Thursday, October 24, 2013

Verses And Fathers Sayings





For I consider that the sufferings of this present
time are not worthy to be compared with the
glory which shall be revealed in us.
(Rom. 8: 18)



For your sake, O man, He prepared the kingdom!
For your sake, He prepared indescribable blessings,
an inheritance prepared in heaven, a unique
abundant life and inexpressible joy.

(St. John Chrysostom)



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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Artemius at Antioch


Great Martyr Artemius at Antioch
Commemorated on October 20

Holy Great Martyr Artemius of Antioch was a prominent military leader during the reigns of the emperor Constantine the Great (May 21), and his son and successor Constantius (337-361). Artemius received many awards for distinguished service and courage. He was appointed viceroy of Egypt. In this official position he did much for the spreading and strengthening Christianity in Egypt.

St Artemius was sent by the emperor Constantius to bring the relics of the holy Apostle Andrew from Patras, and the relics of the holy Apostle Luke from Thebes of Boeotia, to Constantinople. The holy relics were placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles beneath the table of oblation. The emperor rewarded him by making him ruler of Egypt.

The emperor Constantius was succeeded on the throne by Julian the Apostate (361-363). Julian in his desire to restore paganism was extremely antagonistic towards Christians, sending hundreds to their death. At Antioch he ordered the torture of two bishops unwilling to forsake the Christian Faith.

During this time, St Artemius arrived in Antioch and publicly denounced Julian for his impiety. The enraged Julian subjected the saint to terrible tortures and threw the Great Martyr Artemius into prison. While Artemius was praying, Christ, surrounded by angels, appeared to him and said, “Take courage, Artemius! I am with you and will preserve you from every hurt which is inflicted upon you, and I already have prepared your crown of glory. Since you have confessed Me before the people on earth, so shall I confess you before My Heavenly Father. Therefore, take courage and rejoice, you shall be with Me in My Kingdom.” Hearing this, Artemius rejoiced and offered up glory and thanksgiving to Him.


On the following day, Julian demanded that St Artemius honor the pagan gods. Meeting with steadfast refusal, the emperor resorted to further tortures. The saint endured all without a single moan. The saint told Julian that he would be justly recompensed for his persecution of Christians. Julian became furious and resorted to even more savage tortures, but they did not break the will of the saint. Finally the Great Martyr Artemius was beheaded.

His relics were buried by Christians. After the death of St Artemius, his prophecy about Julian the Apostate’s impending death came true.

Julian left Antioch for a war with the Persians. Near the Persian city of Ctesiphon, Julian came upon an elderly Persian, who agreed to betray his countrymen and guide Julian’s army. The old man deceived Julian and led his army into the Karmanite wilderness, where there was neither food nor water. Tired from hunger and thirst, Julian’s army battled against fresh Persian forces.

Divine retribution caught up with Julian the Apostate. During the battle he was mortally wounded by an unseen hand and an unseen weapon. Julian groaned deeply said, “You have conquered, Galilean!” After the death of the apostate emperor, the relics of the Great Martyr Artemius were transferred with honor from Antioch to Constantinople.

St Artemius is invoked by those suffering from hernias.


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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

3 - HUMILITY IN THE LIFE OF JESUS



"I am among you as he that serveth."  
Luke 22: 27

In the Gospel of John we have the inner life of our Lord laid open to us. Jesus speaks frequently of His relationship to the Father, of the motives by which He is guided, of His consciousness of the power and spirit in which He acts. Though the word humble does not occur, we shall nowhere in Scripture see so clearly wherein His humility consisted. 

We have already said that this grace is in truth nothing but that simple consent of the creature to let God be all, to surrenders himself to God's working alone. In Jesus we shall see how both as the Son of God in heaven, and as man upon earth, He took the place of entire subordination, and gave God the honor and the glory which is due to Him- And what He taught so often was made true to Himself: "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." (Luke 18:14) As it is written, "He humbled himself …. therefore God also hath highly exalted him."   (Phil. 2:8-9)

Read the words from John's gospel, in which our Lord spoke of His relationship to the Father, and see how unceasingly He uses the words not, and nothing, of Himself.  The "not I" (Gal.2:20), in which Paul expressed his relationship to Christ, is the very spirit of what Christ said of His relationship to the Father.

