«Raiati» is a weekly bulletin issued by the Archbishopric of Byblos and Botrys since 1981 and distributed in the churches of the Archdiocese and to the rest of the parishioners. This bulletin contains a column entitled «Kalimat al Ra’i (The Shepherd’s Word» through which Bishop George (Khodr) addresses his parishioners with a weekly article written in a simple style so that all people can have access to and understanding of the meanings. These articles are compiled and published in a series of six books entitled «The Spirit and the Bride» issued by the Archbishopric.

2012, Articles, Raiati

Mercy / 30.09.2012

The ethical basis, through which the love for the other is applied, is to treat people as we want them to treat us. Equality in treatment is the minimal thing in sentimental and practical encounter. The Lord clarifies this rule as He says: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” In addition to that, you are asked to give more than what you are given. Love is to exert from what you have and to love unlimitedly.

This is what the Lord has expressed by saying: “Love your enemies”. You shouldn’t look for good qualities in others in order to love them. You should love the qualities that one may have or may not. You should love him as he is, in his elevation and in his decline whether you had cordiality towards him or not. You shouldn’t love him because you have gained something from him. You should love him even if he didn’t show you the affection that you were expecting.

Then, Jesus says: “Do good”, without indicating the direction or the form of this act. Charity starts by taking care of the other, by considering his needs especially if he was close to you. If you didn’t know his needs, you must ask him about them and try to manage a way to fulfill them for him. His needs might be materialistic or moral.

If you weren’t able to give him money because it wasn’t available, you could always give him a moral power and a console if he was in sadness or visit him if he was sick. Sometimes, he might prefer other things over money.

Do good; not only verbally but by showing your friendship. Don’t be away from your friend so that he doesn’t think that you left him emotionally. The whole universe is based on affinity. If a person forgot you or pretended that he did, you must initiate and come back to him so that he gains back the warmth and stop feeling isolated. Feeling isolated is a bitter and saddening thing.

Always give others joy so that they don’t feel desperate or fall in a moral adversity. Heal every person you know so that he sees, thanks to you, God’s visage.

The Gospel then ends this passage with the following: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”.

Mercy is the attempt to save someone’s life from all adversities and from the temptation of sins. Mercy is having the capacity to embrace the other to you and to his Lord through you. When a person senses God’s person, he shall not be in hardship anymore. His soul will be able to contain all creations, accept all people and forgive those who have harmed it.

Mercy makes you one with lots of people; it makes others united with God and makes them acquire joy.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الرحمة” –Raiati 40- 30.09.2012

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The Two Testaments / 23.09.2012

The two testaments occupy an important rank in the epistle to the Galatians because this epistle looks for the faith that started with Abraham. On this basis, Paul calls the believers “the sons of Abraham” although most of them aren’t from his offspring. Abraham’s blessing is “for the Pagans through Jesus Christ”. The word “pagans” indicates that Abraham is the father of all nations through their faith in Christ.

Paul assures in this sense that “Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman (Hagar) and the other by the free woman (Sarah)”. Paul uses two expressions: flesh and promise. The son that came from the slave woman was born according to the flesh i.e. without a divine promise. However, the son that was born from the free woman came as a result of a promise. Here, the apostle explains that the two women symbolize two testaments: the first is from Mount Sinai the land of slaves, i.e. Hagar. He explains that Hagar refers to “Mount Sinai in Arabia”. Sinai is a name of a peninsula between Egypt and Palestine.

This Mount corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, which is the center of Judaism, which “is in slavery with her children” because she didn’t recognize the New Testament yet. This Jerusalem has become a normal city as all cities. However, “Jerusalem that is above (and he means here the Church) is free and is our mother”. We come from this mother that gave us birth in Baptism and this Baptism makes us all one in the Church of the Lord.

Paul supports his thought by a phrase from a Book of the Old Testament: “Be glad, barren woman, you who never bore a child”. He also adds in the same sense: “shout for joy and cry aloud, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband”. By this, he refers to the new birth that happens in Christ. Christians can feel joy in Lord Jesus even if they were a minority because they look towards faith, hope and love.

This chapter of the epistle to the Galatians indicates our liberation from the Old Testament and our entrance, with Christ, to a new life. We have become “New creations” and we renew the universe after being renewed in Christ.

