Shepherd's word - Bribery

The sacred laws are very strict against the one who buys his painting with money, “making from the grace...

10 words about my best vacation

Nowadays, a family is simply a network of people who care for each other. It can contain hundreds or...
1992, Lectures
Shepherd's word - Bribery
10 words about my best vacation
1992, Lectures

Shepherd’s word – BriberyFeatured

The sacred laws are very strict against the one who buys his painting with money, “making from the grace that a commodity is not sold for trade, so that he draws a bishop or a pseudo-archbishop or a priest or a deacon …
So whoever is proven to have done this painter or appointment will be stripped of his job. He is not entitled to enjoy his rank or position, but on the contrary, he is dismissed from it for obtaining it with money.

(Law 2 of the Council of Chalcedon in the Sunnah 451)

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Biography, Curriculum Vitae, curriculum-vitae

Metropolitan George (Khodr)

Born in Tripoli the 6th of July 1923, archbishop of Byblos, Botris & Mount Lebanon, Metropolitan George (Khodr) is one of the inspirers of the renewal of the Orthodox Church in Lebanon & Syria, and one of the most marking spiritual figures of Christianity in the Middle East.

George Khodr lived his youth in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second city. He loved his old Christian neighborhood (HARAT EL NASARAH), a true oasis of peace and spirituality of which he keeps longing. In Tripoli, the 11th of November 1943—a key date of his youth—he participated in an important pacifist demonstration against the French colonial government which was denouncing the Lebanese quest for independence; he saw how the tanks open fire on unarmed people and kill eleven of his friends…

Desiring to become an advocate, dreaming of a diplomatic carrier, he pursued his studies in Beirut and graduated with a license in law in 1944 from the Jesuit university of St. Joseph.

A major date is to be marked however, the 16th of March 1942, when together with fifteen other students from the faculties of Law and Medicine, he founded the Orthodox Youth Movement (know as MJO—mouvement de la jeunesse orthodoxe). When talking about that period, metropolitan George’s eyes illuminate: “…Full of Christ’s Spirit, burning with the Gospel, we invented a new language… yes, in our Church the old were resuscitated through their children.” MJO’s renewal was incarnated in a series of places and activities: the rebirth of monasticism, the founding of biblical groups, witnessing among the working class, opening of Christian hostels, living the parish life, social work, etc… Today still, even if the context and problems have changed, metropolitan George’s writings continue to inspire a multitude of orthodox youth fully engaged in the world and in the Church.

In 1952, he returned from Paris with a diploma in theology from l’Institut de Theologie Orthodoxe Saint-Serge. He was ordained priest the 19th of December 1954 and he served the parish of the port of Tripoli from 1955 until his election to the episcopate in the 15th of February 1970 until 3rd of march 2018.

Since then, his influence as a theologian, pastor and spiritual father has never ceased from growing. As a sign of this radiation beyond the frontiers of his diocese, was the title of doctor honoris causa he received from the Saint Vladimir Institute of Orthodox Theology in New York, 1968 and that of the Faculté de Théologie Protestante de Paris in 1988.

He worked in the education field as a professor of Arab Culture in the Lebanese University and of Pastoral Theology in St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology in the University of Balamand.

He is very engaged in the ecumenical movement and in the dialogue with Islam; he represented the Antiochian See in many pan-orthodox and ecumenical meeting, his lectures and interventions in this domain are constantly published in many languages.

In addition to this, he remains a voice of regeneration in the Arab world through his weekly articles in the Lebanese newspaper An Nahar.

His articles, sermons, and conferences were collected and published in several books and revues by An Nour (lit. “The light”—MJO’s publisher), An Nahar publishing and the Archdiocese of Mount Lebanon. Some of these books are: “The New Antioch”, “Sunday’s Word”, “Hope in Wartime”, “Sunday’s Standpoints”, “Lebanese Issues”, “The Movement as an enlightenment & a Calling”, “The Spirit & the Bride”, “Places of Prostrations & The New Life”. But his main book remains: “And If I Recounted the Paths of Childhood”, which was translated to French: “Et si je disais les chemins de l’enfance”.

