1999, Articles, Raiati

2000 / 26.12.1999

We continue mentioning Christmas and its blessings until the end of the year; and today, we focus on the Theotokos, the main companion of this event and the example of every virgin soul that initiates the Lord in this world as St. Maximus the Confessor says. “Christ the Lord”, is what the heaven declared for the shepherds that were moving from a place to another until they found Jesus.

Every one of us moves confused until he settles in the Lord. When he settles, he becomes able to walk wherever he wants and carry his Jesus with him and hope to deliver this Christ to people through witnessing. We continue in our Christmas joy; but what kind of joy is this? Is this a season of gifts, children, and greetings in order to go out from our routine life? Go to where? Go to whom? Is it a real joy when we believe that the new Christ always removes from our souls what has become old and rotten? Did Jesus really become the beautiful thing that’s more precious than our women, kids, properties and hearts? Do we give everything in order to gain him?

In six days, the third millennium will be coming, and humanity will welcome it with lights and games in all world capitals and countries. Millions of dollars were spent in France and consequently billions in Europe because people are hoping for something new for themselves. They might be able to get their money back through tourism, but poor people will stay hungry in the coming New Year.

No one knows what’s hidden in the millennium in order to be happy. There are certain things that we know will happen: Huge progress in informatics, opening of the markets in what is called globalization, easy news arrival for everyone that has a device that receives images (Television and other devices), progress in surgery and medicine, and surely a solution for leukemia and maybe all kinds of cancer.

These are some things that we know we’ll achieve. However, we do not know if hatred between ethnic groups, customs and people would decrease; we do not know anything about civil wars that had increased in the entire world after World War Two. What about the war of cultures? Will it explode? What about hatred between religions? A lot of unknown things await us.

Nevertheless, the known thing is our faith. This is stable if we wanted it to be so because God wants it to stay. The fort of our hearts and principles is our faith and not the third millennium. This millennium is like a container: It can stay empty or you can fill it with a scent. The New Year and century will start in a few days and they will be a gift from God if people would put their efforts in it.

You cannot receive the year or century or the years of the century that you live. You can only fill yourself with Christ and leave in the year or years that your Lord decide. You are the ambassador of Christ, and the ambassador represents his country. Are you really, through your words and behavior, a representative of Christ?

Times that pass have no meaning for the faithful because “A thousand years to you are like one day; they are like yesterday, already gone”. You might have more satisfaction and blessings in one day than in years. Time is nothing; you fill it with grace, kindness and tenderness.

Fill it with silence. “And on earth peace, good will toward men”, by “men” it is meant the people that God is pleased with. God shall be pleased when you do please him. How can you please him? Through faith. Why don’t people believe? Because they seek glory from each other. When you stay away from the lust for power, you shall accept the other, be calm, and encounter him today and tomorrow. You shall both be together in the coming years: This is happiness.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “2000” – 26.12.1999

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1999, Articles, Raiati

The Gossiper / 05.12.1999

Criticize the person in front of him if you were alone, because this is better for his development and his own good; criticize him politely with no over excitement. Do not criticize him in his absence and in the presence of people that would benefit from this criticism unless you were capable of pure analysis that carries no hatred or destruction. In all cases, don’t talk about his defects because you are not free from defects yourself. You often would fall into the guilt that you accused him with, or you have already fallen so you accuse him with it being afraid from repentance. Perhaps the worst thing that happens after that is that you would make people go away from the person that you gossiped about since you would lead these people into despair when they hear that this person has done an obscenity or a robbery …etc.

If evil was so general as you have pictured then who would be able to have hope or remain firm in goodness? I am not saying that you should imagine that everyone is righteous. The bible teaches us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3: 23). However, do not reveal sins in order to avoid making people that seek righteousness and kids that think most people are saints stumble.  Woe not only to those who cause stumbles, but also woe to those who say stumbles. God says: “He shall hide me in his pavilion” (Psalm 27: 5). Like God, we should hide the sins of others. Do not expose yourself too as this will bring no benefit to anyone. Only expose yourself to God through confession; and if anyone revealed to you a sin he did, do not tell him that you do it too because this shall be harmful.

