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Coptic Orthodox Church
Diocese of Melbourne and Affiliated Regions
St Mary and Archangel Michael Church
Perth - Western Australia

Youth Magazine

Table of Contents


    Communal Worship
     Did St. Mary Conceive Children After The Lord's Birth?
    Do You Have An Attitude?
    The Bible and Science


P rayer

H ow great your sweetness is, O'beloved Jesus. Grant me to be within You and have my comfort only through you above all else. Various troubles oppose me in the valley of wearisome. Grief troubles me and darkens my life. But, You Lord, You have mercy on me. 

O' Jesus, the light of eternal glory, the consolation of the travelling soul in the strange land, here is my faint voice talking to You: Why are You so long in coming my Lord? Come unto me and make me rejoice, because I am poor. Send Your hand and rescue me for I am wretched. O come unto me, because an hour or a day without You, gives no pleasure.

You are my joy and happiness. Without You my sustenance tastes bitter. I am like a chained prisoner. Enlighten me with Your face and set my soul free to see Your beauty. Other people may ask things other than You to be satisfied. However, I will not be satisfied by anything other than You, my Lord and God.

My God said: "Here I am, because you called me". Be blessed forever my Lord and God, because You granted Your servant the richness of Your kindness and mercifulness. What is left for Your servant to offer before Your hands, except bowing my soul before You and thanking You for  the plentifulness of Your good deeds.

Your works are worthy of thanks and Your judgements are fair. Through Your kind care, You manage all things. My lips, my heart and all my senses should praise You, O' You who are blessed by all creation.

Glory be to You forever. Amen. Top


L iteratures

Communal Worship, By His Holiness Pope Shenouda III

There are two kinds of worship: Individual and Communal
a) In prayer, for example, there is individual prayer; you pray in your room to your Father who sees in secret. This does not cancel the existence of communal prayer for all the groups of believers to pray in one spirit, in one soul and in one voice. Examples of such prayers are numerous in the New Testament. One of these examples is the prayer of the believers after the release of Peter and John from prison: "So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said..." (Acts 4:24).Of course the Lord's commandment regarding praying in secret (Matt.6:6) does not apply to such prayer.

(b) Likewise in charity, there is a charitable deed done in secret as an individual act in which you do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (Matt.6:3). But this does not cancel the general charity collected from everyone, as when King David collected donations to build the Temple. He mentioned in detail how much he contributed, and how much was contributed by the leaders of the fathers' houses, the leaders of the tribes of Israel, the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and the officers over the king's work (IChr.29:3-9). Another example is when the rich people put their gifts in the Temple treasury and the poor widow put in two very small copper coins (Lk.21:1,2).

(c) Likewise in fasting, there is individual fasting practiced in secret which does not cancel the general fast shared by the whole community of believers.



Communal Fasting
Biblical Examples of Communal Fasting
There are numerous examples of communal fasts in the Holy Bible, such as:
a) The people's fast at the time of Esther: All the people fasted together at the same time for one purpose, praying for one request from the Lord, and the Lord accepted their fast and granted them their request (Esth.4).

(b) The fast of the people of Nineveh: They all fasted together and not in secret, and the Lord accepted their fast and forgave them their sins (Jon.3).

(c) The people's fast at the time of Nehemiah and Ezra: Nehemiah says: "Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads" (Neh.9:1). And Ezra says: " Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions" (Ezra 8:21).

(d) The fast at the time of Joel: The Bible says: "Now, therefore,' says the Lord, 'Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.' ....consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babes; let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room" (Joel 2:12-17).

(e) The Apostles' fast in the New Testament: When the Lord Jesus Christ was asked why His disciples did not fast, He replied: "But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast (Matt.9:15). The Apostles did fast together and not in secret, and the Lord accepted their fast. Some examples of the Apostles' fasts: "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...." (Acts 13:2,3).

(f) St. Paul fasted for a long time together with all the people on the ship (Acts 27:21).

Therefore communal fasting is acceptable and is a Biblical doctrine. It is proof of the oneness of soul in worship and in approaching God, especially if the purpose of the fast is a matter which concerns the whole community, or if the whole community partakes in the fast, as they do in prayer, in one soul.  Top


Did St. Mary  Conceive Children After The Lord's Birth?

