by Rick Moran
One thing for sure; in order to practice your Christian faith in Iraq or just about anywhere else in the Middle East, you have to have the courage of the early martyrs who took to heart the notion that "Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Hundreds of Christians packed Baghdad's Our Lady of Salvation church for Christmas on Saturday, defying threats of attacks less than two months after militants massacred worshippers and priests there.
Security was extremely tight, with forces armed with pistols and assault rifles guarding the area and a 10-foot high (three-metre) concrete wall topped with gleaming razor wire surrounding the church.
All cars entering the area were searched, and worshippers were patted down twice before being allowed into the church.
The mood was sombre after an October 31 attack claimed by Al-Qaeda affiliate the Islamic State of Iraq in which gunmen stormed the church, leaving two priests, 44 worshippers and seven security personnel dead.
The church, which was filled with more than 300 worshippers, still bears signs of the attack, its walls pockmarked from bullets and the destroyed wooden pews replaced with plastic and metal chairs.
The attack has left many reeling.
To persevere and maintain one's faith in the face of such unspeakable horror is a tribute to the ability of man to endure much in the name of one's religion.
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