Vol: 8 Issue: 6
Bashans 1730 / Jun 2014
The Second Monastic Encyclical By: Pope Tawadrous II My pious sons and daughters, Monks and nuns of our Coptic Orthodox monasteries on our land Egypt and the various continents of the world. The peace of the Lord that exceeds every mind may protect your hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus. I am writing to you my annual monastic message for the second time, in the occasion of the remembrance of the departure of the great saint Abba Anthony, the father of all the monks and nuns. (30th January/ 22 Toba). And he was the one who chose his disciples and made them monks in this blessed life, and before him was Abba Paula who started the solitary life in the wilderness, and after him Abba Bakhomious organised the life of community in the monastery. In addition to the great fathers that established the monastic life, saint Abba Makarious, saint Abba Amonious, saint Abba Pesnatious and many others… Monasticism is the faithful daughter of Christianity, it’s the glory of the church, the pride of Christ’s church, the advancement of the church and a symbol of its Christian message. It is the way of angelic life, a glorious and honourable life in the purity of the soul and body and unceasing spiritual prayer. Monasteries are the spiritual communities dedicated to prayer and worship and serving people, and that’s our first and important goal. That’s what we taught and received from our spiritual fathers those whom we know face to face and lived with, or those whom we heard of through the books and learnt from their sayings and their life’s experiences. Let’s remember the basics of the monastic life and how that Godly love that works in the person’s life is what drew each one of us to this angelic way out of love and free choice in a certain time that God choses.
The monk or nun, is a person who longs for virtue and a witness to the world in many ways: Obedience: the monk lives this life because he is in a spiritual battle exactly the same way as a soldier in a war because “everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things” (1 Cor 9:15). “Behold, to obey is better than to sacrifice” (1 Sam 15:22). Chastity: the monk loves it even if it is hard, because it’s not impossible, and with God’s grace it becomes pleasant and easy to cope with. It’s a scale for the hearts (as in sheheet’s wilderness is the scale of the heart) that always rejoices and says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Poverty: the monk practices with internal satisfaction, because it’s obvious that “we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Tim 6:7-10). And we recall with Saint Peter in truth “see we have left all and followed you.” (Mark 10:28) And about this said Isaac the syrian: “The monk is the person who stays outside the world and deeply pleads to God to receive blessings.” And human beings whatever rank they have, they can’t take the flower unless they scratch their fingers by the thorns, “we must through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) My beloved sons and daughters, those whom I really love, you are my pleasure and crown, you are the guards of the church by your prayers and your praises to God. Your prayers are the strong support to my weakness and to all the church’s fathers and servants. You strive every day to get the precious jewel (Matt 13:46) and I mean the kingdom of heaven. You strive spiritually by being alert so that no one steals your crown. You stay away from every comfort or worldly leisure or sensual pleasure because you are striving for the spiritual richness and the pureness of the heart and the initial joy. This is by practicing the commandments of Christ from repentance, simplicity, humility, obedience and living and applying the monastic teachings that make you at the right hand of our Lord Jesus Christ on judgement day who invites you with all your brothers and sisters “come, you blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt 25:34). And you can’t be a true monk unless you become like “an inflamed fire” as was said by the great desert fathers. With the grace of God throughout the last year 2013 we had some important events that concerns monasticism; such as holding the first conference for the monks of the Coptic monasteries; establishing five new monasteries which were acknowledged by the holy synod, which are three for monks (St Anthony’s monastery in Austria, monastery of St Matthias elfakhoury in Luxor, St Mark and Anba Samuel monastery in South Africa), and two for the nuns (mother Sara’s monastery in El Menia, and the virgin’s monastery in malaoy).