By Fr. Gawargious A. Kolta

Diocese Of Los Angeles

This question is frequently asked by our kids, as they are taught in schools that our Lord had brothers. They become perplexed because they believe in what the church tells them; that St. Mary did not conceive children after the Lord’s birth; that is the doctrine of the apostolic churches.

The assumption that St. Mary conceived children other than Christ was based on some biblical verses, saying: “His brothers” (Mat 12:46, Mk. 3:31, Jn. 2:212, 7:3,5) or “Your brothers” (Mk. 3:32, Lk. 8:20). Some interpreted these verses wrongly and concluded that our Lord had brothers by flesh, and consequently that St. Mary conceived children from St. Joseph the righteous, after the birth of the Lord.

It is completely wrong to build or conclude a biblical interpretation on certain verses and ignore other related ones, especially when we discuss a doctrine or a dogma. This error happened several times before, and was committed by many heretics. They refused to accept the other views because of their pride. These heretics were the savage wolves who came in with false teachings and many followed their destructive heresies (Act 20:29, 2 Pet. 2:1).

The interpretation mentioned is not correct for the following reasons: 

I- The word brother is commonly used in the Middle East for relatives like cousins and even the nephews; as seen from the following biblical verses:

Abraham said to Lot: “Please let there be no strife between me and you … for we are brethren” (Gen. 13:8). Lot was the nephew of Abraham.

Laban was the uncle of Jacob while Jacob called him brother (Gen. 3:21, 46). Our Lord Jesus called His disciples “brethren” (Lk. 22:32, Jn. 20:17).

II- If we make a thorough investigation in the four Gospels, we will discover exactly the relationship of those brothers to the Lord Jesus, as can be concluded from the following:

St Mary had a sister called Mary married to a man called Clopas (Jn. 19:25). She had four sons: James, Joses, Simon and Judas (Mat. 13:55, 27:56, Mk. 16:1, Lk. 24:10). She followed the Lord with St. Mary to the Golgotha and she came with other women to visit the tomb in the early Sunday morning.

The four cousins were considered the brothers of the Lord (Mat. 13:55). They accompanied the disciples in the prayers and supplication after the resurrection (Act 1:14). St Paul considered them as leaders to the church (1 Cor. 9:5).

St. Paul called St James the “brother of the Lord”. When he went to Jerusalem, he met St. Peter and St. James the brother of the Lord He was one of the Lord’s Cousins (Mk. 6:3) who took the decision in the debate considering the Gentiles keeping the Law of Moses. He declared that they were free from this Law. His discourse satisfied the apostles and the elders in this council (Act 15:13-22).



More information can be depicted from the Gospels, when we read the chapters of the Lord’s crucifixion. St John said: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother and the mother’s sister Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene” (Jn. 19:25). St. Mark declared the relationship saying: “There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses …” (Mk. 15:40). He mentioned the less in order to distinguish between him and James the son of Zebedee (Mat. 4:21). St Mathew mentioned the same verse (Mat. 27:56).

It could be concluded that James, Joses, Simon and Judas, the so-called brothers of Jesus, are in fact His cousins (the sons of Mary, His mother’s sister). The tradition of the apostolic churches declares that when St. Mary was offered to serve in the temple, her parents got another daughter, whom they called Mary, as the first Mary had become no longer theirs’.

III- In order to give emphasis to the ever virginity of St. Mary and that she did not give birth to any child except the Lord, we can give the following evidences:

When the angel Gabriel announced the birth of Christ, St. Mary said to him: How can this be, since I do not know a man” (Lk. 1:34). This means that St. Mary had made up her mind to keep her virginity, and that was before the annunciation. If she was planning to be a wife for Joseph, she would not have asked this question to the angel when he told her: “You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son”. It is not reasonable that she changed her mind after she became more holy and purified from heaven (The dwelling place of the Lord our God).

When our Lord was on the cross, He told John the beloved when He was hanged on the cross: “Behold your mother” and said to her: “Woman behold your son” (Jn. 19:26,27). If St Mary had children other than Christ, it would have been natural that she should dwell with one of them, rather than with St. John, who took her to his own home.

It is impossible that the womb of St. Mary that was consecrated by the Holy Spirit and the Holy body of our Lord would conceive other children. If that happened it would disgrace the Holy Spirit, who came upon St. Mary. It is impossible that the Holy One and another one, who carried the inherited sin, could use the same place; St. Mary’s womb.

