Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Hidden Benefits of Helping

The family and community of Mor Gregorios and St. Mary the Protectress Orthodox Church hope you are able to join us this Sunday for the Divine Liturgy.  The celebration starts at 10:30 AM.  We are located at 1000 South Michigan Street, Plymouth, Indiana.  Fellowship and lunch follows the Liturgy.

The Mor Gregorios Community needs your help to continue to help those we serve.   We need volunteers to assist at the community center and we need financial support.  The principle program of the Mor Gregorios Community Center is the employment program.  Volunteers help folks file their unemployment claims online, and file their weekly reports.  Help is also provided with job searches, interviewing skills, and resume preparation.

We can make a difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors.  To find out how call the Mor Gregorios Community Center at 574-540-2048, or email us at monastery@synesius.com.

Without your help these important programs can not continue.  If you want some reason why you should, here are some benefits of helping;


(Adapted from Helping You is Helping Me by Virgil Gulker (World Vision, Inc., 1993), pp. 29-38. Used with permission.)
 
 

   1. Volunteers get a kick out of helping others. There is just something about helping others that literally makes people feel good. In a study published in Psychology Today, the main sensations reported while volunteering were: “high”, “stronger, more energetic”, “calmer, less depressed,” and a “greater sense of self worth.” Volunteers are often excited about helping others and sending the message that people care.

 

   2. Volunteers gain a sense of impact or significance not always available through career or other responsibilities. While family and work responsibilities provide a deep satisfaction, there is often something missing in our experience of life.  Volunteering just a few hours a week to help others can make a real difference and provide a much needed sense of accomplishment. Volunteers can find fulfillment in an opportunity to share high level skills or more often, just being there for someone.

 

   3. Volunteering Enhances Employability. Volunteering provides the side benefit of a valuable work experience. It is a real opportunity to provide invaluable help while broadening your network of potential references and employers.

 

   4. Volunteering helps you to discover what color your parachute is. “Discovering the color of your parachute” is the process of exploring your vocational strengths and interests. For those entering the workforce or exploring a career change, volunteering is an excellent opportunity to field-test your interests and discover new abilities.

 

   5. Volunteering helps turn negative life experiences into strengths. When you consider how you may be able to help others, don’t simply think about what you may be good at, think about what you have been through. People in tough circumstances often need to talk to others who will listen with real understanding and speak to their concerns with conviction and authority.  Your failures and negative experiences may hold the key to your effectiveness in helping others.

 

   6. Volunteering can provide a break from preoccupation with your own problems. Working with the less fortunate allows you to change your whole frame of reference and begin to focus on what you have rather than what you lack. Volunteering often allows you to move beyond your own problems and sense of dissatisfaction to focus on the needs of others.

 

   7. Volunteering provides an advanced degree in the school of life. Volunteers often tell of invaluable lessons learned from those they are helping. Sharing in the sufferings, failures and triumphs of others who are in need can provide you with a more profound and diverse perspective on life.

source: http://www.urbanministry.org/wiki/hidden-benefits-helping

--
Posted By  Very Rev. Dr. Theodosius Walker  to  Peace - Justice - Orthodox Christianity <http://orthodoxpeacejustice.blogspot.com/2009/07/hidden-benefits-of-helping.html>   at  7/30/2009 02:04:00 PM

------ End of Forwarded Message

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What is a merciful heart?

And what is a merciful heart? It is the heart's burning for the sake of the entire creation, for men, for birds, for animals, for demons and for every created thing; and by the recollection and sight of them the eyes of a merciful man pour forth abundant tears. From the strong and vehement mercy which grips his heart and from his great compassion, his heart is humbled and he cannot bear to hear or see any injury or slight sorrow in creation.For this reason he continually offers up tearful prayer, even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth and for those who harm him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner he even prays for the family of reptiles because of the great compassion that burns in his heart without measure in the likeness of God.
St. Isaac The Syrian

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Comparative Religion

Comparative Religion
Several links on this page to comparative religions.

Prayer needs preparation

Although prayer is a habitual action for us, it needs preparation. For anyone who knows how to read and write, what is more usual than reading and writing? Yet if we sit down to read and write we do not do so suddenly, we first get ourselves into the mood for what we are going to do. This kind of preparation is all the more necessary before we start to pray, particularly if our occupation immediately beforehand was very different from prayer.

So, morning or evening, immediately before you begin to repeat your prayers, stand awhile, sit for awhile, or walk a little and try to steady your mind and turn it away from all worldly activities and objects. After this, think who He is to whom you turn in prayer, then recollect who you are; who it is who is about to start this invocation to Him in prayer. Do this in such a way as to awake in your heart a feeling of humility and reverent awe that your are standing in the presence of God. It is the beginning of prayer, and a good beginning is half the complete task.

St. Theophan the Recluse

WHY TURN TO EAST FOR PRAYER ?

By FR.DR.K.M.GEORGE
Principal Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam
Source - www.lightoflife.com

Why do we turn to the East while we pray ? Can we not pray in any direction ? Since God is present every where and can hear our prayer, is it really necessary that we turn to a particular direction while praying?

Jews who live anywhere outside the holy city of Jerusalem traditionally turn to the direction of Jerusalem in Palestine ( modern Israel) for prayer, Muslims anywhere in the world will turn to Ka'aba, the sacred black stone in Mecca, Saudi Arabia for the prescribed hours of prayer. Christians from very ancient times used to turn to the direction of the rising sun for public prayer. For Christians in the western world this tradition is nearly lost. However all Christians belonging to the Eastern (Orthodox ) Christian churches still maintain this venerable practice of turning to the East for the public act of the community worship.

In the Christian church, we make a distinction between the personal prayer of an individual and the public worship of the Christian Community. An individual is free to pray any time, in any direction and in any posture. In fact, Christ and and the Apostles encouraged the practice of "unceasing prayer". One can pray while taking a bath, playing or eating. One can maintain the mood of prayer through out the day. This kind of continuous prayer of an individual has no fixed form or style or words. This could be done mostly in silence or with words one chooses or with the help of ancient prayers like the famous " Jesus Prayer". This can be practiced without engaging our conscious mind at all. This is essentially the practice of the presence of God every moment of our earthly life.

But public worship is different in its form and style. It is a community prayer in which many individuals together constitute one body, an expression of the body of Christ, the Church. They are not an ad-hoc community, but they continue the unbroken tradition of worshipping the Triune God from the time of the Apostles onwards. The best example of this kind of public worship is the Eucharistic liturgy or Holy Qurbana. In public worship we turn to East, the direction of the rising sun.

The Apostles of Christ were all Jews. The early disciples of Christ in Palestine were mostly Jews. They prayed like other Jews. Soon however, Christians developed their own prayers addressed to Christ as the saviour.

Because of a new spiritual awareness in the early Christian community, Christians developed a detachment to physical places like Jerusalem. Their absorbing concern was with the "Heavenly Jerusalem" and the way to reach that abiding spiritual city. All places on earth were the same for them. No place was particularly sacred. So the early Christian community gradually moved away from the Jewish orientation to the city of Jerusalem in Palestine. At the same time a new sense of direction emerged in Christian worship, namely the direction of the rising sun.


This eastward direction developed in Christianity has a strong biblical basis:

  1. In the biblical story of creation we read: " And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed ( Gen. 2:8). Eventually Adam and Eve, after their act of disobedience were sent out from the Garden of Eden in the East. According to Christian interpretation, since the time of this expulsion of the first parents by the eastern gate of paradise (=garden), all children of Adam and Eve look back to their lost home, the paradise in the East, with a deep sense of spiritual home sickness. So salvation is understood partly as a return to the original home.
  2. The prophets foretold the coming of Jesus as the Messiah in symbolic and figurative language. The New Testament writers interpreted these prophecies as having been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. For example the prophecy of Malachi. " But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings" ( 4: 2). So looking to the East stands for our earnest waiting for the coming of Christ, the healer and saviour of the world.
  3. Jesus said: " I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" ( St. John 8:12) Light is the source of life. On our planet earth, all life depends on the light of the sun. But the physical sun in our solar system sustains only biological life in plants, animals, and human beings. This life will eventually die. The sun as a star will ultimately die as well. In the spiritual realm, Jesus is the eternal sun. He is the source and sustainer of all life, both biological and spiritual. He is " the true light that enlightens every human being" ( St. John, 1:9 ).
    Therefore we symbolically turn to the direction of the rising sun to receive the light of the risen Christ. Christ is also called " the bright morning star" ( Rev. 22:16) He inaugurated the new age of the Kingdom of God. As the dawn breaks, the eastern horizon brightens up with beautiful colours. We turn to the beauty and brilliance of God's light as we praise the triune God facing east.
  4. A popular Christian belief developed in the course of time that in the Second Coming, Christ would come from the East. The basis of this tradition is the Gospel reference ( Matt. 24:27) that the coming of the Son of Man would be like lightening that shines from the east to the west.

