Monthly Archives

July 2012

2012, Articles, Raiati

Inviting Bishops to this Archdiocese / 29.07.2012

The rule in our Church is that if a believer wanted a divine service (Baptism, wedding or funeral) to be held by a Bishop, it must be the Bishop of his archdiocese because he is the responsible person for fulfilling any sacrament and because the believer’s relationship should be with him first. Otherwise, the parish’s priest should be enough for the Orthodox believer. If he wanted to invite another bishop for having a personal friendship with him, then he is free to do so, and this bishop can enter our archdiocese after the approval of its Metropolitan. This doesn’t cause problems because their eminences are all brothers and welcomed.

However, when a believer decides to invite a Metropolitan from another Archdiocese or a bishop without inviting the head of this archdiocese, then this is illegitimate because this means that you are moving away the master of the place and disclaiming his legal fatherhood.

I have written before in this sense and said that I do not wish to carry the burden of these services because the priest is able to fulfill them alone. However, I have always responded to you unless there was a real excuse such as illness, severe tiredness, travel, or time conflict. I don’t give an excuse because of an emotional position towards you. You are all my sons and have the love of a father to his children.

If you insisted on the participation of a bishop, the Canon Law forces you to invite the servant of this archdiocese first and you could add to him another bishop that you have a special relationship with. It is normal to understand that moving away the head of the archdiocese is an insult towards him, even if you didn’t love him for a personal reason as no one is forced to love him. My father and mother died and I took the permission from the Metropolitan of their archdiocese to participate in the funeral. And I didn’t have the right to say anything if this bishop refused.

Once, I took permission to participate in the Great Compline in an archdiocese during the lent. The bishop could attend, yet he can’t say a word. It is not acceptable for the local bishop to hear from people that another bishop came to his archdiocese.

You do not choose your father; nature imposes him. You are not asked to give your opinion in your bishop but to honor him and not to ignore his presence. We are the family of the Father and this family is headed in the Church by a person called bishop. No Episcopal celebration can be held without his acceptance or blessing. You live in a specific place that exists in one archdiocese.

Those who acted against the rule without knowing it are excused. However, those who know the rule and act against it have no excuse and I don’t have to talk about it with them but I do have the right to be sad over their ignorance.

Let the brothers who rule out their bishop think about the reason. In Church, there are organized relationships that come from the Orthodox tradition that was put by our fathers and not by me. A believer doesn’t act according to his lusts and emotions, but according to what was assigned by our holy fathers.

If you had any blame towards your bishop, go and tell him, and let your blame be firm. You all know that he welcomes you in complete simplicity, opens his heart for you and corrects his mistake if it was proved. Do not make your leaders sad and don’t let your hearts become separated from theirs, because this doesn’t please God. Be one with the bishop because “wherever the bishop appears, there let the Church be” (St. Ignatius of Antioch). Any bishop, when being in his place, has no alternative.

Pray for your spiritual father and let him be with you in any divine you want, and request to have in addition to him any brother you want and God shall preserve you forever.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “دعوة مطارنة إلى هذه الأبرشية” –Raiati 31- 29.07.2012

Continue reading
2012, An-Nahar, Articles

The Others / 28-07-2012

You cannot speak of the ‘I’ unless you speak of the ‘you’, since you are delimited by encounter, i.e. meeting face to face. One meets the other, thus both are defined. You are formed by relationship, and if you are frantically egocentric, you perceive the other as a mirror of you. Whenever you do not have pathological preference for yourself you accept the other to a certain extent, though you might not embrace him/her, however the other makes you in your depth and makes himself [/herself] at the same time through you. And whenever the other welcomes you in truth, you both transcend to above. Then God would be [truly] the maker of [both of] you, while each of you is formed through perceiving God, thus you see God in the other or you see something divine in him/[her].