Do not say anything that won’t benefit others and push them upwards towards seeing the divine goodness and love. When you ascend to the high mountains, you take others with you. In this ascension, you need nothing but your faith in that who is sitting up. Talk to people about the Lord so that their grief will go away and their despair about their selves would end. When this happens, they shall regain the faith in their capability of goodness.

Remember this: “Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is able to keep their whole body in check (he means the human entity) … The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell”. This is found in chapter 3 of Apostle James’ epistle. Read the whole passage and think about it and know that silence in a lot of occasions is better than speaking. Silence tames the soul in order to stay away from blabber. Blabber is an internal storm that takes the tongue with it.

Chastity of tongue leads you into all kinds of chastity. There is nothing called a tongue slip; the slip was in you internal anger or hatred or the lust for verbal desire through obscenities. In case of hatred, blabber becomes a mean for killing.

It is real killing when you make others have a bad reputation. You could cause them to get fired from their jobs; you could also cause a divorce or a murder. When you make someone’s reputation bad, it could take them years of effort to regain their good reputation.  When you kill a person, you do it once, while when you make his reputation bad you would kill him every day. After that, you might start believing the things that you say and get desperate through thinking that evil is general. When your tongue is completely purified, you shall walk on the road of hope.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الثرثار” – 05.12.1999

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1999, Articles, Raiati

The Stupid and You / 28.11.1999

Most people are not evil, they are stupid. And stupidity is difficult to cure. However, we have to deal with them, and this needs a lot of patience because the man will remain stupid today and tomorrow. It is difficult to educate him, but it is important to communicate and live with it because your Lord could guide whoever he wants. Descend to his level in order to raise him little by little. He might be enlightened for a moment, so make use of this to give him his consciousness and take him with you towards understanding.

We have no doubt that love carries energy for guidance. Perhaps if he recognized that he is loved, his brain would grow. Do not put off a sparkle that appeared in his mind. Walk step by step perhaps this glance would become glances, however, expect a setback as the stupid loves isolation because he is afraid.

The stupid considers you stupid. Look beyond that because your purpose is to gain him for God. You find the ignorant in all social groups: you find him between the aged and the elder, between the greats of the world, between people in charge. The book of Ecclesiastes talked about that and said: “Woe to you, O land, whose king is a child” (10: 16). The problem is when you are wise, and the person above you is an ignorant. Pray to God so that he doesn’t send you a lot of stupidity.

You will walk for days alone and spend years surrounded by ignorant people, and you will be sad because you cannot do anything but wait for them to die. The problem is that if you were intelligent, your successor might be ignorant. In this case, your memory will be erased from the land of the living. And your experience might be to say with the book of Ecclesiastes: “I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun” (2: 18 – 19).

The book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament has a lot of sadness. However, we, who love Jesus, have only a small place and time for sadness. The truth is that your wisdom doesn’t vanish. Maybe someone you don’t know and have never seen, took from you the light and spread it. However, the scent must be smelled by someone and the light must shine. Do not get desperate from the number of the ignorant. Do not become disturbed because of them. “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life” (John 6: 27). The important thing is not for people to see this. This is preserved for you in heaven, and here, on earth, someone will carry on with the torch.

The world is not a rank always achieved by the intelligent. It is the mixture of those who know and those who don’t, of the people that have good intentions and bad ones, of the pure hearted and the impure ones, of people that love power wanting to shine and the humble people that surround them. And humanity will stay this way until God captures everyone in death.

Yes, it is sad that the world is not white as snow and shining as the sun. Darkness is more spread because “people loved darkness over light”. This shouldn’t lead you to despair, because you don’t work for someone but for your Lord that sees your humility in secret and declares you a bright man in the last day.

