St. Philopateer Mercurius (Abu Sefein)

SPSA Church is blessed to have part of Saint Philopateer Mercurius relic. Vesper’ll start at 6PM, followed by the relic procession and glorification. May his prayers be with all of us Amin.

Philopateer was born in 225 A.D. of pagan parents in the city of Eskentos in Cappadocia in Eastern Asia Minor (a region of the ancient world that corresponds to modern day Turkey). The name Philopateer is a greek word that means lover of the father. (Pateer = father, Philo = love).

The conversion of his family to Christianity

  • His family used to live on hunting wild animals. One day his father Yares, along with his grandfather, were hunting in the forest when they were attacked by a wild beast. The animal jumped on the grandfather, and that scared Yares so much that he fainted.
  • While he was unconscious, he had a vision: he saw a brilliant light and heard a voice saying, “Yares, I am your God who loves you. I know that you have a good heart and that you hate the pagan idols. I want to inform you that your son Philopateer will become like a tree bearing good fruits, and because of him, I will bless you and your wife. Philopateer will be my witness and will defy all prejudice in my name.”
  • Shortly after, Yares, his wife and his son were baptized and they were given new names. Yares became Noah, his wife became Saphina and Philopateer became Mercurius. The news of their baptism spread quickly in the city and the prince ordered them to be arrested and thrown to the wild animals. But the Lord, who shut the mouths of the lions at the time of Daniel, tamed the wild animals and they did not harm them. The prince and his soldiers were astonished and decided to release Yares and his family. (more…)

Why Do We Venerate the Relics of the Saints?

The ven­er­a­tion of the relics of the mar­tyrs and saints orig­i­nates from Divine Rev­e­la­tion through the Holy Scrip­tures. In the Old Tes­ta­ment, for exam­ple, God made the holy relics of the right­eous work mir­a­cles such as the relics of Elisha which res­ur­rected a man from the dead. From that time, the tomb and bones of the Prophet Elisha were ven­er­ated through­out Judea.

In the New Tes­ta­ment, the human body was ele­vated to sub­lime and divine heights through the Incar­na­tion of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we address Christ in the Liturgy of St. Gre­gory, “You blessed my nature in Your­self.” Together with the soul, the body is raised up at the Last Day and receives eter­nal life. This was made pos­si­ble only through our Lord’s Res­ur­rec­tion, by which He con­quered death and its power over us, and His Ascen­sion, by which He raised the human body to the holy of holies. Thus, through His Life­giv­ing work, our Lord Jesus Christ truly ele­vated the nature of the human body. For this rea­son, we strug­gle in this world to have com­mu­nion with Him so that our bod­ies may be tem­ples of the Holy Spirit, the Liv­ing God, wor­thy of the eter­nal habitations.

In light of this, we ven­er­ate the bod­ies of the saints which served as tem­ples of the Holy Spirit full of grace. It is not uncom­mon to see the fruits of a saint’s right­eous­ness in the state of their bod­ies after their depar­ture from this vale of tears. For exam­ple, the body of Abba Pishoy which came in con­tact with our Lord Jesus Christ Him­self, lies incor­rupt in his church in Wadi El Natrun. For many days, the body of the saintly patri­arch, Abba Kyril­losVI, emit­ted a sweet and fra­grant odor after his departure.

More­over, God willed that, in many cases, not only does a saint’s body man­i­fest Divine Grace, but also his cloth­ing and per­sonal arti­cles. Thus, the hand­ker­chiefs of St. Paul the Apos­tle cast out demons whereas the shadow of St. Peter healed the sick. In the Old Tes­ta­ment, it was the man­tle of Eli­jah that struck and sep­a­rated the waters of the Jor­dan River. Even after Elijah’s mirac­u­lous ascent into the heav­ens, his dis­ci­ple, Elisha, struck the river with the very same man­tle to divide the waters again.

From these exam­ples, it is clear that our ven­er­a­tion of the relics of the saints is not the result of a mor­bid fas­ci­na­tion with bod­ies and bones, but rather, an acknowl­edge­ment that these saints lived right­eous lives and that God, in His inef­fa­ble love, allowed their relics to man­i­fest the Divine Grace they strug­gled for in their lives.

Thus, when we ven­er­ate the relics of the saints, we wor­ship God and con­tem­plate the right­eous exam­ple of these saints in our strug­gle to imi­tate them.

Glory to You, O Lord, now and for­ever, Amen.

The Coptic New Year 1728 A.M

From September 11, 2012 (Thout 1) to September 27 (Thout 17), the Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast of Nayrouz, which is the feast of the new year in the Coptic calendar, 1728 A.M.

The designation “A.M.” at the end of the Coptic year refers to “Anno Martyrii,” which is Latin for “Year of the Martyrs.” The reason years in the Coptic calendar are called “years of the martyrs” is the fact that the calendar itself starts with the beginning of the terrible persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Diocletian in the year 284 A.D. When Diocletian came to power, the land of Egypt was under the control of the Roman Empire. Diocletian outlawed Christianity and mercilessly killed those who remained strong in the faith. Some estimate that approximately 800,000 Copts were martyred during his reign. One of the Church Fathers writes, “If the martyrs of the whole world were put on one arm of the balance and the martyrs of Egypt on the other, the balance would tilt in favor of the Egyptians.” In light of this era of persecution, Copts adjusted their calendar to begin with his reign in 284 A.D. This reign was considered a golden era in which the church in Egypt offered true witnesses to Christ as the martyrs were steadfast in their faith.


St. Athanasius Feast

St. Athanasius was born about 295 in Alexandria where he was raised and well learned in classical and theological education. It was during this time period where he grew in knowledge and understanding of the Holy Scriptures and dogma. Because of this, he was ordained deacon at the age of 19 by Bishop Alexander, and later became his secretary. His most famous work, On the Incarnation, was written when St. Athanasius was about 25 years old. This work became known as the sole source in defending the Church at the Council of Nicea against the Arian heresy, in 325A.D. Opposing many people at the Council, he was able to stand boldy and say “Jesus, that I know as my Redeemer, cannot be less than God.” (more…)

Feast of Saint Mark

On Tuesday, 8th May 2012, the Church will celebrate the Feast of its founder and Father, St. Mark the Apostle.  John Mark was a native of the North African country of Libya.  He was one of the 70 Apostles (Luke 1:10) and travelled with St. Paul and his cousin St. Barnabas to Antioch.  He then returned to Jerusalem and later accompanied his cousin to Cyprus.

We are immensely indebted to the great Apostle and Evangelist St. Mark for the following reasons:

1. St. Mark… Author of the Gospel

The first and shortest Gospel was written by St. Mark between 55-60AD.  The message of St. Mark’s Gospel is captured in a single verse, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  Chapter by chapter the Gospel unfolds the dual focus of Christ’s life: service and sacrifice.
St. Mark portrays Christ as a Servant on the move, preaching, teaching and healing; moving towards the goal of offering Himself a sacrifice for all mankind.  Directed towards the Romans, the Gospel of St. Mark omits the Aramaic words and uses Latin terms in their place (Mark 4:21; 6:27 and 15:15). (more…)

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