Friday, December 4, 2009

The Big Question: What is the Codex Sinaiticus, and what does it reveal about the Bible?

More than half of the 1,600-year-old manuscript has been pieced together by experts in the UK, Germany, Egypt and Russia and made available online

By Paul Vallely
The Independent Tuesday, 7 July 2009


Why are we asking this now?
It is the oldest Bible in the world. The 4th-century book is considered to be one of the most important texts in existence. Until this week, no one alive has seen all its 800 pages together in one place because in the 19th century the document was split into sections and is now in four different locations – London, St Petersburg, Leipzig and Egypt. But the creation of an online virtual Codex Sinaiticus permits anyone to see the manuscript in its entirety at www.codexsinaiticus.org.

Where did the Codex Sinaiticus come from?
No one is sure but it was handwritten in Greek uncial letters at about the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great more than 1,600 years ago. The work of four scribes, it was written on vellum parchment made from the skins of donkeys or antelopes. It was preserved for centuries by the dry desert air at the 4th century Monastery of St Catherine at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt, the oldest continuously inhabited Christian monastery, which has the greatest library of early manuscripts outside the Vatican City. The Codex was discovered at the monastery in 1844 by the German biblical scholar and archaeologist Constantin von Tischendorf (1815-74), who brought sections of it back to Europe on three separate trips. Von Tischendorf claimed to have found pages of it in a wastepaper basket but the monks deny this. There is a dispute too about whether he stole it or was given it. Von Tischendorf had a deed of gift dated 11 September 1868 signed by one of its archbishops. The biggest portion of the codex ended up in St Petersburg, where it was bought by the British Museum in the 1930s out of fear that the Communist regime might destroy it.

Why is the Codex so important?
To secular scholars it represents the turning point in literary history when the scroll gave way to the book. The parchment was arranged in little multi-page booklets called quires, which were then numbered in sequence. It is thought to be the oldest, large, bound book to have survived. "The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the world's greatest written treasures," says Scot McKendrick, head of Western manuscripts at the British Library. To Christian scholars, it offers key insights into which ancient religious texts were brought together in the unit we now know as the Bible. In earlier centuries there were all manner of documents in scroll form of gospels, epistles and other Christian writings. As time went by, some were judged to be authoritative and included in the canon; others were deemed to be apocryphal or errant. The Codex Sinaiticus as it survives is incomplete – originally it would have been about 1,460 pages long – but it includes half of the Old Testament, all the New Testament, and two early Christian texts not found in modern Bibles. It offers the first evidence of the content and the arrangement of the Bible, and includes numerous revisions, additions and corrections made to the text between the 4th and 12th centuries, making it one of the most corrected manuscripts in existence, showing how the text of the Bible was transmitted from generation to generation down through the ages.

Why has it never been reunited before?
Partly because the holders of the various bits were covetous of their prized pages, and partly because the pages are too delicate to be moved. So the work of digitising the pages had to be carried out in all four locations. Leaves of the Codex were first treated by conservation experts to ensure they were sufficiently stable to undergo the photographic process. Each page had to be photographed from several different angles to get a strong, readable image of the text but also to convey the natural undulation of the parchment. The result is so accurate that high-resolution digital images even show up insect bites in the skin of the animal made before the creature was slaughtered to make the vellum.

How does it differ from modern Bibles?
The version of the New Testament has some few interesting differences. It includes two works which have since been dropped from both Catholic and Protestant Bibles – "The Shepherd of Hermas", a heavily allegorical work full of visions and parables and "The Epistle of Barnabas", which contains highly-charged language about the Jews as the killers of Christ. It also includes entire books which, after the Reformation, Protestants decided to drop from their Bibles: the Old Testament books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Maccabbees 1&2 and large chunks of Esther and Daniel. And the running order of the books is different, reflecting subtle shifts in the priorities of the believers over the ages. The Codex omits the words which Protestants add to the end of The Lord's Prayer, and Catholics omit: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever (Matthew 6:13).
Other differences include it saying that Jesus was "angry" as he healed a leper, where the modern text says he acted with "compassion". The story of the stoning of the adulterous woman – "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" is not there. Nor are Christ's words about his executioners from the cross: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do". And its Gospel of Mark ends abruptly after Jesus's disciples discover his empty tomb – omitting the 12 verses on the appearance of the resurrected Christ – and leaving the disciples exiting in fear. The Codex leaves an unusual blank space where the verses should be. "That's a very odd way of ending a Gospel," says Juan Garces, the curator of the Codex Sinaiticus Project.

Does all that have any real significance?
The New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman, has claimed the persecution of the Jews down the centuries might have been far worse had the Epistle of Barnabus remained canonical. "His blood be upon us," Barnabas has the Jews cry. But that overlooks the fact that the Gospel of Matthew contains something very similar, if not worse: "His blood be on us and on our children!" And though the Resurrection is missing from Mark, it is there in the Codex's other gospels.

Will this undermine the fundamentalists' views?
You might suppose it would upset those who believe the Bible is the inerrant, unaltered word of God, since the Codex shows there have over the centuries been thousands of alterations to today's Bible. But they can counter that there are earlier, individual manuscripts of almost all the books in the Bible; the Codex just pulls them together into a single volume. In any case, fundamentalists have long been adept at ignoring the evidence of historical biblical scholarship.

Will it change mainstream Christianity?
Scholars of the New Testament have been using this Codex for years for textual criticism, so don't expect anything very new. The creation of a virtual Codex Sinaiticus will permit the rest of us to see the manuscript as a whole as never before, but no one is expecting anything very dramatic.


By Paul Vallely - p.vallely@independent.co.uk
The Independent - Tuesday, 7 July 2009



References and Links
- Codex Sinaiticus - http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/
- The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide News | Newspaper
- Holy Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai - Saint Catherine Monastery, Sinai, Egypt
- The British Library - http://www.bl.uk/whatson/podcasts/exhibition/codex/




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Codex Sinaiticus - Historic Bible Pages Put Online

About 800 pages of the earliest surviving Christian Bible have been recovered and put on the internet.

Visitors to the website www.codexsinaiticus.org can now see images of more than half the 1,600-year-old Codex Sinaiticus manuscript.
Fragments of the 4th Century document - written in Greek on parchment leaves - have been worked on by institutions in the UK, Germany, Egypt and Russia.
Experts say it is "a window into the development of early Christianity".

Preservation secrets
Dr Scot McKendrick, head of Western manuscripts at the British Library, said the wide availability of the document presented many research opportunities.

"The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the world's greatest written treasures," he said.

"This 1,600-year-old manuscript offers a window into the development of early Christianity and first-hand evidence of how the text of the Bible was transmitted from generation to generation.

"The availability of the virtual manuscript for study by scholars around the world creates opportunities for collaborative research that would not have been possible just a few years ago."