So, turning to the east stands for our final preparation to receive Christ when he comes for the last Judgment of the world. Thus the east symbolizes our spiritual wakefulness, our readiness to give account of our life and our hope in the transfiguration of all creation in Christ our Lord.

This biblical, Christ centered tradition of the church of turning to the east in prayer is part of the rich heritage of the Orthodox church. We build our churches in the east-west direction. The whole congregation together with the priest turns to east in remembrance of all that God grants us from the time of our creation in Paradise to the fulfillment of all in the Second coming of Christ. The bodies of our beloved departed faithful are laid to rest facing the east with the hope of resurrection and meeting Jesus face to face.

Turning to the East, of course is a symbolic act. We know that East and West, South and North have no physical and geographical significance in the age of space travel in a Tran terrestrial cosmic frame. Yet it is a deeply spiritual symbol and a most beautiful one in the whole of Christian tradition. In special situations when the place or building where we worship happens to be inconvenient for the traditional orientation of the community, we are free to turn to any suitable direction. The sense of the east gives the right " orientation" ( from the world Orient + East ) for our earthly life in the midst of suffering, doubt, and spiritual disorientation. In any case, it is only wise to keep this ancient tradition in its right spirit.


source: http://www.ots.org.in/main/Articles/whyturn.asp

The Principles of Orthodox Worship

by Fr.Dr. Mathew Vaidyan
(A renowned theologian of the Indian Orthodox Church, author of many theological books,known for his oratory ,currently working as the principal of MTC, Mavelikkara)
Source - www.orthodoxherald.com

  1. Transfiguration of the whole being
    Human mind is provided with conscious, sub conscious and unconscious layers. Worship is not only the transfiguration of the conscious mind. It transforms the whole being . St. Paul expresses this process as follows: ' And we all, with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory , just as by the spirit of the Lord'. ( 2 Cor.3:18). The three representatives of the Apostles could experience this glory of the Lord in their Taboric Transfiguration. Christian witness is not only to see the glory of God, but also to become glorified. Human beings , created in the image of God are transfigured from glory to glory through incessant prayer and worship. This process is not intellectual but experiential. The whole being is involved in this process. In other words, worship is infinite growth in goodness. It is theosis or Defecation.
  2. Communication with the five senses.
    The five sense help us in human communications. The same is applicable to our communication with God. In real worship we see, hear, smell, taste and experience the divine communion. Preaching the word of God and listening to it are not the exclusive factors of worship. Take the example of the three fold colors by which the Holy Altar is decorated. The red covering at the altar indicates the universe and the solar system. The green coloring denotes the earth with the greenish variety of biological species. The white covering indicates the Church made sanctified and pure through the blood of the unblemished lamb of God , Jesus Christ. The blood and body of Christ were given to the Church and the whole creation is sanctified through the Church. In worship we listen to the word of God , smell the odor of incense ,touch the hands of our brethren in Kiss of Peace and taste from the divine chalice perceiving the mysteries of the liturgical scenario.
  3. Rituals, offerings and incense
    God became man. He took flesh, matter was used in the redeeming process of incarnation. . Rituals offerings and material objects were given sufficient role in the ministry of Jesus. St. Luke chapter 5 verse 14 states , ' And he charged him to tell no one : but go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing as Moses commanded for a proof to the people'. Thus Jesus commanded to give offering and rites of thanks giving. Jesus is serious towards those who disobeyed the commandments. Jesus taught that offerings and rituals must help to be firm in faith and for the glorification of God. Jesus was respectful towards priesthood , offerings of thanks giving and vows . Even St.Paul cut his hair at Cenchreae, for he had a vow ( Acts 18:18) .Bread , wine , water, oil and soil are all seen used in the redemptive process according to the Bible. ' You do this in remembrance of me, this is my body and this is my blood' commanded Jesus. The offering of the incense is practiced in Christian worship ( See Rev. 8 : 3,4 Rev. 5:8, Heb 9:4, Mt.2: 11). Offering of the incense is to get rid of the plagues to remove the foul smell of sin, to please the Lord with complete dedication and to keep the Biblical commandments ( See Num. 16:46- 50 ) . Ex. 35: 8, 2 Chron 2: 4, 1 kg 9: 25, Malachi 1:11 etc.) With the offering of incense we are mingling with the prayers of all the saints. ( Rev, 8:4).
  4. Ssymbolic Represntations
    We have to acknowledge our linguistic limitations. Words and language alone fail to reflect our gratitude to God Almighty. Symbols speak volumes and help us for meaningful communication with God. The early Church developed symbolic art in the Catacombs.Symbols used by early Christians include , lamb, dove ,fish, shepherd, vine , bread, cross and the like. The dove represents holy Spirit, Christ si the Good Shepherd,and the Lamb of God. The Greek word 'ikhthus' which means fish denotes ' Jesus Christ, son of god, Savior' when alphabetically expanded. This was the creed and declaration of faith used by ancient Christians. The symbolism of salt, lamp, etc. are inspirative and educative for a Christian. They are parts of the Christian devotion. The cross speaks out the sacrificial acts of Jesus. Signing of the cross is also silent , but meaningful worship. The icons first came into existence in Syria and Egypt. The Byzantine Church developed icons and iconostasis with a sound theology of symbols called iconography.
  5. Fasting, Feasting and Festivals
    In worship there are factors beyond human reasoning and intellect. Through the particular cycle of prayers, rites of purification and courses of meditation together with lent, fasting and deeds of charity we find amalgamation with such factors beyond our reason and intellect. In our worship we bow our heads, kneel down and pray to the Lord. ( See Gen 24:26, Gen 24:48, Ex 4:31, Dan 6:10, 1 king 8:54,Mt. 2:11, Rev.7:11, ps,95:6. Etc.) Fasting is pleasing to God Is 58:6-8) , God asked his people to observe fast . Joel 1:12-15. The evil one can be overcome by fasting. Luke 2:37, Mt. 17:21, Esther 4:16 , . Moses observed fasting Ex: 34:28, Mk 9:29, Acts 14:23, , fasting is mentioned in 1 king 19:18. Also we see 21 days fasting of Daniel ( Dan 10:2,3) 14 days fasting in Acts 27: 33,35 . 7 days fasting of David in 2 Sam 12:16, 1 Sam 31:13, 3 days fasting of Esther 3:13, 4:16, Acts 9:9, Dan 9:3-21 , Ezra 8:3, people of Nineveh Jona 3:6 etc. Jesus is the best example Mt. 4:2, Feasts are observed as days of special honor and reverence. Jn.7:2 , acts 20:16, 1 Cor 16:8. The Jews observed feast of Passover. ( Ex. 12: 14-17) ,Pentecost ( Ex. 19:20), tabernacle ( Lev 23:24 ), Purim ( Esther 9:26) , Trumpet ( Lev 23:24) , Feasts and Festivals of Christianity commemorate events related to Christ , saints, and martyrs sharing the experiences in and with so great a cloud of witness ( Heb 12:10).
  6. Conformity with the mind of the Church
    We are bound to hold fast the traditions transferred to us through the Church by our Lord, the Apostles and the church Fathers. The Greek word paradosisused in the Bible means ' that which is transferred' or ' traditions' ( see 2 thess 2 : 15, 3:16, 1 Cor 11:2 etc.) The continuity and apostolic authority together with the rich spiritual fragrance behind these traditions are to be counted. Tradition is the mind of the Church . It is difficult to write down everything that we see , know and experience . The canons, faith declaration and textual formations of the liturgical practices form the spiritual code of conduct made by the Holy Spirit through the Apostles , gospel- writers and Church Fathers. These traditions (oral and written ) act as catalytic agents for our spiritual upbringing . These tradition are not be ridiculed , misused , and misunderstood. See 1 Cor, 11:34, Phil 4:9, 2 Tim 2:2, 2 Tim 1:13, Heb 2: 1, 3 Jn. 1 :13 , 2 Pet 3:16.
  7. Communion with the departed ones
    The Church is the communion of all believers in the past , present, and future. Both the living and the departed are members of the church. A believer never dies.Jn.11:26. The departed ones stand around us like clouds today. Heb 12:1. They live 1 Pet 4:6. They speak Luke 9:30,31. They please God 2 Cor 5:8,9. They pray for the world. Rev 6:9,10. Death is not capable of separating us from the love of God. Rom 8:38. The departed Moses and Elijah are seen talking with Jesus Mt. 17:3. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effect. James 5:16. See also Prov 10:7, 1 Cor 6:2, Rev 2:26, Luke 16:27,28. The departed ones are alive in paradise. Luke. 23:43. St. Paul prayed for the departed Onesiphorous. 2 Tim 1:16-18 . We commemorate and unite in prayer with the departed ones who form the larger part of the Church.
  8. Intercession for the whole creation
    Intercession for the living and the departed was practiced in the Church from the very beginning. If it is alright to ask a living person to pray for us without violating the principle of one unique Mediator , it cannot be wrong to ask a departed saint to pray for us. We also pray for them. Even the relics of the departed saints can do miracles. See 2 kings 13:20, 21. The rich man in hades prays for his five brothers who are living Luke 16:27,28. The Orthodox Church believes that the range of Christ's saving activity is the whole creation at large. The creation is based on the will, wisdom and power of God. Purpose of the creation is to glorify God. With our prayers and intercession we transfigure the world for the glorification of God.
  9. Liturgical hymns with diversity of tunes
    The highest form of worship is to use hymns with diversity of tunes as in the Psalms. Through liturgical hymns we are getting into the horizon of the fact of incarnation. We are exploring the divine mysteries through our hymns. Music is the human response to divine love. Music transforms human mind. It is the highest form of devotion and the strongest mental shock absorber. With the heavenly angels who stand in rows and repeat the chanting of melodious prayers, the earthly beings participate in the worship with melodious songs. In the book of psalms there are directions to lift up the voice of the choir. The word 'sela' means 'lift up' . In the communal worship and singing , the choir members are reminded here to raise and lower down the voices and tunes. Worship is our state of being immersed into the ocean of God. We feel relaxed when our burdens, problems, afflictions and aspirations are submitted before God. Worship is the state of our relaxation before God.
  10. Strong Biblical basis
    The apostles and the early disciples described the mystery of early Incarnation based on the law of Moses, prophets and other writings. See Acts 28:23. The worship and liturgical practice of the early Church were developed with the contents of Synagogue worship and Temple worship. The worship in the Jerusalem Temple followed morning and evening sacrifice , offering of the incense and Hanukah processions with lighted candles. The synagogue worship followed readings from the Old Testament, verses of blessings, singing of Psalms, exegetical sermons by religious scholars and Aaronic benediction. Assimilating these ancient practices of worship , the Church developed and regularized readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, songs, offering of incense and the holy Eucharist which is the liturgy of the sacrifice (Jn 6:53 ,1 Cor. 11:23-32, Heb 9: 15-22,). The worship of the Orthodox Church is saturated with verses from the Holy Bible.
source:

