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Have a Blessed Holy Nativity Fast

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

As I stared at my key board for over a month, I could not seem to write a word about the terrible conditions in Israel/Palestine. I am simply just shocked. It is September 28,2000 all over again when the 2nd uprising started. People are fed up and cannot tolerate occupation anymore. The non-violent action on the ground has gotten little attention so its seems violence grabs the media. I have my own personal problem of being denied a three month visa so I am forced to travel and try my luck in returning home next week.

I will offer a discussion following vespers at 6:30 pm, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 at St. Mark Orthodox Church (7125 River Road, Bethesda, MD 20817, vesper service at 5:30 pm).

I will pray at our sister church of St. George in Bethesda for Sunday Liturgy and hope to have a wonderful fellowship with the Sunday School children. Let us all pray together for a miracle to have our world guided by the True Light of Christ. I feel we have gone back to the time of St. George and the early centuries in witnessing for Christ, the prince of Peace and the salvation of the world.

With sincere good wishes for a blessed Holy Nativity Fast as we prepare our soul for our Savior,


Blessed Ecclesiastical Year

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

We hope you will have a blessed and happy new ecclesiastical year filled with many fruits of the Holy Spirit. A few days a bit late with our good wishes for our friends on the new calendar but a bit too early for our friends on the old. Either way, please know how much we appreciate your support, prayers and solidarity.

We have already started our school year last week in Taybeh and very fortunate to once again have helped fifteen children with their registration fees totaling $2600 from the Taybeh Education Fund with the support of six annual sponsors.

It was a very emotional beautiful encounter today where two of our students, Angie in 8th grade and Philip in 10th grade had the great blessing to meet the generous people who help with their tuition. We hope many others will place Taybeh on their list of worthy places to visit when they are as close as Jerusalem. Thus, one day, Katrina, Najwa, Daoud, and Arwa might meet their sponsors here in the "heart of Palestine."

It is a great blessing to have six out of the fifteen students have annual sponsors because it has helped our Taybeh Education Endowment Fund maintain a balance of close to $80,000. Thank you to the many church communities and individuals across America who have helped us develop.

The Taybeh Education Fund will also support four university students continuing their education with a total of $1000 this year. We are happy to share our annual report when its completed this November for anyone interested.

Walking with the Icon of the Holy Theotokos

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

What are Christians Doing Today in the Holy Land?

It is four in the morning and while everyone else is trying to get a good night sleep, Orthodox Christians from all corners of the Holy Land collected themselves to march in a beautiful procession in honor of the Virgin Mary. Every year, based on the Old Julian Calendar, the faithful gather to walk the icon of the Theotokos, the Holy Mother of God, from the monastery next to the Holy Sepulchre all the way down the via Dolorosa exiting the Old City from the Lion's Gate to reach the empty tomb of the Virgin Mary at the bottom of the hill below the Russian Orthodox Convent at the Garden of Gethsemane. This traditional march is done three days before the actual feast day. We were not going to miss this solemn celebration since my daughter was lucky to have a permit to enter Jerusalem. Now, I am sure you have no idea of the great need for freedom of movement and free access to our precious holy sites because military occupation is becoming harder than ever for me to explain. A different story by itself.

Settlers put Taybeh Land on Fire

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

I have survived the Israeli security check one more time in safely returning to the village. My prayer is for peace and stability so that I may organize the Taybeh Oktoberfest, September 19 & 20, 2015 in accordance with our non-violent action.

In a brief conversation with the Mayor of Taybeh, Mr. Nadim Barakat, I was surprised to understand so much violence is happening around me although I am trying to carry out a typical daily schedule at the new Taybeh Golden Hotel. ( &

Twenty dunums of Taybeh land planted with wheat was put on fire in the middle of the night (June 24) next to the settlement of Rimmonim. The Israeli police and Israeli civil administration came to the location on the spot and were appalled at this arson attack while the owner Mr. Khaldon Hanna has experience a great loss. The settlers seem totally out of control in their hate crimes. May our Lord have mercy!


Happy Father's Day

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

I am so happy to wish all of the fathers that I know or all of those beloved in Christ who serve as "fathers" to all of us, a most joyous and Happy Father's Day.

I was very blessed on my last day in Boston to hear who Fr. Christopher Metropolis, the new president of Hellenic College/Holy Cross calls "a living legend", His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos Ware speaking on "Divine Compassion and the Icon" sponsored by St. Catherine's Vision. But I was so nervous about traveling back home to the Holy Land that I was besides myself. Especially since there seems to be extreme violence across the globe. Please, Lord have mercy!