A paragraph from his farewell sermon delivered to his parish in the Port of Tripoli:

“…The priest is a man entrusted by God to gather His dispersed people through Word & Sacraments; he is also commanded to edify himself by the Gospel. Inasmuch the edification of the shepherd is possible; inasmuch the edification of the flock on the ways of the Lord becomes possible…

The Lord willed for me, through His grace, to depart for another place in this country in order to also serve God’s People. I am still a novice on the ways of righteousness. The culpability of your little brother is shocking; I beg your forgiveness for my culpability and my sins…”

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10 words about my best vacation

Nowadays, a family is simply a network of people who care for each other. It can contain hundreds or two. You can be born into one or build your own. Membership can be gained through genetics, friendship, geographic proximity, work or a shared appreciation.

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2013, An-Nahar, Articles

God and the Human Being / 24.08.2013

The human being is a yearning not to illusions but to a promise and the promise is God Godself. And God is coming. God is within you, God is a head of you and in your future. God’s first true presence was through God’s Christ and God is coming back through Him at the Last Day and Godself is disseminated every day through you. Receive God as long as you are watchful. And whenever you seek God, God is present within you.

God does not come to you other than through love and by it God becomes manifested within you. Remain vigilant in order that God continues inhabiting you less you do not become deserted. Do not be deceived thinking that you come from your own self. Whenever you do not stretch out to above, you would withdraw within yourself, namely you eliminate yourself from within. Always yearn, in order to exist. Love God and God loves you [always], since God gives you more than what you give. Do not set your hope upon whatever you think you have. Trust that you are poor and that you receive from God whatever you ask for. Whenever you believe that God enriches you, you will be given whatever you ask, since you are enriched only through God. If you realize this you lose your poverty and you dwell on high. With such great poverty you would feel that you inhabit the heavenly [world], “free among the dead”, and that you have accomplished you humanity. Divinity indwells within you until your face appears as the face of god.

You are called to inherit God Godself, namely all the powers that are in God. You would not be of great value whenever you desire that which is less than God. That would not satisfy your longing for the Truth. Know that there is no truth outside God and God’s reality. The heaven is not above. It is not a place, it is in your spirit, whenever it extends or dwells in the Lord, who is its abode, since whenever love dwells in you, you would be dwelling in God. You do not long for your illusions, you long for existence, so that you might exist. It has been said that you are indwelling in heaven, this means that you are indwelling in your Lord.

Your Lord is love itself. It is His name. Love has no existence apart from Him. Whoever says that he/[she] lives, says that God is in him/[her] or that he/[she] is in God. This is so since whenever God raises us to Godself, God would be truly indwelling in us, since God has no scope other than the hearts.

Whenever you transform from being a lover to merging with love itself, you would be calling the Lord in order to make you an abode for Him. You are in Him and He is in you and this is how He desires, and you actualize your humanity whenever you desire whatever He desires.

You are called, with the presence of God within you, and God has no other scope. Every other vision is from this world, but your Lord wants that you see Him and not the world. God’s purpose, from all your experience in the world, is to bring you near God. God wants you to imitate Godself in order that God might see that your face is an emersion of God’s face upon you. And whenever God sees you as God’s face, then, no barrier remains between the two faces.

Knowledge begins with love. Whenever you love your Lord you know Him, namely, you unite with Him, and He tastes and knows this unity first. And since your Lord knows you He lets you know Him and taste that you are His companion. This word does not diminish God’s dignity. God is God through kinship; otherwise it would be a pagan god. God’s kinship kindles within you faith in God, since faith is faith in a near existent to the extent of union.

Then, you would not need a thing since you would understand that your Lord is in everything, and you love through Him whatever He loves and you dwell wherever He dwells.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الله والإنسان” –An Nahar- 24.08.2013

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Mary / 17.08.2013

This summer we have fasted with Mary to God, since whenever we remember her at the times of celebrating her feasts we cloister with this great faster for the purification of the soul and the Marian longing to God. Mary expects us to be purified with her, since she has no other expectations. She was the mother of the Lord and she became the mother of all who love Him, regardless from whatever spiritual group were they. We all are her realm and through her we receive God, namely we break apart from all that is not divine. The Christians, among us, are Marian, and [also] some of the other monotheists discern Mary since they have touched Christ. She associates with people whenever they approach Him, or she accompanies them on their way toward Him, since whenever one’s soul tastes divine love, then, it can also taste Mary.