by Fr.Dr. Mathew Vaidyan
(A renowned theologian of the Indian Orthodox Church, author of many theological books,known for his oratory ,currently working as the principal of MTC, Mavelikkara)
Source - www.orthodoxherald.com

  1. Transfiguration of the whole being
    Human mind is provided with conscious, sub conscious and unconscious layers. Worship is not only the transfiguration of the conscious mind. It transforms the whole being . St. Paul expresses this process as follows: ' And we all, with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory , just as by the spirit of the Lord'. ( 2 Cor.3:18). The three representatives of the Apostles could experience this glory of the Lord in their Taboric Transfiguration. Christian witness is not only to see the glory of God, but also to become glorified. Human beings , created in the image of God are transfigured from glory to glory through incessant prayer and worship. This process is not intellectual but experiential. The whole being is involved in this process. In other words, worship is infinite growth in goodness. It is theosis or Defecation.
  2. Communication with the five senses.
    The five sense help us in human communications. The same is applicable to our communication with God. In real worship we see, hear, smell, taste and experience the divine communion. Preaching the word of God and listening to it are not the exclusive factors of worship. Take the example of the three fold colors by which the Holy Altar is decorated. The red covering at the altar indicates the universe and the solar system. The green coloring denotes the earth with the greenish variety of biological species. The white covering indicates the Church made sanctified and pure through the blood of the unblemished lamb of God , Jesus Christ. The blood and body of Christ were given to the Church and the whole creation is sanctified through the Church. In worship we listen to the word of God , smell the odor of incense ,touch the hands of our brethren in Kiss of Peace and taste from the divine chalice perceiving the mysteries of the liturgical scenario.
  3. Rituals, offerings and incense
    God became man. He took flesh, matter was used in the redeeming process of incarnation. . Rituals offerings and material objects were given sufficient role in the ministry of Jesus. St. Luke chapter 5 verse 14 states , ' And he charged him to tell no one : but go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing as Moses commanded for a proof to the people'. Thus Jesus commanded to give offering and rites of thanks giving. Jesus is serious towards those who disobeyed the commandments. Jesus taught that offerings and rituals must help to be firm in faith and for the glorification of God. Jesus was respectful towards priesthood , offerings of thanks giving and vows . Even St.Paul cut his hair at Cenchreae, for he had a vow ( Acts 18:18) .Bread , wine , water, oil and soil are all seen used in the redemptive process according to the Bible. ' You do this in remembrance of me, this is my body and this is my blood' commanded Jesus. The offering of the incense is practiced in Christian worship ( See Rev. 8 : 3,4 Rev. 5:8, Heb 9:4, Mt.2: 11). Offering of the incense is to get rid of the plagues to remove the foul smell of sin, to please the Lord with complete dedication and to keep the Biblical commandments ( See Num. 16:46- 50 ) . Ex. 35: 8, 2 Chron 2: 4, 1 kg 9: 25, Malachi 1:11 etc.) With the offering of incense we are mingling with the prayers of all the saints. ( Rev, 8:4).
  4. Ssymbolic Represntations
    We have to acknowledge our linguistic limitations. Words and language alone fail to reflect our gratitude to God Almighty. Symbols speak volumes and help us for meaningful communication with God. The early Church developed symbolic art in the Catacombs.Symbols used by early Christians include , lamb, dove ,fish, shepherd, vine , bread, cross and the like. The dove represents holy Spirit, Christ si the Good Shepherd,and the Lamb of God. The Greek word 'ikhthus' which means fish denotes ' Jesus Christ, son of god, Savior' when alphabetically expanded. This was the creed and declaration of faith used by ancient Christians. The symbolism of salt, lamp, etc. are inspirative and educative for a Christian. They are parts of the Christian devotion. The cross speaks out the sacrificial acts of Jesus. Signing of the cross is also silent , but meaningful worship. The icons first came into existence in Syria and Egypt. The Byzantine Church developed icons and iconostasis with a sound theology of symbols called iconography.
  5. Fasting, Feasting and Festivals
    In worship there are factors beyond human reasoning and intellect. Through the particular cycle of prayers, rites of purification and courses of meditation together with lent, fasting and deeds of charity we find amalgamation with such factors beyond our reason and intellect. In our worship we bow our heads, kneel down and pray to the Lord. ( See Gen 24:26, Gen 24:48, Ex 4:31, Dan 6:10, 1 king 8:54,Mt. 2:11, Rev.7:11, ps,95:6. Etc.) Fasting is pleasing to God Is 58:6-8) , God asked his people to observe fast . Joel 1:12-15. The evil one can be overcome by fasting. Luke 2:37, Mt. 17:21, Esther 4:16 , . Moses observed fasting Ex: 34:28, Mk 9:29, Acts 14:23, , fasting is mentioned in 1 king 19:18. Also we see 21 days fasting of Daniel ( Dan 10:2,3) 14 days fasting in Acts 27: 33,35 . 7 days fasting of David in 2 Sam 12:16, 1 Sam 31:13, 3 days fasting of Esther 3:13, 4:16, Acts 9:9, Dan 9:3-21 , Ezra 8:3, people of Nineveh Jona 3:6 etc. Jesus is the best example Mt. 4:2, Feasts are observed as days of special honor and reverence. Jn.7:2 , acts 20:16, 1 Cor 16:8. The Jews observed feast of Passover. ( Ex. 12: 14-17) ,Pentecost ( Ex. 19:20), tabernacle ( Lev 23:24 ), Purim ( Esther 9:26) , Trumpet ( Lev 23:24) , Feasts and Festivals of Christianity commemorate events related to Christ , saints, and martyrs sharing the experiences in and with so great a cloud of witness ( Heb 12:10).
  6. Conformity with the mind of the Church
    We are bound to hold fast the traditions transferred to us through the Church by our Lord, the Apostles and the church Fathers. The Greek word paradosisused in the Bible means ' that which is transferred' or ' traditions' ( see 2 thess 2 : 15, 3:16, 1 Cor 11:2 etc.) The continuity and apostolic authority together with the rich spiritual fragrance behind these traditions are to be counted. Tradition is the mind of the Church . It is difficult to write down everything that we see , know and experience . The canons, faith declaration and textual formations of the liturgical practices form the spiritual code of conduct made by the Holy Spirit through the Apostles , gospel- writers and Church Fathers. These traditions (oral and written ) act as catalytic agents for our spiritual upbringing . These tradition are not be ridiculed , misused , and misunderstood. See 1 Cor, 11:34, Phil 4:9, 2 Tim 2:2, 2 Tim 1:13, Heb 2: 1, 3 Jn. 1 :13 , 2 Pet 3:16.
  7. Communion with the departed ones
    The Church is the communion of all believers in the past , present, and future. Both the living and the departed are members of the church. A believer never dies.Jn.11:26. The departed ones stand around us like clouds today. Heb 12:1. They live 1 Pet 4:6. They speak Luke 9:30,31. They please God 2 Cor 5:8,9. They pray for the world. Rev 6:9,10. Death is not capable of separating us from the love of God. Rom 8:38. The departed Moses and Elijah are seen talking with Jesus Mt. 17:3. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effect. James 5:16. See also Prov 10:7, 1 Cor 6:2, Rev 2:26, Luke 16:27,28. The departed ones are alive in paradise. Luke. 23:43. St. Paul prayed for the departed Onesiphorous. 2 Tim 1:16-18 . We commemorate and unite in prayer with the departed ones who form the larger part of the Church.
  8. Intercession for the whole creation
    Intercession for the living and the departed was practiced in the Church from the very beginning. If it is alright to ask a living person to pray for us without violating the principle of one unique Mediator , it cannot be wrong to ask a departed saint to pray for us. We also pray for them. Even the relics of the departed saints can do miracles. See 2 kings 13:20, 21. The rich man in hades prays for his five brothers who are living Luke 16:27,28. The Orthodox Church believes that the range of Christ's saving activity is the whole creation at large. The creation is based on the will, wisdom and power of God. Purpose of the creation is to glorify God. With our prayers and intercession we transfigure the world for the glorification of God.
  9. Liturgical hymns with diversity of tunes
    The highest form of worship is to use hymns with diversity of tunes as in the Psalms. Through liturgical hymns we are getting into the horizon of the fact of incarnation. We are exploring the divine mysteries through our hymns. Music is the human response to divine love. Music transforms human mind. It is the highest form of devotion and the strongest mental shock absorber. With the heavenly angels who stand in rows and repeat the chanting of melodious prayers, the earthly beings participate in the worship with melodious songs. In the book of psalms there are directions to lift up the voice of the choir. The word 'sela' means 'lift up' . In the communal worship and singing , the choir members are reminded here to raise and lower down the voices and tunes. Worship is our state of being immersed into the ocean of God. We feel relaxed when our burdens, problems, afflictions and aspirations are submitted before God. Worship is the state of our relaxation before God.
  10. Strong Biblical basis
    The apostles and the early disciples described the mystery of early Incarnation based on the law of Moses, prophets and other writings. See Acts 28:23. The worship and liturgical practice of the early Church were developed with the contents of Synagogue worship and Temple worship. The worship in the Jerusalem Temple followed morning and evening sacrifice , offering of the incense and Hanukah processions with lighted candles. The synagogue worship followed readings from the Old Testament, verses of blessings, singing of Psalms, exegetical sermons by religious scholars and Aaronic benediction. Assimilating these ancient practices of worship , the Church developed and regularized readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, songs, offering of incense and the holy Eucharist which is the liturgy of the sacrifice (Jn 6:53 ,1 Cor. 11:23-32, Heb 9: 15-22,). The worship of the Orthodox Church is saturated with verses from the Holy Bible.

