This has been an horrific year for some of Orthodox Christianity’s most ancient congregations in the Near and Middle East and indeed wherever in the World these good people gather to worship.
Christian men captured by ISIS and other monsters have been tortured &/or killed in various ways, oftentimes filmed and the evidence uploaded onto the internet by their local islamist executioners responding, as they see it, to the teachings of their god’s paedophilic warlord prophet.
One set of Orthodox men were marched out with explosive cords tied around their necks.
With Kalashnikov rifles prodding them or at dagger-point, they were forced to kneel before their ISIS captors.
Within moments but essentially, a huge roar of an explosion followed.
Severed heads had either blown tens of meters/yards away, or, literally, obliterated.
Several dozens of other men whose hands were tied behind their back suffered being placed into a large steel cage which was then hoisted high into the air and then eased slowly into a massive tank of water. ISIS filmed all this, so nonbelievers or ‘infidels’ could see the men fighting for last gasps of air before they drowned.
Another ISIS group, even more vicious Followers of the Prophet, arranged that their captives’ hands were left untied. Their personal battles for life-sustaining gasps were even more pathetic.
Even though they knew it was only a matter of seconds before all they ever lived for or loved was to be a memory for those left behind, they still gave it all they could or until what is usually life-sustaining water killed them.
A captured Jordanian pilot faced a copycat torture first imposed on a large group of Christians. All these Christian men were placed in a cage and immolated when a garden hose full of gasoline/petrol was set alight.
A group of Coptic Christians from Egypt were marched out along the Libyan coast and forced to kneel to the north, facing across the Mediterranean towards Italy.
ISIS swore to them that their blood would drift across to Rome, whose conquest they expectantly await.
They reported the genuine coup de grace will be beheading the Pope and then triumphantly parading his head around Rome on a bloody pike.
It is with far more than regret that I write this, but also that these are most assuredly a tiny few of the inhumane treatments wrought upon adherents to Orthodox Christianity’s most ancient Rites.
Infuriatingly, or to me at least, Copts, Assyrians, and others have been slaughtered, of all ages, all Sects, all nationalities, old ladies and men to babies literally suckling at their mothers’ breasts.
‘Genocide’ and ‘infanticide’ are horrifying, terrifying, bloodcurdling words ‘dusted off’ from the eras of Pol Pot in Cambodia and Hitler in Germany and across Europe.
Why am I writing about this today?
For the adherents of the Orthodox Rites, today is Christmas.
The Orthodox have celebrated the most humble Birth of the Prince of Peace for many years longer than some Western Rite faiths. That history ties into their oftentimes ancient languages and cultures.
For example, “Copts” or “Coptic” means, simply, “Egyptian”.
Christians living in Egypt identify themselves as Coptic Christians.
As a denomination, they originated in the city of Alexandria, one of the most faithful, respected, and fruitful cities during the Apostolic Period.
Coptic Christians proudly laud John Mark (author of the Gospel of Mark) as their founder and first Bishop sometime between A.D. 42 – A.D. 62.
The Coptic Church was actually involved in the very first major split in the Church, well before there was such a thing as “Roman” Catholicism, and it was also well before the East/West split.
They are Brothers and Sisters in Christ with the Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox professions of the Eastern Rite.
May these and all men and women of humanity, good faith and any sense of dignity for their fellow man join with the essential Christmas spirit of the Hymn of the Cherubim.
Blessed angel spirits offer praise undying,
Ever crying Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Sabaoth.
Saints and Martyrs praise thy Name, Trinity lifegiving,
Earthborne sorrow leaving before Thy throne,
Evercrying Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.
Father omnipotent, mighty in glory, Christ,
Thy Son, our Saviour who died that we might live,
Holy Spirit, mystic dove, dwelling with us ever more,
We praise Thee, Blessed Trinity.
With the Angels’ sacred hymn,
All thy might proclaiming,
With the mystic cherubim
in songs of praise we join,
Holy, Holy, Holy,
Join we all in songs of praise for ever;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Lord God of Sabaoth.
Sadly, due to the islamists’ threats, not one of us can really ‘Go in Peace‘.
Nonetheless, to our friends in the Orthodox Rite, a very Happy Christmas to one and all.
Hymn of the Cherubim
Composer: Piotr Illitch Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893)
Performed by: USSR Ministry of Culture Chamber Choir