Saturday, December 15, 2012

THE BRICK




A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door! He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown.  

The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, 'What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money.  Why did you do it?'  

The young boy was apologetic. 'Please, mister…please, I'm sorry but I didn't know what else to do,' He pleaded.  'I threw the brick because no one else would stop…' With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car.  'It's my brother,' he said ' He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up.' 

Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, 'Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me.' 

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay. 'Thank you and may God bless you,' the grateful child told the stranger.  

Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. 

He kept the dent there to remind him of the message: 'Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!' God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don't have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It's our choice to listen or not. 




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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Verses and Fathers Sayings



You, O LORD, are our Father; Our
Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.
(Isa. 63: 16)




Blessed is he, who forgot the talk
of the world by Your talk to him?
As by You, his needs are consummated!
....
You are his Sun and his daylight?
By Your light, he can see the hidden things!
You are the Father? His Father!
In him, You have given the Spirit of Your Son?
And this Spirit gave him the daring seek from
You everything? the way a son seeks from his father!
With You, he talks all the time?
As he knows other father but You.

(St. John Saba)




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Monday, November 19, 2012

Coptic Papal Consecration (Snaps & Report)




Coptic Papal Consecration
(Snaps & Report)

18/11/2012 – Associated Press

The new pope of Egypt’s Orthodox Coptic church was enthroned on Sunday in an elaborate ceremony lasting nearly four hours, attended by the nation’s Muslim prime minister and a host of Cabinet ministers and politicians.

Pope Tawadros II, 60, was elected Nov. 4, but the official enthronement ceremony was held Sunday at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo. He replaced Shenouda III, who died in March after leading the ancient church for 40 years.

The packed cathedral repeatedly erupted into applause as the ceremony progressed. The ceremony’s climax came when the papal crown was placed on Tawadros’ head before he sat on the throne of St. Mark, the Coptic church’s founding saint. 

Tawadros did not address the televised ceremony, but had a brief speech read on his behalf by one of the church’s leaders in which he pledged to work for the good of Egypt, with its Muslims and Christians alike. 

Egypt’s Christians make up about 10 percent of the nation’s estimated 83 million people, making them the largest single Christian community in the Middle East. 

Christians have long complained of discrimination, particularly in the last four decades as the country’s Muslim majority moved toward religious conservatism. The rise to power of Islamists after the ouster nearly two years ago of authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak has deepened their concerns, amid increasing attacks targeting their churches and businesses.




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Friday, November 16, 2012

Service of Enthronement of His Holiness the Pope of Alexandria




What to expect during the service of the Enthronement of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria:

One of the bishops will start the prayer according to the custom, the lections for the 17th of Hator are read until the Praxis (Acts) and the Synaxarium. 

Then the priests go out with their censers and the deacons carrying crosses to the Papal residence, where the metropolitans and the bishops are with the one chosen for the patriarchal throne, then the door of the cathedral is locked and the keys are given to one of the archdeacons to stand at the door, waiting for the new Pope when he comes in order to deliver the keys to him.

The Nomination then begins and is said: In the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit, the Holy undivided Trinity, One God, our God we the Orthodox Christians; in Whom we hope till the last breath and unto Whom we send up unto the highest the glory and the honor, forever.

We the metropolitans and the bishops and the priests and the deacons and all the Christ loving congregation of the cities of Alexandria and Cairo and all the region of Egypt, and the city of our God, Jerusalem, and all the countries of Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and Australia. When the calamity befell us and we became orphans, when the triple blessed Pope Shenouda III of thrice blessed memory departed us to the heavenly chambers; him who has received all the holy promises, and departed to God whom he loved, and heard from Him that voice full of joy saying unto him: “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master.”

When we became orphaned and the holy Church of God became a widow; this which he had shepherded with his teachings, we entreated the Most High to guide us to whom would be worthy of the great arch-priesthood, that he may shepherd us in the way of the Lord, and guide us to the haven of salvation, so with gift from on high and the election of the Holy Spirit, We have all agreed with one heart and elected the God fearing Abba Tawadros, general bishop of Albehera.

From the monks of St. Pishoy monastery as Pope and Patriarch and Archbishop for the Apostolic See, the See of Saint Mark the Evangelist of Egypt, Nubia, Sudan, Pentapolis, and all the regions of the See in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and  Australia.We have elected him because he is God fearing, hospitable, adorned by knowledge and understanding, pure, diligent in publishing the evangelical percepts, well in governing, watchful in the preservation of the rites and the traditions of the Church.

We have crowned him as principal shepherd, Pope and Patriarch of the holy Church of God, to shepherd us in compassion and meekness.Therefore we have inscribed this nomination and signed it, giving thanks unto the Holy Trinity, the father, the Son and the holy spirit. Amen.