The original version contained about 1,460 pages - each measuring 40cm by 35cm, he added.

The British Library is marking the online launch of the manuscript with an exhibition - which includes a range of historic items and artefacts linked to the document.

For 1,500 years, the Codex Sinaiticus lay undisturbed in a Sinai monastery until it was found in 1844 and split between Egypt, Russia, Germany and Britain.

It is thought to have survived because the desert air was ideal for preservation and because the monastery, on a Christian island in a Muslim sea, remained untouched, its walls unconquered.

The institutions' painstaking work can now be seen at www.codexsinaiticus.org.

References and Links
- Codex Sinaiticus - http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/
- BBC News - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8135415.stm
- The British Library - http://www.bl.uk/whatson/podcasts/exhibition/codex/



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Friday, May 29, 2009

Signs Of Love For God Nothing Tastes Beside Him

Signs Of Love For God Nothing Tastes Beside Him
By Pope Shenouda III
Your sole occupation – Work with Him
Everything reminds of Him
Translated by Dr. Wedad Abbas

Having talked much about how we should love God, let us talk about the signs of such love and its results in one's life.

The greatest sign is that God's love in your heart removes away everything, and nothing else may give you pleasure. All the pleasures of the world have no taste compared to God's love.

Everything seems trivial and insignificant as Wise Solomon said, "All was vanity and grasping for the wind." (Eccl 2) Therefore the more you grow in God's love, the more you disdain all worldly pleasures and say with St. Paul the Apostle, "I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him." (Phil 3: 8)

Imagine a professor of mathematics, shall he find pleasure in small arithmetical calculation? They will seem to him very trivial. The same applies to the worldly matters in the sight of whoever is filled with God's love.

Moreover, a person who is occupied with God's love will forget even himself and feel only God's presence in him.

Such a person says with Paul the Apostle, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." (Gal 2: 20) Wonderful indeed are these words! They express deep self-denial. It is the image of one denying himself for God's love, and he finds it only in God, like a branch in the vine. The branch is alive and bears fruit so long as it is abiding in the vine (Jn 15).

Through love a person can reach the level of abiding in God.

The Lord Himself says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit." But how can we abide in Him? He says, "Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love." (Jn 15: 5- 10)

God's love is not mere vague emotions, but it ought to be fruitful. It appears in keeping His commandments.

St. John the Beloved says clearly, "By this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments." (1 Jn 2: 3- 5; 5: 3) On the contrary he who breaks God's commandments does not love Him, but is disobedient. He is treacherous and can even be counted among His adversaries. Therefore keeping the commandments is a main sign for those who love God. Does a child who loves his natural father not obey his commandments?

However, abiding in God has a deeper meaning.

As a branch abiding in the vine feels itself a member of the vine, you likewise, if you abide in the Lord, will feel yourself a member of the body of Christ. It is a great mystery (Eph 5: 32). Why then do you feel a stranger from God saying like the Bride in the Song when she was away from Him, "Why should I be as one who veils herself by the flocks of your companions?" (Song 1: 7)

Brother, you are not a stranger from God, nor is He a stranger from you.

You are in His heart, and He is in your heart. He is in you, and you in Him. You are in Him as the branch in the vine, and He in you because you are a temple of His Holy Spirit and His Spirit dwells in you (1 Cor 3: 16). He and the Father dwell in you as He Himself said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him," "Where I am, there you may be also." (Jn 14: 23, 3) He considers us His brethren, as himself. That is why when Saul of Tarsus persecuted the church, the Lord said to him, "Why are you persecuting Me." (Acts 9: 4) He considered any persecution to the church as persecution to Him personally. And on another occasion He said, "Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." (Mt25: 40?)


Among the signs of our love for God is our attachment to Him.

As David the Prophet says, "It is good for me to draw near to God," "My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me." (Ps 73: 28; 63: 8) If we hold to God we will move away automatically from sin and even hate it. It will be against our nature, for there is no communion between light and darkness (2 Cor 6: 14). Whoever holds to God will never get bored of talking with Him, but will say with David the Prophet, "Early will I seek You; my soul thirst for You." (Ps 63: 1) He rejoices at being in God's presence as the Bride in the Song, "We will be glad and rejoice in You," "Your love is better than wine." (Song 1: 4, 2)

Because of rejoicing in being in the Lord's presence, our father monks left everything that they might be alone in the wilderness with God whom they loved. So if you feel bored of praying and like to conclude the prayer quickly, you will not have reached God's love.

Our holy fathers the martyrs at the time of their martyrdom had God's love reigning over their hearts far deeper than their feeling of pain. So they endured suffering, and even loved it, because it brought them nearer to God.

Among the signs of love for God is the love of everything pertaining to Him.

Whoever loves God will love His church and say, "How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes faints for the courts of the Lord," "Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You," "One thing I have desired of the Lord, that I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord." (Ps 84: 1, 4; 27: 4)

Whoever loves God will love His law and His commandments and finds them like honey and better to his mouth. He will repeat His words all the time, and will find pleasure and happiness in them as one has found many treasures. The Lord's words are a lamp to his feet and light to his way (Ps 119). Whoever loves God will love His heavens, His saints, and His kingdom.

Whoever loves God will be led by this love in all his spiritual practices.

He reads for God's sake to enjoy Him, prays or ministers for His sake to meet with Him and to enjoy His Life-Giving-Sacraments, goes to church, attends spiritual meetings, speaks with people for His sake to speak to them about Him. For God's sake he keeps silent to meditate on His beautiful attributes. For His sake he lives to minister to Him and to spread His name. For His sake he dies to meet with Him in Paradise then in the kingdom, as St. Paul says, "If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord … whether we live or die, we are the Lord's." (Rom 14: 8)

Whoever loves God has risen above struggling against sin.

The lust of the flesh against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh is for the beginners who have not yet attained God's love. But who loves God will glorify Him in the body and in the spirit, cannot sin, and the wicked one does not touch him, because God's love abides in him (1 Cor 6: 20; 1 Jn 3: 9, 5: 18). Whenever sin draws near he says: "How then can I do this great wickedness mans sin against God?" (Gen 39: 9)

Whoever loves God and attaches his mind to Him will take everything as a reminder of God whom he loves.

He watches heaven, but not to watch its planets and stars or the sun and the moon, but to say, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork," 'Heaven is God's throne, and the earth is His footstool,' 'The tabernacle of God with men." (Ps 19; Mt 5: 34, 35; Rev 21) He remembers the words of the Lord's Prayer, "Our God in heaven" and remembers that the heaven we see is not everything, for there is also the third heaven where St. Paul the Apostle was taken up (2 Cor 12: 2), and the heaven of heavens of which the Lord spoke, saying, "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven … the Son of Man who is in heaven." (Jn 3: 13)

He watches the beautiful nature, not to admire its beauty, but to glorify God who created such beauty. Indeed, it is not proper that God's gifts to us take us away from Him who gave them. They rather give us an idea about His love, His generosity and His power.
When he sees the lilies of the field he would say, "Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." How amazing is God's power who so clothes them! The same applies to the butterflies with their colors, the birds with their singing, the bee which makes honey, and the ant with its activity. How God has endowed this creation with the most amazing and wondrous gifts!

