Saturday, January 6, 2018

Christmas Tree and Burning Bush

 My mom "Wedad" few years back when she came to the US in a visit, she looked to our Christmas Tree and said to me, the tree is there to remind us with the burning bush. I looked to her and said that Mom that is very deep Theological meaning. It is my first time to link the Tree to the Burning Bush. Yes the theologian is the person who knows how to pray. On the same token I have heard some beautiful meditation about the Nativity Feast: the gifts to represent the gifts of the Magi, and the gift of God the Father to the world, His Only Begotten Son. " The Only  Begotten of The Father, was Incarnate from the Virgin" I like our children to learn this refrain, to know the reality of the eternal Birth of The Son from The Father, lest they will only comprehend Christmas as the "Baby Jesus" was born. I symbolizes to our children in a simple way, if I switched off the light in my room, are there any electricity running in the wires? the answer yes but I can not see it, once I turn on the switch, then I can see the Incarnate Electricity took the form of light.

Singing the hymns the Angels said " Glory to God in the Highest, Peace On Earth and goodwill toward men" I hope this will be our greeting instead of saying Merry Christmas, or Happy Feast of Nativity.

My Friend Tamer Yassa, sent me a greeting this morning, not a picture, not a clip, not part of recorded video but two verses from Tuesday Psali for the Feast of Nativity, you can hear him here

And the translation

"Jesus, our Savior is born to us today, in Bethlehem of Judah
 There was great joy when the Sun of Righteousness shone and gave us light."

Other Theotokia (Glorification or Veneration for the Mother of God) Refrains in our Coptic Orthodox Pslamody book 

On Mondays, "He shone in the flesh, taken from the Virgin, without the seed of of man, in order to save us."
On Tuesdays, "For of His own will, and the pleasure of His Father, and the Holy Spirit, He came and saved us."
On Wednesdays, "The Father looked from heaven, and found no one like you, He sent His Only-Begotten, Who came and took flesh from you."
On Thursdays, "He did not cease to be divine, He came and became the Son of Man, for He is the true God, Who came and saved us."
On Fridays, "He took what is ours, and gave us what is His, we praise Him and glorify Him, and exalt Him."
On Saturdays, "Hail to you O full of grace. Hail to you, who has found grace. Hail to you, who has given birth to Christ. The Lord is with you." 

When our Feasts take this beautiful praises and prayer form, it turns Earth to Heaven, By His Birth He made our world to be a Heaven and each one of us to be a Temple Carrying Him always to witness"Emmanuel God With us" Matthew 1:23 to fulfill what came in Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."

Friday, August 18, 2017

I Am He: St. Mary Vesper or Revival

I Am He: St. Mary Vesper or Revival: St. Mary Vesper or Revival I announced that we will pray Vespers of St. Mary, later I was asked by a person when is the Revival of St. Ma...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

St. Mary Vesper or Revival

St. Mary Vesper or Revival

I announced that we will pray Vespers of St. Mary, later I was asked by a person when is the Revival of St. Mary so I answered the Vespers will be in the time I mentioned. My answer was not satisfactory. It triggers me to analyse what is our expectation about the period of the fast asking the intercession of St. Mary. What components are there in the expectation of the people for the revival of St. Mary. Is the Vesper prayer recognised as a deep liturgical prayers, not only in st. Mary but the rest of the year?

Is it only the case during some periods of time during the year? or is it what we should do everyday?

Is our expectation about st. Mary period to be: Glorification ( in which many songs found its place, lacking a deep theological meaning, connecting st. Mary to the mystery of Incarnation,like the Theotokia of every day) and sermons?

Would it be still fine if we prayed the Vesper followed by the Theotokia of the day, and teaching it to our children. especially its refrains :

Saturday Refrain of the Theotokia
Hail to you O full of grace, hail to you who has found grace, hail to you who has given birth to Christ, the Lord is with you.

Monday Refrain of the Theotokia 
He shone in the flesh, taken from the Virgin, without the seed of man, in order to save us.

Tuesday Refrain of the Theotokia
For of His own will, and the pleasure of His Father, and the Holy Spirit, He came and saved us.