It attracts me always that when Luke spoke of Mary, God has spoken through him [about Mary]: “a sword will pierce your own soul” [Luke 2: 35]. This means that you will experience pain by seeing your Son injured. You will become a partaker of the Crucified in the destiny which He gives you. And you are with us in all aspects of our love to Him. When you were standing by His cross you were suffering for us. Participation in suffering is participation in joy. In an unknown way, unless to the few, you have carried us as you carried Him.

With the Fathers, we say in the church that you are the new Eve. In theological preciseness we are born of baptism and not of you, unless we say that as we were in Christ at His birth we have longed to come from you. Though you were, in body, the mother of the Lord, you have come from Him through the Holy Spirit, and we descend from your depth. No one understands this unless the one who is experienced in spiritual life and has grown in divine perception. Any other proposition [or explanation] is void.

Through your chastity you give birth to us and only chastity can give birth. This implies that whenever you come only from God you become the mother of a new offspring, which belongs to God. When we say that chastity alone gives birth, we mean by it the chastity of the spirit, namely its being born only from God. Whoever comes from other than God cannot give birth. No one gives birth other than those “who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1: 13) Those who give birth through their bodies are similar to all other existing beings, while the one born of God gives birth to deified humans.

Flesh is flesh. But whomever grace has made a son/[daughter] of God he/[she] is born from above, and not from his/[her] mother’s body.

Mary teaches us that we can have a new birth, without a father and a mother, by the will of grace and we remain in the bosom of God. We do not need a feminine inclination in order to give Mary a great honor in our souls. We need the chastity of the spirit, which is the complete adherence to God without condition or supplements. Only the meeting with God qualifies us to honor Mary in our souls, and this is the chastity towards God alone. Chastity towards God does not mean virginity. It means the adherence to God without polytheism [shirk] or dissolving. ‘Without polytheism’ means that we do not consider another with God, and [we say] ‘without dissolving’ since God, because of God’s love to us, wants us fronting the face of God rather than being dissolved in God. Mary, facing Christ, does not subjugate Him and does not subjugate us. There is no subjugation in love. She is quite, loving and embracing. That is why we hope that those, who complain about Christ being the only worshipped one, may understand us. The reality that the Lord is everything for us does not mean that we should exclude all His loved ones from around Him. They do not add splendor to Him. They, rather, reveal His splendor.

The whole talk that we worship Mary is nothing than a mere talk. We have not really known her other than for her being the chosen of God. She has no place beside God. She has her existence with God, namely from God and through God. The one who loves God loves her and learns from her. The one who has truly tasted Christ loves Mary, reveres her and honors her. These hold together, whenever we are well versed.

Your love for Christ is radiant. He does not separate you from those He has loved. And He has loved His mother and His disciples. Thus, if you love them you remain faithful to Him. We do not speak to them in our prayers unless because they talk to Him. We do not create a spiritual bond between us and the saints. He has created it, and we have inherited it. Thus, whenever we feel our Marian inclinations, let us not lose faith that we belong to the only Mediator between God and people, who is the blessed Jesus.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “مريم” –An Nahar- 17.08.2013

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The New Life / 03.08.2013

All writing is needed, since through them you are heard and thus you exist. The human nature is about sharing. Every one of us feels that he/ [she] is in the situation of being effective or effected by another. There is no such closed person. I understand that the French Revolution confirmed the individual, since it rejected the subordination to the kings. However, it established the individual within the community. A community is not a crowd, it is the meeting, since we exist through meeting. The meeting characterizes and confirms each of us, since no one exists unless with others and through others. That is so since you are a face, which means that you are in a continuous situation of encounter. [In our theology] the Father confirms the Son and the Spirit [of God], and the Son confirms the Father. Trinity is not an accumulation, it is an encounter. That is why it is love and unity. The writer is the one whose inner reality obliges him/[her] to write. He/[she] is the one who exists by speaking. You write to those who love you, otherwise no one would understand you. Existence is not possible without meeting. This is what Christians call a church. Life is not possible by the accumulation of individuals. You either love or come into conflict [with others], and both [require] a meeting. You do not despise the Other unless you confirm him/ [her]. And before you eliminate him/ [her] you acknowledge him/[her]. Abhorrence requires as well acknowledgment, on the way to death, or in the flow of life. Acceptance or rejection, both require a recognition that life is sharing. You might either want to share or no, nevertheless there is life because there is sharing.

