Thursday, December 26, 2013

Looking For God - St. Augustine






Looking For God


Lord,
my God,
my one hope,
hear me,
that I be not unwilling, through weariness,
to seek you,
but that I may always ardently seek your face.


Give me the strength to seek,
since you have made me in order to find you,
and you have given me the hope to finding you more and more. 


My strength and my weakness are known to you:
Preserve the one
and heal the other.


My knowledge and my ignorance are known to you:
where you have opened to me,
receive me as I enter;
where you have closed to me,
open to me as I knock.


May I remember you,
understand you,
love you.


Increase these things in me
Until you have wholly renewed me.



~ St. Augustine ~



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Friday, December 20, 2013

14 - I WANT NOTHING OF THE WORLD - By H.H. Pope Shenouda III






14 -  I WANT NOTHING OF THE WORLD         
By H.H. Pope Shenouda III

The following is a collection of articles entitled, "The Release of the Spirit" written by HH Pope Shenouda III for the Sunday School Magazine from the year 1951 before starting his monastic life.  

These articles were published in the form of a book in the year 1957 including some of his poems which were published in the magazine as well.. 

It was his first published book and it gained the approval of many and was reprinted many times.

14 -  I WANT NOTHING OF THE WORLD    

This is the first thing which the person ought to say if he likes to attain the release of the spirit.

I want nothing from the world.., for the world has nothing to be desired.. but only temptations for the beginners..

I want nothing of the world, for the world is too poor to give me.. If what I want is available in the world, the world would be a heaven.. But it is still an, earth as I see.. there is nothing in it except material things.. in fact I search for heavenly matters, for the Spirit, for God..

I want nothing of the world, for I am not of the world.. I am not dust as they think, I am a divine breath.. I was with God from eternity, and God placed me on the earth.. But I shall leave it after a while and return to God.. So I want nothing of this earth.. 'I came forth from the Father, and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father"
(John. 16:28) 

I want nothing of the world, all that I want is to get rid of it, to be released from it, from the flesh and from the earth! I want to return to God-as before-to be again a holy breath not defiled by any worldly thing..

I want nothing of the world because I seek eternal immortal things and the world has nothing that is immortal.. All that is in the world is passing away, even the world itself will perish and come to nothing..I do not seek perishable things..

I want nothing of the world .There is He whom I ask to give me.. He who is rich and powerful, in whom I have found satisfaction and nothing is lacked .. He gives me before I ask Him, He gives me what is good and of benefit to me.. Since I have put myself in His hands I need nothing of the world.

I want nothing of the world, for the world does not give me benefit but with purpose to subjugate me.. Those who received what the world gave them became slaves to the world.. It gave them the pleasures of the body and took from them the purity of the spirit.. The world gave them the worldly enjoyment and took from them the blessing of the heavenly Kingdom.. Satan gave them all the kingdoms of the world and their glory to make them fall down and worship him.. He always gives all that he has to make people lose their souls.. As for me, “I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ" (Phil. 3:8) 

This world takes more than what it gives.. It subjects those who desire it... So I want nothing of it.. 

I want nothing of the world, for I am superior to it.. I am a son of God - in the image of God and after His likeness.. I am a temple for the Holy Spirit and a place of dwelling for God.. I am the only creature who partakes of His holy flesh and blood.. I am superior to the world and the world is asking me to give it.. for I have the keys of the heavens and earth.. I, whom God, in His loving-kindness and humbleness, willed to make me the light of the world and the salt of the earth. (Matt. 5:13,14) 

I want nothing of the world, because I want to live as my fathers did; those whom the earth was not deserving to trod on .. They lived so, received nothing of the world. On the other hand they were a blessing to the world.. For the sake of their prayers God sent water on the earth.. and for their sakes God preserved the world till today..

I want nothing of the world, because sin entered it and corrupted it.. In the beginning God saw everything and behold it was very good, as sin had not yet entered the world. Even the great sea creatures were blessed by God to be fruitful and to multiply.. But now, the marvellous picture which God has drawn is scarred. Therefore I reject the world which loves the darkness more than the light and I no longer desire anything of it.

I want nothing of the world, because I want You alone; You who loved me till the end and gave Yourself up for me; You who formed me out of nothing and was not in need of my service but it is rather I who was in need of your sovereignty.. 

Therefore I want to be released from the world and be united to You, who gave me the gift of knowing You.

 The Release of The Spirit
 By H.H. Pope Shenouda III


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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fathers Sayings







'Kingship, goodness and wisdom belong to God; 
he who attains them dwells in heaven.'

St. Thalassios the Libyan




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Monday, December 9, 2013

What Do I Love When I Love You?