I am no longer shocked but I was disturbed with the horrific news of innocent people dying at a Bible Study in South Carolina. I don't like to hear such things happening in a free country like the United States. This last year has just exposed more evil everywhere.

Also, I found it very strange that many of the conference participants had no idea that a church was just burned in Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. The first thought that came to my mind was that if a Palestinian was accused of attacking any Jewish site or person, everyone simply would know immediately. I guess it does not sit well with the mass media when Israeli settlers attack a peaceful Christian church at the very site where our Lord and Savior fed 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish near the Sea of Galilee in Tiberies referred to as the Church in Tabgha (originally called Epta Pygon). This is actually one of the most famous Catholic churches and very popular on the pilgrimage trail. Do churches really have to be burned down? The graffiti on the wall in Hebrew said something to the affect that all the false gods will be eliminated. So much for the only democracy in the Middle East. Let us just continue to pray, pray, pray.

Have a Blessed Holy Pentecost

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

I pray and hope all of you are well and will continue to have all of God's blessings.

I would like to share with you some personal news that one of the happiest moments as a parent is seeing my son Dr. Constantine David Khoury graduate today here in Miami from Ross University Medical School. Although the whole family wishes for him to return to Palestine, he will spend three years at the Jamaica Hospital in New York City as a resident in internal medicine.

As we are experiencing this most happy moment in our life we were shocked to get news that 14 dunums of our land in Taybeh (14 dunums is approximately 4 acres) will be confiscated by Israel for security purposes. For some people who might be curious as to the location of this land confiscation, it is the main entrance to Taybeh coming from Jerusalem at the Israel military checkpoint.

I will try not to be outraged especially since the order was written on March 23, 2014 and not delivered to the Khoury Family until this week which means the grace period to send a complaint or file a court appeal has past.

May God see the injustice and the discrimination that continues to take place against Palestinians. All suggestions are welcomed in how we can keep our land and plant more olive trees for a better future and prosperity in Palestine.

When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. 1 Cor 4:12-13


Happy Mother's Day

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

As I am having a beautiful Mother's Day in Boston, I must wish all of the beloved mothers I know and the beautiful women who are like mothers to others, a blessed Happy Mother's Day. It is also the day we can remember and pray for all of the beloved mothers who are in God's Heavenly Kingdom. May their souls rest in peace.

It is usually our mothers who are the ones that dedicate their whole life time teaching us to accept the living water Christ offered the Samaritan woman in today's gospel (St. John 4:5-42). It is mothers who must exemplify the most patience in life's journey to eternity.

May all of us who are experiencing a struggle, stay strong and keep the faith because our patience will gain our salvation. The only sentence I remember out of the two day conference I have just attended at Hellenic College about Humanitarianism with renowned speakers is that we serve Christ when we serve others. And, our mothers are at the core of practicing "Love thy Neighbor." May we all accept the living water that gives us eternal life so that we can be empowered to love one another especially in places of conflict where I will return next month.

I pray and hope all of you are having a blessed Happy Mother's Day.

With love in Christ and sincere good wishes,


See the Miracle of the Holy Fire

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Although I am in Boston finishing a very blessed Lenten book tour with Christina books, my eyes are turned to Jerusalem and my heart is in my husband's Palestinian Christian village of Taybeh. However, this year I will see the greatest of all miracles, the Miracle of the Holy Fire, the same way the priest monk told me years ago when I was pushing and shoving my way to be at the very front entrance to the Holy-Life-Giving-Tomb of Christ in Jerusalem inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I insisted to be front and center so I can finally see with my own eyes what I heard since my early childhood in Tripoli, Greece at Prophet Elias Church where my late father use to light my Pascha candle and say "Christos Anesti." I wanted to tell the whole world what Orthodox Christians experience on Holy Saturday for centuries since the Light first appeared following Christ's Holy Resurrection.

As I was abruptly asked to leave the special spot reserved for diplomats only, the skinny monk said in Greek: . (Pedimou then eneh mono me ta matia pou Vlepoumeh ) "My child, it is not only with the eyes that we see." Since that Holy Saturday (2004), I have been trying to see with my heart and soul that my final destination is God's Heavenly Kingdom. It was a great violent time between Israelis and Palestinians so tourists were too scared to come making way for me and a handful of faithful pilgrims to finally enter the Holy Sepulchre on such a glorious day.

