Monthly Archives

May 2003

2003, Articles, Raiati

The Parish Council Again and Again / 25.05.2003

Nothing tortures me and some priests as parish councils do; they are councils full of wrong mentalities. Some councils work with a peaceful, brotherly and pious spirit. There is a difficulty in applying laws for reasons that differ between a place and another. The law says that you choose the members among the active believers that you find in every Divine Liturgy. However, reality shows that we don’t see all the members of the council participating with us in the Divine service. You can’t know previously who will come to the service and who won’t come. The true issue isn’t to find someone that can control properties and money but to find a person that has the spirit of the Lord.

Being a member in a parish council means that you should commit to the Church in its spiritual sense, and contribute with the priest in attracting believers to the Church at least by being present yourself and by getting your family members to Church. Perhaps the solution is to have classes to choose candidates for parish councils and choose those who have more jealousy towards the Church and a greater knowledge. However, the thought that controls us in every village is choosing the members from different families and finding a balance between large families, but you might not find in every large family or in every house qualified people to fill this position and carry the responsibility. Sometimes you must have disequilibrium in order to have efficient and qualified people to manage the spiritual, administrative, and financial issues that impose their selves in every parish. It’s a pity to tire the Archdiocese by imposing selection from every family.

This was concerning the selection. As for the progress of issues, it is required from all the members to always live through a brotherly spirit in which they respect each other and live in Christ’s peace so that a person doesn’t get controlled by staying attached to his opinion when a fellow member proves him wrong. There is no place in the council to have groups in conflict where you stay with a group and the other in another group and stubbornness enters and a discussion doesn’t happen because it is a “partisanship” discussion or based on prejudice. If no one gives something up for the other and for the sake of the truth and reality, things won’t go in a healthy way. The unity of the group is better than insisting on your opinion. All opinions collide and arguments reply on other arguments, but loyalty is more important than having one opinion and imposing it.

The other thing is to accept to leave the council when its time ends. The form of the council in its nature is not permanent. And this is what the Holy Synod insisted on because it wanted to have what is called in democracy “Authority exchange”.

The wisdom behind changing people is to find an opportunity for the good discerning believer to show his gifts and for the Church to benefit from him. Every person that dies is laid off unless he had great gifts and was unique because the Church loses if it laid him off. Those people are few. You should give the opportunity for the active and giving believer to enter.

Then, the council doesn’t form a reigning family that stays forever. If a member’s position wasn’t renewed when the time of the council ends, this doesn’t mean that we complain from him. The only idea for us is that we should encourage the rising groups that we didn’t know before and discovered later. Leaving the parish council teaches the members humbleness and they should stay in the parish and know what is happening and contribute in thought because many discussed projects are known by people outside the council and once they give their opinion they would be exactly as those in the council.

If you wanted this law to stay active, we should, in God’s grace, increase in piety and in the spirit of peacefulness and we should make issues become smoothly discussed so that we actually become real brothers for each other.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “مجلس الرعية أيضًا وأيضًا” –Raiati 21- 25.05.2003

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2003, Articles, Raiati

Did the Words of the Scripture Change? / 18.05.2003

On Sunday May 4th, I celebrated the Divine Liturgy outside Lebanon and then met some parishioners for some coffee and one of them asked me why do we mention in our prayers the word “Zion” or “Israel”? Can’t we cancel these words and replace them with others? I was aware that he wanted that so that he doesn’t hear expressions that would remind him of the state of Israel. For the word “Zion”, I answered him that it was one of the hills on which Jerusalem stood. David came to this place with the Ark of the Covenant and therefore the hill became holy. And then when the Temple was built, the Ark was transferred to it and Zion took a wider range and included the Temple. And Jerusalem is frequently called Zion. Then, the neo-Jewish movement took the name “Zionism” in reference to their settlement in that place. When we use a verse from the Holy Scripture that contains the name of this hill, we wouldn’t be accepting Zionism because modern Jews took its name from Zion, the hill.

As for the word Israel, it refers to Jacob who gave this name to his offspring that the Scripture called “the sons of Israel”. Then the name was given to the northern kingdom of Palestine. And the prophets also used the names in a spiritual sense, and Apostle Paul differentiated between “Israel by the flesh” and “Israel by the spirit”. Also, in the Gospel of John, the word doesn’t carry any sense of nationalism but refers to the faith of the person.

When the word “Israel” is mentioned in chanting or in the readings from the prophets, an acquainted person shouldn’t think that it means the current state of Israel. The current name was found by the Jews that established their state in 1948 in order to benefit from the words as Christians recognize it from the Old Testament and in order to unite this word with the state that extorted Palestine or a part of it. This is a Jewish slyness that shouldn’t lead us to cancel the word from the Scripture. If you quoted the Divine Book, you must be faithful to its texts and explain to people why, as Christians, we don’t recognize the “land of the promise” and do not bless the adoption of modern Jews to this word to show that they are the heirs of this land.

When we say about Christ in the Vespers (taken from the Gospel of Luke): “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel”, we mean that Jesus came as a light for the Gentiles and Jews and combined both. If you said like some chanters do: “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to the faithful” – or any similar phrase – you would be changing the meaning that Luke wanted. How could you also change the phrase that we chant during the Paschal period: “The Lord from the fountains of Israel”?

Why don’t Muslims object over the usage of the word “Israel” in the Quran?

We believe in the Old Testament and that it is inspired by God and that it has no reference to any kind of nationalism and we cannot use it to support any nation. Old words stay in their place. And instead of harming our ears with the current meaning that was given to the word, we should explain our usage of the word. Our Coptic brothers, that reject the state of Israel as we do, didn’t replace any word in their prayers and their scholars explained to them that mentioning the word in prayers doesn’t push us to accept this state that was established with oppression towards Palestinian people. If the state of Israel vanished, do we go back to the usage of the word again?

Divine words stay as they are, and we should start understanding these words as they were meant by the Prophets and Psalms.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “هل تُغيَّر كلمات الكتاب؟” –Raiati no20- 18.05.2003

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