No one lives in isolation. Whoever isolates him/[her]self, he/[she] detaches him/[her]self from people whom he/[she] despises, i.e. he/[she] admits their existence. Whoever kills does not kill other than for his/[her] feeling that the one being killed enjoys a reality which he/[she] despises. The word community has a psychological or humanistic significance, that is not found in the word society, which usually refers to a number. People are not numbers. There is intimacy among them, namely acquaintance, and that is belief in two things: the independence of every face and the meeting of the faces.

The human being is a face which sees and it is seen, i.e. he/[she] is in encounter with people. Abhorrence is itself a kind of meeting. People are similar to a forest, the difference between them and the forest of trees is that the trees are not aware of their meeting, while people are. The upright person acknowledges the humanity of the Other, namely his/[her] uniqueness, value and ability to give. All who give do meet and sometimes they are friendly. A society is not an accumulation; rather it is a union and even a unity.

Unity is not merely a legacy; it is an existence in our nature. That is why we were in the Qur᾿anic understanding a nation [᾿umma], and in the Christian understanding a church, and the two words have the same denotation. And the society which does not aspire to that [namely being an ᾿umma or a church] is [itself] fragmented. A society is not given unless as a starting point. It becomes through love, otherwise it would have been a cumulation of people who have no identity.

A society, whenever it acknowledges its nature, aspires to become a church, and I do not refer exclusively to a Christian sense, rather every biological existence strives toward its unity in love. Away from love it is [mere] statistics. Every society is a plan for the meeting of the hearts; otherwise it would have become the combination of occupations. People, whenever secluded, become a forest of people. They do not become a society unless they meet with a certain level of love and cooperation. The modern notion of syndicate stands on the cooperation of the people of the same occupation. Even the notion of competition aims at cooperation and improvement for the sake of cooperation. The meeting of the people of the same occupation in a single market in the European Middles Ages, or by us, does not stand on the notion of competition but rather on cooperation. And the people have aimed at cooperation [though] through competition.

A syndicate, though in fact involves competition among the people of the one profession, strives toward collecting the skills in order to point up the occupation and also the cooperation. The condition for cooperation is love, which is mainly the recognition of the necessity of the Other for you, for your life and your feeling.

All this is about cooperation, which in its depth means that you exist whenever you love. In other words that you exist through the Other, you are safeguarded through his/[her] face, when you see him/[her] and when he[she] sees you. Thus, you have denied yourself and you have loved [the Other], namely, you have poured yourself in the Other in order that you and the Other grow. It is not that you deny your face; rather you realize that your face exists in order to see the Other and be seen by the Other. And then, according to the utterance of the Book, you become one body, and in modern language one existence.

You love whenever you find yourself that you have made the Other strive toward God [who is present] within every human being. You love that the Other becomes whatever he/[she] should become, namely existing in love in order that his/[her] selfishness might be eliminated. Whoever has loved only him/[her]self dies in his/[her] closed ‘I’. Whoever loves others, for whatever they are becoming, he/[she] accompanies them toward the highest desirable [state], and he/[she] him/[her]self moves toward that desirable [state].

Whenever you do not move toward the highest, you would be moving around your own self, and so you would bring about nothing. The [one] above you gives you, namely [that one] descends grace upon you.

When [your] faith calls you to forget yourself, it does not call you to neglect it, but not to exaggerate in your fondness of yourself. It wants you to rejects its seclusion, in order that you [might] rise to embrace all the souls through God and in God. That is so since you actualize yourself through the Lord who transcends you, you expand and become high. This is the departure from [the state of] being stifled by the ‘I’. This is the meaning of the Lord’s words: “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 16: 25)

You exist through the Other, in the sense that if you keep turning around yourself you will stifle. You do not exist by affirming yourself. You exist through perceiving the Other and you are being formed through this perception. You exist through your departure from looking at your face in the mirror, and through perceiving the Other as God perceives him/[her] in love. Anything other than perceiving the Other in love is laying hold of him/[her].

