Monday, 8 December 2014

Concluding the Biography of Fr. Benyamin the Hermit - Part 1

Some of Fr. Benyamin’s Sayings:

+ We are foreigners (in this world) and we have no other consolation except prayer.

+We must be simple, loving all, but with careful vigilance.

+ One time Dr. Mary, the physician of the hospital, pressed him for spiritual advice and so he said to her, “Pray, ‘O my Lord Jesus Christ, remove from me self-love (pride)’”

+After asking him to clarify what he had just said, he told her to move on from drinking milk (to grow) and said, “Often repeat that phrase (O my Lord Jesus Christ remove from me self-love) and God Himself will reveal to you deep and new mysteries.” He advised her to ask for wisdom from God and that He would bestow it. “Be like the good soil where God sowed His holy seeds and has borne blessed fruits.”

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Confession and Partaking of the Divine Mysteries

On the afternoon of the 15th of May, 1988 at four o’clock, I was in my cell when the Father responsible for the gate of the monastery came and told me, “A family has arrived and asked to visit the monastery and are waiting in the living room.”

I left my cell right away and went towards the 'asr where the family was waiting for me. I welcomed our dear guests and sat down to talk with them. Here is a brief summary of the conversation:

1. The family is from Port Said and consists of a man, his wife and their two children.
2. Their children regularly attend the Church’s educational classes but the man and his wife do not go to the church.
3. The man and his wife have not confessed nor partook of the Divine Mysteries for a long period of time
4. The man does not feel at rest confessing to any priest.

5. A person cannot be saved while outside the Church, for the Church provides the means for salvation. Confession and the rest of the Divine Mysteries are administered within the Church and not outside of it.

At the end of the visit I asked the family to visit the ancient church, and so we went together and I explained to them the landmarks of the church and the monastery.  And at around 5:30 pm, I excused myself from our dear visitors and bid them farewell in the peace of the Lord.
Hegumen Augustinos El-Baramosy, Diary from the Wilderness

Translated by Michael Daoud

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Why the Fathers? - A Letter from a Russian Monk

You also write that an acquaintance has fallen into a sect. It is a great pity that our Orthodox have very little knowledge of their own teaching and easily turn to various sects. For all the sects, heresies and schisms are based on pride and,self-suggestion. In Orthodoxy the authorities are, the Ecumenical Councils and the teaching of the Holy Fathers. The Lord said: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’ [Matt. 5:8]. And the Holy Fathers with God’s help purified their hearts of passions. They rightly knew the will of God revealed in Holy Scripture, but those who have not purified their hearts of passions cannot rightly understand the Scripture, and such people stumble over it, turn away from the right path and go in different directions. One could say that they leave the big ship and sit down in a frail boat and want to sail across the sea of life, and they are perishing in the waves of vain sophistries. They dig out texts to justify their error.

~Christ In Our Midst, Letters from a Russian Monk p. 52.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Living In His Solitary Cell - Life of Fr. Mettaos El-Suryani

Building his first solitary cell outside the ancient monastery’s walls:

As we have mentioned earlier, the first thing that struck Fr. Mettaos's eyes was the sight of the cells of the monastery attached to each other. He thought that they would be separated from each other, each one being isolated! He hoped very much for a solitary cell away from the other cells of the monasteries in order to live a life of solitude there. He hoped for calmness and silence and this idea persisted in his mind and he always thought about it for many years until the Lord has permitted it by His will.

In 1960, the late Bp. Theophilus demolished the old building for the cells that was near the ancient wall in order to build the new building for the cells, and at that time, the supervisor for this work was Monk Antonios El-Suryani (H.H. Pope Shenouda III, God grant him many years). Him [H.H.] and our beloved Hegomen Fr. Mettaos El-Suryani shared a strong bond of love and friendship. They stored
Fr. Antonios El-Suryani (The late H.H Pope Shenouda II)
that which has been reduced to rubble from the old building like stones, wood and what could be reused. It was used for building and creating a roof for our beloved Fr.  Mettaos’s solitary cell, of course after seeking the permission of H.G. Bp. Theophilus, abbot of the monastery.

In August, 1960, Fr. Mettaos began building his outer cell, and it is the first solitary cell built outside the walls of the ancient monastery and within the separate walls between Der El-Suryan and St. Bishoy’s Monastery. The work continued by simple and primitive means which were available in these days until it was completed and Fr. Mettaos took his abode therein.

Fr. Mettaos continued his work as sacristan for the church (located in the ancient monastery), despite his stay in his solitary cell outside the ancient monastery for a good period of time. He spent the day in the solitary cell and at sunset he returned to the monastery to take up his work in the church and then spent the night in his other cell within the ancient monastery to be able to pray the Midnight Prayers, the divine liturgy and then returned to his solitary cell and so on…

In order for his work to be compatible with his stay in the outer solitary cell, he left his work as sacristan for the church and began working in the bakery, for the monastery at the time baked bread once during the week on Saturday.

