How do I Relate to the Holy Cross? By: Nagi Philips
Feelings † The Holy Cross is the core of our faith throughout the year, however, it is the focal point of Holy Lent since it leads us to look ahead to Good Friday, the event that the whole of Lent points us toward.
† This Cross is far more than two beams of wood pieced together. It is far more than the piece of jewelry that so many people wear today. This Cross is big enough and important enough to encompass the whole of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. In fact, the Cross is the central point of our whole Christian life.
† Someone once said “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” Applying this to my own life, I see pain present every time I sin, but suffering as an option only.
† Suffering became an option in my life as I focused on the life of my Lord Jesus and how He suffered for our salvation, and on the lives of the Saints who followed in His footsteps. I slowly realized that suffering has a purpose and a meaning in God's plan of salvation for the world.
† Through pain, tiredness, failures, struggles, temptations, and brokenness I gradually began to realize that I too am a sinner like everyone else and that I too need salvation.
† Experiencing all of the above, for the past 65 years, enabled me to get in touch with the true self and let go of the false self through confession. I began to realize that I had feelings like everyone else; it was okay to cry; though believing that God forgave my many sins, I also needed to forgive myself; suffering has been a powerful means of salvation in my own life. I began to realize that this slow, painful, and lifetime journey, would reconcile me with God, with my true self that God created, and with every person I met.
A post-election lesson for Americans from Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church
Saturday, November 10 2012
A post-election lesson for Americans from Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church By Brad Hirschfield, Washington Post
The election is over and now the real work begins. Today is not fundamentally about Republicans and Democrats. It is not about winners and losers. It is about us, the American public and how we will be best served by those in elected office.
We endured not only a closely contested election, but one marked by a torrent of high-priced of polarizing ads which leave in their wake, a deeply divided nation even though the contest is over. Now the real work begins, indeed.
Will we be one nation, or will we simply continue the same fights in new settings. Will Congress continue to be a paralyzed battleground even as we confront serious challenges on virtually every important issue we face as a nation?
Biblical Proofs Of Saint Mary's Perpetual Virginity
Thursday, August 16 2012
Biblical Proofs Of Saint Mary's Perpetual Virginity By: Mr. Nagi Philips
OLD TESTAMENT PROOFS
The Old Testament points to the mystery of Saint Mary's Motherhood, a virgin who becomes a mother, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:13 14)
The Old Testament prophecy makes no reference to a husband. In fact it emphasized that the future Virgin who would be chosen to become the Mother of God would remain virgin while conceiving, throughout the duration of her pregnancy, and after giving birth. “This gate (Saint Mary’s womb) shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut” (Ezekiel 44:1-2).
Every Female Shares in Saint Mary's Majestic Dignity
Thursday, August 16 2012
Every Female Shares in Saint Mary's Majestic Dignity By: Mr. nagi Philips
+ This plan is already manifest in the Old Testament, with the creation narrative that introduces the first couple created in the image of God Himself: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27). Needless to say woman, no less than man, bears God's image in herself. This means that, since her appearance on the earth as a result of the divine action, she too is appreciated: "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). According to this view, the difference between man and woman is only in physical stature.
+ God's intention goes well beyond what is revealed in the Book of Genesis. In fact, in Saint Mary God created a feminine personality, which greatly surpasses the ordinary condition of woman as it appears in the creation of Eve.
Saint Mary’s Roll in Salvation By: Mr. Nagi Philips
+ At the end of the second century St. Irenaeus, a disciple of St. Polycarp, already pointed out Saint Mary's contribution to the work of Salvation. He understood the value of her consent at the time of the Annunciation, recognizing in the Virgin of Nazareth's obedience to and faith in the angel's message the perfect antithesis of Eve's disobedience and disbelief, with a beneficial effect on humanity's destiny. In fact, just as Eve caused death, so Saint Mary, with her "yes", became "a cause of salvation" for herself and for all mankind.
