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Archive for January, 2015

Contemplations on the Feast of Circumcision

by on Jan.15, 2015, under Contemplation, Coptic

Circumcision

More often than not, I completely overlook the Minor Feasts of the Lord and lose sight of their depth or significance. So today I wanted to collect some contemplations regarding the Feast of Circumcision and I hope you find them edifying.

St. Athanasius teaches us that everything our Lord Christ did, He did as an example to us (i.e. He prayed so we can pray like Him, He fasted so we can fast like Him, He rose from the dead so we may be raised with Him, etc). Similarly our Lord was circumcised so we can follow in His footsteps… not necessarily in the literal sense, but through circumcision men separated themselves to God. Its in that sense that we can and must follow in the footsteps of the Lord… we must separate ourselves from carnal desires, lusts, corruption, selfish ambition, slothfulness and consciously be part of God’s Chosen People. As it is written in Jeremiah “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, circumcise your hearts…” (Jeremiah 4:4)

Circumcise yourselves to the LordAnd take away the foreskins of your hearts, You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Lest My fury come forth like fire, And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings.”” [Jeremiah 4:4]

But when we again ask ourselves “Why was our Lord circumcised?” there is a much simpler but more significant answer… The Lord was circumcised so we can call Him by His name. According to Jewish tradition, it is during the ceremony of circumcision (Luke 2:21) that our Lord took His name, Jesus, that wonderful name by which we are comforted (Sunday Theotokia), the name by which all we ask for is granted (John 14:13-14, 15:7), the name by which we are given life (John 20:31), the name by which we are saved (Acts 4:12).

“And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” [Luke 2:21]

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” [John 14:13-14]

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” [John 15:7]

“but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” [John 20:31]

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12]

How blessed are we that we are given this gift? Even the patriarchs were not given this knowledge “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name I was not known to them.” (Exodus 6:3) Today we share in the blessings of Moses the Archprophet to whom God revealed his name in the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:13-15).

I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Lord I was not known to them. [Exodus 6:3]

“Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’” [Exodus 3:13-15]

I think today would be a great day to concentrate on praying the Jesus Prayer.

— Anonymous

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The Divine Liturgy of the Glorious Feast of the Nativity 2015

by on Jan.06, 2015, under Church News, Coptic, Coptic News, News, Personal News, Religion, Video

The Divine Liturgy for The Glorious Feast of the Nativity as celebrated by H.H. Pope Tawadros II that will take place in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Al Abbasiya, Cairo, Egypt on January 6, 2015 .

CTV Coverage of The Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Glorious Nativity 2015

2015 Papal Message on the Glorious Feast of the Nativity

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.

I congratulate you, my beloved, for the Glorious Nativity feast and beginning the New Year of 2015. I hope you to have a new year full of blessings, goodness, love, joy and peace. In fact, I am so happy to communicate with you through this message—to all the beloved at every Coptic Orthodox Church all over the world, every family, all youth, all servants, the board of the church, all children, and all brethren.

When God created humanity, He intended them to be in continuous communication. He wanted them to be the crown of creation. After creating all things first, He created the King of all creation on earth. Man, having the breath of God, was the great creation of God. But sin came and humiliated him and cast him away from what God planned for him. Since the sin of Adam and Eve, our first parents, humanity came into struggle with all aspects of sin in their lives. There are three main weaknesses that dwelled in humanity as a result of original sin.

The first is Dominance by the Ego. The ego of the human being became his own god or idol. Man began to worship his ego along with power, desires, and all that resulted therefrom. When we look to the world, we find that the dominance by the ego takes various forms. Man’s ego became his god.

The second weakness that human beings fell into is the Abuse of Nature and Each Other. Thereafter, wars, disputes, and violence entered the world through this sin. We are reminded of early humanity—the story of Abel the righteous, who was killed by his brother Cain, despite the minimal number of humans alive at this time.

The third debility is the Absence of the Spirit of Joy, which was replaced by fear. Thus, man became a fearful being. Humans worry about everything, even themselves. Sometimes humans fear each other, animals, insects, even microorganisms. They dread nature, such as earthquakes and volcanos. They are apprehensive under certain circumstances and various events. They even are anxious about different stages of their lives—their childhood, adolescence, and youth. When humans reach adulthood and form families and have children, they still remain frightful.

Sin existed in these three forms of weakness—dominance by the ego, widespread violence, and consuming fear.

But God willed to heal and renew humanity through His birth and incarnation. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ was the remedy for these three weaknesses. The angels sang the following song on the day of His glorious birth, which presented three therapies for three infirmities. The angels sang this song which was pleasing to the whole earth, saying: “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14).

The three remedies are:

  1. The glory of God in the highest, which is the ideal cure for egoism.
  2. Peace on earth, which is the antidote for the violence that prevailed in the world.
  3. The third solution is goodwill (joy) toward men.

The spirit of joy overcomes any fear in the lives of human beings.

Human beings’ self-focus made them forget about God and praising Him. Humans also forgot that communication with God is what fulfills them, and instead worshiped their own egos. Man began to worship technology. Through the development various devices and social networks, the world has become so small and humans rely on themselves instead of God. Now comes the glorious Nativity of Christ to remind us that God’s glory is “in the highest.” We cannot treat our infirmities unless we communicate with God who created us. This communication should be through a sound spiritual life with all its various aspects.

The second weakness—widespread violence—should be treated by making peace, as mentioned in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Making peace is the most difficult task on the face of the earth. Blessed is the man who makes peace in his life, community, country, and with others.

The third malady—fear—which became ingrained in humanity cannot be overcome except by great joy. This joy results from the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ for the sake of humanity. When the angel appeared, he said: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10). This great joy enables the removal of fear from the life of humanity. There is a thin line in the New Testament during the time of our Lord Jesus Christ’s incarnation. This thin line is the line of joy that overcomes every fear in the life of humanity. This great joy became the measure of a healthy spiritual life for human beings. Humans are unable to rejoice and conquer fear unless they become closer to God. As long as humans are in a state of estrangement, they are unable to feel true joy continuously.

The song of the angels on the day of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ is the ideal remedy for these three weaknesses in the life of humanity. The weakness of egoism is overcome and treated by praising the Lord. When you praise the Lord in your spiritual life and fill your heart with His fear, you will be able to control your ego and not be overcome by it. When you make peace in your family, your service, your work, your church, and in your community, you can eliminate violence. When you are filled with the spirit of true internal joy, this joy will overcome all these weaknesses. And through repentance, every sin will be cast out.

May the blessing of the glorious Nativity be with you all, with the Church and Her blessed congregation, all Her servants, children, and youth, and with all who continuously labor in serving the vineyard of the Lord. I convey to you the greetings of the Mother Church in Egypt represented by: Her Fathers the Metropolitans and Bishops, the fathers the priests, the fathers the monks, the mothers the nuns, the deacons and the entire congregation from the blessed and ever-protected land of Egypt. I congratulate all my beloved everywhere. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.

Glory be to God now and forever. Amen.

— Tawadros II

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