean by Christ in humility and peace. But did it happen all at once? Was it difficult:

Moses was tortured by his past and for years was tempted to return to his old ways. One day, as he was confessing his sins to St. Macarius, an angel appeared with a tablet full of his sins. As he confessed, the angel began wiping the tablet clean. The more he confessed, the more the angel wiped, until by the end it was completely clean. After meeting St. Macarius and St. Isidore, he completely left his old ways behind him and became a monk.

In stark opposition we see how much he changed when:

The conversion of Moses was not instantaneous, he had a rather difficult time adjusting to regular monastic discipline. His flair for adventure remained with him. Once, while living in a small cell, he was attacked by four robbers. Much to their surprise, Moses fought and overpowered them, tied them together and carried them on his back to the chapel where the other monks were praying. He dumped the crew in front of the other monks and exclaimed that he did not think it "Christian" to hurt the intruders. He asked what he should do with them. According to tradition, the overwhelmed robbers repented, were converted, and themselves became monks under the influence of Moses.

In his life, the harshest critic of St. Moses the Black was St. Moses himself:

He was zealous of everything he undertook, but became discouraged when he concluded he was not becoming a perfect monk advanced in all the degrees of spiritual perfection. Early one morning before dawn, St. Isadore, abbot of the monastery, took Brother Moses to the roof and together they watched the first rays of the dawn come over the horizon. They stayed there until the new day had begun. Then Isidore said, "Only slowly do the rays of the sun drive away the night and usher in a new day and, thus, only slowly does one become a perfect contemplative."

Moses became a saint. An instrument in the hand of God, who played music that never forget where he came from and the forgiveness the Lord had given him:

In another incident related in the sources, one of the brothers committed a fault. A council met and Moses was invited, but refused to attend. Someone came to him to let him know the others were waiting, at which Moses went to the meeting. He took a leaking jug filled with water and carried it on his shoulder (another version has him carrying a basket of sand with a hole in it). When he arrived, the others came out to meet him asking, "What is this?" Moses replied, "My sins run out behind me and I do not see them, but today I am coming to judge the errors of another." Hearing that, they said no more to the erring brother, but forgave him.

At the same time there is a simplistic beauty in how practical he was as a monk. No one denied his virtues, but to me the following story hints that common everyday people could talk to St. Moses. I feel that approachability:

The humble Moses also proved to be effective as a prophetic spiritual leader. One day the abbot ordered everyone to fast during a particular week. During that time, some brothers came to visit Moses, and he cooked a meal for them. Seeing the smoke, the neighboring monks told the abbot that Moses had broken the command. But knowing his remarkable way of life, these same monks, when they came to confront Moses, observed, "You did not keep the commandment of men, but it was so that you might keep the commandment of God." Some see in this account, by the way, one of the earliest allusions to the Paschal fast which developed in the fourth century and later became the Lenten fast.

He had a simple and honest hospitality, to welcome and feed others.

In the end, St. Moses performed the ultimate renunciation of his former life:

Moses became the spiritual leader of a colony of hermits in the desert near Skete. At some time, he had been ordained a priest -- an uncommon phenomenon at that period for desert monks. When he was 75 years old, about the year 407, word came that a group of renegades planned to attack the colony. The brothers wished to defend themselves, but Moses forbade such action. He told them to retreat rather than take up the sword. He and seven others stayed on to greet the invaders with open arms, but all were martyred by the bandits.

Today the life of St. Moses shows a commitment to not harming others, even in the face of death. Even if others cry for your blood, pray for their soul and that their hearts be opened. St. Moses accepted the peace of Christ. Not as something on the surface, but deep in his heart. Unto death, St. Moses the Black had his arms and heart open, restful in the peace of his Lord.

Today St. Moses the Black shows that no life is beyond the love and redemption of God. No life is beyond hope. That sometimes those who were great sinners are the greatest saints because they know what it takes to take Christ into their hearts to conquer the darkness inside. They know that to leave sin behind takes the work and desire of the sinner working in hand with the constant efforts of our loving God. They know that a fall is not the end if we grasp the hand of God, who lifts us from the death of sin.

