Friday, January 22, 2016

MIRACLE PROVES THE SONSHIP OF JESUS





 
It was not what they saw happening that the disciples believed but what could not be seen by bodily eyes. They did not believe that Jesus Christ was the son of the Virgin-that was something they knew. Rather, they believed that he was the only Son of the Most High, as this miracle proved. 

And so let us too believe wholeheartedly that he whom we confess to be the Son of man is also the Son of God. Let us believe not only that he shared our nature but also that he was consubstantial with the Father; for as a man  he was present at the wedding, and as God he changed the water into wine. 

If such is our faith, the Lord will give us also to drink of the sobering wine of his grace.  

 Maximus of Turin

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Friday, January 8, 2016

The Virgin Birth





It was fitting that the Giver of all holiness should enter this world by a pure and holy birth. For He it is that of old formed Adam from the virgin earth, and from Adam without help of woman formed woman. For as without woman Adam produced woman, so did the Virgin without man this day bring forth a man. For it is a man, saith the Lord, and who shall know him (Jer. 17:9). For since the race of women owed to men a debt, as from Adam without woman woman came, therefore without man the Virgin this day brought forth, and on behalf of Eve repaid the debt to man.

That Adam might not take pride, that he without woman had engendered woman, a Woman without man has begotten man; so that by the similarity of the mystery is proved the similarity in nature. For as before the Almighty took a rib from Adam, and by that Adam was not made less; so in the Virgin He formed a living temple, and the holy virginity remained unchanged. Sound and unharmed Adam remained even after the deprivation of a rib; unstained the Virgin though a Child was born of her.
  
St. John Chrysostom



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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

St. John Chrysostom - On Fasting






Fasting is a medicine. But medicine, as beneficial as it is, becomes useless because of the inexperience of the user. He has to know the appropriate time that the medicine should be taken and the right amount of medicine and the condition of the body which is to take it, the weather conditions and the season of the year and the appropriate diet of the sick and many other things. If any of these things are overlooked, the medicine will do more harm than good. So, if one who is going to heal the body needs so much accuracy, when we care for the soul and are concerned about healing it from bad thoughts, it is necessary to examine and observe everything with every possible detail.

Fasting is the change of every part of our life, because the sacrifice of the fast is not the abstinence but the distancing from sins. Therefore, whoever limits the fast to the deprivation of food, he is the one who, in reality, abhors and ridicules the fast. Are you fasting? Show me your fast with your works. Which works? If you see someone who is poor, show him mercy. If you see an enemy, reconcile with him. If you see a friend who is becoming successful, do not be jealous of him! If you see a beautiful woman on the street, pass her by.

In other words, not only should the mouth fast, but the eyes and the legs and the arms and all the other parts of the body should fast as well. Let the hands fast, remaining clean from stealing and greediness. Let the legs fast, avoiding roads which lead to sinful sights. Let the eyes fast by not fixing themselves on beautiful faces and by not observing the beauty of others. You are not eating meat, are you? You should not eat debauchery with your eyes as well. Let your hearing also fast. The fast of hearing is not to accept bad talk against others and sly defamation.

Let the mouth fast from disgraceful and abusive words, because, what gain is there when, on the one hand we avoid eating chicken and fish and, on the other, we chew-up and consume our brothers? He who condemns and blasphemes is as if he has eaten brotherly meat, as if he has bitten into the flesh of his fellow man. It is because of this that Paul frightened us, saying: "If you chew up and consume one another be careful that you do not annihilate yourselves."
You did not thrust your teeth into the flesh (of your neighbor) but you thrusted bad talk in his soul; you wounded it by spreading disfame, causing unestimatable damage both to yourself, to him, and to many others.

If you cannot go without eating all day because of an ailment of the body, beloved one, no logical man will be able to criticize you for that. Besides, we have a Lord who is meek and loving (philanthropic) and who does not ask for anything beyond our power. Because he neither requires the abstinence from foods, neither that the fast take place for the simple sake of fasting, neither is its aim that we remain with empty stomachs, but that we fast to offer our entire selves to the dedication of spiritual things, having distanced ourselves from secular things. If we regulated our life with a sober mind and directed all of our interest toward spiritual things, and if we ate as much as we needed to satisfy our necessary needs and offered our entire lives to good works, we would not have any need of the help rendered by the fast. But because human nature is indifferent and gives itself over mostly to comforts and gratifications, for this reason the philanthropic Lord, like a loving and caring father, devised the therapy of the fast for us, so that our gratifications would be completely stopped and that our worldly cares be transferred to spiritual works. So, if there are some who have gathered here and who are hindered by somatic ailments and cannot remain without food, I advise them to nullify the somatic ailment and not to deprive themselves from this spiritual teaching, but to care for it even more.