To follow along on Sunday download the PDF attachment that includes the whole service in arabic and english.
Source: www.stmaryscopticorthodox.ca


https://www.copticworld.org/articles/1426/


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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Coptic pope chosen in elaborate ceremony




EGYPT'S ancient Coptic Christian church chose a new pope in an elaborate Sunday ceremony meant to invoke the will of God, in which a blindfolded boy drew the name of the next patriarch from a crystal chalice.

Bishop Tawadros, 59, an aide to the acting pope, was selected to become Pope Tawadros II, replacing the charismatic Pope Shenouda III who died earlier this year after 40 years at the helm of the church.

 

All three senior clerics whose names were in the chalice were considered consensus candidates who stayed out of disputes both within the church and with other groups. Tawadros will assume the papacy as Egypt's Christians, estimated to make up 10 percent of the country's 83 million people, fear for their future amid the rise of Islamists to power in the wake of the 2011 ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.

 

The death of Pope Shenouda III at age the of 88 this year heightened the sense of insecurity felt by many who had known him as patriarch for all or most of their lives.


At the televised ceremony held in the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, acting Pope Pachomios laid the three names in clear balls inside a chalice before starting Mass. There was a moment of silence before the drawing by the blindfolded boy, an act believed to reflect God's will in the choice.

"We will pray that God will choose the good shepherd," Pachomios told the packed cathedral as he sealed the chalice with red wax before laying it on the altar during Mass.

The process of electing a new pope began weeks ago, when a committee from the church narrowed the list of potential candidates from 17 down to five monks and bishops. On Monday, about 2,400 clergymen and church notables drew up a short list of three that also included Bishop Raphael, 54, once an aide to the late Pope Shenouda, and Father Raphael Ava Mina, the oldest among them at 70, a monk in a monastery near Alexandria and a student of the pope who preceded Shenouda.

In addition to having stayed out of disputes with other groups, including Islamists, the bishops were chosen only from those without a diocese to avoid any risk of favouritism.

The papal election comes during a shift in Christian attitudes toward their relation to the state. For years, Christians largely relied on the church to secure protection for their rights, using Shenouda's close relationship with Mubarak.

But Shenouda had longstanding critics within the community who asked why a cleric should act as an intermediary between them and the state. Following the uprising and the pope's death, more Copts have been emboldened to act outside the church to independently demand rights, better representation and freedom of worship.

None of the candidates attended the ceremony, and are instead praying in their respective monasteries. The state's MENA news agency says church leaders will head to Tawadros's retreat in the monastery complex of Wadi Natrun northeast of Cairo to congratulate him.

Pope Tawadros II faces tremendous challenges as the country's transition to democracy is marred by a deep rift between increasingly politically powerful Islamist groups, from which the country's new president hails, and the liberal and secularist groups who were initially behind the revolt that ousted Mubarak last year.

At the center of the political squabbling in Egypt is the role of Islam in the country's new constitution, currently being drafted. The Christians, along with liberal and secularists, oppose demands by Islamists to increase the role of Islamic Shariah law.

Egypt's Coptic Christians have long complained of discrimination by the state and the country's Muslim majority. Clashes with Muslims have occasionally broken out, often sparked by church construction, land disputes or Muslim-Christian love affairs.

The prospects of a stronger role for Islamic law in legislation increase the community's concern of further marginalisation, or of curtailing of their rights of worship and expression.

Late Saturday, Pachomios said during a popular TV program on the private station al-Nahar that Christians have never held senior state posts or leading positions such as university deans in Egypt's modern history. He also insisted there will be no clause in the constitution allowing state monitoring of the church's finances, a demand often made by Islamists.




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Friday, November 2, 2012

7 - KNOW YOURSELF - By H.H. Pope Shenouda III



7 - KNOW YOURSELF    
By H.H. Pope Shenouda III 

The following is a collection of articles entitled, "The Release of the Spirit" written by HH Pope Shenouda III for the Sunday School Magazine from the year 1951 before starting his monastic life.  

These articles were published in the form of a book in the year 1957 including some of his poems which were published in the magazine as well.. 

It was his first published book and it gained the approval of many and was reprinted many times. 


7 - KNOW YOURSELF 

My Beloved Brother, Do You Want To Be Perfect? 

Do you want your soul to be released into a place where there are no bonds nor restrictions?  Then, first of all, you have to rid yourself of everything, of every desire, knowledge and feeling which the world may have implanted within you.

You have to first  deny yourself, and to stand before God as nothing.. know your real self.. Who are you?  Are you not a mere handful of the dust of the earth..? You are even less than the dust.. You are nothing.. There was time when you were not.. while the world existed.. without you.. Then God made you out of nothing'.  First He created the dust.. then He made you of the dust.  Why then do you exalt yourself Who are you to be exalted?  Lower your head in bashfulness and humility, for you are nothing.. Stand before God broken-hearted and humiliated in spirit and remember your origin..