If even a person sees a cat pursued by a dog which cannot catch it, he will say: 'How compassionate is God who gave such a weak creation the means to escape from the powerful. The cat in this case has the ability to climb a tree, whereas the dog cannot. The lion likewise, though much stronger than the deer, the latter has the power to run much faster than the lion to flee from it.

So, a person can glorify God's love if he saw a lion or a deer.

He remembers God's love if he sees a tree casting down its leaves in winter and putting them on in summer, giving us the chance to enjoy the warm sun in winter or the shade from heat in summer. The same applies to many kinds of trees. It is good to turn the material things to spirituality or to take spiritual lessons from material things. Consider for instance how God adorns the polar bear and fox with beautiful fur that keeps them warm in such ice regions, while the camel or the horse are not burdened with such fur because they live in hot regions.

So many are the things that remind us of God's works, but we do not remember because we have not yet attained this level of meditation! But the hearts that love Him find in everything a reminder of Him. They have the exercised senses (Heb 5: 14). This is enough, dear reader, for this topic on our love for God. We shall move next week, God willing, to love for people.


His Holiness Pope Shenouda III Patriarch 117th of the See of Alexandria and Successor of St. Mark. Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark the Evangelist of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. He is the head of The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.


WATANI International – 17 May 2009 – 9 Bashans 1725 (Coptic Calendar) – 22 Gamada al-Awwal (Arab Calendar) 1430 – Year 9 - Issue 431.
WATANI - 17 May 2009 - 9 Bashans 1725 (Coptic Calendar) - 1st Issue Year 51 - No. 2473 - 2nd Issue Year 9 No. 439
www.watani.com.eg


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Monday, May 18, 2009

How should we love God? (8) Fear of God leads to His love - Love for people and for good leads to love for God

How should we love God? (8)
Fear of God leads to His love
Love for people and for good leads to love for God
Pope Shenouda III
Translated by Dr. Wedad Abbas

Fear is the beginning of the way to love.

It is written in the Proverbs and in the Psalms: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Prov 9: 10; Ps 111: 10) What then is the relation between fear and love? St. John the Apostle says, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear." (1 Jn 4: 18)

When you start with fear, you will reach obedience to God and compliance with His commandments.

At least you will fear the punishment, the awful Day of Judgment, and the eternal suffering. When you obey the commandments, you will find pleasure and benefit for your life. See how David the Prophet found such pleasure and sang praises for God's commandments and law: "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes ……… more to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." (Ps 19: 7- 10) And also, "Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction," "I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart … I delight in Your law," "I have seen the consummation of all perfection, but Your commandment is exceedingly broad. Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day." (Ps 119: 49, 50, 69, 96)

If we love God's commandments, we will love good; and if we love good, we will love God.

We may in the beginning force ourselves to love good, but when we continue practicing it, we will do it voluntarily and wholeheartedly. Then we will not be able to sin (1 Jn 3: 9).

What avails is to love good, not merely to do good.

God does not look to the good which we do against our will, nor which we do for the sake of praise, glory, or admiration from the others; for in such a case our love will be for the praise or the admiration, not for good. Moreover we will have received here on the earth the reward for what we have done (Mt 6: 2, 5). True good is that which we do out of love for good itself, for those who receive it, and for God Himself.

If we love virtue and good, we will automatically love God, because God is the Ultimate Good.

A righteous person can easily love God, but a sinner who loves sin cannot love God beside it, because there is no communion between light and darkness, nor fellowship between righteousness and lawlessness (2 Cor 6: 14). The Existentialists for instance, thinking that God hinders their lusts and desires, deny His existence because He calls for good and punishes their lusts.

If you love righteousness and good, you will find in God your example, so you will love Him.

If you love good, you will rise above struggling against sin. The words, "The flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh" (Gal 5: 17) apply only to the beginners who struggle against the flesh which does not submit to the spirit. But the pure and righteous flesh which loves good does not lust against the spirit. The righteous spirit in such a person leads his body, and the Spirit of God leads his human spirit (Rom 8: 14).

If you do love good, your body will be holy and will be an actual temple of God's Spirit who dwells in it (1 Cor 3: 16).

You will have communion with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 13: 14) who will pour God's love in your heart, as the Apostle says in (Rom 5: 5).

Keep then the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in you and the communion of the Holy Spirit with you in work and thinking. In this way you will keep God's love in your heart and will not grieve His Spirit with any act against His will. You will continue in God's love.

Who loves good and loves God will not be tired of struggling. His struggling will be pleasant, leading to growth in good and in God's love.

Such a person will not have to struggle against himself to force himself to lead a virtuous life, because he loves virtue. He practices virtue with pleasure and longing; he loves prayer and loves God who sent the words of prayer to satisfy him; and he loves the church with all its Holy Sacraments, and finds in them spiritual satisfaction that leads to his growth. He does everything without being forced. The reason is that he has attained the Lord's rest, the endless Sabbath which leads to good step by step.

Good to him is wonderfully connected with God's love.

Good leads him to God's love and the opposite. Each of them will be a cause and a consequence to the other. Who loves good will see God's commandment easy, not heavy as the Apostle says (1 Jn 5: 3), because he loves it.

Who loves the Lord and loves righteousness has actually risen above the requirements of the law, having attained love.

He will do good by his own good nature, without need for a commandment. He is no more in need for a commandment calling him to do good. He has returned to the image of God, and good has become part of his nature. He does not need to exert any effort to do good, for it has become like a breath to his life. He will not feel that he is doing something excessive or amazing, nor will boast of it as something extraordinary.

He loves God, and loves the good which he longs for, and God becomes his whole desire and pleasure.

He finds in God the ideals lacking in the world. He forsakes the world and holds to the Lord, as David the Prophet says, "It is good for me to draw near to God." (Ps 73: 28) He feels happy because he has found God, has experienced Him and life with Him, and has experienced the pleasure of the spiritual life. Therefore he says with the Bride of the Song, "I held him and would not let him go." (Song 3: 4) Who loves good will love people and like to do good to them. People's love in turn will lead him to God's love, for the Apostle says, "If someone says, 'I love God', and hates his brother, he is a liar."

