june 2007 letter
The apostles fast has started, the fast in which we humble ourselves in front of God and ask for the repentance of our lost brethren, so that the Holy Spirit may lead them to church. The Lord Jesus Christ has told his disciples to fast after His ascension, in preparation for a new stage in their lives which is the preaching of the gospel“Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast” (Matthew 9: 15).
The power of fasting for others is clear in St. Paul’s life and service. He says; “But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, … in fastings” (2Cor 6: 4-5). Once more he explains: “in weariness and toil, … in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (2 Cor 11: 27).
It is not surprising to find a very small number of people who evangelized the whole world without any materialistic help, as the Lord told them, “Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals” (Luke 10: 3-4). What was their strength but that of the Holy Spirit:
v To give them the spiritual gifts, then lead them and guide their shape to the way that He wants “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts13: 2-3).
v To Change the listeners’ hearts to accept words that seem simple but are filled with strength that fires the hearts to accept the faith “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2: 37).
Let us be like our fathers the apostles, and offer our prayer and fasting as a sacrifice of love not only for the salvation of our brethren but as our church teaches us: “the salvation of the whole world”.
For our church news; with the blessings of St. Mary and St. Mercurius, the new kitchen tiles have been installed to be suitable for making the holy bread. Our youth are working diligently to collect the money needed to pave our church parking lot so that it may be used as a playground this summer. This will be the second project the high school has worked on, the first being painting the classrooms.
There will be an upcoming feast for St. Mercurius on June 16. We will celebrate it by praying vespers on June 16th at 7 p.m. and have mass on the 17th at 8:30 a.m.
Please remember the church, the priest, the servants and their service always in your prayers and may the blessings of St. Mary and St. Mercurius and the blessing of this fast for our fathers the apostles be with us always.
Fr. Youssef Halim
Belleville, June 1, 2007