This requires liberation from all old things in our behavior, as the Holy Spirit, our comforter, is always poured on us. Although we are made from this body, but our deep truth is that the Holy Spirit makes us the sons of God and not the sons of our mothers and fathers only. After that, we should raise others through our repentance and theirs. We should make the person that believed in Jesus enter the life in Jesus that renews us because He is the ever-new.

The Church becomes new through her sanctified children through the Holy Spirit. In this Church, man is liberated from the old things that were stuck on him and this man becomes belonging to the daily renewed Church through the Sacraments and especially through Christ’s body and blood that makes us according to His image day after day.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “العهدان” –Raiati 39- 23.09.2012

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Unity with Christ / 16.09.2012

“I died to the Law”. Paul’s expression means that I cannot be alive if Moses’ Law was still active. I die to “live for God” in Christ’s power as if I was with Christ when He was crucified. I was with Him, hanging on the cross on which Christ became alive. My unity with Him made Him alive in me.

How could that happen? I should live my life on this earth “by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”. Lord Jesus dwelled in me through His death and resurrection, and this is the source of my faith in Him. He has become everything for me.

However, for this dwelling to continue, I must make an effort. Salvation descends on me from God and I must preserve it with obedience. I must accept it. Therefore, today’s Gospel said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”. If you were a real believer and baptized, you would indicate that you want to follow the Master. He wants to bring his followers to Himself. This doesn’t simply happen through verbal confession but requires man to atone himself, i.e. to stay away from every earthly interest and the authority of his ego, and to ask for Christ’s authority. This is self-atonement and confessing that the Lord has the only authority over the self. If you have accepted Jesus’ teachings, you would be admitting that you want Him to revive you through the Gospel because He is the word of life and the bread descending from above.

After leaving your earthly interests and the pleasures of the world, the Cross would appear in front of you, i.e. the discomforts of life, temptations and doubts. Jesus asks you to carry all these burdens to be able to follow Him. Follow Him to where? He walked towards Golgotha where He met His cross which is the discomforts of the whole world. If you carried your own pains through the tolerance of saints, you would be joining Him in Golgotha and dying and rising with Him. You do not have any other path than Him which He passed towards resurrection. You shall also pass from your path towards your resurrection i.e. to the joy that descends on you from the Holy Spirit.

After that, the Lord says: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it”. This means that you should exert your soul through the efforts that He asks from you. You do all the efforts and not some of them. You do this for Him and for the Gospel i.e. for the Gospel’s effectiveness to appear in you and be transmitted to people so that His light appears in everything they do.

Then, the Master makes His words clearer by saying: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” If a person gained all the money of the world and all the power and authority in it, and his soul became a place for the evil one because of that, he would be getting no good from what he gained.

The aim is for God to gain your soul through the holiness that He wants in you and which you should love, because if you didn’t love holiness, you would necessarily be a sin lover. Holiness and sin cannot be found in the same heart at the same time.

Jesus wants all your powers, gifts and works to be only for His glory. You do not let yourself appear but let Christ’s light appear on your face so that people would come to their Christ and be saved.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الوحدة مع المسيح” –Raiati 38- 16.09.2012

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The New Law / 09.09.2012

Paul’s concern in the Epistle to the Galatians (Asia Minor) was to show that we have gone beyond the Law of Moses and entered the New Testament. He starts the passage that we read today by saying: “See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand”. By this, he means that he took the pen from the writer, whom he used to dictate, and wrote those few words in his own handwriting to show his love for his readers.

Then, he went to another subject, “circumcision”, and noticed that some people in Church that were still insisting on Moses’ Law thought that Pagans converting to Christianity must pass through Judaism first and then get baptized. Paul pictured this for his readers by saying that such people boast about circumcised bodies; he refused that and said: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”.

The world has been crucified for me because I have abolished the world that was subjected to the evil one; he used the word “I crucified”. He also said: “I was crucified”, and this means that the evil world got rid of me by killing me on the cross (morally).

Paul justified his liberation from circumcision and uncircumcision by making them equal as he says: “For in Jesus Christ (i.e. after we have become in Christ), neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything”. All of this means nothing and “what counts is the new creation”, i.e. the creation that is renewed in faith and Baptism.

