By night on my bed I sought the one I love – H.H. Pope Shenouda III


“By night on my bed I sought the one I love; I sought him but I did not find him.  ‘I will rise now,’ I said, ‘and go about the city; in the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love.’ I sought him, but I did not find him. The watchmen who go about the city found me; I said, ‘Have you seen the one I love?’ Scarcely had I passed by them, when I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go. “

(Song of Songs 3:1-4)

These verses indicate that even though this human soul is being slothful, sinful, and lazily wasting time in bed rather than prayers, the love of the Lord is manifest nonetheless. Despite the distance, there is love. The many shortcomings, misdeeds, and faults do not extinguish this love. Love exists. This is a surety. As St. Paul the Apostle says, “for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Romans 7:8). So even though I may love the Lord from the depths of my heart, I may oftentimes commit sins because of my inherent weaknesses or addiction to certain habits, not because love is nonexistent.

O Lord  there are obstacles that prevent me from coming closer to You. But You O Lord know that I love You. It is true that I am asleep, but I love You. It is true that I err and commit sins, yet I still love You. Even though I do not do the things that reflect this love to You, yet love exists. 

Do you know to what we can liken this? It is similar to a deed that has in it all the various elements of life. However, in order for this seed to give forth fruit and blossom with life, certain conditions ought to exist. Life exists in this seed, albeit dormant. There is life but proper conditions must be present in order for life to spring forth.

I am similar to this weed. My love for you O Lord is dormant like a seed waiting for the right moment and the propitious circumstances; the fertile soul, the right nutrition, and a wise farmer for care for it. I will be able to bring forth fruit once You bestow Your grace upon me. Then I will bring forth leaves, branches, flowers, fruits and everything.

By night on my bed I sought the one I love. I sought Him in the dark of night. Zacchaeus, the tax collector, also sought God at night in bed, in sheer darkness. He did not resign his job to seek the Lord. Rather, he sought the Lord while he was still in the midst of darkness as a tax collector. The thief on the right also called Jesus at night and on his bed. St. Augustine also sought the Lord in the midst of the darkness of the night and on his bed. St. Moses the Black, St. Pellagia, St. Mary the Egyptian; all sought the Lord in the pitch dark of the night, in the midst of the darkness of sin.

These people sought the Lord and found Him. However, this virgin did not. There are those who lead a life of sin and still seek the Lord. They do not wait until they become pure and sanctified. On the contrary, they seek the Lord to become pure and sanctified. Rather than trying to become sanctified in order to seek the Lord, they seek the Lord in the condition in which they are in, in order for the Lord to help them become pure, holy, and sanctified. They do not wait until they have the spiritual zeal and are active in worship; rather they seek the Lord while they are still slothful and lazy so that the Lord may rid them of this laziness and grant them this sought-after spiritual zeal and fervour.

I am seeking the Lord while I am I’m bed, lazy and slothful. I seek You while I am lazy so that You may wake me up. I see You while I am in bed to help me get out of it. I seek You in the midst of my sins so that You may rid me of my sins; and I seek You now that I am distant and far so that You may draw me closer to You. There is a desire, a willingness, but the path is yet untrodden, novel and new. As of yet, I have not started the race. By night on my bed I sought the one I love.

Also the prodigal son sought the Lord while he was on his bed, in a far off country amongst the swine. What profound darkness! What an unfathomable pit! He said, “I will rise and go to my father” (Luke 15:18). This is the condition in which the Lord wants you to come to Him: in dirt, in filth, just the way you are.

Some people may opt to wait until they can attain a pure state and then pray. However, we urge such people to start to pray while they are still lost, lacking in understanding, lukewarm and lacking in spiritual zeal. Even when your thoughts are uncontrollable, you should pray. We urge you to pray and God will grant you the means to purity and cleanliness. Pray while you are in the night and on your bed. By night on my bed I sought the one I love.

[H.H. Pope Shenouda III of thrice blessed memory, 117th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, “Have You Seen The One I Love”]

A prayer for a new year – H.H. Pope Shenouda III


[Today marks the first day of the Coptic New Year, the Nayrouz, the Feast of the Martyrs. God send you all a year like that below:] 

Lord, make it a blessed year,
A pure year to please You
A year in which Your Spirit prevails
And joins in working with us
Hold our hands and guide our thoughts from the beginning of the year till its end.

Let this year be Yours, to please You
It is a New Year, spotless; let us not spoil it with our sins or impurities
Lord, be with us in every work we intend to do this year
Let us rejoice in all Your deeds, and say with John the Evangelist: “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (Jn 1:3).

