2004, Articles, Raiati

Worthless Glory / 14.11.2004

If we said that there is a worthless glory, this means that there is also a “real glory” too. The Lord has said to the Pharisees: “How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comesfrom the only God?” (John 5: 44). There is a glory that descends to you from above if you believed, and there is another glory that comes to you from your money, political position or car. We say that it is a worthless glory because it is empty in the eyes of those that know God.

There are great things such as education that might become of this worthless glory if we bragged about it. You shouldn’t feel proud about any virtue you have, the credit is not given to you, for if you recognized this virtue you should thank God. If a person felt some emptiness, he tries to fill it through shallow social life in order not to feel that he is cancelled from existence.

For women, this worthless glory could be strengthened through fancy food that they prepare and serve in parties. Wearing expensive clothes could also be a reason for pride although they were designed and sewed by someone else.

In front of this fact, how could a person differentiate between loving the worthless glory or divine glory? This is how this differentiation happens: If you live in order for people to see you or your car or castle, or if you wanted to please them, then you have fallen in the worthless glory. While, if you insisted to been seen from God, and to please him, then you are in the real glory.

The difference between people isn’t that someone sells vegetables while the other is a giant factory owner, because the small seller could be arrogant and the owner could be humble.  The question here is the following: Are you requesting God? Or your power, status and glorification from people? If you think that your value increases when you meet a great employee or a minister, then you don not believe in your dependent existence. This existence’s value doesn’t increase unless it was in a relation with the pure. He who gave you a noble creation, strengthened your faith and condoled you through spiritual comfort, has given you a treasure that surpasses all the treasures of the world. What descends to your from God is the only thing that has any value.

What changes in you if your resources decreased or you health weakened or you lost a social position? If you believed that nothing decreases from you if all of these things disappear, then you are on the right track asking God’s satisfaction. However, if you become real sad when you lose something, this means that your request is this world.

An example of the worldly things that has become in control of some “high class” environments is killing time through long evenings. This reminds me of a dinner I was invited to in the United States. We started at half past six and finished one hour later; everyone said goodbye and went to his evening program. In Lebanon they say that dinner starts at nine; you come at the specified time but you have to wait for others an hour or more. The dinner might not start before half past ten or even later and doesn’t end until midnight or later. This way, you lose a minimum of three hours, and you won’t be able to read a book after this time or even sleep comfortably. All of this is worthless glory.

The opposite of this is living simply in virtue. In this living you don’t claim that you know everything and don’t search in what you don’t understand and especially you don’t repeat what you read in the newspaper. For if you didn’t know something, silence is better; and if you did know a lot, your listeners might not be able to understand so do not spread your knowledge because this would also be worthless glory. In all cases, silence saves you from being mistaken.

However, you can’t achieve this calm behavior unless you were humble in a way that makes you feel that you are nothing. If you recognized your gifts, give the credit to God. Then, God’s glory will descend on you and you’ll become a divine creature without knowing it.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “المجد الباطل” – 14.11.06

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‘I have Been Crucified with Christ’ / 24.10.2004

Christianity is not just a book. Early Christians lived at least for forty years before writing the first Gospel, and sixty years before the Gospel of John appeared. The apostles, with no doubt, memorized a lot of Jesus’ words and used to say them to the faithful orally. However, they also read the epistles of Paul who was martyred around 65 A.C.  They took Jesus’ spirit from Paul and the core of his teaching. They became attached to the living person of Jesus who resurrected from the dead. The apostles based our faith on the love for Jesus. Therefore, Paul said in today’s epistle: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2: 20).

Christianity is based on this particularity that the life of Jesus the resurrected from the dead is poured on his followers if they depended and believed in him. As he was crucified, sin was deadened, and death was abolished, this way I shall stay away from sin. This is my cross. I don’t abolish sin, but he does in me. “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”. I was in his depths when he was crucified; therefore, I have been crucified.

After that he says: “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”. Paul took the expression “he gave himself for me” from the Gospel of John even before it was written, i.e. he took it through recurrence. For John has said: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. Here, the author of the epistle to the Galatians, which we are talking about, confirms that the Law of Moses doesn’t give life. It is commands that you can’t implement, and violating them exposed your misery. Now, and without the justification of the Law, Christ justifies you and when he does he glorifies you. Therefore, Paul combined all these meanings as he says: “The life I now live (i.e. the life in the Holy Spirit) in the body (i.e. in my entire entity)”, have come from God and I live it. But how do I live it? I shall live it if I believed in the Son of God (“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” as Peter confessed).

