March 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are horrified by the martyrdom ofour brother Coptic Christians at the hands ofbarbarity incarnate. There are many others who have met this fate, but these brave men are now uppermost in our hearts. With such examples of inhumanity we must demonstrate what it really means to be human and to believe.

It is hard to know what we as Christians should do in the face of this evil. One thing I do know is that whatever we do, we must do it without fear, with courage and compassion by following ever more closely the teachings and example of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Fearless for the Light cannot be overcome by the darkness. Light dispels darkness. Only love can dispel hate. "Fear not, little flock," Jesus told his disciples, "for I have overcome the world."

Courage to be who we are and to preach even in the midst of these tenible times the Gospel of Peace brought to us by the Prince of Peace, by example and with words when necessary. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall see God."

Compassion to share in the sorrows of the families and friends and communities ofthese innocent martyrs, and for those of every religion, who have been made to suffer at the hands of these godless men. And we must pray for the murderers. The judgment of God will rest upon those who so wantonly destroy his image. "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." So we must expand our broken hearts to include our enemies in the compassion we are commanded to share with all. "Love your enemies and pray for those who despitefully use you."

We must pray for our leaders and those who are called to protect and defend our country and those around the world who do the same for theirs and ask God to lead them. Only divine wisdom can find a way through this chaos.

I have never in my life seen such evil. There have been other times, other places and other people throughout history who have suffered like this, but now we see it face to face. May God help us. I have no answers and know no solutions. I do have the faith that God is and that he does. In this difficult time we must hold close to our hearts the truth that God is and he is with us.

We are now in the Season of Great Lent, the time of increased spiritual effort. We struggle in order to grow in our faith and to become more deeply human which is nothing less than to be like God. The more like him we become, the more human we are.

May the souls of our martyred brothers rest in perpetual light and may their prayers on our behalf be heard by God. Memory Eternal!

With sorrow and with hope,

+Fr. Antony