+ Saint Mary became a spiritual Mother of the whole human race. Saint Mary is united to Christ in the whole work of Redemption, sharing, according to God's plan, in the Cross and suffering for our salvation. She remained united to the Son "in every deed, attitude and wish".
Reflections on the Passing of HH Pope Shenouda III
Friday, March 23 2012
Reflections on the Passing of HH Pope Shenouda III By: Christine Agaibi
In the last week, millions of Copts around the world have mourned the loss of our great shepherd while we simultaneously gaining a great intercessor in Paradise. It was heavy on our hearts and minds to hear and process "HH Pope Shenouda has passed away". Some of us experienced shock and disbelief and some sadness or anger. Some feel uncertainty about what happens now or how can a great person like HH Pope Shenouda ever be replaced. Some may even feel they wished they could have known all they could have about this great person when he was alive. Some cannot even process their feelings yet. My friends I have been contemplating this loss myself over the last few days and while I know we are to be joyful that we have an intercessor in Paradise, we are human and feel an earthly loss. This is a normal human reaction because even our master Jesus Christ wept (John 11:35). “Jesus wept” is the shortest verse in the Bible but speaks volumes about the humanity of our Savior and about the necessity of sometimes having an outward expression of emotion.
His Holiness accomplished a lot in his 40 years of service to the Coptic Church and to his beloved children and this level of service is one we should all try to emulate. While the number of Coptic Churches in the lands of immigration was sparse in 1971 when he was ordained Pope and Patriarch, he established hundreds of churches on all 6 habitable continents and in over 60 countries. He established theological schools and monasteries especially in the Diaspora. He received multiple honorary doctorate degrees and he has authored of hundreds of books and articles. He was a philosopher, a poet, and a theologian. He gave hundreds of sermons that were recorded. He presided over many liturgies, baptisms, church consecrations, and an innumerable amount of other church activities. He was active in councils for inter-Christian dialogue and was the first Coptic Pope to meet with the Vatican Pope John Paul II in 1500 years. He spoke about human rights, and dignity and respect for all and he was kind to the young and old alike. He was a great spiritual man and yet the most humble as well. He was born an orphan, as his mother passed away shortly after his birth, but his faith and resilience led him to be a father to millions upon his passing.
The First Sunday:
Clarity of vision and determination: no criss-crossing between two paths: man cannot worship God and money-money is a god!!! At the start of the journey, God asks me: how many Gods do you worship? Do you really believe in one God?...God or money? God or the flesh? God or clothes? God or appearances? God or the ego?
The teachings at the beginning of this journey are:
Clarity of vision, "Ask for the kingdom of God and His righteousness (only)"
Do not worry about tomorrow.
These are basic teachings to help those setting out on the journey of Lent--they pray for the kingdom of God and His righteousness..and all the rest shall be added. They travel without any concern because God is their life, their light on the way, their source of nourishment and their helper...they take firm and strong steps towards eternal life. Indeed, they experience eternal life now as they do not worry or criss-cross over the lines.
The Second Sunday:
Temptations on the road: struggle is a natural condition to a person who wishes to attain a valuable object. War is burdensome when it is an object in itself. But when the object is to progress spiritually, and to be steadfast in God, then war becomes a pleasure. It is a pleasure because victory is certain since Christ won it for me. I, consequently, will win through Him. It is a war with a fierce enemy whom the Lord has already conquered. That evil one had used food and price as instruments of war against the Lord. He told Jesus to throw Himself from the top of the temple, and attempted to lure Him to choose the easy way out of the sufferings of the cross by saying: "I will give you all the kingdoms of the world if you bow down and worship me." This seems easier then reigning over people’s hearts through the Cross...throw your cross and learn be sleazy in life...but our Lord conquered and gave us the victory.
There are times in our lives when we come to the realization that we are not the center of the universe. It is a difficult realization; for by our very perception we are inclined to see ourselves as the focal point of a great and wide circle. I look "out" at everything thats not "me;" and when I turn my head the world seems to revolve around me. When I am in my car, I am the only driver I can appreciate; all other cars are lifeless machines, mere obstacles. When I stand in long line, the line seems to move much too slow until, of course, it is my turn.
