Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

40 Days After HH Pope Shenouda's Departure

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"40 years. 4 months. 4 days. They knew you were Christian by your love."

(on your 40th day in heaven, during the Risen Christ's 40 days with us)

It's been 40 days without you, our beloved; and in 40 days, we've pondered upon our most precious gift of 40 years, 4 months, and 4 days under your patriarchal fatherhood. My heart melts as I meditate on the significance of the specific number of years God honored us with His angel.

It is not a coincidence that the number of your devoted years is the same number of 'perfect and absolute completeness' not only in our Church, but also in medicine, as our Creator saw it fit for a mother's womb to house her child for 40 weeks of 'perfect and absolute completeness' for a safe delivery into its new world. Likewise, you fathered us, your children, for 40 years of 'perfect and absolute completeness' for our safe delivery to our promised new world.

It is not a coincidence, that as Noah's ark safe-guarded the ancestors of our faith for 40 days against the deadly flood, you, our 117th Ark, safe-guarded us, Noah's children, for 40 years against the deadly tides of the enemy. As Moses received the 10 commandments on Mount Sinai in 40 days and led the Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness, out of oppression in Egypt to the promised land, so your Holiness taught us our King's commandments in 40 years and led the eyes of our spirits, for 40 years, out of fixation on earthly persecution to the focus on the Promised Land. Unlike Moses, your Holiness earned your entrance into the heavenly Canaan before your flock, and you await us there with open arms and your unforgettable smile.

As our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ fasted 40 days and 40 nights before granting us salvation, and as the Ninevites repented 40 days in order to receive salvation; so you, our shepherd, instituted a fast of humble edification for 40 years, so that your Church may receive salvation. As our Resurrected Christ visited His children, in glory, during the 40 days we celebrate now, to comfort their hearts, teach them about His kingdom, and leave them with the Great Commission; so you, likewise, visited us, with Christ's glory, during your 40 years we commemorate now, comforting our hearts, teaching us about His kingdom, and even leaving us with instructions to continue His Great Commission and spread the Good News in love.

You neglected not your children in the lands of immigration; how we dearly missed your awaited Resurrection papal message this year, O our faithful leader, and we will continue to reminisce our golden years of hearing you address us as "my beloved children in the lands of immigration" with love. I always marveled at how you taught us new lessons about the same glorious feasts yearly, renewing our joy during His birth, and strengthening our identity in His Resurrection, lighting our passion to achieve our own.

Finally, as Christ ascended into the Heavens after 40 days of blessing the earth, so you also joined Him after 40 years of blessing the nations of His earth. Even in meditation of your final 4 months and 4 days, I smile at the appropriateness of the number 4, as the number signifying creation, thanking the Lord for the subtle tribute to your dedicated goal of the creation of a place for the Coptic Orthodox church on every continent. Likewise, our Creator saw your papal reign, that He ordained, and because He deemed it "very good", He spread your rich aroma to all 4 corners of the earth.

As the heavens glow brighter with your reflection of the King of Peace, so does the yearning flame in our hearts for you, our beloved, as we aspire to keep your candles lit in every heart around the world. We miss you dearly Baba Shenouda. We try to thank you with words, but words come far too short, so instead we will thank you by striving to continue your legacy. Every time we bow and pray 41 Kerie Eleyson's, we will remember your 'perfect and complete' 40+ years as our father, and in your honor, we will pray 41 times more faithfully; we will give 41 times more generously; we will forgive 41 times more genuinely; we will run to the aid of our brethren 41 times more passionately, aiding 41 times more effortfully, yet 41 times less visibly; we will humbly see our own sins 41 times more vividly, so that we may judge others 41 times less condescendingly, and we will love each other 41 times more unconditionally....until the day we see you again.

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