How to Benefit Spiritually in the Holy Pascha Week

Written by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III on . Posted in Fasts and Holy Pascha, Spirituality

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1. Our Behavior Inside and Outside of Church

It is very noticeable that many people during Pascha Week are one thing inside church and completely different outside. In side church, black curtains, somber hymns, solemn readings, and concentrating on the suffering of Christ. Outside of church, we often laugh, joke around, socialize, think and talk about many worldly issues. We lose all the spiritual depth that we gained inside church. Let us concentrate our thoughts, conversations, and meditations around the events of this holy week and the Passion of our Savior.

2. Retreat

During our regular fasting days, we pt the words of the bible before us, “Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly.” (Joel 1:14). How much more then should we apply this commandment during Holy Week? This week should be characterized by solitude and retreat with God, by staying away from idle discussions and various means of entertainment of pleasure. Reserve your time to God and to spiritual activities worthy of this week.

In the first hour of the Monday of the Holy Pascha, we read St. Shenouda’s homily, which warns us: “Brethren if we want o escape God’s punishment and find mercy in His eyes, let us sit every evening alone by ourselves and search our souls…”

3. Follow the Steps of Christ

Meditate on the events of the week one by one: from Palm Sunday, when Christ refused His worldly kingdom and the Jews gave up their hope in Him, until they crucified and buried Him. On Palm Sunday, ask yourself, “Is Christ King and Lord over everything in my life? Do I, like Christ, turn down worldly glory for spiritual and eternal glory? During the General Funeral Service, do I consider myself attending my own funeral?”

And when the church denounces Judas’ traitorous kiss on the eve of the Wednesday of Pascha Week, ask yourself in prayer, “How often, O Lord have I betrayed You? How many times have I told You words of love in prayers, while my actions show the opposite and my heart is far away from You?”

4. Share in the Fellowship of His Suffering

Saint Paul said, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death.” (Philippians 3:10) Can we give ourselves an exercise this week to share in the fellowship of His suffering and be conformed to His death? Can we follow Him in His suffering and ascend with Him to the Cross? Can we say with St. Paul, “With Christ I have been crucified; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” ? (Galatians 2:20).

Therefore, in order for Christ to live in us, we have to carry our cross and follow Him. If you have a cross in your life, do not complaint about it. Instead, rejoice in it and bear it for Christ’s sake. “for to you has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him but to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1:29).

5. Asceticism

Whoever puts the suffering of Christ before him will not take any pleasure in eating and drinking or pampering the body. But in order to succeed in pursuing asceticism, we must satisfy our souls with spiritual food so that it may thrive and overcome physical hunger. It was customary for the Church to fast until at least the 9th hour on normal fasting days and until sunset during the Holy Week of Pascha.

St. Athanasius even declared that this period of Holy Week should be received with “longer prayers, fasts, and vigils so that we may be able to anoint our lintels with precious blood and escape the destroyer.” And again, the blessed saint says, “Let us thus engage in the holy fasts, as having been prescribed by Him, and by means of which we find the way to God.”

6. Spiritual Readings

Spiritual readings are also food for the soul. The church has organized for us a treasure of appropriate readings for every day of the Holy Week, comprised of Gospel readings, Old Testament prophesies that correspond to the events of each day, spiritual explanations and sermons of the Church Fathers. On Bright Saturday (Apocalypse night) the church reads the entire Book of Revelation.

7. Hymns

The hymns of the Pascha Week are moving and full of spiritual depth. Hymns, like reading, preserve the thought from wandering and guide it in spiritual direction. We should continue to recite the hymns while walking, meditating, resting.

8. Prayer

Since the prayers of the Agpeya are not used during Holy Week, we are to substitute personal prayers in their place, in addition to the intensive prayers of the church, asking the Lord who bore the sins of the world and died for us, to forgive and have mercy upon us according to His great mercy.

9. Confession and Communion

During this week, each person must sit with himself and remember his sins and put them on Christ’s shoulders and tell Him in shame, “Carry O Lord my sins too, with the sins of the rest of humanity. Take my sins and nail them to the Cross with You, so that Your Blood may wipe them away!”