And naturally this sense of "centeredness" gets transposed to my social life as well. It is always urgent that people notice me. I must prove that my opinions are quite important, and it is best that my presence and my character be admired by others at all times. And of course, it is more important that people notice things about me than about anybody else. Its quite a natural feeling; after all, its "me." And all this has often been referred to more simply as the ego.
Then suddenly, a period of social emptiness or social dryness hits. For a while, strangely, inexplicably, my importance subsides a little. My opinions are not met by others with dazzled glares; my conversations are not considered that interesting anymore; my presence is not as sought after as I once believed. In other words, I come to realize that I am not the center of the picture; I am only a small detail, positioned not in the middle but a little to the side and almost lost among the thousand other details. Instead of everyones eyes being continually on me, as I once thought, I am noticed really only a fraction of the time. And inevitably, I begin to feel a bit depressed. Why am I not that important anymore? My self-esteem takes a plunge, my emotions and activity become lazy. I begin a period of social dryness.
I Resolve, I Resolve, I Resolve…. By: Christine Agaibi
As we wrap up 2011 most of us will spend the last few hours and moments of this year reflecting on the past year and pondering our goals for the year to come. New Year’s resolutions are often born of this reflection and of the ambitions we have for the future.
As we contemplate all our accomplishments, disappointments, joys, and sorrows from this year, let us not forget that regardless of your circumstances, the New Year can unfold with many wonderful possibilities and opportunities. Many of us spend the last moments of the old year contemplating how to best improve in the New Year and optimistically make commitments and resolutions to achieve new goals.
So, how can we make goals that are likely to be accomplished in the New Year? Additionally, how can we sustain our resolutions so that they last beyond just a few days or weeks and instead lead to long lasting triumphs? St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians states, “Indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him as the truth is in Jesus. That you put off concerning your former conduct the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful and be renewed in the spirit of your mind and that you put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:21-24).
Therefore, wherever we are currently in our lives, we need to create a fresh start that “takes off the old man” and “put on a new one” placing God at the center. Our resolutions first and foremost need to be dedicated to improving our relationship with God. All else will follow from there as the verse says, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33.
Democracy and Christians in Egypt By: Chuck Colson
On October 9, at least two dozen Christians were killed by Egyptian police. Their only “crime” was in insisting that they be treated in a manner consistent with what the “Arab Spring” was supposed to be about.
It’s getting clearer that for parts of the Arab world, it’s going to be a long, cold winter.
The killings happened during a march organized by Coptic leaders to protest a church-burning by Islamists. The military regime responded lackadaisically to this outrage, just as it has to other outrages perpetrated against Egypt’s Christian minority.
The junta’s response to peaceful protest was a combination of tear gas, live ammunition, and armored vehicles ramming into the crowd. A few protesters threw rocks in response to the attacks, which gave state-controlled media a chance to claim that protestors started the violence and urge “honorable,” that is, Muslim, Egyptians to help the soldiers.
As one follows the news of the world during these difficult times, there is a stark realisation of the presence of disharmony and hatred. We are reminded to seek the real terrorist in our lives and realize that when the Lord is with us, we can never fail.
Every day, we follow the news of attacks and the partial defeat of terror and those who instil it, while at the same time seeing the results of that terror on victims, their families and loved ones.
The nations have decided; the superpowers and heads of nations have gathered; the armies have prepared, and the world is standing hand-in-hand against terror, evil and evil doers. While we are all concentrating so heavily on the apparent enemy, we are being attacked by another more sinister, more deadly enemy.
We all feel that the terrorists are those by whom our lives are now threatened, and that it is they who represent danger; the real danger however does not come from the enemies of this life, but rather, from the enemy of the next.
Our faith is put to the test everyday. Now it is time to unite in prayerful and fasting time. Let us humble ourselves stand or kneel together. We need to ask God almighty to help us with all that is happening to our churches and families in Egypt.
