I believe in God

Egyptian Christians have been tried by incidents large and small of violence against their communities, which make up 15-18% of the country's population. These included the recent bombings of churches in Cairo and Alexandria. The Little Sisters of Daher, Cairo, shared about their life there, their work, their experience of these tragedies, and their quest to witness to the love of Jesus in the midst of it all:
From Samar:
At the beginning when I was looking for work, there were a lot of possibilities because nurses are in great demand in my country, even though nursing is not a highly regarded job. After serious discernment, we decided I should go to the hospital.
Travel takes a lot of time because of the crowds in Cairo and the congestion on the various modes of transport. It's a place where there is great poverty and ignorance on every level, and also other challenges in the area of relationships between people.
The people trust coming to this hospital because they find a religious presence there. About 90% of those who come are Muslim and the women are veiled (sometimes even their faces.) I see them close up in the course of the tests, examinations, emergency room care, and operations. This allows me to really be a presence, listening and respecting each person, in order to transmit the love and tenderness of God for everyone. This is what our charism calls me to give witness to.
I learn a lot from each of those with whom I work, whether co¬workers or patients. In this marginalized milieu I especially learn wisdom in relationships, because many who come to the hospital are wounded persons and drug addicts.

Given the strained relations between Muslims and Christians in my country, every kind of work which serves humanity, like nurs¬ing, working with the mentally handicapped, etc., plays a great role. Suffering and illness affect everyone, and all the religious and social barriers disappear there. My work at the hospital al¬lows me to enter Muslim homes where, because of mistrust and prejudice, it would not be possible to enter for any other reason. This is really a place for us to be, and I am happy to be there as a presence of our Community in the name of the Church. May the Lord let us be a sign of his love and his tenderness for all.

From Anne-Gaetane:
On Sunday morning, December 11th, the terrible news broke that a "suicide bomber" had come in and blown himself up during Mass in the Church of Botroseya, just before communion. There were 28 people dead and about 50 seriously injured, all of whom were women and children (men and women traditionally sit separately and the explosion took place on the women's side.) In our neighborhood many had close relatives or friends among the victims.
Sadness could be read on the faces of all Christians. What touched us deeply, though, was that as the people mourned, so also did they express their faith strongly and clearly. As the bodies were being taken out of the church, young men proclaimed in one voice the "I believe in God." And during the burial some of the women shouted "yuyus."
Icon of the Epiphany painted by Sister Maria CarlaIcon of the Epiphany painted by Sister Maria CarlaBotroseya church is just next to the Cathedral of St. Mark and the residence of the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros, that is, the heart of their community. As a sign of communion, the Churches of all rites cancelled their Christmas and New Year's festivities. But there were fervent Masses being celebrated everywhere for the victims, whose numbers kept increasing since so many had been seriously injured. It was moving to see Pope Tawadros come in person on December 25th to offer his Christmas greetings to our Catholic Coptic Patriarch.

In the midst of all this, we still wanted to bring the joy of Christ¬mas somehow. We chose several of L.Sr. Maria Carla's paintings of the Nativity and had posters of them made, which we then took to the neighbors in our building, to our families, and to some of our friends, especially those in mourning or who were seriously ill: a family who had lost a loved one in the December 11th explosion; an elderly couple; a family in which the mother has advanced cancer, etc.
Each year our pastor publishes a calendar for the parish. For 2017 we proposed a choice of Maria Carla's icons as illustrations. The calendar came out with 12 icons, and we heard people's appreciation, "Wonderful, prayerful..."
We were happy to be able to bring the message of Christmas and the Gospel into homes by means of the calendar and other of her icons. It is a light that brightens the darkness of our present night. It is also an effort to revive the art of our Coptic Church, since L.Sr. Maria Carla drew her inspiration there.
Pray with us for our country which is going through very difficult times, politically and economically. Prices are doubling, including those of necessities like sugar, rice, medicines, etc. May the God of love, who came as a child among us, strengthen our hope and give His peace to the whole Middle East.
Meeting with the Orthodox Copt Pope Tawadros 11Meeting with the Orthodox Copt Pope Tawadros 11
From May:
On January 3, a delegation of bishops, priests, religious and laity from our Catholic Coptic Church, presided over by our Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac, presented wishes for a year of peace to the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, who, despite his grief, had come to offer his wishes to our Patriarch.
I was part of this delegation, and I was moved by the warm and fraternal welcome Pope Tawadros gave. He said, "The gifts of the Three Wise Men are the image of our life: gold, the days of success, good health, joy and happiness; frankincense, the days of effort and fatigue (passing through the fire); and myrrh, the days of suffering, sickness and hardship."

Then he spoke of the hardship his Church had just experienced, saying, "We do not seek persecution, but when it comes we have to welcome it with faith." He gave the example of a young mother who had lost her little 11-year-old daughter, and who went to console another mother who had lost two daughters aged 20 and 25. He said, "It's faith that brought this woman out of her misfortune to console another." And, "Our Church has given three kinds of testimony over the centuries: the doctors of the faith, the martyrs, and the monks. And that continues. Through this painful event we witness a page of the history of martyrs." And he ended by saying to us, "Your visit today is of the days of gold in our lives..."
We were shown the Botroseya Church, the site of the explosion. We prayed in this holy place, and a young man who witnessed the catastrophe explained to us how it happened. It was terrible!
Icon of the ResurrectionIcon of the Resurrection
I conclude with a word of hope I just read. It is from a Muslim woman, Samar Foda, who is wishing the Christians of Egypt a good Christmas. She is the daughter of a great Egyptian thinker and writer who was assassinated in 1992 by a Muslim extremist group. She wished us a good Christmas, saying, "When I was a little girl I asked my father what is the difference between us Muslims and Christians. He responded, 'No difference, my daughter. It's like the road to Alexandria. There are two roads you can take, the road through the cultivated fields or the road through the desert. It does not matter which road you take. The important thing is to arrive at Alexandria. The important thing is to arrive at God.'" Then she added, "Father, may your soul rest in peace. Have a good Christmas, my dear friends. Your religion is not what is important, but what you did with it. My greetings to you."

Even if this secular, moderate current is not the strongest one in my society, I choose to believe in a better future by thinking of the Gospel saying, "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench" (Mt 12:20). Pray for our dear country and our Church!