Let this year, 0 Lord, be a happy year
Put a smile on each face and gladden every heart
Let Your grace emerge in our trials and help those who are tempted
Grant us peace and quietness of mind
Give those who are in need, cure the sick and console the grieved.

We do not ask You, God, only for ourselves
But we ask for the all, because they are Yours
You created them to rejoice in You, then make them happy with You
We ask You for the Church, for Your mission, that Your word may reach every heart
We ask you for our country, for the world’s peace that Your Kingdom may come everywhere.

Let it be a fruitful year, full of goodness
Everyday and every hour has its own work
Do not allow a futile moment
Fill our life with activity, work, and production

Grant us the blessing of a productive and holy toil. Let the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us in all our deeds.

We thank you, God, for you have kept us till this hour and granted us this year, that we may bless You. Amen

[H.H. Pope Shenouda III of thrice blessed memory, 117th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, Words of Spiritual Benefit]

I sleep but my heart is awake – H.H. Pope Shenouda III


“I sleep, but my heart is awake; it is the voice of my beloved! He
knocks, saying, “Open for me, my sister, my love, My dove,
my perfect one; For my head is covered with dew,
My locks with the drops of the night.”
[Song of Songs 5:2]

The virgin of the Song of Songs sees herself as asleep. She remains without a spiritual outlook. There is no passion. There is no vigilance. There is no vitality. There is no activity. However, she affirms it to be acceptable. I sleep, but my heart is awake (Song 5:2), I have something encouraging since my heart is awake. Although I sleep, I am keenly sensitive to the voice of my Beloved. Indeed, I am asleep, but I still can hear the voice of my Beloved knocking and saying, Open for me, my sister, my love (Song 5:2). These are great words. Although I sleep, I can hear His voice. This is not death, only slumber. The Lord told them, the child is not dead, but sleeping (Mark 5:39). She still has the breath of life in her. It may be that the life in her is concealed and veiled, but there is still life in her. She still has life and that life will definitely bring forth fruit.

The trees do not produce fruits all year long. Yet, we do not cut it down and throw it into the fire. The tree still has life. Ploughing around it and enriching it with fertilizers may help it bring forth fruits later. I sleep, but my heart is awake.

I sleep, but my heart is awake. It is counter productive to focus on the negatives and admonish and reproach sleep. It would be wonderful, however, if the heart that is awake is beaming gleefully and vivaciously with hope. We should not lose sight of the fact that had God relinquished hope in the state of the Church when it is lukewarm, lacking in zeal and ardor, or had He given up hope in ever awakening our hearts, we would have all perished. Rather, time and again, the Lord has consoled, sustained and encouraged us that even though our bodies are asleep and the flesh is weak, our hearts are awake and the spirit is willing. It is these alert hearts that the Lord seeks and desires.

One may be asleep like wasteland: The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. However, there is something positive, nonetheless. The spirit of God (is) hovering over the face of the waters (Gen 1:2). Something beautiful is bound to come out of it.

Micah the prophet seems to reiterate the same theme. Do not rejoice over me, O sin, for even if I fall, I will rise up again (cf. Micah 7:8). This is an affirmation, an assertion, that even though one may commit a sin or make a mistake, one will not wallow in the dirt but will brace oneself and rise up again. We have that same conviction that after every Golgotha, there is a resurrection. Therefore, despite my apparent frailty and weakness while being nailed to the cross, in a short while I will resurrect in great glory.

There are positive aspects in everyone’s life. Some people, however, give up and resign themselves to despondency and despair. Some people can only see futility, uselessness and hopelessness when they confront difficulties and challenges. Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days (John 11:39).

The Lord, on the other hand, ascertains that this is not true. He sees life in Lazarus. If you would believe, you would see the glory of God, (1 John 1:40). God confirms that the person who is thought of as dead, even with a stench, and has been in that condition for a long time will rise up again. He has a heart that is awake, and the minute the Lord utters the words Lazarus, come forth he will rise, come out of the grave and see the Light.

There is hope. There is hope for everyone. No one can shut the door of hope to anyone regardless of their condition. Even if the human spirit is without form, and void; and darkness is on the face of deep, even if it has developed a stench for lying in the grave for four days, and even if she is asleep. The important thing is that the heart is awake.