To “All who follow this rule”, i.e. all who believe in my words or my gospel as he expresses sometimes, he sends peace and mercy and also to the Israel of God which means the new Israel, the Church.

Therefore, don’t trouble me with this controversy “for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus”. By this, he refers to the discomforts that he endured here and there, in addition to the persecutions. I carry the marks of my tiredness and I will continue my path to the cross as the Lord did. Actually, the Roman authorities killed Paul by sword around the year 67 and also killed Peter by crucifixion in the year 65.

After all these theological words, he sends his greetings to the Galatians by saying: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen”.

With this phrase, the epistle to the Galatians is ended, it is one of the deepest epistles theologically and resembles Paul’s epistle to the Romans. What the great apostle wrote is basic for those who love to taste the theology of the New Testament. Paul is the constructor of theological speech in Christianity.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الشريعة الجديدة” –Raiati 37- 09.09.2012

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The Epilogue of the First Epistle to the Corinthians / 02.09.2012

Paul’s style is to end his epistles with practical advices after simplifying the theological words that were the content of his epistle.

In the first epistle to the Corinthians, he starts the last part by saying: “Be on your guard” which means “have vigilance” during the discomforts that the Church faces. Be boisterous, do not compromise with those that are out of our faith; do not mess with sin. Don’t sacrifice anything in faith because every single thing in it is important.

Strive like men that are known to be powerful. Paul doesn’t forget that our power comes from the Holy Spirit but also mentions that we take part with the Holy Spirit in our struggle. God offers salvation and we accept it. After that, Paul doesn’t forget that the core of Christian life is love.

Moreover, the apostle mentions believers that are prominent in service. What does it mean to say that the household of Stephen (his family) “devoted themselves for the service of the Lord’s people”? We cannot confirm that Stephen is a deacon or a clergyman. In this epistle, it isn’t clear if Paul mentions priests or bishops. However, Stephen is at least an active person or a speaker, and Paul also mentions others and honors them “for they have refreshed my spirit and yours also”.

“The Churches in the province of Asia send you greetings”. Using the plural form indicates that he is speaking about several cities next to Ephesus. This proves that Paul, while living in Ephesus for more than two years, has preached the whole region.

Then, he mentions Aquila and his wife Priscilla who played a big role in establishing the Church of Corinth. He delivers their greetings and also mentions the Church that meets at their house and this means that wherever they were, the community meets and have the Divine Liturgy at their house.

“Greet one another with a holy kiss”. This expression is found in more than one epistle and probably refers to the kiss that believers practiced in the Liturgy. Today, this kiss is only practiced among the servants of the altar.

“I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand”. Paul used to dictate what he wants to write to a writer that accompanies him. However, here Paul takes the pen himself to confirm to his readers that he personally loves and remembers them.

He moves on and says: “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed”, i.e. cut from the membership of the Church. Being a member in Church requires a practical love for Lord Jesus.

Finally, he says “Maran Atha” which is an Aramaic expression that Paul wanted to preserve in Greek Letters. It means “the Lord has come” or if you read it “Marana Tha”, then it means “Come, Lord”.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “خاتمة كورنثوس الأولى” –Raiati 36- 02.09.2012

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The Gospel of Paul / 26.08.2012

When Paul speaks about his “Gospel”, he surely doesn’t mean the Four Gospels because those weren’t written at that time. He says to the Corinthians that they have accepted this gospel and through it they take their stand and are saved. It is a complete life and carries a reformation for our behavior. Then, he gives the content of this gospel after saying that he has received it from the first cohort. Its content is that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”.

The word “Scriptures” here means the Old Testament because the New Testament wasn’t put into books yet. The core of preaching is that Christ died, was buried and was risen in the third day and that He appeared for Cephas (Peter) and then to the Twelve. He doesn’t mention when did this happen. Mark says that He appeared for the Eleven but doesn’t mention Peter. John might have agreed with these words in the last chapter of his Gospel. As for the five-hundred that He also appeared for according to the epistle, they weren’t mentioned in the Gospel as the appearing for James also wasn’t mentioned. Therefore, we have different stories for the Lord’s appearances that circulate among the first cohort. After that, Paul says: “then he appeared for me also, as to one abnormally born”; the expression refers to an infant that is born dead.

The reason behind giving himself this name is because he considered himself the least of the apostles because he “persecuted the Church of God”. He refers here to his participation in the killing of Stephen and his trip to Damascus to capture believers.