Christ is the Resurrection and the Life!

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

Although I am in Boston finishing a very blessed book tour with Christina Books, my heart is in Taybeh and my eyes are turned to Jerusalem. However, this year I will see the greatest of all miracles, the Miracle of the Holy Fire, the same way the priest monk told me years ago when I was pushing and shoving my way to be at the very front entrance to the Holy Life Giving Tomb of Christ in Jerusalem. I insisted to see with my own eyes so I can tell the whole world what Orthodox Christians experience on Great and Holy Saturday.

As I was asked to leave the special spot reserved for diplomats only, the monk said in Greek: "My child, it is not only with the eyes that we see." Thus, each and every single day, I try to see Christ first in my life, so help me God.

May our heart and our soul see that God's heavenly kingdom is our true eternal destination. May we rejoice in having a new life, a new hope, a new chance with Christ's Holy Resurrection.

A Happy Easter to all of my friends celebrating now. And, a blessed Holy Week and glorious Pascha to all. I wish you a radiant and joyous Resurrection!

In Christ's love and peace,


Sincere Greetings on This Holy Day

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

I hope you had a blessed holy Annunciation Feast Day. And to all of our Greek friends a Happy Greek Independence Day! We hope and pray, one day, we might also celebrate a free Palestine. However, more than ever, following the Israeli elections, the hope of a two state solution seems dead. As Christian people we will continue to keep our hope in Christ. I am waiting for a miracle.

I am currently on a book tour promoting "Christina Goes to the Holy Land," in the Miami area. However, our Taybeh Golden Hotel finally has its doors open and I am happy to share a draft brochure with any organization wishing to have their groups overnight in Taybeh:

With sincere good wishes on this holy day,

And the Angel said unto her, fear not, Mary ... thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus. Luke 1:30-31


A Blessed Lent During These Difficult Days

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

I sincerely wish all of you a most blessed Holy Great Lenten journey with your beautiful families and church communities. It is amazing that this sacred and most holy time of year just sneaked upon us so fast with some awful very unholy things happening all around the world. May our Lord have mercy! Let us just pray, pray, pray.

The Palestinian flags are flying half mass today here in the Holy Land in response to a three-day mourning of the horrific slaughter of twenty-one Coptic Christians beheaded in Libya yesterday. While I was busy in my own little cocoon complaining that it was the last Sunday to serve meat for the family lunch according to the Orthodox tradition in preparing to cleanse our soul and focus on Christ, I heard the news late.

The first thing that popped in my mind is how tragic for the families that have to deal with this horrendous loss. As I am deeply shocked throughout this whole last year with the tragic loss of life in all corners of the world, we continuously try to live a normal life in a little Christian village in the heart of Palestine.

It seems from Paris to Copenhagen to America, evil is just spreading. And, on a personal note, I was completely shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Bob Simon, the Veteran CBS journalist who spend a memorable visit in Taybeh conducting interviews. He was a champion of truth and deeply loved humanity. Although the CBS producers cut out the Taybeh footage from two major broadcasts, Bob Simon, gave us a gift of a short overtime. May he rest in peace.

I hope we might have more courageous journalists who are willing to share the truth but in many cases pay with their very life. May this most holy time of year allow for a time of healing and forgiveness so the Light of Christ overpowers all evil,

forgive me a sinner,

Epiphany on the Jordan River

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

I share this reflection with sincere good wishes on this holy day! In the hearts of Christians it should be an Epiphany celebration every day because it is the reminder we belong to God's Heavenly Kingdom.

Celebrating the Baptism of Christ on the Jordan River
Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D.

It was simply a most glorious celebration of the Epiphany on the Jordan River today according to the Old Julian calendar. There were hundreds of priests, nuns and thousands of people from all walks of life coming to the precious site where over 2,000 years ago "...the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him..." (Matthew 3:13-17) It was so wonderful to see many local people in addition to internationals for this grand celebration.

Did You Know Christmas is Celebrated Three Times?

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

I thought you might like to see how Bethlehem looked like this Christmas. With prayers and good wishes from the very land of Christ's birth.

All Christian denominations in Palestine agreed to celebrate Christmas on the new calendar December 25th since the early 90's and celebrate the Holy Easter on the old Julian calendar according to the date with the Orthodox Church. Most towns and villages follow this cultural understanding so that people can wish each other sincere greetings all at the same time. However, Jerusalem and Bethlehem being very popular tourist cities celebrate Christmas three times according to the dates and traditions of the Latin Church, Greek Orthodox Church and Armenian community falling on the dates of December 25th, January 7th and January 19th. And this year was truly a white Orthodox Christmas in the Holy Land with snow on all the hills and mountain sides.