Our Presence in the world: The Royal Priesthood of Christ

Our Presence in the world

The Royal Priesthood of Christ

H.E. Paulos Mar Gregorios

Text for study: 1 Peter 1:22-2:10

What is the nature of our task as Christians in a world of poverty and injustice? There is no better phrase that catches the whole of that task as the expression 'royal priesthood' which occurs in the present passage. But both words need interpretation.

The expression itself comes from the Old testament. In Exodus 19:1 and 6, the Lord says to the people of Israel through Moses: 'If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own special people among all the peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words echoed in 1 Peter 2:5 and 2:9.

The whole epistle of Apostle Peter is thought to have been based on a sermon preached on the occasion of the baptism of new converts during the feast of Easter. One can imagine the newly baptized men and women, clad in white robes, assembled probably in one of the Catacombs of Rome before sunrise on easter Sunday. The Apostle stands before them explaining to them the meaning of their baptism, and giving the Christians their commission for life in the world. It parallels the Lord Yahweh giving His commission to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.

As in the Sinai covenant, in the Christian covenant of baptism, also the first element is the call to holiness (1 Peter 1:14 ff.). What does it mean to be holy? We are often inclined to disregard the call to holiness altogether, or see it only in negative and pietistic terms.

Hope, Faith and Love are the positive aspects of holiness ( 1 Peter 1:3 ff.). Hope is not wishful thinking; a living hope, in the Bible, is the point of orientation of our whole life. It is looking forward to the coming of Christ and His Kingdom. In 1:13 the Apostle exhorts his hearers to set their hopes fully on the grace that is coming at the open manifestation of Christ. Our hope as Christians is centered around the risen Christ, present in the world in a hidden way, to be clearly and openly present in the world at 'the last day'.

In 1:7, the Apostle speaks about the need for the genuineness of their faith to be tested by various trials and by suffering. Faith is that quality of strength, reliability, unshakability and freedom from anxiety that comes to us when we are firmly established in the love and grace of God. we can become fully conscious about this faith only when things begin to turn against us, and our usual strength and support is gone. In trials and troubles, in the face of opposition and persecution, the early disciples learned that the power of God supporting them in a hidden and interior way could uphold them against the strongest waves of opposition. The martyr demonstrated the strength of this inner faith by his fearlessness before the oppressive might of the powers of the earth. In India today we need this quality of inner strength which is not afraid of opposition and is full of hope in the face of obstacles, a faith which trusts, and relies upon the power of God to sustain us in trouble and tribulation.

In 1:22, the Apostle exhorts the newly baptized to sincere, earnest, deep, brotherly love. By subjecting themselves to baptismal teaching and by becoming part of a community of love and faith and hope, they have begun to be purified (1:22). That purity and holiness has to be continually developed, through sincere and self sacrificing love towards others. Love in the New testament is neither a feeling nor just liking others. It is the quality of mutual self surrender and active concern for the welfare of others.

These three, then, are the elements of holiness:

  • hope, looking forward to the coming of Christ, and not to our own success and comfort.
  • faith, being established solidly in Christ and therefore free from unreliability, dishonesty, anxiety and deceptiveness; and
  • love, patiently surrendering oneself to others and being actively engaged in their welfare.

Verse 1:14 says: 'not being squeezed into the mould of blind passion'- not being led by one's instinctive desires and lusts. It is not simply that these passions are sinful. They are actually misleading and deceptive. They promise you gratification, as the serpent promised Eve in the garden of Eden. In the end, however, they deceive. They give you the moment's pleasure, but not lasting satisfaction. The best of contemporary literature in the West is devoted to the theme of the deceptiveness of physical passions. Many intelligent men and women in all parts of the world have revolted against the puritanical, restrictive ethics of previous centuries and sought to assert their freedom by taking a positive attitude towards sensuality. For many it was a liberating experience in the beginning. But later one finds it as enslaving as the puritanical ethics against which one revolted. The weakness of the puritanical ethics lies in its basically negative framework.

True holiness is achieved by the combination of hope, faith and love expressed in worship and daily life. Give your strength and time to prayer and worship and the loving service of your fellowmen and the passions will gradually be conquered.

Our ability to become a 'kingdom of priests' or a 'royal priesthood' is conditioned by this call to holiness. But what does 'royal priesthood' mean?

In the book of Exodus, it clearly means that the nation of Israel is to serve as a priestly nation on behalf of the other nations of the earth. In other words, Israel, without any special merit on her part, is called to a special degree of intimacy with God. But not for her own sake- rather for the sake of the nations. 'All the earth is mine' (Exodus 19:5). They are to stand before God as a priest for the other nations.

This is also the calling of Christians, of the Church. We are a people gathered from all the nations of the earth, not because of any special merit in us, but by His gracious calling, to a life of close intimacy with God. That is what distinguishes us from those who are not Christians. We have been given a privilege of knowing Christ, and through Him of living in great, close intimacy with God. But this is a great responsibility as well. we cannot take this call lightly and expect that we will be automatically holy. First we must keep in mind the two poles of our calling, namely, that it is out of His free grace that God has called us, and therefore that the call does not make us any better than others. There is no room for feeling superior to others. Second, our calling is always to an existence on behalf of others, Christians and others. This is what priesthood means. A priest is always one who lives to intercede for others and not for himself. And all of us have been by baptism incorporated into the one eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ who ever lives to make intercession for the whole world. Our priesthood is a part of this ministry of universal intercession.

But holiness is always a call and demands a responsive action. Apostle Peter says:'Be holy, for I am holy' (1 Peter 1:16). It is a demand and a gift. The demand is to grow up by the spiritual milk of the Word (2:2), to put away all bitterness, resentment, malice and hatred (2:1), to love one another earnestly (1:22), and to come to Christ and to be built up by His Holy Spirit to become an abode of the Spirit and a holy priesthood (2:4,5), offering up our own lives along with that of Christ on behalf of all (2:5), and to announce by word and deed the marvelous grace of God that has called us out of the deceptive pleasures of this life, into the joyous light of expectant, faithful, loving service and worship (2:9).

source: http://www.geocities.com/gregorianstudycircle/ourpresenceinworld.html

LITANY FOR PEACE - Paulos Mar Gregorios


Collection of prayers by Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios
(Edited by Dr. Eapen Cherian)


Lord and Creator of humanity, have mercy on this race of ours! In your image it was created, to live in peace and joy, reflecting your glory. Look at us now! Swords and spears we have learned to make, to
maim and kill, to oppress and to exploit. Now guns and rockets, bombs and tanks! We lust and covet, we fight and destroy, for it's desires have overpowered us. Our greed has become insatiable.
---Have mercy on us, Lord!