The prophetic words mentioned by Ezekiel emphasize the ever-virginity of St. Mary. He said: “And the Lord told me ‘this gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it. 

Therefore it shall be shut” (Eze.44: 2). This gate which was shut was the virginity of St. Mary.

IV- There are some protesters who erroneously interpret the verse: “After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found of child” (Mat. 1:4). 

They say that it means that they came together afterwards and got married. They add that there is another verse that assures their assumption: “and did not know her, till she had brought forth her firstborn Son” (Mat 1:25). 

In addition some mentioned that St. Mary called Joseph “father” to the Lord (Lk. 2:48) and the people of Nazareth called Him “the carpenter’s son”. They concluded that Joseph married St. Mary, who was considered Joseph’s wife. These interpretations are biased and not logic for the following reasons:

The verse “before they come together” does not mean that they came together later on. St. Matthew means that St. Mary was found of child while she was a virgin, i.e. without the seed of a man.

Concerning the point that Joseph was called the father of our Lord; it was planed by God that our Lord grew up in a normal family, having parents like others. In the sight of the Jews of Nazareth, Joseph was the father of Jesus. This does not mean that Joseph knew St. Mary and She conceived children from him. Legally, Joseph appeared in front of the society as the father of our Lord and the husband of St. Mary. For this reason, St. Joseph took St. Mary before her delivery, to Bethlehem in Judea, to register the new family, saying that Mary was his betrothed wife (Lk. 2:1-7).

The verse: “did not know her till she had brought her firstborn Son” does not also mean that Joseph knew her later The word “till” means separate unlimited time. It was mentioned in Psalms: “The Lord said to My Lord “sit at My right hand till I make your enemies your footstool” (Ps. 110:1). This indicates that the word “till” does not mean that a reverse event will happen later.

The word “firstborn” does not mean that there are later born children, but it means the one who opens the womb (Exod. 13:2, 34:19).

Finally I would like to declare that this heresy started in the year 382 by an ignorant person called Albedos. The church at that time condemned it by the forefathers like Embrosius, Epiphanies and Epronimus in the forth century. The dogma of the ever virginity of St. Mary was well established in the Christian faith from the first century, that she was virgin before and after the birth of Christ the Lord. The goal of this heresy was to disgrace St. Mary. It is against the Lord’s desire that His mother would not get all respect and honour, as she said inspired by the Holy Spirit: “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk. 1:48). Top


Do You Have An Attitude?, By Father Joseph Boules

Diocese Of Los Angeles

Some youth perceive the Coptic Church to be boring, long and something should be done about. Is the church really boring? We may get philosophical, but we don't need to convolute the argument. It basically comes down to, "what is boredom?" You may define boredom as "a repetitive act." This is not an accurate definition.

I can list many repetitive activities that are not boring for some people. For example: watching TV everyday, talking on the phone with friends, et cetera. Those acts repeat, yet they don't bore you! Therefore, it is not fair to call the church boring just because the "same" liturgy is celebrated every week. You may want to expand the definition of boredom to be: "a repetitive act which does not interest me." This would be a more accurate definition but does not let you off the hook! In essence, what you are saying is that church is boring because "it is a repetitive act which does not interest me."

An honest self-examination is in order to reveal what are one's interests! If the interests are spiritual and the church is incapable of providing such needs, I would be the first calling for changes (some people call it modernization). However, if an individual is interested in other-than spiritual matters, no form of church adaptation or conformity would suit such individuals. It is a simple equation with two variables resulting in a conflict of interest.

Saint Matthew recounts the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes, "when it was evening, His disciples came to Him saying…" (Matt. 14:15). This is a very clear example of people spending a long time (till the evening) in the church since the time of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are numerous examples in our church of people who prayed continuously. St. Arsanious for example would stand and pray facing the sun, the sun sets rises, and our saint is still standing praying. The twenty-four priests in heaven praising the Lord continually pray without ceasing.



The disturbing thought is that some may find the Orthodox Church to be inconvenient therefore label it boring! Some erroneously think that the church is boring and long because it is an "Egyptian" church. This is simply not true. The bible is universal and the teachings are clear. Any honest Christian religion will abide by these biblical teachings.

So, what is wrong? Something has to be wrong because, for some people, the feeling of boredom exists. What can be done to confront and overcome this feeling?

