March 2018 Letter
On the occasion of Holy Lent let’s learn from the writings of H.H. Pope Shenouda III about how to win (triumph) in spiritual warfare:
“On the occasion of the start of lent, we remember that fasting is accompanied by repentance. In repentance man triumphs over every sin and every temptation. In this fast we also remember the temptations of Christ on the mountain, how He was victorious in all of them, and gave us an example of the life of triumph and victory over the devil. Christ said of Himself: “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He has overcome the world in the time of His incarnation, and He is also willing to overcome him in us if we abide in Him.
“Our life on earth is just a test period for our free will, and whoever prevails will enter the kingdom with God in the procession of the conquerors. So how can we triumph?
- Put before your eyes that victory over sin is possible no matter how strong the war might be, and say always: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phi 4: 13), and also Christ’s promise: “all things are possible to him who believes” (Mar 9: 23).
- Have faith that the Spirit struggles for you and with you, as Moses had said: “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord … The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Exo 14: 13-14), and also the psalmist: “The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation” (Psa 118: 14).
- If you fall, do not despair but rise and complete your struggle, echo the words of the prophet Micah: “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise” (Mic 7: 8), and also what the Bible said: “For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again” (Pro 24: 16). Know that your fall does not mean complete defeat, but just a stage that passes by man, of which he gets out from and re-power.
- Trust that God has given you authority over the forces of evil, so experience your authority. He gave us the authority to tread on serpents and scorpions and all the power of the enemy (Luke 10: 19). Therefore, keep your confidence high, face sins and problems with strong morality, and remember the words of the apostle: “I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one” (1Joh 2: 14).
- Be encouraged by remembering the lives of the saints in repentance, such as St. Augustine, St. Mary of Egypt & St. Moses the Strong. Whoever worked in all of them is also capable of working with you
- Keep the door of hope open before you at all times, for whatever you cannot do, God who wants your salvation can do. Know that every closed door has a key or several keys, and God must come even in the last watch of the night.
- Use all the modes of Grace; like the holy readings, comforting verses, the Agpeya, confession, communion, and praising.
- Do not leave your gates open to the enemy, but always stay away from the offenses and all the causes of sin and its atmosphere.
- Resist your weak points, discover and resist them and do not leave any weakness inside you by which the enemy would fight you.
- Do not give up to any wars you fight against, remember the words of Paul: “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (Heb 12: 4). Do not give up at any stage of sin and do not permit any degree of sin drag you to a worst one.
May the blessings of St. Mary & St. Mercurius & the Holy Lent be with us all.
Belleville, March 1, 2017