Now, have you recognized that you are nothing? I tell you furthermore that you are less than nothing, for nothingness is non-existence.. and non existence is better than the sin committed by man because, "... every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5) 

If you find something good in you, be certainly sure that it is not due to you, but to God because He alone is ultimately good, perfect and holy as the Lord says: "No one is good but One, that is, God." (Matt. 19:17) 

If you find something good in you, do not be puffed up and do not boast.  Do not fight yourself with self righteousness but attribute every glory to God.  It is His due not yours, for good is made by Him as He is the benevolent and creator of all good. He is even good itself, and goodness.. Without Him you are nothing, you can do nothing.  So, do not rob God's glory and ascribe it to yourself.  You may shine like the moon and your light increases till you become a full moon, but, in all this remember that the moon is a dark satellite which derives its light from the sun and has no light in itself.  If the sun disappears, the moon will not appear because it is dark by its nature.. Now, would the moon dare speak of its light before the sun!  It is the same with you, my beloved, in the presence of God. 

On the other hand, if you find something evil within you,  know that it is from you, because of the sin which was lying at the door having desire for you.. It was in your power to rule over it but you let it rule over you (Gen. 4:7) Nothing evil comes from God.  God's nature does not conform with evil as we see when He made everything with His holy spotless and undefiled hands, "God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good" (Gen. 1:31) 

Now, did you know yourself, my beloved brother?  Did you recognise that self-denial must be the rule that governs your relation with God? I do not mean that your self is something that is not worthily and so you ought to deny it out of humbleness!.. for we have seen that your self is nothing, ruin..  So, I do not like to use the words "be humbled" because a humble person is that who comes down from his place to a lower and less elevated position.  But a person of no worth like me and you, mere dust and nothingness, cannot be humbled because he actually has no position to refuse nor dignity to forsake.. He is not elevated so that he may be put down nor eminent that he may be humbled.  All that I mean by self-denial, my beloved brother is to know your self and thus you can realise that you have no worth whatever.. It is God who gives you, out of His loving kindness .If you love Him, some of His glory is given, a thing which you do not deserve but for His mercy, His humbleness and condescension.  

Let us contemplate on the beautiful verse which says: "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world, and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are.. " (1 Cor. 1:27-29)      

What does this mean?  Does the kingdom of God fit only the foolish, the weak and the despised?  No, for God had chosen before some learned men such as Moses the Prophet, St. Paul the Apostle &  Arsanius.. He chose also some holy men who were philosophers like  Athenagoras,  Pentinus, and St. Augustine.  God chose some of the Valiant such as Samson and St. Moses the powerful; He chose also some dignified persons like David the King and the princes Maximus and Domadius..  

How Can Both Matters Come Together?

What is meant is not that God chooses only the foolish, the weak and the despised but perhaps that God-blessed be His name-chooses such persons who, though they attain great knowledge, power or honour, stand before Him as if ignorant, weak and despised.. 

Here is Moses, who was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, was not sent by God when he was  self-confident, depending on his human power.  But God called him only when he said, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?... I am not eloquent, neither before, nor since you have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech, and slow of tongue." (Ex. 3:11,4:10) 

St. Paul also who studied the law and was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, was not sent by God except when he could say, 'For it is written I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.  Where is the wise?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the disputer of this age? has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?... I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling and my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."  (1 Cor. 1:19,2:3,4) 

St.  Arsanius was not made by God a father and a guide when he was teaching the princes Arcadius and Onorius in the palace of their father Theodosius the Emperor, but only when his soul was purified and could say, 'Arsanius the teacher of the Kings' sons, who studied the wisdom of the Greek and the Romans,' does not know the Alpha Veta (alphabet) which, an illiterate Egyptian knows' 

Do you think, my brother who worship God, that you will lay a foundation in the church with your knowledge and culture!  Oh you are poor!  Truly I say to you that if you are not freed from dependence on your own knowledge, you will not approach God.  God will not also bless your ministry because if you do succeed in your ministry, people will ascribe this success to what the world granted you of certificates and scientific degrees.. Thus God's glory would be robbed and given to the world.  

My dear learned brother, God is able in this twentieth century to go again to the lake and call an uneducated fisherman to be an apostle and evangelist and this person will teach people better than you do.  When God divided the Red Sea, He did not choose a rod of gold but just a plain rod which resembled millions of rods in the world. 

So, be aware not to think of yourself highly or boast because of a worldly or a religious knowledge, or because of your spiritual readings or past experience.. But in spite of your increased knowledge and deep spirituality, stand before God everyday feeling your ignorance and deficiency and feeling that you need Him to guide you, as a beginner even though you are old.  Stand before Him feeling that you urgently need Him to protect you against the weakest devils and against the sins and transgressions which you consider the simplest or the slightest..