One of your condolences is that the stupid are better than the evil. The evil have the intelligence of demons and will follow their demons. Continue your journey alone in Christ’s brightness. Follow his face to reach the Father’s face in the last day where stupidity vanishes and God’s wisdom becomes in you and in all Saints.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “مع المسيح صلبتُ” –Raiati no48- 28.11.1999

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1999, Articles, Raiati

A Return to Parish Councils / 21.11.1999

An objector to this title might say: Your eminence, we would be exaggerating if we talked a lot about parish councils. My answer would be: Isn’t it an exaggeration to be worried by some villages with this story? I am starting a story now. A while ago, I was sitting with the faithful in a civilized village where a lot of people got educated in colleges. And I had assigned, days before, its parish council. An enlightened young man initiated towards me and criticized the incomplete representation, and objected saying that mixing opinions was not wide enough. He also reminded me that I should have been more precise in the issue.

I tried to clarify that this incompleteness comes from the law before coming from my administration or from my assistant that prepares the lists. What does the “agreement between the parish and shepherd” mean? Who would be the mouthpiece of the parish if the parish didn’t express through electing, i.e. through democratic referendum?

I suggested this process and a lot objected saying that it strengthens conflicts as the municipality elections in another village did. In addition to the difficulty of gathering people and electing and the name lists…etc. The question that results from the law is the following: Who are those that the bishop should take their opinions? Are they the heads of houses? Why the heads and not their children who might sometimes have more jealousy towards the church and a greater commitment? Moreover, are families the nucleus of the Church? And is this our teaching? Or it is that every individual is a member in the body of Christ without passing through his family? Do we surrender in front of the familial approach?

I confess that we need a lot of wisdom and slowing down in our selection. Although we are trying to do this, we never get a council that satisfies all the faithful. We must do mistakes in selecting people sometimes because we are not from the locality and we don’t live in it. Perhaps changing one third of the members every two years, as it was stated in the law before being edited, achieves a greater equilibrium and limits mistakes. I believe that nothing prevents us from sticking to the old law in managing this issue in the archdiocese without editing the text. Also nothing prevents the bishop from cancelling a council before the four years pass if he saw that this is better to calm feelings down and to ward off dangers.

There is no perfect law on this earth. Laws vary in their badness. But the beautiful thing is that people with pure hearts and that can criticize constructively can deal with the existing council with its incompleteness and weakness if it didn’t have real bad people. Perfect people are not from this world. We desire to have them, but they are a wish. The jealous and pure people are a support to the council and an enforcement for it at the same time; they are a power that puts a pressure on the council. A believer doesn’t quit from monitoring the responsible and from giving them advices and revealing their mistakes for us and encouraging them when they should. Church issues are given to all the faithful together. Changing doesn’t mean being ungrateful to someone. It is only a try to train people to work and strengthen them in the spirit of responsibility.

Therefore I hope that you accept the assigning that happens so that you don’t make me give a lot of my time to the issue of councils which is very tiring. Accept the assigning if it wasn’t a tragedy so that our selection would be more mature in the coming four years and cooperate in service and in giving new opinions through the spirit of creativity and sacrifice.

The important thing in all of this is to renew your minds and to focus on the essential thing which is helping the priest, enhancing his situation, serving the poor, spreading spiritual education, fighting the enemies of faith if they penetrated into you, investing in church property in a scientific way, having transparency in the accounts, writing reports, controlling the records and thinking about enhancing all facilities so that the service won’t be blamed as the apostle says.

Let us leave the spirit of complaining and nagging which is a lesion in our country and go to the spirit of cooperating to build the body of Christ and to reject familial conflicts. Do not mix political parties with Church issues. This partisan that differs from you in the policy of the nation might have good morals and be a lover of God. Church gathers the faithful in Christ even if they differed in earthly issues. The only law that unites us is the law of love.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “عودًا إلى مجلس الرعيّة” –Raiati 47-

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “عودًا إلى مجلس الرعيّة” –Raiati 47- 21.11.1999

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1999, Articles, Raiati

Organ Transplant / 24.10.1999

Is organ transplant ethically allowed? When a transplant happens between two living people, it would be an act of love if the removal of the organ doesn’t cause a real and direct danger on the donor. He should also not take a cost or price in exchange because this means that we are selling something from our body and this wouldn’t be an act of love. A living person might decide to donate an eye out of his two eyes or a kidney for a relative or friend. However, if one of the kidneys was ill and the healthy kidney was given, the donor might die.

