2013, An-Nahar, Articles

God and the Human Being / 24.08.2013

The human being is a yearning not to illusions but to a promise and the promise is God Godself. And God is coming. God is within you, God is a head of you and in your future. God’s first true presence was through God’s Christ and God is coming back through Him at the Last Day and Godself is disseminated every day through you. Receive God as long as you are watchful. And whenever you seek God, God is present within you.

God does not come to you other than through love and by it God becomes manifested within you. Remain vigilant in order that God continues inhabiting you less you do not become deserted. Do not be deceived thinking that you come from your own self. Whenever you do not stretch out to above, you would withdraw within yourself, namely you eliminate yourself from within. Always yearn, in order to exist. Love God and God loves you [always], since God gives you more than what you give. Do not set your hope upon whatever you think you have. Trust that you are poor and that you receive from God whatever you ask for. Whenever you believe that God enriches you, you will be given whatever you ask, since you are enriched only through God. If you realize this you lose your poverty and you dwell on high. With such great poverty you would feel that you inhabit the heavenly [world], “free among the dead”, and that you have accomplished you humanity. Divinity indwells within you until your face appears as the face of god.

You are called to inherit God Godself, namely all the powers that are in God. You would not be of great value whenever you desire that which is less than God. That would not satisfy your longing for the Truth. Know that there is no truth outside God and God’s reality. The heaven is not above. It is not a place, it is in your spirit, whenever it extends or dwells in the Lord, who is its abode, since whenever love dwells in you, you would be dwelling in God. You do not long for your illusions, you long for existence, so that you might exist. It has been said that you are indwelling in heaven, this means that you are indwelling in your Lord.

Your Lord is love itself. It is His name. Love has no existence apart from Him. Whoever says that he/[she] lives, says that God is in him/[her] or that he/[she] is in God. This is so since whenever God raises us to Godself, God would be truly indwelling in us, since God has no scope other than the hearts.

Whenever you transform from being a lover to merging with love itself, you would be calling the Lord in order to make you an abode for Him. You are in Him and He is in you and this is how He desires, and you actualize your humanity whenever you desire whatever He desires.

You are called, with the presence of God within you, and God has no other scope. Every other vision is from this world, but your Lord wants that you see Him and not the world. God’s purpose, from all your experience in the world, is to bring you near God. God wants you to imitate Godself in order that God might see that your face is an emersion of God’s face upon you. And whenever God sees you as God’s face, then, no barrier remains between the two faces.

Knowledge begins with love. Whenever you love your Lord you know Him, namely, you unite with Him, and He tastes and knows this unity first. And since your Lord knows you He lets you know Him and taste that you are His companion. This word does not diminish God’s dignity. God is God through kinship; otherwise it would be a pagan god. God’s kinship kindles within you faith in God, since faith is faith in a near existent to the extent of union.

Then, you would not need a thing since you would understand that your Lord is in everything, and you love through Him whatever He loves and you dwell wherever He dwells.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الله والإنسان” –An Nahar- 24.08.2013

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Mary / 17.08.2013

This summer we have fasted with Mary to God, since whenever we remember her at the times of celebrating her feasts we cloister with this great faster for the purification of the soul and the Marian longing to God. Mary expects us to be purified with her, since she has no other expectations. She was the mother of the Lord and she became the mother of all who love Him, regardless from whatever spiritual group were they. We all are her realm and through her we receive God, namely we break apart from all that is not divine. The Christians, among us, are Marian, and [also] some of the other monotheists discern Mary since they have touched Christ. She associates with people whenever they approach Him, or she accompanies them on their way toward Him, since whenever one’s soul tastes divine love, then, it can also taste Mary.

It attracts me always that when Luke spoke of Mary, God has spoken through him [about Mary]: “a sword will pierce your own soul” [Luke 2: 35]. This means that you will experience pain by seeing your Son injured. You will become a partaker of the Crucified in the destiny which He gives you. And you are with us in all aspects of our love to Him. When you were standing by His cross you were suffering for us. Participation in suffering is participation in joy. In an unknown way, unless to the few, you have carried us as you carried Him.

With the Fathers, we say in the church that you are the new Eve. In theological preciseness we are born of baptism and not of you, unless we say that as we were in Christ at His birth we have longed to come from you. Though you were, in body, the mother of the Lord, you have come from Him through the Holy Spirit, and we descend from your depth. No one understands this unless the one who is experienced in spiritual life and has grown in divine perception. Any other proposition [or explanation] is void.

Through your chastity you give birth to us and only chastity can give birth. This implies that whenever you come only from God you become the mother of a new offspring, which belongs to God. When we say that chastity alone gives birth, we mean by it the chastity of the spirit, namely its being born only from God. Whoever comes from other than God cannot give birth. No one gives birth other than those “who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1: 13) Those who give birth through their bodies are similar to all other existing beings, while the one born of God gives birth to deified humans.

Flesh is flesh. But whomever grace has made a son/[daughter] of God he/[she] is born from above, and not from his/[her] mother’s body.

Mary teaches us that we can have a new birth, without a father and a mother, by the will of grace and we remain in the bosom of God. We do not need a feminine inclination in order to give Mary a great honor in our souls. We need the chastity of the spirit, which is the complete adherence to God without condition or supplements. Only the meeting with God qualifies us to honor Mary in our souls, and this is the chastity towards God alone. Chastity towards God does not mean virginity. It means the adherence to God without polytheism [shirk] or dissolving. ‘Without polytheism’ means that we do not consider another with God, and [we say] ‘without dissolving’ since God, because of God’s love to us, wants us fronting the face of God rather than being dissolved in God. Mary, facing Christ, does not subjugate Him and does not subjugate us. There is no subjugation in love. She is quite, loving and embracing. That is why we hope that those, who complain about Christ being the only worshipped one, may understand us. The reality that the Lord is everything for us does not mean that we should exclude all His loved ones from around Him. They do not add splendor to Him. They, rather, reveal His splendor.