Let this be your feeling, for I have seen many people who read and write about deep spiritual matters but fall in the sins of the beginners... I tell you this fearing that out of confidence of your spiritual knowledge and experience, you would depend on your human power (arm) while the Holy Bible says, "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength" (Jer. 1 7:5) 

Know, my beloved brother, that any spiritual or worldly knowledge that does not lead you to humiliation and to the feeling that you are ignorant, is a false deceitful knowledge.  It is a blow from the devil to make you turn from asking, requiring and knocking at the door... Feel then, my brother, that you are ignorant as the Holy Bible says, "If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise" (1 Cor. 3:18) 

Before God, the wise and the fool are equal because both are ignorant and both are subject to the same death, and the same breath of air blows upon both of them.. Before God, the weak and the strong are equal also because both are weak for no one has any power in the presence of God. 


Do you think, my friend, that you are powerful?

From where did you get this power?  It is not yours of course because you are dust and ashes, you are nothing and ruin.  This power is not also from another being other than God because He - blessed be His name - is alone the powerful and every power is derived from Him.  Is your power then from God?  If so, why do you boast and swagger?  Why do you use God's power in works not relating to Him?  So, he that glories, let him glory in the Lord because He - the highest in glory - is the source of every thing that deserves boasting.. 

But if you are powerful through God though weak by nature, then say along with the blessed St. Paul, "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities... for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Cor. 12:9,10) 

A person who thinks of himself strong will not be called by God because God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.. So, be careful not to trust the power you claim to have because sin, ".. has cost down many wounded, and all who were slain by her are strong men". (Prov. 7:26)   Rather say with David the Righteous,  "Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.  My soul also is greatly troubled" (Ps. 6:2)    Be sure then, my brother, that you are weak.. not because I told you so, but because it is a clear fact.  Did you not fall into sin today? 

Did you not sin yesterday and the days before?  Then, you are not strong.. you are weak and a model of weakness.. you will remain so until you confess that you are weak and hasten to abide in the Father and the Father in you. 

Let me whisper to you another piece of advice: Do not stay in your seclusion thinking yourself more powerful than the others and imagining great projects you would have carried out if only you had been given the authority or had been in the place of the others.. You are not so powerful, my brother.. These are only day dreams or perhaps vanity.. for you are in fact weak.. Perhaps if you had been in the place of those sinners whom you condemn, you would have sinned more than them and showed more weakness.  If you have conquered in the past or conquer now, it is due to God's presence with you not due to your power.  Keep with God then and know that God will not be pleased to be with you as long as you worship yourself instead of Him.

Only one must work: God or you.  If you believe that it is God who works and that you are nothing beside Him but you only stand to watch in wonder God's works, it is good that you believe so.. But if you think that it is you who works and that you have enough power to do this, be sure then, that whatever you do is in vain and you will fall and fail. 

This does not apply only to your ministry and outer activities but also to your inner spiritual life.  Again, if you think that it is you who strives to inherit the eternal life, you will fail.. and if you think that a certain sin has no more dominion over you, you will fall in the same sin even after some time and it will be a great fall... 

The right thing is to feel that you are weak, in a land which brings forth thorns and thistles; and that you are weak before every temptation and sin.  Say along with the psalmist, "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us." (Ps. 124: 2,3)   Thus you will cry out to the Lord and see how He will fight on your behalf and conquer.  Then you will give glory to God not to yourself because the victory is His. 

Lastly, I feel that there is much more to be said concerning this subject, so my beloved brother, remember me, in your prayers till we meet again and continue our meditations if the Lord's grace wills that we remain alive till then. 


 The Release of The Spirit
 By H.H. Pope Shenouda III


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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Exaltation of the Holy Cross



Exaltation of the Holy Cross 

Early in the fourth century St. Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ's life. She razed the Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior's tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.

The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus' head: Then "all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on."

To this day the Eastern Churches, Orthodox and Catholic alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica's dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.

The cross is today the universal image of Christian belief. Countless generations of artists have turned it into a thing of beauty to be carried in procession or worn as jewellery. To the eyes of the first Christians, it had no beauty. It stood outside too many city walls, decorated only with decaying corpses, as a threat to anyone who defied Rome's authority—including Christians who refused sacrifice to Roman gods. Although believers spoke of the cross as the instrument of salvation, it seldom appeared in Christian art unless disguised as an anchor or the Chi-Rho until after Constantine's edict of toleration.

