Saturday, January 1, 2011

Coptic Catholic Christmas

Coptic church bombing in Egypt is latest assault on Mideast Christians


“As it happens with wine inside a barrel which, when the vineyard blooms in the field, senses it and the wine itself blossoms together with it, so it is with the souls of sinners. They receive some relief from the Bloodless Sacrifice offered for them and from charity. So, when we offer Divine Liturgies and charitable deeds in the name of those who have departed, their souls rejoice if they were righteous and receive some relief if they were wicked." -Anba Athanasius the Apostolic (c. 295-373)

Your Word From The Wise is a Christmas letter from Anba Antonios Naguib - December 25, 2010:

In The Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God Amen

From Anba Antonios Naguib

With the Grace of God,
The Patriarch of the Coptic Catholics and Cardinal of the Catholic Church

To Our Brothers the Bishops, and our sons the Hogominos and Priests, the Monks, Nuns, and Deacons and to all the Coptic Catholic Church at the Home Land and Abroad.

Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will (Luke 2:14)

The birth of Christ is the birth of peace and reconciliation.

The Christmas brings true peace to humanity and a living incarnation of God’s love to man. The night of Christmas announced the message of peace in the song of angles that surrounded the Child of the manger. It is still echoing everywhere and in every human conscious “Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will (Luke 2:14)

The unity with God is the source of Peace:

The old testament of the Bible tells us about the creation of man in a simple magnificent way. The creation was out of God’s tremendous love and His most high divine Will. God said ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…. God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him….God blessed them” (Genesis 1:26-28) the Bible continues” God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good” (Genesis 1:31).

God created man in a state of righteousness and purity. A wise and free creature that is qualified to share the eternal happiness. He entrusted life to him, empowered him over the land and made him his successor (Gen. 1:27, 29). Man lived in true peace in unity with the creator, since the honorable life and safety of man are only achieved in his unity with God, obedience to him and fidelity to His laws. Regretfully the man broke the law, disobeyed his creator and rebelled against him. Hence the great failure and human tragedy, the man felt stripped from grace, overwhelmed with fear and anxiety and deprived of peace.

The world today is hungry for peace and will not find it unless it returns and unite with God while filled with faith and hope. Adam and his posterity lost their peace by separating from the origin, the beginning and the end. Because God is the absolute love, he opened the door of hope to Adam and his off springs through a divine truthful promise, in which His love will be incarnated as a savior coming from eve’s posterity who will strike the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). He will reinstate the peace between heaven and earth. In him, the love, light and uncontained divinity of God will be united with His perfect human nature. His mission will be to bring man back to God, to the high status and to fulfill the true meaning behind his creation and life on earth. Christ, the divine Word, the peace of God and the light of the world, is born. As St Paul describes Him in his letter to the Philippians “Who, 3 though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. 4 Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; 5 and found human in appearance “(Phil 2:6-7).

The Peace of Christ is reconciliation with God

The message of Christ is declared in the song of the angels “Peace on Earth”. St Paul announces that Christ is our peace and that his Bible is the Bible of peace (Ephesians 3:14, 6:15). He announces and preaches peace, as Isaiah previously prophesized (Is 52:7). With the coming of Jesus, a new divine peace was born. It is the peace of reconciliation with God, based on following His commandments, and the belief of His presence in the depth of man’s conscious. He plants peace in the heart of every man. He is the one who said “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me” (Jn 14:1). And also said Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (Jn 14:27) and in the blessings (the Sermon on the mountain) which is the law of the new covenant” Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God “(Mt 5:9). The Divine peace makes us children of God and brothers in humanity.

The Peace of Christ is reconciliation with oneself:

The example and teachings of Christ, as revealed in the Holy Gospels, are invitations to build a pure conscious. The peace that Christ has called for depends on the inner peace of man, and emerges out of a heart that is pure and full of love. Christ has restored to man his value and dignity that he has lost, and still loses, due to his sin and disobedience. He always worked to fill the hearts with divine peace. For the sake of man, He was born and lived, He performed miracles and forgave sins. He promised to open the doors of the heavens to every one who lives faithfully and to every one who truly repents. He reconciled man with God and hence the reconciliation of man with himself. The man could accept himself because he accepts the will of God in him knowing that” all things work for good for those who love God”(Romans 8:28).