According to the Late Holy Father John Paul on his visit to the Holy Land in 2000, the most memorable statement that stayed in my mind is when he said: "In the hearts of Christians, it is Christmas every day." And being the very small Christian community with less than 1.5% of the population, it is nice to remember the Good News daily since the Prince of Peace brings the joy and inner peace needed to survive the violent times all around.

Dr. Maria Khoury to Visit Miami and Boston Areas

Dr. Maria C. Khoury, author of Christina Goes to the Holy Land, will be in the Miami and Boston areas and available for book signings and/or discussions about the Christian community in the Holy Land. Dr. Khoury will be be in Miami from March 19 to March 31 and in the Boston area from approximately April 23 to May 27, 2015.

If your church is interested in hosting a program, please contact Dr. Khoury directly at

Description of Holy Land Presentation:

Maria Khoury uses her personal life experiences living in the West Bank, the Palestinian Occupied Territories, to bring greater awareness of how conditions are on the ground for Christians specifically, and Palestinians in general, who suffer day to day under Israeli military occupation trying to do simple things like going to work, school, etc. She speaks from the perspective of being a woman, mother, an Orthodox Christian and community activist. A sample of her opinions can been viewed on one of the interviews on the multimedia page

A White Orthodox Christmas

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

It is the Holy Christmas Day on the Old Julian Calendar and snow has been falling all day long in the Holy Land bringing an unusual closure from the weather instead of military occupation.

Wishing all of our friends on the Old Calendar a blessed Holy Nativity and also wishing everyone a healthy happy new year with renewed hope for justice and peace.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Hymn from the 1st Royal Hour
4th Plagal tone

"Make ready, O Bethlehem! Let the manger be prepared, let the cave show its welcome. The Truth is come, the shadow is passed away; God hath appeared from a Virgin unto men --- formed as we are, and deifying that which He hath assumed. Wherefore Adam is renewed with Eve, as they cry out: Thy good will hath appeared on earth to save our race."


Wishing You a Blessed Holy Christmas Celebration

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

It is that special holy time of year where we can truly be transformed by the Birth of our Lord Jesus no matter what oppressed conditions we might be experiencing. We are promised a new beginning.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

It has been an extremely difficult year with the whole Middle East upside down and especially Christians being killed every day in Syria and Iraq. People are suffering in so many places in the world. Here in the Holy Land, such extreme severe violence broke out between Israelis and Palestinians that it is just beyond belief. Every day we suffer under Israeli military occupation but we are so grateful for your prayers. We are thankful for all who help maintain our Christian presence in the Holy Land. Our community is small but important to keep Christians in the very place where Christ was born in harmony with all faith groups witnessing the True Light. The words of the angel spoken more than two thousand years ago are more comforting to me now than ever, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you Good News of great joy that will be for all the people." (Luke 2:10)

I personally need to thank the many churches and people who support Christina Books and the Taybeh Education Fund. $1,000 was given to college students in Taybeh and $2600 as tuition registration for 15 elementary students. We have been fortunate through your kindness to be able to offer this consistent support over the last five years. The Taybeh Education Endowment Fund was established in 2006 with less than five thousand dollars and has now reached close to $80,000. Five out of the 15 children have sponsors committed to $350.00 annually.

May the spirit of Christmas remain with you the whole year and may it be peaceful in your heart, home, church and in our land. With sincere good wishes, maria

With Thanksgiving Wishes from Taybeh

Taybeh Continues to be the Light
by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

As I woke up to heavy rain and severe wind storms in one of the highest mountain regions in Palestine, I gave glory to God to be alive for another day and continue to keep my hope that all people of this region will learn to love humanity. The only good thing about the dense fog in front of me is that I could not see the illegal Israeli settlement outside my kitchen window. Settlements on the West Bank have been a huge big obstacle to any frozen peace agreement for twenty years between Israelis and Palestinians. As the harsh weather and tough political conditions continue to be at an all-time high, I was grateful for friends around the world who prayed for a peaceful day (November 25th) during the opening of the new Taybeh Winery introducing for the first time, Palestinian boutique wines. We were lucky the storm arrived at night after having a successful and historic making day with many local and international visitors. All of our friends in America are celebrating a Happy Thanksgiving and we are truly thankful for having a peaceful day. Glory be to God for all things!