The answer begins with you! You have got to be honest enough to admit your interests and goals. Do they include God? Some things in life are very boring but they must be completed. What if someone is ill and must take a certain medication, everyday, for the rest of his/her life? Wouldn't it get boring taking that pill day-in and day-out? Wouldn't this be the ultimate repetitive act? However, you do it because your goals and commitment to life is clear. The reward of completing such repetitive act is measurable by how much longer you live because of the pills. In this case, it is easy to force ourselves to complete this daily boring act of taking a pill every day, so we may live longer.

On the other hand, it is hard to measure the outcome of completing spiritual activities. The rewards are often heavenly. Unless we have a clear goal and a clear commitment to achieving the goal, we may get bored and don't finish the way because the end results are intangible. When we stop taking the pill, we can see physical signs of the body becoming fatigue. How ever, when we stop praying for a period of time, or stop going to church, there may not be any physical signs of a depleted soul. That is why if an individual has a serious commitment towards the spiritual life, he/she will know the unseen state of the spirit is growing. Just as the pills will make the ill person better, so will the spiritual exercises better the soul.

Part of the solution is to make adjustments to the attitude towards the church. It would be beneficial to know whether a person is willing to submit to the church's teachings as a means to get to Christ, or is the church something that he/she needs to analyse, evaluate, and postulate. Sometime, it is easier to question than to perform or follow which evades the imminent. It is healthy to have an inquisitive mind. However, it is important to know the motives behind the questions.

What helps is if you examine your goals and know where the role of the church is in your life. When these goals are clear and your priorities are straight, you need to make a commitment. Once a commitment is made, you don't have a choice to change it. After all, a commitment is sticking to your decision even after the mood in which you made the decision is long gone. If facts change, or life goals are altered, then you may adjust your commitments. However, if the variables remain the same, your commitment should also remain the same!

The key to attending church and actually benefiting spiritually is to alter the attitude towards the church. Remember that the church does not make you go to her every day. If you are uncomfortable with certain people or certain pressures applied to force you to go to church, the church should not suffer as a result. Having the right attitude will automatically crystallize the issues, and you will be able to sort church issues and everything else. Top


Friendship, By His Grace Bishop Suriel

Actually friendship is a vital part of young people's lives today. They cannot do without their friends. They would feel so threatened if they lost their friends. It is a natural part of growing up. Everyone needs Friends; even adults cannot do without certain friends. So, it is a human need. Rarely do we find someone who does not have a couple of friends, especially in the teenage years.

I am worried however, that perhaps some people are becoming more individualistic and separating themselves from society. There are a lot of lonely people in today's society who have no friends, and no one who cares for them. Perhaps technology and the American society is promulgating this ideology. How, you may say, when everything around us is being automated? You go to get gas and all you have to do is put a piece of plastic into a machine and you have your gas. No one to talk to or give you the change or to argue with. You go to McDonald's or Burger King and the same thing happens. People are in a rush, no time to talk to others. So, you drive through speak to a machine and not to a human and get your order. You go to the bank and you can do your banking through the ATM's, no contact with a human soul and no hassles.

Even worse than this is the Internet; you can almost do everything on the Internet these days and without saying a single word to anyone. You could live in your own little world inside the Internet and do all of your chores, buy everything you want, pay your bills, and you can even get a pizza from Pizza Hut! What is this going to do to human relationships, especially between friends? Are friends going to be something of the past? I really wonder sometimes!

Also American society, in particular, encourages in us this type of behaviour. Everyone here is very individualistic; it's how the society operates. Everyone is on his or her own. You may be living in an apartment block and not even know who your neighbours are! I pray and hope that this technology does not destroy our society.

Well, I do not want to go too far off the track of our topic. Friends are the lifeblood of adolescence. Young people may learn lifelong lessons from friendships, grow in Christ through friends, get in trouble because of friends and become very close to friends. We need to understand the three types of friendships, what the Bible teaches about friendship, and the characteristics of true friendship. We also want to know what the fathers of the Church taught about friendship. You must also know what kind of friend you need to be.

So what are the three types of friendship?