For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? (1 Jn 4: 20)

If you want to love God, start with love for people and serve them, respect them, and give yourself for them. Then you will find God's love has entered your heart automatically. Give love from all your heart to whoever needs love: to the children, the disabled, the elderly, the orphans, the needy, the poor, the handicapped, and those who have no one to remember them. Serve them all, and you will find that God's love has entered your heart strongly. You will lift your heart unto God that He may help you to serve them. Then you will give thanks to Him that He has given you what they need that you may give them.

You love them because they are His children and because He loves them and He helps you to love them. God's love in your heart will be connected with the love for people. If you love Him you will love them, and if you love them you will love Him.

The Lord Christ says that the first commandment is to love God, and the second is
Like it, to love your neighbor as yourself (Mt 22: 39).

Ministry leads to God's love.

Ministry leads to God's love, and God's love sends you to minister to Him, provided that your ministry will not be a routine ministry or a mere activity, but rather ministry mixed with love. Its cause and its results should be love. You serve people because you love them, because God loves them, because you love His kingdom, and because you want them to enter this kingdom and to love God whom you love and who loves you. See what the Lord said about His disciples to the Father: "I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me be in them, and I in them." (Jn 17: 26)

What connects you further to God's love is the means of Grace.

God has provided us with various means that can help us love Him, such as prayer, reading of the Holy Scripture, church meetings, hymns, rituals, and holy sacraments, especially confession and communion, in addition to spiritual reading, meditations, visiting the holy sites, and spiritual guidance.

In order to attain God's love, you have to benefit from such means; otherwise you will fall in tepidity and your mind no more will be occupied with God. [See our book on "Spiritual Means"]

Among the means that may lead you to God's love is to think of your eternal life.

If man is aware of the vanity of the present world, and that it is passing away and the lust of it (1 Jn 2: 17), that all is vanity and grasping for the wind (Eccl 2: 17), and that man shall stand one day for judgment before the throne of the Just God who will reward each according to his works (Mt 16: 27), according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Cor 5: 10), then man's conscience will awaken. Man will get prepared for the meeting with God, will try to have a relationship with Him, will ask forgiveness for his sins, and will have such love for God that he may not be ashamed of meeting with Him in eternity.

That is why the holy church reminds us of the Judgment and the Second Coming in the Prayers of the Vespers, the Compline, and the Midnight.

To get ready for the meeting with God through repentance and regretting our sins and through God's fear that may lead us to His love, we ought to pray these Prayers of the Hours with the absolution of each Hour. They will certainly work within the heart.

So many are the saints who the remembrance of death and judgment made them more attached to God!

This is enough for now and will continue the following week, God willing.


His Holiness Pope Shenouda III Patriarch 117th of the See of Alexandria and Successor of St. Mark. Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark the Evangelist of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. He is the head of The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.


WATANI International – 10 May 2009 – 2 Bashans 1725 (Coptic Calendar) – 15 Gamada al-Awwal (Arab Calendar) 1430 – Year 9 - Issue 430.
WATANI - 10 May 2009 - 2 Bashans 1725 (Coptic Calendar) - 1st Issue Year 51 - No. 2472 - 2nd Issue Year 9 No. 438
www.watani.com.eg


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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ethiopian Synaxarium Miyazia 23

Ethiopian Synaxarium Miyazia 23

THE EIGHTH MONTH
Miyazia (Miyaza) 23 – Geez (Ge'ez) Calendar – Ethiopian Calendar
May 01, 2009