Christos Anesti, Alithos Anesti!

He is Risen, Truly He is Risen!

Emmanuel...He is with us.

Links for St. Moses:

LinkSt. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church
LinkLife of Saint Moses The Black
Link Patron Saint Index

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Christos Anesti, Alithos Anesti

Chirst is Risen, Truly He is Risen.

May Easter for all of my brothers and sisters in the Orthodox faiths be blessed and safe. May we go forward this year learning more about each other and seeing to the health and safety all the members of the Body of Christ on earth, no matter what our differences.

My special prayers to my Coptic brothers and sisters, you are always in my heart.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Updated info on Peaceful demonstrations in the Us and Canada

Updated (4/21/06)

Here are a few dates and times for peaceful protests to support Coptic rights in Egypt. If anyone has dates from their local areas, email or comment and I'll put them up. The links have more specific information such as where to gather and contact info. The key word here is Peaceful.

Raise awareness. Lift up your hearts and your voices.

April 19, 2006: White House and Egyptian Embassy(link)

April 24, 2006: United Nations (link)
Los Angeles (link)

April 29, 2006: Montreal and Toronto to meet in Ottawa(link)

Good Friday for the Orthodox Faiths

I pray that all of our brothers and sisters have a blessed and Holy Good Friday. A special prayer for our Coptic brothers and sisters, May the hand of the Lord protect you as you open your hearts to Him today.

My love and my prayers.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Condoleezza Rice Speech & Q&A Session At CFR

Condoleezza Rice mentions the incident in Alexandria in part of the Q&A (link):

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. My name is Kemal Abraham (ph) and I'm going (inaudible) another question related to the other two questions before that, is to do with human rights and equality in Egypt. Egypt is a friendly country to our country is getting the biggest aid after Israel for the last 20-some years. But as you know, Egyptian Government discriminate against minority Christians in Egypt and it is always a chain of violence. Last one -- last few days, they attacked churches in Alexandria, Muslim fanatics, and killed a Christian there.

My question to you is two-folds. One, what is the American Government going to do about our friend, the Government in Egypt, since we gave them the biggest aid and since it's a human right issue and equality issue and democracy issue? And my second question is, why the State Department opened dialogue with Muslim brotherhood in Egypt after they won the -- some of the election and we know that their extreme fanatic Muslim group -- which related to Hamas as well?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, on the latter question, we actually do not, as a rule, maintain contacts with Hamas. As you know, they're listed as a terrorist organization. And we have not -- we don't have contact with the Muslim brotherhood at this point. It's complicated because, of course, this is a growing force in Egypt, but our view is that the organizations that are really committed to democracy ought to be the ones that are supported by contact with the United States.

As it comes to the broader problem in Egypt, though, you know that I gave a speech at Cairo University. We talked about the need for Egypt to lead -- this great country of Egypt to lead the democratic revolution that is going on in the Middle East. And some good things have happened. I think the multiparty, multi-candidate elections that took place were a good thing. It opened a political debate in Egypt that had never been seen before and I think it will be hard to reverse that ever again.

On the other hand, we were disappointed in the way that the last round of parliamentary elections was conducted. It certainly was not conducted in a way that was free and fair and that was a great disappointment. And we continue to tell Egypt that this is an extremely important part of our relationship and it's going to continue to be the democratic dialogue.

As to the incident the other day in Alexandria, yes, it is too often that something like this happens to religious minorities, including to Coptic Christians, and we are insisting that -- and I think the Egyptian Government says that they will, that it be investigated and those who carried it out will be brought to justice. But it is a country that also is in an evolution, Egypt. I think it will ultimately be in an evolution for the better, but it is a country that ought to be leading, not fearful of change and reform, but leading that change and reform because it's such a great culture.

Article: Economic woes add to tension in Egypt. And some confusing information.

