Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Sometimes I feel that our church has put so much emphasis on knowledge and forgotten spirituality.

Without knowledge one cannot understand faith nor have spirituality. This type of knowledge I am referring to  is recommended for daily exercise and not just to be delivered in a series of lectures. It is called Spiritual Readings. These readings encourage us to grow spiritually in the love of God and patience. It also  help to purify us from evil.

There are three basic types of Spiritual Readings. They are:
  1. The Holy Bible--In the Orthodox Study Bible you will often find commentaries, meditations, and biographies of the inspired writers who wrote the Holy Books. When we read the bible we have to seek accurate, undiluted knowledge in order to preserve ourselves from misinterpretations that have given rise to so many denominations. Spirituality then grows from persistence and steadfastness in seeking and hungering for this knowledge. Researching in order to understand difficult Holy Bible verses, symbols, prophecies, the history and geography of incidents, all lead to increase of knowledge and spirituality. All this is very useful and extremely important and once information is begun to be understood the benefits of spiritual reading are gained.

  2. The Sayings of the Fathers--these are generally ascetic books, which deal with virtues. You should read them gradually and meditate upon the messages given. Usually within the messages, each person can interpret a spiritual message according to their needs.
    St Mar Isaac said, "Remembering virtuous people renew in us the desire for virtue. Likewise the thoughts of philosophy renew in us evil desires. Therefore, spiritual reading does not only gather the mind from wandering in material and carnal things, but it lifts it up to the world of the spirit and opens before it the door of divinity to taste how good the Lord is."

  3. The bibliography of the Saints--Living examples of Christian spirituality can be found within their lifestyles whether in the world  or in the desert, whether martyrs or monks, battle heroes or leaders in theology. There is a message for everyone.

    Perhaps at the servantsí retreat, we need to integrate more free time for spiritual exercises (Reading, prayer, meditation) and the concepts of "meekness," "poor in spirit," and "God's Love" need to be explored in small group exercises rather than just have a pleasurable activity.
I want to emphasize the importance of seeking knowledge for its own sake; and then our spiritual life will thrive as a result of this painstaking task. Our church encourages reading the Holy Bible and getting to know the facts, understanding the Holy Scriptures, and incorporating the Early Church Fathers in its teachings. To truly understand the Holy Bible and its messages it must always be done this way. Otherwise a false spirituality would develop before the message is truly understood.

You cannot attend graduate school without obtaining knowledge first as an undergraduate. You can abstract think (a higher level of thought) but only with concrete understanding of facts presented.
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