The whole talk that we worship Mary is nothing than a mere talk. We have not really known her other than for her being the chosen of God. She has no place beside God. She has her existence with God, namely from God and through God. The one who loves God loves her and learns from her. The one who has truly tasted Christ loves Mary, reveres her and honors her. These hold together, whenever we are well versed.

Your love for Christ is radiant. He does not separate you from those He has loved. And He has loved His mother and His disciples. Thus, if you love them you remain faithful to Him. We do not speak to them in our prayers unless because they talk to Him. We do not create a spiritual bond between us and the saints. He has created it, and we have inherited it. Thus, whenever we feel our Marian inclinations, let us not lose faith that we belong to the only Mediator between God and people, who is the blessed Jesus.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “مريم” –An Nahar- 17.08.2013

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The New Life / 03.08.2013

All writing is needed, since through them you are heard and thus you exist. The human nature is about sharing. Every one of us feels that he/ [she] is in the situation of being effective or effected by another. There is no such closed person. I understand that the French Revolution confirmed the individual, since it rejected the subordination to the kings. However, it established the individual within the community. A community is not a crowd, it is the meeting, since we exist through meeting. The meeting characterizes and confirms each of us, since no one exists unless with others and through others. That is so since you are a face, which means that you are in a continuous situation of encounter. [In our theology] the Father confirms the Son and the Spirit [of God], and the Son confirms the Father. Trinity is not an accumulation, it is an encounter. That is why it is love and unity. The writer is the one whose inner reality obliges him/[her] to write. He/[she] is the one who exists by speaking. You write to those who love you, otherwise no one would understand you. Existence is not possible without meeting. This is what Christians call a church. Life is not possible by the accumulation of individuals. You either love or come into conflict [with others], and both [require] a meeting. You do not despise the Other unless you confirm him/ [her]. And before you eliminate him/ [her] you acknowledge him/[her]. Abhorrence requires as well acknowledgment, on the way to death, or in the flow of life. Acceptance or rejection, both require a recognition that life is sharing. You might either want to share or no, nevertheless there is life because there is sharing.

No one lives in isolation. Whoever isolates him/[her]self, he/[she] detaches him/[her]self from people whom he/[she] despises, i.e. he/[she] admits their existence. Whoever kills does not kill other than for his/[her] feeling that the one being killed enjoys a reality which he/[she] despises. The word community has a psychological or humanistic significance, that is not found in the word society, which usually refers to a number. People are not numbers. There is intimacy among them, namely acquaintance, and that is belief in two things: the independence of every face and the meeting of the faces.

The human being is a face which sees and it is seen, i.e. he/[she] is in encounter with people. Abhorrence is itself a kind of meeting. People are similar to a forest, the difference between them and the forest of trees is that the trees are not aware of their meeting, while people are. The upright person acknowledges the humanity of the Other, namely his/[her] uniqueness, value and ability to give. All who give do meet and sometimes they are friendly. A society is not an accumulation; rather it is a union and even a unity.

Unity is not merely a legacy; it is an existence in our nature. That is why we were in the Qur᾿anic understanding a nation [᾿umma], and in the Christian understanding a church, and the two words have the same denotation. And the society which does not aspire to that [namely being an ᾿umma or a church] is [itself] fragmented. A society is not given unless as a starting point. It becomes through love, otherwise it would have been a cumulation of people who have no identity.

A society, whenever it acknowledges its nature, aspires to become a church, and I do not refer exclusively to a Christian sense, rather every biological existence strives toward its unity in love. Away from love it is [mere] statistics. Every society is a plan for the meeting of the hearts; otherwise it would have become the combination of occupations. People, whenever secluded, become a forest of people. They do not become a society unless they meet with a certain level of love and cooperation. The modern notion of syndicate stands on the cooperation of the people of the same occupation. Even the notion of competition aims at cooperation and improvement for the sake of cooperation. The meeting of the people of the same occupation in a single market in the European Middles Ages, or by us, does not stand on the notion of competition but rather on cooperation. And the people have aimed at cooperation [though] through competition.

A syndicate, though in fact involves competition among the people of the one profession, strives toward collecting the skills in order to point up the occupation and also the cooperation. The condition for cooperation is love, which is mainly the recognition of the necessity of the Other for you, for your life and your feeling.

All this is about cooperation, which in its depth means that you exist whenever you love. In other words that you exist through the Other, you are safeguarded through his/[her] face, when you see him/[her] and when he[she] sees you. Thus, you have denied yourself and you have loved [the Other], namely, you have poured yourself in the Other in order that you and the Other grow. It is not that you deny your face; rather you realize that your face exists in order to see the Other and be seen by the Other. And then, according to the utterance of the Book, you become one body, and in modern language one existence.

You love whenever you find yourself that you have made the Other strive toward God [who is present] within every human being. You love that the Other becomes whatever he/[she] should become, namely existing in love in order that his/[her] selfishness might be eliminated. Whoever has loved only him/[her]self dies in his/[her] closed ‘I’. Whoever loves others, for whatever they are becoming, he/[she] accompanies them toward the highest desirable [state], and he/[she] him/[her]self moves toward that desirable [state].

Whenever you do not move toward the highest, you would be moving around your own self, and so you would bring about nothing. The [one] above you gives you, namely [that one] descends grace upon you.

When [your] faith calls you to forget yourself, it does not call you to neglect it, but not to exaggerate in your fondness of yourself. It wants you to rejects its seclusion, in order that you [might] rise to embrace all the souls through God and in God. That is so since you actualize yourself through the Lord who transcends you, you expand and become high. This is the departure from [the state of] being stifled by the ‘I’. This is the meaning of the Lord’s words: “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 16: 25)

You exist through the Other, in the sense that if you keep turning around yourself you will stifle. You do not exist by affirming yourself. You exist through perceiving the Other and you are being formed through this perception. You exist through your departure from looking at your face in the mirror, and through perceiving the Other as God perceives him/[her] in love. Anything other than perceiving the Other in love is laying hold of him/[her].

