January 2011 letter
Congratulating you on this New Year: 2011, hoping that this year would be a blessing to our spiritual and practical lives, and also a blessing to our families and our beloved ones.
During the Nativity fast which coincides with the month of Kiahk, we praise Virgin Mary Mother of God as the servant of Divine mystery of Incarnation. Many of the church fathers compared between Eve the mother of humanity, and Virgin Mary who became of the new creation which is freed by the salvation of Christ, and therefore named St. Mary “Second Eve”. Here are some of these sayings:
“Eve believed the serpent; Mary believed Gabriel. The fault that Eve introduced by believing, Mary by believing erased” (Tertullian).
“Eve was seduced by the word of the fallen angel and transgressed God’s word, so that she fled from Him. In the same way Mary was evangelized by the word of an angel and obeyed God’s word, so that she carried Him within her” (St. Irenaeus).
“Death came through a virgin, Eve. It was necessary that life also should come through a virgin, so that, as the serpent deceived the former, so Gabriel might bring glad tidings to the latter” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem).
“Mary gave birth without having relations with a man. As in the beginning Eve was born from Adam without a carnal relationship, so it happened for Joseph and Mary, his wife. Eve brought to the world the murdering Cain; Mary brought forth the Lifegiver. One brought into the world him who spilled the blood of his brother; the other, Him whose blood was poured out for the sake of His brothers. One brought into the world him who fled, trembling because of the curse of the earth; the other brought forth Him who, having taken the curse upon Himself, nailed it to the Cross” (St. Ephrem the Syrian).
“… Eve is the one from whom the entire human race took its origin on this earth. Mary on the contrary, truly introduced life itself into the world by giving birth to the Living One, so that Mary has become the Mother of the living” (St. Epiphanius of Salamis).
“At first, the feminine sex was obligated to give thanks to men, because Eve, born of Adam but not conceived by a mother, was in a certain sense born of man. Mary, instead paid off the debt of gratitude: she did not give birth by means of a man, but by herself, virginally, through the working of the Holy Spirit and the power of God” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem).
Please remember the church, the priests, the servants and their services always in your prayers, and may the blessings of St. Mary the mother of God, and the blessing of the Nativity feast be with us always, Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, January 1, 2011