Monday, April 5, 2010

The Departure of St. Macarius the Great

Egyptian Synaxarium Baramhat 27
THE SEVENTH MONTH
The Departure of St. Macarius the Great
Baramhat (Paramhat, Parmhat, Paremhat) 27 Martyr – Coptic Calendar – Martyr Calendar
April 5


On this day also, of the year 392 A.D. the blessed father, the lamp of the wilderness and the father of all the monks the great saint Anba Macarius, departed. This Saint was born in the village of Shabsheer - Menuf, from good and righteous parents. His father's name was Abraham and his mother's name was Sarah and they had no son. In a vision at night he saw the angel of the Lord and told him that God was about to give him a son, and his name will be known all over the earth, and he will have a multitude of spiritual sons.

Shortly after, this holy man had a son and called him Macarius which means "Blessed." He was obedient to his parents, and the grace of God was upon him since his young age. When he grew up his father forced him to get married against his will, so he pretended that he was sick for several days. Then he asked his father if he might go to the wilderness to relax and that may make him recover from his illness speedily. He went to the wilderness and prayed to the Lord Christ to direct him to do what is pleasing to Him. While he was in the wilderness he saw a vision, and it seemed that one of the Cherubim, with wings, took his hands, and ascended up to the top of the mountain, and showed him all the desert, east and west, and north and south. The Cherub told him: "God has given this desert to you and your sons for an inheritance." When he returned from the wilderness he found that his wife, who was still virgin, had died, and Macarius thanked the Lord Christ. Shortly after, his parents departed, and he gave all what they had left to the poor and the needy. When the people of Shabsheer saw his chastity and purity, they took him to the bishop of Ashmoun who ordained him a priest for them. They built a place for him outside the city, and they went to him to confess and to partake from the Holy Mysteries. They appointed a servant to take care of his needs and to sell for him the work of his hands.

When Satan saw St. Macarius growth in virtues, he brought on him a severe temptation. He inspired a girl that had defiled herself with a man to claim that St. Macarius is the one who had defiled her. When her family heard that, they went to him, insulted and beat him severely, inflicting much pain on him, which he endured silently. Macarius reproached himself saying "O Macarius now you have a wife and a child, and it is meet for you to work day and night for your own food and for that of your child and your wife." He worked continually at weaving mats and baskets, and he gave them to the man who ministered unto him; and he sold them and gave the money to the woman. When the day of her delivery drew near her labor was exceedingly difficult, she continued to suffer for four days and did not deliver until she confessed her false accusation against the Saint and named the man that defiled her.

When the family of the girl heard that, they decided to go to ask for his forgiveness for what happened from them. When St. Macarius heard that, he fled away from them running from the vain glory of this world.

At that time he was 30 years old, and the angel of the Lord appeared to him and walked with him for two days until they came to Wadi El-Natroun and the Saint asked the angel: "Appoint for me O master a place to live in." The angel replied: "I have not marked out a place for you to live, lest you leave it in the future and transgress the commandment of God. Behold all the wilderness is yours, so wheresoever you wish, live there." St. Macarius dwelt in the Inner Desert, in the place of the monastery of Sts. Maximus and Domadius which is known now by the monastery of El-Baramous. He went to visit St. Antonios, who said about St. Macarius when he saw him: "This is an Israelite in whom there is no guile." St. Antonios put on him the Holy Eskeem, then St. Macarius returned to his place. When the number of monks increased around him he built a church for them. His fame was known all over the country and many kings and Emperors heard about the miracles that God performed on his hands. He healed the daughter of the king of Antioch that was possessed by an unclean spirit. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and took him to a place and told him to make this place his abode, for many people will come to him in that place. He built a cell for himself and a church.