Look carefully at your sins and know that they are the cause of His crucifixion. Many people cry out of their sorrow for Christ’s suffering while they crucify Him every day with their sins. We should not feel sorry for Christ during this week, but should be sorry for our sins that caused Him these pains. As Jesus told the women that were crying over Him, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not cry for Me, but cry for yourselves and your children.” (Luke 23:28).

Before the Cross, we all stand as sinners, all under the condemnation. “no one is righteous, not even one.” (Psalm 14:3). We confess our sins and prepare ourselves for communion. There are three liturgies during Holy Week: on Passover Thursday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday (Preceded, of course, by the Liturgy of Palm Sunday).

10. Spiritual Storage

Pascha Week is not an opportunity to benefit for a week only, but a time to store up spiritual nourishment enough to last the whole year, particularly needed during the 50 days after the Resurrection when there is no fasting.

Sixth Sunday of Great Lent | The Man Bord Blind

Written by Fr. Louka Sidarous on . Posted in Fasts and Holy Pascha, Spirituality, Sunday Contemplations

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Who was at fault, him or his parents, for him to be born blind?

This is how the disciples asked the Lord Jesus. It is the nature of man to judge others and to reason all matters, though man is almost always wrong in his judgement… For who can get closer or predict God’s judgements, examination and means to conclude things… Our thoughts are so far from God’s thoughts, as heaven is from earth.

To reveal the Glory of God in him

This is how the Lord answered the inquiry of His disciples. God is capable of being glorified in those who are weak, in disasters, in those born deformed and in the incurable illnesses. God might have reasons beyond us in these matters… If we looked through the eyes of our Lord Jesus, we would have found that everything around us, no matter how difficult, they will lead to the glory of God…. When the Lord heard about the illness of Lazarus, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God.” (John 11:4). We hope that all matters would guide us to reach for the glory of God in our lives, and observe how God is glorified at the conclusions of all matters.

As long as I am in the world, then I am the light of the world

Jesus declares Himself for us… He came to declare to us Himself and for us to have unity with God. For the Lord revealed to us Jesus through His miracles, giving us the awareness and enjoyment of out rights. So Jesus in this miracle, He presents Himself to us, not as a cure for new eyes for a blind person, but presents Himself, even before doing the miracle… He is the light of the world… The blind, not by nature, but by the spirit, are those who sitting in darkness and the shadows of death. To know Jesus is to know the true Light, which lights for every person coming into the world. Whoever follows Jesus, will never walk in darkness, but with the light of Jesus, only then he will enjoy the Light… God who said let there be light from darkness, He is the one who lit into our hearts, to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

After the Lord has pasted the eyes of the born blind with mud, He told him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.” (John 9:7). Here we are before a new creation, and the end of an old birth, according to the earthly body, the end of blindness, the wash with the spiritual water, and light that is rising for the first time. All of these matters indicate to us the idea of our experiences with baptism in our lives. One of the settings and teachings of the church is reading this same chapter of the Bible, when new souls are accepting the blessing of baptism, and acknowledging the secrets of God’s kingdom.

The baptism is seeing the Light

“And we know that the Son of God has come and have given us understanding, that we may know Him who is true.” (1 John 5:20). This is how the beloved St. John teaches us in his first letter. He makes the connection between the birth from God, the light and the love of the brethren. This is the eternal life, in which the church lives as a whole, and was also as recorded by the early fathers, who dwelt in the light.

The new sight, which God offered us with the new creation, is being cleansed in the holy water of baptism. We could say that we don’t look to the temporary things, but to the eternal ones.
The spiritual sight could accept the work of God in secret without argument or debate. For it would be as if the scales have fallen from our eyes as with Saul, and the darkness departed from it. The darkness of ignorance, without faith, when Ananias placed his hands on Saul. God sent Ananias for this, for immediately his sight was restored, Saul got up and was baptized.

The spiritual sight can see the illuminant angelic army, fighting on our behalf, while the world’s forces of evil surround us. We become full of confidence, and shout out saying, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16). As Elisha the prophet said to his disciple, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” (2 Kings 6:17).