For there exist, there really exist, ways which are even more important than abstinence from food which can open the gates which lead to God with boldness. He, therefore, who eats and cannot fast, let him display richer almsgiving, let him pray more, let him have a more intense desire to hear divine words. In this, our somatic illness is not a hindrance. Let him become reconciled with his enemies, let him distance from his soul every resentment. If he wants to accomplish these things, then he has done the true fast, which is what the Lord asks of us more than anything else. It is for this reason that he asks us to abstain from food, in order to place the flesh in subjection to the fulfillment of his commandments, whereby curbing its impetuousness. But if we are not about to offer to ourselves the help rendered by the fast because of bodily illness and at the same time display greater indifference, we will see ourselves in an unusual exaggerated way. For if the fast does not help us when all the aforementioned accomplishments are missing so much is the case when we display greater indifference because we cannot even use the medicine of fasting. Since you have learned these things from us, I pardon you, those who can, fast and you yourselves increase your acuteness and praiseworthy desire as much as possible.

To the brothers, though, who cannot fast because of bodily illness, encourage them not to abandon this spiritual word, teaching them and passing on to them all the things we say here, showing them that he who eats and drinks with moderation is not unworthy to hear these things but he who is indifferent and slack. You should tell them the bold and daring saying that "he who eats for the glory of the Lord eats and he who does not eat for the glory of the Lord does not eat and pleases God." For he who fasts pleases God because he has the strength to endure the fatigue of the fast and he that eats also pleases God because nothing of this sort can harm the salvation of his soul, as long as he does not want it to. Because our philanthropic God showed us so many ways by which we can, if we desire, take part in God's power that it is impossible to mention them all.

We have said enough about those who are missing, being that we want to eliminate them from the excuse of shame. For they should not be ashamed because food does not bring on shame but the act of some wrongdoing. Sin is a great shame. If we commit it not only should we feel ashamed but we should cover ourselves exactly the same way those who are wounded do. Even then we should not forsake ourselves but rush to confession and thanksgiving. We have such a Lord who asks nothing of us but to confess our sins, after the commitment of a sin which was due to our indifference, and to stop at that point and not to fall into the same one again. If we eat with moderation we should never be ashamed, because the Creator gave us such a body which cannot be supported in any other way except by receiving food. Let us only stop excessive food because that attributes a great deal to the health and well-being of the body.

Let us therefore in every way cast off every destructive madness so that we may gain the goods which have been promised to us in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Abridged from St. John Chrysostom homilies "On Fasting"




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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pride





“When we have attained some degree of holiness we should always repeat to ourselves the words of the Apostle: “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me’ (1 Cor. 15:10), as well as what was said by the Lord: ‘Without Me you can do nothing.’ (John 15:5) 

We should also bear in mind what the prophet said: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it’ (Ps. 127:1), and finally: ‘It does not depend on-man’s will or effort, but on God’s mercy’ (Rom. 9:16). Even if someone is sedulous, serious and resolute, he cannot, so long as he is bound to flesh and blood, approach perfection except through the mercy and grace of Christ. 

James himself says that ‘every good gift is from above’ Jas. 1:17), while the Apostle Paul asks: ‘What do you have which you did not receive? Now if you received it, why do you boast, as if you had not received it?’ (1 Cor. 4:7)  What right, then, has man to be proud as though he could achieve perfection through his own efforts?”

St. John Cassian


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Friday, October 9, 2015

Loving One's Enemies - By St. Silouan The Athonite





The soul cannot know peace unless she prays for her enemies. The soul that has learned of God’s grace to pray, feels love and compassion for every created thing, and in particular for mankind, for whom the Lord suffered on the Cross, and His soul was heavy for every one of us.

The Lord taught me to love my enemies. Without the grace of God we cannot love our enemies. Only the Holy Spirit teaches love, and then even devils arouse our pity because they have fallen from good, and lost humility in God.