The common question concerns heart donation (and the heart donation surgery was successfully done in Lebanon recently). Donation happens within few hours after death. I can say that there is no religious obstacle regarding this issue, and there is no need to argue saying that the body will rise in the last day. Man might be burned or eaten by whales or completely destroyed. However, he still rises in the last day. A corpse is something different than the spiritual body that we will turn into. The removal of the eye, kidney or liver from the body will not change anything in the human entity that is looking for eternal life.

For the apostle has said:”you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else… So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable… it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body”. Paul the apostle also continues by saying: “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15).

We believe that the earthly body will be transformed because it inherits the divine glory, and this means that it doesn’t remain a biological entity exposed to food and reproduction (people will neither marry nor be given in marriage). If the whole body vanishes in earth and is still sent by God in a miraculous unknown way, then what prevents the donation of an organ that will be transferred into another person that will also vanish in earth eventually?

On the contrary, I recommend organ donation as a mercy towards those with ill bodies. They are our brothers, and we are able to save them from large disabilities or from death. Human sharing continues this way. You make people that need help become thankful and give them happiness.

Donation requires the presence of a written will. Without this will, it would be a violation of the sanctity of the dead. If you had this in your will (donation), you shall become an offering. This is better than the money you leave for the inheritors. You would be ending your life with obvious love.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “زرع الأعضاء” –Raiati no43- 24.10.1999

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1999, Articles, Raiati

Friendship / 10.10.1999

When the Lord met Judas on the Mountain of Olives, where the disciple said to Him while kissing Him: “Greetings, Rabbi!”, the Lord told him to do what he came for. This is an ironic answer by Christ resulting from His pain because of the fake kiss, for a friend does not betray. And when Christ met Peter after the Resurrection, He asked him: “Do you love Me more than these?” Here it seems like He is blaming Peter for his ingratitude and reminding him that a friend cannot be ungrateful. And when He realized that Peter has repented and when the latter revealed his repentance through love, the Lord restored the apostolic dignity which Peter had lost.

Friendship is a special aspect of love resulting from a union between two souls. It starts with harmony between two persons, and stabilizes when they are convinced that they share the same values which stem from God, for without God there could be no real and sincere affection. Without God, there would benefits, politics and exploitation; and those who exploit each other are a gang. Members of a gang betray each other. In this regard, the church is very tough regarding Judas during the Holy Week, for it calls him the betrayer.

Love links us to all people, serving them all regardless of any affection. We offer love to those who are in need of it, but we might forget them. As for friendship, it is a kind of love representing the fruit of a profound harmony in terms of vision, preferences and the common quest for a righteous issue.

Friendship is gratuitous. Neither of the two friends will feel that he owes the other. If a friend offers you a great affection and blessings, he would be thanking you for accepting and would not expect compensation. A friendship’s greatest affection is that it gives without recompense, for it does not imply sex or power. It is similar to God’s love for us. It does not involve judging the other’s thoughts or examining their intention, for it “believes all things.” And since it has no intent except in itself, it symbolizes purity and candor.

Its most significant comfort lies in the fact that it gets you out of your isolation. You might feel as if you are oppressed and exiled from others’ hearts. In such times, only your friend would be there for you. One of a friend’s main qualities is that he would defend you if you were attacked. Your friend should also act as the following description states: “Your friend is the one who is sincere with you and not the one who believes you.” Why does your friend tell you the truth? because he wants you to be fully right and not to be wrong. If he wants to mend you, he does not underestimate you like your enemies, but he would rather do it in a humble way for he does not consider himself better than you. He mends you for he knows you more that you do, and you cannot see your own self for it is veiled by blinding desire.