The spiritual sight sees with faith in fulfilling God’s commandments, His obedience and love, until the offering of the only begotten Son, like our great father Abraham. It sees beyond the natural senses and crosses all barriers. It can even see God’s ability to raise the dead.
It becomes stronger in faith, to the extent of seeing God. Even Abraham called that place “The-Lord-Will-Provide.” (Gen. 22:14). That is Abraham saw the Lord, he examined His cross, His sacrifice and his resurrection through the sacrifice of love, when he presented Isaac on the altar.

The spiritual sight that we received in baptism; through it we can clearly see the Lord … So we can say with good faith to others about the Lord Jesus, that we saw Him and observed Him with our own eyes. Then we can understand what was written to the Galatians, “Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified.” (Gal. 3:1).

If we ignore the spiritual sight which we received in baptism then we will fall in the world with its desires, and defile, then this will make our sight weaker, and fatigue will cover our eyes. Therefore we could not be sure of seeing God any more. As the Lord told to the angel of the church of Laodiceans, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked -.” (Rev. 3:17). Here is the weakness of sight, so one couldn’t identify himself and the truth of his condition. And the Lord said, “Anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” (Rev. 3:18). This is the repentance through scolding and divine correctives, the tears of regret and the return to God. The tears of repentance are our repetitive baptism, through which we regain our sight to know God, to know ourselves as well as our activities.

“After you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations.” (Heb. 10:32, 33). Paul the apostle told this to the Hebrews. Because after they accepted the faith and entered into the inheritance of the saints in the Light, they were enlightened in the Holy Spirit, and were subjected to reproaches and tribulations. This is clear when we observe the story of the born blind. For after the Lord opened his eyes, the Pharisees as well as the Jewish leaders subjected him to harsh resistance, and prosecution. Wasn’t that the state of the people in the past, after they went through the sea of baptism, they had to fight Amalek. Therefore, Satan watches our movements as an enemy, since the first instant the Lord opened our eyes through baptism, or by cleansing through tears of repentance… From this instance, Satan stood stirring up storms around us, and stirring up the people against us as if we are strangers in the community.

Do you believe in the Son of God? Lord, I believe! And he worshiped Him

It was not difficult for the human to utter the faith, like Peter, when the Lord opened his sight and he said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt.16:16). For Jesus, through His word purifies the heart and cleanse the interior. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3). The purity of the heart enables us to see God, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8).

Third Sunday of Great Lent | The Prodigal Son

Written by Fr. Louka Sidarous on . Posted in Spirituality, Sunday Contemplations

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All the tax collectors and the sinners approached to listen to Him. So He talked to them using this parable. With this proverb He opened the heavenly gates before the sinners. He revealed the Father’s overwhelming love for our return to Him. He is not pleased by the death of a sinner, but to his return and to live. It is known that our Lord Jesus came to inform us about the Father. Here our blessed Jesus announced the secret of the Father’s thoughts with respect to our return to Him. Here is the rejoicing of the returning from a long trip, from far away countries, and the darkness of death. In the whole Bible, there was no approach towards us sinners, as much as what Jesus reveled in this parable… For Jesus talks like God’s only begotten Son, and revels the acceptance into Himself within the Father. Therefore, without the Son-ship, there is no repentance, no hope, no life and no return to enjoy the bosom of the Father.

Therefore, the baptism, which makes us sons of God, is the foundation of our repentance…Hence, our return to the Father is based on our son-ship towards Him. For, if we were not His sons, how could we return to Him?
The banishment away from the Father.

Let us gather our thoughts and concentrate on the declaration, which our Lord Jesus reveled for us with respect to the Father… This is with respect to the Son, the repentance for the sin, the obedience, and the forgone world’s forgeries… (all of these kindled all our mercies). These are the human expressions concerning and describing Godly matters… We have experienced all these matters, not by words, but by deeds… For who among us haven’t tasted the bitterness of sin and its torment? Who among us was not filled from the husks of the swine? Let us concentrate our thoughts on the compassionate Father.