The human being exists through that which he/[she] gives and not through what he/[she] takes, unless when he/[she] takes in love. People do consort, namely our words give and are given. Without such reciprocity there is no society. A society is about meeting and in its highest states it is love. Accumulation is a state-project and not a love-project, since you do not actually take unless you give yourself. This is what God, through God’s anointed one, asked, namely that you give to the end, which is to say that you sacrifice your life in order that others might live. Then, your offering will be transformed into your receiving of a new life and into a manifestation of God through you.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الحياة الجديدة” –An Nahar- 03.08.2013

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Read / 27.07.2013

“Read in the name of your Lord, Who created: He created man from a clot. Read by your Most Generous Lord, Who taught by the Pen. He taught man what he did not know.” (Sura Al-῾alaq [The Clot] 1-2) Your reading of this text, which is considered as revealed [sent down], and if we realize that the ‘name’ in Hebrew means power or presence, your reading of the name of the Lord is a way of reading the Lord, since He lets you to penetrate His being in order that you might know Him through love. For the Hebrews the name refers to the being, hence, the aim is that you read the Lord Himself, namely that you know Him to the extent that He gives you from His being, and that you do not project upon Him whatever you say about Him, rather He projects His being upon you.

You read about Him in the reality of your weakness, while it is desired that you read Him in love. Any explication, which does not reveal to you His Love, is incomplete or deficient. To read means that you become that which you read or that you become contiguous with Him, as if you become Him.

Read the past, where God has been manifested. Do not read the sin since in it there is staleness. Read God in whatever has elapsed and in whatever has befallen you today and in whatever you expect from God tomorrow and at all times. Read, i.e. seek every truth that has been manifested in the past and is manifested upon you in love. Do not fear books. In them there is the meager and the abundant, since it is possible that the truth might be manifested in you. What matters is the eternal [nature] of Truth, and not the vanities of what has passed and what is becoming. Do not read merely whatever pleases you, but whatever pleases God, in order that you become from the truth that has been manifested, since you also are manifested in it now. You do not come from the ancients, as they have passed away, but from the truth that they have revealed to you. And here there is no difference between that which has elapsed and that which is forthcoming. [This is to say that] it is not admissible that you receive the truth from whatever has passed, since Truth does not pass away. It stand firm and makes you its servant in the forthcoming days. There is truth and falsity in those who have anteceded us. Hold on to the truth and renounce the falsity, since you live by the truth that you receive through faith. You do not come from those who passed away, but from the truth that they carried, since Truth does not fade away with time.

Do not sanctify the past for any reason, other than that it has carried the truth. There are much beauties and much falsity in the past. Do not let falsities allure you. You are abiding by whatever you have inherited from your Lord. The ancients are not necessarily a reference. There are in them sins as there is splendor upon them. Whenever you know that this is from God take it over. And then we shall read it in you. You are not the heir of the past unless you want it immediately in you. You are the heir of the eternal, who never changes. [Thus] read only the holiness. Its values never alter. Whenever you do this, the mockers might make fun of you, since they despise the truth, which unmasks them. They are to be extinguished like the dust which is ablated by the wind from the face of the earth, while the truth, which you carry, endures and you endure by it. Truth is not subject to the passing garments of the time. You become divinized whenever you surmise the times toward that which descends upon you from above.

Read the good people who have passed away, but their good [deeds or thoughts] have not passed. Accompany [be coeval of] the people of truth, upon whom time has no authority. Then, in God’s eyes you are eternal similar to God’s Word. And God makes you God’s word, namely a creature of God. The truth that is within you transcends you above all time.

If we speak in the church about tradition, this does not meant that we are ruminating the past. We have rather been only delighted by it. There is no value in whatever has passed unless when it carries an eternal truth. Time is not an element of Truth. It [rather] takes all its value from Truth. Truth is not Truth because it comes from some time that has anteceded you. It is so since God has directly spoken it, or through those to whom God has entrusted to speak it.

The past carries the beauties of the saints or of the intellectuals, whenever they are well-established [or orthodox]. We do not sanctify tradition merely because it has predated us. We sanctify the truth in the tradition.

We do not read [intellectual] studies other than to keep the good that they carry. Since the good is the truth. However, you are obliged to read everything, in order that you do not bypass any good [thing] that the nations have safeguarded.

Read as much as you are given to read from the tradition, since the truth is in much of what the ancients have left for us. Nonetheless, tradition is not limited to whatever you have inherited from your fathers. All the great ones of history are your fathers. And the holy ones of them are of much significance.

