Thursday, October 3, 2013


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.


Do you know what things you ought to escape from? Escape from the interests, the hopes and desires... Escape from all such things if you really want to attain the release of the spirit.

My beloved brother, please let me go a little deep into your heart to talk to you frankly: You have great hopes which you are much concerned about and which occupy part of your heart. They even occupy your imagination and so when you are alone they come to you as daydreams and when you are asleep you dream of them.. You have certain aims which you know most and cannot deny.. You want to be of a great importance, you want to be known by others and venerated by them.. You have hopes regarding fame and good reputation, authority and power, hopes regarding wealth, social positions, knowledge, titles, future, appearances and credit.. You have certain desires concerning residence, food, clothing and various pleasures of the body.. You do not live in the world but in fact it is the world that lives in you, and dominates over your heart, your mind, your imagination and your will.. As for your spirit, it is imprisoned within all this; it desires to be released of the fleshly desires.. as "the flesh lusts against the Spirit."  (Gal. 5:17)

These hopes and interests make you miserable, my beloved brother, because not all of them can be achieved..
This of course makes you discontented.. You long for such things and this longing makes you unhappy.. So, you make your arrangements and seek the means to achieve them: you think, meet certain persons, write down papers, go and come, strive and try hard; then you sit and wait.. You may get bored and tired of waiting and of having hope.. You may get desperate and become anxious or feel afraid of failure. Thus you become unhappy and perhaps your labour and your attempts end for nothing and you do not attain your desire and this makes you more unhappy .

A more dangerous thing is that you may go astray because of such hopes and desires and fall in deceit, beating about the bush, fawning and flattery, lying or what is worse... This is what one of the wise men once said, 'A person will certainly fall in hypocrisy if he wants to hide something within himself.

I know that you feel tired and I pity you.. But when will you live in the fire of hopes! What is amazing concerning such worldly desires is that they make you unhappy even though they are realized. For when you attain what you desire, you will be pleased and such pleasure leads you to seek more.. as the Lord Jesus Christ said: “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again." (John  4:13)  And when one feels thirst one seeks water to quench one's thirst and the more one drinks, the more one will feel thirst and desire for water..

So, my beloved brother, I want to discuss the matter with you calmly.. Why do you hold fast to certain worldly desires while you know that ".. the world is passing away, and the lust of it." (1 John  2:17)  You are-like me-a stranger on earth and the hour will come when you will quit the world and all its possessions .. As you have come naked from your mothers' womb, you will return naked there. (Job 1:21)  You will be forced to leave the world with its glory, wealth and fame and descend into a pit in the ground like any base person.. Whatever authority, pleasures or fame you attain in this world, this will not protect your mortal body against corruption or prevent the worms from feeding on your body leaving nothing of it.. On the day of judgement, you will stand before God destitute of all worldly possessions. You will keep nothing from the world except your works whether they be good or evil.

Therefore, my beloved brother, it is not good for you to confine your interests and hopes to this earth. Do you not remember that this earth brought forth to you thorns and thistles! It had once accepted the blood of Abel the Righteous.. and the cisterns hewn in it can hold no water. (Jer. 2:13)

Take the example of the father saints who lived on the earth before us and whom the earth was not deserving to be trodden on with their feet.. Those holy fathers did not attain that holiness except when they emptied their hearts of the love of the world and the worldly things.. They had no longer any desire or lust, nor any possession in the world.. And because they did not hold to anything in the world, it was easy for them to quit it and they even longed for that..

As for you, my beloved brother, you still have some worldly desires and, ".. where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt. 6:21)  Your heart clings to the dust and its glory, so, the spiritual matters lose their value in your sight.. This is the same temptation with which the devil tried to tempt the Lord of glory, ".. the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”  (Matt. 4: 8-9) 

Now, consider, if you do possess all such things and lose your soul which you imprison in a golden cage of desires, what will this avail you? Your soul wants to be set free...

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


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