You cannot relate to God unless you bring the other near God as if you are offering a sacrifice, i.e. you draw the other to God in order that you receive him/[her] from God. Thus both of you become like “the day when it lights up”. (Sūrat Al-Layl [The Night]: 2)

The others are not a dark mass. Every person in the others’ group becomes lighted whenever he/[she] knows the others as persons interlaced through love, or at the least through the vigilance of each soul, as the Orthodox say in their liturgy. Thus, everyone is in the heart of the other and therefore is distinguished from the congestion of the mass in order to perceive each person of the group as unique. This is the difference between a group of people and the flock of sheep. You count every animal in the flock and then you add the one to the other and that would be a matter of calculation. None of the flock differs from the other and in case you want to distinguish any of them you need to stamp it on the skin. As for human beings, each is unique and there is not another identical person to anyone. Seven billion people are today and none of them is identical with another. Uniqueness is a human attribute and God sees everyone as unique not only in the face but also in the heart. God does not have patterns for human souls, and it is not the case that the one soul dissolves in the other in order to unite with it.

This was a heresy that the church considered infidel in order to safeguard the unique person. In the Kingdom, we remain in encounter and in love, but we do not dissolve in one another since love sustains the other and it does not dissolve him/[her].

There is no aversion in your independence from the other. Independence consolidates the self and the other. Human souls are not compiled corpses like the bodies. They are always in encounter because of the grace poured upon each of them. God embraces them in God’s life-giving tenderness without overlooking any of them lest it dies.

Minds are different and they disagree most of the times, since the mind is subject of both confounding and perturbation and it gets harmed by other minds, which renounce it. Humanity is grounded on opposing or contradictory variations. Thus, the mind gets weakened, in addition to the lack of its initial absolute, and this is explained by the dissimilarity of minds.

However, the human being is not ‘other’ because of his/[her] mind. In his/[her] general formation the other is different than you. He/[she] might be your neighbor [or friend] even when you disagree in opinion and you do not despise him/[her] because of his/[her] being different. Little minds do this. For the wise, intellect is not a reason for sentimental or existential collision since existence, in its depth, is about the heart. This was true for the Biblical aspect, in its two testaments, and also for our Fathers. You recognize the encountering self as the other since it differs from you to the extent of love. Nevertheless, your self embraces the other’s self whenever you can give freely, without assuming control over the others in your depth. “So, exhort, you are a mere exhorter; you are not supposed to dominate them” (Sūrat Al-Ghāshiyah [The Overwhelming Day]: 21-22)

This is the meaning of dialogue, which is founded on the recognition that the other exists, for he/[she] is a talking creature, and because the other loves you at the times of need. The other acknowledges you and you acknowledge him/[her] in order that the light might be manifested through the encounter. Intellect is not about prescription. It is an encounter. The other serves the truth that you carry, and the truth flourishes through the other. The truth is manifested through the affiliation of the different consciences whether intentionally or unintentionally through love, and both help in interconnecting the truths, one to the other.

Love presumes your belief that God has entrusted you some things (from Him) and has entrusted your dialogue partner also some things (from Him) and these things could have been convergent. Love, in this sense, is a bridge between a depth and another though views might differ. Whenever we approach [the other] in wisdom and great purity, diversity does not cause enmity since you know that the other is God’s beloved one like you are and that the other may be the means that brings a great heart and a limited mind together. Thus, you embrace the other with supplication and set him/[her] in the amplitude that God has bestowed upon you.

Here a reference to the so-called enemy comes. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven”. (Mat.5: 43-45)

Most people have problem with loving the enemies because of their concentration on the solitary ego, in which there is no space for the other. The ego is proprietor of existence. It drives the opponents away from existence, thus it kills them mentally. As long as they are out of my sight, they are out of the whole world.

As one might doubt in the commandment, forgiveness seems to be grounded on the words of Jesus of Nazareth: “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven”. You cannot accept your enemy as you accept your brother unless you admit that the enemy is a son [/daughter] of the One who is in heaven and that he/[she], is forgiven by God and has an equal value to God as you have and as you also live in divine forgiveness. Whoever is a son [/daughter] of God is necessarily a brother [/daughter] to you. Then, you do not see the enmity of the other; rather you see him/[her] within the sphere of divine forgiveness, within which you likewise are, as forgiven.