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

On this day the holy and honored, the great star of the East, Abba George, the fighter, became a martyr. The name of the father of this holy man was Anastasius, and he was from the country of Cappadocia; his mother’s name was Theobesta, and she was from the country of Palestine. When George was twenty years old his father died, and he rose up and went to the Emperor Dodyanos so that he might received the appointment, which his father had held. And he found that the emperor was setting up idols, and worshipping them, and that he was compelling all men to worship idols. And George divided all the goods, which were his among the poor and the needy, and set free his slaves, and he stood up before the emperor, and confessed our Lord Jesus Christ. And the emperor tried to persuade him [to reject Christ], and promised him many great [honors], but he would not turn [to idolatry], and he would not submit to him. And the emperor tortured him with many tortures, but God strengthened him and healed his wounds. And He told him that he should die three times for His holy Name, and that each time He would raise him up, but that when he died for the fourth time he should received the crown of martyrdom. And He promised him that he should inherit great and well-known fame in all the ends of the world, and informed him that he should continue to be tortured for . . . (7?) years, and that He would send His angels to minister unto him. Now the emperor was exceedingly sad and sorry because of all the many tortures which he was inflicting upon Saint George, and because the saint would not submit to him. After this the emperor brought to him a great and powerful magician whose name was Athanasius, and he concocted a cup full of poison, and gave it to that saint to drink, and he thought that he would die as soon as he had drunk it. When Saint George had drunk the cup, which was full of poison, he received no injury whatsoever; and the magician believed on our Lord Jesus Christ, and became a martyr. And the emperor had an instrument brought wherein were teeth like a saw, and he commanded his soldiers to saw the saint in it, and when they had sawn him, he delivered up his soul; but our Lord Jesus Christ raised him up, and the saint returned to the city. When the people saw this, many of them believed on our Lord Jesus Christ, and they received crowns of martyrdom; and they were in number thirty thousand and seven hundred souls. When Saint George stood before the Emperor Dodyanos, in the place where the kings assembled, now the kings were sitting upon seventy thrones, the emperor said unto him, “We wish thee to make these thrones whereon we are now sitting to put forth leaves, and bear fruit.” And Saint George prayed to God concerning these thrones, and they put forth leaves and bore fruit straightway. And after this they took Saint George, and boiled him in a brass cauldron, and then threw him out into the desert, but God restored his soul to his body, and raised him up again; and the saint returned to the kings, preached the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ openly. And they all marveled and said unto him, “If thou wilt raise the dead we shall know that thy God is God indeed, and we will believe.” And Saint George prayed to God, and he raised up for them from a cave very many dead people, both men and women and young people. And these preached the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and told the people about Gahanam, and the Judgment (or, punishment); and after this they returned to their graves, and died. And when those infidels who were contending against him, and resisting him, saw this they said, “These creatures which thou hast raised up are unclean spirits; they are Satanic spirits, and not men.” And because of their great sadness and sorrow for Saint George, and the tortures which he was condemned by them to suffer, and in order that he might submit to them, they committed him to the care of a poor beggar woman. And when the poor woman went out to beg for bread the angel of the Lord brought him a table whereon there were all kinds of good food. And there was in the house of that woman a piece of dry wood, and Saint George prayed to God, and that wood germinated, and put forth leaves, and it became a tall tree with long branches and much foliage. And when the poor widow came and saw that great miracle, and how that tree had shot up, and the table, she marveled, and she brought her son who was blind, and deaf, and dumb, and a paralytic, and asked the saint to heal him for her. And he told her the way to God, and she believed on our Lord Jesus Christ. And the saint made the sign of the Cross over the face of the child and he saw straightway. And Saint George said unto her, “I will that the next time he may be able to hear, and to walk and to speak.” And the emperor passed through the city, and saw that tree, and he marveled, and asked questions concerning it. And they told him, saying, “This tree is in the house of the widow wherein Saint Gorge dwelleth.” And the emperor having remembered Saint George had him brought to him, and he commanded his soldiers to beat him with very many stripes, and they beat him, and crushed his feet, and he died for the third time, and they cast [his body] outside the city; but God raised him up and he returned to the kings. When the Emperor saw him, he marveled, and was frightened, because of all the tortures to which he had subjected the saint, and he began to speak him fair and he promised to give him his daughter in marriage and to make him the second in the kingdom [if he would deny Christ]. Then the saint made a mock of him, and promised him, untruthfully, that he would offer incense to his gods. And the emperor rejoiced, and thought that the saint would do so actually, and he ran to him, and kissed his head, and brought him into the royal palace. And the saint rose up to pray, and he prayed, and repeated a psalm of David, and the empress, the wife of the emperor, kissed him, and asked him to explain to her what he had read. And he began to make her to know and to understand the matter from the time when God created the world, to the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ; and his words entered her heart and she believed on our Lord Jesus Christ. And on the following day a herald went round calling upon all the men of the city to gather together in order to see Saint George make an offering of incense to the gods. And when the widow heard this, she was exceedingly sorry, and she went out with the multitude to see Saint George make an offering of incense to the idols. And when the saint saw her he rejoiced, and said unto her son, “Go to Apollo, and command him to come hither to me in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ”; and the widow’s son was healed straightway, and he walked and talked, and he went to the idol, and told him what Saint George had told him to say. And he drove out the Satan that foul spirit, which dwelt in the idol, and brought it to Saint George. And the idol confessed before all the people, saying, “I am not God, but a creature that leadeth men into error.” And the saint commanded the earth to swallow him up, and straightway the earth swallowed that deceiver. When the emperor saw this, he and all those who were with him were ashamed. And being filled with fury and wrath against Saint George, he came to the empress his wife, and she said unto him, “Did I not tell thee not to oppose the Galilean? Their God is strong and mighty.” And the emperor was exceedingly wroth with her, for he knew that Saint George had brought her into the True Faith. And he commanded his soldiers to drag her outside the city, and to cut up her body with a saw, [and they did so,] and she received the crown of martyrdom in the kingdom of the heavens. Then straightway the kings were afraid because of Saint George, and they advised the Emperor Dodyanos to write the order for the soldiers to cut off his head with the sword, so that he might have rest from Saint George, the mighty one, the conqueror, rejoiced exceedingly. And he entreated our Lord Jesus Christ to bring down fire from heaven and destroy the seventy kings, so that they might cease from inflicting tribulation upon the Church. And straightway fire came down from heaven, and burnt up the seventy kings and all their soldiers. Then our Lord Jesus Christ appeared unto Saint George and made many covenants with him. And he said unto him, “Whosoever shall commemorate thee upon earth I will destroy all his sins. Whosoever is in tribulation, whether by sea or on land, or is sick, and entreateth Me in thy name, I will deliver him quickly from his tribulation”; having said this He went up into heaven. After this the saint bowed his neck, and they cut off his holy head with the sword, and he received three everlasting crowns of martyrdom in the kingdom of the heavens. And four of his believing slaves took the body of Saint George, and wrapped it up in his apparel, and took it into the city of Leda, and they built a beautiful church, and laid his body therein, and countless miracles were wrought there. Salutation to thee, O George, the root of thousands of martyrs. Salutation to the ninety men and thirty-seven women who, when they saw the hidden glory of the heavens revealed at the martyrdom of Saint George, became martyrs.


And on this day also died Roko. This holy man was such a strenuous fighter in the spirit that he made signs and miracles manifest. One day the sickness of the plague smote him, and he prayed to God with abundant tears, and showed Him his sores. And our Lord Jesus Christ appeared unto him, sitting upon a cloud of heaven, and He stood up before him and said unto him, “Fear not, O My beloved Roko, behold I have come unto thee to heal thee of thy sickness, and to establish with thee a covenant that all those who shall pray unto Me in thy name, saying, ‘Jesus Christ, the God of Roko, deliver me for I am afflicted,’ shall be free from the sickness of the plague, and it shall not come upon them.” After He had said this unto him, our Lord Jesus Christ went up into heaven. And the holy man lived in strict devotion to the ascetic life for many [years], and he died in peace. Salutation to Roko, the chosen fighter.


Salutation to Stephana, a friend of Victor the martyr. [Omitted in the Bodleian MS.]


Glory be to God Who is glorified in His Saints. Amen


Miyazia (Miyaza) = Bermodah (Baramouda, Baramuda, Baramudah, Paremoude, Farmou)

Miyazia 23 – Geez (Ge'ez) Calendar – Ethiopian Calendar = Bermodah 23 Martyr – Coptic Calendar – Egyptian Calendar


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Egyptian Synaxarium Bermodah 23

Egyptian Synaxarium Bermodah 23

THE EIGHTH MONTH
Bermodah (Baramouda, Baramuda, Baramudah, Paremoude) 23 Martyr – Coptic Calendar – Martyr Calendar
May 1, 2009

The Martyrdom of St. George Prince of the Martyrs

On this day, of the year 307 A.D., the great among the martyrs St. George, was martyred. He was born in Cappadocia; his father's name was Anastasius, and his mother's name was Theobaste. When he was twenty years old, his father died, and he went to Emperor Diocletian to take over his father's position. He found that the Emperor had apostatized the faith and ordered the worship of idols. George was sorrowful, and he gave all his wealth to the poor and needy and set free his slaves.

When he saw the edict of the Emperor against the Christians, he became raged and tore it. They took him before the Emperor, and he cried in their middest saying: "For how long you shall pour your anger against the innocent Christians, and force those who know the true faith to adopt the faith that you are in doubt of because it is fraudulent? So, either you believe on this true faith, or at least do not disturb with foolishness those who are steadfast in it." The Emperor asked Mephnanius, one of his ministers, to pacify and persuade him. He asked him: "Who taught you to be daring like this." The Saint answered: "It is the truth," then started to explain it to him. The Emperor interrupted, reminding the Saint with the ranks that he bestowed on him, and promised him with more if he denied his Christ. The Saint refused with pride all these vain propositions. The Emperor tortured him severely, but the Lord strengthened him and healed all his wounds.

When the Emperor was weary of torturing him, he brought a magician, whose name was Athanasius, who gave the Saint a cup full of poison to drink. St. George made the sign of the cross over the cup then drank it. When no harm came upon him, the magician believed in the Lord Christ, and received the crown of martyrdom. The Emperor became raged and ordered to squeeze him until he delivered up his soul, and they cast his body out side the city.