The Son of God loved me, and he didn’t use the word “loved us” in plural. Every one of us should believe that he has become God’s beloved one in Jesus Christ. As Christ is God’s beloved one in essence and eternity, I shall become God’s beloved one in the grace that Jesus revealed to me through his death and resurrection.

What kind of treatment there is between me and the Son of God? He loved me, and I should know that. My faith in him is my faith in his love for me that he showed and personated through death.

What’s the common thing between us, Christians? It is our faith in Jesus. What does this faith mean? It means that I believe that he died for me and then resurrected. Christianity is the attachment to the person of Christ considering him the Savior. Yes, he is the savior of the world. However, he is my personal savior too. I join him in baptism in which I die and revive with him and become risen from spiritual death from now and risen from physical death when the resurrection comes. Nevertheless, the Lord wants you to activate your baptism and stay always deadening the sin in you; and when you become liberated from it, you shall feel that you are risen, alive and victorious with him.

But this continuous resurrection requires from you, in addition to faith, a joint effort to escape from sin first and then live through righteousness, the Word, and through continuous prayer in your home, on the road and in divine services. You shall not only walk towards Christ through these, but also walk in him as if he is a sea you swim in. This is the living faith that martyrs died for. This is the faith that makes you transfer it to others by giving them the Word and by good deeds.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “مع المسيح صلبتُ” –Raiati no43- 24.10.2004

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Miracles Today / 03.10.2004

Jesus promised that miracles will happen after his time on earth: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16: 17–18). Also, the Book of Acts narrated several miracles done by the apostles. The power of Christ is transferred to us through the Holy Spirit. This process isn’t limited in saints but also living people have made miracles. God interferes in the existing order of the universe, however He doesn’t restrict it.

As for the way this happens – i.e. the way a blind’s eye becomes a healthy one – the Lord didn’t give us knowledge about that. If something occurred, we notice it without knowing how it happened. Nevertheless, spiritual authorities do not declare, normally, whether that happened or not. Doctors might confess that something has happened and that they have no scientific explanation for it. They confess that especially in illnesses of organs such us the healing of previously closed veins or cancer. However, doctors do not usually give importance for neurotic diseases such as paralysis because they know that many of these are related to psychological reasons. The Church isn’t a faculty of medicine and rarely speaks about such things that happen.

In this sense, questions could be asked about “miraculous icons”. We are not talking about anything other than icons because in our Orthodox Church art we only have those. In all Orthodox countries they say about an icon that it is miraculous. However, theologians say something different. They say that every icon is miraculous because the Lord uses it to heal the person that prayed in front of it; this means that there is no specific icon that carries a power of healing.

Also, the Holy Book doesn’t want us to exaggerate in our interest in miracles. There are three decisive sayings that cool down our fever for miracles. The first one is: “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12: 39–40). Yes, Jesus didn’t limit his signs in his resurrection, but it is the sign of signs as it is the greatest among all his miracles and among all miracles that will occur in Church’s history. The second saying of Jesus is: “Believe because of the words I have said or else believe because of the miracles” (John 14). Here, Jesus assures that his words are more important than all miracles and that excessive busyness in miracles indicates weakness in faith. The third sentence is Apostle Paul’s saying: “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1Corinthians 1: 22–23). Christ himself is the one we should preach about and not spend times narrating stories about miracles.

If you saw a miracle and told a person who didn’t believe it, he is free and you cannot accuse him of having a weak faith. Your and his reference is what was written in God’s book and the Orthodox faith in general. If you told him that the virgin has appeared to someone, he is also free not to believe. After Christ, nothing bounds us other than what He said and what the Church said about Him.

People love supernatural things and the Church is cautious towards such things. However, if a miracle happened to you, then it is a message to you from God and it carries no meaning if it didn’t lead you to repentance. A miracle is a personal bond between you and the Lord and could be a bond between the Lord and other people too.

The Divine Word is the only fixed thing. You receive it, and if you understood it in a right way it would save you. Anything else needs a lot of preciseness.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “العجائب اليوم” –Raiati 40- 03.10.2004

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Anger / 05.09.2004

Saint Basil the great teaches us that a person must use his voice in the volume required to be delivered for others; any higher volume would be considered screaming. The Lord used to reprove but he didn’t shout. This is why Matthew has said about him: “No one hears him shouting in the streets”. When you are sitting with a person, there is no need to shout. This person that’s sitting with you is waiting for some sense from you, and this won’t be delivered better through shouting.