The first type I call acquaintances. They are people that you know. They may be fellow students at school in your same class or activity. Or they may be acquaintances of your family, or on your sports team. You may not feel very close to these people, and it is probably a very superficial relationship. You know it's the type of relationship of "Hi, Sally, how are you doing’? and see ya tomorrow" type of thing. Just someone you know and meet perhaps everyday, but you do not actually sit and speak to this person on a personal level. It’s just basically an exchange of greetings, or a working relationship. That means you just happen to work with this person and you may only speak to them concerning your work. So, these are just acquaintances or work mates. We cannot really call these types of people friends, but more preferably to call them acquaintances or colleagues.

The second type may be a friend that harms you. This type of friendship is one that wants to take from you all the time. Whether it is money, prestige or many other things. They may also be harmful in that they give you wrong advice and teach you to solve your problems in a wrong or evil way. They may be leading you to the path of death, whether spiritual or physical death. They may lead you to do things that are against your conscience or against your faith. Deep inside of you, you know that it is wrong and will get you in trouble. They may pressure you to smoke or have a boyfriend or to steal. Look at the example of Job and his friends in the Old Testament. Job calls his friends, "miserable comforters", because instead of assisting him to get over his distress, they make him more uncomfortable by their words. We also see the example of Rehoboam, who took the advice of the young men instead of the elders, and it brought about the division of the tribes of Israel.

If we look at some statistics of teen behaviour, it reveals that: 66% lied to a parent, teacher or other adult, 60% lied to their parents, 45% watched MTV at least once a week, 36% cheated on an exam, 25% smoked a cigarette or other tobacco product, 1 out of 9 got drunk, 1 out of 10 used illegal drugs.

A lot of this behaviour is influenced by peer pressure. Young people face severe peer pressure to act in certain ways, to talk in certain ways, to dress in certain ways, to join certain groups, and to try certain things.

Any deviation from what is considered the "normal" or popular thing to do can result in ridicule and rejection. If someone does not have a boyfriend/girlfriend they may be considered abnormal or gay.

What are the effects of peer pressure? Experimentation: The teen may be asked by his friends to try something and is told that it won't hurt him.

Fear and frustration: He may be afraid because deep inside of him he knows that it is wrong.

It frustrates him because he wants his friends to accept him.

Depression: Repeated attempts at conformity (to fit in) results not in fulfilment but frustration and loneliness.



Confusion: Between peer values and family and religious values.

Negative peer pressure involves a choice of what to: 1. Act like 2. End up like 3. Feel treated like by this group or others.

Peer pressure promises acceptance and approval to young people, but it is an empty promise. These type of friends are not real and true friends. Peer pressure is natural and understandable. It can be positive or negative. It is unavoidable, not only do young people face it every day, but their parents, teachers and others do too. Our Lord Jesus Himself was faced with peer pressure, yet without sinning. The Bible says that He was, "tempted in every way, Just as we are -- yet without sin." In Romans 12:2 St. Paul tells us, "and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

So who are my true friends then? This is what we want to concentrate on. There is a nice saying which says, "tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are." Your friends reveal you, and your personality. Unfortunately sometimes people will judge us by the people that we hang around with. If we have friends that are into crime, drugs and raging, then people will automatically assume that we are the same because we hang around all the time with such people. You may say. "they are just friends, I don't do the things that they do." It may be so, but the question is for how long? How strong are you, what type of personality do you have, are you strong enough to resist all temptation? Do you have the ability to lead such people to repentance or will you eventually give in and follow them?

A true friend is one that gives and not takes. Good friends challenge each other to goodness. A true friend shows continual loyalty as was the case with David and Jonathan in the Old Testament. Jonathan helped him even at the cost of Saul's anger and Jonathan's own claim to the throne (1 Samuel 18:1 - 23:1S-18). True Friends are also willing to sacrifice and persevere with each other, "Greater love has no one than this than to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13) Even if their friends do something wrong, they are willing to forgive them, lead them to repentance, and teach them in humility what is right, without hurting their feelings. Our Lord goes to the stage of laying down His life for his friends on the cross. He also said to His disciples, "I will no longer call you slaves but friends." Barnabas was a faithful friend to the apostle Paul and was there to sponsor him when the early Church held St. Paul in suspicion. The faithful friendships between these people in the Scriptures brought blessings beyond measure. Barnabas launched St. Paul into a ministry that spread the gospel through the Roman Empire.