We have the borders of our own lands and seek fellowship with others only as our desires and our greed drive us. We go out only to plunder and rob, to steal and exploit, through our trade policies and our
commercial strategies. We are still as greedy as ever, still as violent, still as oppressive.
---Have mercy on us, Lord!

By our greed and lust, by our pride and selfishness, we have made this world, a place of strife and struggle of war and terrorism. We spend a major portion of the fruit of our labors to fight our brothers and sisters in other lands or in our own. Have compassion for our miserable plight!
---Have mercy on us, Lord!

Teach us to seek justice and to pursue peace, not seeking our own, but serving the interests of the poor and needy, the oppressed and the exploited. Teach us to labor in love without greed, in order to serve in dignity and serve the needs of our fellow human beings. Teach us not to covet, not to exploit, not to oppress.
---Teach us the ways of peace, Lord!

Help us who are gathered here to see our own role in a greed-based, oppressive and exploitative economy. Rescue us from this oppressive set-up, in which we are more often on the side of the oppressor than
the oppressed. Rescue us from our narrow loyalties, from our addiction to privilege and comfort, pleasure seeking, from our local, racial or national parochialism, Teach us to look upon all humanity as one family to whose common interests we are all committed.
---Teach us the ways of peace, Lord!

Kindle in us the quest for peace with justice, Lord! We know not where to seek it, though we know that it is only as we commit ourselves and apply ourselves to the pursuit of peace with justice, that we can know the way forward. Deliver us from the shackles of indifference and self-interests, from laziness and love of comfort and pleasure, from vain speaking and from the desire for empty praise and unearned glory from the distracting pursuit of thousand follies, from a false perception of what is the true good, from every
lie and terror, from word without verity, from all that alienates from you, our Creator!
---Teach us the ways of peace, Lord!

We are constantly destroying our ecology and we are affected with all kind of new diseases! Teach us to join pace with the rhythm of the eco-system of the earth and the universe which are your creation!
---Teach us the ways of peace, Lord!

Teach us the process of human becoming, through interaction with nature and through interrelation with other human beings in social labor, with a critical assessment of human social activity in science and technology and in political economy!
---Teach us the ways of peace, Lord!

Help us with courage, Lord! We need courage to stop stockpiling and start disarming. We need courage not to waste and not to consume more than what is good for all of us together. We need courage to trust
our fellow human beings. We need courage to start shaping a new world economy based on peace with justice.
---Grant us courage, Lord!

We need wisdom to know how to order our lives as a world community. We need wisdom to know what are the values worth living for, so that we do not lose our souls in the mad pursuit of a foolish affluence.
We need wisdom to know how to achieve the training of the masses of men and women for seeking their own liberation and for building the right kinds of societies.
---Grant us wisdom, Lord!

We need power, power to withstand the unjust oppressors, terrorists, power to resist the blandishments and seductions of power itself. We need power to imagine and to create. We need power to see visions and to pursue the truth. We need power to build a world of peace with justice. We need power to hope, to struggle and to strive. We need power to create what is good and joyous, peaceful and just.
---Grant us the right kind of power, Lord!

And most difficult of all, we need power to love! We need to know your love, so that in that love alone we seek our security. We need to know your love, in order that we may not to be afraid to love. Â We need to love, for love is the sign of your presence, and without love neither peace nor justice is worth very much.
---Teach us both to know your love, and to be unafraid to love, Lord!

Dear Lord and Creator of Mankind, forgive our foolish ways. Drop your still dews of quietness till all our striving ceases. Take from our souls the stress and strain and let us confess the beauty of your peace!

Breathe through the heats of our desire
your coolness and your balm!
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm!

Restore the peace of world
In the mercy let justice triumph!
Swords into ploughshares
Missiles into fertilizer
May wars terrorism cease
And the days of peace begin!
Blessed be the Lord our God
He has promised, he will fulfill
Strife shall cease, Peace will come
Justice shall reign, joy will overflow.

This terrorism, wars and battles between
ourselves first start precisely in the desires
fighting inside our own selves. We want
something we haven't got it, so we are
prepared to kill. We have an ambition that
we cannot satisfy, so we fight to get our way
by force. Why do we not have what we want?
Because we don't pray for it; when we pray
and don't get it is because we have not prayed
properly, we have prayed for something in
order to indulge our own desires!

Into your hands, O! Lord of all, we commend
ourselves, take us, break us if need be, then
make us anew that in you we may be
healed restored and united! Reach us your
spirit that may guide our thoughts and direct
our wills! Grant us wisdom to know
what is right and power to do what is good!

Come, Holy Spirit, come
Come as the fire and burn
Come as the wind, and cleanse
Come as the rain, and soothe
Come as the light and reveal
Convict, convert, comfort
Consecrate us to do your will.

O! Thou that are manifest, be Thou manifest to us:
From the unreal lead us to Real,
From darkness lead us to Light,
From death lead us to Immortality!

And now committing ourselves along with the
whole of humanity into your loving hands, we would
sum up our aspirations in the prayer saying:

THY WILL BE DONE !

source: http://www.geocities.com/gregorianstudycircle/litany.html

Monday, July 27, 2009

Birthday Celebrations




Here is the link to the pictures from the Birthday Celebrations conducted by the Malankara Archdiocese in North America.

http://picasaweb.google.com/bkkuriakose/BirthdayCelebrationsBavaThirumeni#

Wash your hands and pray to God

All the faithful, men and women, on rising from sleep in the morning should wash their hands and pray to God before they undertake any sort of work; then they may proceed to their work .... If you are at home, pray and give praises to God at the third hour. If you are somewhere else at that time pray to God in your heart , for that is the hour at which Christ was seen to be fastened to the tree .... Similarly pray at the sixth hour, too. For when Christ had been fastened to the wood of the Cross, the day was cut off and there came a great darkness .... One should also offer extended prayer and blessing at the ninth hour, in imitation of the way the souls of the just bless God Who does not lie but Who remembered His saints and sent His Word to enlighten them. For at that hour Christ was pierced in the side, poured forth water and blood, and made light shine on the remainder of the day as He brought it to its evening. Thus, at the moment when He was about to fall asleep He created the start of a new day and thus supplied an image of His Resurrection.
St. Hippolytus of Rome

How should one pray

Abba Macarius was asked, 'How should one pray?' The old man said, 'There is no need at all to make long discourses, it is enough to stretch out one's hands and say, "Lord, as You will, and as You know, have mercy." And if the conflict grows fiercer say, "Lord, help!" He knows very well what we need and He shows us His mercy.'
Sayings of the Dessert Fathers

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A wandering mind and prayer

A wandering mind is made stable by reading, vigil and prayer. Flaming lust is extinguished by hunger, labor and solitude. Stirrings of anger are calmed by psalmody, magnanimity and mercifulness. All this has its effect when used at its proper time and in due measure. Everything untimely or without proper measure is short-lived; and short-lived things and more harmful than useful.
Abba Evagrius the Monk

If you do not feel like praying

If you do not feel like praying, you have to force yourself. The Holy Fathers say that prayer with force is higher than prayer unforced. You do not want to, but force yourself. The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force (Matt. 11:12).
St. Ambrose of Optina

Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity

Video of Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church History and Belief in pictures.

The New Monastic and the Old Monk: Video of Holy Qurbana

The New Monastic and the Old Monk: Video of Holy Qurbana: "For those of you who have asked about the Liturgy, the Holy Qurbana, here is another video of the celebration. This one beautifully celebrated at St. Peters Jacobite Church in Philadelphia."

Razilaženje: Ancestral vs. Original Sin: A False Dichotomy

Razilaženje: Ancestral vs. Original Sin: A False Dichotomy: "In the current debate over the Orthodox view of Original Sin, one popular entry is Ancestral Versus Original Sin: An Overview with Implications for Psychotherapy by the Very Rev. Fr. Antony Hughes, rector of St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The essay was written in early 2005 at the request of one of the editors of The Journal of Psychology and Christianity, a publication of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies, in order to provide an explanation of the alleged differences in the Eastern and Western doctrines of Original Sin and their bearing on pastoral practice. My purpose in this response is to take on several of what I consider to be the defects of Fr. Antony's presentation, and to demonstrate the falsity of his artificial dichotomy between Ancestral and Original Sin. I do so not to defend Western Christianity, though I often feel compelled to since that tradition is so deeply misrepresented."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Do Not Fear Satan

by H.H. Pope Shenouda III

A wonderful article by our beloved Patriarch, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, on why we should never fear Satan's tricks or traps because the Lord gave us the authority to trample over him.