I beseech you, put this to the test. When a man affronts you or brings dishonor on your head, or takes what is yours, or persecutes the Church, pray to the Lord, saying: “O Lord, we are all Thy creatures. Have pity on Thy servants and turn their hearts to repentance,” and you will be aware of grace in your soul. To begin with, constrain your heart to love enemies, and the Lord, seeing your good will, will help you in all things, and experience itself will show you the way. But the man who thinks with malice of his enemies has not God’s love within him, and does not know God.

If you will pray for your enemies, peace will come to you; but when you can love your enemies – know that a great measure of the grace of God dwells in you, though I do not say perfect grace as yet, but sufficient for salvation. Whereas if you revile your enemies, it means there is an evil spirit living in you and bringing evil thoughts into your heart, for, in the words of the Lord, out of the heart proceed evil thoughts – or good thoughts.

The good man thinks to himself in this wise: Every one who has strayed from the truth brings destruction on himself and is therefore to be pitied. But of course the man who has not learned the love of the Holy Spirit will not pray for his enemies. The man who has learned love from the Holy Spirit sorrows all his life over those who are not saved, and sheds abundant tears for the people, and the grace of God gives him strength to love his enemies.

Understand me. It is so simple. People who do not know God, or who go against Him, are to be pitied; the heart sorrows for them and the eye weeps. Both paradise and torment are clearly visible to us: We know this through the Holy Spirit. And did not the Lord Himself say, “The kingdom of God is within you”? Thus eternal life has its beginning here in this life; and it is here that we sow the seeds of eternal torment. Where there is pride there cannot be grace, and if we lose grace we also lose both love of God and assurance in prayer. The soul is then tormented by evil thoughts and does not understand that she must humble herself and love her enemies, for there is no other way to please God.

St. Silouan The Athonite 




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Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Psali - Escape


Our Lord Jesus Christ, gave a sign to His servants, who do fear him, to escape from the face of the bows

Ⲁⲡⲉⲛⲟⲥ̅ Ⲓⲏⲥⲟⲩⲥ Ⲡⲓⲭⲣⲓⲥⲧⲟⲥ : ϯⲛ̀ⲟⲩⲙⲏⲓⲛⲓ ⲛ̀ⲛⲉϥⲉ̀ⲃⲓⲁⲓⲕ : ⲛⲏⲉ̀ⲧⲉⲣϩⲟϯ ϧⲁ ⲧⲉϥϩⲏ : ⲉⲑⲣⲟⲩⲫⲱⲧ ⲉ̀ⲃⲟⲗ ϧⲁ ⲧ̀ϩⲏ ⲙ̀ⲡ̀ϩⲟ ⲛ̀ⲟⲩⲫⲓϯ


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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Soul of Righteous Become Heavenly Light


The souls of the righteous become heavenly light, the Lord Himself told the apostles, when He said, Ye are the light of the world.. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

He first wrought them into light, and ordained that through them the world should be enlightened. Neither do men light a lamp, He says, and put it under the bushel, but on the lampstand, and it giveth light to all that are in the house.

Let your light so shine before men. In other words, Hide not the gift which ye (you) have received from Me, but give to all that are minded to receive it.

Again, The light of the body is the eye ; if thine eye be full of light, thy whole body is enlightened, but if thine eye be evil, thy whole body is dark. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness?
As the eyes are the light of the body, and, so long as the eyes are well, the whole body is enlightened, but, if any accident befalls them and they are darkened, the whole body is in darkness, so the apostles were set to be the eyes and light of the whole world. The Lord therefore charged them by this saying, If ye who are the light 'of the body, stand fast and turn not aside, behold, the whole body of the world is enlightened ; but if ye who are the light are darkened, how great is that darkness, which is nothing less than the world. So the apostles, being themselves light, administered light to those, who believed, enlightening their hearts with that heavenly light of the Spirit by which they were themselves enlightened.

Abba Macarius - St. Macarius the Great

Soul of Righteous Become Heavenly LightThe souls of the righteous become heavenly light, the Lord Himself told the...
Posted by Coptic Orthodox Christian on Wednesday, September 23, 2015
 
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Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist


THE FIRST MONTH

2 Toot (Tout, Thout, Tut) (Coptic Synaxarium) = Meskerem 02 (Ethiopian Synaxarium)

IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, ONE GOD.  AMEN.


On this day, the forerunner and great prophet, St. John the Baptist, son of Zacharias the priest, was martyred by the order of King Herod. When St. John rebuked Herod because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Phillip whom he had taken as a wife, he said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." (Mark 6:18) Herod seized the Saint and cast him into prison; however, he feared John.

