April 2014 Letter
The month of March has been linked with the departure of some of our contemporary righteous church fathers, like Pope Kyrollos VI, Pope Shenouda III, Heugomen Mikhaiel Ibrahim and Heugomen Bishoy Kamel.
It may not be a coincidence that the date of departure of Fr. Bishoy Kamel (March 21st) is close to the date of celebration of the feast of the Holy Cross, for he loved the Cross greatly and wrote a lot about it, and hereunder we quote some of his sayings:
- The cross is not the catastrophe or the trial that comes to man, but rather the daily experience of fellowship with the crucified Christ. It is our weapon of overcoming the world, and the song of victory on the desires of the body and the self.
- The maximum degree of freedom is to rise over the world and the prince of this world. The whole world has become nothing since Christ ascended on the Cross, for He stepped on the whole world with all its glory and its ranks, and on its temptations and trials. Therefore the true freedom is the one bestowed by Christ on His children: “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (Jn 8: 36).
- Freedom is the fruit of resurrection, and the Cross is the way of freedom.
- Escaping from the cross is equivalent to escaping from the Divine Glory, because our Lord reigned on the wood of the Cross, and said about the hour of His crucifixion: “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified” (Jn 12: 23). The life of a Christian is a path full of delightful crosses, each of which ends in glory. The cross is a teacher and escaping it is a loss of the future. The Cross is the only way to resurrection and escaping it is the entry into eternal death.
- A soul without a cross is like a bride without a bridegroom.
- The cross with its pain and suffering is necessary to reach Christ.
- The Cross for Christians is the manifestation of our Christianity.
- The Cross is the whole body of preaching, and the only track of discipleship to Christ … remind me of any saint in the church who did not walk in the way of the Cross and considered it their strength and power.
- The power of the Cross exists because Christ crushed the devil on the Cross; a small child, by making the sign of the cross, can confound the devil.
We ask you to remember the church, priests, servants, and all services always in your prayers. May the blessings of St. Mary and St. Mercurius, and the blessings of the Holy Cross be with us always, Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, April 1, 2014