The Lord Christ raised him up, and the Saint returned to the city. When the people saw him, three thousand and seven hundred souls believed. The Emperor ordered to cut off their heads and they received the crown of martyrdom.

When St. George stood before Emperor Diocletian, along with seventy kings that were sitting around him, they asked the Saint: "We wish you to make these chairs that we are sitting on to put forth leaves, and bear fruit." The Saint prayed to the Lord Christ, the Lord accepted his supplication and the chairs put forth leaves and bore fruit.

They took him once to a cemetery and asked him to raise the dead therein. He prayed to the Lord Christ. The Lord raised them and after they talked to them, they returned to their graves and died.

A poor woman, brought her son, who was blind, deaf and dumb, he prayed to the Lord Christ then made the sign of the cross over him, and he was healed right away.

Diocletian, during all that, went on torturing St. George, until he was weary and bored of that. He started to be pleasant to the Saint and promised to give him his daughter in marriage if he would offer the incense to his gods. The Saint pretended that he accepted his offer, and the Emperor rejoiced and brought him into the royal palace. While St. George was praying the Psalms, the Empress heard him and asked him to explain to her what he had said. He began to interpret to her all the events from the creation of the world to the Incarnation of the Lord Christ, and his words entered her heart and she believed in the Lord Christ, to Whom is the Glory.

The Emperor ordered to call upon all the men of the city to gather, in order to see Saint George offering the incense to the Emperor's gods. When multitude gathered by the idols, Gawargios (George) stood and cried at the idols in the Name of the Lord Christ the Savior of the world. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed all the idols. The Emperor and all those who were with him were ashamed and he returned to his palace full of fury and wrath. The Empress told him: "Didn't I tell you not to oppose the Galileans, for their God is strong and mighty?" The Emperor was exceedingly wrath with her, for he knew that St. George had brought her also to his faith. The Emperor with rage ordered to comb her body with a steel comb, then cut off her head, and she received the crown of martyrdom. Finally, Diocletian decided to put an end to the humiliation that befell him, so he ordered to cut off the head of St. George, and he received the crown of martyrdom. A Christian took the body, wrapped it in expensive shrouds, and took it to the city of Lydda, his home town, and they built a great church on his name there.

His intercession be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen


Bermodah (Baramouda, Baramuda, Baramudah, Paremoude, Farmou) = Miyazia (Miyaza)


Bermodah 23 Martyr – Coptic Calendar – Egyptian Calendar = Miyazia 23 – Geez (Ge'ez) Calendar – Ethiopian Calendar




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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Resurrection and Freedom

The Resurrection and Freedom
H.G. Bishop Moussa Bishop of Youth

Freedom is a human cry and a widespread desire all over the world, especially in this day and age. This century is called the century of ‘human rights and freedoms.’ History is nothing more than conflicts arising out of the search for freedom, whether political, economic, or social. Freedom is a vital principle, in fact, a basic psychological need without which man cannot develop or realize himself, implement his decisions, or preserve his privacy. These are all significant psychological needs that are necessary for man to experience inner peace, health, and stability.

There is no doubt that God created us free, and our freedom came at an exorbitant cost to Him. However, there is a fake freedom that is close to slavery, for “He who sins is of the devil.” (1 Jn. 3: 8) There is a genuine freedom that our Lord speaks about, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn. 8:32)

There is no doubt that the death and resurrection of Christ grant us this genuine effective freedom, but how do we attain it?

1- God created us free:

God created us in “His own image” (Gen. 1:27) and because God is eternal, He instilled in us an eternal rational spirit. Because God is the “Logos”, or infinite wisdom, He bestowed on us a mind and the power of speech. And just as God is free, He granted us freedom, that is, He commanded us to pursue what was good and constructive and warned us against the destructiveness of sin. He then left us free to choose. Because God is also holy, He created us in His image with respect to righteousness and holiness. We went on in this way for a while in the Garden of Eden.

In order for us to have the opportunity of making choices and the freedom of taking decisions, God allowed Satan to fall and remain alive so that we could choose between walking with God or with Satan and be under his destructive authority. Man chose, in the Garden of Eden, to follow Satan and to yield to his temptation in order to have his eyes opened so he could become like God, and thus entered the darkness of ignorance and sin. His human nature became corrupt and he fell under the sentence of death.

However, God did not abandon us in this state, but made a plan for our salvation because He knew the weakness of our nature and the craftiness of the enemy. This plan consisted of the following stages:

a- The promise: God promised that the woman’s Seed should crush the head of the serpent when He told it, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen. 3:15)

b- The preparation: God prepared humanity through the patriarchs and prophets; He prepared a special people and purified it from idol worship until the coming of a pure virgin, the Virgin Mary. The Old Testament was translated into Greek in the third century BC, in preparation for the spread of the gospel in a world that would use the dominant Greek language everywhere when the Greek empire would be in power. The Roman Empire established a huge network of roads covering the continents which they made secure with their powerful armies. This facilitated the travels of the apostles and the spread of the gospel of salvation to all the known areas of the world at that time. He even sent philosophers and thinkers to the pagans; these published their books that called for the practice of virtues and in which they voiced their expectation of the appearance of a Savior.

c- The birth: The Lord was born of the Virgin Mary after the Holy Spirit had come upon her, purified her, and sanctified the matter taken from her to form the body of the Lord. The babe born of her was called ‘holy’, ‘Jesus’ (that is, the Savior), ‘Emmanuel’ (God with us), ‘Christ’ (the long expected anointed Messiah who would save man).

d- The ministry: The Lord spread the message of salvation, the light of the Gospel, the teachings of the Kingdom, asking people to repent “for the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mk. 1:15) This is the same message carried by the apostles to the whole world (Lk. 10:11).

e- The redemption: Christ’s divinity, united with His humanity, was able to renew our corrupt nature, just as His humanity united with His divinity was able to die in our place. This solved the two problems that were the result of the old fall: the sentence of death, and the corruption of human nature. The Lord gave us a new nature through the holy sacraments; He removed the sentence of death and forgave us, freeing us from bondage to Satan and from the yoke of the sin within and without us.

f- The resurrection: In it, we arose with the Lord and sat with Him, in faith, in heaven; paradise was opened to be followed by the eternal kingdom. “And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly man.” (1Cor. 15:49) We therefore cry out with the Lord at the resurrection, “O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Cor. 15:55-57) We were therefore set free from original and actual sin and have the divine promise: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Rom. 6:14) We have freedom in the face of the dominion of sin, and the image of God has been restored in us.