The human being exists through that which he/[she] gives and not through what he/[she] takes, unless when he/[she] takes in love. People do consort, namely our words give and are given. Without such reciprocity there is no society. A society is about meeting and in its highest states it is love. Accumulation is a state-project and not a love-project, since you do not actually take unless you give yourself. This is what God, through God’s anointed one, asked, namely that you give to the end, which is to say that you sacrifice your life in order that others might live. Then, your offering will be transformed into your receiving of a new life and into a manifestation of God through you.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الحياة الجديدة” –An Nahar- 03.08.2013

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Read / 27.07.2013

“Read in the name of your Lord, Who created: He created man from a clot. Read by your Most Generous Lord, Who taught by the Pen. He taught man what he did not know.” (Sura Al-῾alaq [The Clot] 1-2) Your reading of this text, which is considered as revealed [sent down], and if we realize that the ‘name’ in Hebrew means power or presence, your reading of the name of the Lord is a way of reading the Lord, since He lets you to penetrate His being in order that you might know Him through love. For the Hebrews the name refers to the being, hence, the aim is that you read the Lord Himself, namely that you know Him to the extent that He gives you from His being, and that you do not project upon Him whatever you say about Him, rather He projects His being upon you.

You read about Him in the reality of your weakness, while it is desired that you read Him in love. Any explication, which does not reveal to you His Love, is incomplete or deficient. To read means that you become that which you read or that you become contiguous with Him, as if you become Him.

Read the past, where God has been manifested. Do not read the sin since in it there is staleness. Read God in whatever has elapsed and in whatever has befallen you today and in whatever you expect from God tomorrow and at all times. Read, i.e. seek every truth that has been manifested in the past and is manifested upon you in love. Do not fear books. In them there is the meager and the abundant, since it is possible that the truth might be manifested in you. What matters is the eternal [nature] of Truth, and not the vanities of what has passed and what is becoming. Do not read merely whatever pleases you, but whatever pleases God, in order that you become from the truth that has been manifested, since you also are manifested in it now. You do not come from the ancients, as they have passed away, but from the truth that they have revealed to you. And here there is no difference between that which has elapsed and that which is forthcoming. [This is to say that] it is not admissible that you receive the truth from whatever has passed, since Truth does not pass away. It stand firm and makes you its servant in the forthcoming days. There is truth and falsity in those who have anteceded us. Hold on to the truth and renounce the falsity, since you live by the truth that you receive through faith. You do not come from those who passed away, but from the truth that they carried, since Truth does not fade away with time.

Do not sanctify the past for any reason, other than that it has carried the truth. There are much beauties and much falsity in the past. Do not let falsities allure you. You are abiding by whatever you have inherited from your Lord. The ancients are not necessarily a reference. There are in them sins as there is splendor upon them. Whenever you know that this is from God take it over. And then we shall read it in you. You are not the heir of the past unless you want it immediately in you. You are the heir of the eternal, who never changes. [Thus] read only the holiness. Its values never alter. Whenever you do this, the mockers might make fun of you, since they despise the truth, which unmasks them. They are to be extinguished like the dust which is ablated by the wind from the face of the earth, while the truth, which you carry, endures and you endure by it. Truth is not subject to the passing garments of the time. You become divinized whenever you surmise the times toward that which descends upon you from above.

Read the good people who have passed away, but their good [deeds or thoughts] have not passed. Accompany [be coeval of] the people of truth, upon whom time has no authority. Then, in God’s eyes you are eternal similar to God’s Word. And God makes you God’s word, namely a creature of God. The truth that is within you transcends you above all time.

If we speak in the church about tradition, this does not meant that we are ruminating the past. We have rather been only delighted by it. There is no value in whatever has passed unless when it carries an eternal truth. Time is not an element of Truth. It [rather] takes all its value from Truth. Truth is not Truth because it comes from some time that has anteceded you. It is so since God has directly spoken it, or through those to whom God has entrusted to speak it.

The past carries the beauties of the saints or of the intellectuals, whenever they are well-established [or orthodox]. We do not sanctify tradition merely because it has predated us. We sanctify the truth in the tradition.

We do not read [intellectual] studies other than to keep the good that they carry. Since the good is the truth. However, you are obliged to read everything, in order that you do not bypass any good [thing] that the nations have safeguarded.

Read as much as you are given to read from the tradition, since the truth is in much of what the ancients have left for us. Nonetheless, tradition is not limited to whatever you have inherited from your fathers. All the great ones of history are your fathers. And the holy ones of them are of much significance.

Rectify your thought through whatever the righteous ones have said. This is the true legacy. Our fathers come from everywhere, whenever they were the people of the truth. God has left God’s traces in the minds of all nations. Do not develop partisanship toward neither your nation nor to the people of thought who belong to your nation. The truth is alone your home and it is the source of your thought and life.

Beside our faith-tradition take the truth from wherever you can, and hold it completely, although you might taste the beautiful things in every tradition. You have to love the truth wherever you find it. Let it own you since [all] ownership is to God and to the Truth which proceeds from God. Seek Truth in all what you read, rather than the vanities of words. Every true saying is from God. Hold fast to it so that you may not die spiritually. Truth is the face of God. Seek God, [since] in God are your existence and your glory. Through God you read all that is beautiful, true and good, and without God there is nothing.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “إقرأ” –An Nahar- 27.07.2013

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The Splendid Writing / 15.06.2013

The splendid writing or the good word appears to the good, beautiful character in its acceptance of pain and its deflagration, and this is more than labor. It is a birth in truth and in splendor. Both are emanation from God, and if you are worried from this statement [it is possible to say that] they are the creation of God. The human being is not a creator who brings about things from nothing. The Creator improvises for you from whatever the Creator has received from the Creator’s own inspiration. Your Lord is alone the Creator and you receive whatever He inspires you in order that you might be perceived as new and the people think that they subsist on you, while the truth is that they receive from you whatever you have received from your Lord.