"The Son can do nothing of Himself"  (John 5: 19) 

"I can of mine own self do nothing….. My judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will"  (John 5: 30)

"I receive not honour from men" (John 5: 41) 

"For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will" (John 6:38) 

"My doctrine is not Mine" (John 7:16)

"I am not come of Myself" (John 7:28)

"I do nothing of Myself" (John 8:28)

"Neither came I of myself, but He sent Me" (John 8: 42) 

"I seek not mine own glory" (John 8:50)

"The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself {on My own authority}" (John 14: 10) 

"The word which ye hear is not mine" (John 14: 24)

In His teaching, Christ said, "I am nothing; the Father is all." 

These words open to us the deepest roots of Christ's life and work. They tell us how it was that the Almighty God was able to work His mighty redemptive work through Him. They show what Christ counted the state of heart which became Him as the Son of the Father. They teach us what the essential nature and life is of that redemption which Christ accomplished and now communicates. 

Christ was nothing, that God might be all. He resigned Himself with His will and His powers entirely for the Father to work in Him. Of His own power, His own will, and His own glory, of His whole mission with all His works and His teaching, He said, It is not I; I am nothing; I have given Myself to the Father to work; I am nothing, the Father is all.

Christ found this life of entire self-renunciation, of absolute submission and dependence upon the Father's will, Christ found to be one of perfect peace and joy. He lost nothing by giving all to God. God honored His trust, and did all for Him, and then exalted Him to His own right hand in glory. And because Christ had thus humbled Himself before God, and God was ever before Him, He found it possible to humble Himself before men too, and to be the Servant of all. His humility was simply the surrender of Himself to God, to allow the Father to do in Him what He pleased, no matter what men around might say of Him, or do to Him.

It is in this state of mind, in this spirit and disposition, that the redemption of Christ has its virtue and effectiveness. It is to bring us to this disposition that we are made partakers of Christ. This is the true self-denial to which our Saviour calls us, the acknowledgment that self has nothing good in it, except as an empty vessel which God must fill, and that its claim to be or do anything may not for a moment be allowed. It is in this, above and before everything, in which the conformity to Jesus consists. It is the being and doing nothing of ourselves, that God may be all.

Here we have the root and nature of true humility. It is because this is not understood or sought after, that our humility is so superficial and so feeble. We must learn of Jesus, how He is "meek and lowly of heart." (Matt. 11;29)  He teaches us where true humility takes its rise and finds its strength-in the knowledge that it is God "which worketh all in all" (1Cor. 12:6),  that our place is to yield to Him in perfect resignation and dependence, in full consent to be and to do nothing of ourselves. This is the life Christ came to reveal and to impart -a life in God that comes through death to sin and self. 

If we feel that this life is too high for us and beyond our reach must, even more urge us to seek it in Him; it is the indwelling Christ who will live in us this life, meek and lowly. If we long for this, let us, meantime, above everything, seek the holy secret of the knowledge of the nature of God, as He every moment works all in all; the secret, of which all nature and every creature, and above all, every child of God, is to be the witness,-that it is nothing but a vessel, a channel, through which the living God can manifest the riches of His wisdom, power, and goodness. The root of all virtue and grace, of all faith and acceptable worship, is that we know that we have nothing but what we receive, and bow in deepest humility to wait upon God for it.

Jesus considered Himself the servant for the men God loves. 

It was because this humility was not only a temporary sentiment, awakened and brought into exercise whenever He thought of God, but the very spirit of His whole life, Jesus was just as humble in His fellowship with men as with the Father. He considered Himself to be the Servant of God for the men whom God made and loved; as a natural consequence, He considered Himself the Servant of men, that through Him God might do His work of love. He never for a moment thought of seeking His own honor, or asserting His power to vindicate Himself. His whole spirit was that of a life yielded to God to work in. It is not until Christians study the humility of Jesus as the very essence of His redemption, as the very blessedness of the life of the Son of God, as the only true relationship to the Father, and therefore as that which Jesus must give us if we are to have any part with Him, that the terrible lack of actual, heavenly, manifest humility will become a burden and a sorrow. Our ordinary religion be set aside to secure this, the first and the chief of the marks of the Christ within us.