Rectify your thought through whatever the righteous ones have said. This is the true legacy. Our fathers come from everywhere, whenever they were the people of the truth. God has left God’s traces in the minds of all nations. Do not develop partisanship toward neither your nation nor to the people of thought who belong to your nation. The truth is alone your home and it is the source of your thought and life.

Beside our faith-tradition take the truth from wherever you can, and hold it completely, although you might taste the beautiful things in every tradition. You have to love the truth wherever you find it. Let it own you since [all] ownership is to God and to the Truth which proceeds from God. Seek Truth in all what you read, rather than the vanities of words. Every true saying is from God. Hold fast to it so that you may not die spiritually. Truth is the face of God. Seek God, [since] in God are your existence and your glory. Through God you read all that is beautiful, true and good, and without God there is nothing.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “إقرأ” –An Nahar- 27.07.2013

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The Splendid Writing / 15.06.2013

The splendid writing or the good word appears to the good, beautiful character in its acceptance of pain and its deflagration, and this is more than labor. It is a birth in truth and in splendor. Both are emanation from God, and if you are worried from this statement [it is possible to say that] they are the creation of God. The human being is not a creator who brings about things from nothing. The Creator improvises for you from whatever the Creator has received from the Creator’s own inspiration. Your Lord is alone the Creator and you receive whatever He inspires you in order that you might be perceived as new and the people think that they subsist on you, while the truth is that they receive from you whatever you have received from your Lord.

Is creativity about sharing as it is with giving birth to a baby? The baby comes from the meeting of the male and the female. Whence the fetus of thought and art comes? You would be called creative whenever you say things as no other person said, however, though we say that those things are yours or they are from you, nevertheless, you are the one entrusted for them. The human being adds nothing on creation which was once made. The human being orders the creation which he/[she] has received. It is ascribed to him/[her]since he/[she] has known how to receive and to hand it over.

To hand over a heritage is not an automatic recurrence. It requires embracement with love, namely a new birth. However you give birth from a seed which God has plated within you. The new (creation) in the good word is beautiful. The Word was in the beginning and whatever came after it were images of that Word, while God alone is the Creator of words. And based on this [new] creativity, which adds nothing to God, we say about the great people of art and word that they are creators.

We are encountering here a difficult question in relation to the nature of the word. You pronounce the word anew through the magnificent fusion between its meaning and its articulated form. However, we will not undertake this question since at the end we do not know how the words come. How is their form in us? And how they come to be articulated verbally? Of course, you cannot perceive the meaning without the word being articulated by your tongue or by your pen, since there is no thought without vesture. There is no word (meaning) without it being embodied. John said about Jesus: “And the Word became flesh and He pitched His tent in our neighborhood.” This is the meaning of the well known translation of the verse: “He dwelt among us” [John 1:14]. And the meaning is that we are scattered on earth and we settle down whenever He accompanies us and we adhere to Him pitching our tent next to His.

In the introduction of the fourth Gospel we read:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” [John 1:1] The ‘Word’ appears in its masculine form [of the Arabic language] and we have translated it in this way in order to remain faithful to the Greek original, meaning that this is the Word of God, namely an independent divine existence, and not a mere incidental divine articulation.

God is revealed within you and then through you, in order that you might become God’s word. And you might become a word to the extent that you are christ [i.e. messiah or an anointed one], since Jesus the Nazarene brings forth chrsits [anointed ones]. And if we say that Christ, after resurrection, is alive forever it denotes that He is the source of life (the life-giver) within us, day by day and minute by minute. Christ is propagated, in the sense that from Him christs [anointed ones] are emanated, namely people who are anointed by the grace of His spirit.

No word of life would come forth from you unless it was the fruit of divine bestowal. The human being is not a creator who brings the things forth from nothing. After creation ‘nothing’ has no existence. God empowers you and that is why you have [inner] significance, and because, through God’s word, you truly become a transmitter of truth. Thus, there is no sense in the assumed philosophical search of the relationship between God and you. I understand the philosophical variation between these two existents; however the [fervent] lovers repudiate philosophy after the union [with God].