Your friend is the one who accepts you as you are, with all your weaknesses, but he undertakes before God to make you improve. And because you know his virtues, you will improve without worry for you have a resort you can count on in hardship. He does not expect any compensation, for you share everything. He has entered your heart so that there would be no difference between you and him, or between his money and yours. Also, when one of you borrows money from the other, you will know that if you spend your money or if he does, it is the same.

In view of the greatness of friendship, it should be nourished by attention and care, so that it becomes heaven on earth.

Translated by Amani Haddad

Original Text: “الصداقة” – Raiati no 41. 10.10.1999

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Mercy / 03.10.1999

The Gospel reading for today is a part of the Sermon on a plain, as described by Luke, which is parallel to the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Mathew. The part that constitutes the Gospel of toady starts as follows: “Just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” If you want goodness, justice, compassion and love for yourself, give the other all these. Hence, you are making him equal to you, just as God has made you equal to him. Before you love him, try to avoid all that harms him: mistrust, gossip, lying, slander, hatred and so on.

Afterwards, you show him goodness. Do not await anything from him. Expect abuse from many people, expect them to be unfair. Take the initiative and love them, so you shall advance and they shall be healed. Do not care if someone hurts you, for if you were highly sensitive, you will be hurt incessantly. Instead, you will feel sad for the other, and you will wonder why he did what he did.  Rare are those who can remain steadfast. If someone hurts you, do not forget that, first of all, he has hurt himself and has sinned. The Christ died for him, thus he is invaluable. You shall have one concern: to bring him back to the Lord so that he can be healed. His unfairness does not make you lose anything. Your value lies in you or in the Christ, and it can never be taken away from you despite all the harm you would encounter.

          No one can ever overthrow your peace. Only you can cause yourself to be in trouble, and only hatred can send you down to hell. You have to act and you must act, but by righteous means. Not by slander. You can argue, and defend your positions courageously and forcefully, yet in a peaceful manner. You oppose the other’s arguments, but you do not refuse him. You hate sins, not sinners; for God loves the sinners as He loves the righteous.

          You are a healer for those who hate you. You shall not take part in hatred. The solution is not to reject those who have hurt you, for this will erase neither your sadness nor their rancor. It is your responsibility to show your enemy the path back to God. For this reason, you shall neglect your hurt pride and get him reconciled not only with you, but also with himself and with God.

          Always remember that the liars and those who have an eager desire for money and distinction abhor you because of your fondness for the truth, for you threaten their interests. Being unable to kill you or fearing the punishment of crime, they have an alternative way to kill you; slander that drives you to despair of them and of life. If your sadness led to the rupture of your relations and to isolation, you would be giving them the chance to reach their goals and continue their transgressions. It is only through mercy that you can vanquish hatred and anger.

          This conclusion marks the ending of the Gospel reading: “Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Jesus here sheds light on one of the aspects of God. It means that God is very lenient and that He welcomes all His sons. You shall not expel anyone away from your heart. Make it as wide as God’s heart.

Translated by Amani Haddad

Original Text: “الرحمة” – Raiati no40- 03.10.1999

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1999, Articles, Raiati

Lying / 05.09.1999

Honesty is bravery; it is the faith in the power of God that is enough to protect you. Honesty is a must in order not to harm others. Lying might not harm the other sometimes, but could only harm the liar himself. The liar thinks that he is avoiding trouble through lying, and this might work for one or several times. However, he will eventually fail when he will be caught. The question remains: Are white lies that don’t harm anyone allowed? Actually it is always harmful as the liar would be stunted when he escapes from confrontation. Our fathers gave one exception as they said that lying is allowed in one case and it is when honesty could be harmful, and they gave an example which is when you are hiding with you a scared person that is chased by criminals. In this case you are allowed to say: “This criminal is not with me”.