Our Church requested that everyone to fast on Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday October 11-13th. At 9 pm please stop what you are doing. Let us take a few moments to say our Lord Have Mercy.
Just remember we moved the mountains before!
Thursday, September 15 2011
Getting Prepared By: B. M.
We recently encountered hurricane Irene in the North East. Everyone tuned to their radios, TV, Internet, for all the possible information to prepare and beat the hurricane.
Before - How did you prepare?
For me and my family, I got water, batteries, cash, food, extra tank of gas for the grill, filled the car with Gas. I cleared the patio. Tied down all lose items. My neighbors went as far as boarding their windows and glass doors. My wife asked me to get the holy water (ANDEEL) from the fridge and sprinkle the whole house. Others might got some drinks, food, and movies to consume while the storm pass.
During – What did you do while the storm was pounding?
I guess some were praying for GOD’s protection; other tried to sleep it off, or entertain themselves.
After Irene –
Everyone came out of their homes to check on their belongings and relatives and neighbors. For some there were little to no damage, and those folks were joyful; happy to be alive, feeling blessed.
The weather team did a great job predicting Irene’s path. They gave enough warnings to everyone. The officials also warn. It was like waiting for the inevitable. It is like death we all going to get there some time!
Just like the storm/hurricane are you preparing before it hits? I am sure I want to be ready to experience the everlasting joy with the LORD.
Bullying – Part 4
Friday, August 12 2011
Bullying – Part 4 – Cyberbullying(Continued)
By: Christine Agaibi
The beginning of the fall semester will launch very soon in high schools and colleges around the country.While summer may have been filled with much activity that is both relaxing and enjoyable, returning to school may cause some to feel anxious.Students that may have put worries of bullying behind them for the summer may once again be faced with this very serious issue.
In our last few segments on bullying, we have discussed Joseph in the Old Testament as an example of a young man filled with great hope and faith despite the taunting of his brothers, his imprisonment for a crime he did not commit, and his separation from his family.While in Joseph’s time there was no cyberbullying, the attacks against him were still notable and his ability to overcome those attacks is a testament to his faith and resilience.
Cyberbullying, is the latest form of bullying and can be just as devastatingly harmful as other forms of bullying.While in other forms of bullying the bullying ends when the face to face encounter ends, this method of cyberbullying can be overwhelming because it is often delivered by someone behind a computer and thus can occur relentlessly 24 hours a day.It is important to recognize the different forms of cyberbullying to identify if you have been a victim of this newest form of bullying.There are 8 forms of cyber bullying according to recent research by Willard (2010).
Flaming – online fighting using electronic messages with angry or vulgar language
Harassment – REPEATEDLY sending mean or insulting messages
Denigration – sending or posting gossip or rumor in order to damage a reputation or friendship
Impersonation – pretending to be someone else and then sending or posting material to get another person in trouble or to put him/her in danger or for the purpose of damaging a reputation or a friendship.
Outing – sharing someone’s secret (without their consent) or embarrassing them online
Trickery – talking someone into revealing a secret or into posting embarrassing information online
Exclusion – intentionally or cruelly excluding someone from an online group
Cyberstalking – REPEATED and intense harassment including threats or creating fear.
I heard something so
profound today that I had to share with you when the ear never hears
praise the heart losses the will to try. We all worked or met people
who tend to be downhearted for good reason and sometimes for no reason at all.
We have to remember that Jesus is a cheerful person. Jesus said “be of a good
cheer”. He also offered us His peace which gives comfort and joy. As a
Christian person, I have to remember to practice that. This is so important for
many reasons. The most important one is to share God’s peace with others to
left them up. When Peter denied; Jesus showed him love with one look and that
picked him up and kept him going for years preaching the world. Another reason
is to encourage those who are around us to reach higher. It says in the bible “but
those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings
like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and
not be faint” a simple smile will go a long way. A cheerful
heart is good medicine. Regardless of the situation, our faith
should help us to remember that God in control. We should pray for endurance
and strength to be a good example to other. For those who left the work and
live in the wilderness they developed a great trust in God (He will take care
of me). Enjoy every day for it is a gift from God.