g- The ascension: Our thoughts and hearts ascended with Christ to heaven because “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:1-4) “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Lk. 12:34)

h- The coming of the Holy Spirit: With Him, we can become servants with the disciples of the Lord as we remember what He said, “Tarry in the city of Jerusalem (prayer) until you are endued with power from on high.” (Lk. 24:49) “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:15) “Be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph. 5:18)

i- Membership in the Church: Those who have been baptized and anointed with the Holy Chrism, who are rooted in the Lord Jesus Christ through Holy Communion, who renew their promises through repentance, have become living members of the Body of Christ, the Church. They are united with the Lord of glory, the head of the Body, with His saints in heaven, the invisible members, just as they are united with the rest of the believers who strive with us on the path of salvation and in the service of the kingdom.

j- Fruits and gifts: The Lord gives the fruits of His Holy Spirit to those who have been filled with the Spirit of God. “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22) He also grants them gifts for the ministry, “the word of wisdom... the word of knowledge... faith... gifts of healings... the working of miracles... prophecy... discerning the spirits... different kinds of tongues;” (1Cor. 12:8-10) “but one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1Cor. 12:11)

Through this perfect divine providence, man is saved and becomes a living member of the Body, serving with the gifts the Lord gives him until he accomplishes his mission on earth and goes to paradise. On the last day at the Second Coming, the spirit is united with the body and man is raised with a spiritual luminous heavenly glorified body to soar and join the hosts of saints coming with the Lord on the clouds. He ascends to the heaven of heavens to spend a blissful eternity with the Lord in the heavenly Jerusalem after having been freed from the body of dust, from ingrained sin, from hostile Satan, and from the temptations of the world.

2- Absolute Freedom... a Delusion:

Young people imagine that there is such a thing as “absolute freedom”, but this is a great delusion for there are naturally limits to our freedom. Although you are free to own a car and drive it anywhere you wish, you are still subject to traffic laws, licensing, traffic lights, and safety measures. And although you are free to eat the kind of food you want in the quantities you desire, you are restricted by the kinds of useful foods and the appropriate quantities; otherwise, you will suffer many diseases.

That is why the notion of absolute freedom is a great delusion under which young people abroad labor, leading an immoral and sensual life. This is not freedom but a dangerous bondage that has removed them from the purity of holy matrimony and has led them into adultery and perversion. When they became addicted to sex, they fell prey to drug addiction and were led into crime. Some died because of AIDS or from a drug overdose; some went to prison because of crimes they committed; some were sentenced to death because they traded in drugs or committed murder.

Thus, we must not aspire to absolute freedom, for in reality it is a fake freedom, more closely akin to slavery. We need to search for true freedom, “the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21)

3- Genuine Freedom:

Genuine freedom means I can say ‘No’ to sin. But first, it means the ability to discern and discriminate between the lean and the fat, the constructive and the destructive. Therefore, genuine freedom needs the following:

1- Enlightenment: with the light of Christ and the gospel and through the work of the Holy Spirit so that I can tell wrong from right.

2- Filling: When I am filled with the grace of Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit of God, I am able to despise the poisonous honey of sin. Therefore, the following are the keys to the life of young people:

a- “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1Thess. 5:21) This means being enlightened, possessing discrimination and discernment, and a sound assessment of consequences.

b- “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb.” (Pr. 27:7) This means that spiritual filling and the indwelling of Christ imparts satisfaction and uplift so that a person loathes the noxious honey of sin.

And thus man can enjoy genuine freedom, a constructive disciplined freedom that builds him up in many ways:

Spiritually: through being filled with Christ, the church, and the Bible.
Intellectually: through reading, studying, contemplation, and sound thinking.
Psychologically: through the wise control of instincts, emotions, and habits.
Physically: through avoidance of cigarettes, drink, drugs, and an impure lifestyle.
Socially: through good relationships with all those around him.

4- Restrictions on Genuine Freedom:

There are important restrictions on genuine freedom, such as:

1- The Holy Spirit: who lives within us guiding and admonishing us, sanctifying and comforting us, leading us and granting us fruits and gifts.

2- The conscience: which is God’s voice within man, which reproves us for sin and alerts us so that we go back to doing what is right.

3- The Bible: whose light searches the heart and lightens the path of life; “Your word have I hidden
in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Ps. 119: 11) “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119: 105)

4- The teachings of the church: providing general light on the path of the kingdom and constant warnings against sin and transgressions.

5- Spiritual father: who provides personal and direct guidance on the path of life and along its bends through the granting of absolution for sins and providing solutions for problems.

6- The law of the land: for the Christian subjects himself to the law of the land in accordance with the commandment “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God.” (Rom. 13:1)

We thus experience real freedom through the power of the living Christ of the Resurrection Who dwells within us, guiding our daily walk on the path of eternity and immortality.

May the grace of God be with us all.


H.G. Bishop Moussa Bishop of Youth – Youth Bishopric
http://www.youthbishopric.com/



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Sunday, May 10, 2009

How should we love God? (7) Take Him as a friend; Set Him always before you

How should we love God? (7) Take Him as a friend; Set Him always before you
Pope Shenouda III
Translated by Dr. Wedad Abbas

[Pope's Article of 26 April, 2009] (450) by Dr. Wedad Abbas

Reveal to Him your heart; let Him into all your affairs
Let everything remind you of Him

If you want to love God, take Him as a friend.
You ought rather to make of Him your chief friend whom you seek before anyone else, reveal to Him your secrets and tell Him everything, feel deep comfort in being with Him, reveal to Him all your thoughts very frankly and very honestly with all trust and with a clear heart, and never get bored of speaking with Him.

Say to Him, 'I have words to say to You, O Lord

I am sure of Your love for me and of Your good intentions towards me, and I know that You are able to realize all this for me. Shall I not then talk with You as I do with my beloved? Do I find pleasure when I open my heart to those who are mere dust and ashes (Gen18: 27), and keep away from You, the Creator of everybody?! Is it proper when You call upon me that I get involved in other things and find no time for You?!

We certainly feel comfort when we speak with God.

We feel comfort because we put on Him our troubles, seeing in Him a loving Father. We love Him as He loves us, and we do not conceal anything from Him. We let Him into everything we do, and in love we submit our thoughts to Him that He may lead them and correct them if they were wrong.

To love God, set Him always before you.

The feeling that He is before you gives the heart faith, trust and peace. Therefore David the Prophet said, "I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved." And he immediately said after that, "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices." (Ps 16: 8, 9; Acts 2: 25)

Elijah the Prophet was aware of the presence of the Lord, so he said, "As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand …" (1 Kgs 18: 15)

If you do the same the Lord will fill all your senses, your heart, and your mind. You will be on your guard and do what pleases Him. Not only you will feel His company and reveal your doings to Him, but He also will work with you or call you to work with Him for your benefit or for His Kingdom.

The feeling that God is present before you will give you the power not to do wrong.