An opportune day came when Herod, on his birthday, gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers and the chief men of Galilee. And when Herodias' daughter herself came in and danced and pleased Herod. He promised her anything she might ask for, even as much as half of his kingdom. She went to her mother and asked her, "What shall I ask?" Her mother said, "Ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter." When Herod heard this, he was exceedingly sorry. But because of his promise and those who were sitting with him, he did not want to refuse her request. He therefore commanded his servants to cut off the head of Saint John and they gave it to the damsel and the damsel gave it to her mother. (Mark 6:20-28) There was great consternation that day, and their joy soon turned into sorrow.

It was said that when the holy head of St. John was cut off, it flew up off their hands into the air, and it cried out saying, "It is not right for you to take your brother's wife." It is also said that the head now is present at Homs in Syria.

As of the holy body, the disciples of St. John took it and laid it in a grave until the days of Pope Athanathius, when God Willed to uncover his body.

His blessings be with us all. Amen.


On this day Saint John the Baptist, son of Zacharias the priest, became a martyr by the hand of Herod the wicked king.  This John the prophet rebuked Herod because of Herodias, the wife of Philip, for he had married her and taken her to be his wife, and John said unto him, “It is not right for thee to take thy brother’s wife.”  And Herod took Saint John and cast him into prison, and he kept him there because he was afraid of him.  And when his birthday came Herod made a feast for the nobles of his kingdom and for the magistrates of the city of Galilee.  And his brother’s daughter came and stood up among the festal company and she danced and pleased the king, and he swore an oath that he would give her anything which she might ask from him, even if it were as much as the half of his kingdom.  And she went out to her mother, and she said unto her, “What shall I ask the king to give me?”  And her mother said unto her, “Ask him to give thee the head of John the Baptist lying in a bowl.”  And when Herod heard this he was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oath and also because of those who were sitting at meat with him, and because he did not wish to be put to shame, he straightway commanded his servants to cut off the head of Saint John, and to give it to the maiden.  And they cut off the head of John in the prison house and gave it to the daughter of Herodias in a bowl and she gave it to her mother.  And there was great consternation that day, and their joy was turned to sorrow.  And when the holy head of Saint John was cut off, it flew up into the air out of the hands of the soldiers, and it cried out, saying, “It is not right for thee to take thy brother’s wife”; and it is said that the head is at the present time in the country of Arabia.  And the disciples of the holy man came and took his body and carried it away and laid it in a grave [where it lay] until the days of Saint Athanasius, Archbishop of the city of Alexandria.  And God commanded him to uncover the body of Saint John, and Saint Athanasius did so and laid it up by him until he could build a church for it.  May his intercession be with us.


Cutting Off The Head Of John The Baptist - St. John Chrysostom
http://orthodoxsocities.blogspot.com/2015/09/cutting-off-head-of-john-baptist.html

 

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

St. Takla Haymanot of Ethiopia


The great saint, Abba Takla Haymanot has a very prominent position in the Coptic Orthodox Church. The church celebrates an annual feast to commemorate the greatness of this Ethiopian saint (the saint's departure date/feast occurs on the 24th day of Mesra according to the Coptic calendar = Nehasse 24 according to the Ethiopian calendar = THE TWELVETH MONTH = August 30/31).

Life, ministry and miracles

His father was an Ethiopian priest who loved Archangel Michael and his mother was a rich and righteous woman who also loved Archangel Michael. Together, they always celebrated the archangel's feast on the twelfth of each month. After many years of prayer and supplications a son, "Feseha Zion" (the joy of Zion) was born into this family, for St. Takla's mother was barren until his birth.
The tidings of Archangel Michael were fulfilled when he said to Tsega Ze-Ab, Feseha Zion's father, "You will be the father of a child who will be an apostle in Ethiopia." His parents were overjoyed with his birth and celebrated by having a feast inviting the poor. Three days after his birth, the Holy Spirit descended upon Fesha Zion and the infant opened his mouth and said, "One is the Holy Father. One is the Holy Son. One is the Holy Spirit."

Since childhood, Feseha Zion performed many miracles. One such famous miracle occurred at the age of eighteen months. A famine had spread throughout the land of his family. As a result of the famine, Tsega Ze-Ab and his wife had nothing to celebrate the feast of their beloved Archangel Michael.