Never be afraid of the devil, for in spite of all his talents and intrigues, he is weak before God’s children as the Lord has said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” (Luke 10: 18)

The Lord trod on him on the Cross

He is no longer “the prince of the world” as before. The Lord said of him before the crucifixion, “Now is the judgment of this world: Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31) “The prince of this world is judged.” (John 16:11) Thus, the Lord says, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.” (Luke. 10: 19)

The Lord’s promise to us that we would tread over all the power of the enemy is a promise full of power and comfort, which removes away fear from the hearts. The church so appreciates such a divine promise, that it put it at the end of the thanksgiving prayer in order that we may mention it in our prayers every day or even every hour so as not to be afraid of the devils or all the power of the enemy.

Thus, the devil has no authority over us, but we have the authority over him. Even the devils are subject unto us through the name of the Lord. (Luke 10:17) The Lord even made casting out devils foremost of the signs that follow the believers. (Mark 16:17) Of course the gift of casting out devils must be preceded by victory in the diabolic wars. Whoever overcomes the devil’s temptation and enticements and stands steady is feared by the devil and he gets power over him.

There is a fine lecture by St. Anthony on the weakness of the devils... St. Athanasius published this lecture in his book “The Life of St. Anthony” which you can read so that your hearts may be strengthened and not fear the devil. There were many simple monks who did not have any education at all but could destroy the devil in the wilderness; among those is St. Paul the Simple. Martyrs and confessors also could overcome all the temptations, all his power and all his weapons.

The devil dominates only the person who submits to him...

True are the words of the common saying, “it is the slaves who create the masters.” This means that the humility and submission of the slaves make the masters prevail and vaunt. So is the case with those who submit to the devil, but whom the Son makes free, they shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)

The thing which the devil likes most is to find you afraid of him. For in your fear you become weak in front of him and get confused. You think that you will certainly fall into his hands so your spirit is broken and you yield to him unable to resist... This is what he wants of you because fear gives him power over you. However, the Lord Jesus Christ advises us not to fear at all. “It is I; be not afraid.” (Matthew 14:27) “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Do not be afraid then because God’s power, acting within you, is greater than the power of the devil fighting you from without. Be sure that the fear within you is more harmful to you than the devil’s war from without. Those who were afraid of Goliath the giant were weak before him and could not resist him. As for David who was not afraid, he advanced towards him boldly, relying on the Lord’s assistance, so he conquered him.

The story of David and Goliath is suitable to be a symbol of the wars of the devils. Perhaps you inquire about the secret of why David was not afraid and he answers: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

He goes on to say, “Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.” So, face the diabolic wars with a peaceful heart, and fight the Lord’s wars trusting that you will conquer with His assistance. How severe and dangerous are the words of Revelation about fear: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

Thus, the fearful are put before the non-believers and before the murderers and idolaters! You may ask, “Why?” Perhaps because he who fears the devil and submits to him fails in all these sins; or because he who fears the devil and submits to him will be afraid on the last day because he had not resisted and conquered as the selected believers have done.

I wish that you would read the stories of the saints who did not fear the devils! Read about St. Anthony to whom the devils appeared in the form of lions, tigers and fierce beasts crying in dreadful voices to frighten him that he might leave the wilderness; but he was not afraid and used to answer them calmly. Read about St. Macarius the Great who slept in a tomb putting a skull under his head. When the devils talked to the person to whom the skull belonged in a loud voice, asking him to rise with them, the saint was not afraid, but raised his head a little from the skull and told it, “if you want to go, rise and go with them to hell.”

As for you, do not be afraid, for the devils would not fight you with such fears as they fought the saints with. Hearken
to the apostle comforting you, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

God would not allow the devil to tempt you above what you can endure, but will, with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13) So, never be afraid of the devils and their wars whether they fight with fears or sins. The devil may arouse a clamor to frighten people but he cannot do anything to a steady believer.

I compare the clamor of the devil with the story of the fox and the drum. There was a drum hung to a tree blown by the wind causing an awful noise. A fox passed by it and was alarmed by the noise. He was afraid at first, then he was encouraged and attacked it. When he saw it was empty from within, he laughed and despised it. This resembles also a big balloon which appears huge but the prick of a small pin makes it nothing... The devil is like this, clamor with no power. He tries to frighten you but has no power for he doesn’t have the absolute liberty to do what he wants.

There is God, the Almighty who prevents the devil according to His own will. In the story of Job the Just, the devil did not follow his own will but was confined to the scope which God allowed him. (Job 1,2) The devil is not so powerful that you ought to fear him. The mere sign of the cross makes him escape from your face. The devil wants you to imagine him as powerful, but do not believe him. Remember always his repeated defeat before the saints.

Remember those who had the power to cast him out of the people whom he overthrew, and how he cried always in fear before God’s children and escaped. Since you know the weakness of the devil, resist him bravely.

source: http://www.coptichymns.net/module-library-viewpub-tid-1-pid-351.html

Why do we not be our neighbors benefactors?

Whereas we receive benefactions from God every minute, we ourselves don’t benefactor even once our neighbor.
Saint Basil the Great

The Lord is in every Christian

Remember that the Lord is in every Christian. When your neighbor comes to you, always have great respect for him, because the Lord is in him, and often expresses His will through him. ' It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure' (Phil. 2:13).Therefore, do not grudge anything to your brother, but do unto him as unto the Lord; especially as you do not know in whom the Lord will come and visit you; be impartial to all, be kind to all, sincere and hospitable. Remember that sometimes God speaks even through unbelievers, or disposes their hearts towards us, as it happened in Egypt when the Lord gave Joseph favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. (Gen. 39:21).
St. John of Kronstadt

Christian work is local

Try to remember that all real Christian work is local-right here and now, between myself and God and my neighbor.
Fr Seraphim Rose

Friday, July 24, 2009

Who Is the Holy Spirit?

by H.H. Pope Shenouda III

You should know who the Holy Spirit is, and what is His work in you and for you, in order to have a relationship with Him and know your need of Him. The Holy Spirit is the "Holy Spirit of God" (Eph. 4:30; 2 Cor. 3:3). He is the "Spirit of God" (Gen. 1: 2; Rom. I5: 19; 1 Cor. 12:3). The Holy Spirit is God because "God is Spirit" (Jn. 4:24).

The Divinity of the Holy Spirit


St. Peter said that to lie to the Holy Spirit means to lie to God (Acts 5:4), and since He is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of the Lord, so He is God (Job 33:4, 2 Cor. 3:3; Isa. 61:1).

This Comforter, the Holy Spirit descended and came upon the Apostles in the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). He is the One, God promised to send in the book of Joel, "I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28-32), and St. Peter mentioned that this prophecy was fulfilled in the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16, 17).

He is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of His Son as well (Gal. 4:6), "the Spirit of Christ" (1 Peter 1:11). He is also the "Spirit of Truth" (Jn. 14:17), "When He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth..." (Jn. 16:13).

The evidence of the Divinity of the Holy Spirit that He is One of the Holy Trinity: He is One with the Father and the Son. The Lord said to His disciples, "Make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). Notice here it is said, "in the name" and not the names (also I Jn. 5:7). His Divinity is proven also, that He is the Spirit of Life (Rom. 8:2; Ezek. 37:9, 10), and who can raise the dead except God alone. He is described in the creed by the title “The Life Giver.” Also, He is the source of inspiration and in the Creed, He is the "Speaker in the prophets". That agrees with what St. Peter said in his letter, "Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:21, see also 2 Tim. 3:16; Acts 28:25).

Resisting the Holy Spirit


The Holy Spirit works within us, but He does not cancel our freedom. He leads us to do good, but He doesn't force us. He gives us strength and we are still free to choose whether or not to use it. If anyone lives in complete obedience to the Holy Spirit and in strong fellowship with Him, he should be a saint and grow to the highest degree of holiness. However, many times one does the opposite and takes negative attitudes towards the Holy Sprit. The Bible gives us some examples of that...