"How splendid the cross of Christ! It brings life, not death; light, not darkness; Paradise, not its loss. It is the wood on which the Lord, like a great warrior, was wounded in hands and feet and side, but healed thereby our wounds. A tree has destroyed us, a tree now brought us life"  ST.Theodore of Studios


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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

6 - HE WAS FAST ASLEEP - By H.H. Pope Shenouda III




6 - HE WAS FAST ASLEEP     
By H.H. Pope Shenouda III


The following is a collection of articles entitled, "The Release of the Spirit" written by HH Pope Shenouda III for the Sunday School Magazine from the year 1951 before starting his monastic life.
These articles were published in the form of a book in the year 1957 including some of his poems which were published in the magazine as well..

It was his first published book and it gained the approval of many and was reprinted many times.

6 - HE WAS FAST ASLEEP

He was fast asleep when the angel whispered in his ears, 'Till when will you live thus, a mere shadow of another person who dominates own you as he wills?' The voice was lenient and sincere, so the sleeping person was not disturbed by it but replied calmly, 'What do you mean, my master the angel?' The angel replied, 'I mean that you have lost your personality with regard to your thoughts and your spiritual life.. and now you have the personality of another person.  That person exalted himself and became exalted in your eyes to the extent that you took him for an example.  You began to follow his steps in everything; if he is elevated, you are elevated also and if he falls, you fall with him.  You adopt his views and follow his deviations.  Moreover, you defend his views more than he himself .  You take his principles as incontestable; suffice you that the person whom you worship has uttered them once.'

The person who was sleeping felt that all the words said by the angel were true but he tried to justify himself and said: 'Is there any harm, my master the angel, if I follow him as long as his views are sound and faultless?' The angel answered him, 'How do you know that all his views are sound?  Do you think that your master is infallible?  Is it not possible to find that he is at fault, being a human being?  And if he is wrong, how would  you know since you listen only to his views and accept nothing else?  You even refuse to listen to any person who may oppose the ideas of this (master); and if you do listen, it is with the spirit of argument.  You try to criticize and refute any idea without understanding it just because it contradicts your master's views!!'

Here, the sleeping person rubbed his eyes bashfully to realize whether he was awake or asleep while the angel went on, 'Your spirit is imprisoned; it wants to be set free but is not able to because it is tied up with the fetters of that person... He gives you only the knowledge he wants you to learn and reveals to you whatever facts he wants.  Even your own knowledge which you acquire from other sources must be reviewed by him.. You have completely lost your personality and behave no more by yourself.  Whenever you face a problem, you seek his help; and whenever anything befalls you, you do not try to find a solution for it but wait till your master comes and solves it.  Even if you take a decision concerning such a matter, he may cancel your decision in any way and whenever he wants without any objection on your side.  The utmost thing you can attain in your life is to be a faded image of that person.  You have lost the personality which God gave you when He created you.. and at the same time you cannot adopt his personality fully because the spiritual, mental and social circumstances which formed your personality differ from those which formed his. I imagine you rocking unsteadily between both ways.'

The sleeping person listened to all this speech feeling that it had touched his heart.  He even felt within himself that he had become weary of the authority of that (master).

This gave him the courage to ask the angel to find him a solution; he said, 'Oh my master the angel, how dare I argue with my master?' The angel replied, 'I tell you, though the case is different, that God likes His children to be of strong personality and He even allows them to discuss with Him.  Remember how Jeremiah addressed God saying, "Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; yet let me talk with You about Your judgments.  Why does the way of the wicked prosper?  Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?  (Jer. 12:1)... Listen also to Abraham arguing with God - glory be to His name-says, "Far be it from You to do such a thing as this... Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen.18:25).  Moses also spoke to his creator in the same manner; he said, "Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people.." (Ex. 32:12).

Here, the sleeping person asked the angel, 'Now, my master the angel, what do you want me to do?  'The angel replied, 'Do not be under the control of a certain person.  Listen to many, and read the writings of many, consider whatever views you want but have a discerning spirit which can distinguish between a sound opinion and a wrong one.  Adopt only what conforms with your spiritual and mental nature, and what fits your social and practical circumstances and your age also.  Know that there are various paths that lead to God but perhaps the path which fits the others does not fit you in particular.. Yours is the path which the Lord has chosen for You - in particular - not any other path.'

At this point the sleeping person got up of his sleep to find himself a new person having his spirit released and set free from any bonds, seeking truth wherever it is and giving no worship to a human being..

 The Release of The Spirit
 By H.H. Pope Shenouda III


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Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Full Assurance of Faith - Verses


Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10: 19 - 22 ESV

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Holding Patterns





Holding Patterns 

Many times, God will allow a painful situation or a painful circumstance in our life to "swallow us up".   In our spiritual growth, this is a holding pattern. We can't move to the left or the right.  All we can do is sit, like Jonah sat in the belly of that great fish, so God can have our undivided attention and speak to us.

