maria khoury


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,
maria

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: "...my 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.

Waiting for the Miracle

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D.
from the Holy Land

Every year during Holy Saturday, for many centuries, there is a most magnificent miracle that continues to take place in Jerusalem since the time we were allowed as Christians to celebrate ceremonies in public.

Pilgrims from all over the world gather in Jerusalem to witness the greatest of all miracles--the Miracle of the Holy Fire.  The miracle has turned into a glorious cultural event, but many simply cannot get anywhere near the Holy Sepulchre Church.  The soldiers, the police, the large crowds, the noise, the drums of the Boys Scouts and the Girl Scouts anxiously waiting to receive the Holy Fire from the Life Giving Tomb of Christ, is a day long adventure. But it always happens at approximately 2 pm on Holy Saturday.

One year, it was a miracle in itself that finally after twenty years waiting, because of the Second Uprising and the height of the violence there was a lack of pilgrims in the Holy Land, I got inside the church myself.

It is an exciting celebration with the sound of many languages at the same time. Representatives of many churches from all over the Holy Land and beyond, come to receive the Holy Fire and carry the flame back in small lanterns to their particular churches for the Midnight Resurrection Service.  Special permits must be issued for Christians from Gaza and the West Bank to enter Jerusalem. Furthermore, as an added bureaucracy, you need another ticket/pass to enter the Holy Sepulchre.