An Article Economic woes add to tension in Egypt (4/20/06) (link)
This article (and read the comment by Peter to gain a full understanding of the people involved in the situation) tries to cover both sides, but is a perfect example of how difficult it is for the Ap to report on things that they have ignored covering for so long. But it has such quotes as:

"The strife didn't start yesterday in Egypt, or a quarter of a century ago in Lebanon, or three years ago in Iraq," columnist Khairy Mansour wrote in United Arab Emirates al-Khaleej daily. "The worm has been growing inside the apple, eating up most of its fabric."


"Egyptian people don't distinguish between Muslims and Copts and no force can affect its national unity," Mubarak said.


The opposition weekly al-Karama scoffed at the government's attitude. "Mubarak's regime is mentally deranged," it declared in a headline.

There is one thing that has confused me and this article says it as well:

The latest clashes erupted Friday with knife attacks at three Coptic Christian churches in the port city of Alexandria. Three days of rioting by Christians and Muslims followed. Two people - a Christian and a Muslim - died, at least 40 were wounded and more than 100 were detained.

Ok, the man killed at the church on Friday is one person, but the story mentions:

Two people - a Christian and a Muslim - died, at least 40 were wounded and more than 100 were detained.

and that is from the violence that followed. I get a chill when I look at that and read the story from My Christan Blood (link), about the death of a 12 year old girl.

I have read the name of the Muslim who died in the following violence, but not the Christian.

May our prayers be with the Coptic people during this Holy Week, and always.

The Story of Regina Louise and Jeanne Kerr: A Hopeful story going into the Month of Mothers

People who read this blog know that I have mentioned, in the course of telling stories, that my mother died when I was ten. Even when things in such situations, death or abandonment, go well...there is something always there. Or not there, as the case may be.

Photos of graduations, birthdays and weddings have a perceived shadow. You try to wedge an image from your mind into a space in the photo or memory. Someone is missing.

If you deal with the feeling, if people are there for you and you put your faith in isn't there all the time and it does not dominate you. It may even deepen your love for family (both birth and by marriage) and give you a view of how important it all is in life, as it has for me. But it isn't ever really gone.

At this point people are probably questioning the post title that mentions hope. I'm getting there.

As a result of what I have said above, some stories have an effect on me. When I was reading my Catholic Digest for this month, there was one such story.

A woman, named Regina Louise was adopted by a woman named Jeanne Kerr. It Seems standard. It's nice, you think, but far from normal. The thing about this adoption is that Regina was 40 when it happened.

Regina Louise had met Miss Kerr about 25 years earlier, and at that point they wanted to be a family. Regina had a hard life. She was abandoned as an infant and ran away from an abusive foster home. She wound up at Edgar Children's home in Martinez California. It was there that she met Jeanne Kerr, a counselor at the shelter.

It was difficult for Regina to trust people. She had always been told that she was a loud and difficult and believed that was why her parents had rejected her. But the love and support that Miss Kerr showed her gain her trust and love.

Regina went through 30 foster placements in three years. None of them worked. She always wound up back at the shelter with the only person who had ever called her "sweetheart".

in 1978 Jeanne Kerr petitioned to adopt Regina. The judge immediately denied the application.

At this point you might be confused. There is no reason for such a refusal given the facts.

I have an advantage; I'm looking at the picture with the article. I think of 1978 and see an older white woman embracing a younger black woman. The adoption was refused because they were not the same race.

After the failed petition Regina was separated from Jeanne and moved to a different part of the home. She eventually "aged out" of the foster system and went to college. She "aged out" without a mother. Really, she was denied the mother who she wanted and wanted her.

When asked for a parents name at college she wrote Jeanne's name and a fake address, since she didn't know where she was. Why did they lose contact? Because as Regina was being moved and Jeanne sent letters...not one gave them to the girl.