He thought one day that the world had no more righteous people, so a voice came to him from heaven saying: "In the city of Alexandria there are two women who feared God." He took his staff, his provisions, and went to Alexandria and he asked around until he reached their house. When he entered, they welcomed him, washed his feet with warm water, and when he asked them about their life, one of them told him: "There is no kinship between us and when we married these two brothers we asked them to leave us to be nuns but they refused. So we committed ourself to spent our life fasting till evening with often prayers. When each of us had a son, whenever one of them cry, any one of us would carry and nurse him even if he was not her own son. We are in one living arrangement, the unity in opinion is our model, and our husbands work is shepherding sheep, we are poor and only have our daily bread and what is left over we give it to the poor and the needy." When the Saint heard these words he cried saying: "Indeed God looks to the readiness of the heart and grant the grace of His Holy Spirit for all those who wish to worship him." He bade them farewell and left returning to the wilderness.

There was an erring monk who strayed many by his saying that there was no resurrection of the dead. The bishop of the city of Osseem went to St. Macarius and told him about that monk. Abba Macarius went to that monk and stayed with him until the monk believed and returned from his error.

On the day of his departure, he saw Sts. Antonios and Pachomius, and a company of the saints, and he delivered up his soul. He was ninety-seven years old.

St. Macarius had commanded his disciples to hid his body, but some of the natives of the city of Shabsheer came and stole his body, built a church for him and placed the body in it for around one hundred and sixty years until the Arab conquest and the rebuilding of his monastery, they returned the body to it.

In a manuscript in Shebeen El-Koum, was mentioned that St. Babnuda, his disciple, saw the soul of St. Macarius ascending to heaven, and he heard the devils crying out and calling after him, "You have conquered us O Macarius." The Saint replied "I have not conquered you yet." When they came to the gates of heaven they cried again saying "You have conquered us", and he replied as the first time. When he entered the gate of heaven they cried "You have overcome us O Macarius." He replied "Blessed be the Lord Jesus Christ who has delivered me from your hands."

May his blessing be with us. Amen.



Baramhat (Paramhat, Parmhat, Paremhat) = Megabit (Magabit)


Baramhat 27 Martyr – Coptic Calendar – Egyptian Calendar = Megabit 27 – Geez (Ge'ez) Calendar – Ethiopian Calendar



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St Maurice comes home

St Maurice comes home
Talaat Ayoub

The city of Luxor, known in ancient times as Thebes, was recently blessed with the arrival of the relics of St Maurice from his monastery in Zurich. The event was accompanied by three days of festivities at the Holy Virgin’s Cathedral in Luxor, which was coincidentally marking its 101st anniversary. The arrival of St Maurice was the outcome of long negotiations between Luxor and Zurich, during which the Egyptians claimed the right to part of the relics of St Maurice who, they insisted, was an Egyptian first and foremost before being a Roman soldier as identified by Zurich.

Processional
The sacred relics arrived in the hands of Anba Hedra, Bishop of Aswan, escorted by a procession of priests and monks who chanted hymns and praises for St Maurice. Young members of the congregation, dressed in the costumes of Roman soldiers, formed a guard of honour at the cathedral’s main entrance as the saint’s relics were carried in to the strains of the national anthem and under the Egyptian flag. The reliquary was laid before the altar as Anba Hedra led the congregation in prayer. Participating in the celebration were a large number of Coptic Orthodox clergy from various parishes, as well as representatives of Catholic and Evangelical churches in Egypt.
A welcome speech in Arabic, English and French was followed by a speech given by Fr Maurice on his experience with St Maurice. The Umm al-Nour Choir conducted by Ishaq Armanious then gave a moving performance of hymns.
The ceremony was concluded by Anba Hedra, who said: “I am very happy that St Maurice, the chief of the Theban Legion, has returned to his home town.” Anba Hedra thanked Anba Pimen, Bishop of Naqada, for travelling to Switzerland to bring back St Maurice’s relics, which are a great blessing for the people of Luxor after 175 years away from Egypt. The relics, which were placed in a silver reliquary which was in turn placed inside a larger wooden cylindrical box, then underwent the traditional process of Tatyeeb during which the wooden cylinder is bathed in a mixture of sweet smelling spices and perfumes, slipped into a red satin cover and again into a red velvet one. Finally, this was laid in a sacred glass compartment inside the church, where it can be accessible to anyone seeking the blessings of St Maurice.