[H.H. Pope Shenouda III of thrice blessed memory, 117th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, “Have You Seen The One I Love”]

[Extract from Pimonakhos Vol. 3 Issue 4 produced by St. Shenouda’s the Archimandrite Coptic Orthodox Monastery, Sydney Australia]

A prayer for all, the Absolution of the Midnight Prayer – Coptic Orthodox Church



[This absolution is prayed by the priest at the conclusion of the Midnight Praises (tasbeha), an ancient set of prayers that have been prayed daily in the Coptic Orthodox Church for tens of centuries:]

We thank and entreat You, O Master and Lord Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God, the Eternal, abiding in the light before all ages, Light out of Light; enlighten, O Lord, our minds and our hearts, and illuminate our understanding, so that we understand Your life-giving words. Raise us from the darkness of sin which kills the soul. Make us worthy to be steadfast in good and beneficial works. At the time of Your awesome second coming, when you will judge the world, may we be worthy of hearing that voice which is full of happiness, joy, consolation, delight and grace from Your divine mouth, saying: “Come to Me, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom which was prepared for you since the creation of the world”.

Yes, O Lord our God, fit us to be, on that day and in that hour, without fear, without fault, without disturbance, without failure and without deviation. Do not deal with us O Lord according to the multitude of our sins. Pardon O LORD, all our vices, faults, mistakes and lapses.

Relieve us, and the whole world, O Lord, from death, inflation, plagues, destruction, eviction, the sword of enemies, the plots of demons, the danger of fire and drowning, the opposition of those who are evil, the intrigues of the shameless and the injustice of judges. Bring to failure the works of the stubborn against us. For You are our Lord and God, have compassion on us. Do not cast us into the sea of destruction nor to the punishment of our ways. But rescue us, protect us, preserve us and raise us from boredom, anger, languishing, and laziness. Do not let the enemy – the devil – overwhelm us with excessive hope, but alert our minds and awaken our hearts from the sleep of inattention and wasting our lifetime in vain.

O God, disregard our trespasses and forgive us our lapses, do not remember our sins or our vices, do not be angry with us and may Your anger not continue forever. Have mercy on us O LORD, have mercy on us, for we are weak and poor, drowning in the ocean of sin. Unto You we cry out; before You we bow; by You we confess; it is You whom we want. Do not cut off our hope my Master, in Your mercy, and do not close the door of Your mercy in our faces. But out of Your goodness save us; lead us to Your mercy, and let us hear Your joyful voice.

O God, purify us and purify our hearts from wicked, unclean and bad thoughts. Remove from us, O LORD, and from Your people, all dreams, fancies and devilish ideas. Raise us O God, from every fall and catastrophe. Establish in us O God, patience, hope, love and orthodox faith. Count us among the sheep at Your right hand. Seat us with those who recline in Your heavenly banquet. Forgive us for every trespass, guilt and sin; protect us in the fortress of Your luminous, angelic soldiers. For we have no salvation except through Your mercy. Our reliance is on You, our faith is in You and our hope is in You.

Accept from us O Lord, our supplications at this present time and at all times. And all those who asked and directed us to remember them in prayers, liturgies, unctions of the sick and commemorations; whether alive or dead; remember us O Lord, together with them, with kindness in the heavenly Jerusalem, in the Kingdom of Heaven. Blot out O Lord, our vices, and those who offended us, forgive them and us.

Through Your mercy O Lord, save all our souls. O Lord, save Your people, bless Your inheritance, shepherd and guide them forever. Save those who are in hardships, distresses and sadness. Free  those who are bound from the bonds of devils. Satisfy the hungry with good things. Console the small in heart and spirit. Raise the fallen; make steadfast those who have risen. Restore the lost. Take care of the widow and the orphan. Aid the needy. Give blessings to the fruits of the earth, grant that the weather be favourable, give growth to the plants, raise the waters of the rivers fully and bless the dew and the rains. Give contentment to those in need. Repay for those in debt. Gather together the fragments which are divided. Accept the repentance of the penitent. Accept the confession of the confessors. Give understanding to the catechumens. Give fair judgment O Lord, to the oppressed.

Fill our hearts with joy, happiness, comfort, delight and grace, so that as we have sufficiency in all things, we excel in acceptable good works. Bless O Lord, the crops with heavenly blessings. Bless O Lord the crown of this year with Your goodness. Bless O Lord the sower, the cultivator, the planter and the reaper, as You blessed the crops of the children of Israel in the sixth year.