Fr. Mettaos took up his work in the bakery on Saturday so that he can attend Vespers and the communal liturgy with the Fathers on Sunday. Later, he would return to his outer solitary cell and would stay there until the next Saturday so that it would be possible for him to stay in the cell and in quiet.

Truly what was meant by divine revelation “
And the desire of the righteous will be granted.” (Proverbs 10:24).

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Monday, 13 May 2013

The Mystery of the Branches Abiding Firmly in the Vine - Fr. Matthew the Poor

The branch does not firmly abide in the vine from the outside but from inside. The secret lies in the sap, which flows from the vine to the branch--giving it growth, firmness, strength and fruit. It is from this perspective that the mystery of persons abiding in Christ is seen. The sap here is in the cup: wine turned into the true sap of Christ: his blood. Whoever is counted worthy in spirit to drink of Christ's blood, that blood runs in him just as the sap runs through the branch to give it strength to bear fruit. Such is the case that the Church counts Communion as part of Confirmation. In short, when the faithful partake of the mystery of the blood, they unite in Christ and become true members of his body on the same pattern as that of the branches on a vine. This is the pattern on which the true vine bearing the mystery of divine existence was formed; or, the holy people, one in Christ, bearing the mystery of the perpetual presence of God [in the world] through the Son.

With that, Christ would have fulfilled Yahweh's old plan, which has been thwarted because man's nature has become unqualified to be welded to God's nature and bear the title of son. It is obvious that the success of the plan was fulfilled on the basis of the Son of God's incarnation. This meant a condescension on God's part; for it was He who resolved to begin by Himself the process of welding His own nature to human nature. By so doing, He intended to qualify its owner to bear the title of "son" par excellence.

Fr. Matthew the Poor, The Titles of Christ, p. 200-201.

Monday, 22 April 2013

My sister, be fully nourished by the teachings of your Church - Diary from the Wilderness

On the morning of the 6th of July, 1990 at eleven o’clock in the morning, I was in the courtyard with a family of three men with their wives and children that visits the monastery quite often. I sat with my dear guests and while they were drinking their tea one of the wives asked me a question, “Is it permissible for me to go to the non-Orthodox Churches?” I asked her, “And why would you?!” she replied, “So that I can listen to their sermons and to know the explanations of the Holy Bible.” I said, “I would like to give you an example from your personal life as the wife of your home. When your husband and children ask to go eat at your neighbors, how will you feel? Will you not feel abandoned and disheartened by your husband and children’s action?” She said, “Of course I will feel that I am lacking in my household and at the same time will be upset by my husband and children’s behavior.”

I told her, “We also feel abandoned and disheartened when our children go to the other Churches to listen to their interpretations of the Scriptures. As you are keen on preparing what is good and useful for your husband and children so that they are not compelled to go to other places to eat there, likewise we also are keen in our Church on preparing what is good and useful for her sons and daughters so that they are not compelled to go to other Churches with the excuse of gaining further knowledge. First my sister, be fully nourished by the teachings of your Church so that you are not in need of going to other Churches. Go to your Church, confess, take communion, listen to the sermons, attend the revivals the Church organizes during the Fast. If you do this you will not feel the same way you feel right now about going to other non-Orthodox Churches.”

And at around one o’clock in the afternoon I bid my dear guests farewell in the peace of the Lord.
Hegumen Augustinos El-Baramosy, Diary from the Wilderness

Translated by Michael Daoud

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

St. Shenouda and Pope Kyrillos VI on Self-Examination


"Brethren, if we want to escape God's punishment and find mercy in his eyes, let us sit every evening alone by ourselves and search our souls for what we presented to our guardian angel to offer before the Lord. Again, as the night goes by and a new day dawns and light prevails , let us search ourselves to know what we presented to our companion angel to offer to the Lord. Let it be beyond doubt that everyone of us - male or female- young or old, who was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit has been assigned to a designated angel until the day of his death to report to him everyday what his assigned individual has done by day or by night. Not that God is unaware of what we have done. Heavens forbid. He is more knowledgeable about it. As it is written. the eyes of the Lord are watching all the time everywhere on those who commit evil and on those who do good. Rather the angels are servants installed by the Creator of the universe for those who will will inherit the salvation."

+St. Shenouda the Archimandrite (Homily found in the First Hour of Monday morning during Holy Week (Pascha).

"My beloved son, in solitude take account of your actions and be saddened for the sins that conquered you. In your solitude, collect your thoughts. Take into account those actions that pleased or displeased the Lord. If your actions were pleasing to the Lord, then rejoice and add to these actions on a daily basis. If you sinned, for every man is liable to do so, ask the Lord from your heart to forgive you, and be diligent not to repeat these offenses."

+Pope Kyrillos VI, Christian Behaviour p. 52.