We also appointed four bishops as abbots to the monasteries, (bishop Epiphanious for St Macarius monastery, bishop Ologios for the monastery of St Shenouda the Archimandrite in Sohag, bishop Selwanis for St Bakhomious monastery which is known as Elshayeb’s monastery in Luxor, and bishop Mishaeel for St Anthony’s monastery in Germany). And two abbesses for the nunneries (Tamav Takla for St George’s monastery-old Cairo, and Tamav Athnasia for the monastery of St George in Harat Zoeila) and by that those monasteries were stabilized into monastic life. We also sent five monks in educational missions, (three of which are in Greece, and one in England and the other in Italy), and throughout the last year I have visited a couple of monasteries for both monks and nuns and I spent enjoyable time with them through praying and praising and teaching. And that’s how the monastic life prospers both vertically and horizontally, and let your slogan that you repeat everyday be “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20). Conserve your five senses so that you may enjoy the personal experiences with the person of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ. May you be preserved in Christ enjoying your monastic life under the shade of the spiritual fathers. And may your life be steadfast in Christ and His holy church to Him the glory, honour and dominion now and forever and unto the ages of all ages amen Signed: pope Tawadrous II
Years 3-6 from St Bishoy’s Coptic College during their trip to the monastery
St Anthony’s Church Sunday School group
St Abanoub boys spending a retreat
St Anthony’s Church Youth
Year 6 class from St Mark’s Church
St Marks Year 10 class spending the day at the monastery Page 4
Monasticism is a Perpetuation of the Fire of Pentecostal By: Fr Matthew the Poor Two significant events in the history of the church, the first is the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles who were gathered on the Day of Pentecost, according to God’s promise. The second is the founding of monasticism in the Church. At first it may seem that there is hardly a connection between the two, but if we look back to the circumstances, reasons and consequences that accompanied each, we may come to realise that we can neatly tie the two events, thus revealing a single continuous event. The power of witnessing to Christ, from Judea to the ends of the world, was based on the descent of the Holy Spirit. As for the immediate influence on the believers, this was in the form of an abrupt change toward the establishment of a communal life, thus making the individual family solvent within the body of the church, and so individual assets and possessions were sold and the proceeds openly given over to the apostles. Consequently, or perhaps this was in fact the motive, life was entirely consecrated for the service of the church, and so was the formation of the early church; a group of voluntarily deprived consecrated believers living a communal life. Hence if we contemplate on what has happened, it is astounding how money and possession-loving Jews, who greatly valued trade, profit and personal credit, were able to forego, sell and lay down all their possessions at the feet of the apostles. In an instant they accepted to become underprivileged poor! In addition to material wealth, they were also willing to give up the traditional family entity with all its associated Jewish traditions. Concern with tribes, preserving lineage, the sovereignty of the father and the right of inheritance to the firstborn, were all dissipated with the new church structure. This new structure brought with it a new model of fatherhood, a new spiritual lineage where all are brothers, and where the earthly inheritance is replaced by hope in the things which are not seen. If we contemplate on all of this, we realise that it was the work of a power extraordinary to the human nature, this which Christ bestowed ten days after his ascension in the person of the Holy Spirit: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). So now we ought to know that the very first work of this new spiritual power which the believers received was the deep-rooted transformation of human nature, transforming its affiliation with money, family and worldly social organisations. And which nature exactly? The stubborn Jewish nature, that previously exhausted all of God’s
means for spiritual improvement, whether by love, affection, security and a multitude of earthly blessings, or by witnessed miracles, austerity, sternness, exile and misfortune. These means were all unable to promote the Jewish nature even one step further toward sincere spiritual conduct. This nature was made subject to the Holy Spirit in an instant, and became an astounding example of modesty, sincerity, somberness and consecration of body, heart and mind to God. However, what we would like to contemplate on thoroughly is the state of the early church. What transpired on and following the Day of Pentecost was initiated by the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the believers. The structure of the early church was formed without any human planning or direction. As the Holy Spirit initially worked in the hearts of believers, each person that accepted the work of the Holy Spirit sold everything they owned, including themselves, and become a member of the church... The era of martyrdom had not yet ceased before a new response to the exact same call of the Holy Spirit had begun in a different manner, one that was virtually identical to martyrdom, except it was practiced daily and during the course of an entire life! This of course refers to monasticism, which is a complete desertion of everything and carrying the cross every day. Nevertheless if we consider the matter objectively, we find that monasticism is only a response, merely a response to the simple flicker of faith that is driven by the hidden flare of the Holy Spirit, and so one leaves everything behind and surges alone to fulfil his faith, hope and love to God. Monasticism then is a continuation of the early faith without alteration.
The above is an excerpt from our latest book â€œSt Anthony a Biblical Asceticâ€? The life of St. Anthony is a life that is precisely in accordance with the Bible, one which was aided by tremendous power from the Holy Spirit. His going out into the wilderness as an eighteen year old to live in the mountains and parched deserts was an expression of the measure of intense faith that filled the heart of Anthony, the young teen who was accustomed to living a lavish lifestyle. This book by Fr Matthew the Poor, on of the twentieth century prolific writers explores the Biblical basis of the monastic life through the By: Fr Matthew the Poor lens of the life of the founder of the monastic life himself. Page 6
The Eucharist in the Orthodox Church is the true body and the true blood of Jesus Christ. There are many names given to this sacrament such as bread of life, living bread, true manna, etc. what is common in all these names is that it gives life to those who partake of it. This CD is the fruit of hard work of many talented young people who presented the orthodox understanding of the sacrament of the Eucharist in these great songs. These songs not only present an entertaining music but also the Orthodox teaching about this sacrament.
Asaph Tunes, is a new St Shenouda initiative that aims to encourage young Orthodox Christian artists to write, compose and sing new songs using contemporary music. A very important aspect of a song is its educational value that it oﬀers to listeners. In other words the lyrics must present a substantial theological teaching about the Orthodox Church teaching and theology. Asaph Tunes role is to encourage and present the work of those artists to the best quality and provide it in the most common media available such as iTunes and sound cloud and various other internet radios. Page 7