Brother, are you clothed with humility?  Look closely at your daily life. Ask Jesus. Ask your friends. Ask the world. And begin to praise God that there is opened up to you in Jesus a heavenly humility of which you have hardly known, and through which a heavenly blessedness you possibly have never yet tasted can come in to you.
Humility - Andrew Murray


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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fathers Sayings - Abba John The Dwarf





Abba Poemen said of Abba John the Dwarf that he had prayed God to take his passions away from him so that he might become free from care.


He went and told an old man this: ‘I find myself in peace, without an enemy,’ he said. The old man said to him, ‘Go, beseech God to stir up warfare so that you may regain the affliction and humility that you used to have, for it is by warfare that the soul makes progress.’


So he besought God and when warfare came, he no longer prayed that it might be taken away, but said, ‘Lord, give me strength for the fight.’



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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Importance of Prayer And its Effect Over The Soul




By: St. Macarius the Great

Persons, who love truth and God, who thoroughly wish to put on Christ with great hope and faith, do not need so much encouragement or correction from others. They never give up their longing for heaven and their love of the Lord, granted that from time to time they bear patiently a bit of a diminishment in that love. But being completely attached to the cross of Christ, they daily perceive in themselves that they are spiritually progressing toward their spiritual Bridegroom.

Having been wounded by the desire for heaven and thirsting for justice of virtues, they await the illumination of the Spirit with the greatest insatiable longing. And should they be considered worthy to receive through their faith knowledge of divine mysteries or are made participators of the happiness of heavenly grace, they, nevertheless, do not put their trust in themselves, regarding themselves as somebody.

But the more they are considered worthy to receive spiritual gifts, the more diligently do they seek them with an insatiable desire. The more they perceive themselves advancing in spiritual perfection, the more do they hunger and thirst for a greater share of and increase in grace.  And the richer they spiritually become, the poorer they consider themselves, as they burn up interiorly with an insatiable, spiritual yearning for the Heavenly Bridegroom, as scripture says:
“Eat Me, and you will hunger for more; drink Me, and you will thirst for more."   
(Sirach 24:21)



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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Seeking Eternity


A certain brother fell into temptation, and through tribulation relinquished the garb of monk-hood; and he wished to begin to renew his ascetic life. He saw the great difficulty of the matter, and he drew back, and said to himself; "When shall I ever find myself in the same condition as I was formerly in?"

Through fear he did not begin his work. He went and made the matter known to an old man. The old man said: "The matter is thus: There was a certain man who possessed an estate, he held it to be of no account and did not cultivate it. It became full of tangled undergrowth and thorns.

Now one day he remembered it, so he sent his son and said to him: 'Go clean the estate.' When the son had gone and seen the abundance of the undergrowth, he was afraid and said to himself; 'When shall I be able to clean away all this undergrowth?' He threw himself upon a bed, lay down and went to sleep, and thus he did everyday.

His father went forth and found that he was asleep, and had done nothing. He asked him; 'How is it, my son, that no work whatsoever has been done by you?' The son answered: 'When I came to work and saw the abundance of the undergrowth, I was afraid. I thought to myself; 'When shall I be able to clean all this away?'

His father said: 'My son, work according to the measure of your sleep each day, and it shall be sufficient for you.'
When he heard this the young man plucked up some courage, and did thus, and in a short time he cleansed the estate.

Thus also you shall not be afraid, but begin the work of your rules, and God, by His Grace will establish you among those in the first rank."
Now when the brother had done thus he was helped.

 
The Desert Fathers

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

12 - BE RELEASED FROM YOUR EARTHLY DESIRES - By H.H. Pope Shenouda III






12 - BE RELEASED FROM YOUR EARTHLY DESIRES  
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.

12 - BE RELEASED FROM YOUR EARTHLY DESIRES   

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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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Prayer - From Coptic Morning Prayer




Make us worthy O Lord to pray thankfully:

Our Father Who art in heaven; hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, in Christ Jesus our Lord. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, and has not stood in the way of the sinners, and has not sat in the seat of the evil men. But his will is in the law of the Lord; and in His law he shall meditate day and night. He shall be like the tree which is planted by the streams of water, which shall yield its fruit in its due season, and its leaf shall not scatter, and in everything he does he prospers.

Not so are the ungodly, not so; but rather they are like the chaff which the wind scatters upon the face of the earth. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in judgment, nor the sinners in the council of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

ALLELUIA


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