Through love, the enemy is a friend to you and his/[her] face is covered by divine light. The other is not only the one who loves you but also the one who hates you. Each of them is a brother [/sister] to you, since brotherhood descends from heaven, no matter he/[she] or you feel. You and the other are in the family of the Father, in which all turbulence vanishes, and the soul faces the soul, since each is the mirror of that loving God.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الآخرون” –An Nahar- 28-07-2012

Continue reading
2012, Articles, Raiati

Advices for the Romans / 22.07.2012

Paul starts his words with theology and ends with ethics as in this epistle to the Romans. He notices at the beginning of the passage that, in Church, there are weak and strong people and all of them are brothers. The strong ones are those who are deeply attached to Christ and know a lot about Him through the virtues that receive the Lord in their souls. As for the weak, they neither have this ardor nor a great knowledge. In Church, we accept the other because God has accepted him. The Church doesn’t accept the pride of the knowledgeable, and it also doesn’t accept the weak to say “I’m weak and insist on staying this way and I don’t want to learn and fight for a greater spiritual magnificence”. We all fight to reach the climax.

In front of this scene, we have “hope through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide”. We endure for a bigger hope and for a great attachment to faith. Faith comes from the Scriptures if we read them. Their lines can’t be transferred to us if we didn’t read. I am always in shock because lots of our brothers do not know the New Testament. Even if they were committed to Church they only hear 52 passages of the four Gospels and know a bit about Epistles and might have heard something during the lent. How could this give them the encouragement of the Scriptures?

In addition to the hope that comes from knowing the Scriptures, Paul adds that they should have the same attitude of mind towards each other in Jesus Christ based on one doctrine and Orthodoxy. He doesn’t mean that they should agree on the issues of this world, like politics for example. The Church doesn’t have its opinion in any political view but is on the side of the poor and the oppressed and against squandering and theft.

The result of this is that “with one mind and one voice we may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”. We glorify Him with all our entity while having the same attitude of mind through his Bible.

After that, he ends by saying: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you”, which means that each one of you should be a father, a son and a brother for the others. Commit to him through service because, together, you are the family of the Father. And throughout all of this, one doesn’t look for his benefits or for increasing the numbers of those who love him, but you should cooperate together to make one spiritual establishment for God’s glory. Your purpose is not yourself. You serve each other so that God remains the Lord of the Church. Support each other not for the common benefits but to be one for God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

God makes you one in Jesus Christ if you obeyed him. Cooperate through activating your talent for the benefit of others. One could teach; a second person could visit or help with charity; another could preach or manage Church issues. No one shall separate between you because if Christ was transferred from one to another, He would be the one that unites you. Then, the Church would become one working body in every individual and would be united through the grace of the Savior and through the acceptance of every believer to God’s gift. Through that, you shall appear one body of Christ in a way that whoever sees you united would be seeing the one rising Christ in every one of you.

“Love never fails” and love is the thing that builds every one of you and builds all of you together at the same time.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “توصيات إلى أهل رومية” –Raiati 30 – 22.07.2012

Continue reading
2012, Articles, Raiati

The Believers Being the Light of the World / 15.07.2012

“You are the light of the world”: The apostles and the believers after them derive this light from Christ who described Himself being the light of the world (John 9: 5). It is normal for our light to shine before people so that they see our good deeds and glorify God that gave us this light.

You should be like Jerusalem that is located on a mountain. This might mean that the Church that you form, as a whole, is a light for the whole world.

We don’t do good deeds for our glory but for our heavenly God to be glorified. We enlighten people through the love that exists in us and love has no pride as Paul says. People see those good deeds, and the person that has performed these deeds must ascribe them to God.

After that, the Lord says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets”. Jesus doesn’t cancel the Holy texts because he attracts us to the righteousness found in them. In fact, the Church cancelled the sacrifices of blood and therefore we call the Liturgy “the non-bloody sacrifice”. Christ wants people to see the purpose of the Law and prophets which is righteousness.

We have kept the prophets of the Old Testament in Church because they talk about Christ and prophesy about His coming. We keep them in order to indicate their purpose: Christ.

Yes, “not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”. The Law, in its literal sense, disappears and this means that we don’t preserve its restrictions like not eating some kinds of meat such as pork. However, the purpose of the Law is to lead us towards God. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”. These words are found in the prologue of the Gospel of John and show us that, through Christ, we have reached the purpose of the Law which is grace and truth.