One day while Fesha Zion was being nursed he pointed to the flour basket, which was completely empty. His devout mother brought it to him and immediately when he touched the basket it became filled with flour. Basket after basket was placed before him until twelve overflowed with flour. She then decided to bring the oil jar to him. Fesha Zion placed his hand inside the jar and made the sign of the cross. Oil began to fill the jar. From this jar the mother poured oil into other jars until there was plenty for their monthly agape for the needy in honor of Archangel Michael.

When he was fifteen years old his reverent father took him to the Bishop of Amhara, Bishop Kyrillos, who saw a vision from God to ordain Feseha Zion a deacon. As a deacon he continued to perform miracles and began to heal the sick. Many confessed him to be a god, but he told them that only the One True God is worthy of honor, praise and worship.
One day while hunting with friends, Archangel Michael appeared unto deacon Feseha Zion and told him to dedicate the rest of his life to saving people's souls. The Archangel further told him that God would bestow upon him the ability to cure many illnesses, raise the dead, and cast out evil spirits in His Holy Name. It was then that Archangel Michael changed his name to Takla Haymanot, which means, "Paradise of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

St. Takla returned home and distributed all his money among the poor. Soon thereafter, Bishop Cyril ordained him the priest of Shewa (Shoa). St. Takla focused his attention on the spiritual welfare of those around him. He preached the Holy Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins. He continually cured the sick and performed many miracles. As a result of the holiness of this man many were converted to Christianity.
He drove out evil spirits, cast out demons, he converted kings. St. Takla was bestowed with many gifts from the Lord. He raised the dead and could foretell events and quietly tell true prophecies. He labored among the hardest of tasks in the monasteries he dwelt with thanksgiving. He escaped from all praise. He continually led a life of devoutness-fasting, praying, chanting and kneeling before the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why St. Takla's icon depicts him with six wings

One of the most famous of stories related to this saint is of his abiding in the Monastery of Abba Aragawi at the top of a very high, steep mountain. After living some time at this remote monastery, an angel of the Lord appeared to St. Takla and told him to go down to the base of the mountain and dwell in a cave to be found there. He bid the abbot of the monastery and the monks farewell, requesting their prayers and began his descent from the top of the towering mountain. As was the custom, the monks tied the saint with a rope to aid in his descent from the peak of the mountaintop. The rope broke suddenly and the monks feared the worst. Instantly and miraculously, six wings appeared from the saint and flew him safely and swiftly to the base of the mountain. Due to this miracle St. Takla's icon features him with six beautiful white wings like the Cherubim.


St. Takla Haymanot

St. Tekla Haymanot

St. Teckle Haimanout


Abuna Takla Haimanot
 

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Speak and Confess


This was the world at whose gate unhappy I lay in my boyhood; this the stage where I had feared more to commit a barbarism, than having committed one, to envy those who had not. These things I speak and confess to Thee, my God; for which I had praise from them, whom I then thought it all virtue to please.

For I saw not the abyss of vileness, wherein I was cast away from Thine eyes. Before them what more foul than I was already, displeasing even such as myself? with innumerable lies deceiving my tutor, my masters, my parents, from love of play, eagerness to see vain shows and restlessness to imitate them!

Thefts also I committed, from my parents' cellar and table, enslaved by greediness, or that I might have to give to boys, who sold me their play, which all the while they liked no less than I.

In this play, too, I often sought unfair conquests, conquered myself meanwhile by vain desire of preeminence. And what could I so ill endure, or, when I detected it, upbraided I so fiercely, as that I was doing to others? and for which if, detected, I was upbraided, I chose rather to quarrel than to yield. And is this the innocence of boyhood?

Saint Augustine Confessions


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Monday, August 24, 2015

Unite Church


God the Father arranged the nuptials for God, His Son, when, in the womb of the Virgin, He united Him to humanity, when He willed that He who is God before all the ages, become Man.

He united the Holy Church to Him, through the mystery of the incarnation.

Now, the bridal chamber of this Bridegroom was the womb of the Virgin Mother. That is why the Psalmist says, "He has set His tabernacle in the sun: and He is as a Bridegroom coming out of His bridal chamber" (Ps. 19: 4 - 6). And it was as a Bridegroom is in fact that He came forth from His bridal chamber, because to unite the Church to Himself, the Incarnate God went forth from the inviolate womb of the Virgin.

Pope Gregory The Great


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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Rejoicing With Mary






When the angel revealed his message to the Virgin Mary, he gave her a sign to win her trust. He told her of the motherhood of an old and barren woman to show that God is able to do all that he wills.