I Am Not Strong Enough
Thursday, July 14 2011
I Am Not Strong Enough By: B.M.
My daughters got sick and went to the doctor many times over the last two weeks. My older one even went to the ER with a fever as high as 104.5. We were sent back home as the blood work and X-rays looked good. No one had a clue what is causing the fever. The fishing trip that I panned with my friends at work and I started counting down 130 days ago, I had to skip. I used to pray to catch the big ones, now I am praying more for my daughters’ healing. It was a difficult time for us. We have been praying and the fever is not going away.
Fatigue, hunger, and frustration started getting to me. I sat in the car motionless and silent. As I was praying in the car pouring my heart out to GOD; complaining how my daughters sick, how we have been praying and how I feel forgotten, helpless, and hitting close to the bottom. A song came on the radio “you must think I am strong” (strong enough). That was a great comfort. God sent me a message of hope and to become stronger and to call on His name. There was a time for me when things didn’t make sense and I felt helpless. God reminded me that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength annd I don't have to be strong enough”. I walked the hospital hallways and saw a young girl with her mommy and her red backpack. I noticed she had very short and light hair. I realized that the building is for cancer treatment and it all came into prospective. I thanked God for what we have and what we don’t have.
Bullying – Part 3 – Cyberbullying By: Christine Agaibi
In the past few articles we have been using Joseph in the Old Testament as an example of a courageous young man who endured much bullying at the hands of his brothers and Potipher’s wife. Joseph suffered a lot, even spending some time in prison, before being restored to glory as the second in command in Egypt and saving nations from famine. The key here is that his restoration to glory came after much suffering, yet Joseph endured it all knowing that God had bigger plans for him. His faith in God sustained him during the difficult moments while giving him hope that it will get better according to God’s promises.
Suffering is not easy. This is especially true since on some level everyone wants to be accepted by others. We are social beings and we want to be loved. If you are being bullied, it is natural that a minute of bullying can seem like an eternity. This can especially be true if the bullying occurs in cyberspace where bullying is no longer present in the physical world but also at any hour at any time.
Face Book: Fun or Fateful?
By: H.G. Bishop Youssef
Set Up for Secrecy?
Face Book, I was recently told, is the "secured" internet sharing of information about oneself with others. I asked to include family members-- which were met with much laughter. The Face Book shared information is limitless and without boundaries, it was explained to me. It obviously takes the place of face to face communication and interaction. Removing the constraint of boundaries supposedly promotes "freely flowing communication". It is a non-barrier free style of communication which could lead down the path to "do not tell" and "secrets"-- neither of which leads to spiritual uprightness.
Face Book on further questioning of this particular group of youth "is good" because it is supposed to give you controls over whom you allow to access your page or site. Do you desire control over your communication access-- or over your thoughts and deeds? In one sense if you have proof of whom you allow into your page this could be certainly be considered a positive safety measure but is there a guarantee you are secure in knowing this is the person who is --whom they actually say they are? But when asked to list another good thing about Face Book that email does not accomplish the room became quiet.
Have you ever had a dream to accomplish and you prayed about it many times and the answer was “not yet”? Then you prayed repeatedly until one day it happened. It is an amazing feeling. It confirms that GOD is listening to you.
As you might have read before, I love to fish. Every time I go fishing, it is a chance for me to pray, listen to GOD, and learn my lessons. Well, there is a fish called Stripe-Bass (Stripers) which is very had to catch. I have been trying to catch one for the last two years. NJ laws put limits; you can keep only two, and the fish has to be 28 inches or bigger. So if you happen to catch one less than 28 inches you would have to through it back into the water. This fish only passes through NJ in spring and winter for few weeks. So last week I did all my research and went fishing on a boat. The night before, I had a new weapon, I prayed with my daughter so I would catch all three fishes. I bought a permit to take home a third fish.