Jesus takes away the old literal sense but not the true meaning which is the unity with God through His Son and especially through His death and resurrection.

The conclusion of all of this is that “whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven”. He who exists through Christ’s grace and is sanctified in Church would work through righteousness that he obtained from faith, hope and love. All of these result in good deeds. Jesus adds teaching to practice. Practice itself is a kind of teaching by example. However, there is also teaching by words. This is what the Lord referred to by sending his disciples to preach; and Paul also referred to this by considering “teachers” a category that has received the gift of teaching from the Holy Spirit in his first epistle to the Corinthians and his epistle to the Romans.

Surely, the ignorant isn’t the same as the teacher and that God saves both. However, the Lord has made a great stature for teaching theology in his Church because theologians preserve faith and defend it in their writings.

Theology isn’t limited by its teachers in theological faculties; whoever teaches the orthodox faith in Church or in theological schools’ classes, at any level, would be teaching the young and old the truths of faith. Fathers and mothers also carry something from Christian education and teach it to their children. Journals, religious articles and archdiocese bulletins also deliver faith.

This teaching isn’t only for the priest. Every one of us is invited to receive faith and give it to his surrounding even if the priest was the responsible teacher through preaching in the Divine service. The important thing is for a Christian to be, through his teaching and practice, compatible with the Holy Spirit and with the orthodoxy of doctrine.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “المؤمنون نور العالم” –Raiati 29- 15.07.2012

Continue reading
2012, An-Nahar, Articles

Ninety / 14.07.2012

Today when you read these lines, you encounter a writer brought by His Lord to the threshold of Ninety years so he can thank and learn a lesson and try not to distance himself from God’s face; God who wants him to have that human face which is receptive to the Divine love and unreconciled with his sins. Why the Creator gives in abundance and the Savior shows tenderness in abundance, why that is a Mystery He reveals to no one. That is related to His Fatherhood which descends on us as grace placing us in the hand of the Lord that holds us with great compassion and safeguards us from all evil and all corruption.

I have accompanied you some decades of years in this column, writing out of love in joy and explaining to you some thought that has descended upon me; and my wish is that there should not be in your minds any mixing of what has descended on me and what is of my own weakness. My sincere wish is that same grace be poured in your hearts, not in order to read me, but in order that you may read that grace, and as such I, for any reason of my humanness, would not be an obstacle between you and that grace. “I am your servant oh Lord; your servant and the son of your handmaid”. And while I wanted my words to be anointed by Jesus of Nazareth, I get word through various sources that most of them (my words) have moved your hearts whether you are of His (Jesus) faith or not. I used to feel that being with you is a one deified togetherness, we having gathered together around a word that, though at times came from sorrow, but a word of the truth which I desired to contribute in the healing of you and me.

So every Saturday morning, we used to share a breakfast of love and sincerity, a love of That One whose message I tried to convey to you whether I got my reasoning and thought from His book or from my yearning for you; and perhaps both sources are one and the same. I will remain with you as long as “my pen” and my body remain and as long as you desire this meeting, with pure hearts, on Saturday morning.

These “letters” of mine would not have been had not Ghassan Tueni wanted them to be. In many of those (letters) we (the author and Ghassan Tueni) come from the same source. It pleased me to “live” in An-Nahar so that I can peer at you though the task of producing these lines was difficult at times.

Perhaps I was not always up to the standard of its spirit. But I have sought humbly to speak to you the truth He honored me with, as a messenger from Him to you.

Not all of my words were a direct talk about God. But I know that God permeates this talk or the other, since He ordained to touch my tongue to speak of Him. As such God is the One who initiates and the One who ends. And I wanted to receive Him as such; and I hope He has not let me down.

When I used to write to you, I in fact wanted to have had conversed with Him before hand so that I would be able to come to you at the end of every week, with what He had revealed to me; and had I spoken of something else I would have inadvertently betrayed Him. “Your servant am I oh Lord and the son of your handmaid”.