Of course, when you have been told a secret you should keep it. For example, if you knew about a lethal sickness that the doctor hid from the patient, or if you knew secrets related to a marriage, these are matters where you should be discreet.

Honesty makes you a reference for people because they would feel secure concerning you and your treatment to them. This security that people would feel carries peace and healthy relationships.

What does lying in words mean? It is when you know the truth and say the opposite. You can hide the truth from a person that has no right to know it, but you can’t hide anything from the responsible. You can’t hide it from the political authority when you know something related to national security for example, or from the spiritual authority if you knew that a parish is being harmed through dishonesty regarding its financial management or that there is a disturbance that could harm the parish or the priest. The person that is responsible for reforming has the right to know what is going on.

Lying could also occur without any words. There is a lying position or situation. He who betrayed the country, damaged an interest or ruined his family life is in a situation of lying. He is taking a lying route. The writer of the Psalms said concerning this: “I hate every path that leads to lying”. The book of Proverbs talks about a gift of lying. Also, the book of revelation while talking about the heavenly church says: “Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty”. Therefore, there is an act of lying. Prophet Jeremiah confirms this when he says: “everyone deals falsely”.

There is also the lying oath and the lying prophecy. The lying witness destroys people’s families, reputations and interests. The Lord says about the devil that he is “a liar and the father of the liar”.

Lying is one of the dangerous whims and the only way out of it is through Christ. If you had this weakness, ask honesty from Christ. Try to be like him, he who talked the Pharisees and Scribes with honesty while they were endangering him. In his trial he was not afraid from the Jewish High Priests and told them that he is the Son of God and didn’t hide the truth that cost him his life.

Honesty made all Christian generations go to martyrdom. They were able to stay alive if they blasphemed, but because their honesty made them die, we are able to live today. We live on their testimony that consolidated the church.

Honesty in words, position, and testifying is the power of the Savior in us. He, who wants Jesus, should behave like Jesus did.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الكذب” – 05.09.1999

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The Orthodox Movements Association / 08.08.1999

In the late 1940s, Fr. Alexander Schemann (Russian) met with Nikos Nisiotis (Greek) and the writer of these lines in Europe after feeling that the movements of Orthodox youths around the world need to have more unity and coordination. We launched the idea in a bigger meeting in the suburbs of Geneva. We called this movement “Syndesmos”, which means “the bond”, and we took this name from the expression “bond of peace” that Paul used in Ephesians 4: 3.

It includes now 120 youth movements in addition to Theological institutes from fifty countries. The movement was blessed by the heads of all our churches. The Association revived preaching in pagan nations. It supported Orthodox unity and supported the faithful to have Holy Communion. It also took care of environmental issues. The general assembly meets every four years to elect its administrative body and choose the subjects it suggests on the movements to study.

The last general assembly was held between 15 and 25 July in the Transfiguration monastery, Valamo (Finland). Around 250 delegates came from all over our East, Europe, America and Africa, in addition to representatives from the Oriental Churches (non-Chalcedonic). They were distributed into groups that studied secularism, ecclesiastic traditions and habits, liturgical language, inter-Christian dialogue, social service, laics in Church, Ethical values, Theological institutes, and Orthodoxy & Environment. We were around ten from the Antiochian Church. A president, general secretary and a helping staff were elected. Then, a group went as pilgrims to Russia, to the old Monastery of Valamo situated on the Ladoga Lake next to Petersburg.

The atmosphere of the monastery was amazing in an area of 300 Hectares of land. It is visited by many pilgrims coming from the Orthodox Church of Finland that has around sixty thousand Finnish believers in addition to 150 thousand foreigners (Greeks, Bulgarians, Romanians…). It is a very active Church that has a kind of autonomy under the Patriarchate of Constantinople (i.e. the Ecumenical Patriarchate agrees on the election of the Archbishop while the local Council elects the bishops of the Archdioceses and runs the issues of the Church without going back to Constantinople). Orthodox Theology is taught in an independent faculty that is a part of the state university. All of their priests are intellectual. Piety is obvious. Their liturgical style in performing and composition is Russian because Finnish Orthodox believers were a part of the Church of Moscow before the Russian Revolution. They have a lot of energy and no complex of minority (knowing that we are only 1% of the Finnish people).