Sins Against the Holy Spirit


  1. Quenching the Spirit: The right spiritual life is to be "fervent in spirit" (Rom. 12:11), but this fervency may not continue for internal or external reasons. For the internal causes, the apostle Paul says, "Do not quench the Spirit" (I Macc. 5:19).
  2. Grieving the Holy Spirit: When a man falls in sin, he grieves the Holy Spirit who dwells in him. The Bible says, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were scaled for the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30). Yet, God, in His love, when we fall, He tries to restore us again. His Holy Spirit convicts us of sin (Jn. 16:8). Therefore, His Spirit works within us to lead us to repentance. So we have to yield to the Holy Spirit and not to resist Him.
  3. Resisting the Spirit: If anyone rejects the work of the Holy Spirit, he is resisting the Spirit. Likewise if a person takes a negative attitude and fights against the work of the Holy Spirit, he is resisting the Holy Spirit and will be in danger of a worse sin against the Holy Spirit which is:

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit:


This sin has no forgiveness. It is not denying the Divinity of the Holy Spirit, for those who renounced the Divinity of the Holy Spirit in the 4th century at the time of Macdonius’ heresy then returned to the right faith and the church accepted them. It is rejecting every work of the Holy Spirit in the heart, mind and will, a complete rejection throughout one’s lifetime, which leads to God's rejecting this person and the devil

source: http://www.coptichymns.net/module-library-viewpub-tid-1-pid-549.html

Thursday, July 23, 2009

His Beatitude The Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I Bava 1

Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I, the spiritual head of the Syrian Christians of India, was born in the Cheruvillil family of Vadayambadi, Puthenkuriz to Mathai and Kunjamma on 22nd July 1929. Early part of his life was full of sufferings. Though he belonged to an aristocratic family, by the time he was born the family had seen bad days. As a child he had frequent bouts of illness which affected his education. His mother used to take the young boy frequently to the nearby Malecuriz Dayro where the relics of late Patriarch St. Ignatius Elias III and Saint Gregorios Geevarghese (Parumala Thirumeni) had been interred. One night, as his mother prayed with the young boy on her lap, she had a vision which prompted her to dedicate the boy to the service of the church. Within days, the boy's illness was entirely cured. God was with him, guiding him and shaping him.

Video of Holy Qurbana

For those of you who have asked about the Liturgy, the Holy Qurbana, here is another video of the celebration. This one beautifully celebrated at St. Peters Jacobite Church in Philadelphia.

God's Humility

by H.H. Pope Shenouda III

The greatest example of humility, the truest form of humility, is the humility of God, blessed be His Name. How can the Almighty God manifest humility?

God is the only One who can really humble himself:


Because He is the Only Highest, who condescends down from his uppermost position. As for man, who is dust and ashes (Gen. 18:27), and who was dust before he existed, man who is all sin and iniquity, what is the meaning of humility as regards him? He is not in a high position from which he can descend, and he has no perfection which he would hide. But humility as regards him, is that he would know his beginning and his weakness, that he would know his sin, just as a father said: "Humility of man is that he would know himself."

As for God, He is the perfect one in His greatness, the perfect one in His holiness and His infinite power, in His perfection. He is the only one to whom the quality of humility is convenient. How then, as much as we can understand His humility, was God's humility manifested? We mean God's humility in a general manner, and the humility of each of the three persons of the Holy Trinity apart.

God has been humble in His creation of creatures. He would not be alone with the quality of existence, and so He granted the existence to others than Him.

He was from eternity. But in His humility, He would not remain alone, and so He associated with Him in existence, that which did not exist.

Many people, if one of them is in a position or in a some great situation, would assemble all the powers in his hands, and would not associate anybody with him in any action or any decision! As for God, He did not do like that, and would not be alone, and granted existence to nought, and granted life to some of it, and rather granted him (man) force and invested him with power!!

He granted a very elevated nature to some of His creatures.

An example of that are: "the angels, who excel in strength", such as the psalmist has depicted them in his psalm (103:20). The Lord said about one of them, "Satanaiel", who became Satan later, in the book of the prophet Ezechiel: "You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were the anointed cherub who covers. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you" (Ez. 28: 12-15).

Because of God's humility, He keeps the creatures which rebelled against Him, until now, and He permits that they possess power and strength!!

Take that Satan. He rebelled against God. He wanted to become "like the Most High" (Is. 14:14). He caused a great number of the celestial forces, of which it was said that they are his angels, (Apoc. 12:7), to fall down with him. God was able to destroy him. But because of God's humility, God did not exterminate this contesting enemy, but kept him and gave him power; as it was said about evil men: "this is your hour, and the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53). More than that, Satan became powerful to work miracles and wonders, as it has been said of the Antichrist in the days of the last falling away, "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all powers, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish" (2 Thess. 2: 9-10).

Each time I contemplate how there are in the world, people who insult God, and blaspheme day and night, and people who deny the existence of God, and who do not acknowledge Him, and people who disobey God, and who incite others to disobedience and in spite of that, God tolerates all these insults, blasphemies, and disobedience, without exterminating His opponents. I understand in my depths the amount of astonishing humility which qualifies God.

Because of His humility, He keeps away from the manifestation of greatness that brings praise and makes people dazzle.

An example is the rarity of His use of miracles:

God has the power to amaze men every day, every hour, and every moment, with miracles, wonders, prodigies, visions, revelations, and sacred apparitions so that they would become always praising His glory, and fall down before His power, or at least acknowledge His existence. But nevertheless He does not do that! The miracles are confined to rare necessity! He wants to draw people near Him, with love and conviction, and not with with miracles and wonders and greatness.

God in His humility, also permits to the least of people to address Him!

It is astonishing that "the dust and ashes" finds an opportunity to converse with God in front of whom the angels, archangels, cherubims and seraphims, and all the innumerable multitude of the celestial powers, stand in all reverence and fear.

Man often finds difficulty in conversing with individuals who are mere dust like himself, if that dust possesses a high position or a great situation! But, when he speaks to God a few minutes or a few moments after having disobeyed His commandments, without giving much thought to it, imagine that!

Because of the humility of God, He has permitted to converse even with the most malicious sinners!

He condescended to talk to Cain, the first murderer on the face of the earth; and when Cain said to him: "Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me." God answered him justly and compassionately: "Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold" (Gen. 4: 14-15).

God condescendend and sent an angel to speak to Balaam, that wandering man who scandalized the people and put a stumbling block before them and made them commit sin (Apoc. 2:14). God in His humility permitted that the Holy Spirit wouldspeak through Balaam's mouth, prophecies which are counted among the most reknown prophecies about the Incarnation (Num. 24:17) so that this deceptive man said about himself: "The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor, the utterance of the man whose eyes are opened, the utterance of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, who falls down, with eyes wide open" (Num. 24: 3-4); and he said that he "has the knowledge ot the Most High" (Num. 24:16).

God in His humility takes the position of him who consults his prophets:

When He saw that "the out-cry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave" (Gen. 18:20), and He wanted to destroy them, He said: "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing" (Num. 18:17). Who is that Abraham, O Lord, whom You want to inform before executing Your will? Is he not a handful of dust and ashes? No, says the Lord, but "Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him" (Gen.18:18).

The Lord explains to Abraham, and gives him the opportunity and the freedom to discuss with Him, and to say to him: "Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18: 24-25). The discussion continues, and the Lord accepts the conversation. Rather, in His humility, He accepts boldness in the conversation!

The same thing was repeated with the prophet Moses, when the Lord wanted to annihilate that people who had made a molded gold calf and adored it (Ex. 32).

The Lord had decreed the extermination of that treacherous people. But He first called Moses and said to him: "Your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshipped it and sacrificed to it, and said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt! "Now therefore, let Me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them." (Ex. 32: 7-10).

The humility of the Lord is astonishing in saying to Moses: "Let Me alone."

Who is that Moses, O Lord, whom You ask permission to let You alone to execute Your will? Nevertheless, Moses did not let Him become angry and destroy, but he said to God: "Yet now, if You will forgive their sin, but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written" (Ex. 32:32). The Lord heard Moses, and did not exterminate them. This situation reminds me of the story of the Lord with Jacob while he was wrestling with the Lord: "And He said: 'Let me go, for the day breaks.' But he said, 'I will not let You go unless You bless me!'" (Ex. 32:26).

We note an important point in the humility of the Lord with Abraham and Moses, that is:

God permitted them to use expressions which seem aggressive, in their conversations with Him.

Abraham says to the Lord: "Far it be from You to do such a thing as this. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25). And Moses says to the Lord: "Why should the Egyptians speak, and say: "He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth"? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to your people" (Ex. 32:12).

The Lord in His humility permits us to discuss with Him, rather He demands this from us saying: "Come now, let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18).

There are some people who never accept anybody to argue with them regarding their orders and the decrees which they issue. They consider this to be pride from the part of those who argue with them, and excess out of their limits. They consider this to be a lessening of their dignity and their reverence. But God in His humility, accepts conversation and discussion.

The just Job said to the Lord: "Do not condemn me; show me why You contend with me. Does it seem good to You that You should oppress, that You should despise the work of Your hands"! (Job 10: 2-3).

The prophet Jeremiah says: "Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You. Yet let me talk with You about Your judgements. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?" (Jer. 12:1).

The prophet David reproaches Him saying: "Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?" (Ps. 10:1).

And the Lord hears with humility all of this, and does not become angry.

Because of the humility of the Lord, He raises up their situation, and possibly grants them His surnames.