Is creativity about sharing as it is with giving birth to a baby? The baby comes from the meeting of the male and the female. Whence the fetus of thought and art comes? You would be called creative whenever you say things as no other person said, however, though we say that those things are yours or they are from you, nevertheless, you are the one entrusted for them. The human being adds nothing on creation which was once made. The human being orders the creation which he/[she] has received. It is ascribed to him/[her]since he/[she] has known how to receive and to hand it over.

To hand over a heritage is not an automatic recurrence. It requires embracement with love, namely a new birth. However you give birth from a seed which God has plated within you. The new (creation) in the good word is beautiful. The Word was in the beginning and whatever came after it were images of that Word, while God alone is the Creator of words. And based on this [new] creativity, which adds nothing to God, we say about the great people of art and word that they are creators.

We are encountering here a difficult question in relation to the nature of the word. You pronounce the word anew through the magnificent fusion between its meaning and its articulated form. However, we will not undertake this question since at the end we do not know how the words come. How is their form in us? And how they come to be articulated verbally? Of course, you cannot perceive the meaning without the word being articulated by your tongue or by your pen, since there is no thought without vesture. There is no word (meaning) without it being embodied. John said about Jesus: “And the Word became flesh and He pitched His tent in our neighborhood.” This is the meaning of the well known translation of the verse: “He dwelt among us” [John 1:14]. And the meaning is that we are scattered on earth and we settle down whenever He accompanies us and we adhere to Him pitching our tent next to His.

In the introduction of the fourth Gospel we read:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” [John 1:1] The ‘Word’ appears in its masculine form [of the Arabic language] and we have translated it in this way in order to remain faithful to the Greek original, meaning that this is the Word of God, namely an independent divine existence, and not a mere incidental divine articulation.

God is revealed within you and then through you, in order that you might become God’s word. And you might become a word to the extent that you are christ [i.e. messiah or an anointed one], since Jesus the Nazarene brings forth chrsits [anointed ones]. And if we say that Christ, after resurrection, is alive forever it denotes that He is the source of life (the life-giver) within us, day by day and minute by minute. Christ is propagated, in the sense that from Him christs [anointed ones] are emanated, namely people who are anointed by the grace of His spirit.

No word of life would come forth from you unless it was the fruit of divine bestowal. The human being is not a creator who brings the things forth from nothing. After creation ‘nothing’ has no existence. God empowers you and that is why you have [inner] significance, and because, through God’s word, you truly become a transmitter of truth. Thus, there is no sense in the assumed philosophical search of the relationship between God and you. I understand the philosophical variation between these two existents; however the [fervent] lovers repudiate philosophy after the union [with God].

We are still the slaves of pure mind. In a dual mindset we search for that which is ours and that which is God’s. However, the [fervent] lovers do not argue about the relationship between that which is to the one and that which is the other’s. In love [as Eros] the search for what belongs to me and what belongs to the other has been repudiated. You cannot discern the mind that is enlightened by grace from grace. And if you live in it and through it, then, you do not search for articulations. I understand this insistence on the mind as the concerns of the medieval philosophies, which were the slaves of the Greeks. But those who have known the light of God through inspiration; those have been freed from the Greeks and have become of the Word of God, which is the life of God.

This does not mean that we abolish the mind; rather we enlighten it by the divine mind which is the inspiration. And whenever the word of God descends upon us we live through the light poured upon us, so that God might live in our words. And in this we are formed, that is to say that our words come to be on the image of the divine Word. The divine Word and the divine utterance are one for our ears and hearts, in order to hear what your God has put in these hearts.

And the Grace is the word of God, or they are one, in order that the created words, of our tongues, might pass away and we hear only whatever has been precipitated from the divine mind.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الكتابة البهيّة” –An Nahar- 15.06.2013

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Hope / 01.06.2013

For St. Paul, hope is a virtue which he places alongside with faith and love as if he insinuates that ‘when you believe, you hope in God and so you love’. Certainly, in Man’s depth, one experiences the virtues as being interrelated with each other. Yet revelation tells us that you start that experience with the virtue of faith since it speaks of God’s turning towards you. Faith starts you on the path to become a spiritual being and it accompanies you in your course towards it. And I dare say that God creates you in the Holy Spirit after He has wrought you in the body. That is your New being and your True life. And to say that ‘the dwelling of God is in you’, indicates that you believe and have faith that the Lord creates you through His Holy Spirit. And faith comes from trusting God and trusting comes from a security you find in the one trusted. I refer there to the spiritual meaning not the linguistic one. In your humanity you are not secure and settled. God in you is your resting place. When you behold God in Himself, His significance and His light, as also in yourself and in the brethren, then you would have perceived His dwelling which is also yours.

Yet between you and God there is a distance which you cross through faith so that you dwell in the Lord while you are still in the body. As such, faith is the dynamo; and while in this world, you are in a state of moving until the Lord keeps you to Himself through the vision. Faith does not make all the vision. That needs a move towards God in Hope since God would come to you every day. Faith is in need of love to be established in God. And He starts to bring you up on Love when He plants in you hope in Him.

The Divine Presence in you is established through faith which is the “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”(Hebrews 11: 1). What is hoped for, that is for the future, is present now through your faith. And your heart reaches out for them (the future matters) in hope since they are considered to be “present” in the word of God. Here we can say that Hope is a continuum of the faith that is in you now, to what it will be in the future, so that “the things to come” are like the “things that are now” because the word of God brings the two together; and because the word of God is not bound by time.

In your experience of God, there is no separation between the “now” and what comes after, because the Lord fills time with His presence. From this perspective, I can say that you see what you hope for and expect. You are above the expanse of time because God who is in you fills it. From this we can say that the virtue of faith conceives in it the virtue of hope which is the dynamism of faith. You do not hope except because you have believed; since hope is not an emotional kind of expectation. It is granted with faith as its fruit.