Praying for a peaceful day and good weather

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

Although the news from Jerusalem continues to be more violent day by day, we are trying to carry out a normal life as much as possible under occupation. Please keep us in your prayers.

We are most honored that the Consul General of Belgium has selected Taybeh for the celebration of the King's Day (King of Belgium) tomorrow at our Taybeh Golden Hotel. We will be introducing for the first time the Palestinian boutique wines during this event made by my nephew Canaan Khoury, the new winemaker who trained with Roberto, our Italian wine maker using state of the art equipment from Italy and very fine grapes from Taybeh and the surrounding towns of Birzeit and Aboud that were crushed last August 2013. We hope to have many dignitaries for the opening.

NYC Dec. 6 Women Deacons Conference

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

Greetings from the Holy Land!

I wish all of you a blessed Holy Nativity Fast. Tomorrow, we are actually celebrating the transfer of the relics of St. George from Asia Minor where he was martyred to Lod (next to the Tel Aviv airport now) where his mother lived in ancient Palestine. It has been an annual tradition that Christian communities from all corners of the Holy Land gather in Lod to commemorate this special feast day in addition to the one in April. However, some of you might know the ongoing violence in Jerusalem and the unrelenting settlement expansion and police harassment, riots and marches inside Israel have increased following the cold blood killing of an Arab youth by police in Kafr Kanna. The Israelis and Palestinians have been killing each other back and forth in revenge attacks for many months now. Thus, many people in our community were simply too scared to get a permit and travel to the original St. George Church to continue this century old Christian tradition in memory of St. George the Great Martyr. We pray for better times ahead and keep our hope in Christ.

Taybeh Oktoberfest Canceled

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

Usually this time of year for the last nine years, I have been organizing our oktoberfest celebration and always asking for your prayers since it is a miracle to do such crazy things in a conservative society. I am sharing this press release because I have not been able to write much else being stunned with all of the violent happenings in the region. Please feel free to share with your local media if you find it appropriate. As dark as the times might appear to be, we keep our hope in Christ and wish for Taybeh to continue being the flame of peace. I sincerely thank you for your support, prayers and solidarity.

With love in Christ from the sacred holy land where the most unthinkable unholy things continue to happen,

Taybeh Oktoberfest Press Release
Taybeh Brewing Company, Taybeh, Ramallah, Palestine The Holy Land.

October 3, 2014

The Taybeh Brewing Company regrets to announce that the harsh conditions of Palestine have led to the decision to cancel the 10th Annual Taybeh Oktoberfest 2014. The Taybeh Beer family expresses solidarity and prayers for all the suffering people of Gaza, the West Bank and the communities in the Middle East and grieves the tragic loss of innocent life.

Since 2005, Taybeh Oktoberfest has been a unique opportunity to initiate a distinctive-style festival in Palestine that is aimed at promoting local products, boosting the economy and bringing a sense of normality to the harsh conditions faced under occupation. The Taybeh Oktoberfest also provides an international cultural exchange with many bands and dance performers traveling from all over the world to join local artist groups to share their art on the Palestinian stage.

Have a Blessed Ecclesiastical Year

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

As I wish you a blessed peaceful holy new ecclesiastical year, I remain stunned at the silence my church has towards the horrific and unspeakable evil Israel continues to carry out. May our Lord have mercy upon those who ignore this injustice. I am just shocked that after Israel attacked schools, hospitals, ambulances, mosques, media offices, the power plant, UN buildings and staff that Israel continues to enjoy blind support from America. I guess it is pretty much like the late Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon once said: "...I want to tell you something very clear. Don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it." So I assume everyone will break out their checkbooks since this last war on Gaza cost Israel over 2 billion dollars.

How sad, today, Israel also announced the biggest land grab in twenty years; 1,000 acres of land will be confiscated in the Bethlehem area for more illegal Israeli settlements. May we continue to pray for peace and justice. May we forgive the barbaric and uncivilized killings of Christians in the region which all the latest news point the finger at the United Stated and Israel for funding. I guess the more fanatic Muslims the Middle East has makes some people happy. It just simply scares me...As we have gone way back before the times of Constantine the Great, I do pray for steadfast witness to the True Light of Christ. May Love always conquer hate. May inner peace exist in our heart as the new Church year reminds us to focus on saving our soul.