The day started slow. No fish anywhere. After couple of hours, we found the birds feed on the small/bait fish and that is where the big fish are eating too. Few people on the boat were catching and I did not. I felt discouraged. I started thinking that this might be another time where my answer is to “wait”. But all the sudden I got hooked on a fish and it was great. The boat captain helped me to get the fish into the boat (11 ¼ lb). I was so happy. I thanked GOD for it as I put it in the cooler. Fifteen minutes later, I got another one (9 ½ lb). Then I got the big one, 13 ½ lb! With a big smile on my face I can say I caught the three.
I called my wife and gave her the news. I am a proud papa of triplets :). After that I did not catch or hook another fish but I was still smiling. So even though other fishermen/anglers were still catching fish, I could not catch another one. It hit me right there. I got my prayer answered; We asked GOD for three fished and that is what we got. I put a limit on how much I should be blessed. So the lesson is, when we pray for something we should not put a limit. Ask God’s blessings and wait for the fullness of time to be delivered.
BULLYING – PART 2
Sunday, May 15 2011
BULLYING – PART 2 By: Christine Agaibi
In the Old Testament, Joseph was considered discerning and wise by the time he reached Pharaoh to interpret his dreams (Genesis 41:39). However, Joseph did not always have such admiration from the people around him. Joseph’s brothers often bullied him as we saw in the first segment of these articles. Despite this he endure with faith always believing he had a grand purpose to fulfill. So what is this bullying that Joseph experienced and many experience to this day? This segment will answer some of these questions and lead into what to do if you recognize you have been bullied or even what to do if you yourself are the bully. Bullying involves an act that is intentional and is meant to cause harm. It is often repeated and involves and imbalance of power. This imbalance can occur from many different perspectives. For example, physical (size) imbalance, age (older picking on younger) imbalance, strength (strong vs. weak) imbalance, numbers (many against one) imbalance, and social status (high status vs. low status) imbalance can all be used in bullying.
There are many types of bullying. When one thinks of bullying, images of pushing, hitting, and kicking may come to mind. Certainly physical bullying is one type of bullying. However, verbal bullying, psychological and relationship bullying, and cyberbullying can be just as damaging to the recipient of these bullies. Verbal bullying can be very hurtful because it involves more than the typical physical bruises. Name calling, insults, mocking, teasing, taunting, and making off-color jokes are all part of verbal bullying. In relationship and psychological bullying, the bully uses a relationship to cause harm. For example, excluding someone from a group, talking behind someone’s back, and spreading rumors and lies are all part of being psychologically bullied. Cyberbullying involves spreading rumors, impersonating someone, and threatening someone through social media. This will be covered in a topic by itself because it is a very serious issue in our society today and because we have to consider various things when talking about cyberbullying. With the exception of cyberbullying, Joseph seemed to have experienced every one of these by his brothers. He was mocked, thrown in a pit, and was excluded from the group of his brothers yet he always knew God had a greater purpose for him and he and said to his brother when he reunited with them, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.”(Genesis 50:20).
His Holiness Pope Shenouda III
Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark
My beloved children in the lands of immigration, both clergy and laity.
I congratulate you for the Glorious Feast of the Resurrection, wishing you all that the Lord returns it upon you with all goodness and blessing.
The resurrection of the Lord Christ was distinguished with an amazing power. He is the only One who was victorious over death by Himself. In His resurrection, He crushed death, and arose with the power of His Divinity. Also, by His power, He came out of the closed tomb which had a great stone upon it, without anyone seeing Him. Also with the same power, He entered the upper room where the disciples were, while its doors were shut. After He spent forty days with them speaking to them about matters pertaining to the Kingdom of God, He ascended to the heavens with a great power, which is against all the laws of gravitational force. Of course, it is the power of His Divinity.
Therefore, St. Paul the Apostle said about Him, in the Epistle to the Philippians 3:10 “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings...” This is why we also praised Him throughout the Holy Week, confessing His power and saying to Him: “To You is the power ... Thok te tee gom.