March 2007 letter
As we approach the middle of the great lent, our church teaches us to always couple fasting with prayer. As the lent fraction teaches us: “fasting and prayer lifted Elijah to the heaven and saved Daniel form the Lion’s den, and it is how Ninevah’s people attained mercy from God. Fasting and prayer were pursued by the prophets, apostles, martyrs …………etc”.
In order to achieve maximum benefit during lent, let us learn from some sayings of our church fathers about prayer:
v “If you did not attain the prayer of spirit, work on the prayer of the body, and then you will be given the prayer of the spirit. Also if you do not have humility of the spirit, strive for humility of the body and then you will be given the humility for the spirit, as it has been written ‘ask and it will be given to you'” (St. Makarious the Great).
v “Force yourself to bow before the Lord (metanya) as this moves your spirit in prayer” (St. Isaac).
v “When the Lord sees your attention, love and striving in prayer, He will provide it for you” (St. Basil).
v “Let the prayer be with awakeness of the thoughts, so you don’t ask the Lord what He dislikes. As you pray, lift up your thoughts to the Lord, and if they descended, lift them up again” (St. Neils).
It is also good and beneficial to enhance our spiritual life during lent by attending more masses than we usually do; to take communion and abide in the Lord Jesus Christ. So we have accompanied the monthly letter with the timetable of masses in all the neighboring churches and you will find that there are many choices to choose from according to your time schedule.
As for our church’s news, we were blessed by the visit of H. H. Pope Shenouda the Third, on February 9th during his visit to the USA, which was a huge blessings to our church and congregation. May the Lord bless him with health and long life and defeat his enemies under his feet. You can see the pictures of this visit on the church’s website:www.philopateer-mercurius.com, also the video tape of this visit is found in our church’s bookstore.
We ask you to pray for the church its priest and all its services, and may the blessings of our mother St. Mary and St. Mercurius and the Holy Lent be with us all.
Fr. Youssef Halim
Belleville, March1, 2007