God put Jonah in a holding pattern because He needed to speak to his heart. Jonah was all alone. There were no friends to call, no colleagues to drop by, no books to read, no food to eat, no interference, and no interruption. He had plenty of time to sit, think, meditate, and pray.

When we're deep down in the midst of a difficult situation, God can talk to us. When He has our undivided attention, He can show us things about ourselves that we might not otherwise have seen.

A few of God's holding patterns:

1. When you are sick in your physical body and you have prayed but you're not yet healed, .. you are in a holding pattern.

2. When you are having problems with your children and you have put them on the altar, but God has not delivered them yet, .. you are in a holding pattern.

3. When you have been praying for a loved one to return to God, and they have not come back yet, .. you are in a holding pattern.

4. When you are in a broken relationship and you have given it over to God, but it has not been restored yet, .. you are in a holding pattern.

5. When the doors slam shut before you can even knock on them, .. you are in a holding pattern.

When we are deep in the belly of a difficult situation, there are no interruptions.  God has our undivided attention.  All we can do is Sit, Think, Meditate, and Pray.  Like Jonah, we cannot run from God, because there are no mountains that are high enough, valleys that are low enough, rivers that are wide enough, rooms that are dark enough, or places that are hidden from Him.

We must remember to praise Him while we're waiting, and remember three things:
1. The pattern has a purpose.
2. The pattern has a plan.
3. The pattern has a process.

So stop struggling and start listening, praying and trusting.  He'll keep you right where you are until you can clearly hear Him say, "I love you."

Father, forgive my unbelief.  I know you love me and I will come to see the benefit of everything in my life, even this holding pattern, and the manifestation of my Good is assured through You. 
You have planned nothing for me but victories; and I am ready to receive them regardless of how difficult the path.



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Monday, September 3, 2012

Quote From Abba Anthony, Anthony The Great



Quote From Abba Anthony, 
Anthony The Great
 

Someone asked Abba Anthony, saying, 


What must we keep in order to be pleasing to God? 

And the elder answered, saying, Keep what I tell you. 

Whoever you may be, always keep God before your eyes. 

And whatever you do, do it from the witness of the Holy Scriptures. 

And in whatever place you live, do not leave quickly. 

Keep these three things, and you will be saved


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Monday, August 27, 2012

Trees In The Woods



Trees In The Woods

Once upon a time, there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when The First Tree said, "Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carvings and everyone would see my beauty."

Then The Second Tree said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take Kings and Queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull."

Finally, The Third Tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on the top of the hill and look up to my branches and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me...."

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, " This looks like a strong tree. I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter." And he began cutting it down. The tree was happy because he knew the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.

At the second tree, a woodsman said, "This looks like a strong tree. I should be able to sell it to the shipyard." The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down, his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, "I don't need anything special from my tree, so I'll take this one." And he cut it down.

When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for. The second tree was cut and made into a small fish in boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying Kings and Queens had come to an end. The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark. The years went by and the trees forgot about their dreams. Then, one day, a man and a woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.

Years later, a group of men got in the fish in boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arouse and the tree did not think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, he stood and said "PEACE" and the storm stopped. At this time. the tree knew that it had carried the King Of Kings in it's boat.

Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who carried it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realise that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

The Moral of This Story is that when things do not seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined. We do not always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.

What are your hopes and dreams?!!

Keep your hopes and dreams alive and God will ultimately give you the desires of your heart. He clearly tells us this in the Bible.

And remember that you can do all things through Christ.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13 NKJV 


The road to success is not straight.
There is a curve called Failure,
A loop called Confusion,
Speed bumps called Friends,
Red lights called Enemies, 
Caution lights called Family. 
 You will have flats called Jobs, 

But, 

If you have a spare called Determination,
An engine called Perseverance,
Insurance called Faith,
A driver called Jesus,
You will make it to; 
A place called Success. 



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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Virgin Mary The Pure Soul - By St. Symeon Metaphrastis



'The virgin soul that desires to be united to God must keep itself pure not only from overt sins like unchastity, murder, theft, gluttony, backbiting, falsity, avarice, greed and so on; but to an even greater degree it must keep itself pure from sins that are hidden, such as desire, self-esteem, love of popularity, hypocrisy, love of power, wiliness, malice, hatred, unbelief, envy, self-love, affectation and other things of this kind.

According to Scripture, these concealed sins of the soul are just as pernicious as the overt sins. "The Lord has scattered the bones of those who seek to please men", it says (Ps. 53:5); and: "The Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man" (Ps. 5:6), thus making it clear that deceitfulness is just as abhorrent to God as murder.

Again, it numbers among the "workers of iniquity" those who "speak peace to their neighbor but have evil in their hearts" (Ps. 28: 3), and elsewhere it speaks of those who commit lawless acts in their hearts (Ps. 58:2).