Let us look at some verses in the Bible that speak about friendship. "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed" (Proverbs 13:20). So, wisdom comes from speaking and dealing with people who possess wisdom, but if you deal with foolish people, they will lead you to death and destruction. They can totally destroy your life.

"A friend loves at all times" (Proverbs 17:17) So, love is a vital part of a true friendship, and as we said that true love or friendship is the one that gives and not takes."

"A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." (Proverbs 18:24) So, do not expect people to be nice to you if you treat them badly or never smile. It is true that sometimes friends can be closer to us than our brothers and sisters. Treat people in the way you expect them to treat you. If you swear at people and fight with them, then expect the same treatment back. Some people who act in such a bad way expect people to be afraid of them and to treat them with respect, but they find the opposite and get their own treatment back.

2- Priesthood of Christ: The Mediator and as the Bishop for our souls.(8-10)

3- Obedience to the Law of God:

The Laws 0f Purity (11-15). The Laws of Atonement (16-17). The Laws of Sanctification for the People (18-20). The Laws of Sanctification for the Priesthood (21-22) The Laws of Sanctification in Worship (23-24). The Laws of Sanctification in the Land of Canaan (25-26). The Laws of Sanctification through Vows (27).

4- Numbers: God wants me to be happy when I depart.

Both my love to humans and my life itself are just a journey through the narrow path of God. It is the way to the eternal feast. “You shall keep a feast unto the Lord seven days” (Num. 29:12)

5- Deuteronomy:

God has chosen me and promised that I will be His son and will enter in a new covenant with Him. “The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.” (Deut. 5:3)

My journeys in this narrow way are full of joy, as I believe in His Divine promise.

My words are inspired by the Holy Spirit to reflect God’s words. (Moses gave three departure sermons concentrated on the Divine Covenant. I am as His son; I talk with the Father's words.

6- Joshua: God has chosen me to be a commander. "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” (Josh 1:5-6)

All my thinking and the feelings of my heart were concentrated on my vision, seeing all mankind crossing the Jordan River with Christ, to enjoy heavenly Canaan, as inheritance and the glorification with Christ.

7- Judges: God has chosen me to be an honest judge.

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." (Proverbs 27:6). This means that a true friend will always persevere with you and even if he hurts you at times, he realizes his mistake and apologizes. So, such friends understand each other and know how to deal with each other in a Christian way. Those that appear to be your friends but really speak about you behind your back or cannot keep your secrets are like the kisses of an enemy, just like the kiss of Judas to Christ.

"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. " (Colossians 3:12-14)

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." (Philippians 2:3-5)

True friends do not become jealous, as in the case of Joseph and his brothers, they can keep secrets, and they can resolve their problems peacefully as in the case of Abraham and Lot. They are also honest with each other and don't speak about each other to other people.

Listen to some advice from His Holiness Pope Shenouda III: "Do not seek what people have, they will love you. Do not make others feel that you are their rival who wants to take what they possess or what they are trying to obtain. Endure others’ weaknesses and win them by your patience, forgiveness and open heartedness. Praise others and make them aware of your appreciation. Make them feel that you know their good deeds and admire them. Respect others and treat them for building people, not destroying them. Understand people and help them to understand you, quietly and with a good spirit. By doing this, you'll be able to live with them in mutual understanding, love and peace. Share in people's joys and sorrows. ‘Rejoice with these who rejoice and weep with those who weep' (Rom. 12:15). Do not miss a chance to comfort people's hearts."

Truly golden words, that we need to consider and live by. Yes, true friends must always be there for each other.

What do the Church fathers say concerning this subject? Let us see what we can learn from Saint John Chrysostom. He says in his homily on 1 Thessalonians Chapter 2. "He who loves, ought so to love, that if he were asked even for his soul or life, and it were possible, he would not refuse it...Truly a faithful friend is the medicine of life. (Ecc. 6:16). Truly a faithful friend is a strong defence (Ecc. 6:14). For what will not a genuine friend perform?...Though you should name infinite treasures, none of them is comparable to a genuine friend... If anyone has a friend such as I speak of, he will acknowledge the truth of my words. Though he sees his friend every day, he is not satiated. For him he prays for the same things as for himself....from a friend we may both ask a favour, and receive one without suspicion...I speak of spiritual friends, who prefer nothing to friendship. Such was Paul, who would willingly have given his soul, even though not asked....But consider, in the tinge of the apostles, I do not speak of the chief men, but of the believers themselves generally, 'all,' he says, 'were of one heart and soul: and neither did anyone say that any of the things possessed was his own ...and they distributed to each, as anyone had need"'

