Monthly Archives

August 2004

2004, Articles, Raiati

Lust for Money / 29.08.04

The Lord warned us from the lust for money and its unlimited increase, whether you had money or didn’t. There’s no difference between the rich and the poor when the love for money controls their souls; the danger is not in the presence of this love but in its tyranny.

Temptations are not necessarily found in wealth, because you may be rich but modest at the same time. The danger of having money is when you lose your need for others. (There is a relation in Arabic between the expressions “rich” and “don’t need others”). God wants you to feel your need for others whether you gave or took. This relation in this field or any other one is sharing and the spirit of sharing. For if you had this spirit people would be in your heart and not their money.

Remember the Lord’s saying: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matt 6: 24). Money has power over you that can make you its slave, as St. John Chrysostom said about this subject: “Its love (money) dominates all loves and removes from the soul all other desires”.

In this sense apostle Paul said: “covetousness is idolatry” (Col 3: 5 and Eph 5: 5). The Bible didn’t say not to make your living through your work and effort. It asked us not to get totally absorbed, i.e. not to have something physical as our first goal for this would take us away from Christ. You are allowed to protect yourself from the coming days because the economy we live is built this way. When the Lord said: “Do not worry about tomorrow”, he didn’t mean that we shouldn’t find a job for tomorrow; but he meant that tomorrow shouldn’t occupy your entire mind. Work for today and tomorrow, but do not be disturbed from anything. There is effort, and with this effort comes hope.

The dominating thought in the subject of acquisition is that money isn’t a possession for anyone; this means that you use wealth as an agent and not as an enjoyer. You are trusted over God’s possessions; therefore, you use them for you and for others. You take your need and do not overtake or get greedy if you had a lot. The rule is that you should live – even if you were rich – in modesty, you shouldn’t show what you have to charm others and tempt them. You and your possessions should be under others’ service. You don’t have the choice between giving and stinginess. This is why the Psalms have said: ” He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever”. Do not ask how much money you should give today; give according to your love. You have to strengthen your desire for giving in order to get rid of the slavery of acquisition. Watch out not to spend imaginary amounts on your guests and the weddings or your sons. Live in shyness, modesty, and pureness.

The Lord didn’t reject the rich. He just revealed the spiritual dangers facing them, and these dangers face each person obtaining the gains of this world. This danger threatens the beautiful and the educated. It is difficult for the person that felt proud concerning what he owns –money, beauty, or education- to enter the Kingdom of heavens, therefore we ask for the “smartness of the soul” or spiritual attentiveness in order not to fall in temptation.

However, the great danger that surrounds wealth is falling in the temptation of authority. This is the sin of sins because it carries exclusion and cancellation of others. When you become the master, this means that you accepted that the Lord is not the master. Therefore, stay away from bragging and worthless glory and especially from notability over the pure and the pious for the Lord. 

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “شهوة المال” – 29.08.04

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2004, Articles, Raiati

Circulation of Service / 22.08.2004

The circulation of authority in ruling so that tyranny doesn’t spread is compared to the circulation of service in parish councils. Some Oak-like individuals insist on staying in councils even if they didn’t declare that. I do not deny their jealousy and we might be blessed through their piety. However, the Holy Synod didn’t see that while organizing these councils. The synod insisted on the circulation of service between people as an expression of the participation of the excited, discerning and devout people. No one denies the roots of an Oak tree, but there are other trees that also have their immunity and youthfulness. You, as an elder among your people, do exist, and this is a grace that you should thank God for. But others exist too. And since, being great, you left a heritage, someone will come and carry it; you will leave a laic organization that is based on giving, but you will not leave the Church where you can give through love and advice. We should learn how to leave so that we show that others are also capable of giving.

Things, for us, are based on experience. We have tried you, and we do thank you although a believer doesn’t wait to be thanked. We must try others. If the earth doesn’t stop its course when someone of us dies, then an organization or a serving group also doesn’t stop when someone leaves it in order to get another person, and I am not saying who’s better because I do not compare.

Leaving a place is something that trains us to humility, which we cannot reach the heaven without. And in the same importance, it is a shame on some people to interrupt the bishop’s time with their sadness and complaint, and the only argument that they show or hide is that they are indispensable. If a person was dispensed in a certain position, he shall still have his status in understanding, guidance and love. Let the youth carry the burdens that you have carried with loyalty so that our youth practice maturity and we all feel happy.