The person that hears you shouting would consider you his enemy, even if your words were polite. He would always get harmed from the loud voice. Any angry action is a refusal of the other, and might make him feel humiliated and sense pride in you. Therefore, Paul asked his disciple Timothy not to rebuke an older man (1Timothy 5: 1). In this sense I say: Do not rebuke the poor; they would feel that you despise them. Yes, you should reprove people in some situations, but this shall happen through tenderness and clemency. If your brother was mistaken towards you, punish him for the sake of his reformation, because you are not against him. You are against his sin because God loves the sinner too.

Anger is aggression, therefore the Lord said: “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sisterwill be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5: 21). Anger is a kind of harming. When you show the sinner his sin calmly, he shall feel that you are directing him. While if you spoke in a loud voice, he shall feel that you are releasing your anger into him and that you do not want to help him.

You must know that the angry person usually doesn’t have control over his tongue; therefore, bad voices come out of him and his heart pulse isn’t stable and you might feel that a strange power that is not from God dwells in him. He might, sometimes, use physical violence and his mental ability might be weakened. He loses his good judgment of things, his words start attacking like large rock, and you wouldn’t be able to convince him in anything because he’d be too busy marginalizing you.

Fear the hidden anger that can’t be expressed through the tongue. This anger might be more dangerous and wicked than the obvious one.

In order to reach calmness, never speak when you feel that a power is ascending from your chest to your throat in order to explode, do not speak and stay comfortable. Immediately, pray silently for couple of minutes and pray for the person that’s in front of you and causing your anger. Forget the insult if he insulted you; forget his annoyance, his lying, his refusal, and do not return his evil through making your voice loud, because if you loved him in that moment and if you forgave him for his weakness and embraced him to your heart, you cannot get angry.

You are allowed to rebel the evil that you see, but evil cannot be healed through evil. Direct the person that made you angry to the good attitude because your goal is to reform him and not take revenge. Do not put an obstacle in front of another. Strike the thickness of the person that made you angry through humbleness that comes from the Holy Spirit.

Gandhi’s friends once told him: “Why do you preach us about nonviolence? Your friend Jesus took the whip and struck the pigeon sellers and the exchangers”. Gandhi replied: “Jesus was always humble. If you were able to be humble all the time, I would then allow you to be violent”. What is meant here is that the angry person loses his humbleness while being angry.

You must stay independent from what surrounds you and free from the evil that you see. Always think about what could help the sinner spiritually and lead him calmly to his own calmness. Make peace with yourself; this requires continuous praying. If your biggest deformity was anger, then ask God to save you from it. Focus in your prayer on this request. If you thought that the person coming towards you would make you angry, start praying immediately as he arrives. When you argue about an issue, do not stick to small ideas and to defending an issue that might not be correct.

You shall achieve the great calmness when you get liberated from all desires. The lust for money, the body, notability, power… is a direct reason for anger. When you stick to any of these desires, you’d certainly get angry and defend the desire when someone prevents you from accomplishing it. Internal peace is a condition for the peace of speech and expression. When your voice gets loud, be sure that you didn’t get liberated yet from desire. When you know your desire and strike it, your tongue shall stay away from shouting.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الغضب” – 05.09.2004

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Lust for Money / 29.08.04

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “شهوة المال” – 29.08.04

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Circulation of Service / 22.08.2004

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Mark Najjar

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

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Modesty / 8.8.2004

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الحشمة” – 8.8.2004

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The Defect in Parish Councils / 20.06.2004

I started to have a tendency to believe that the law of councils that organizes us doesn’t suit an archdiocese of villages and the reason behind that is the crises of the villagers and their familial and personal conflicts. I have spoken a lot about this but we didn’t have any progress in many parishes. The thing that controls minds is that the council must represent families but when the spiritual authority used to have two or three representatives, it didn’t include all families. Families have their village policy and a history of their conflicts and this must stay on the boundary of the Church because you must enter the Church repentant, i.e. free from past attachments and from the collisions of your family with others.

And the more important thing is that you are an individual in the ecclesiastic community and you don’t enter this community coming from your parents. You enter Church from your piety and power to serve and you unite with your fellows through your piety and theirs and through this, you become one.

I don’t want to analyze the reasons behind the crack in our parishes. This is an issue studied by sociologists and I don’t want to look backwards. “I Forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead” as Apostle Paul says. If the bishop called you to be enlisted for Christ’s service through the parish council “do not consult any human being” as the apostle also says, but cooperate inside the council as it was assigned. You might not like the list of people and I don’t think that we could get perfect people. We might miss out on great faces that no one told us about. We might not succeed in finding equilibrium between families as tribal people want. For God’s sake, show me a way to find the best people. And even if they were the best, they might still not be in harmony with others and work will be delayed.

