Early last week a top news stories on CBC truly hit my nerve. In mid-January a group of 30 Islamic terrorists captured an Algerian oil refinery and held its workers hostages. Algerian Special Forces intervened and the outcome was tragic: more than 70 people died, including 29 terrorists. When the attack took place, the terrorists activated explosives setting the whole refinery on fire. In the ensuing inferno, people burned to death.
And since we live in times when yesterday’s tragic news is quickly replaced by today’s news, this story was quickly forgotten. The story might have remained forgotten, had there not been a Canadian connection. Among the Islamic terrorists were a few Canadians. Our police and security services kept the identity of these fanatics a secret. And their identity would remain a secret if the media hadn’t revealed it to the Canadian public. What particularly struck me was the name of one: Xristos Katsiroubas. Media reports emphasized that he came from a well-off, Christian Orthodox, family. The story also notes that his parents are divorced. In the following days the identity of another alleged participant in this tragedy was revealed: that of Aaron Yoon. It was said that he is from a Catholic, Korean family. He lives because he was arrested before he could take part in this heinous crime. The identity of a 3rd terrorist with a Canadian background will likely be revealed in the coming days.
This tragic story begins in London, ON, where these two men were converted to Islam under the influence of their school mate, Ali Medlej. It must’ve been such a triumph for Ali to lure into his faith a child whose name denotes Christ and Cross, and another one whose name is Aaron. According to those classmates who could remember Xristos Katsiroubas, he was preoccupied with his new religion and seemed to be quick to disengage from conversations with his peers. Xristos appeared to always be in rush to the mosque, to which he invited others to join him. Today imams of that mosque do not remember him and deny that they had anything to do with Xristos. Instead they mention that Islam is a “religion of peace”, using words more reminiscent of American presidents.
I struggled to listen as the CBC picked up on this theme, distancing murders like this and others from Islam. As if Islamic terrorists come from a galaxy far, far away, unconnected to the religion they profess. Islamic proselytism and obvious incursions all over the world led me to some painful questions. Walking down a major street in Scarborough, I noticed an Islamic school and yet another not a kilometer down the road from the first. This made me wonder how many similar schools there are in Canada. Through an online search I found, across Canada, in nearly every corner of this great land, Islamic schools – enough to fill 18 pages. All kinds of schools are listed there, from Kindergarten to high school, part-time and full-time, private… And each and every one of them has a common denominator: Islam.
My thoughts take me back to Xristos and Aaron. All kinds of experts are now weighing in on the situation and are giving reasons why our young people, who are given ‘everything’, convert to Islam and what it is that they are finding there. All of them are trying hard to avoid the main reason our youth are turning towards Islam. The school system of this blessed country is set up so that it kills every notion about the One and Only and True God in our children’s souls. This system feeds their souls with Hallowe’en, Darwin and everything else that is opposite to the Law of God. And parents, with empty souls themselves, preoccupied with all kinds of daily problems, make the task of spiritual growth in their children low on the list of their priorities. In doing so, they push their children away to those who are ready to take them. I could swear that Xristos, while he was still an Orthodox Christian, wasn’t very often in his church. The same probably goes for Aaron. Their mothers didn’t hold them in their arms or teach them the Lord’s Prayer. When they were met by Ali and taken to the imam of London, it was easy to fill their empty, hungry and thirsty souls with the content the imam(s) deemed appropriate.
Every soul, and a child’s soul especially, is longing for God. You might be too busy, stressed out and too tired, you always have better and more important things to do, you push your child away with your shallow and stupid answers to his/hers countless questions. You don’t spend time with your child, you do not communicate with your child, and you don’t talk. But there is always someone who will find the time, someone suave and polite and also smart. And you will lose your child. If you do not want to fill your children’s souls with your own content (if you have it at all?) – there is someone who can’t wait to do that for you. And once again, you will lose your child.
We have or we find time for everything: for sports trainings and martial arts, for every obstinate activity. Yet we cannot find the time for our Lord and God. We are irresistibly sleepy on holy Sunday mornings. We find a multitude of obstacles on our way when we are supposed to go to Church. In Church we dislike this or that, we do not like the teacher in the Sunday school and we find hundreds of reasons not to take out children. Only in Church we allow ourselves to ask these kinds of questions, only in Church and nowhere else.
If we do not sober up and seriously take care of our children’s souls, we will, to our, astonishment have a lot more of these unfortunate incidents like the one involving Xristos and Aaron. Let us turn to our roots, I keep repeating this endlessly; let’s leave all the novelties and nonsense that are served to us in this sinister time. Before everything else, let’s find some time for our souls and then let’s find time for our offspring who our Lord through us called to life. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22,6)
You don’t know a lot about your faith. Your parents never taught you, and their parents probably never taught them. Learn, and then teach your children. There were a lot of things you didn’t know, but you’ve learned them because you had to. Speak always to your children about God and the Lord’s Law, “When thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” Deuterenomy (6, 7-9) We are obligated not to keep from our children, “Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.” Psalms 78, 3-8.