In the course of conversing about Him together, we had come across some “words” about the Orient and about our country. And I never intended to write about politics directly, since my goal was always to write about what is Divine concerning politics hoping that those immersed in it would look through it to behold God’s face; “all talk apart from God is idle talk”. I hope I have not mingled between this world and the coming one. “The coming world is better for you than this current one”. At times I used to hear Him whispering that “Politics is not your field. It is a situation where I am Lord if those concerned want my Lordship.” All else is the vanity of vanities. Yet in my discourse with you, I could not but behold those that are wounded by the matters of this world. And my words would have been of benefit when their wounds were soothed by those words.

Ghassan Tueni the believer used to know that my contribution has in it a testimony to the Lord who has brought us (Ghassan and me) together. But now Ghassan (after his departure) reads what is more eloquent and beautiful in the Kingdom of Love.

What is it that remains after this long life? No one should avoid asking himself that question. The sole question that befits an author, who sees himself a servant, is not in reality a question; it is a prayer. “O my Lord, grant me to obey You with a greater obedience than the one I have lived, and with unadulterated faithfulness to You. That I hold no other being besides You, nor any thought besides Yours. And I pray that You alone dwell in my heart; and that my heart would be like a church the East side of which written with Icons – meaning that I would be in the presence of Your saints.

Other than that it is not important whether I can peer at you in this column. When would “the pen be broken”? The important thing is that the Savior’s image He wanted me to convey to you would remain with you. What your Lord wants is that you always accept the words that have come from Him before and still come to the hearts of many of you. In this way my heart would be at ease concerning you and in this you will dwell with the Spirit of the Lord until the morning of the Life of the Kingdom dawns on us all”.

These lines are not a farewell on my part and there is no trace of fear in them. With these lines I seek your prayers for me so that we remain in this holy togetherness which was vouchsafed between you and me by the An-Nahar newspaper; and I know that the Lord does not leave a people without a witness to Him.

Do not get attached to any type of affectional writing, be it spiritual or not, except what God wants for you and our country, so that we remain always brightened with the Light of the Resurrection.

Translated by Riad Moufarrij

Original Text: “تسعون” – An Nahar- 14.07.2012

Continue reading
2012, Articles, Raiati

Acknowledging Faith / 08.07.2012

Faith doesn’t exist only in the heart but also on the tongue. “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 32: 10). On the other hand, the Lord also says: “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10: 33).

The Church gave the name “Confessor” to people who acknowledged their faith while being tortured. If such a person dies, he would be called a “martyr”. This compatibility between what is visible and what isn’t is expressed by Paul in today’s epistle: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”.

The testimony of blood is mandatory for us; you do not have the right to disbelieve. You keep testifying until your blood is shed. Therefore, the Church believes that God doesn’t call martyrs for Judgment because they have had a complete unity with Christ.

Some might think that the number of Christians decreases when people die through martyrdom. However, the contrary has happened because lots of people didn’t convert through preaching but through seeing Christians killed by Roman or any other authorities. When a person loved Christ till death, he used to show the Pagans that he believes in a living God and that he joins Him through death.

Those who died through martyrdom decided to do that through learning and preaching. They believed until they died. In all eras, we used die and in all countries. The Soviet Union killed thousands of martyrs starting with 250 bishops and six thousand priests. Hitler also killed some Christians.

If a Christian got captured because of his faith, he shouldn’t escape from testifying. However, he does have the right to disappear and this isn’t denial. Nevertheless, if an investigator asked him if he was a Christian, he must confess and the Lord has promised to strengthen him in times of weakness and doubt.

It is normal for a bishop or priest to be killed because oppressors believe that they would exterminate the flock this way. However, this kind of calculation isn’t right. The parish would be revived with the death of its leaders and God will manage his Church.

In order to be ready to testify if we were asked to, we should hang on to every word Jesus said because those words nourish us and make us steady so that if someone wanted to persecute us, he would find us strong and ready to acknowledge Jesus as a Lord and Savior.

“The cloud of witnesses”, as the Book calls them, are our basis in heaven and encourage us to take them as models. They are the greatest among us and our big brothers that make us steady in Christ’s love.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الاعتراف بالإيمان” –Raiati 28- 08.07.2012

Continue reading
2012, An-Nahar, Articles

God is Knowledge / 07.07.2012

It has always dismayed me to know that half of the humanity is illiterate, and the quarter of it is semi-illiterate, while all kinds of scholarship have appeared in order to evolve the mind. Production for the sake of a descent life is a service for others. Tilling the soil, in its general sense, agriculture, industry, all these are brought about by sciences, add to them the joy that sciences bring to one’s heart and strengthens one’s relations with others.

