Harvey Hesse

Church Address 125 Academy Street Belleville, NJ 07109

February 2009 letter

Dear Brethren,

We have recently celebrated the beginning of the New Year, Christmas and the feast of Epiphany. We are preparing to celebrate a spiritual occasion which has a strong impact on our lives which is Jonah’s fast, which triggers the feelings of repentance and self judgment.

Jonah knew what God wanted from him but he chose to run away from Him, to the extent that when the storm arose and the sailors casted a lot and his name came out he admitted that he was the reason for the storm.  The strange thing is that he told the sailors to throw him into the water instead of suggesting taking him back to Joppa! What promoted him of such an idea? Instead of him repenting and going back to the true path, why did he continue doing what is wrong and increasing his stubbornness? Indeed it is very strange that a person, in his persistence in disobeying God is willing to lose a lot and be a failure rather than admitting what is right and correcting his ways.

However, we cannot disregard that Jonah was a great prophet; even Jesus Christ compared Himself to Jonah: “For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation” (Lk 11: 30). Also, Jesus considered Jonah’s presence in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights a symbol and a prophecy on His burial in the tomb for three days. “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mt 12: 40).

This year, the fasting of Jonah will start February 9th, and the following is the schedule for the Holy Liturgies:

v Monday February 9th                                                         10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

v Tuesday February 10th (our church’s anniversary)      12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

v Wednesday February 11th                                                             4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

v Thursday February 12th (Jonah’s feast)                          8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

As for the church news, His Grace Bishop David will bless our church on February 15th, in celebration of the first Liturgy prayed in church on the 10th of February, 2002. As usual, Liturgy will start at 8:30 a.m.

Asking you to remember the church, its priest, servants and all its services always in your prayers, may the blessings of St. Mary and St. Mercurius and the blessings of Jonah’s fast be with us always Amen.

Fr. Youssef Halim

Belleville, February 1, 2009