Theban legion
St Maurice (also Moritz, Morris, or Mauritius) grew up in Thebes and became a soldier in the Roman army. He was gradually promoted to leader of the Theban legion, which was formed of 6,600 soldiers and earned its name because its members came from Thebes and were known for their courage.
In 286, when some tribes of Gaul—today’s France—rebelled against Emperor Maximinus, his co-emperor Diocletian ordered the Theban Legion to march to Gaul to his assistance. The revolt was quelled, and upon their return to Agaunum (now Saint-Moritz or Saint Maurice en Valais) in Switzerland, Maximinus gave the order that the whole army should give sacrifices to the Roman gods in thanks for the success of their campaign, as part of the celebration. The Theban Legion refused to comply with the order and withdrew from the rites, even going so far as to camp away from the rest of the army so as not to be drawn into what they saw as horrifyingly against their beliefs. Maximinus then gave orders to decimate—i.e. to torture and execute one in every ten of the legion’s men—as a lesson to the others. Since none consented to denying his Christianity, this act was repeated until none were left. The soldiers of the Theban Legion were martyred on 22 September 286, and until this day their feast day has been held on this day.

Patron saint
The Theban Legion was commanded by Maurice, Candidus and Exupernis, all of whom are venerated as saints, but St Maurice remained the favourite and most widely venerated saint of that group. All the statues of St Maurice depict him as a black African and wearing the battle dress of a Roman legionary.
St Maurice is held in great esteem by the people of France and Switzerland, and he has given his name not only to the Swiss town but also to numerous places in French speaking regions. Agaunum remained a pilgrimage destination for many years, and St Maurice is the patron saint of the Swiss army, of swordsmiths, and of individual soldiers.



WATANI International - 4 April 2010 - 26 Baramhat (Parmhat) 1726 (Coptic Calendar) - 19 Rabie al-Akhar 1431 (Arabian Calendar) - Year 10 - Issue 477.
WATANI - 4 April 2010 - 26 Baramhat (Parmhat) 1726 (Coptic Calendar) - 1st Issue Year 52 - No. 2519 - 2nd Issue Year 9 No. 485
www.watani.com.eg



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Happy Easter


Happy Easter



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Attaining the Resurrection

Attaining the Resurrection
HG Bishop Youssef


If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)


On this glorious day, as we commemorate the blessed Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I would like to extend my hearty wishes to all, praying to the Risen Lord to grant us His Resurrection and make it real in our life.

What is the Holy Resurrection?
The Lord Jesus Christ is considered the firstborn, the first fruit risen from the dead. The Holy Book of Revelation (1:5) describes our crucified and resurrected Lord as …“Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead.” He was not raised by the prophets like Elijah and Elisha, but rather is and remains, the only person raised from the dead by the power of His Divinity, the Father in Heaven and the Holy Spirit. It is difficult for even the most scholarly to truly fathom the dimensions of the Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the Holy Cross and His Resurrection and the impact of these insurmountable events on humanity in order that the faithful may experience eternity, the heavenly grandeur of the Father’s glory.

The Lord Jesus Christ was divinely heroic and heroically divine in His Holy Crucifixion bearing torment for our sins. Concerning the Holy and Glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, St Peter teaches…
“he [David], foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of Christ that His soul was not left in Hades, not did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2: 31-32).

How did the Lord’s Resurrection become our Resurrection?
St Paul writes concerning our resurrection, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in Glory” (Colossians 3:4). St Polycarp (c. 135) taught, “If we please Him in this present world, we will also inherit the future world. For He promised us that He will raise us again from the dead.”

Our Lord is the only One who has risen in a glorified body, risen never to die again, risen and ascended into the heaven of heavens, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. This Holy Resurrection is not confined to the Lord alone but through His unconditional love, He extended it making it available to all those who believe in His name. Truly as one seeks to be obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ, to live according to His Word, and to participate and grow in the Holy Sacraments of our blessed Church, one will experience resurrection, newness, a new individual growing into perpetual perfection striving to become in His likeness.