We have to perceive that faith is not a human virtue. It is a descent of the Divine to the human soul; a meeting between the soul and the Divine ‘depth’ in a profundity which is hard for us to encompass. God is dynamic in us and as such moves us to Himself. And our move towards Him is one of hope since we know Him only partly thorough faith. Faith is the beginning of our pleasure in Him, but our experience of Him is granted us by Him.

If faith is the resting of God in the heart, then hope is the movement of God; and God moves towards Himself and with that He moves us to Him.

And if words allow us to say something in that domain, we can say that the impression of the Lord in the heart is His presence; and our faith in Him is His move towards Him. In that follows His bringing us over to Himself thus removing the distance between the Creator and the creature and between the One who loves and the one loved. And after His move towards us comes our move towards Him; and that is hope. In the core of the Divine, there is no separation between hope and faith; both of them followed with love which is the crown of all what there is.

The word hope signifies of what comes in the future. And this is true since we believe today in what comes tomorrow and in all the goodness promised.

Hope sets off from the realities of faith to what the Lord reveals in us of His love. But to avoid any linguistic vagueness, I want to affirm that hope is a Divine gift which does not originate in our human feelings. Hope is not a dynamics of one’s soul only; it is a bending over of God which carries us to the good that is promised. It is a continuum of what God has poured down on us of His grace to what we hope for of His full grace till the day we die. Faith is a language that signifies what is present in us; and hope signifies what will be. They are inseparable when it comes to the grace that is poured down in us.

And because hope is towards God, its extent in us is to the time when we get to the full attainment of the vision. But in the spiritual fight we have to reinforce it with faith so that the believer does not think that he can bring about hope in the same way he does with his wishes. Hope is above all human expectations. It is a great grace. A Divine pouring down into us with which we seek God Himself. As such hope gets together with faith and ends up in love.

Translated by Riad Moufarrij

Original Text: “الرجاء” – An Nahar – 01.06.2013

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2013, An-Nahar, Articles

From Pascha to Pascha / 25.05.2013

We believe that despite of Man’s corruption, he carries in him the seed of salvation. What the West calls “Original Sin”, meaning that it is inherited from Adam with the guilt resulting from it, is unaccepted in Eastern Orthodoxy. There is no inheriting of guilt. Human nature, as we understand it, has been stained and became corrupt but it did not become a “moral nothingness”. There is in Man a certain receptivity to the Lord or a certain Divine Effect. There is in Man a goodness that co-lives with sin; as if it is its companion. We do not find in the human being total corruption; neither do we find in it full righteousness. These are things that get mixed together in the human soul. I know souls who are very transparent, but I have not found people whose “light” takes away all the darkness inside us. Holiness is a yearning; and before the final resurrection, there is no complete holiness. And when we speak of perfection, we do not speak of a finalized state of reality but of a calling. And what the Savior meant saying: “Be perfect” is for us to keep on seeking perfection. There is no perfect human being, neither in Heaven nor at the Last judgment.  We never say, at the canonizing of a Saint, that he is sinless. We say that he has been a model of those who seek for holiness and that such seeking is his main concern. When God says: “Be holy”, He means it to be a call to an on-going yearning for holiness, and does not mean that holiness is poured in you once and for all. If virtue is poured wholly in us, then we would not be in need to pray for it. “The Kingdom of God is within you” means that you are walking to that kingdom; and that kingdom is not fully realized in any of us before the Last Day.

You have to live as if each day of your life is the day on which you receive the crown of glory; but Christ crowns you with that crown only after death and resurrection; when righteousness shines in the glorified humanity.

It is a great training in humility for one to see himself broken and to appear as bandaged before the Lord. And in our invocation of the Saints, we do not proclaim that they have received full righteousness, but we hope they, where they are, participate with us in prayer so that the community of Saints is realized, of those that have become perfect and those who are still not. All the righteous ones are in the state of yearning to what the Savior will give them, but in our theological understanding they have not yet attained Perfection.

I was once asked whether Mary is in Heaven in the body. I answered that we have not defined the matter theologically despite my personal conviction of that and despite all the hymns in our services that imply that. And I added that since there is no theological definition of that, I personally believe that Mary is in Glory and that her body did not go through corruption. Of course I realize that only those who are “in love” would say that.

You call on the Saints in the Traditional Church because “God is not a god of the dead but of those who are alive”. The Saints are our friends and that is why they lead us in our prayers though they are absent in the body. I cannot accept that Mary is not there to lead me in prayer when I stand in the presence of God. St. John Chrysostom says in his Easter sermon that no dead still remain in the tombs. And when we sing on Easter “Christ has risen from the dead” sixty times, we signify that there has been a certain motion towards the light of the Trinity as we sing. Our singing is light and that is what we carry from one Sunday to the next since, beside the Pascha feast, every Sunday, for us, is a feast and the “Sunday feast” overshadows all feasting.

Our life is a Pascha. We want it like that. And we yearn to be so since in Pascha, which means “passing”, the one we want to “pass on” to is the Savior. We hear Jeremiah saying: “The breath of our mouth is the Messiah of the Lord.” We hope not to fall in the confusion that the disciples fell into before the Resurrection, since such confusion is a “non – Christ”.

Christ, through His Cross, becomes everything in us so that He daily reveals to us the power of His resurrection in the victory we obtain over sin.

Translated by Riad Moufarrij

Original Text: “من فصح إلى فصح” – An Nahar – 25.05.2013

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The Eighth Day / 11.05.2013

On the Sunday, the eighth day after the resurrection, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them. Jesus opens what is closed. He opens all horizons before the eyes and the minds. He breaks open blocks and walls of this world so we can go with Him to all realms; so we can expand with Him to the infinite; to roam this world and what is beyond it; to break into the doors of Heaven since we are no more afraid of those who have been His enemies and those who, out of ignorance, make themselves His enemies.