Wednesday Refrain of the Theotokia
The Father looked from heaven, and found no one like you, He sent His only-begotten, who came and took flesh from you

Thursday Refrain of the Theotokia
He did not cease to be divine, He came and became the Son of Man, for He is the true God, who came and saved us.

Friday Refrain of the Theotokia
He took what is ours, and gave us what is His, we praise and glorify Him, and exalt Him.

I enjoyed the children praying the Theotokia of the day and I wish to see it happening in many places, this is how our Church Fathers praised St. Mary. Please listen to the file below, the Theotokia of Wednesday

It is another call to revive the Vesper prayers, that what really wants revival, HH Pope Kyrillos started to bring the attention to the Vesper and Mid Night Prayers. Hope our congregation attend every Saturday the Vesper prayers.

A last call, St. Mary wants us to follow her virtuous life: Meekness, Humility, silence, service etc.Let us ask her intercession during this fast and let us live in these virtues.

Also I hope our Children can memories the Theotokia by heart. Here our Children are praying Wednesday Theotokia.

The words of this Theotokia Wednesday Theotokia

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Our Children During the Summer

Our Children During the Summer

I am so sorry that I delayed writing this blog to this time, as we are half way through the summer, but I felt that I need to address this issue as soon. What do our children plan for the summer?

The first answer, will be for vacation, watching, hanging out, gym and sports.

How about we plan for the summer, by creating agenda, I will suggest some topics to be discussed with your children.
A weekly agenda can include: Daily Bible Reading, Daily Book Reading, Daily Prayer, writing psalms in order to learn it

 Writing verses in order to learn it
 attending liturgies, vespers, Mid Night Psalmody, learning parts in Agypia, Bible, Hymns, Coptic teaching,, stories from the Old Testament ( not the ordinary known ones like Joseph, David) Could be the story of the Maccabees family in II Maccabees 7.
These activities to be done at home, parents should plan and help and spend time in the Christian education of their children, not only trusting that the children will go to the summer activities, El Keraza festivals, or any competitions.
The agenda should include, visiting museums, green areas (nature), Libraries, bookstore, workshops for children, reading to each other, watching news ( to get to know the rest of the world ( you can use a map).
Reading for them Church History, teaching them to pain an icon, Iota Coptic Art , volunteering in a community organization, helping in food drive for homeless ( our church in Manhattan do it , organizing their rooms, helping in cleaning the house ( not everyday or they will get bored easily), Weekly movie night ( If you want a list of recommended movie, please request), my favorite for the older is the reluctant saint Parents should implement the agenda and should stay with their children.
I would personally suggest that their waking hour in the summer to be the same as the winter, or else they will perceive the school as a wrathful place, why not they wake up at the same time, pray and play.
Spend time to chat with them, and walk with them. An equal proportion from each point mentioned above will help in the development of their personality and mentality. I wish if you started to apply, to share with me your experience. I will value if you can complete the above list.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Coptic Community reaction to Tanta and Alexandria events.

Lesson we learn
1-   Deacons in the Church of St. George in Tanta were praying the Liturgy of the Word in the feast of Palm Sunday. They were saying the hymns of Εγλοςιμενοσ, you can find the words for this hymn here they were praying the part which says Hosanna to the King of Israel; and then they continued the hymn in heaven. Here is the last seen before explosion happens , no worry no graphic scenes
2-   Our Coptic Orthodox Church, lives the Pascha week as Egeria explained by the end of the fourth century, so after Palm Sunday we have the Pscha hours of the eve of Monday. This was the turn out in one of the churches (Thanks to Caroline Moawad for the pictures)

3-   Is it an image of people who hate life, the above Church is located in an area where people are highly educated and have prosperous jobs. What you see is simple “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21. This reminds me with What St. Justin the martyr said in his first apology, that these people are not fearing death.
4-   His Holliness Pope Tawadross put for us example, instead of receiving congratulations on the day of the feast of Resurrection, he went to visit the families of the martyrs (pictures from US-International Coptic Media Center's post.)

