August 2015 Letter
On the occasion of St. Mary’s fast which we celebrate every year in August, we here quote an article by HG Bishop Benyamin:
“The general fasts are practiced by the whole church, and according to their importance, first comes the holy lent, which Christ fasted for us and on our behalf. Then the fast of the people of Nineveh as an example of the general repentance, followed by the fast of Nativity during which we enjoy the Kiahk night praises awaiting the coming of the Savior. There are 3 days added to this fast to remember the congregation’s fasting after which miraculously the mountain of Moqattam was moved, proving the truth of the Word of God: “if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,’ and it will move” (Mat 17: 20). Also the Apostles’ fast which is the beginning of the New Testament fasts, after the ascension of Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit, who dwelt on the holy disciples, St. Mary and the rest of the believers (120 persons). All are fasts that have noble objectives; like expressing our love to God which is important to enjoy His love, and also fulfilling His Holy commandments.
“As for St. Mary’s fast, it has a very special objective. God is glorifying His saints especially the Virgin St. Mary the Theotokos. The disciples fasted 15 days in order to see the vision of the angels carrying her body to heaven after her departure. This vision was seen by St. Tomas the apostle during his evangelism in India, as a blessing from God to him being unable to offer her farewell at the time of her departure. When he came back to Jerusalem he told the story to the rest of the disciples, so they fasted to enjoy seeing the same vision of the glorification that she received as Mother of God, from whom He took flesh. God protected her body from staying in a tomb and being corrupt, like all other human bodies.
“Glorifying the saints is a gift of the Holy Spirit to choose intercessors before God, supporting the prayers of other believers and all humans (refer to Acts 8: 26-27). St Mary obtained the privilege of intercession since the wedding of Cana of Galilee, when she interceded for the families of the bride and groom after there was no more wine, and thus she became a faithful intercessor before God for all human needs. Not in the sense of a mediator between man & God, for He doesn’t need mediators between Him & us, but in the meaning of supporting those who pray. For the prayers of St. Mary and the saints help & support our weak prayers and elevate them to heaven”.
As the yearly tradition, our church will have daily vespers and hymns during the second week of her fast, starting from Friday August 14th till vespers on Friday the 21st of August, which will end by holy liturgy on Saturday the 22nd in the early morning.
May her holy blessings and the blessings of her fast be with us all.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, August 1, 2015