August 2014 Letter
During the month of August every year we enjoy Saint Mary’s fast, which is of the most enjoyable fasts to our Coptic congregation. We take this opportunity to review the life of St. Mary and the time she spent in every place she lived in:
1) St. Mary lived 58 years and 8 months. The church celebrates her birthday on May 9th (first of Bashans).
2) She stayed with her parents 2 years and 7 months, until they offered her to the temple which is commemorated on December 12th (Kiahk 3).
3) She lived in the temple 10 years and 4 months till the age of 13.
4) Then she was betrothed to St. Joseph and moved to his house. There, after 11 months she received the annunciation from Archangel Gabriel, of the Holy conception. We conclude then that at the time of annunciation she was at the age of 13 years and 11 months. It’s well known that the church celebrates the feast of annunciation on April 7 (Baramhat 29).
5) The time of her conception was 9 months, so when she gave birth to our Lord Jesus Christ she was at the age of 14 years and 8 months.
6) She lived less than 2 years in Judea, till the angel ordered St. Joseph to flee to Egypt, which is celebrated on June 1 (Bashans 24). She was almost 16 years old.
7) She stayed in Egypt around 3 years till the Holy Family returned to Nazareth in Galilee, according to the angel’s order.
8) Then she lived in Nazareth almost 29 years till our Lord was crucified, completing 47 years and 11 months of her age.
9) As was instructed by Christ, St. John the beloved took her to his house, where she stayed till her departure at the age of 58 years and 8 months. The church celebrates the feast of her departure on January 29th (Tubah 21).
May her holy blessings and the blessings of her fast be with us all.
As the yearly tradition, our church will have daily vespers and hymns during the second week of her fast, starting from Thursday August 14th till vespers on Thursday the 21st of August, which will end by holy liturgy on Friday the 22nd in the early morning.
Asking you to remember the church, priests, servants and all services always in your prayers, may the blessing of St. Mary & St. Mercurius be with us all. Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, August 1, 2014