How do we attain Resurrection?
Resurrection, for the believer is experienced through obeying God’s commandments and participating in the Holy Sacraments of the church. In Baptism, we attain the resurrection in “a newness of earthly life”. In Confession and Communion, we receive the potential of the second of resurrection, that of our Lord Jesus Christ “anticipating newness in the eternal life to come.” Through the cherishing of the Holy Sacraments one becomes virtuous, bearing love for others, and striving to obtain perfection in the Divine worship of God thus travelling down the path to the eternal life.

Loving those nearest to us involves the heart. The Lord Jesus Christ was full of love for those that believed in Him, accepted His Holy teachings and accompanied Him during His earthly journey.

What kind of worship befits God? It is one in which love is manifest through a humble and pious worship that incorporates both the heart and mind. Such a type of worship requires liberation from all unworthy worldly entanglements living a life of love, humility, piety and poverty of the Spirit. As St Paul says, “Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth” (Colossians 3:2).

How can we maintain the Lord’s Resurrection?
St Clement warns us that… “After we have departed this world, no further power of confessing or repenting will belong to us” (Second Clement c. 150).

After departure from this earthly life everything will avail to nothing except for the virtuous, good deeds. The Lord Himself uses the parable of the poor and rich man to show that the value of humility and poverty supersedes that of pride and wealth. The endearing love to the Lord as shown by Lazarus secured him a place in Heaven with Abraham alongside him. On the other hand, the rich man with all that he had possessed could not purchase Heaven.

With the Lord’s death we also died, but to the world only, and with His Resurrection we were resurrected to Heaven only. As St Paul says, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Along with worshipping with piety and humility comes the power of the church sacraments. The Holy Sacrament of Confession and Repentance presents a powerful shield and armor that deserves to be put on through frequent practice.

During this time of the Holy Crucifixion and the Glorious Feast of the Resurrection, let us reflect upon the anticipated and completed sacrifices of the Lord Jesus Christ for our future spiritual glories. During the Glorious Feast of the Resurrection, let us all give thanks that we can partake in the resurrection of eternal life with the full knowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ has suffered for us all to conquer and abolish death, in order to bring us to His Father in Heaven with His great and perpetual love.

The Book of Life will judge us all according to the measure of our striving and seeking of those eternal things. May the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord implant in our hearts the desire to see the Lord Jesus Christ sitting at the right hand of God, our Heavenly Father.


His Grace Bishop Youssef is Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States (www.suscopts.org)



WATANI International - 4 April 2010 - 26 Baramhat (Parmhat) 1726 (Coptic Calendar) - 19 Rabie al-Akhar 1431 (Arabian Calendar) - Year 10 - Issue 477.
WATANI - 4 April 2010 - 26 Baramhat (Parmhat) 1726 (Coptic Calendar) - 1st Issue Year 52 - No. 2519 - 2nd Issue Year 9 No. 485
www.watani.com.eg




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The Power of the Resurrection and the Joy and Evangelism of the Martyrs

The Power of the Resurrection and the Joy and Evangelism of the Martyrs
H.G. Bishop Serapion

Today we rejoice as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who by His death trampled down death, and bestowed eternal life upon those in the tomb.

At the beginning of this year, the Church offered a group of righteous martyrs in Nag Hammadi. We pray that God may repose their pure souls in the Paradise of Joy. We also pray for their families that God may grant them the joy of the Resurrection and the heavenly consolation. We also pray for their murderers so that God may open their eyes and lead them to the way of truth. Today, as we remember the victims of Nag Hammadi, it is not to mourn the viciousness of the crime and the injustice that is falling on our brothers and sisters the Christians there, but rather to see our martyrs through the light of the power of the resurrection of our Living Christ