When his father saw him he was compassionate

These are unspoken words that describe the depth of the persistence, of the Father’s compassion. For the compassionate Father could not withstand seeing me in humility or slavery… And when He sees me approaching Him, in my sinful outfit and defile, He is triumphant in His compassion as He did when Lazarus’ sisters told Him, “Lord, come and see. Jesus wept.” (John 11:34, 35). For my sight is the tomb of my desires and the rotten sent of my sins, this captures the Lord’s compassion and His tears.

He fell on his neck and kissed him

I willingly left you, O Fatherly bosom… I went embracing the world opening my heart to desires… My lips were full with defile and deception … My thoughts from within were to fall in the bosom of joy and happiness. But I was going from one grief to another… I placed my lips on stolen and counter fit water springs, therefore I still thirst… So, my Father give me your kisses, for Your love is sweeter than wine, and your desire is honey in my mouth. Your left arm embraces me… Don’t let me go… Enclose me within Your arms. No one could snatch away whoever is in Your hands… Your right arm is full of power… In Your hands I place my soul.

He fell on his neck

My neck, is the one that fell in the fury of slavery desires, and my head bowed in its residence. The shame of sin and disgrace were upon it… The Father’s love liberates me… His kisses lift my face… O Lord liberate… Free me with love and kisses, and cleanse the defile from my soul.

Bring forth the best robe

My best robe… My pure baptism… My first cleansing… My simple thoughts without sin… My honest infancy, which doesn’t know evil. It is without cunning, deceit or any other defile. Blessed is He who dressed me ine a robe… From all of these the world had deprived me (uncovered me)…I was wearing, the contaminated worldly thoughts. I had on hypocrisy and flattery the worthless talk and the worry of riches. I was different from the worldly children, after I was suited with Jesus, O eternal Fatherly love… Could I return to my first garment (robe) and my original condition? Would my glory return? O what honor, do the sinner and adulterers gain, when they return to the Father… My Lord: how lost I was without the blessed garment and the robe of salvation?… I changed a lot since my baptism… Suit me into my original robe. Truly, repentance is the renewal of baptism, and as the fathers say, ‘It is a second baptism’.

A ring in his hand, and shoes on his feet

The hand is the work, and the feet are the means towards the objective. Both were at a large distance from the Father… For my hands labored for the body, to work to feed the swine. My hand is tired from the work in defile, and here it is returning to God after exhaustion from the grasp of wind. Place in it a ring, a Christ ring, to work for the heavenly… To work for the eternal life… To work for the harvest. Place in it the sanctified ring to work in the Lord’s labor with strength and without exhaustion. Place in it the engagement ring and the unity with God, so that it will not return to work for its own, but for that Who sacrificed Himself for it. The ring in my hand substitutes the nails in the hands of Jesus. How precious and priceless it is. O my soul, don’t return and deviate from the love of the Lord. Don’t return to take off the glorious ring, which is His commandments and words ‘So let the words, which I advise with today be in your heart, and make it a ring in your hand’. But how far have my legs taken me. It was wondering in distant countries. My feet have stumbled through numerous thorns. My feet left my father’s house with shoes on. This resembled the readiness for the peaceful Bible with cleansed feet, with Christ’s hands after the supper, with a word as a lantern before my feet. My feet were strangers in the world. I walked in the valley of death… I dwelt in the destructive path, in cracks, in holes, traps and evil. I lost my shoes. The sole of my feet were tormented. There is no power to move or to reach the kingdom after all. Even after all these, You returned everything to me… O my legs there are roads that seam wonderful, but end in death. O my soul, these shoes are for the rough road, so that you don’t limp when walking towards the Father. My Lord and my God protect my feet from slipping…

Present the fat bull and slaughter it so we can eat and rejoice

The Father’s feast is a sacrifice of joy. It is the sacrifice of joy and the food of eternal life. My soul thought that it could be filled with the worldly food. Therefore the world presented it with a lot of temptations. But it was shielding behind the temptations the swine husks. ‘Why do you weigh silver without bread, and your labor without fullness, listen relentlessly to me, and eat well, and let your souls enjoy the plenty.’ “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents.” (Luke 15:7). O brethren let us please the Father’s heart with our repentance and our return. We had enough banishment and enough humility, in far away land. Let us enjoy the Father’s bosom and His Son Jesus Christ and the heavenly rejoice.