Saint Ambrose says: "Preserve, then, nay sons, that friendship ye have begun with your brethren, for nothing in the world is more beautiful than that. It is indeed a comfort in this life to have one to whom thou canst open thy heart, with whom thou canst share confidences, and to whom thou canst entrust the secrets of thy heart. It is a comfort to have a trusty man by thy side, who will rejoice with thee in prosperity, sympathize in troubles, encourage in persecution. What good friends those Hebrew children were whom the flames of the fiery furnace did not separate from their love of each other! Of them we have already spoken. Holy David says well: "Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant, inseparable in their life, in death they were not divided." Let not thy warning be harsh, nor thy rebuke bitter, for as friendship ought to avoid slavery, so, too, ought it to be free from arrogance. For what is a friend but a partner in love, to whom thou unitest and attachest thy soul, and with whom thou blendest so as to desire from being two to become one; to whom thou entrustest thyself as to a second self, from whom thou dearest nothing, and from whom thou demandcst nothing dishonorable for the sake of thine own advantage. Friendship is not meant as a source of rcvenue, but is full of seemliness, full of grace. Friendship is a virtue, not a way of making money. It is produced, not by money, but by esteem, not by the offer of rewards, but by a mutual rivalry in doing kindness."

Finally, what kind of a friend do you need to be? Simply speaking, you should be a good example to your friends in the way you speak, act, dress. You should be leading a holy life and lead your friends to know Christ and love Him, and to have Him as your best Friend. You should be patient and not self-seeking. You must pull your friends up and have a strong personality and not allow them, to pull you down. You must be willing to listen to your friends, so that they will listen to you Top


Repentance, By His Holiness Pope Shenouda III

As sin is separation from God, repentance then is returning to God. God says: "Return to me, and I will return to you" (Malachi 3:7). When the prodigal son repented, he returned to his father (Luke 15:18-20). True repentance is a human longing to return to the origin from which it was taken. It is the desire of a heart that stayed away from God, and felt that it stay away any longer.

As sin is a dispute with God, so repentance is reconciliation with God. This is what our teacher Saint Paul said about his apostolic work,: "Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading by us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5;20). Actually repentance is not only reconciliation, but the means by with God returns and dwells in the human heart, transforming it to a heaven. As for those non-repentant, how can God dwell in their hearts while sin is dwelling therein? The Bible says, "What communion has light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Repentance is also a spiritual awakening

The sinful person is unaware of his state. The Bible says to him, "That now it is high time to awake out of sleep" (Romans 13:11). By this context, repentance is the return of: a person to himself, the return of oneself to its original sensitivity, the return of the heart to its fervor and the return of the conscience to its work. It is fittingly said about the prodigal son in his repentance: "He came to himself" (Luke 15:17). He then came back to his alertness, to his correct thinking ,and to his spiritual understanding.



For as sin is regarded as spiritual death, just as the Bible says about sinners that they are: "dead in trespasses" (Ephesians 2:5). Therefore, repentance is a transition from death to life according to the writings of Saint John the Evangelist in 1 John 3:14. Saint Paul the Apostle says concerning this: "Awake, you who sleep; arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light" (Ephesians 5:14). Saint James the Apostle confirms the same meaning by saying: "He who turns a sinner from the ‘error’ of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:20). Repentance is separation of the spirit from God, just as Saint Augustine said: "Repentance is a new pure heart, which God gives to the sinners to love Him with"

Repentance is a Divine act performed by God inside the person, according to His Divine promise, saying: "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, I will cleanse you from all your filthiness…I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you…and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them" (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

Repentance is freedom from the slavery of sin and the devil. It is also freedom from the most sinful habits and from running after lusts. It is impossible for us to partake of this freedom without the work of the Lord in us. Therefore the Bible says: "If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:36). It is true freedom because, "whoever commits sin is a slave of sin" (John 8:30).