We are still the slaves of pure mind. In a dual mindset we search for that which is ours and that which is God’s. However, the [fervent] lovers do not argue about the relationship between that which is to the one and that which is the other’s. In love [as Eros] the search for what belongs to me and what belongs to the other has been repudiated. You cannot discern the mind that is enlightened by grace from grace. And if you live in it and through it, then, you do not search for articulations. I understand this insistence on the mind as the concerns of the medieval philosophies, which were the slaves of the Greeks. But those who have known the light of God through inspiration; those have been freed from the Greeks and have become of the Word of God, which is the life of God.

This does not mean that we abolish the mind; rather we enlighten it by the divine mind which is the inspiration. And whenever the word of God descends upon us we live through the light poured upon us, so that God might live in our words. And in this we are formed, that is to say that our words come to be on the image of the divine Word. The divine Word and the divine utterance are one for our ears and hearts, in order to hear what your God has put in these hearts.

And the Grace is the word of God, or they are one, in order that the created words, of our tongues, might pass away and we hear only whatever has been precipitated from the divine mind.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الكتابة البهيّة” –An Nahar- 15.06.2013

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2013, An-Nahar, Articles

Hope / 01.06.2013

For St. Paul, hope is a virtue which he places alongside with faith and love as if he insinuates that ‘when you believe, you hope in God and so you love’. Certainly, in Man’s depth, one experiences the virtues as being interrelated with each other. Yet revelation tells us that you start that experience with the virtue of faith since it speaks of God’s turning towards you. Faith starts you on the path to become a spiritual being and it accompanies you in your course towards it. And I dare say that God creates you in the Holy Spirit after He has wrought you in the body. That is your New being and your True life. And to say that ‘the dwelling of God is in you’, indicates that you believe and have faith that the Lord creates you through His Holy Spirit. And faith comes from trusting God and trusting comes from a security you find in the one trusted. I refer there to the spiritual meaning not the linguistic one. In your humanity you are not secure and settled. God in you is your resting place. When you behold God in Himself, His significance and His light, as also in yourself and in the brethren, then you would have perceived His dwelling which is also yours.

Yet between you and God there is a distance which you cross through faith so that you dwell in the Lord while you are still in the body. As such, faith is the dynamo; and while in this world, you are in a state of moving until the Lord keeps you to Himself through the vision. Faith does not make all the vision. That needs a move towards God in Hope since God would come to you every day. Faith is in need of love to be established in God. And He starts to bring you up on Love when He plants in you hope in Him.

The Divine Presence in you is established through faith which is the “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”(Hebrews 11: 1). What is hoped for, that is for the future, is present now through your faith. And your heart reaches out for them (the future matters) in hope since they are considered to be “present” in the word of God. Here we can say that Hope is a continuum of the faith that is in you now, to what it will be in the future, so that “the things to come” are like the “things that are now” because the word of God brings the two together; and because the word of God is not bound by time.

In your experience of God, there is no separation between the “now” and what comes after, because the Lord fills time with His presence. From this perspective, I can say that you see what you hope for and expect. You are above the expanse of time because God who is in you fills it. From this we can say that the virtue of faith conceives in it the virtue of hope which is the dynamism of faith. You do not hope except because you have believed; since hope is not an emotional kind of expectation. It is granted with faith as its fruit.

We have to perceive that faith is not a human virtue. It is a descent of the Divine to the human soul; a meeting between the soul and the Divine ‘depth’ in a profundity which is hard for us to encompass. God is dynamic in us and as such moves us to Himself. And our move towards Him is one of hope since we know Him only partly thorough faith. Faith is the beginning of our pleasure in Him, but our experience of Him is granted us by Him.

If faith is the resting of God in the heart, then hope is the movement of God; and God moves towards Himself and with that He moves us to Him.

And if words allow us to say something in that domain, we can say that the impression of the Lord in the heart is His presence; and our faith in Him is His move towards Him. In that follows His bringing us over to Himself thus removing the distance between the Creator and the creature and between the One who loves and the one loved. And after His move towards us comes our move towards Him; and that is hope. In the core of the Divine, there is no separation between hope and faith; both of them followed with love which is the crown of all what there is.

The word hope signifies of what comes in the future. And this is true since we believe today in what comes tomorrow and in all the goodness promised.