When she hears this, Mary sets out for the hill country. She does not disbelieve God's word; she feels no uncertainty over the message or doubt about the sign. She goes eager in purpose, dutiful in conscience, hastening for joy.

Filled with God, where would she hasten but to the heights? The Holy Spirit does not proceed by slow, laborious efforts. Quickly, too the blessings of her coming and the Lord's presence are made clear; as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting the child leapt in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Notice the contrast and the choice of words. Elizabeth is the first to hear Mary's voice, but John is the first to be aware of grace. She hears with the ears of the body, but he leaps for joy at the meaning of the mystery. She is aware of Mary's presence, but he is aware of the Lord's; a woman aware of a woman's presence, the forerunner aware of the pledge of our salvation. The women speak of the grace they have received while the children are active in secret, unfolding the mystery of love with the help of their mothers, who prophesy by the spirit of their sons.

The child leaps in the womb; the mother is filled with the Holy Spirit, but not before her son. Once the son has been filled with the Holy Spirit, he fills his mother with the same Spirit. John leaps for joy, and the spirit of Mary rejoices in her turn. When John leaps for joy Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, but we know that though Mary's spirit rejoices, she does not need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Her son, who is beyond our understanding, is active in his mother in a way beyond our understanding. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit after conceiving John, while Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit before conceiving the Lord. Elizabeth says: Blessed are you because you have believed.

You also are blessed because you have heard and believed.  A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the word of God and acknowledges his works.

Let Mary's soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. Every soul receives the Word of God, if only it keeps chaste, remaining pure and free from sin, its modesty undefiled. The soul that succeeds in this proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Mary's soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her savior. In another place we read: Magnify the Lord with me. The Lord is magnified, not because the human voice can add anything to God but because he is magnified within us. Christ is the image of God, and if the soul does what is right and holy, it magnifies that image of God, in whose likeness it was created and in magnifying the image of God, the soul has a share in its greatness and is exalted.

St Ambrose of Milan 


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mother of GOD


Mary carried Fire in her hands,
and embraced Flame with her arms.
To the Flame she gave her breasts to suck,
to the Nourisher of all she gave of her milk.

St. Ephrem The Syrian

St. Ephram the Syrian



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Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Blessed Virgin's Place in The Church





By St. Augustine

Stretching out his hand over his disciples, the Lord Christ declared: Here are my mother and my brothers; anyone who does the will of my Father who sent me is my brother and sister and my mother. I would urge you to ponder these words. Did the Virgin Mary, who believed by faith and conceived by faith, who was the chosen one from whom our Savior was born among men, who was created by Christ before Christ was created in her – did she not do the will of the Father? Indeed the blessed Mary certainly did the Father’s will, and so it was for her a greater thing to have been Christ’s disciple than to have been his mother, and she was more blessed in her discipleship than in her motherhood. Hers was the happiness of first bearing in her womb him whom she would obey as her master.

Now listen and see if the words of Scripture do not agree with what I have said. The Lord was passing by and crowds were following him. His miracles gave proof of divine power. and a woman cried out: Happy is the womb that bore you, blessed is that womb! But the Lord, not wishing people to seek happiness in a purely physical relationship, replied: More blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it. Mary heard God’s word and kept it, and so she is blessed. She kept God’s truth in her mind, a nobler thing than carrying his body in her womb. The truth and the body were both Christ: he was kept in Mary’s mind insofar as he is truth, he was carried in her womb insofar as he is man; but what is kept in the mind is of a higher order than what is carried in the womb.

The Virgin Mary is both holy and blessed, and yet the Church is greater than she. Mary is a part of the Church, a member of the Church, a holy, an eminent – the most eminent – member, but still only a member of the entire body. The body undoubtedly is greater than she, one of its members. This body has the Lord for its head, and head and body together make up the whole Christ. In other words, our head is divine – our head is God.

Now, beloved, give me your whole attention, for you also are members of Christ; you also are the body of Christ. Consider how you yourselves can be among those of whom the Lord said: Here are my mother and my brothers. Do you wonder how you can be the mother of Christ? He himself said: Whoever hears and fulfills the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother. As for our being the brothers and sisters of Christ, we can understand this because although there is only one inheritance and Christ is the only Son, his mercy would not allow him to remain alone. It was his wish that we too should be heirs of the Father, and co-heirs with himself.