Second Sunday of the Great Lent | Temptation Sunday

Written by Fr. Louka Sidarous on . Posted in Fasts and Holy Pascha, Spirituality

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Shades and Signs

It is knowledge that what occurred in the past was a sign and an example for those things to be completed by Jesus on our behalf… For we read about God’s people, in Old Testament, concerning their exodus from the land of Egypt. They crossed the Red Sea which was a symbol of baptism, “All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” (1 Cor. 10:2). After their baptism, they went out in the wilderness of Sinai for forty years, full of temptations. It was said that their corpses fell in the hamlets and that they were defiant and murmured against God, and they said, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Ex. 17:7). In short Sinai was a wilderness in which the devil won, for he had the people fall in defiance and sin.

But in the New Testament, the scene is totally different. Our blessed Jesus took His people to church, which is His body… He dwelt with It in the sea of baptism and sanctified It with the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven… Then He took us into the wilderness of temptation, for forty days and forty nights. Everything that Israel fell short of in the Old Testament, the Lord completed for us. And in every single one of their falls, the Lord changed it into victory. Briefly, the Jordanian wilderness was the battles in which the devil was defeated and his power was crushed, and he became oppressed and cast out, after he oppressed our lives and broke our will in all of our previous generation.

Tempting and crucifying the Lord

The period between leaving the wilderness and going to Golgotha lays a secret and an amazing bond, for the Lord lived both for us. Both were willful paths and accords to a preconceived and deliberate divine. The wilderness, with respect to the Golgotha was the example of the entrance to the main objective of the cross, through which the Lord carried all the sins of the world… Gathered was the principal of all the sacrifices, the Lamb of God. So it was said that who never knew a sin, He carried that sin on our behalf… It was also said that God placed on Him all our sins… He also carried a lot of sins and interceded for the sinful… Though the Lord carried our sins, He was not tarnished by any, for He did not commit an unjust, and there is no deceived in Him. His submission to the agony of our sins, willingly on the cross, does not at all mean that He was subdued by sin, or He deserves verdict, God forbid. With that scale the Lord took us into the wilderness of lent and the temptations of Satan. So as all the temptations, which the enemy of good has gathered against our entity, they were piled up and concentrated, so that the Lord could deliver us from all and defile the defiant, as He trampled all our sins on the cross. The Bible mentioned, in details, three temptations. But the Bible concluded the temptations saying, “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13). This means that Satan tried all his tricks, used all his weapons with which he made our nature fall in sin. But this was to fulfill what was said about the Lord, “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.” (1 Pet. 2:22). So as he trampled death, by dying on the cross, He obliterated temptations through the temptations by Satan in the wilderness.