Hope sets off from the realities of faith to what the Lord reveals in us of His love. But to avoid any linguistic vagueness, I want to affirm that hope is a Divine gift which does not originate in our human feelings. Hope is not a dynamics of one’s soul only; it is a bending over of God which carries us to the good that is promised. It is a continuum of what God has poured down on us of His grace to what we hope for of His full grace till the day we die. Faith is a language that signifies what is present in us; and hope signifies what will be. They are inseparable when it comes to the grace that is poured down in us.

And because hope is towards God, its extent in us is to the time when we get to the full attainment of the vision. But in the spiritual fight we have to reinforce it with faith so that the believer does not think that he can bring about hope in the same way he does with his wishes. Hope is above all human expectations. It is a great grace. A Divine pouring down into us with which we seek God Himself. As such hope gets together with faith and ends up in love.

Translated by Riad Moufarrij

Original Text: “الرجاء” – An Nahar – 01.06.2013

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2013, An-Nahar, Articles

From Pascha to Pascha / 25.05.2013

We believe that despite of Man’s corruption, he carries in him the seed of salvation. What the West calls “Original Sin”, meaning that it is inherited from Adam with the guilt resulting from it, is unaccepted in Eastern Orthodoxy. There is no inheriting of guilt. Human nature, as we understand it, has been stained and became corrupt but it did not become a “moral nothingness”. There is in Man a certain receptivity to the Lord or a certain Divine Effect. There is in Man a goodness that co-lives with sin; as if it is its companion. We do not find in the human being total corruption; neither do we find in it full righteousness. These are things that get mixed together in the human soul. I know souls who are very transparent, but I have not found people whose “light” takes away all the darkness inside us. Holiness is a yearning; and before the final resurrection, there is no complete holiness. And when we speak of perfection, we do not speak of a finalized state of reality but of a calling. And what the Savior meant saying: “Be perfect” is for us to keep on seeking perfection. There is no perfect human being, neither in Heaven nor at the Last judgment.  We never say, at the canonizing of a Saint, that he is sinless. We say that he has been a model of those who seek for holiness and that such seeking is his main concern. When God says: “Be holy”, He means it to be a call to an on-going yearning for holiness, and does not mean that holiness is poured in you once and for all. If virtue is poured wholly in us, then we would not be in need to pray for it. “The Kingdom of God is within you” means that you are walking to that kingdom; and that kingdom is not fully realized in any of us before the Last Day.

You have to live as if each day of your life is the day on which you receive the crown of glory; but Christ crowns you with that crown only after death and resurrection; when righteousness shines in the glorified humanity.

It is a great training in humility for one to see himself broken and to appear as bandaged before the Lord. And in our invocation of the Saints, we do not proclaim that they have received full righteousness, but we hope they, where they are, participate with us in prayer so that the community of Saints is realized, of those that have become perfect and those who are still not. All the righteous ones are in the state of yearning to what the Savior will give them, but in our theological understanding they have not yet attained Perfection.

I was once asked whether Mary is in Heaven in the body. I answered that we have not defined the matter theologically despite my personal conviction of that and despite all the hymns in our services that imply that. And I added that since there is no theological definition of that, I personally believe that Mary is in Glory and that her body did not go through corruption. Of course I realize that only those who are “in love” would say that.

You call on the Saints in the Traditional Church because “God is not a god of the dead but of those who are alive”. The Saints are our friends and that is why they lead us in our prayers though they are absent in the body. I cannot accept that Mary is not there to lead me in prayer when I stand in the presence of God. St. John Chrysostom says in his Easter sermon that no dead still remain in the tombs. And when we sing on Easter “Christ has risen from the dead” sixty times, we signify that there has been a certain motion towards the light of the Trinity as we sing. Our singing is light and that is what we carry from one Sunday to the next since, beside the Pascha feast, every Sunday, for us, is a feast and the “Sunday feast” overshadows all feasting.

Our life is a Pascha. We want it like that. And we yearn to be so since in Pascha, which means “passing”, the one we want to “pass on” to is the Savior. We hear Jeremiah saying: “The breath of our mouth is the Messiah of the Lord.” We hope not to fall in the confusion that the disciples fell into before the Resurrection, since such confusion is a “non – Christ”.

Christ, through His Cross, becomes everything in us so that He daily reveals to us the power of His resurrection in the victory we obtain over sin.

Translated by Riad Moufarrij

Original Text: “من فصح إلى فصح” – An Nahar – 25.05.2013

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