Exactly a year ago, I was in Cairo, capital of Egypt. A day before my departure, I went to visit Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral. Right next to it was Saint Peter & Saint Paul’s Coptic Orthodox Church, which I also visited. The members of the cathedral, as well of the church, were such humble and kind people that I remember leaving a bit teary-eyed, asking God to bless and reward them.
This morning, at church (Saint Peter & Saint Paul’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Pointe-Claire, Qc), the priest, during his sermon, announced that Saint Peter & Saint Paul’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo was bombed. The one next to Saint Mark’s Cathedral? Yes, that one. Exactly the one I visited a year ago. Hearing this hit drastically close to home.
It could have happened a year ago. It could have been my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, my uncle, or I instead of a mother’s two daughters, instead of a newly married husband’s wife, and instead of a little boy.
Isn’t ironic, you’d think, that I asked God to reward their pure hearts, and there they lay burned, in ashes, next to the lost icons, next to the church’s broken historical treasures, next to its ruins? Well, they have been rewarded one of the most precious gifts: a crown of victory in heaven. They now rest in the Kingdom of God, at His right, not bearing a single burden. I understand that not everyone believes in a life after death, but I do, and they did. They knew it could have happened any time. They didn’t question God, neither blame Him. They accepted this discrimination since the day they were born. They lived in persecution until today.
Persecution is the reason why the Coptic Church remains strong until today. It is in suffering that we find God and His love; as absurd as it may sound, it’s true. Father Seraphim Rose explains it in his book, God’s Revelation to the Human Heart, but this is a subject worth writing in another article.
What we should learn from this news is that, as much as I want to believe that Egypt is a safe place, it isn’t safe, but there isn’t a safe place on earth. We are not meant to live on earth eternally anyway. Moreover, as someone who has the chance and the freedom to practice my religion and attend church regularly, I should stop complaining. I should realize how precious life is. If the bombing had happened a year ago, I wouldn’t have published my book, I wouldn’t have created memories with my loved ones, and I wouldn’t have been who I am today. My dreams could have ended exactly a year ago.
It pains me to read in the Western press that this bombing is the first to happen in many years, while it isn’t at all. It pains me to read lies and constructed facts. It pains me to see that in 2016, in the 21st century, with all the progress humanity has made so far, we are simultaneously alarmingly regressing. Is it a way to end the year? Is it a way to celebrate Christmas?
Let’s all pray for the Coptic people in Egypt and for the ones going through similar persecutions around the world. Let’s not lose hope, but instead make a difference, even knowing that this world won’t necessarily change for the better. But if we don’t try, who will?