He says to His servant Moses: "See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, (or as a master to him), and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet" (Ex. 7:1). And when Moses apologized (tried to get out of) his mission, arguing that he is "of uncircumscised lips", God gave him his brother Aaron, and said to him: "Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do. So he shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God (that is, you will take care of him." (Ex. 4: 15:17)

And when God wanted that Moses should have seventy elders to help him, he said to him: "Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them" (Num. 11: 16-17) and God did so (Num. 11:25). He could have directly given them the Spirit. But he took from the Spirit that is upon Moses and put on the seventy; "and it happened when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied" (Num. 11:25). Because of the humility of God, He wanted to make these elders feel that they are the adepts of Moses, that they have taken from the Spirit that is upon him.

In the same manner, the Lord raised up the situation of the just Joseph, and made him "a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house" (Exodus 45:8).

The Law, which is the Law of God, is called the Law of Moses. So king David, said before his death to his son Solomon: "keep the charge of the Lord your God...as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn" (1 Kings: 2:3). It was also called "the Law of Moses" in the book of Nehemiah (Neh.8:1) and in the book of the prophet Daniel (Dan. 9-11). It is the Law of God, but because of His humility, it was called "the Law of Moses".

The books of the prophets also were called by their names, although they are the books of God.

But God, because of His humility, permitted them to be called by their names; and so it is said the book of the prophet Samuel, the book of Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and Ezechiel, and Daniel, and Malachi.

Our Lord Jesus-Christ says to the scribes and the pharisees: "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives" (Matt. 19:8) although the permission was issued from God. But there is no impediment that it should be attributed to Moses, because of the humility of God, and His desire to raise up the situation of His sons.

In the next installment of this article, we will speak about the humility of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

source:

The Son's Humility

by H.H. Pope Shenouda III

The Son has invited us to learn humility from Him and said: "Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart" (Matt. 11:29), and thus the most important thing that we learn from Him is humility.

(1) The first thing we mention in His humility is His Incarnation


In this, the Apostle Saint Paul says about Christ our Lord: "who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself. " (Philippians 2: 6-8). That is, He made Himself of no reputation from all the manifestations of majesty and honor that are suitable to his divinity, taking the image of the bondservant. What humility more than that could possibly exist?

The divine Providence resides in this humility. So long as the first sin which entered the world was pride, whether as regards Satan or man, thus it was fitting for the Saviour to conquer it by humility.

The Incarnation was, in this manner, the greatest action of humility, with which the Lord shamed that pride by which Satan deceived our first parents, that they would become like God (Gen. 3:5). In response to man becoming like God, God became in appearance like a man through His humility.

(2) It is also because of the humility of God that He was born in a manger of cows


In a despicable place, from a poor mother who was betrothed to a poor carpenter, and from a village that was: "the least among the rulers of Judah, Bethlehem" (Matt. 2: 5-6). He was not ashamed to be called Nazarite, while it was said in wonder: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46).

(3) He lived in His humility, far away from manifestations and surnames


He accepted to run away to Egypt from the sword of Herod, while it was possible for Him to annihilate Herod. He lived thirty years far away from lights.

Although He is the Person of wisdom and knowledge, "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3), He accepted that it was said of Him: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men" (Luke 2:52).

During all the period of his predication, He lived and had "nowhere to lay His head" (Luke 9:58), without any official post in society, followed by simple disciples, the majority of which were fishermen and ignorant. When He went to Jerusalem, he went "sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey" (Matt. 21:5).

(4) He also lived submitting Himself to the Law, and He saw to its keeping


Is He not the One who said: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (Matt. 5: 17-18).

In His submission to the Law, He was circumcised in the eighth day (Luke 2:21).

In the fortieth day from His birthday, "they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, 'Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord'), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons" (Luke 2: 22-23).

And according to the law, He did not begin His pastoral service, until He was in the thirtieth year of His life, in conformity to the mature age which is supposed to be in any man, although when He was twelve years of age, He was found in the temple "sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers" (Luke 2:46-47).

(5) Because of His humility, He presented Himself to be baptized by John the Baptist


This was the baptism of repentance. He was not in need of it because He is the Holy One (Luke 1:35), who in His Incarnation, resembled us in everything except sin. He accepted baptism from one of His servants, John the Baptist, who tried to excuse himself from that, saying to Him: "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me? But Jesus answered and said (humbly) to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matt. 3: 14-15), meaning the righteousness of the law, to which He submitted Himself out of humility.

(6) Out of His humility, He permitted Satan to tempt Him!


It was not only one temptation, but three times on the mountain. The profoundness of His humility and His making Himself of no reputation, reached such a point that Satan "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). Oh, the audaciousness and the insolence of the malignant one in his exploitation of the humility of the Lord! It is for that reason that the Lord, after having replied to Satan by the Scriptures, rebuked him saying: "Away with you, Satan... Then the devil left Him" (Matt. 4:10-11). But Saint Luke says about that: "Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time" (Luke 4:13), meaning that Satan returned after that!

(7) The Only Son, the Logos, lived the life of obedience, in His humility


The apostle Saint Paul said "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8). He said to His disciples about Himself: "I have food to eat of which you do not know. My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work" (John 4: 22,24). And He said to the Jews: "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner" (John 5:19). And He said to the Father: "nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42); "nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Matt 26:39). And He said: "I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me" (John 5:30).

His obedience was not only to the heavenly Father, but also to His mother Mary.

It was said regarding His relation to the Virgin and to Joseph the carpenter, during His childhood: "Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them" (Luke 2:51). That is a lesson for us from Him who "the angels ministered" (Mark 1:13), (1 Peter 3:22).

(8) He used to sit with publicans and sinners, out of humility


The scribes and the pharisees despised these publicans, and scorned to mingle with them. But the Lord chose one of them (Matthew) to become His disciple. On this occasion, He sat at table in a feast which the publicans prepared; and when the pharisees criticised Him (Matt. 9: 911), the Lord in His humility replied to them: "I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Matt. 9:13).

He also called Zacchaeus in the same manner, and entered his house.

It is out of His humility that He sat down in the houses of the pharisees, His enemies, such as His visit to the house of Simeon the Pharisee; and His permission to the woman who was a sinner, to touch Him and wipe His feet with the hair of her head, the thing that upset that pharisee (Luke 7).

(9) Out of the humility of the Lord, He marched in simplicity with everybody


He marched in simplicity with the children, with the women, and with ordinary people, speaking plainly to them, without haughtiness or contemptuousness, as a human being.

On many occasions, He called Himself the Son of Man. It was said about Him in His humility: "He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench"(Matt. 12: 19-20).

(10) It is out of His humility that He did not do the miracles for pomp or show or in order that the people would look astonishingly


Consider His rejection of transforming stones into bread, and His refusal to throw Himself down the pinnacle of the temple so that the angels would carry Him on their wings (Matt. 4).

When the Jews asked Him for a miracle to show off, He said to them: "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 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" (Matt. 12:39), thus directing their sights to His death, not to His miracles.

(11) Out of His humility, He glorified His disciples


He said to the Father about them: "And the glory which You gave me I have given them" (John 17:22). He said even more than that: "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also, and greater works than these he will do" (John 14:12).

The apostle Saint Paul said about them: "For whom He foreknew, He also ordained... these He also glorified" (Rom 8: 29-30).

He also allowed to them that His churches and His sanctuaries would be built on their names; that their icons would be portrayed and that candles would be burnt in front of their icons; that hymns and doxologies would be sung for them.

(12) His grace secretly works in people, also out of His humility


It is their work that shows that the grace of the Lord works in them. Nobody sees the grace. The apostle Saint Paul manifested this when he said:

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Cor. 15:10).

(13) He suffered the injustice of the wicked, and silently accepted the offenses, also out of His humility


He was insulted, struck with the palms of the hands, offended, scourged, and injustly accused. He accepted all that, without defending Himself, and without returning their iniquity upon them. It was said of Him: "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent" (Is. 53:7). He was crucified between two thieves. "and He was numbered with the transgressors" (Is. 53:12).

(14) In His humility, He bore the sins of the world


"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21). He bore the sins of all the world. "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted" (Is. 53:4); "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Is. 53:6). Thus He was crucified as a worker of iniquity, yet He is the Just and sinless, and He accepted to be a sacrifice of sin in front of the Father.

(15) And out of His humility, He has made His crucifixion shown in front of all the people, while He only showed His glorious resurrection to a few individuals!


This resurrection could have possibly been apparent to all in a dazzling manner that would restore His consideration in front of the Jews. But in His humility He did not do that; and He left to His apostles to announce His resurrection among the doubts which the Jews had raised.

Because of all this, He has invited us to learn humility from Him and said: "Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart" (Matt. 11:29), and thus the most important thing that we learn from Him is humility. And in His sermon on the mountain, He gave the first blessing to the poor in spirit, then He gave the blessing to the humble.

This article is the second installment of the series on Humility. For the first part, please see http://www.coptichymns.net/index.php?module=pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=1&pid=413

source: http://www.coptichymns.net/module-library-viewpub-tid-1-pid-561.html

Monastery of the Holy Martyrs - Orthodox Monastery, Syriac Orthodox

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