He appeared to them while the doors were locked. He opens all what is locked and He opens Death to Life. When you behold Him, you stop looking for anything else. That is because He is the one who comes today and tomorrow and no one succeeds Him. In the Orthodox Church, the Church of the roots, we do not say that He has a successor since succession implies time in it, and Christ is beyond time. Time receives its meaning and content from Him. He did not become Man so that He would have a successor; a successor is usually the one who comes after, but Jesus has no one before Him, and after Him there is no one. Anything said about Him other than the above would be the words of humans who try to understand history while He has “kidnapped” all histories to Himself.

He appeared to them while the doors were locked; they were locked in themselves, but the doors were not locked for Him. And when He went through them, He told those He loved “Peace be with you”. That seems to be a greeting but in fact He wanted to give them Peace, that is reconciliation with God and with existence; and that requires the descent of the Lord to the kingdom of death to uproot it and establish the Kingdom of Life.

The locked doors between people are not opened in their times, but Christ broke them because there is much resentment in the hearts which are in need of  Jesus entering them to remove resentments; and so, hearts do not come together unless Grace is poured upon them to bring about that meeting. Man is not a machine when it comes to the affairs of his life. He needs the God who puts in him (Man) His tenderness so that the hardness goes away. If the Lord does not dwell in Man’s heart, then he would easily receive beauties which are fake. The person, whom God has not filled with His presence, is liable to welcome to himself all what is ugly.

We believe that the one who opens the heart of humans is Jesus of Nazareth the meek and humble of heart; and, in the Divine Mystery, that means that He pours His heart in the hearts of those who are meek to make them like God’s heart.

Jesus stood among them while the doors were locked and said: “Peace be upon you”. “My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give you.” The issue between you and God is that you are His “enemy” due to sin. And sin does not leave unless God removes it through His peace; that is when He puts you in a state of peace with His Father.

After the Lord greeted them they rejoiced at beholding Him. The Lord beholds us first with a tenderness from Him so that we become able to behold Him. What did they see? And how did they see Him? The Bible says that they saw Him with the marks of His wounds. And since one of them was in doubt, the Savior appeared to him and told him: “Put your finger here and see my hands and put your hand and see my side and do not be unbelieving”. The Savior accepted that Thomas should believe in Him not by just believing, but by touching Him. The Lord goes down to the state of doubt the disciple was in, not minding that he would ask something from Him. That is the meeting between the One who grants us faith and the person who doubts.

Jesus did not deal with the doubt by reprimanding doubter. He brought Himself down to the state of the doubter because He meets the sinner where he is and grants him peace as He gave peace to the prostitute saying: “Go in peace and sin not anymore.” He did not cover her sinfulness. He mentioned it in the second part of what He told her. After Jesus puts the sinner at ease and makes peace with him, He reminds him that his times to come are days of repentance. And repentance is a “shake” before one is put at ease. And repentance is a language, one of turning back to God’s face; and that means a leaving of all the aspects of sin. And if it is not a total breaking up with sin, repentance then would be just “jesting”. Repentance is tough in that it does not accept to co-habit with any form of sin. There is no room in repentance to make peace with any “particle” of evil. You either break up with evil or you do not. And if you remain with one aspect of sin, you die.

What is difficult with our life with God is that He does not accept to dwell with any other god. And all other gods are false since they come from the deadly lusts that are in us.

It seems that God forms “deserts” in our hearts. And you remain in the desert if you do not seek the waters that He makes to spring in that desert. And you dwell with your God in the dryness that is around you or the one that is in you. You dwell with the Lord just as you are, without any condition on your part. If you get to that, then no locked doors would remain in you. All blocks would fall down and you would walk towards Him in the freedom He gives. And that walk itself would be lifeless unless you throw yourself in the bosom of the Lord totally and finally. For all what there is in the world is to behold Him and that is stronger than faith; that is love. And with total love you will have the Lord fully, and He takes away from you all the traces of fear since “Love casts out fear”.

It is not wrong to want to “touch” (like Thomas), but there is no real “touching” except through love. Is not love in its true meaning a “touching” of the Lord? In that sense Love is more powerful than faith. St. Paul says that our state is as such until we get to see Him face to face. And the “seeing” is cleaving to Him. Tradition says that the vision in its full state is coming; and that does not hold us from anticipating the “seeing” with love. “Seeing” is cleaving, and that is the highest level among the levels of love.

For us who follow Jesus of Nazareth, love comes from His resurrection because the resurrection is the victory over death. And that victory is the continuity of His resurrection in us and in the world. I understand those who do not believe in His resurrection when they tell me “Is not there for us a spiritual life that descends on us directly from God? Why does it have to go through Christ to reach us?”

I do not deny anyone the descent of Grace on him, but I have heard the Nazarene say: “No one comes to the Father but by me”. And I tried to go after that word of His. Who am I to deny the faith of those who say that they get to His Father without Him? To get to the Father directly or to get to Him through Christ as the way, is an option that does not mean anything to me. Since I see that any course to God has Christ in its core. For me, the Nazarene’s Face and that of His Father do not make an option for me. They are the same. “Who has seen me, has seen the Father”.

Every meeting with Christ has in it a revelation of God’s face. It is true that St. Paul said that Christ is the mediator between us and God. That is a statement concerning His humanity, but His Book also says that He (Christ) is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Is the Father the End of Ends? No doubt, it is there that we are lulled and rested.

Translated by Riad Moufarrij

Original Text: “اليوم الثامن” – An Nahar – 11.05.2013

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The Feast Has Come / 03.05.2013

“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life”. [John 6:54] This does not need much interpretation. Our noble teachers have said that flesh is the self and blood is the life. There is no need for further hermeneutics. Who am I to add anything? No further utterance is needed. Is His body His words? Whenever we understand the philosophy of the good Book we believe in this and we realize what is deeper, that His words were He.