Away with you Satan

Where are these words found in the human nature?… Who would give us the power to stand against the devil, who is our enemy? Who could rebuke Satan’s movements, which is embedded within us? Who was able to stand before the law that works in our limbs and captured us into the law of sin? The sad truth is that, not a single human being on the face of the earth was able to confront it, not even God’s greatest saints, were able to rebuke the devil and cast him out during their temptations. This enemy who complains about our nature, who has left too many injured and all his victims were strong… He was from the beginning a people killer. But with the power of the Lord’s word, he was defeated. O how sweet is the victory which we have scored against the devil, as Jesus fasted during the temptations. It is true what Paul the apostle said, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9). Therefore in Jesus, we can say everyday, “Away with you Satan.” (Matt. 4:10). So every time the tempter approaches us to tempt us, whether with bodily desires, like the having bread, the temptation of the defile glory of the world, the temptation of arrogance, or the doubt in God’s son-ship, “If You are the Son of God.” (Matt. 4:3). It is our duty that in all these temptations we rebuke the devil, to cast him out, through the words of Jesus, which lives within us, “Away with you Satan.” (Matt. 4:10).
Now we understand the meaning of the verse, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). Also “the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he devours.” (1Pet. 5:8). The Lord declared the defeat of the devil by saying, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18). Satan departed from Him until an opportune time. When the devil completed all his temptations, he departed from Him until an opportune time… The enemy is broken and all his arrows are scattered before the power of our blessed Jesus, the devil left the battlefield fleeing….But until an opportune time. For the devil, when he battles with us, he doesn’t know despair. The devil came back once more to the Lord saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Matt. 16:22). So the Lord caste him out saying, “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matt. 16:23). Then the devil came back once more when Jesus was nailed to the cross and told Him, through the thief on the left, “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (Matt. 27:40). We also believe that our wars are against sin, against desires, against the world, the devil and the flesh… They do not end. And if the devil leaves us, it will be but until an opportune time… That is why it is not right what we hear about those who trust in themselves that they are saved and that they are pure… We have to pay more attention to what is written, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forwards to those things which are ahead.” (Phil. 3:12, 13). We should always be prepared to confront the enemy, by watching and prayer and to unite in Jesus to avoid entering into temptation or trap…

If You are the Son of God

Finally He grasps our attention to the evil enemy as he aims his arrows, to build within us doubts concerning our relationship with the Father. When he was tempting Jesus, he was telling Him, “If You are the Son of God.” (Matt. 27:40). Isn’t that what is happening in our lives, and during our temptations with the enemy, he is always sowing the seeds of doubts in our thoughts.

Since we are the sons of God, then why are we prosecuted? Why are we afflicted with uncomforting and pains? Where is the care of God for us? Where is His true Fatherly love towards us? If God was our Father who loved us, why does He leave us to the pains and temptations of evil people?

But the Son-ship of Jesus to the Father shattered all doubts of the enemy and broke all his arrows. Now we are the sons of God in Jesus, we have trust in His times and in His Fatherhood, as John the apostle said, “We have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him…” (1 John 3:21, 22)

First Sunday of the Great Lent

Written by Fr. Louka Sidarous on . Posted in Fasts and Holy Pascha, Spirituality, Sunday Contemplations

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First Week

The start of the Holy Lent is a move towards the heavenly Father, and surrendering the whole life between His hands. It is to feel His merciful embrace, to enjoy the warmth of His Devin love during prayer, during holy contemplation, and to live with Him in all our work and activity during lent.

During the first week: All the readings during the liturgies concentrate around the subject of the fatherhood of God towards us. During those weeks we want to feel His abundant sympathy for us, His fostering us as sons, and our stature as His sons. So we can call the first week as the week of our Father in heaven.

Second Week

The second week: Is the week in which the Sunday Bible starts with the expression of a comforting dialog from the Father to the souls of His sons. It is the shield from the fears of the world. So the first feeling of comfort within, while we are in the bosom of the Father, is the feeling of peace and complete comfort, as a child in his father’s bosom. The first word we hear from the Father while we are in His bosom is, “Do not worry about tomorrow … sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matt.6:34).

Therefore today’s Bible talks about the Father’s concern about us and our future. He warns us from the invasion of the world’s worry that might penetrate our interior. So He directs our view towards heaven, when we hear Him say, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth nor rust destroys and where thieves break in and steal…” (Matt.6:19). This is as if the Father is telling us, ‘My children why are you living under threat of fear from the moth, the rust and the thieves?’

The reason behind the psychological disturbances, the worry, fear of the future, and the non-existence of the peace at heart… You feel all these because of the presence of earthly treasures, and the concern about earthly matters. Don’t you know that all the earthly treasures, riches, and honors, even if it reaches grandeur, it is still liable to rot, to be subjected to the moth, to rust and to the thieves? But it is as the Holy Spirit expressed it, ‘Yes the wise Solomon, vanity of vanities and the grasping of wind.’

Save for yourselves treasures in heaven

Do you have a treasure in heaven…? Understanding this in simple terms, are you busy with heaven? Where is your heart? Where your treasure is, your heart is also there. Let there be friends for us in heaven, so that if we leave this world, they would welcome us in the comfort of eternity.