However, Paul didn’t feel desperate from his previous life even if it did sadden him, so he said: “By the grace of God, I am what I am”. Divine tenderness erases all sins and makes the repentant a new man. Then, he doesn’t only say that grace saved him but also pushed him to work more than everyone. However, after finding that he has a great production or preaching moving between lots of important cities around the Mediterranean he spoke humbly and said: “Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed”. He is one with the apostles because they all had the same content to teach and as a result believers believed. This leads us to say that the apostolic tradition or heritage is one and is expressed differently according to everyone’s gift. Every one speaks in a different way, but all messages are delivered equally in their depth thanks to the One Holy Spirit that inspires different expressions according to the readiness of each apostle and according to his mental level and life experience.

We do not have any kind of descent i.e. a divine dictation. We have inspiration which is a strengthening from the Holy Spirit. An Apostle speaks humanly with his words and divinely through his inspiration.

This is why Matthew has his own words and John too. You have the right to love things in Matthew and other things in John and taste every Evangelist according to your gift. According to this, we understand that Christians have different theological tastes: One could be deep in theology and the other could prefer ethical teachings. These are all gifts that integrate and make the Church united and diverse at the same time. The Lord is glorified through the diversity and unity of gifts in the Holy Spirit.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “إنجيل بولس” –Raiati 35- 26.08.2012

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The Family of the Father / 19.08.2012

This archdiocese consists of small and large villages. Each village has families, and man is attached to his family and has the right to love it. When a person goes beyond the conflicts that occur in families, he would get closer to a large family that Apostle Paul called “the Family of the Father”. Such a family is not based on flesh and blood. The great bond between people isn’t based on blood but on knowing that you and people that relate to you or don’t are sons of God. This is the strongest possible bond between people.

We notice in society that a lot of families confront other families to a great extent. The word “confrontation” in Arabic means that two foreheads are facing each other with their bones being in contact, and this is what creates rivalry. The truth of this scene is that every group of people is a minority and man needs to feel supported especially when he feels the necessity of sharing with others, whether they were related to him or not. Therefore, he gets closer to those who are more related to him, i.e. those whom he meets frequently.

Man doesn’t get closer to someone not related to him except by heart, and the heart is a gift from God. If you loved those who are far from you, the Lord would have captured you and gave you His whiffs and let His Spirit descend on you so that your relationship with others would be poured on you from the Lord. If you didn’t love those who are far, your heart wouldn’t have any divine feeling.

Familial cooperation for a human cause is a beautiful thing. However, if you harmed the other because he has harmed you, you wouldn’t be considering him as a brother. In Christianity, every person is your brother, and you should love him exactly as you love your own brother or sister. Christ died for this person, and Christ’s love is the same for him, for your brother, father or mother; there is no difference. Your brother isn’t closer to you than any other human being. Your brother and the stranger both grow through the Lord’s love that descends on them.

In the rural community, you serve all people, and if a person from your family had a conflict with someone from another family, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be on the side of your relative. You’re on the side of the truth and consultation because you want to fix the souls. If your brother or father made a mistake towards the other, your duty is to let him leave his sin. Your concern is to repair his soul and lead it to the truth and purify it by letting him remember forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the real bond between human beings. Whatever we did wrong, the Lord shall forgive us if we repented. Therefore, in front of God, we are classified as people that forgive or don’t. Hateful people aren’t from god’s family. Through hatred, one separates himself from this family, while through forgiveness you join it.

Families in dispute do not constitute a Christian community. Families that hate each other are not close to God. Social bond is nothing. The bonding of a good spirit with another spirit would make it good too. Families that repair themselves become a Church.

My wish is for villages not to remain villages but become a Church. How could you become an enemy for someone that you share with the Lord’s body? We are one in the Lord. If you understand this, you shall revive.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “عائلة الأب” –Raiati 34- 19.08.2012

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Mary in Glory / 12.08.2012

The Dormition Fast will end soon and we will reach the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos on the 15th of this month. We have fasted in order to earn the Theotokos’ care and affection. This affection was declared by the Savior on the cross where Mary was standing with the disciple that Jesus loved. This disciple heard the Lord say to him: “This is your mother”. This motherhood wasn’t only poured on this disciple but also on every believer that is loved by the Master.

