"However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:21).
Great Lent is understood to be the holiest fast as our Lord Jesus Christ Himself fasted it for us. Therefore, during Great Lent we must strive to follow the example set by our Lord Jesus Christ, who had fasted on our behalf for forty days and forty nights, which we read in Matthew chapter 4. During Great Lent, the Church in her wisdom teaches us how to receive Him by using the great means of repentance along with prayer and fasting. But many are fooled by what the true meaning of fasting is; fasting does not mean to just abstain from certain foods and drinks. Fasting without prayer is essentially nothing less than a bodily act. Fasting provides us with an opportunity for prayer because when a person fasts, their soul is occupied with internal work with God and so when the body is humbled by hunger, the soul also is humbled. We must train ourselves while fasting to not let a change of food be the only thing different we do in this fast, but rather let the fast be striving for change toward a better spiritual life. We must struggle to remove defects and weaknesses that we may feel exist not only within ourselves, but with our relationship with God, and our brothers and sisters through Christ. However, as we fast we must not try to make our fast visible to anyone except our Father in Heaven who sees everything in secret. And as we journey through this most sacred time of the year we must examine ourselves, our salvation, our repentance, and our spiritual life. Sit down not only with yourself but your spiritual father, seek the guidance that us all sinners are in desperate need of as we grow daily in the knowledge of God.
+ May God help us all to see the importance of prayer and to lift up our hearts and thoughts to Him alone and may He grant us to have a blessed and holy fast as we seek for repentance +
“I will praise you, O Lord, for your mercies are forever. From generation to generation, my mouth shall declare Your truth.”
- First Doxology of the Sunday Readings during the Great and Holy Lent
Since birth, we were all taught to “seek first the Kingdom of God.” But in seeking the Kingdom of God we must challenge ourselves and give up our own desires. We often think that by striving for holiness, we will no longer be happy or by striving for righteousness, everything else in our lives will falter. Sadly, we put so much faith in our own abilities and forget the power of God. We forget how much He has given us, we forget how much He suffered for us, we forget that even our trusted abilities were given to us by Him, and the most unfortunate of all, we forget that ALL things are possible to Him.
When we put so much focus on our academic, career, social, or physical goals yet forget our spiritual goals, our hearts and minds begin to accumulate many impurities because of their lack of nourishment. However, we must be careful what we place into our hearts and where we place our hearts, “For where [our] treasure is, there [our] heart will be also.”(Matthew 6: 21). If our focus is on the Kingdom of God, only things leading to the Kingdom of God will be in our hearts and therefore leaving our lips; because, let us not forget that “out of the treasure of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34).
During Preparation week of Great Lent, we should set our eyes on heaven. We must prepare ourselves to place God first in our hearts and lives for He put us first before the creation of the world and set everything under our feet. He promises never to leave us in need of anything as we are more of value to Him than the birds of the air, which He also provides for, according to Matthew 6: 26-27. He promised to love us forever and fulfilled His promise by sending His Son to purchase us by His blood. He promised to always fill us; however, we have to open our hearts and allow Him entrance. So let us all open our hearts before God and allow Him to lead us to Him in purity and righteousness as King David in the Psalms said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23-24)
Author: Marina Abdelsayed
On the last Sunday before Palm Sunday, we talk about the man who was born blind. This story is quite important and is found in John 9. This story teaches us not to judge people because of their appearances and disabilities. The blind man was not paid attention to, as people thought he was blind because one of his parents committed a sin. This is unfair as he was treated badly and was not helped. He was healed when Jesus spat on the ground, and with this he told the blind man to put the mud on his eyes and wash it in the pool of Siloam. This must mean that the blind man had faith in Jesus, as this pool was far away, and the man had never seen Jesus before. The fact that the man saw again emphasizes the point that Jesus is the `light of the world`. The blind man had great faith in Jesus, as he had never seen him, and therefore he could have easily thought he was being tricked. We should
His Holiness Pope Tawadros II announced the inclusion of the 21 Coptic New Martyrs of Libya in the Synaxarium of the Coptic Orthodox Church today. Every year, they will be commemorated on 8 Amshir in the Coptic calendar, which corresponds to 15 February in the Gregorian calendar, the same day as the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple.
Axios, Axios, Axios!
This beautiful icon, which is also featured on the front page, was drawn by Tony Rezk. May the Lord reward his talents.
[Article link: http://lacopts.org/story/the-new-martyrs-of-libya-added-to-the-coptic-synaxarium/]