There is no debate in this. The Saints who have interpreted that His body is the offering [namely the offered elements at the Holy Communion], they were right, and whoever has said that it is His teaching they were also right. If His teaching was Himself, then the offering is also Himself. In the mystery of your person, is there any unity between the words of your Gospel and whatever you have called as your body and blood? Whoever knows the depth of God’s thought knows that the talk [of the Lord] about His body and blood is a talk about His self and there is no further talk beyond the talk on His self, until on the Last Day we understand everything.

However, only the intimate ones might understand all this. Make us Lord from those intimate ones, so that I might understand something of Your self. Whenever you graciously forgive our sins we would be given to understand. You have said: “My son, give me your heart.” [Pro. 23: 26] And by that you wanted that we empty the heart from anything other than You, so that understanding might not be hindered.

The Feast comes to the Easterners after few days and we accept it in anticipation of the love since we know that we live through it. We live with the longing that Christ will annihilate our sins, namely with the assurance that victory is coming in us through the promise of the life which is transmitted from Him to us and to the world.

Everything in Christianity is an event and a promise. Faith is faith on a reality which brings you salvation. And reality is partly a past event, which could be historically proven by witnesses. Logically, an event does not need more than a real proof through witnesses and documents. Nevertheless, the New Testament insisted to consider the death of Christ a faith issue, namely that which is more than a historical event. [The historicity of the event] would be asserted by any atheist historian had he / [she] lived at that time. Hence, any claim which negates the death [of Jesus] would not be a historical statement, rather a creedal [doctrinal] position and there is no room [here] to discuss that.

Hence, we do not have to respond to those who claim that He did not die. This would be the case whenever we comport ourselves with the logic of a historical reality. However, if we do not comport with this logic, then we would need to abandon the historical methodology in order to assume a dogmatic methodology.

In their claim of the death [of Jesus] Christians base their argument on the Roman pagan sources, and they support this argument with their historical documentations, and not merely as part of their dogmas. The Gospel, whether you believe in it or not, as a historical reference from the first century and partly from the beginning of the second century, is a well-established document with the testimonies of the witnesses and their followers, who left their traces to us from that time. Thus, [here is] the difficulty of falsifying the early Christianity [especially that] it has stated incidents evidenced by manuscripts. You cannot prove scientifically that the one whom the disciples met “after resurrection” is the same crucified one, since this is a question of faith. However, if you were educated, and you were not subject to a dogmatic position you cannot deny His crucifixion as a physical event. Hence, [in an attempt to understand resurrection] you will have to rely on what you think is revelation, i.e. an interpretation of a dogmatic text. And then, interpretative texts would be set opposite to other texts which you consider as interpretative.

The essence of Christianity is the belief that the death of Jesus the Nazarene was a physical/[historical] event which occurred under the mandate of Pontius Pilate over Judea about the year thirty-six A.D. About this there is no discussion. The importance of the Christian position, concerning the death of the Nazarene, is in that Jesus the Nazarene’s execution by Pilate does not only depend on the testimony of the Gospels.

The strength of the Christian position, concerning the [historical] reality of the Nazarene’s death, is that it is grounded not in your faith, but in the avowal of the Roman pagan records which indicate this death.

You are free not to accept to believe in Christ as Lord and Savior, since this is not of history. However, you are not free not to accept that He died, unless you take a position which the historical reality does not acknowledge. Christians add to this saying that His death is a question of faith, since they perceive in this death a salvific value.

We do not come to the reality of His death from our faith, but we construct our faith upon the reality of the cross, and it is mentioned in the Roman texts.

Our question with those who do not think as we do is that we are a religion, the reality of which is established in its sources. Yes, reality does not require any kind of faith from you; however, whenever faith does not rely on reality it would be independent completely of history.

We are a religion of which the crucifixion of Jesus the Nazarene is an essential element, His wonders in Palestine and His teachings. Much of this has already become material for historical examination and some of it is object of [faith] ratification. I say here that the resurrection of the Savior belongs to [faith] ratification, since you cannot prove rationally that the one whom many disciples have met after resurrection is the one actually raised [from the dead]. This belongs to faith. Faith does not oppose science, however it neither originates in science nor does its method resemble the scientific methods.

All faith ratification is in the heart of the believer. This does not mean that faith is irrelevant to the facts. Nevertheless, if faith has no contact with reality it would be the creation of imagination.

From this perspective, what does the resurrection of Jesus the Nazarene mean to us? The Gospels tell that this whom His followers saw, the One who died, is the same who has risen. They do not tell anything else. They do not speak of a revivification of a corpse. They do not describe Jesus’ transition from a state of death to a state of life or of resuscitation. They say that this whom you see now alive is the one hanged on a wood. But how this transition, from a state of death to a state of life, has taken place the texts have not mentioned this.

The Gospels were concerned to ascertain that after the complete slaughter of Jesus the Nazarene on the cross, He has appeared alive, He ate and drank and stayed alive and He appeared to His brothers and they touched Him. He inaugurated a new life in the world, and different kind of humans. He willingly has challenged death with amazing courage and with longing toward resurrection. This is possible [however] only through love of Jesus’ the Nazarene.

All the journeys of early Christians, and the later ones, indicate that many of the pleasures of the world did not attract them. From all the Roman and the Soviet documents on the martyrs you might see that that which kept Christians alive was greater than death, they carried [within themselves] a mystery which is not possible to explain psychologically. How did they die in the Roman Empire, generation after generation, crushed, and expecting nothing other than an unseen glory? What is the mystery [or the secret] behind their acceptance to live in poverty and remain the beloved ones of the Lord, being exposed to hatred of their persecutors and the mocking of many?

How do beasts eat your meats and you do not wail and your wives tell their children not to weep because of their being preyed upon? All this remained mystery, closed to the minds, until the martyrs, in the voice of Ignatius the Antioch, asked to be ground with the teeth of wild beasts so that they might become “an acceptable sacrifice for Christ”.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “أتى العيد” –An Nahar- 03.05.2013

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Jesus toward Jerusalem / 27.04.2013

Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem, in tomorrow’s remembrance of the Eastern Christians, signifies His acceptance of death, which He came to actualize as the result of His love of us. His death was to make humanity live in Him after He has prayed that they might be one with Him as He is one with the Father.

