May 2015 Letter
The month of May is characteristic for commemorating many famous martyrs and saints, among them are: St. George (May 1st), St. Mark the evangelist (May 8th), St. Athanasius the apostolic (May 15th) … etc. Reading the lives of the saints and their sayings is one of the important and strong spiritual tools to support our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ, for the following reasons (from an article by HG Bishop Seraphim):
+ It offers the practical and living application of virtues and biblical commandments.
+ Confirms that the life of righteousness is possible, and holiness is available for every one with the grace of God.
+ Reveals how God deals with man: the story of God with man and man with God.
+ It leaves a very strong influence along generations. Foe example the life of St. Antony as recorded by St. Athanasius had its role in spreading monastic life in the west and in the repentance of St. Augustine.
+ Confirms that spiritual life is a practical one and not merely preaching or talk.
+ It shows that holiness is the original state of man in the Garden of Eden, and is requested from every one: “Be holy, for I am holy” (1Pet 1: 16).
+ Holiness is possible for all human categories: rich and poor can enter heaven, scientists and illiterates, strong and weak, men and women … etc.
+ We learn from the virtues of the saints and from their mistakes and falls, then their repentance.
+ Holiness is built step by step, it needs to be gradual, and needs the guidance and grace of God.
+ We learn that holiness doesn’t exempt us from temptations, hardships, grievances and illness.
+ Reflects the continuous presence of God, His care for us, His support for us and His forgiving our sins.
+ Implants in us the feeling of humbleness when we compare ourselves with those saints.
+ Confirms the importance of continuous growth.
+ Opens for us the gates of heaven to see the rewarding of those saints, and their crowns and glory.
+ Continuous reading about their lives purifies our minds, like water that cleanses a cup over and over.
May the blessings of St. Mary and St. Mercurius, and the blessings of the Fifty Holy days and the blessings of these martyrs and saints be with us always Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, May 1, 2015