Now having said that all of you are brothers of Christ, shall I not dare to call you his mother? Much less would I dare to deny his own words. Tell me how Mary became the mother of Christ, if it was not by giving birth to the members of Christ? You, to whom I am speaking, are the members of Christ. Of whom were you born? “Of Mother Church”, I hear the reply of your hearts. You became sons of this mother at your baptism, you came to birth then as members of Christ. Now you in your turn must draw to the font of baptism as many as you possibly can. You became sons when you were born there yourselves, and now by bringing others to birth in the same way, you have it in your power to become the mothers of Christ.

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Power of Psalms


The book of Psalms heals the old wounds of the soul and gives relief to recent ones. It cures the illnesses and preserves the health of the soul. Every Psalm brings peace, soothes the internal conflicts, calms the rough waves of evil thoughts, dissolves anger, corrects and moderates immorality

St. Basil the Great

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The Psalms provide a powerful arsenal for spiritual warfare. Chanting the Psalms brings comfort to our spirits and tranquility to our minds. The Psalms are a great cure for anxiety and depression. They possess profound philosophical wisdom, and they reveal the riches of theological truth. The Psalms bring healing to the Christian and agony to the devil. This is why the Psalms pervade our Orthodox worship. So, chant the Psalms boldly and often!

The Book of Psalms contains everything useful that the other books of Scripture have. It predicts the future, it recalls the past, it gives directions for living, it suggests the right behavior to adopt. It is, in short, a jewel case in which have been collected all the valid teachings in such a way that individuals find remedies just right for their cases. It heals the old wounds of the soul and gives relief to recent ones. It cures the illness and preserves the health of the soul. Every Psalm brings peace, soothes the internal conflicts, calms the rough waves of evil thoughts, dissolves anger, corrects and moderates profligacy

Every Psalm preserves friendship and reconciles those who are separated. Who could actually regard as an enemy the person beside whom they have raised a song to the one God? Every Psalm anticipates the anguish of the night and gives rest after the efforts of the day. It is safety for babes, beauty for the young, comfort for the aged, adornment for women. Every Psalm is the voice of the Church

St. Basil the Great


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Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Loving Father






Just as a father who loves his children makes his sons dine with him but when he sees they are conducting themselves carelessly with regard to their lessons and distracting themselves with unprofitable matters, expels them from his table and orders his servants not to give them any food, in order to teach them not to be scornful and careless. So does our good Master and God dispose Himself for the sake of those who are His servant and by virtue of His grace and love for mankind, His sons. 

He gives them Himself, "the bread which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world" (John 6:33), and they are nourished continually to satiety from Him and with Him, and through participation are transformed into life everlasting and are sanctified in body and soul. But when they neglect the commandments and by free exercise of their will, conduct themselves scornfully or slothful, and busy themselves with some worldly affair, inclining thus toward what is unsuitable and not proper to piety, then the Nourisher of all deprives them of Himself. 

When they have come to an awareness of that good of which they have been deprived, have turned around immediately, sought it out continually, and not having found it, beat their breasts, weep and mourn for themselves, lay on themselves every kind of suffering, long for every sort of distress, trial and dishonor, in order that their loving Father might see their sorrows, their voluntary woe, and taking pity on them, turn about and give Himself to them once again. Which indeed He does. 

So they are restored to their former condition and glory, with yet greater assurance and the same delight in the good things "which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived." (1Cor 2:9) They revere their Father more than before, and tremble before Him as Master, lest through inattentiveness they be implicated in the same evils as before and so be cast away from Him. 

St. Symeon The New Theologian 


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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Christ is Head to One Body





Since St Paul feels that he is obligated to fulfil the "Mystery of Christ" through the grace, enduring all difficulties for them, it is befitting that they realize the divine call by which they were called.

The servant should not be the only one who works, but every member has to play his role, or in other words, has to keep his church membership through hard work. The focus of that work is to abide in fervent love, which grants the unity of the spirit through the harmony of all the members as one body to the One Head.

Fr Tadros Yacoub Malaty
 



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Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Sending of the Holy Spirit


When the Lord told his disciples to go and teach all nations and baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he conferred on them the power of giving men new life in God.

He had promised through the prophets that in these last days he would pour out his Spirit on his servants and handmaids, and that they would prophesy. So when the Son of God became the Son of Man, the Spirit also descended upon him, becoming accustomed in this way to dwelling with the human race, to living in men and to inhabiting God’s creation. The Spirit accomplished the Father’s will in men who had grown old in sin, and gave them new life in Christ.