Life moved on. Regina went through alot and wrote a book, Somebody's Someone, about her life. Because of the book, she got an email one day:

"I'm so proud of you sweetheart"

The email had a phone number. Regina was divorced with a 19 year old son. Jeanne was married with a grown child. They talked for hours and the next day Jeanne called back:

"I want to do what I wasn't allowed to do 25 years ago, adopt you. In my heart you were always my first child, and now there is nothing preventing us from legally becoming mother and daughter."

Today they live near each other, work out together and are legally mother and daughter.

My Lord and my God, we rejoice for the family we have. Pray for the family we have lost, and seek to be One Family, One Body in Christ the Lord. May Your love and mercy guide those who seek a mother and a father to those who Love them. As with Regina and Jeanne, may the bond of love between them lead them back to each other.

Here is an article on the story (link).
Here is a link to an NPR interview with Regina (link).

It is Holy Thursday for Our Coptic Brothers and Sisters and all of the Orthodox Faiths

Today is Holy Thursday for our Coptic brothers and sisters. May the Lord protect you as Holy Week moves toward Easter.

I'll be a little busy this morning, so I may not get to update things on the blog until the afternoon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

At The White House: Hundreds of Coptics Protest Egyptian Violence

Here is a link to the article (link).

My break is ending, so I'll comment later.

"When the Muslim youths saw the cross in the sky, and the people saw our soul, the animosity in their hearts became evident"

The New York Sun has a three page article (4/19/06):'I Cannot Say Where This Hatred Comes' (link)

A quote from the article says that the violence during the funeral and the burning of The Virgin Mary Church in the Asafra started when a Cross was raised:

One of the elders at the church yesterday said the funeral procession turned into anarchy the moment the mourners bared the cross. "When the Muslim youths saw the cross in the sky, and the people saw our soul, the animosity in their hearts became evident," Talat Megala said.


The pious Muslim looters broke the electrical switch for the air-conditioner. They burned the anteroom near the main hall reserved for baptism; they burned the father's offices, and they burned the cupboards and shelves that contained the church's library.

The church, which smelled faintly of smoke, was barely fit for worship. But Father Bejimey's flock turned out every night for the evening service between the Coptic Palm and Easter Sundays to recite lines from the Gospel and remember Christ's last week before the crucifixion. A few members of the congregation had bandages on their arms and legs from the clashes two days before.

And these people would be attacked if they tried to repair their church without government approval. But they will still go. They will still praise His name.

May our prayers be with them. May the Cross of Christ always lead them.

As the Coptic people celebrate Holy Week, may they be in our hearts and prayers.

Catholic Springtime Traditions: The Mary Garden

This tradition is so versatile and is an excellent tool for teaching theology and some of the traditions that mention the Holy Family. A full treatment of these beautiful gardens is impossible in a blog post, but they are worth taking a look at in any case.

Church tradition, Catholic and Orthodox, has come to associate some flowers and plants with different stories of the Holy Family and Our Lady in particular. A Mary Garden that focuses on the Flight into Egypt could include:

(Protected the Holy Family with shade in the day and warmth at night)


(Hid the Holy Family from robbers and bandits)


(Hid the Holy Family from Herod's men)

Germander and or Veronica Speedwell

(Sprang up where the Holy Family rested)

Rose of Jericho

(Sprang up where the Holy Family rested)


(Used as a pin Cushion by Mary as she made her living weaving in Egypt)

If you have the climate and abundance to have a Date Tree, this tree fed the Holy Family.

For other events such as the Nativity and Presentation of our Lord, there are other flowers. There are also groupings of flowers that symbolize Mary's Motherhood, Mary as Wife, Mary's devotion, Mary at the Cross and Mary's tomb. The lists can be very long and fit almost ever climate.

I have seen a garden for the Motherhood of Mary that was very beautiful.

These gardens, like all things of Mary, should lead us to a greater devotion to her Son. These flowers and the stories associated with them bring the Holy Family to life. They bring the reality of the Holy Family as a family into our homes.

If you do not have garden space there are ways to do indoor Mary gardens and window box Mary gardens.