It is not with doubtful but with assured awareness, O Lord, that I love you. Your Word struck into my heart and from that moment I loved you. Besides this, all about me, heaven and earth and all that they contain proclaim that I should love you, and their message never ceases to sound in the ears of all humankind, so that there is no excuse for any not to love you. But, more than all this, you will have mercy on whom you will have mercy and will show compassion to whom you show compassion (Romans 9:15). But if it were not for your mercy, heaven and earth would cry your praises to deaf ears.


But what do I love when I love you? Not the beauty of body nor the gracefulness of temporal rhythm, not the brightness of light so friendly to the eyes, not the sweet and various melodies of songs, not the fragrance of flowers and ointments and spices, not manna and honey; not limbs receptive to bodily embraces. It is not these I love when I love my God. 

And yet, when I love him, I do love a kind of light, melody, fragrance, food, embrace; for he is a light, a melody, a fragrance, a food, an embracement in my inner self – where that light shines into my soul which no place can contain, and where that voice sounds which time does not sweep away, and where that fragrance breathes which no wind scatters, and where that flavour is relished which eating does not diminish, and where that embrace is felt which is not severed by fulfilment of desire.

This is what I love when I love my God. 

~ ST.  AUGUSTINE 



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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Martyrdom of St. Mercurius




The Martyrdom of St. Mercurius 
Known as the Saint with the Two Swords

On this day, St. Mercurius, known as the saint with the two swords (Abu-Saifain), was martyred.

He was born in the city of Rome. His parents were Christians and they called him Philopateer, which means "Lover of the Father".  They reared him in a Christian manner. When he grew, he enlisted in the army during the days of Emperor Decius, the pagan. The Lord gave Philopateer the strength and the courage, for which he earned the satisfaction of his superiors. They called him Mercurius and he grew very close to the Emperor.

When the berbers rose up against Rome, Decius went out to fight them, but when he saw how many they were, he became terrified.  St. Mercurius assured him saying, "Do not be afraid, because God will destroy our enemies and will bring us victory."  When he left the Emperor, an angel appeared to him in the shape of a human being, dressed in white apparel. The angel gave him a sword saying, "When you overcome your enemies, remember the Lord your God." (That is why he is called, "of the two swords", "Abu-Saifain", one is the military sword and the other is the sword of the divine power).

When Emperor Decius conquered his enemies and Mercurius came back victorious, the angel appeared to him and reminded him of what he told him previously, that is, to remember the Lord his God.

Decius, and his soldiers with him, wanted to offer up incense to his idols and St. Mercurius tarried behind. When they informed the Emperor of what had happened, he called St. Mercurius and expressed his amazement at his abandoning of his loyalty to him. The Emperor reprimanded him for refusing to come and offer incense to the idols. The Saint cast his girdle and his military attire down before the Emperor and said to him, "I do not worship anyone except my Lord and my God Jesus Christ."

The Emperor became angry and ordered him to be beaten with whips and stalks. When the Emperor saw how the people of the city and the soldiers were attached to St. Mercurius, the Emperor feared that they might revolt. 

So instead, he bound him in iron fetters and sent him to Caesarea where they cut off his head. He thus completed his holy fight and received the crown of life in the kingdom of heaven.

His prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.


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4 - HUMILITY IN THE TEACHING OF JESUS




"Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart. "
Matt. 11:29




We have seen humility in the life of Christ, as He laid open His heart to us: let us listen to His teaching. There we shall hear how He speaks of it, and how far He expects men, and specially His disciples, to be humble as He was. Let us carefully study the passages, which I can scarce do more than quote, to receive the full impression of how often and how earnestly He taught it: it may help us to realize what He asks of us.

I. The blessings of heaven and earth are for the lowly 

Look at the commencement of His ministry. In the Beatitudes with which the Sermon on the Mount opens, He speaks: "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth." The very first words of His proclamation of the kingdom of heaven reveal the open gate through which alone we enter. The poor, who have nothing in themselves, to them the kingdom comes. The meek, who seek nothing in themselves, theirs the earth shall be. The blessings of heaven and earth are for the lowly. For the heavenly and the earthly life, humility is the secret of blessing.

2. Perfect Rest for the Soul

"Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls."Jesus offers Himself as Teacher. He tells what the spirit both is, which we shall find Him as Teacher, and which we can learn and receive from Him. Meekness and lowliness the one thing He offers us; in it we shall find perfect rest of soul. Humility is to be a salvation.