It also says: "Woe to you, when men speak well of you" (Luke 6:26) - that is to say, when you want to hear people say good things about you and when you hang upon their glory and praise. It is true that those who do good cannot escape notice altogether.


Indeed, the Lord Himself says: "Let your light shine before men" (Matt. 5:16), though here it is understood that we do good for the glory of God and not for our own glory or because we desire men's praise.

If this is not the case, then we are lacking in faith, as the Lord makes clear when He says: "How can you have faith when you receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?" (John 5:44).

St. Paul bids us to do everything, even to eat and to drink, for the glory of God; "for," he says, "whether you eat or drink, or do anything else, do it for the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

And St John equates hatred with murder when he says: "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer" (1 John 3:15).'

St. Symeon Metaphrastis


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Begotten Wisdom of The Virgin - By St Nikolai Velimirovic





To a silent tongue and a contemplative mind You draw near, 
O All-Holy Spirit, bridegroom of my soul. 
You avoid a talkative tongue as a swan avoids a stormy lake. 
Like a swan you swim across the quiet of my heart and make it fruitful. 


Desist from your wordly wisdom, my neighbors. 
Wisdom is begotten, not made. 
As Wisdom is begotten in God, so is it begotten on earth. 
Begotten wisdom creates, but is not created. 


So, you braggarts brag about your intellect! 
What is your intellect except remembering many facts? 
And if you remem­ber so much, how could you have forgotten 
the moments of the wondrous begetting of wisdom within you? 
Sometimes I hear you talking about great thoughts 
that were born to you unexpectedly without any effort. 
Who bore these thoughts to you, intellectuals? 
How were they begotten without a father, 
if you admit that you did not father them?


Truly I say to you: 
the father of these thoughts is the All-Holy Spirit, 
and their mother survives as the virgin corner of your soul, 
where the All-Holy Spirit still dares to enter. 


Thus every wisdom in heaven and on earth 
is begotten of the Virgin and the All-Holy Spirit. 
The All-Holy Spirit hovered over the chastity of the first hypostasis, 
and the Ultimate Man, the Wisdom of God, was begotten. 


What the chastity of the Father is in heaven, the virginity of the Mother is on earth. 
What the action of the Holy Spirit is in heaven, His action is on earth. 
What the begetting of wisdom is in heaven, the begetting of wisdom is on earth.

St Nikolai Velimirovic



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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

5 - GREATER THAN HEAVEN AND EARTH - By H.H. Pope Shenouda III




5 - GREATER THAN HEAVEN AND EARTH    
By H.H. Pope Shenouda III 

 
The following is a collection of articles entitled, "The Release of the Spirit" written by HH Pope Shenouda III for the Sunday School Magazine from the year 1951 before starting his monastic life. 

These articles were published in the form of a book in the year 1957 including some of his poems which were published in the magazine as well..

It was his first published book and it gained the approval of many and was reprinted many times.



5 - GREATER THAN HEAVEN AND EARTH  

 
This time I was not walking in the desert or sitting at the door of the monastery, I was with my father the monk in front of his cell in the mount to continue our previous talk concerning He who is greater than heaven and earth.  

My beloved brother, a spirit which desires to be released, knows well its own worth.  It knows how magnificently great it is and how much greater it is than to be humiliated by the flesh, the environment or by the devils.

God's beloved, to have an idea about this matter, we have to examine it together.  We have to also remember the past, the present and the future in order to  recognize what a hidden power we have which we are not aware of.  We have to remember that man is the only being created in God's image and likeness (Gen. 1:27).  So when you are asked to introduce yourself, say, firmly and confidently, 'I am the image of God'.

Being the image of God, you are immortal and not liable to perish at all.  For is it possible that a person created after the likeness of God, the Immortal, would perish?!

See then how great you are than the high mountain, the great sea, the blazing sun and the shining moon.  You are greater than the wide desert and the spacious plain, and even greater than the atom which destroys and all the power of  nature.  All these things pass away as the Holy Bible says, "Heaven and earth will pass away.. ", but you will not, for the Lord Jesus Christ promised you an eternal life (John. 4:14) You, the image of God...

You are the king (ruler) of the earth and all that is in it:

You, my great brother, are the only divine creature who, of all the earth and what is beneath or on it, are given by God the gift of intellect and utterance given to angels.  You are the creature who is given the ability to know God and worship Him and whom God is pleased with... The nature which you sometimes think greater than you, is only made by God to serve you.  You can subjugate everything in it according to your will and your power..

Therefore God first created everything then last of all He created you to dominate over all the other creation...' to dominate over the fowl of the air, the fish of the sea and over the cattle and all that is on the earth '(Gen. 1:26,28).  Do you see how you ought to rule over everything though you think yourself weak and fear the hawk, the whale, the lion and other beasts which are in fact your weak servants that served you before?..