Bless O Lord this gathering of ours, and all the gatherings of orthodox people. Preserve for us the life and the reign of our father and Patriarch Pope Tawadros the Patriarch of this time. Save him O Lord and save his people from all catastrophes, trials and  sorrows. And also his partners in the apostolic ministry, our fathers the Metropolitans, our fathers the Bishops, our fathers the Hegumens and our fathers the Priests, our brothers the Deacons, our fathers the Monks, our brothers the laymen and those who came, attended and shared with us in this prayer and all the prayers of the orthodox, now asking for the forgiveness of their sins and mercy for their souls. Bless us and bless them; absolve us and absolve them; forgive our sins and their sins, those passed and those we might return to, those personal and those not personal, those by night and those by day, those manifest and those hidden.

Preserve O Lord, the welfare of the assemblies, the holy churches, the orthodox wilderness, and the elders who dwell in them, its servants, its overseers, and those who are in it. Grant security, peace, love and reassurance to be among them. Bring down the evil enemy under our feet and their feet. Do not let him have any part in us or in them, neither by the left hand blow nor by the right hand blow, but preserve them with Your exalted hand and Your protective arm. Rescue us my Master, from evil temptations and from the snares set, the visible and the invisible.

Remember O Lord, our fathers, our mothers, our brothers and our sisters, our families, our relatives, our teachers, our spiritual children, our children in the flesh and all the children of Baptism together.

Remember O Lord, those through whose toil and effort we have eaten and drunk, have sheltered us in their houses and gave us from their hands. Repay them O Lord and compensate them with the eternal for the temporal and the heavenly for the earthly. Fill their houses and their stores with every good thing. Repay them O Lord, thirty fold, sixty fold and a hundredfold, and the forgiveness of their sins in the Kingdom of Heaven. Remember O Lord, those who have done good unto us and to our poor brethren, with every kind of good work, in love for You and honour for Your Holy Name, and bless them.

Remember O Lord, those who are concerned with the sacrifices, offerings, burnt offerings, wine, oil, first fruits, incense, curtains, vows, books of readings and all the utensils of the altar generally. Repay them O Lord, for what they have given, with the forgiveness of their sins. Grant them in this present age a pleasant life and in the coming age eternal life.

Remember O Lord our fathers and brethren who have departed, reposed and rested with faith in Christ. Repose O Lord, all their souls, in the embrace of our Holy fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the place of the living, in the Paradise of Joy. As for us who are still alive, aid us to find salvation for our souls, arrange our lives according to Your gracious will.

Please O Lord, remember my insignificance, my humiliation, my weakness, I the sinner who am troubled, and unworthy of standing between Your hands. Because of the multitude of my sins and guilt, do not reject me. Erect O Lord, a horn of salvation for Your people through the sign of Your life-giving Cross. We ask Your relief in hardships and Your aid in misery and humiliation. Save us O LORD and save everyone in hardships. Those of Your people who are sick, heal them.

Grant O Lord, Your people the Christians, those present with us and those absent from us, that they may be blessed and absolved from Your Divine mouth, from the rising of the to its setting, and from the north to the south. Accept us unto You, as You accepted the right hand thief when You were on the Cross, and granted him the Paradise of Joy.

Remember O Lord, the orphans and the widows, the estranged, the disabled and those who have no one to remember them. Remember us O Lord, with them, in the heavenly Jerusalem. Remember O Lord those standing or sitting, sleeping or lying in illness, those who are travelling by  land, sea, air, on plains, by rough roads, through valleys, narrow ways, on mountain peaks and hills, in caves, those who are in gaols or prisons, those who are in captivity and exiled, the captives and those who are bound with the bonds of wicked powers and of demons. Return them and bring them all to their ports safely, profitably and healthy in soul, body and spirit.

Grant O my Lord Jesus Christ, that these our prayers may be accepted before You without hypocrisy, pride, haughtiness, being puffed up or any fault. Aid us O God in doing Your will. Aid us in performing Your commandments. Aid us in the pangs of death, and that which is before death and that which is after death. For You are a righteous God, long suffering, plenteous in mercy and compassion. O Lord grant that the door of Your Church be open before us through the ages of ages and unto the end of time. Have mercy upon us O God, according to the multitude of Your mercy.

Through the intercessions of the Lady of intercession, the essence of purity, generosity and blessings; our Lady and the pride of our race, the chaste Virgin, the blameless St Mary, and the honoured martyr, St Mark the evangelist, apostle and preacher of the land of Egypt, and all the angels, the fathers, the prophets, the  apostles, the martyrs, the saints, the spiritborne, the worshipers, the ascetics, the strivers and those who have pleased the Lord with their good works, from Adam, to the end of ages.

To You, we bow down O Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and at all times, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

And make us worthy to pray thankfully: Our Father, who art in heaven…