God and money

Money in itself is not a sin. But on the contrary, money is a blessing and a good gift. All the danger that is generated is from the love of money. The love of money is the origin of all evil. The love of money destroys faith. It cancels the dependence on God and affects the worship within its core. If some kept it (love of money), they wonder off the path of faith as if they are stabbing themselves and subjecting themselves to lots of pains. That is why our blessed Jesus, in the beginning of lent, He asks me about the genuity of my heart. I wonder what subject might always occupy your concern…. That will consume all your thoughts and your heart? No one could worship two masters, God and money.

Therefore fasting is the subject of vision that clarifies the target… We stumbled enough between the two targets, which blurred our important target… Come on brethren let us seek our heavenly desire and our eternal life. There must not be anything existing that will consume our time and separate us from our eternal life, our love for Jesus. What will man achieve if he gains the whole world but loses himself?

The money worshipers

There are lots of examples written for us, look at Lot’s wife… She left with those leaving Sodom, but her heart was still in Sodom. Her treasure was in the sand of the earth… She became an example for those who desire eternal life, but were occupied with the earthly treasures.

Contemplate about the foolish rich man who was depending on his wealth. For if someone is very rich, his life is not generated from his wealth. Don’t depend on the unwise rich, but depend on the arm of God.

Contemplate about Ananias and his wife Sapphira, who reflected a fearsome example for the church. They both wanted a portion from their donation, and their love for money, made them lie to the Holy Spirit. Therefore their judgement was swift, Acts (5:1-11). Contemplate about the rich young man, how the love of money prevented him from following Jesus, and he sadly left, for he was very wealthy…. He held to his money and refused the eternal life. Look how the love of the world and the love of money divert the heart away from God, and the grace of being with God.

Contemplate about those whom Peter the apostle mentioned in good, but now he mentions them, with tears in his eyes, for they loved the present world, and the riches of this generation, for they became the enemy of the cross of Jesus… That is why Peter the Apostle said, “… If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15, 16).

Ask our father Abraham, who was very rich, but he used to raise his face to the heavens, to see the eternal inheritance, and the city with foundations. He considered himself as a stranger, a visitor, sand and ashes.

Ask David the prophet, why he was not occupied by the agonies of ruling, or the worries of wealth, which could have kept him away from the partnership with the One he loved. He was asking and reaching to live in the Lord’s house and the habitation of His holy altar (Ps. 26). His heart was void from the love of money. He stood before the Lord as poor and humble (Ps. 24).

As the pure apostles, who left everything and considered it nothing, just to achieve the grace of knowing Jesus. They were like poor individuals, without materialistic possessions, but they owned everything with Jesus.

Ask Saint Antonios, who sold 300 acres, gave the money to the poor, and followed the Lord… Was he in need of anything all the days of his life, until he was 105 years of age? Now we surely know that the heart is where the treasure is…. And the treasure is always our concern.

Do not concern yourselves

Finally the Lord transports us from our concern of defiles, to the concern with the eternal life. For whoever is concerned with his own well being, could not even extend his existence beyond its limitations. For you don’t know what is in for tomorrow. For what is our lives but a momentarily vapor. The presence of concern and worry in our lives mean that there is no faith, no dependence and no enjoyment of the Father’s bosom. For if we were enjoying the fatherhood of God, we would have been living in peace and joy, with assurance that our Father is the One who takes care of us. Fasting is a chance for the soul to take care of what is within, our path, cleansing our sins, cleansing our interior and purifying our hearts.

Spiritual Training

  •  Strive this week, to clear your conversation from earthly concerns. Clear your bodily concerns from the strong desires of eating, drinking… etc. Strive that your dialog be full with blessing and seasoned with the salt of the Spirit.
  •  Make yourself accountable, everyday, for your heavenly treasure. What belongs to you in heaven? And what did you do for God today?

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Contact Us

Physical Address:
1600 South Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035

Mailing Address:
PO Box 351388
Los Angeles, CA 90035

Phone: (310) 275-3050
Fax: (310) 276-6333
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