With sincere good wishes on this holy day,

We Woke Up to Another War

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

The terrible escalation of violence continues between Israel and Palestine with no end to Israeli bombings all night long in Gaza and Hamas firing rockets into Israel. It appears with 40,000 Israeli soldiers called that all options for a large scale invasion are on the table. Unfortunately what Israel is calling "Operation Protective Edge" has continued a devastating bombardment destroying many homes and hurting innocent people. This sharpest escalation of violence includes hundreds of rockets fired from Hamas reaching Jerusalem and over 230 Israeli air and sea strikes leaving Gaza completely devastated this morning with the hospitals not being able to care for the injured.

In my opinion, this is the collective punishment that the people must endure for the unity reconciliation agreement made last month between Hamas and Fatah, our two political parties in the Palestinian Authority. Israel does not want peace but rather wants to see us in "pieces." Let us pray that our Lord will have mercy!

I can only repeat what one Palestinian man said following the complete destruction of his home where twelve children lived: "From God we came and to God we will return."

Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

What Does the Pope's Visit Mean to Me?

A blessed Holy Ascension Day to all!!

O Christ our God. You ascended in Glory and gladdened Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit. Your blessing assured them that You are the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. (Ascension Hymn)

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

The Visit of Pope Francis to Israel/Palestine brought more excitement than ever because anyone and everyone in news media came to Taybeh to interview the local Christians. I am so very disappointed, however, that one might spend five hours with a news team and it is not sure they will use the two minutes they are planning since the producers always have the final word. Either way, since the village is known for having people who are "Taybeen," meaning "good" or "pleasant," we continue to welcome visitors and news media with open arms. Although, on the ground we feel our situation will stay the same no matter who visits.

Furthermore, when follow-up emails begin with such a sentence: " apologies for the delay in responding to your email. Indeed, I am deeply thankful for your time, consideration and gracious hospitality. Our trip to Taybeh was as eye-opening as it was heart-breaking...Your struggle is real and I applaud you for your courage..." most likely they are not using the footage and they are not bringing the Holy Father to visit you. So sad! But at least His Excellency the Consul General of France expressed his solidarity and support and had a great tour of Taybeh this last week.

Will the Holy Fathers Bear True Witness?

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

It is a special day in the Holy Land where His Holiness Pope Francis will meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to commemorate the historic meeting of their predecessors in Jerusalem fifty years ago that began a new era of Church relations. The motto for the Apostolic Pilgrimage is "So that they may be one" (John 17:20-23). Also scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem is Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai of Lebanon.

Although the Holy Fathers will not make it to Taybeh, many newspapers came to report on the Christian community. We wish to be for the world the light and the hope needed under Israeli occupation. We are locked up behind a wall in an open prison and settlements continue to go up all around us while Israel continues to control all of the boarders, the roads, the natural resources. It is a hassle and harassment not to have the freedom to enter Jerusalem without permits.

Receiving the Holy Fire Once Again

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

We have just celebrated the Miracle of the Holy Fire in Taybeh in a most magnificent way at the outskirts of our village approximately 5:30 pm local time on this Great and Holy Saturday while waiting all afternoon when this great miracle occurred once again in Jerusalem.

"O Gladsome Light, of the Holy glory of the Immortal Father, heavenly Holy, blessed Jesus Christ!" (Holy Saturday Morning Prayers)

The local priests, Fr. Daoud, Fr. Jack and Fr. Aziz, of all three churches and Fr. Peter who came from Jerusalem with the choir chanting, and the Taybeh Scouts beating the drums marched again this year to meet our cousin Ibrahim with his son Philip, who went to the city of Ramallah, where the faithful brought the flame from Jerusalem for the Palestinian Christian s who cannot reach the Holy City due to lack of permits. Many residents of Taybeh, were in the streets for the ecumenical procession which was simply glorious although a bit cloudy with a sprinkle of rain.

The solemn and beautiful procession in our village ended at St. George Church, where Fr. Daoud placed the flame on the altar to await the faithful for the Resurrection service of Holy Pascha: "Come ye and receive light from the unwaning Light, and glorify Christ, Who arose from the dead."

In the last few years during Great and Holy Saturday, I have delivered the same message from the Holy Land. But it has been a great spiritual joy to keep reminding friends about the miracle that appeared for the first time during the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Luke 24:4; Matthew 28:1-4) This magnificent miracle is at the core of our Christian presence in the Holy Land The Miracle of the Holy Fire received today by His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem was broadcasted live on Palestine TV.

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