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


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


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ethiopian Synaxarium Miyazia 23

Ethiopian Synaxarium Miyazia 23

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


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


Egyptian Synaxarium Bermodah 23

Egyptian Synaxarium Bermodah 23

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


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


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


Thursday, May 7, 2009

He is risen on the third day

Spiritual Whispers
By His Grace Bishop Raphaeil

He is risen on the third day

As much as Christ's Resurrection was a unique marvelous event, as the holy inspiration preceded to get His people's minds ready to accept the fact of this Holy Resurrection… There are many prophecies all along the Holy Bible books explaining resurrection with all its details… Let's navigate together in the profoundness of the prophets so as to discover the undisclosed secret that has been now proclaimed…

1- Resurrection in the book of the Psalms:
Especially the book of the Psalms includes many of the prophetic signs to Christ's Resurrection; here are some of those verses:
† "I lay down and slept (slept as a symbol to death and burial); I awoke (resurrection), for the LORD sustained me (by the power of His divinity)." (Ps. 3: 5).
† "Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone (the devils); You have broken the teeth of the ungodly (as a symbol to His victory over Satan's kingdom and all his soldiers)." (Ps. 3: 7).
† "But God (the Father) will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol (hell), for He shall receive me." (Ps. 49: 15).
† "For You have delivered my soul from death (by resurrection)." (Ps. 56: 13).
† "For you have delivered my soul from death." (Ps. 116: 8).
† "For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy (the needy fallen humankind), now I will arise, says the Lord; I will set them in salvation, and I will be revealed in it." (Ps. 12: 5).
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem comments on the resurrection prophecies throughout the Psalms saying: Let's go through the fifteenth psalm that says clearly: "PRESERVE me, O God, for in You I put my trust.", then he says: "Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, nor take up their names on my lips." For they refused me saying: "We have no king but Caesar!" (Jn. 19: 15)… He also says: "Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption", he did not say: "Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see death", unless the meaning that He did not die, but he said: "nor to see corruption", meaning that he would not remain in the tomb till corrupted, then he says: "You have made known to me the ways of life;", this is a clear sign to His live resurrection after death, and Saint Cyril of Jerusalem proceeds to explain the thirtieth psalm "I WILL exalt You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me." Answering clearly "O LORD, You have brought my soul up from Hades;" for in the previous psalm, he predicts saying: "For You will not leave my soul in Hades," as for here, He is talking about actually achieving this prophecy, so he says: "O LORD, You have brought my soul up from Hades; You have delivered me from the hands of those who will go down to the pit." and when was this? "Weeping shall be for the evening, but joy comes in the morning." For the disciples were sad in the evening and rejoiced in the morning through Resurrection.

2- Resurrection in the book of the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon):
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem did not miss discovering resurrection through the book of the Song of Songs, for he views in the verse "I have gathered my myrrh with my spice;" "Myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices.", that it is a symbol to burial, and the spices prepared by the women carrying fragrance, then the verse "I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;" that it has been fulfilled as the master ate a piece of broiled fish, and some honeycomb in the presence of his disciples after His Resurrection (review Lc. 24: 39-42) as he says: "He ate myrrh before death and honey after resurrection."
When the Song spouse was looking industriously for her missing groom, she was a shadow and an example of the Mary's who came courageously looking for the Heavenly Bridegroom.
"Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark." (Jn. 20: 1), the same as the spouse chanted "by night on my bed I sought the one I love;" (Song 3: 1) "I sought him, but I did not find him.", as if she was saying with Mary Magdalene: "they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." (Jn. 20: 13). The same as if Mary asks the angels by the tomb "So is my beloved among the sons." (Song 2: 3), then the angels answer saying: "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" (Lc. 24: 5), "Scarcely had I passed by them, when I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go." (Song 3: 4), "So they came and held Him by the feet." (Mt. 28: 9).

3- Resurrection according to the Prophets:
We were raised with Christ and within Him, Hosea the prophet prophesies about this saying: "After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight." (Hos. 6: 2), "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day," (Lk. 24: 46)… It is not just Him Who rises, but we are raised with and within Him "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God." (Col.3:1).

† How are we raised with Him?

Our master Paul explains this: "buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." (Col.2:12), accordingly Ezekiel the prophet prophesies about our resurrection saying: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel." (Ezek.37:12), Hosea the prophet comments on this saying: "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death." (Hos.13:14).

Christ has trampled death underfoot by means of His death; as for us then death became powerless, its dread and influence are gone for good … Isaiah the prophet prophesies about this saying: "He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken." (Is. 25: 8), "O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction!" (Hos. 13: 14).
That is the praise that our master Paul the apostle chanted proclaiming his joy about the power of resurrection and its impact: "Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" (1Cor.15:54-55).

4- Resurrection of the dead in the Old Testament:
Elijah revived the son of the widow of Zarephath (which belongs to Sidon) (1 Kgs. 17: 22), and Elisha revived the son of the Shunammite woman (2Kgs. 4: 35)… The raising of those was a tribute to Christ's resurrection, a prophecy preceding and proclaiming the chances of the resurrection from among the dead … Also the story of Jonah the prophet and his burial for three days in the belly of the great fish was a symbol to Christ's burial and resurrection: "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Mt.12:40).

So all along the Old Testament, God wanted to make His people's minds ready to accept Christ the Lord's resurrection from among the dead … A tribute to our own resurrection … Now through baptism and in eternity indeed.

His Grace Bishop Raphaeil – Cairo Downtown Churches


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