Visiting Tanta families 

Visiting the sick and the orphans in the day of the feast is sharing with our Lord as He said “[35] for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 
[36] I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 
[37] Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 
[38] And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 
[39] And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' 
[40] And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' Matthew 25.
5-   During the Pascha week services, I was so touched when a girl in high school, asked me if she can give me some money for the families of the martyrs. I was so moved by her feeling the One Body, “[26] If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. “ I Corinthians 12. This sense of responsibility is what we need to put in the hearts of our children.

- -The Church planned to pray the liturgy of the feast in the hospitals where the injuried out of these events are residing. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

I Am He: Common practices of the Great Lent between 4th cen...

I Am He: Common practices of the Great Lent between 4th cen...:

Comparing between what we have in the Coptic
Orthodox Church now and some practices from 4th century. Trying to find links
related with the catechumen.

During this week in the fourth century , you will see a deacon having a list of the candidates of the baptism “Catechumen” who will be cat...

Common practices of the Great Lent between 4th century and now in the Coptic Orthodox Church.

During this week in the fourth century , you will see a deacon having a list of the candidates of the baptism “Catechumen” who will be catechized during the Great Lent and if they passed all tests including the witness from their neighbours. Then they can receive the “illumination” the Holy Baptism in the Feast of the Resurrection. Yes they are buried and raised with Him. Colossians 2:12 and Romans 6:4.

The curriculum the church used to teach them is having its traces in our Coptic Orthodox Lectionary  for the Great Lent ( Lent Latin Quadragesima: Fortieth)  (please visit  for the lectionary of the Great Lent). We will find the main structure of the daily prophecies “the teaching part for the catechumen” composed of the History of salvation in the Books of Moses,  where we remember that God who started the covenant with Israel is still exists and works in our time, life and space. Reading the prophecies also is an important curriculum, showing  how God dealt with His people and His people dealt with Him. Another subject will be from the Book of Wisdom, A Christian should be wise. Third subject from the Book of Job as a person who was tempted and won. Forth Subject will be the teaching of the Creed. Fifth Subject will be the Lord’s Prayer. As they will be sons and daughters to their Father who art in Heaven. That is why in all our hymns in the Great Lent we find the Lord’s Prayer is repeated , in every hymn. Sixth subject will be the sermon on the mount the constitution of the Christians, where tablets of stone are not required but the tablets of the human hearts (2 Cor.3:3) are due.That is why the reading of the first week mostly taken from the chapters Matt. 5, 6, and 7 The sermon on the mount. It is  a good practice to read it before confession, so you can prepare yourself. 

The Bishop will teach the catechumen, after they listen attentively to the readings. then they will be anointed with the oil of exorcism, in some ritual it is a daily practice so that the Satan will not take the seeds which was planted in their hearts from the words they have heard from the Scripture of from the bishop. It is a common practice today that we have two oils in the Great Lent and Pascha week, Unction of the sick on the last day in the great lent and another ointment after reading the Book of revelation in the Bright Saturday. Maybe these two ointments are traces of the catechumen ointments.

In Bright Saturday we have many processions, in the Resurrection Feast we have a procession after the Resurrection Enactment, could be also related to the procession of the newly baptize. 

How to live Great Lent

1-Read the daily readings , as stated above from the link. StMarkDC also has an app where you can 
  listen to the audio readings for each day in English and Arabic.
I wish the family can sit together , to read or listen to the readings

2-Pray the hymns of the Great Lent
 Start by the Psali on the Third Praise

3-Pray for every person who asked you to remember them, get topics from the news, if you find any 
 city afflicted or so, include it in your prayers.

4-Include prayers between reading the psalms of the Agpia, you can stop for a moment and remember a person or an issue, then you can continue your prayers. 

4-Reading spiritual books like the “The Life of Repentance and Purity” by Pope Shenouda , something to stir you up.

5-Change the environment at home, to suit the Great Lent, prayers, hymns, verses, words can benefit one another, conversation, visit the sick, make a list of people who are far from the church to remember them, pray for the Church , for Sunday School, for the world leaders, for those in a position which affects the humanity.

Add more points to this list and share it