June 2012 letter
This Sunday the third of June the church celebrates the Holy Pentecost Feast, which will be followed on the next day by the Apostles fast. It is appropriate in these to dedicate this fast to the Lord for His church, asking Him to send us a true father to be our next Pope who will take care of Christ’s people in purity and righteousness, and to also send to our beloved Egypt a President, who would rule the country with honesty and justice
The Book of Acts shows us the effectiveness of fasting and prayer in beseeching God to manage the church in His wisdom, and here are some examples of that:
1) The effectiveness of prayer in the choice of replacement for Judas to be the twelfth apostle:“And they prayed and said, You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen” (Acts 1: 24).
2) The importance of fasting and prayer in choosing the church servants: “So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14: 23).
3) In another event we have seen the importance of fasting and prayer in the selection and sending the servants of the Word: “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).
4) The effectiveness of fasting and prayer in the hardships experienced by the church and the people: “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church” (Acts 12: 5), and also “But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss” (Acts 27: 21).
5) The importance of prayer for non-believers to change their hearts to the knowledge of the truth: “And Paul said, I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains” (Acts 26: 29).
6) Then the importance that the prayers and fasts be raised single-minded by the whole Church assiduously: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1: 14), and also“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2: 42).
Therefore let us start the Apostles fast this year seriously, and beseech God in His compassion and mercy to His church and His people to choose the good shepherd and fair president. May the blessings of the Virgin Mary and the Apostles and all the martyrs and saints be with us always.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, June 1, 2012