Moreover, it is not acceptable to take my attention and strength through the game of equilibriums as you have planned it for yourselves. If I did what a village wanted once every while in order to keep your calmness, this doesn’t mean that I am convinced with this game. I choose whoever I see qualified for service or whoever I was told that he is useful for this service. Someone in this world must have the decisive word. I understand that we could have democratic elections in which every adult comes to the Church hall to vote, and this means that we should count all adults and record them on election lists. And this implies a game of candidates. You might have that or an assigning by the bishop according to the investigations that he does, and it is impossible for the assigned people to be accepted by everyone. In simpler words, we must submit to the decision and wait for the best after all names are completed or after the time of the council ends.

The priests and I serve you spiritually, and the fact that the Word of God reaches you and that I feel happy for your happiness and sad for your sadness is more important than a simple formation called parish council.

When a council appears performing a full service and being loyal to the property and money and activating Orthodox culture, this would carry Glory to God whether it was through you or through others. There is no place for competition because this is a glory free organization; competition exists through giving and righteousness, and both are lived together in the Church of Christ.

Every conflict over the formation of parish councils is a destruction for Church and an intense grief for me.  Don’t get busy with trivial things. Be interested in the salvation of your souls. There are things that are still rigid because of this illicit race. If you wanted me not to fear schisms do not react if the assigning wasn’t according to what you have expected. I told you that the bishop is the only person that says the final word.

If this final word was said, it must be accepted so that mess wouldn’t be spread. We can’t leave speeches in the grocery stores of the village or on street corners and feuds can’t appear between us. We need to go forward and not to be eaten by spiritual death.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “تداوُل الخدمة” –Raiati 34- 22.08.2004

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2004, Articles, Raiati

Modesty / 8.8.2004

I hope that women would understand that church’s insistence on modesty is not a tyrannical attitude. It is just an expression of the fact that the woman is not alone in the church and that man shares her chastity. Paul says that she sanctifies him because of what she has from loyalty and dedication. I hope that she understands that she is harming his chastity if she uncovers seductive parts of her body as she also harms her own chastity. The body for us is not an exhibited thing for greedy eyes. The body is a place for a love encounter with the partner of a deep sentimental relationship where sexual relation is one way of expression. Outside this relationship, the body must be covered.

The woman knows in her feeling and experience that any exposure is seductive. She knows the limits and doesn’t need to be taught. We do not have any legitimate judgments that classify details; morals are enough to know what should be covered and what is acceptable to uncover without any lying and hiding behind the excuse of fashion. The woman is neither the prisoner of fashion nor a fashion model. It is not enough to say that I like this thing; there are a lot of things in life that we like but are harmful for us and others. It is shameful to lie and claim that the weather is hot. Men also feel the temperature but still they cover themselves. And if we want to take into account modesty in general, we have first to do that in church as the faithful go there in order to pray, and not to see a fashion show. What everyone complains about, men and women, is the scene in weddings where chastity is insulted in a severe way. Maybe the excuse is that after the wedding there is a welcome party; but again why not have this party in modesty?

The main harm in all of this is that men get distracted from praying, so they don’t hear any word of prayer because their eyes are busy with the seduction. The deeper thing is that the woman, who’s insulting her clothes, forgot that her body is the place of encounter with her husband; so if she has the right to be beautiful for her husband, does she have the right to do that for all people and hurt their purity? Isn’t this harmful for them and her?

Isn’t this the pride of beauty? And if it was wrong for anyone to be proud of his intelligence and status, is it right for the woman to be proud of her beauty? Isn’t it pride to expose the body in such a cheap way?

It is known for analyzers that sexual seduction carry a lot of the love of authority. As revenge to this authority of women, man tries to take control over through seducing her with money. This way the love relationship between them becomes a relation of a master and a slave, where mastery goes from him to her through money and from her to him through seduction.

There are things that became familiar in general, and there are other things that will never become familiar even after a thousand years if we still have faith in chastity. What is important here is to have honesty and some courage so that the woman won’t have to imitate others in a blind way or become the prisoner of fashion shops.

You (woman) are responsible for your brother the man, in public places, the office or in church. Your body is not an object; it became sacred after it was anointed with Myron. I can not see a way for it to become sacred if you were, with your own will, a fashion model.

This does not require a great effort from you; modesty isn’t something heroic. It is enough to decide to be modest as a loyalty towards Christ and as a support to the chastity of the man, your brother.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الحشمة” – 8.8.2004

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