With no real knowledge, by which you encounter the minds of your fellow human beings, agitation and anger will prevail your behavior and control you. But education is in principle your serenity. It supplies you with energy to solve your problems and it is also your way to peace. Thus act, if you can, to become the lord of your paths and the blessings of the Lord will be with you. Yes, some of the illiterates have great wisdom. However, the rule is that you acquire some wisdom through knowledge and you receive the grace of God upon you.

To this it has also dismayed me [to know] that the considerable educated ones, who are in the phase of private university, are the children of rich people since there are much expenses at this stage. Higher education is synonymous to prosperity, and there is injustice in this toward the one whose parents are unable to spend whatever universities or institutions of higher education require. It is not impossible to solve this question whenever the state arranges its budget in a way that it educates the outstanding ones, as it is unable to educate all. How much the country was deprived of the talents of many of its sons and daughters because of associating study with money?

The world is a lasting workshop for learning, especially when we aspire a high standing for the country and a contribution to the world civilization. One of our great scholars, who resides in USA, had told me that most of the top ones in all sectors of specialization are Lebanese. Those would not need to immigrate, had we the means of scientific or technological progress. And then their contributions would have appeared here and all our citizens would have benefited from these higher sciences.

Of course this necessitates that such a vision would be present to the different political groups. This reminds me with what the emperor Peter the Great has done in Russia when he decided to transform the country from its primitive situation to an advanced European country. He had the choice between establishing thousands of elementary schools and establishing few institutions of higher education. He gave priority to the second. He founded what he called academies in all areas of knowledge, and Russia could rapidly achieve the German level of knowledge.

We are capable of delving into all sciences and in some we are not falling behind. However, we should reach at all necessary areas of knowledge for the contemporary human being, and it should be made accessible to all talented ones.

Surely you may not be able to reach the highest level with all the different conditions of the country; however, it is not acceptable that numerous people of [different] classes remain with great ignorance. I know that there is some experience of joy which does not come from knowledge and that holiness descends upon you from above, but science is within the reach of your hands. It contributes greatly to your inner recreation and it is not permissible to you to dispel all the potentials of your human growth because of a lack in the state’s budget. Yes, this brings us to a political study concerning the budget, since it should adapt to the spiritual option which we encounter, namely that knowledge is prior to everything else.

More important than the worldly sciences is your knowledge of God and the divine concerns which are based on cognizance. In order to become deified, i.e. to be a recipient of your Lord in your heart, you need to know the religious text. I do not deny that our Lord brings up for Himself the loving ones and those who know Him, without them being acquainted with the texts. However, I do not doubt that needful understanding of what one should know about God comes to us from the Holy Books and how they inspired later writers, who have interpreted those Books or have constructed theology upon them. But I also do not doubt that those who are conversant are few throughout the ages. And if the purpose of inspiration was that people might know its content so that they might gain a taste of God, by contemplating God’s Word, then, ignorance is dreadful.

I will confine my word to reflect on the Christian situation so that I do not go astray in my perception, and I do not know who taught them [this group of Christians]. Last week I was holding the Divine Liturgy in one of the churches and I looked at the believers and I came to know, in the context of the sermon, that a big number of them have not read the New Testament since I referred to Gospel texts which they have not heard about. I told them that I do not doubt that their parents have bought a Gospel, which is covered by dust, so [I told them] to go and wipe the dust away and open the Book, and then to find the beginning the Gospel of Matthew, and to read it through, as it is placed, until they reach at the Book of Revelation, since it will give them what the rituals cannot give.

This text moves the hearts and you need all the elements that might burn your hearts and fill them with faith. Search for all that might revivify your hearts and purify them. The Liturgy is built on God’s Word, however the Word of God is the corner stone apart from which no other foundation could be established. God has been revealed in different manners. You do not have the right to be limited to one way that brings you to God. You do not decide in God’s place. When God chooses the way of the Book then you should take it, and if God chooses the way of chanting, then, go for it. And if God wills the church, then, gather in it. Other than this, it would be kind of resignation for fantasy and the passing inclinations. And know that it is not possible to understand God without great endeavor, and that the knowledge of God is not effortless. If you were a believer you should know that faith is about transmitting the proclamation to others and not only receiving it. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one” (Col.4: 6).