All in all, this is a beautiful tradition that can inspire prayer, teach the faith, help us to appreciate God's gifts in nature and teach us how to grow and tend such beautiful gifts.

Mary's Gardens HomePage (link) has everything you need to know about Mary Gardens.

There is also an excellent book: Mary's Flowers, Gardens, Legends, and Meditations by Vincenzina Krymow

Egypt 'breaks up terrorist ring'

The BBC has this story (link). I'll repost it here:

Egypt's interior ministry says it has broken up what it describes as a underground terrorist group.

Officials say the group intended to carry out attacks on a number of Coptic Christian leaders and tourist targets, as well as a gas pipeline.

There was no immediate word on the number or identity of those arrested.

The interior ministry said the group was called al-Taefa al-Mansura, or Victorious Faction, and had 22 members based mainly in Cairo suburbs.

It was led by Ahmed Muhmmad Ali Gabr, alias Abu Musab, it added.

"Information, documents and interviews confirmed they had studied carrying out terrorist operations," it said.

It said the group was investigating the manufacture of bombs and poisons and planned to buy land near Cairo for training.

The announcement comes several days after clashes between Muslims and Copts in the city of Alexandria in which at least two people died.

Copts, who form about 10% of the Egyptian population, have accused the government of failing to protect them.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Support Coptic Rights: Dates and times for peaceful Protests in the US and Canada

Updated (4/21/06)

Here are a few dates and times for peaceful protests to support Coptic rights in Egypt. If anyone has dates from their local areas, email or comment and I'll put them up. The links have more specific information such as where to gather and contact info. The key word here is Peaceful.

Raise awareness. Lift up your hearts and your voices.

April 19, 2006: White House and Egyptian Embassy(link)

April 24, 2006: United Nations (link)
Los Angles (link)

April 29, 2006: Montreal and Toronto to meet in Ottawa(link)

Catholic Nun murdered in Buffalo

Sister Karen Klimczak devoted her life to helping the poor. She ran a home for former prisoners who were trying to get back on their feet after getting out of jail. As one priest said:

Sister Karen had an attitude of forgiveness, which she would have extended "even to somebody who would harm her."

On Good Friday she was killed by one of the men living at the house. Her body was found yesterday.

It is hard to understand death. It is even harder to understand a death like this. How can we comprehend the death of a person who only held out love to others, being killed by one of the people she loved?

I do not hesitate in my statement that Sister Karen understood such a death. She understood it deep within her soul. That understanding guided her hands and her heart in life. She understood that death as a way and a call to life. The death of Christ and it's example of love was a life for Sister Karen; And on the holy day that her faith remembered that death, she passed into the arms of the Lord.

The young man who killed her says that it was an accident. I do not know if it was or if it was not. The story says that at the moment the belief is that she was killed for her cell phone.

A method of communication. She was a woman who spent her whole life communicating Christ through her Faith, words and actions.

It would be easy right now to judge the man who killed her. It is so very easy. It is difficult to forgive him. It is difficult to not judge him.

Difficult. Like everything Sister Karen did in her life: A narrow and difficult path.

In the world today we see the ease of killing for your faith. We with frightening regularity the ease of hate. It almost springs like habit to the best of us: Hate, anger and judgement.

It is so difficult to live our faith. So difficult to walk the narrow path with hate, anger and judgement on our backs. They push down, make us fall and force us to the ground: so much like a cross.

When did they know that something had happened to sister Karen:

No one realized Sister Karen was missing until she failed to show up for lunch on Saturday with some parolees at Schwabl's restaurant.

"She didn't come," said the Rev. Roy Herberger of SS. Columba & Brigid Catholic Church, a close friend and co-minister to Sister Karen. "Something was wrong."

She didn't come to eat with them. She didn't come to be with them. She was so much a part of their lives in the daily common things that her absence from them was troubling.

Did the apostles eat on that friday night so long ago? Did they eat Saturday? We don't know. They might not have. They might have. And if they did, I'm sure His absence troubled them.