Joseph the Righteous was aware of that, and God never departed from his mind even for a single moment, so he said, "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God." (Gen 39: 9)

You adorn your home with various pictures which you see all the time, why not put God's image with them or rather above them?

Let Him be before you all the time, on the way, at home, or while with others. No doubt the Lord's image was not before the eyes of Peter the Apostle when he denied Him, but when the rooster crowed he remembered the Lord and the words He had said to him. So he went out and wept bitterly (Mt 26: 75).

In your love for God, you do not only see Him before you, but rather you see yourself in His bosom.

Say then with the Bride of the Song, "His left hand is under my head, and His right hand embraces me." (Song 2: 6) You are His child whom He loves and has done all this for your sake. If you remember how much He loves you, you will love Him in turn and will never do wrong, but will rather sing His praise every day. You will say with the Bride of the Song, "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies." "I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste." (Song 6: 3; 2: 3)

How beautiful it is to feel that God is with you, holding your hand, before you, on your right hand, and around you!

You are in His right hand; He has inscribed you on the palm of His hands; no one can snatch you out of His hand; even the hairs of your head are all numbered (Rev 2: 1; Isa 49: 16; Jn 10: 28; Lk 12: 7). If you remember this loving God and set Him before your eyes, you will certainly love Him and feel secure in His presence.

Can you love Him without feeling His presence?

It is unreasonable. We do not love an unknown God, for the apostle says, "… we have heard … we have seen with our eyes … we have looked upon, and our hands have handled." (1 Jn 1: 1) And David the Prophet says, "I have set the Lord always before me." (Ps 16: 8) If those had seen him, we now see Him through faith.

What is God's position in your life, that you may love Him?

Is He before your eyes? Are you always aware of His work in your life? Or days may pass without you remembering Him till you go to church? Do you remember that Sunday is the Lord's Day, or you call it "the weekend"? Try to feel His presence all the time. St. Augustine, before his repentance, meditating on his past life, said to the Lord:

You were with me, O Lord, but for my deep misery I was not with You!

When the Lord appeared to the disciples of Emmaus after the resurrection and spoke to them they did not know Him (Lk 24). Mary Magdalene likewise did not know Him and thought Him the gardener (Jn 20). Therefore if you are aware of His presence and His care, and that with Him you will not want, such feelings will implant love in your heart.

Try also to let the Lord into every act or work you do.

For instance when you go to your work or to your studies or anywhere else, say to Him before you go out, 'I am going to such and such place, be with me. I will meet so and so, give me wisdom, and put words on my mouth. I leave my house under your care.' Even though you are very smart and experienced, let Him into whatever you do, and say to Him, 'Without You, O Lord, I can do nothing.' (Jn 15: 5) And when you succeed say to Him, 'I give thanks to You, O Lord, because your hand was with me in what I did. I ask You to be always with me.' Or in case of a successful surgery to you or to one of your beloved, say to Him, 'Your hand was with the surgeon and with the hospital. Your love is revealed to us, O Lord, and we love You in turn.'

Do not only set God before you or with you, but let Him be within you and you within Him.

Be within Him like a branch abiding in the vine that it may give fruit (Jn 15: 4, 5) And He will be within you because you are God's temple and God's Spirit dwells in you (1 Cor 3: 16), for the Lord also says, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." (Jn 14: 23)

Ask yourself whether you still keep God within you.

Is God still in your heart, in your mind, on your tongue, in your whole life, in your house, and in your work? Are you aware of His presence and pleased with that, and have communion with Him in everything? Or have you moved away from Him, grieved His Holy Spirit, and separated yourself from Him with all ways?

A woman bearing a child feels it moving in her womb and nourished with her blood, so she feels it is her duty to eat so that it may find food. You have also got a spiritual child created within you from the Holy Spirit since you knew God, so, do you feed yourself that it may be nourished? Its food is the divine love by which it lives and moves, as the Psalmist says, "I will lift up my hands in Your name. my soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness." (Ps 63: 4, 5)

If we are nourished with God's love, we will grow in the spirit.

If we are nourished with God's love, we can say to the others, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." (Ps 34: 8) And when we are nourished with every word coming from His mouth, we will have life in Him through partaking of the Eucharist Sacrament. We will feel His life within us, and say with St. Paul the Apostle, "To me, to live is Christ," "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." (Gal 2: 20)

Do you really feel the life of Christ in you, the victory and the glory He gives you? Are you aware of the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 13: 14) in every work you do? Do you not enter any place of do any work unless God's name is glorified in it?

Do you bear God's name and action everywhere you go?

When David entered the battle field he brought God's name in it and said, "The battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands." And he said to Goliath, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts … This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand." (1 Sam 17: 45 47)

In this way the Lord's name was on David's mouth, the Lord's power in his arm, and the Lord's name a cause of comfort, victory and joy to the army.

I like the name of St. Ignatius of Antioch "Theophorus" i.e. "bearer of God". You also, if you love God, you will bear His name on you to whoever you meet, and wherever you go. God will work with you, so you will succeed, your heart will rejoice, and you will love God who gave you success. The Lord was with Joseph the Righteous and made all he did to prosper in his hand (Gen 39: 3) God actually can do everything alone, because everything was made through Him (Jn 1), but He likes to work through us so that we may be glad that He work through us and that He chose us for His work.

You ought then to do the Lord's work and say to Him, 'Wherever I go, I will find for You a place to lay Your head.' (Lk 9: 58) It will be exchanged love between you and God. He works in you, and you work for Him. Due to His great love He sends you to work in His vine, and you in your love say to Him, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (Jn 3: 30) However, God does not want you to decrease, but in His love He makes you a lamp that gives light to all who are in the house (Mt 5: 15), and He says to you, "I will bless you … and you shall be a blessing." (Gen 12: 2) You, on the other hand, in your love will say with the Psalmist, "Not unto us, O Lord, but to Your name give glory." (Ps 115: 1) Whoever loves God ought to hide and let God appear, as John the Baptist did. If you deny yourself, you will attain God's love. But if you focus on yourself, you will be occupied with yourself rather than with God. If you deny yourself all your focus will be on God who fills your heart and mind, so you will love Him.

One more point in this article, that is, try to make everything remind you of God. But there is no space for it here. We shall explain it in next week's article – God willing


His Holiness Pope Shenouda III Patriarch 117th of the See of Alexandria and Successor of St. Mark. Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark the Evangelist of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. He is the head of The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.


WATANI International – 3 May 2009 – 25 Baramouda (Bermodah) 1725 (Coptic Calendar) – 8 Gamada al-Awwal (Arab Calendar) 1430 – Year 9 - Issue 429.
WATANI - 3 May 2009 - 25 Baramouda (Bermodah) 1725 (Coptic Calendar) - 1st Issue Year 51 - No. 2471 - 2nd Issue Year 9 No. 437
www.watani.com.eg



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