This statement addresses all believers and not only the priests. In case there were those who are responsible to teach, this is not limited to them. Every one of you carries the word of God, and hence, it should be delivered in order that it does not remain captive of the books.

Yes, God is love but God is also knowledge, and the proof is that God made Godself known through words. If it is permissible for me to use an imaginative expression about God, I would say that every one of us has to ask: “What are the extents of my knowledge of God?” Is my knowledge [of God] in accordance to God’s will for humanity, or is it the case that God contents Godself with gathering up the ignorant and the wise ones? Do they all perceive God in the same density? The illiterate might love God more than the one who knows God’s words. However, this is not my concern. My concern is to say to my Lord: “By Your grace I have received the proclamation and if You enhance my knowledge I will transmit it [to others] in order that Your word would not remain thrown in a desert.

Published books are not Your concern. You came in order to dwell in the hearts through the words spoken by the prophets and the apostles of Your only Son. And You want that Your words come back to You carrying the hope of the people, who have enriched the grace which You have descended upon them, so that they might feel that they have started climbing the ladder which brings them to You, and have known that You are blessed in them. The only reason that You have endowed them with children is that those children might know You and might inaugurate the Kingdom here.”

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الله معرفة” –An Nahar- 07.07.2012

Continue reading
2012, Articles, Raiati

The Ode of Love / 01.07.2012

Today’s epistle consists of two parts: The first about gifts and the second is the part known as “the ode of love”. Gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to the Church that Paul calls “the body of Christ” i.e. His entity in the world and his extension in history; Paul also says that we, as individuals, are parts of this body.

The apostle names various gifts: He mentions the apostles (other than the Twelve Apostles), the prophets that are inspired by the Lord to deliver His will to the Church in their time, and then he mentions teachers that know the doctrine and explain it. Also, Paul mentions miracle makers (gifts of healing and speaking with different kinds of tongues). The first epistle to the Corinthians is one of the earliest books of the New Testament and addresses the works of the Holy Spirit in people and not the hierarchy of administrative responsibilities (bishops and deacons) as it was when established.

After that, Paul goes to what he calls the “better way than all of these” which is love, the factor that we would be nothing if it wasn’t among us. The author magnifies love and makes it superior to prophecy and to any theological knowledge and even to faith. He imagines a person feeding all the poor with his money but having no love and a person that goes to martyrdom without love; he says that these are nothing. Paul is aware that every martyr has love because he cannot go to martyrdom without it; however he mentions this image in order to make love superior to any good deed.

Then, he mentions the good things about love and its positive points and says that “love is patient and kind”. Love must always be accompanied by patience and kindness towards all people even towards an evil person. With such a person, you must have clemency and kindness and not judge him and forget his sin. With this, Paul reaches the expression “love doesn’t envy” because the Lord distributes His gifts to whomever He wants so that everyone would have his own gift. You should thank God for what He gave someone else and didn’t give you; you should feel happy for a gift He gave to someone and not to you.

Then, Paul elevates with his description and says that “love doesn’t boast and is not proud”. If you had any spiritual advantages and virtues, those would be descending to you through grace and were given to you in order to benefit people and not to brag. You cannot do anything good with your personal power, so why would you boast? It is normal for love not to “dishonor” others or harm them, and a loving person doesn’t seek what he wants but what God wants. Love isn’t “easily angered” because rage is nothingness and love cannot carry nothingness because it insults. In this sense, do not have “evil thoughts” when dealing with others. Experience people first, and then you shall reach certainty or doubt.

“Do not delight in evil” if it struck someone but “rejoice with the truth” if someone said it. You should be patient in every discomfort and believe that anyone could produce welfare and ask everything from God for all people whether they were evil or good. The apostle ends this ode by saying: “Love never fails” here and in the coming age.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “نشيد المحبة” –Raiati 27- 01.07.2012

Continue reading