3. Greatness in the Kingdom

The disciples had been disputing who would be the greatest in the kingdom, and had agreed to ask the Master (Luke 9:46; Matt. 18:3). He set a child in their midst and said, "Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, shall be exalted." "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" The question is indeed a far-reaching one. What will be the chief distinction in the heavenly kingdom? The answer, none but Jesus would have given. The chief glory of heaven, the true heavenly-mindedness, the chief of the graces, is humility. "He that is least among you, the same shall be great."

4. The Standard of Glory

The sons of Zebedee had asked Jesus to sit on His right and left, the highest place in the kingdom. Jesus said it was not His to give, but the Father's, who would give it to those for whom it was prepared. They must not look or ask for it. Their thought must be of the cup and the baptism of humiliation. And then He added, "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Even as the Son of Man came to serve."  Humility, as it is the mark of Christ the heavenly, will be the one standard of glory in heaven: the lowliest is the nearest to God. The primacy in the Church is promised to the humblest.

5. The Only Way to Honor

Speaking to the multitude and the disciples, of the Pharisees and their love of the chief seats, Christ said once again (Matt. 23:11), "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant." Humiliation is the only ladder to honor in God's kingdom.

6. The Self-Abased Are Exalted

On another occasion, in the house of a Pharisee, He spoke the parable of the guest who would be invited to come up higher (Luke 14:1-11), and added, "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." The demand is inexorable; there is no other way. Self-abasement alone will be exalted.

7. Worship in Humility

After the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, Christ spake again (Luke18: 14), "Everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." In the temple and presence and worship of God, everything is worthless that is not pervaded by deep, true humility towards God and men.

8. The Essential Element of Discipleship

After washing the disciples' feet, Jesus said (John 13:14), "If I then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet." The authority of command, and example, every thought, either of obedience or conformity, make humility the first and most essential element of discipleship.

9. The Path in Which Jesus Walked

At the Holy Supper table, the disciples still disputed who should be greatest (Luke 22:26). Jesus said, "He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. I am among you as he that serveth." The path in which Jesus walked, and which He opened up for us, the power and spirit in which He wrought out salvation, and to which He saves us, is ever the humility that makes me the servant of all.

 Becoming a Servant of All

How little this is preached. How little it is practised. How little the lack of it is felt or confessed. I do not say, how few attain to it, some recognizable measure of likeness to Jesus in His humility. But how few ever think, of making it a distinct object of continual desire or prayer. How little the world has seen it. How little has it been seen even in the inner circle of the Church.





"Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant, 
even as the Son of Man came to serve."
Matt 20:27-28



"Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." Would God that it might be given us to believe that Jesus means this! We all know what the character of a faithful servant or slave implies. Devotion to the master's interests, thoughtful study and care to please him, delight in his prosperity and honor and happiness. There are servants on earth in whom these dispositions have been seen, and to whom the name of servant has never been anything but a glory. To how many of us has it not been a new joy in the Christian life to know that we may yield ourselves as servants, as slaves to God, and to find that His service is our highest liberty,-the liberty from sin and self? We need now to learn another lesson,-that Jesus calls us to be servants of one another, and that, as we accept it heartily, this service too will be a most blessed one, a new and fuller liberty too from sin and self. At first it may appear hard; this is only because of the pride which still counts itself something. If once we learn that to be nothing before God is the glory of the creature, the spirit of Jesus, the joy of heaven, we shall welcome with our whole heart the discipline we may have in serving even those who try to vex us. When our own heart is set upon this, the true sanctification, we shall study each word of Jesus on self-abasement with new zest, and no place will be too low, and no stooping too deep, and no service too mean or too long continued, if we may but share and prove the fellowship with Him who spake, "I am among you as he that serveth".


Brethren, here is the path to the higher life. Down, lower down! This was what Jesus ever said to the disciples who were thinking of being great in the kingdom, and of sitting on His right hand and His left. Seek not, ask not for exaltation; that is God's work. Look to it that you abase and humble yourselves, and take no place before God or man but that of servant; that is your work; let that be your one purpose and prayer. God is faithful. Just as water ever seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds the creature abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless. He that humbleth himself (that must be our one care) will be exalted; (this is God's care).  By His mighty power and in His great love He will do it.


People sometimes speak as if humility and meekness would rob us of what is noble and bold and manlike. Oh that all would believe that this is the nobility of the kingdom of heaven, that this is the royal spirit that the King of heaven displayed, that this is Godlike, to humble oneself, to become the servant of all! This is the path to the gladness and the glory of Christ's presence ever in us, His power ever resting on us.


Jesus, the meek and lowly One, calls us to learn of Him the path to God. Let us study the words we have been reading, until our heart is filled with the thought: My one need is humility. And let us believe that what He shows, He gives; what He is, He imparts. As the meek and lowly One, He will come in and dwell in the longing heart.
Humility - Andrew Murray



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