If we react with hatred, judgment, fear and anger...we push Christ from our table. Is He so much a part of our lives that His absence would trouble us?

This is the link to Hope House, where Sister Karen worked. There is a quote on the page:

HOPE is not a way is a way through!

Here is a story from 1981 of Sister Karen visiting a children's camp (link). She was a clown named Bounce who entertained children, at the end of her performance:

“God says I have to go away now,” Sister Karen says gently, signaling the end of Bounce’s visit. “Oh God, it’s sad that I’m going away,” she says, removing her clown makeup so the children can see. “But I will remember the special person you want me to be.” And remembering the special person we are called to be is what Sister Karen’s clowning is all about.

A few days after she left a child said:

“The other day one of the six-year-olds came up and told me ‘I didn’t fight because the clown told me to be kind to others.,’” she said, humbly delighted with such encouragement.

My Lord and My God, As Sister Karen's life proclaimed your message, do not let her death lead to hate. God, help me to not hate the man who killed her, because the clown told us to be kind to others.

Updated link to the story (link).

Monday, April 17, 2006

Coptic Persecution

I got this list from a post at The Free Copts (link) it was compiled by Paul Marshall, a Senior Fellow with Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom. And this is only since 2003.

August 19, 2003, the Governor of Red Sea Province ordered Central Security Guards units to remove a fence around St. Antonious Coptic Monastery, perhaps the oldest in the world. The wall had been built to protect the monks from Islamic extremists after a previous attack on another Christian monastery and the murder of some monks. Several dozen members of the Security Forces and paramilitary police were involved, using 11 bulldozers and over 20 trucks.

• September 19, 2003, Central Security Forces in Assiut surrounded the historic St. George’s Church during morning service, stopped people entering and ordered them to leave. Some Coptic groups say that some Guards threw the sacrament on the ground and stepped on it, and several deacons were arrested. (The reasons for the action are not yet clear. Copts in the area say that it is because local government authorities wish to convert the church to a mosque or a museum).

• September 27, 2003, 19 year-old Ingy Nagy Edwar, from Giza, disappeared. When the family complained to the police, they were told that she had converted to Islam and was staying in the house of a Muslim, and the police refused to return her to the family, despite the fact that Egyptian law does not allow a daughter under the age of 21 to marry or convert without the permission of her father.

• November 7, 2003 a Muslim mob several thousand strong attacked a number of Christians in the town of Gerza, south of Cairo. Homes, crops and businesses were destroyed and several people were injured, with at least five hospitalized. Islamic militants were protesting proposals to converting a Christian library into a church.

• November 18, 2003, an Egyptian army unit attacked the Patmos Center for handicapped children. Using a bulldozer and firing tear gas, they destroyed portions of the outer wall.

• January 4, 2004, 18-year-old Ingy Helmy Georgy Labibe was abducted while shopping in Mahala el Kobra. The police refused to file a report, and later said that she would officially convert to Islam.

• January 5, 2004, the army attacked the Patmos Center again and one Copt was killed and two wounded. In addition, a Coptic nun was beaten and injured by soldiers.

• January 26, 2004, four Coptic students were arrested in the southern Sinai region and were still being held as of the end of March 2004. They had with them a small number of Christian books, Bibles, and Christian music tapes, and were charged with threatening national unity and threatening social peace.

• March 23, 2004, Coptic Pope’s public condemnation of the kidnapping and forced conversion of Christian girls, particularly highlighting their abduction from supermarkets, suggests that this is an escalating phenomenon. It is very unusual for the Pope to speak out publicly on this type of issue (he has previously been under house arrest for three years for remarks critical of the government).

• May 2004, after repairs were made to a fence at the ancient church in a village in the district of Samallot, the police chief, after midnight, ordered the priest and four deacons to come to the police station with him. He put them in a truck usually used for transporting animals and drove it himself. The truck overturned and the priest and two deacons were killed, and the other two deacons were injured. Church figures in the area believe that this was done deliberately.

