December 2011 letter
The start of the Nativity fast is an opportunity to remember the mystery of Incarnation, and the Divine blessings humanity has received from Christ – the Incarnate Word – when He took our human nature. The best reference to explain the blessings of the Incarnation is the book “The Incarnation of the Word of God,” by the saint Pope Athanasius the Apostolic:
v Incarnation saved us from the power of death: “Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men” (chapter 8).
v Incorruptibility: “For this reason, therefore, He assumed a body capable of death, in order that it, through belonging to the Word Who is above all, might become in dying a sufficient exchange for all, and, itself remaining incorruptible through His indwelling, might thereafter put an end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection” (chapter 9).
v Incarnation gave back to humanity the lost image: “Therefore He assumed a human body, in order that in it death might once for all be destroyed, and that men might be renewed according to the Image. The Image of the Father only was sufficient for this need. Here is an illustration to prove it” (chapter 13).
v By incarnation Christ carried our curse: “He had come to bear the curse that lay on us; and how could He “become a curse” (Gal. 3. 13) otherwise than by accepting the accursed death? And that death is the cross, for it is written “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree”” (chapter 25).
May this holy fast be a blessing to our lives and our church, keep our brothers in Egyptsafe from all evil, and give support and health to our beloved father Pope Shenouda.
We would like to remind you that the feast of the martyrdom of St. Mercurius the intercessor of our church will be on Monday, December 5th. On this occasion, we will be blessed by the annual visit of HG Bishop David during vesper prayer on Saturday, December 3 at 7:30 pm where he will anoint the relics of St. Mercurius, and also during the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, December 4th at 8:30 am.
Please remember the church, the priests, the servants and their services always in your prayers, and may the blessings of St. Mary and St. Mercurius and the blessing of the Nativity fast be with us always, Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, December 1, 2011