The resurrection of Christ is a great power. It is one that changes sadness to joy. A power that changes suffering for the sake of Christ to joy in the fellowship of His suffering. It is a power that changes the blood of the martyrs to become the seeds for the growth of the Church. St Paul the Apostle, who was martyred for the name of Christ, experienced the power of the resurrection in his life and said, “that I may know Him and power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Phil 3: 10) St Paul called all those, who struggle or are persecuted for the sake of Christ, to look upwards to Christ, “..let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12: 1-2)

The Power of Christ’s Resurrection Changed Martyrdom in Christianity to Joy and Evangelism

The martyrs rejoiced in martyrdom, because through Christ’s death and resurrection, He defeated death. St Athanasius said, “Before the divine sojourn of the Saviour, even the holiest of men were afraid of death, and mourned the dead as those who perish. But now that the Saviour has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all those who believe in Christ tread it underfoot as nothing, and prefer to die rather than to deny their faith in Christ, knowing full well that when they die they do not perish, but live indeed, and become incorruptible through the resurrection.”

St Stephen the Protomartyr received his persecutors with an angelic face. Rather than look at their faces full of evil, instead “he being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7: 55) Because his heart was full of joy and peace, he did not curse those who stoned him, but asked for their forgiveness. With the martyrdom of St Stephen, a great persecution fell on the Church in Jerusalem and many were scattered in Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Did the Church weaken? Did evangelism stop? Actually, what happened was the opposite, “those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4)

St Ignatius of Antioch, who was martyred in 108AD when Emperor Trajan ordered that he be presented to the fierce animals in Rome, was joyful. And when the soldiers came to bind him, he kneeled down and cried with a joyful voice, “I thank you, O Master Lord, for You granted me the honour of loving You fully and permitted me to be bound in iron chains like Your apostle Paul.” On the way to Rome, he wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome expressing his joy and desire to present himself as a sacrifice to God on the altar of divine love, and he begged them not to interfere, because of their love for him, and stop the imperial decision to throw him to the wild beasts. Here are a few words of what St Ignatius said, “The truth is, I am afraid it is your love that will do me wrong. For you, of course, it is easy to achieve your object; but for me it is difficult to win my way to God, should you prevent my martyrdom …Grant me no more than that you let my blood be spilled in sacrifice to God, while yet there is an altar ready…How glorious it is to leave this world so I may rise again in His presence!” When St Ignatius reached Rome, he kneeled down and asked Christ to lift the persecution from the churches. Then they released two lions, which devoured him immediately.

St Justin Martyr witnessed that martyrdom is evangelism and said, “You can clearly see that when we are beheaded, crucified, thrown to the wild beasts, bound in chains, thrown in fire, or any other means of torture, we don’t relent in our faith. The more we face these sufferings, the more people become Christians and join our faith in the name of Jesus Christ” The martyrs saw that this was a fulfilment of our Lord Jesus Christ’s saying, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24) St Augustine reflected on our Lord Jesus Christ’s saying to His disciples, “Behold, I send you as lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:3) and said, “There was a flock of wolves and a few lambs. When the many wolves preyed upon the few lambs, the wolves changed to lambs.”

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

Let us rejoice today in the power of the resurrection of our Good Saviour and Living Christ

Let us rejoice with the joyful martyrs as they meet the Resurrected Christ

Let us pray that God may grant to enlighten us with His resurrection so we may be ready to carry the cross and may have a fellowship in His suffering.

Let us pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters that God may strengthen their faith and sustain them in their struggle.

Let us pray for the peace of the One, holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Let us pray for our beloved father and vigilant shepherd, H.H. Pope Shenouda III that God may keep him for many years and give him health and strength.



His Grace Bishop Serapion is Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles (www.lacopts.org)


WATANI International - 4 April 2010 - 26 Baramhat (Parmhat) 1726 (Coptic Calendar) - 19 Rabie al-Akhar 1431 (Arabian Calendar) - Year 10 - Issue 477.
WATANI - 4 April 2010 - 26 Baramhat (Parmhat) 1726 (Coptic Calendar) - 1st Issue Year 52 - No. 2519 - 2nd Issue Year 9 No. 485
www.watani.com.eg



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