Luke says that the Spirit came down on the disciples at Pentecost, after the Lord’s ascension, with power to open the gates of life to all nations and to make known to them the new covenant. So it was that men of every language joined in singing one song of praise to God, and scattered tribes, restored to unity by the Spirit, were offered to the Father as the first-fruits of all the nations.

This was why the Lord had promised to send the Advocate: he was to prepare us as an offering to God. Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of broad, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven. And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above. Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul.

The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God came down upon the Lord, and the Lord in turn gave this Spirit to his Church, sending the Advocate from heaven into all the world into which, according to his own words, the devil too had been cast down like lightning. If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God. Since we have our accuser, we need an advocate as well. And so the Lord in his pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having himself bound up his wounds and left for his care two coins bearing the royal image, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit. Now, through the Spirit, the image and inscription of the Father and the Son have been given to us, and it is our duty to use the coin committed to our charge and make it yield a rich profit for the Lord.

Irenaeus of Lyons


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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Today I Rise With Him






Yesterday I was crucified with Him; 
Today I am glorified with Him; 

Yesterday I died with Him; 
Today I am quickened with Him; 

Yesterday I was buried with Him; 
Today I rise with Him. 


But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us— you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world. 

Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image. Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honor our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died. 

St. Gregory the Theologian



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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How To Benefit Spiritually From Pascha Week






By - H.H. Pope Shenouda III


How do we enjoy the most spiritual week of the year?

1. Our behavior inside and outside church:

It is very noticeable that many people during Passion Week act very differently inside church than they do outside church. Inside church… black curtains, sad hymns, solemn readings, and complete concentration on the suffering of Christ. However, outside of church, we often laugh, joke around, socialize, think and talk about many worldly issues. We lose all the spiritual depth that we gained inside church. Let us concentrate our thoughts, conversations, and meditations around the events of this Holy Week and the passion of our Savior.

2. Retreat:

During our regular fasting days, we put the words of the Bible before us, "Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly". (Joel 1: 14) How much more then should we apply this commandment during Holy Week? This week should be characterized by solitude and retreat with God by staying away from idle discussions, various means of entertainment and pleasures. Reserve your time for God and to spiritual activities worthy of this week.

3. Follow the steps of Christ:

Meditate on the events of the week one by one, from Palm Sunday when Christ refused His worldly kingdom and the Jews gave up their hopes in Him, until they crucified and buried Him. On Palm Sunday, ask yourself: Is Christ King and Lord over everything in my life? Do I, like Christ, turn down worldly glory for spiritual and eternal glory? And during the "general funeral" afterwards, consider yourself attending your own funeral (because during this week the church will not hold funeral services). Also, when the church denounces Judas' betrayal with a kiss on the eve of Wednesday's Pascha, ask yourself in prayer, "How often, O Lord, have I betrayed You?" "How many times have I told You words of love in prayers, while my actions show the opposite and my heart is far away from You?"

4. Share in the fellowship of His suffering:

St. Paul said "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death". (Philippians 3:10)  Can we give ourselves an exercise this week to share in the fellowship of His suffering and be conformed to His death? Can we follow Him in His suffering and ascend with Him to the cross? Can we say with St. Paul "With Christ I have been crucified; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). Therefore, in order for Christ to live in us, we have to carry our cross and follow Him. If you have a cross in your life, don't complain about it, but rather rejoice in it and bear it for Christ’s sake. "For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him but to suffer for His sake". (Phil. 1:29)

5. Asceticism:

Whoever puts the suffering of Christ before Him will not take any pleasure in eating, drinking or pampering the body. But in order to succeed in pursuing asceticism, we must satisfy our souls with spiritual food so that it may thrive and overcome physical hunger.

6. Spiritual readings:

Spiritual readings are also food for the soul. The church has organized for us a treasure of appropriate readings for every day of Holy Week. This consists of Gospel readings, Old Testament prophecies that correspond to the events of each day, spiritual explanations and sermons of the church fathers and on Holy Saturday (Apocalypse night) the church reads the entire book of Revelation.

7. Hymns:

The hymns of Passion Week are moving and full of spiritual depth. Also, Hymns, like reading, preserve thoughts from wandering and guides them in a spiritual direction.

8. Prayer:

Since the prayers of the Agpeya are not used during Holy Week, we are to substitute personal prayers in their place. This is in addition to the intensive prayers of the church asking the Lord, who bore the sins of the world and died for us, to forgive and have mercy upon us according to His great mercy.


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