Literature – Resources – Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States An RSS feed of the literature released on the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States website The Joy of Your Salvation Holy Nativity Feast Message 2018 The birth of Christ the Lord brought joy to the world beginning with all who beheld His nativity and early infancy in Bethlehem. On this holy night of the Lord's miraculous birth, God presented the world with the ultimate gift—Himself. Through Christ Jesus, the prayer of the prophet David was granted, "Restore to me the joy of Your Salvation" (Psalm 52:12). Salvation is the greatest joy of the incarnation and nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The birth of our Lord was proclaimed with great joy by a few representing all the faces of God's creation, man and woman, shepherds and beasts, wise men and heavenly angels. The prophet Isaiah foretold the titles to describe the Lord's character: "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). So often we are broken—broken by our own iniquities and mischief. So often, we are broken by others—cheated and led astray. This holy night poured the message of restoration of joy to each one of us. On His birth, we were given a new life in Christ. Forgiveness is life. No longer are we broken by sin, but Satan's siege on ...Sat, 06 Jan 2018 12:00:00 +0000 Amazing Love "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Amazing love that is full of humility and never seeks itself, but seeks others in everything He plans or does. God filled our lives with beauty and wonders that on earth we will always be in awe and above in heaven He will show us His majesty and His love. But sadly, many times we read this verse and feel nothing inside. We became accustomed to the word of God and to the act of God's will toward His son; we discard the intense feeling and the agony behind it. As violent and abusive fathers became normal around us, we became numb to the idea that the act of the Father was a result of His love for us and His desire that we be reunited with Him. Instead, we disregard His act of love and stop contemplating about it as if it is a casual act, and we move on with our daily lives. Giving up your only child to slaughter is not a casual ...Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:00:00 +0000 Gratitude: Theology and Doctrine "We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you" (Colossians 1:3). A thankful heart belongs to God. Communication with God consists of a set of connected tender interactions. Giving thanks is not contingent upon the petition being granted, but rather, thanksgiving is a fundamental principle that complements prayer and supplication. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6). Thanksgiving is a companion of prayer and supplication regardless of the outcome and evinces a sure confidence in God that His will be done. The petitioner is endowed with peace and serenity by the assurance that the end result is in God's hands. Non-believers are confounded by this remarkable characteristic of "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20). Whether in gladness or in sorrows, gratitude is in the heart and on the lips of true Christians. By giving thanks in all circumstances, every predicament sheds its detriment at the feet of the Lord. St. Paul encourages the believers to persevere by a ...Thu, 23 Nov 2017 12:00:00 +0000 The Life of Service Martha "And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'" (Luke 10:41-42). There is a difference between wanting to be part of the service, where you select or choose what you would like to serve in, and the service that God wants you to serve in although you might feel lacking or do not have what it takes to serve in this field. On the surface, the first choice seems more logical. You do what you feel comfort with and what you are good at but, in fact, God never said that serving Him or others will be easy. God did not ask us to serve others because we are good at it, comfortable doing it and or we are better in this particular services than others. Martha knew the Lord personally. He stayed at their home and she and her family often travelled with Him. However, Martha never took the opportunity to sit by the Lord's feet and to ask Him, "Lord, what you ...Sun, 15 Oct 2017 12:00:00 +0000 Bearing the Cross and Forsaking All to Follow Christ The cross is a symbol of pride and joy in the same way that a flag symbolizes a patriot’s loyalty and citizenship, a logo symbolizes an athletic team’s motto of toil and perseverance, and a banner symbolizes a hero’s achievement and victory. The cross is all of that and more for Christians. The cross comes at a personal cost, but the end result is success and jubilation. Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? (Luke 14:25-30) Bearing one’s cross is the first step in making a firm commitment ...Wed, 27 Sep 2017 12:00:00 +0000 The Sins of Men and the Sins of Women in the Eyes of a Just and Merciful God: David and Bathsheba—An Unusual Model of Repentance and Restoration In today's Christian society, are men and women equal when it comes to sin? God purposed to design civil societies amongst His human creation. In His great and unmatched wisdom, He created a hierarchal system, which entailed that parental figures first be honored and obeyed. God designed a sacred Mystery for a man and woman to join together in holy matrimony and procreate. He classified the roles of males and females and distinguished biological differences in their physical faculties and in their emotional variances. This design was not intended to advocate that one gender be superior to the other, neither in intelligence nor in abilities. In God's great economy, there is balance, and all parts can fit together and work in harmony to provide unity and stability for the individual, the family, and the society. Thus, God equipped humanity with tools for building successful relationships. Sin is the disruption of God's plan for peace, purity, happiness, and love within families and amongst societies. Sin is an inner struggle to acquire something that is forbidden. God's justice and mercy provides a moral compass by which we can preserve good and meaningful relationships and overcome sin. The Ten ...Wed, 20 Sep 2017 12:00:00 +0000 The Coptic New Year 1734 "Christians have a glory and a beauty and a heavenly wealth which is beyond words, and it is won with pains, and sweat, and trials, and many conflicts, and all by the grace of God" (St. Macarius the Great). Every year since the year 284 A.D., the Coptic New Year has been celebrating our Christian martyrs as illustrious heroes and champions. Neither systematic persecution, nor harassment, nor oppression, nor threats dissuaded these faithful people from refusing to deny their faith in Christ, the Savior of the world, for which they willing gave up their lives. These heroes include a gamut of distinguished theologians, clergy, laymen, laywomen, elderly, and even children. Their strength of character emerged at the most pivotal times in their lives. When confronted with a life or death decision based on their faith, they perceived the ultimatum of choosing death a far more lucrative choice than an extension of life on earth by denying Christ. Thus, they endured tortures, pains, separation from loved ones, and a brutal death for their love for Christ and an eternal life with Him. The persecution of Christians began with Christ and will end with His Second ...Tue, 19 Sep 2017 12:00:00 +0000 God Is Not Sexist God needs no one to defend Him. From where did our Christian culture venture to draw conclusions that God is sexist and consents to a notion that men are a dominant species and women are feeble and inadequate? Is the distinction in their roles the justification of the repugnant behavior of some men? Domestic violence is neither condoned nor tolerated by the Church. Many have been led astray by mistaken ideologies that dominate the philosophies of some societies. This is not the Christian credence. When the Church is presented with domestic issues, we proceed with diligence to unveil the truth and intervene toward fair and ethical solutions for the family according to the teaching of Christ. Our rhetoric stipulates peace in the household according to God's commandments. The Lord equated a husband and wife, or a groom and his bride, to God and the Church (Isaiah 62:5; Ezekiel 16:8; Matthew 25:1-46; Mark 2:19-20; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7-9, 21:2,9). God Almighty is righteous, benevolent, and merciful. He allows the sun to shine upon the righteous and the wicked.1 Neither gender is excluded from His love. We see God's respect for women from the ...Fri, 11 Aug 2017 12:00:00 +0000 Confessing His Resurrection in Our Lives My Beloved Children, Christ is risen! Truly He is risen! I wish you all a very joyous Feast of the Glorious Resurrection, always abounding in God's love with constant jubilant hearts distinguishing you as children of our risen Savior. By Christ's holy resurrection, we were given a renewed infinite chapter in life. Before His resurrection, we were marred by the plagues of sin, but in His resurrection, we live by love, grow in virtue, serve with grace, and rise above sin through hope. Christ's resurrection is the epitome of joy yielding to an unshakable state of contentment, "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content" (Philippians 4:11). By emulating Christ, we confess His holy resurrection in our lives. As Christians, we proclaim Christ's death, for which He was delivered for our transgressions and we confess His resurrection, for which He was raised for our justification (cf. Rom. 4:25). To proclaim His death alone is insufficient, but confessing His resurrection in our lives affirms His divinity and confirms our faith in Him as the One Triune God. Indeed, Christ rose from the ...Sun, 16 Apr 2017 12:00:00 +0000 Instead of a Sweet Smell there will be a Stench Magazine issue 13-14, April 7, 2017 One of the greatest hymns of the Coptic Church is the Hymn of "Fay etaf enf" in which we sing in gladness saying, "This is He who offered Himself up as an acceptable sacrifice on the Cross for the salvation of our race. His good Father smelled Him at the evening watch on Golgotha". In fact, this hymn is derived from the symbolism of the burnt sacrifice to the Lord Jesus Christ as it was fully burnt, "an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord" (Leviticus 1:9). There are other passages in the Holy Bible clarifying that the sweet aroma of the burnt sacrifice was not the only thing that pleased God. When Noah built an alter to the Lord after he went out of the ark, he offered burnt offerings on it "and the Lord smelled a soothing aroma" (Genesis 8:21). When Jacob presented himself to his father Isaac to get his blessing "he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said: 'Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the Lord ...Sat, 15 Apr 2017 12:00:00 +0000