• September 16, 2004, police in Al Shobek village arrested some laborers who were repairing a sewage system and accused them of building a church. They sealed the house where the repairs were taking place, which was owned by Bishop Damadious, the Bishop of Giza, the local area. On September 18, a mob burned down this building and two others while the police stood by.

• November 3, 2004, in the village of Mankateen, in Samalout Province, a mob destroyed a Coptic prayer room and burned and looted Coptic homes and businesses.

• Mohamed Abdel-Mohsen, the head of the National Democratic Party (the government party) in Assiut has been accused by the local Bishop and clergy of using bribes and threats to pressure Copts, especially young Coptic women, to convert to Islam. The Bishop played in church a tape recording of Mohsen doing so.

• December 5 and 6, 2004, 3000 Copts demonstrated outside the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo to protest these recent incidents, the failure of the Government to protect Copts, and, especially, what they maintained was the abduction of Wafaa Constantine, the wife of a Coptic priest, in order to get her to convert to Islam. It is very unusual for Copts to mount such a protest.

• Following these events, on December 8, 2004, Pope Shenouda III, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, went into seclusion for several weeks at the Anba Bishoy Monastery until, according to his secretary, there was a solution that “satisfies his conscience to the problems related to the Copts.” While such an act may seem of little import to Americans, it has great resonance in Egypt, and harks back to the period in the early 1980’s when the Pope, after raising similar concerns, was confined to a monastery by the government. His seclusion was reported even by the BBC World Service news bulletin, which typically carries only three stories a day from the Middle East.

• In January 2005, the army again attacked the Patmos Center, resulting in one person being killed and several injured.

• There is also an increase in credible reports of the abduction of Coptic girls, including in February 2005, nineteen year old Neveen Morcos, and the subsequent arrest of family members and their friends after they protested. In May 2005 20 year old Marianna Rezk Shafik Attallah went missing on her way to work. The police obstructed the family’s efforts to find her and said she had converted to Islam.

• In early 2005, Gaseer Mohamed Mahmoud, who converted to Christianity from Islam in 2003, was tortured by police, including pulling out his toenails, and, on January 10, 2005, with the assistance of state security police, was forcibly confined to Cairo’s El-Khanka mental hospital after his adoptive parents discovered his conversion. He was kept in solitary confinement, kept in a water filled room, refused visits from Christians, beaten, whipped, and told that he would be kept until he renounced his new faith. After international publicity he was released June 9, but stayed in hiding.

• April 6, 2005, Baha al-Aqqad, a recent convert to Christianity from Islam, was arrested on the grounds that he had ‘defamed Islam’ and held in Doqqi prison. After 45 days he was transferred to Tora prison in Cairo, typically a prison for political prisoners.

• October 13, 2005, a news report in the newspaper Al-Midan claimed that a newly discovered CD of a play performed in St. George’s Church in Alexandria two years ago showed that the play “insulted Islam.” Subsequently, a mob of at least 5,000 people surrounded the church. There have been riots, with four people dead and ninety injured. Seven other churches in Alexandria have been attacked, and one church in Cairo has been surrounded by a mob. Seven Coptic businesses in Alexandria have been attacked, and cars have been destroyed. Extremist websites have published death threats against Coptic Pope Shenouda and against priests in Alexandria. Coptic houses in Alexandria were marked by unknown people with a cross as a sign that they are owned by Christians and it is generally believed that this was to identify them for possible subsequent attack. Because of fear of attack, many Christians in Alexandria refused to leave their homes.

• January 17, 2006, in the village of Edyssat near Luxor, after a rumor that Copts were about to repair their local church, a mob attacked local Christian homes and attacked and set fire to the church building. At least nine Copts were hospitalized and one died of his injuries.

• February 20, 2006,in the village of Azba Wasef, in Giza Province, south of Cairo, following allegations that a banquet hall that Christians were building was in fact a church, a mob attempted to set fire to the hall and the church, and did set fire to at least four Christian homes. Eleven people were injured and several dozen arrested.

And of course, the recent events.