You might also not like the priest, but I have no other priest and another priest might also not be liked by others. I cannot fabricate priests and very few people, having the required qualities, offer themselves. We are in a constant quest to send students to the theology institute and we have nine students now.

Wisdom says that you should deal with the existing priest if he didn’t commit terrible mistakes that the law punish him for. You are also with the existing bishop, and you can tell him your remarks. He is present to hear these remarks.

If we wanted to create councils that don’t make us tired, this requires unlimited love and a humility that excludes tyrannical opinions because the thing that rules our church life is consultation, distribution of responsibilities, money and record control and everything related to that, and patience that has no value unless we worked according to the Lord’s commandment: “everyone who endures to the end will be saved”. If any of you felt that he doubts the other and his righteousness and loyalty, blame each other with love and let those that have their opinions and didn’t have doubts make the judgment. Complete your issues between each other and do not knock the archbishopric’s door to interfere in details. Do not come to the archbishopric as if it is a court. The bishop has more important things to do than to judge between people whose love weakened and patience decreased.

Call the Holy Spirit sincerely before the meeting so that he inspires you with what is good, with good talking, right thinking and everything that gives good things to your parish and do not forget to enhance the living of the priest and the status of the poor who is the first between us. Do not stack your money waiting for future projects while having among you hungry people, sick people and children in schools. These are people and are more important than stones. If you loved the parish that you serve with the priest, the parish shall notice that and give generously.

One of you might see that the project wanted by the majority is not the best project. Don’t be sad if he committed a mistake and do not become separated from those who voted with him. This world tolerates the right and wrong. Nothing justifies sadness and sulk that are spread among us. Be one in the love of Jesus Christ and the brothers.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الخلل في مجالس الرعية” –Raiati 25- 20.06.2004

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Jewish tendencies in the West / 09.05.2004

Many western theologians are charmed by Judaism and Jews. One of the great pontiffs called the Jews “older brothers”. They consider that the Old Testament still legitimizes Jews to be God’s people although our fathers have all said that the Church is the new Israel and that the legitimate covenant is now between God and the Church through Jesus’ blood.

This approach exists since exactly ninety years; however it became clearer after the Jews’ massacre during Hitler’s era in World War Two. This massacre created complications for western Christians although only one man committed it. Western Christianity, in clear texts, has condemned racial differentiation and also condemned the slaughter of these Jews. How could one incident, regardless of its cruelness that can’t be imagined, make such a deviation in western theology from what we inherited from our holy fathers knowing that our theological positions are based on God’s word only and not on a certain incident?

One of the signs of this Jewish tendency is a document from the Second Vatican Council in mid sixties that said “For what happened during the Savior’s passions we cannot blame all Jews in that time or the Jews of our time”. Our response to this is that the bible wasn’t interested in exonerating any group from the aspect of the penal code, and its position wasn’t that of a detective. When the Jews said: “His blood is on us and on our children”, they were aware that the nation of Jews is the one killing the Lord and Caiaphas was talking in its name. Also, when the prophets used to say that Israel is sinning, they talked about all Israel and they didn’t exclude individuals. In addition to Jews, the entire humanity is guilty towards Jesus and cannot be exonerated with a council document but through its repentance and accepting baptism. No one can speak on behalf of the Lord and give people a certificate of good behavior.

Moreover, the French historian Jules Isaac had a conversation that lasted several years with Pope Pius XII to convince him to enhance the relation between the Catholic Church and Jews. Western Christianity entered a state of regret for what it did to Jews in the middle Ages. They should regret, however they also killed a lot of Muslims in Spain and Christians in the West and Orthodox Christians during the crusades until the current pope apologized for that recently. However, the thing that dominated western Christianity is apologizing from Jews.

I didn’t talk yet about cinema, which is full of Jewish symbols. I also didn’t mention yet the scenes of half nude models hanging big crosses from their necks as a reference to that nudity is for Christians.

In addition to that, there is a big show on the French-German television “Arte” called “Corpus Christi” (Christ’s body), where Catholic and Evangelical ministers with Rabbis especially from the Hebraic University were invited. In this show, and in the name of history as a science, there is a distortion for the bible and a refutation of the entire Christian heritage that talks about the Savior. In this show there are interpretations based on assumptions; there is also a concentration on “Jesus’ brothers”, the thing that is known for our fathers as Jesus’ relatives as the expression “brother” in Hebrew includes first cousins. This concentration aims to doubt Mary’s virginity.

This television is presenting now a show about the emergence of Christianity that aims to prove that Christ’s preaching is a Jewish action and that Jesus’ Christianity could be considered a group of Judaism until Paul (and not Jesus) came and established the Christianity we know. Some of the speakers here are also scholars from the Hebraic University in Jerusalem.