Our sense for the Theotokos isn’t only an emotional feeling towards her but is also the Savior’s will to be her sons, i.e. to have Mary in our spiritual life. Honoring Mary was an order from Jesus. He is the one that declared her motherhood for us.

Believers ask about what happened to her after her death. The divine service uses the word “assumption” in the sense that God let her body ascend to Him. In the year 1950, the Western Church declared that the assumption is related to Mary’s body and soul together and said that this is a doctrine.

We did speak liturgically about Assumption; however we didn’t make it a doctrine. Some theologians accept it and others don’t. The icon of Dormition pictures the virgin sleeping and Jesus next to her carrying her soul in the form of a child covered with white clothes as a sign that she is in heaven. Everything for us shows that she is in glory, like martyrs, and that she intercedes for us as we call her “More honorable than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim”.

The common belief in the Church is that Mary is without stain or corruption, i.e. the Church considers her impeccable and calls her “the bride of God” and stresses on her importance in the Divine Incarnation that was fulfilled through her submission to God’s will that was expressed by the Angel’s annunciation where she said: “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word for me be fulfilled”. The Divine Incarnation demanded her acceptance for Gabriel’s call in order to carry inside her this great mystery and to be an image of the virgin Church as the author of the Book of Revelation thought (Rev 12).

Yes, Jesus is the only mediator between God and people in the sense that He is the only one that fulfilled the salvation. However, saints and especially the Theotokos are also with Him and around Him praying for us. Jesus gave them the power of intercession for our salvation after being loaded by sin.

In the Kingdom, Mary is above any judgment or conviction. Her son has put her next to Him in the Kingdom to intercede for us alongside all other saints.

This is why she is mentioned a lot in liturgical books, and there exist no service that doesn’t speak about her and with her.

Therefore, she has many feasts with the Dormition being the peak of those where we declare that she dwells in the divine glory waiting for us to gain resurrection on the last day and see her glory next to Jesus’ glory.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “مريم في المجد” –Raiati 33- 12.08.2012

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The Faith of Peter / 05.08.2012

The incident that preceded Jesus’ miracle of walking on the water in Lake Tiberias was the incident of increasing the number of bread loaves. There were many people, and Jesus had to let them go, so He ordered His disciples to go to the other side of the lake in order to let the crowd go. After doing so, He went up on a mountainside to pray.

Jesus, in His human nature, used to pray for God the Father. He always used to pray alone as the Son of the Father, nobody was with Him. His words to the Father are different from people’s words. He didn’t have any needs to ask for.

He stayed alone on the mountain, and the boat sailed while being buffeted by the waves deep through the night because the wind was against it. Lake Tiberias is very big (12 Kilometers in length) and wind is probable there.

Jesus met the boat while walking on the lake. And when the disciples saw Him, they didn’t recognize Him so He called them saying: “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid”. Tranquility comes from Jesus if we felt disturbed. Only Christ could take us out of fear, because He is the peace.

After the Lord’s words, Peter replied saying: “Tell me to come to you on the water. ‘Come’, He said”. Peter got down out of the boat and walked on water to come to Jesus. Through Jesus’ power, he was able to do like Jesus, walk on water. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink”. When he was only looking at Jesus, he didn’t feel disturbed by the wind; he didn’t even feel the wind. “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt”. Jesus made peace enter the apostle’s heart so he was again only looking at Christ’s face. Man fears every wind and every weakness that faces him. Only the Savior can make you unaffected by any case of weakness.

When tranquility came back to Peter’s heart, he walked with Jesus to the boat. “And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down”. This means that when Peter felt that he is under Jesus’ protection, he had no more fear.

When the disciples saw the miracle of saving Peter from drowning, they worshiped Jesus, i.e. they confessed that he is their savior from every fear and every fall. “They worshiped Him”, i.e. they confessed that He is the Son of God.

This is the confession that Peter makes after a while: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. This was the disciples’ faith when they were saved from drowning. Peter’s faith is the faith of the community as he is the rock of the Church. Saying that Christ is the Son of the living God is our whole faith. Any other statement is stemmed from it. This is the confession that was adopted by the Nicene Creed in the part that starts with “And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God”.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “إيمان بطرس” –Raiati 32- 05.08.2012

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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

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