This fusion between the youths of all around the world was beautiful. We used many languages because of the presence of many nations. Of course, some of the representative groups were more open and flexible such as the Antiochian group, and in comparison with those some conservative closed tendencies appeared. However, the Orthodox unity was obvious.

The importance of this association is that it is a tool of revival in Churches; it spreads its thoughts in the Orthodox world which is one world distributed into regional units. Here, we have a geographic unit that includes all Arabic youth movements between the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. We hope that the influence of the Syndesmos would become stronger between our Churches and become heard by the spiritual authorities. Perhaps the coming four years would give all our Churches more whiffs from the Divine Spirit.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “رابطة الحركات الأرثوذكسية” –Raiati no32- 08.08.1999

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1999, Articles, Raiati

Getting Ready for Communion / 01.08.1999

There is no doubt that communion isn’t only a right for the believer in every liturgy but also a duty. The attendance towards communion became great when believers understood that they cannot become complete without it. It is their heavenly bread and the source of their eternal life. However, the encounter with Jesus is a responsible encounter based on our love and commitment for him. It is a process that requires an awareness regarding the greatness of the encounter and the depth of the love that it carries. In simpler words, the condition for this communion is repentance and the intention to leave sin and eagerness to stay with the Lord forever.

One of the ways of getting ready is staying without food since dawn. This preparation is fear in the sense: “With fear of God draw near”. He who didn’t plan to be a better person after the liturgy must abstain himself from receiving the Lord’s body. The person that is preparing a sinful plan or that is intending to stay in his hatred and bad relationships and lies isn’t concerned with the call of the priest: “With fear for God and faith and love draw near”.

If your heart wasn’t moved for Christ and you didn’t ask his friendship and intimacy, do not stand in the line of those who are approaching communion. Since the night that precedes the liturgy, you should stay alone with the Lord through prayer and holy readings. Among these prayers, there is the “metalipsis”, which is a collection of prayers that are read after the Small Compline and that contain meanings of repentance, piety and asking for forgiveness. And before going to Church, it is necessary to say any prayer (you can make it up) in which you tell the Lord that you are going to him.

If you arrived very late to the liturgy, this means that you are not interested in it. Therefore, do not have communion. You should attend the whole divine service since “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father…” and it is also better to participate in the Matins service in order to hear the meanings of resurrection which elevate your soul through resurrectional chants. How could you approach Christ’s divine blood before becoming paschal through tasting His triumph?

Communion isn’t a Sunday habit. We do not get used to things. We are always with Jesus in a renewed love. We receive Him on Sunday as if it is our first time. You cannot become a new man if you didn’t accept Him as a new dawn, as if you were baptized today. If you passed by the liturgy as if it is a group of consecutive segments with a tone that you like, i.e. if you were shallow to this extent, how could you approach such a fearful food?

You can find fondness with Jesus, but you can only earn this after fatigue. If your heart didn’t experience tears and if you weren’t stained with your tears, then you are a dry person, and dry people do not accept Christ in His tenderness. If you didn’t understand that the Lord is the whole life, you should abstain yourself.

Was your heart covered with silence and crowned with mercy? Did you stay away from the noise and glow of lust in you? Did you deny yourself from all the whispers of the devil and pushed him away from you? Did you love the divine lover? If you did so, approach while feeling fear towards your salvation and asking for mercy from your Lord and being crushed to the extent of disappearing in front of the Lord’s feet. If you weren’t in this situation, then you do seem close but you wouldn’t have approached the Lord’s heart, you wouldn’t have been thrown in His bosom. Be fearful, then feel secure and come.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الاستعداد للمناولة” –Raiati 31- 01.08.1999

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