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 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 Unless it Had Been Given You from Above Magazine issue 9-10 March 10, 2017 While we celebrate the Feast of the Cross we remember the silence of Jesus Christ before Pilate which pushed him to warn Him saying, "'Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?' Jesus answered, 'You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore, the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.'" (John 19:10-11). Many times, the sufferer thinks that others are responsible for putting the cross on his shoulders. He then feels agony and distress towards them thinking they are the main reason lying behind his suffering. But Jesus Christ, whose steps we follow, taught us at the time of His crucifixion that the only one who takes the decision to hand us to crucifixion is God himself, and that tyrant unjust killing people are nothing but a tool that implements God's will for our life. This is exactly what Amos the prophet emphasized when he said, "If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?" (Amos 3:6), and Jeremiah ...Fri, 10 Mar 2017 12:00:00 +0000 A Fortress of Defense to Save Me Magazine issue 7-8 February 24, 2017 God commanded Moses to command the children of Israel to give forty-eight cities from the inheritance of their possessions to the Levites to dwell in, and to appoint six cities of refuge among these cities. These cities of refuge were given to the children of Israel that the manslayer who kills any person accidentally may flee there, "They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation in judgment" (Numbers 35:12). These cities of refuge had certain characteristics. They were six in number, three in the west side of the Jordan and three in its east side. They were among the cities in which the Levites dwell. Their doors would be kept open day and night. The way to each one of these six cities of refuge would be well paved, large, and carrying clear signs directing to the way to the city. The six cities would be geographically distributed in a way that would make them available and close to everybody. These cities would be a refuge for the children of Israel as well as for the stranger, ...Fri, 24 Feb 2017 12:00:00 +0000 I Water it Every Moment Magazine issue 3-4 January 27, 2017 In an amazing praise, Isaiah the prophet kept singing to vineyard of red wine saying, "I, the Lord, keep it, I water it every moment" (Isaiah 27:3). It is well known that every plant has a unique nature. The ability to tolerate thirst differs from one plant to the other. Some plants need to be watered once a week and some others need to be watered once every day or every other day. Nevertheless, we never heard in the agricultural field about a plant that needs to be watered every moment!! Yet, the laws and traditions of the heavenly kingdom state that every human soul is like a very sensitive plant that needs to be watered every moment literally and not figuratively. This is actually the reason lying behind the Lord Jesus Christ, our True Vine, warning us saying that in the same moment we do not abide in Him we will be cast out as a branch and will be withered. The sun of temptations, that is blazed at noon, must burn every branch that is not watered by the oil of God's grace. The more a soul is thirsty to ...Fri, 27 Jan 2017 12:00:00 +0000 When He Opened the Fifth Seal Magazine issue 49-50, December 23, 2016 As we parade the martyrs of the St. Peter's Church to heaven, we remember the words of St. John the Beloved in the Revelation: "When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held" (Revelations 6:9). The fifth seal is one of seven seals on a scroll written within and without found at the right of Him who sat on the throne. No one was able to open this scroll, read it, or even to look at it of those in heaven, those on earth, or even those under the earth. But, when John saw the lamb, standing as if slain, come and take the scroll from the right of Him who sits on the throne, those in heaven rejoiced singing a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Revelations 5:9). According to the expositions of the fathers, this scroll is ...Thu, 26 Jan 2017 12:00:00 +0000 Poisoned their Minds Against the Brethren Magazine issue 45-46, November 25, 2016 When the unbelieving Jews in Iconium were furious with the apostles Paul and Barnabas, they "Poisoned their minds against the brethren" (Acts 14:2), which resulted in the dispersion of the crowds in the city and the Jews plotting to attack the apostles, stoning them, which compelled them to flee. Actually, poisoning the minds of a person or group is an ancient sin, yet it is very popular currently. Perhaps the reason for this is social media, which easily slanders people for weaknesses that are true or fabricated, resulting in their defamation. The story of Paul and Barnabas is not the only one in the Holy Bible concerning this sin. Joseph came with a bad report about his brothers to his father Jacob. The wife of Potiphar poisoned her husband's mind concerning Joseph, by her accusations against Joseph, so he threw him in prison. The ten spies that Moses sent to spy out the Promised Land returned and provoked the Israelites against Moses and Aaron to stone them. Absalom poisoned the minds of the people against his father David. Even the Devil personally complains against us night and day trying unsuccessfully to ...Wed, 25 Jan 2017 12:00:00 +0000