The Peace of Christ is reconciliation for all people in love and forgiveness:

The birth of Christ is a starting point for a fundamental change in the relations between people. With His example and sayings, Christ taught us that love is the foundation of the right dealing among people, because they are brothers. When he taught us how to pray He said” Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Mt. 6:8-9). Here He confirmed the main principle, that we are all the children of God, we are brothers in humanity regardless of religion, ethnicity, color, knowledge or nationality. Christ came for all people, to provide peace in reconciliation with God, with themselves and with each other. Christ taught us that reconciliation among people requires forgiveness and abandonment of violence, as he said” You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. but I say to you, offer no  resistance to one who is evil”” (Mt. 5:38-39). “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28). Christ taught us the grace of forgiveness. Through redemption He cleansed us from our sins and opened the door of forgiveness to all sinners. He asked us to pray to the Father saying” forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors’’ and said “But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions”(Mt. 6:12 &15). Reconciliation through forgiveness is a divine gift, bestowed by Christ on whoever wants the Divine peace. With that, Christ eliminates the fear of man from his brother the man and institutes a Divine peace that includes all humans, a peace that was never known before to humanity., therefore St. Paul commands us saying ” Strive for peace with everyone” (Heb 12:14)

Peace of Christ mandates justice and help for the poor and the needy:

Peace will not be fulfilled unless justice prevails among people. On the World Day of Peace, Jan 1, 2002, the title of the address of His Holiness Pope John Paul II was” No Peace without Justice” the message went on saying” Justice is the foundation of true peace”. Among the requirements of Justice is that the poor must receive their fair share in help and care. Christ the king of peace taught us that the final days judgment will be weighed against our stand towards those whom He called “the least of His brethren” whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me…. what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me” (Mt. 25:40, 45)
Truly, the peace of Christ is a Divine gift; however, it is a continuous work and uninterrupted fight for the good and charity. Peace between people and through the world will not materialize without the participation of every one. whoever has a heart that is open to God and has an active will for the good, will give the fruits of the spirit out of which are” Love, Joy and Peace” (Gal 5:22)

Peace in the life of the Catholic Church:

The Catholic Church is concerned with the peace of individuals, societies and the world. She is giving a special attention to it. The synod of the Middle East’s Bishops was held in October 2010 in The Vatican and was attended by 350 members and presided by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. The Bishops studied the urgent issues that, currently, are faced by our societies. The most important of which is peace. They ascertained that peace is the fruit of love, justice, equality, respect for humans, and that every faithful has to work for and spread peace.
In their final recommendations, the Bishops, dedicated an article to the relation with Islam, in which they emphasized” The Christians and Moslems share the life and destiny in the Middle East. Together they build the societies, therefore it is important to strengthen the definition of citizenship, the dignity of the human being, the equal rights and duties and the religious freedom that includes the freedom of worship and freedom of conscious.
The Christians in the Middle East must persevere in the dialogue of fruitful living with the Moslems. They have to value and love them and reject any negative prejudices against them. They are encouraged to discover the values of each other’s faith. With that they show the world how the two religions can constructively agree and productively cooperate through rejecting all kinds of fundamentalism and violence in the name of religion.( No. 42) In the same respect, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI announced that the subject of his encyclical for the World Day of Peace , Jan 1, 2011 will be” Religious freedom, the way for peace”.

Conclusion

In this blessed night, we pray in unity with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and all our brothers the Patriarchs and Bishops, pleading to the almighty God that he preserves the life of our beloved President Hosni Mubarak, all his honorable assistants, and to support and bless his huge endeavors for the progress and prosperity of our dear nation while defending the religious and social values. We pray also for those who are entrusted with all responsibilities in our nation on the political, popular and safety levels. We congratulate those who have been elected representatives of people. We hope that their goal will be to serve the country and its people so that they bring a new dawn for a promising future of love and peace. May the Lord God keep Egypt always in safety and prosperity, brotherly love and peace. May the Lord bestow peace and stability to the suffering countries in our region especially Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon and Sudan. May His Divine peace overwhelm the world so that all humanity become one family singing with Christmas Angels “Glory be to God in the highest and peace
on earth”

Anba Antonios Naguib
Patriarch of the Coptic Catholics and Cardinal of the Catholic Church
An article about Anba Antonios Naguib by the Roman Catholic diocese of Omaha, NE can be read here.

2 comments:

  1. ...praying about this- journalist Katie Couric said today that the most unreported news story this year was a growing anti-Islamic feeling in the US- um, no- hope about the slaughter of Christian around the world?

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  2. That one leaves me scratching my head. LOL. I don't read much news, but I heard plenty on that topic revolving around the Mosque center near Ground Zero. I didn't hear much of anything on the Indian, Turkish, Iraqi, Egyptian, etc Christian genocides that are occurring.

    We were visitors at a Catholic parish for Christmas where I was grateful to hear in the very joyous and appropriate homily a reminder that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world today. Our society has a teenage mentality of rejecting "the establishment" and they're throwing the baby out with the bathwater... quite literally, but I won't start on the genocide against the unborn.

    I'll join you in prayer! Lord, have mercy.

    ReplyDelete

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