There is no doubt that one of the Easter’s meanings is that we become one with the Father, who is the Beginning and the End. The Father has been most of the times forgotten by common Christians, while the Father is the First and the Last. Christ, as the suffering humanity, is not the end of everything. If you have forgotten that He is the way to His Father you misunderstand His salvation. He could have also shown you that at the end of His path He consented to die in order that you might be with Him and you might inherit the life which He has poured forth through His resurrection.

The start of His path was with Palm Sunday, namely His entrance to Jerusalem so that humanity kills Him there. The whole humanity, which is represented by the Jews, had killed Him. The destiny of the Son of man, as the Father has planned, was that people would kill Him, since His acceptance of death was the sign of His love and the passageway to His resurrection.

Nothing other than Jerusalem would kill Him, as it killed the prophets and those sent to it. It was in the Father’s purposes that the Son is killed by people and because of the [Father’s] love. This is, then, the conduct of people, on the one hand, and the conduct of God, on the other. The divine purpose was that humanity and its Savior meet through blood and then, through emancipation from blood, forever. The Son of man entered the city of God on Palm Sunday in all His humility, as a king over humanity, which would kill Him by authorizing the Jews to kill Him. This was in the divine purpose, since Christ was slain before the foundation of the world.

This is the concealed mystery since ages that humanity has committed a crime and has killed God’s Christ; [however] later on, the crime has been forgiven since God’s response to crime is love.

Jesus the Nazarene enters the guilty city since His Father has foreordained to Him a death, which was for the salvation and the resurrection of all people. Jesus told Martha, the sister of Lazarus, and this was new: “I am the resurrection and the life”. [John 11: 25] All that was said before these words were promises from God to endow people with life. Jesus the Nazarene said about Himself that He is the life. And He came up with this paradox that He must die, and then He resumed that He will rise [from the dead].

However, He did not describe His resurrection as merely an event, but He also has said: “I am the resurrection and the life”. [John 11: 25] This, in language, has no meaning. He did not merely say that He gives resurrection. He said about Himself that He is the resurrection. Namely, He did not say: ‘I am who will rise [from the dead]’, rather: ‘if you were in me I will bring you into the same resurrection’. In the language of reality this has no sense, however, Jesus the Nazarene puzzles you as He moves you from your conventional reality in order that you might participate in His reality.

The blessed Lord was not part of life. He was the fullness of life, and you cannot grasp that with rational elaboration. His Mystery has to penetrate within you in order that you may understand. And the beginning of understanding [is to see that] He has entered Jerusalem to be killed, since He knew that by His residing in Jerusalem, Jerusalem will slay Him as it had slain the prophets before Him, and that in this is His glory and Jerusalem might be also glorified, whenever it repents. By His death all residence here on earth ends, since through this death we have inherited eternal life, which is present in us through His Spirit from now on, until the vision is fulfilled by faith and the acquisition of the Spirit.

Before Jesus the Nazarene there were heroic testimonies and in their magnitude they were images of the glory of Christ, that which has appeared upon Him as He was hanged on the wood. In His crucifixion and resurrection all glory has become ours.

His glory has brightened in His humility as He entered Jerusalem. And Jerusalem did not become the city of God unless at His resurrection from the dead, since then His glory has eloquently brightened. The exaltedness of Christ has first appeared when he was hanged on the cross. And the wonders were a disclosure of this glory. However, His victory over sin and death has been evidently disclosed at His death. His resurrection is a different expression of the glory which was fully upon Him as He was raised on the wood of humiliation. He is the one who changed the humility of death to victory. From this, there is no difference in the efficacy between his death and resurrection. Death has never surmounted Him. His emanation [resurrection] was the result of the death that He wanted to die. His resurrection from the dead was the uncovering of a victory that He accomplished on the cross and with the cross joy has come to the whole world. Thus, Easter is the disclosure of a victory which has been fulfilled in it and diffused to the worlds. At His death victory has been completely achieved and it was proclaimed by His resurrection, since salvation has not occurred merely from death. Salvation was in His person.

By His entering Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets, He has demonstrated His journey toward death. And later we have understood that the Palm Sunday has paved the way for Easter. Various events were revealed to be related through His love. They were different stages of the one love, hence, you cannot neglect any incident between the Palm Sunday and the Easter dawn. The whole thing is one Easter, since through these incidents different expressions were revealed, [which demonstrate] His embracing us in the movement of the one love. He has accepted the will of the Father to walk one salvation way in its different manifestations between the Last Supper and His rising at the dawn of the great Sunday. However, and because of your love [toward Him] and because of the weaving together of the events, you cannot without collecting all incidents in your memory, which were mentioned in the dear Book, since [the events] from the night of His submission to His victory on the Easter morning makes one prospect.

You may not fasten your attention on one incident of the salvation events, since you should accompany the Master throughout the different stations which the Book mentions. And after each of those events we recite in prayer that He has accomplished that event for our salvation, as though salvation were a journey ends with resurrection, and for us resurrection becomes a promise about the Holy Spirit. That is why whenever we indicate any incident at the Passion Service we say that He has accomplished it for our salvation.

Thus, you have to delight spiritually in all stages of salvation without disregarding a work that He has done, since contemplation in all the works of the Lord is your consideration of the sanctity and the uniqueness of each and every work. Blessed is the one who can move through the different stages of the Lord’s journey with one joy, and can halt at every station since whatever is written is written for our salvation. Thus, our full joy pours forth from every event that has occurred to the Lord and from our accompaniment to all what the Master has done, specially, but not exclusively, from the Last Supper to the instant of resurrection in expectation of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, and upon us in every divine liturgy.

The Lord is blessed in all His works of salvation, and may God help us to taste all God’s works, and every single one, till the dawn of resurrection which is the joy of the whole world.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “يسوع إلى أورشليم” –An Nahar- 27.04.2013

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