This is why the Latin Church has cancelled from its Holy week’s rituals phrases that accuse the Jews of killing Christ. Western thinking started saying that the Romans, and not Jews, are responsible for killing the Lord even though the Jews are the ones that made the plot, accused Jesus of blasphemy and took him to Pilate Pontius. They are also the ones that said: Crucify him, crucify him.

Westerns stressed on Christ’s physical Jewish origins. However, Paul says: “We do not know now Christ in body but in spirit”. What really matters for us is that he is the incarnated Word of God that is over all races and kinds. We know him as the savior of the world, and his believers came to him from the Jews and pagans, and most Christians are from Pagan origins and have no relation with Moses’ law that the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem liberated us from. When will our western brothers be guided to Christ in the way our common fathers saw him before this illusive wave started?!

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “ميول يهودية في الغرب” –Raiati no19- 09.05.2004

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2004, Articles, Raiati

People’s Traditions / 25.04.2004

The absence of teaching and preaching in previous generations led to traditions among Christian people that are wrong from an ecclesiastic aspect. Ancient councils have noticed that some people ask to baptize their children in houses and prohibited it. However, this tradition continued in some places until the previous generation when we renewed the prohibition. People forgot that Baptism is the joining of a member to the Church and consequently this has to be done at the Church of the parish. In this sense, the Lord talked to the Pharisees and said: “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15: 3). Apostle Paul also named these violations “human traditions” (Colossians 2: 8).

Also, during the last generation, some people in some places did their weddings at houses although it is a Sacrament in the Church. Before this drift, it was always done at Church. And now, in this archdiocese, a tendency is appearing to have weddings in hotels or in hotel yards to be in open air. The reason people are giving is that they have arranged the reception to be after the wedding in the hotel. If the wedding was a stand in the presence of God and the saints, then it must be done at Church and after that the bride and groom may go wherever they want to.  I wish that believers would stop asking for exceptional measures.

Weddings in open air started with a single wedding a few years ago and then it was spread. What I want to say is that some social habits become traditions; people would tell you: The Church has done it before. However, the truth is that such a thing doesn’t come from the spirit of Christianity.

There was also a common habit in the Antiochian Church: People coming on the morning of the Holy Thursday to confess and have communion individually without a liturgy and going immediately back home. I hope that priests don’t fall in this mistake because communion only happens as the last part of the Divine Liturgy. Holy Communion is a group act that occurs in the divine service. I don’t mind having the Liturgy on Holy Thursday in a very early time so that believers get the chance to participate instead of having communion from what is reserved for the sick or from the grail left from the Holy Wednesday.

I have also asked all Churches to own an “Epitafion” (the icon of Christ in the grave which we carry in the procession on Holy Friday evening) after noticing that some Churches use a kind of bier that contains a cross and flowers. I don’t know how this tradition entered our Churches. It has no ecclesiastic basis as all our books speak about an “Epitafion” that is surrounded by flowers; and at the end of the service, believers kiss the Epitafion and the priest throws flowers to believers as a sign for the joy of resurrection.

Priests must teach the believers the true traditions because those were built on a theological logic. We want to take believers back to the true ecclesiastic tradition so that new traditions don’t mislead them. Those traditions might have leaked their way to us a hundred years ago or more, however, common mistakes do not become legal when time passes.

What helps the priest is to comply with the liturgical books he has and to read and ask his colleagues that have a better knowledge.

Do no insist on the priest to do what you want. He doesn’t have to command you by what he is thinking about and tell you what the Holy Church wants and that you are saved by its teachings and heritage. Don’t tell him that you have seen that tradition done in another Church or by another priest. The knowledge of priests differs and you must comply with who knows better.

I have written repeatedly to parish councils to comply with our instructions because we want the parish to be perfect and righteous in liturgical issues at least. The Book says: “obey your leaders”. The spiritual authority isn’t moody to impose whatever passes in its mind. It distinguishes between the right tradition and intruding traditions.

Don’t stick to yourselves but to Christ and to what His Church says. Because of your love for Christ, get your information from those who have knowledge and don’t be shocked if one of your leaders told you something you didn’t know before because these leaders are concerned with the salvation of your souls. Your souls are saved through the Word of God and through what we received from the saints. “Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (Apostle Paul). This refers to the order that we received and that is preserved by the bishops. Continue your constant presence at Church and don’t be seasonal because God wants you to be always at his holy house. This is the only way to become people “for Jesus”.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “تقاليد الناس” –Raiati 17- 25.04.2004

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