We receive this freedom if by repentance, then we stand firm in the truth-- not through vanity. "And the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

Repentance then, is forsaking sin because of the love of God and the love of righteousness. Not all forsaking of sin is considered repentance. Other reasons are: fear, embarrassment, inability, preoccupation (with the remnants of its love in heart) or as a result of unsuitable situations, are not considered repentance. As for true repentance, it is the discarding of sin practically, mentally and from the heart, out of love for God, His commandments, His Kingdom, and the repentant’s care for his eternity.

True repentance is forsaking sin without returning to it. Thus have been the stories of the saints who have repented such as: St. Augustine, St. Moses the Black, St. Mary of Egypt, Pelagia, Thais, and Sarah….Repentance was in the lives of all of these and others, a turning point towards God, continuing throughout life without return to sin. This reminds us of the sayings of St. Shishoy: "I do not remember that the devil has tempted me into the same sin twice." It is possible that the first sin was a result of ignorance, negligence, weakness and unawareness of the tricks of the devil or a lack of cautiousness. But after repentance and awaken, there is precision in life and caution of sin. As for the one who discards sin and returns to it, he has not repented. This is only an attempt towards repentance…every time the sinner arises, sin drags him lower. If freedom is struck down, he will not repent.

Repentance is a cry from the conscience and a revolution against the past. It is repulsion from sin, great regret and rejection of the old state with embarrassment and shame. It is therefore said about repentance that it is a "Daring Judge." Top


The Bible and Science, By Fr. Athanasius Ragheb

Diocese Of Los Angeles

Even though the Bible was never meant to be a scientific book, the scientific facts mentioned in the Bible are numerous. Although our faith does not depend on whether or not these scientific facts are mentioned in the Bible, we still strongly believe that the Bible is the Word of God. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). However, the presence of these facts strengthens the faith of some people. We also need to notice that any scientific theory or suggestion that may appear to contradict the Bible for any reason must be looked at carefully, for the Bible is the ultimate truth.

In this article, we will examine together one of those facts that has been overlooked for many generations and was never understood until recent discoveries were made.

In the book of Genesis, we read, "The earth was void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters...the God said, 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters, which were under the firmament from the waters, which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day" (1:2,6-8).



Until recently no one could understand what the Bible meant by water above the firmament. We know that the firmament is the heaven, the blue sky that surrounds the earth and contains all the stars, moons and planets. Some thought this water above the firmament were the clouds. This is not true, because they are not above the firmament, but rather in the firmament. Sometimes they are right in contact with the earth, on top of the mountains. Could there be any waterway above the heaven, in space?! For a long time it seemed impossible.

We can relate very much to the waters under the firmament; they are the waters of the rivers, seas, oceans and springs. But what is the water above the firmament? In recent years scientists have made astronomical discoveries which prove conclusively that massive amounts of water do exist in space, just as the Bible claims. Naturally, because of the extreme temperatures, the waters in space are frozen. Let us underline the word frozen and match it with ice, snow, and hail. God asked Job, "Have you entered the treasury of snow, or have you seen the treasury of hail, which I (God) have reserved for the time of trouble?" (Job 38:22). The wonderful thing here is how did Job, the ancient man, know of hail and snow while he was living in the peninsula of Arabia, a very hot place, and never saw any hail or snow in his lifetime? The only explanation is that these are the words of the All-Knowledgeable God. He also meant that the treasure of hail and snow out there and is stored for a time of trouble.

Recent satellite discoveries have revealed the presence of large amounts of ice on the ice caps of Mars, as well as in the rings of Saturn. We also know that the comets travelling throughout the solar system consist of massive amounts of ice.

Just a few months ago, there was a report released from the NASA research centre stating that the life of man could be sustained on the moon because of the presence of the necessary oxygen needed for life. This can be attained through the hydrolysis of water (ice) storage on the moon. So water is present in space above the firmament.

The Ort Cloud, which is a vast region of space at the edge of the solar system, is estimated to hold as many as one trillion large comets composed of ice and rocks. Each large comet is calculated to contain as much as one trillion tons of ice.

The spaceship Viking II that was launched by NASA in 9/9/75 and landed on Mars on 8/7/76 discovered the presence of a huge amount of water frost on the surface of Mars.

In brief, the amounts of water that exist above the firmament are much greater than the amount of water that exists under the firmament. Water does exist in the space above the firmament. The Bible released a report 7,500 years ago that we now are only beginning to understand. Top

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A word with Father Abram
© - 12 May, 1999
Last Updated: 05 April, 2004

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