God’s ultimate sacrifice

The-Ultimate-SacrificeAs you know, Lent is here. During this holy time of contemplating God’s ultimate sacrifice, we see that the season is specifically geared toward sacrifice. It is within Christ’s sacrifice that our sacrifices are made complete and meaningful.

The Church, through its wisdom, has determined to sacrifice collectively and communally through a universal fast. Fasting is not only comprehensive, it is also collective–when we fast during the period of Lent, we do it together, as a Church, and we fast for the whole world who God loves and for whom He “gave His only begotten Son,” (John 3:16), for whose resurrection we are preparing during this very period.

It is important for us to make sacrifices in order to bring our bodies into subjection (1 Corinthians 9:27) and prepare ourselves for the feast of the Resurrection. Because of this intention, we may focus entirely on our fasting from certain foods and attend only and specifically to what goes into our mouths and stomachs. This sort of fast, where each person only focuses on his or her mind, body and soul, is an incomplete fast. And since we are fasting together as a Church, we should fast the way that God and His Church intend.
We read about true fasting in Isaiah: “Is this not the fast that I have chosen… Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him… If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul… The Lord will guide you continually…” (Isaiah 58:6-11). It is clear that during this time, as we abstain from certain foods and focus on the strengthening of our souls, it is of the utmost importance that we attend to the the most needy amongst us: the hungry, the lonely, the sick.
In abstaining, when we would usually indulge, we should instead give to the poor. Abstaining is not only based on sacrifice, but the importance of fasting is seen most vividly in the transforming of that sacrifice for the greater good: “Be generous with these brothers and sisters, victims of misfortune. Give to the hungry from what you deprive your own stomach” (Gregory of Nyssa).

With this in mind, we cannot truthfully say we are fasting if the Lord’s brethren do not have a place in our hearts, prayers, and also our almsgiving. We must remember the question that St. James has put forth to all of us: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:16).
So what good is our fasting, if it only disciplines our bodies without effectuating real lasting change in our world–even if that world means taking the time we would have spent at the movies and spent it visiting an elderly person in a nursing home or taking the money we would have spent on lunch and giving it to someone more needy than us? God wants, and the world needs, us to fast the way the Lord has chosen. May the Lord of this Blessed season conform in us a fast that is both acceptable to Him and effective to His world.

By: Ann Marie Toss

Christ is risen!

Easter_Christ_is_risenChrist is risen! Hallelujah! Hallelujah to the Source of our hope and the Example of what our future holds! Hallelujah to the “the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). As the first-fruits, Christ demonstrated our future to us; He is the first and only example of what the resurrection of the dead will be. St. Paul teaches us that “what you sow is not made alive unless it dies” (1 Cor. 15:36). For this reason Christ took on the limitations of the flesh, and the mortality of humanity, so that he could overcome that death and resurrect in a glorified body. In so doing, Christ transformed humanity and allowed us to be sown and resurrect as the self-same but glorified bodies. Selfsame in this way: after the resurrection Christ ate as we do presently (Luke 24; John 21; Acts 1); glorified in this way: we also know that he appeared in rooms without the use of doors (John 20). The transformative result of the union of the humanity and divinity of Christ allows us, in dying, to be “sown in dishonor… raised in glory… sown in weakness… raised in power” (1 Cor. 15:43). He is the first and only reason that humanity has come to be immortal for “the first Adam was made into a living soul, the last Adam was made a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). It is us to whom Christ gives life so that “just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, we will also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:45). Thus we too shall emerge, by the power of God, in beautiful bodies which will reflect the glory of God alongside the rest of creation. So, in celebrating the resurrection of Christ, we celebrate the act of love that allows us to see God in the flesh even after our skin has been destroyed (Job 19:26). We celebrate the glorious future that has been bestowed upon us by grace. We will share in the Lord’s glory (Rom. 8:17) and become able to know Him fully and to see him face to face (1 Cor. 13:12). Hallelujah!

By: Ann Marie Toss

Homosexuality And The Church By: Pope Shenouda III

Saint Peter and Saint Andrew Coptic Orthodox Church in Stamford ConnecticutDefinition

“Homosexuality is a predominant, persistent and exclusive psychosexual attraction toward members of the same sex. A homosexual person is one who feels a sexual desire for and a sexual responsiveness to persons of the same sex and who seeks or would like to seek actual sexual fulfillment of this desire by sexual acts with a person of the same sex.”

Introduction

Homosexuality is almost as old as man. The first mention in recorded history concerns Lot and the well known history of Sodom and Gomorra, which took place over 4000 years ago. Throughout all those years, homosexuality has never been accepted as a normal behavior and people have never been open about it comfortably. (more…)

Letter to the New Pope by Father Tadros Malaty

The New Pope And The Power of the Communal Repentance

In a very serene and joyful atmosphere in Egypt and abroad, the three candidates were chosen for the papal position. Right before the Alter Draw to take place, I felt the need to stay calm, and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit for my repentance as well as the whole Church’s repentance. It is befitting for the church to be holy and to benefit from the surrounding circumstances to increase her spiritual growth and fulfilling her mission as the living body of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

SITTING ATOP THE MOUTH OF A VOLCANO

More than five years ago, one of the beloved brethren told me that H. G. Bishop… in a private meeting said that Pope Shenouda is sitting on top of a volcano’s mouth, and he asked God to keep him alive longer to avoid the eruption of that volcano, whose consequences we do not know. In my opinion, this bishop’s feelings and words were reflective of many clergy and congregants feelings

This indeed came true after the start of the papal elections process, but only for a short while. God’s grace interfered to save the Church and keep it in peace. Amazingly, God allowed for this temporary eruption for the growth of many souls. Also, it allowed us to be acquainted with God’s thoughts and will. (more…)

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