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The Cross in Our Life

On the occasion of the feast of the Cross, we mention the following points:

Our first relationship with the Cross starts by baptism, where our old Adam is crucified so that sin will never enslave us.

The Church has carried the Cross during the martyrdom period and in all the persecutions that followed it during the lapse of time…

The beauty of the Cross is that the Church carried it with joy and patience,… without any complaint or grumbling…

The Cross changed into a longing that the Church desires and proceeds towards.

The way in which the Christians received death puzzled the pagans. It was a reflection of the Christians’ faith in eternal joy and disdain of the world, with all its pleasures and enjoyment’s…

The prisons turned into temples, where hymns and prayers echoed from the Christians who were joyful to receive death.

The third field where we carry the Cross is the narrow gate…

A person might constrain himself for the sake of God. He isolates himself from the world and all its desires. He disclaims everything for God’s sake… by fasting, devoutness, self control and enduring others’ offenses.

The Cross of weariness could also be included in this field…

One toils in one’s services for God and labours (in crucifying the flesh with its passions). The Apostle says that, “He toils in struggling and crucifying the thought and overcoming oneself,” knowing all the time that he “will receive his own reward according to his own labour.” (I Cor. 3:8) Christianity could never be separated from the Cross…

The Lord Jesus told us plainly that “… In the world you will have tribulation” and he also said, “and you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.” (Matt. 10:22)

We welcome and rejoice with the Cross, and see our strength in it. As the Apostle said, “For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” (I Cor. 1: 18)

Cross

Stubbornness

A humble person may give up his opinion and would possibly admit that he was wrong, and rectify the error…

A meek person deals simply with everyone and never argues much or acts stubbornly.

He considers the other opinion with respect and dignity as an unbiased person, not as an opponent. He honestly searches for what is good in it and if he finds it right, he accepts it…

Some people, when you talk to them, make you feel that their minds are completely locked us to any understanding. Nothing is acceptable to them except their own opinion, and in a stubborn way they reject anything else without any discussion…

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Human anger

Sometimes, a holy anger happens for God’s sake, but it does not have nervousness and loss of temper, it is a holy zeal.

James, the apostle, said about human anger “…for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20) Our saintly fathers, have many sayings on rebuking anger.

St. Aughoris said, “The prayer of the angry is a defiled and rejected incense and the offering of the angry is unaccepted.” He also said: “Anger is an action of the insane… It makes humans like beasts… the eyes of the angry are evil, full of blood, while the face of the gentle is radiant and his eyes look with dignity.

St. Agathon used to say, “Even if the angry raised the dead, it is not accepted by God and nobody will come forward to him.

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How to say public prayer

On this form of prayer the Ethikon says: “The Worshipper should stand facing the East, with his hands modestly folded on his breast. He should free his mind completely from worldly distractions, and making the sign of the Cross should say:

“Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.”

He should then say:

“Holy, Holy, Holy, O Almighty Lord” 

At this he should bow by bending over from the waist, and then straightens and makes the sign of the Cross on his forehead saying:

“The heavens and the earth are full of His praises. Glory in the Highest.”

He then Bows again, makes the sign of the Cross, and says:

“Blessed is He who did come and shall come in the name of the Lord. Glory to God in the Highest.”

He then Bows a third time and makes the sigh of the Cross saying:

“Holy are You, O God. Holy are You, O Almighty. Holy are You , O Immortal. You who were crucified for us, have mercy upon us.” 

Then the worshipper will kneel down and bow till his forehead touches the ground, get up on his feet, cross himself-repeating this a second and a third time. He then says:

“Our Lord, have mercy upon me. Our Lord, have compassion and mercy upon me. Our Lord, answer my prayer and have mercy upon me. Glory be to You, Our Lord. Glory be to You, O our Hope forever.” 

He then bows, without kneeling, and recites aloud the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father, Who are in heaven…”. 

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Times of prayer

The times of prayer have been handed down to the Church by her founders, the Apostles and Saints, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in pursuit to the example of the Prophets.

The Apostles set the times for prayer at six. The doctors of the Church added a seventh, thus bringing to fulfillment what the Prophet said:

“Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous ordinances.” (Psalms 119:164) This is what our great scholar Mor Gregorius Bar Hebraeus said in his book, “The Ethicon”. This indicates that all servants of God glorify Him as Angels do. The Seven Prayer Times are:

  • Evening Prayers or Vespers
  • Compline or Prayer upon retiring (sutoro)
  • Midnight Prayer
  • Morning Prayer (Matins)
  • Three O’clock Prayer
  • Six O’clock Prayer (Noon)
  • Nine O’clock Prayer

We have placed Evening Prayer first as in our ecclesiastical tradition the day begins in the evening. This is the order reported by Metropolitan Yacoub of Bartella in his book entitled: “The Treasures

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Conditions of perfect prayer

The first of the essential conditions of prayer is faith. We should couple our prayer with firm and unshakable faith that we may receive what we ask for. This was enjoined on us by the Lord Himself: “Therefor I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.” (Mark 11:24). Likewise the Apostle says: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1: 6,7)

The second condition is that we must link to our petition a strong and firm hope, so that if our prayer is not answered quickly or not answered at all, we should not give up. Rather, we should persist in our petitions and call on the Almighty, night and day, as He instructed us to do in Luke 11:5,18, and in the night of His betrayal when He repeated three times the same words in His prayer. (Matthew 26:44)

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Concentration in Prayer

As prayer is an intimate discourse with God Almighty, it is imperative that we collect the mind and thought that they may meditate on their Lord and address themselves to Him without a mediator. For if Moses the great was prevented from approaching the bush until after he had taken off his sandals from his feet, how is it that you intend to address Him Who is Most High and above any sense and thought, without casting off every recklessness and improper thought?

Concentrating the mind and keeping it away from distraction is not easy. It can be achieved only after long and hard work and persistence in spiritual worship. No one can attain pure prayer without persistence in worshipping God with a bona fide heart, just as one cannot learn a trade until after certain length of time.

Therefore, if we do not posses something of these let us not think of leaving prayer until after our minds have been cleansed, otherwise we would be like those who seek perfection without laboring. But let us pray, anyway, and pour our hearts and thoughts before The Merciful One. He, The Most High, will guide us in His mercy to the haven of life and direct us as He wills. This requires that our intention be well-meaning and our desire intense in concentrating our thought as best as possible.

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