Do not think that you had this before the first sin only, for the righteous in every age has this dignity and authority.  Let us examine some examples from the Old Testament: Samson tore apart the lion with his hand and killed it; Daniel was in the lions' den and they did him no harm; Jonah was swallowed by the fish but it vomited him without daring to injure him, and the three lads were in the fire furnace but the fire became for them cold and peaceful.   The same can be found in the New Testament: St. Mark and his lion is one example.  Another example is St. Paul who the viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand, but he shook it off into the fire and felt no harm; so the people were amazed and said he was a god (Acts 28:3-7).  You also are given the power to trod the serpents and the scorpions and every power of the enemy (The Prayer of Thanksgiving).  

Oh, my beloved brother, would you know the value of your soul which you imprison because of your sin in a prison of humility, cowardice and fear!  It peeps from behind the bars of your prison looking for its past glory and wishing to be set free if you do allow it.

You are the divine creature:

You, Valiant, are a divine creature whom God the Son addressed saying, "Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine." (John. 15:4).  You, at whose door God knocks wishing you to open for Him so He may enter and dine with you and you with Him and makes His home with you.  (Rev 3,20; John. 14:23)
                                                      
You are the image of God and you have His attributes.. See how the Lord Jesus Christ - glory be to Him - says about Himself "I am the light of the world" then says to you and your brethren, "You are the light of the world". (Matt. 5:14) 

You are required to strive to be like God for the Lord of glory says: "Therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matt. 5:48).  You are the person whom God is delighted to call His son, though He did not will to call the angels or archangels His sons.  He called you alone, you, the divine creature.

You are the person whom the Lord poured water and washed his feet and wiped them with the towel with which He was girded.

The members of your body are the members of Christ as the apostle says in (1 Cor. 6:15). 

You alone are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you. (1 Cor. 3:16)

You, whom the angels desire to be like.. and who alone partake of the holy flesh and blood of the Lord.. whom the Lord wished to be one with Him and with the Father. (John. 17:21)

You are whom the angels minister to:

 
"The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him and delivers them." (Ps. 34:7)

Did you not see, my beloved brother, how the Lord sent two angels to save Lot from Sodom!  How He sent His angel and closed the mouths of the lions for Daniel!  How Elisha was aware of that and said to his servant, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them... And Elisha prayed... Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man and he saw.  And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire." (2 Kin 6: 15-17).  How also the angel of the Lord brought food to Elijah while he was sleeping under a broom tree, so he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights. 

(1 Kin 19:5-9)   And how the angel of the Lord carried Hebbekuk to give food to Daniel in the den. (Dan 14:35-38)

The time is lacking to tell you, the Lord's beloved, about the ministry of the angels to you and your brethren, their concern about you and their intercession for you.  Truly, you are an important creature...

You Who Are Called A god:

You, my beloved brother, are the person who is called a god by God and people..  " I said, 'You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High"' (Ps. 82:7).  God had also said to Moses, 'I have made you as god to Pharaoh." (Ex. 7:1)   What is meant here is not divinity but domination..

Whatever the meaning is of these two verses, they certainly show your greatness in the sight of God…

You Have The Power To Bind And Loose In Heaven:

If you are reasonably exalted because the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to the Father to prepare for you a place  in heaven and will come again to take you, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world"  (Matt. 25:34), would you not rather be exalted because He gives you the keys of the Kingdom!  For the Lord said, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matt. 18:18)   Moreover, He gives you the authority to forgive or not.  {This authority of course is given to the priests. But the priest is a man and this article speaks about man as a human being whatever his role may be and whatever generation he may belong to.} 

All this is given to you, who are in the image and likeness of God and whose form the Lord took when He came in a flesh like yours . Though His divine nature never departed His human nature even for a second or a twinkle of the eye.

You Are God's Friend:

 
Remember how God - in His supreme wisdom - before destroying Sodom, revealed His will to His friend Abraham, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? “(Gen 18:17,18)   He even let Abraham argue the matter with Him blaming Him with familiarity and liberty saying, -"Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?... Far be it from You to do such a thing as this... far be it from You!  Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:23-26)

It is indeed familiarity and not mere words from a servant to his master or from a creature to the Creator.. They are words of a person who is sure of his worth in the sight of his friend..

Moses also did the same thing while talking with God concerning his people because God wanted to destroy them, he said: "Yet now, if You will forgive their sin-but if not I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written" (Ex.32:33)... Certainly, this is familiarity and friendship!!

Now, brother, have you recognized the value of your soul and its greatness in the eyes of God?  Would you let a deceitful devil play with your dignity though God has' given you the power over all the devils? I do not think you do.. 


 The Release of The Spirit
 By H.H. Pope Shenouda III 


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