September 2017 Letter
On September 11th, we will celebrate the beginning of the new Coptic year 1734 AM. The Coptic year is the year of Martyrs, which is a good opportunity to learn about “The life of steadfastness” from an article by HE Metropolitan Pachomius.
“The life of martyrs is characterized by being steadfast in the Lord, which is a Biblical commandment, for Christ told his disciples in his final address “abide in my love” (John 15:9). All the martyrs, regardless of time or place, never lost their steadfastness. So how could they stay steadfast in their faith while being exposed to great pressures? How can we have their steadfastness? What do we need to do to be like them?
- Steadfastness in the Christian faith: this is the role of the Holy Spirit by which we can confront all doubts and fears. Steadfastness in faith is not attained by reading and learning alone but more so by living with the spirit of faith received from our ancestors, by the spirit received through baptism and not to grieve the Spirit of God that dwells in us nor quench Him but rather abide in Him.
- Steadfastness in the Orthodox faith: our fathers suffered a lot for the faith that they handed to us and now that we are exposed to strong waves of foreign teachings, and many teachings that may not agree with our orthodox faith, our Christian families need to deliver to its children the Orthodox spirit which includes dogma, rituals, way of living, love to Church and its sacraments, holy liturgy, songs and liturgical services.
- Having a steady loving relationship with God: repentance is the measure for abiding in the love of God, for whoever abides in the life of repentance will have a steady relationship with God. This needs continuous self-evaluation and revision.
- Steadfastness in the acts of righteousness which are acts of worship as well as acting according to the Christian virtues. This doesn’t mean that man is saved by acts of righteousness, but we could not express our true faith except by acts: “show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works”. (Jam. 2:18).
- Steadfastness in the love of church: The sign of this love is a continuous relationship with the church of God in an honest and correct manner. For some unfortunately consider the church a place to meet in social gatherings, but we have to understand our relationship with the church is a spiritual one, realizing that the church is the only place of our salvation. About this the early fathers of the church said there is no salvation outside of the church.
- Steadfastness in the love of others: This requires a spiritual struggle to be steadfast in love of people whether they honor or humiliate us. We should serve people and deal with them with unconditional love, whether they show us love in return or not, whether they gave back in response to our love or not, as this is what our Lord Jesus did.
Steadfastness keeps the Christian person in the path of continuous spiritual growth, which is the good will of God.”
May the blessing of St. Mary, St. Mercurius and all the martyrs be with us all. Amen.
Belleville, September 1, 2017