Remember the judgement – Abba Shenoute the Archimandrite

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If those who are asleep and who are drunk at night are reproached then how much greater is the judgement and reproach of those who are asleep during the day.

I mean, if those who sin lie in their hardness of heart, not knowing God or His laws, are like judged, then how much greater is the judgement and reproach of those who will sin after they have received all knowledge and that there is no God but Jesus.

[Abba Shenoute of Atripe, De Discrimine Temporum]

Sea of Mercy, pour out on me the streams of your kindness – The Flute of the Spirit

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Lord I long for your forgiveness to come to me. Give to me tears so that I may ask for mercy while there is an opportunity. I thirst for mercy and without it I cannot exist. Sea of Mercy, pour out on me the streams of your kindness.

The confused sins of an evil world are traps to me; By your mercy, Lord, destroy them, and I will be delivered. Like a legion of demons thirsting for my blood, my sins have surrounded me. Come, Mighty Warrior, to the aid of a humble worker.

The King of Error has poured down his arrows aiming at my death. Commander, apply to me your remedy by which I may be healed. Your treasury is not too little to give mercy to those who do not deserve it: Because you even loved the prostitute dearly, when she approached you.

For none but crushed people seek your remedy; And he who does not even need it, mercy is not dear to him. The good physician, however, is not glorified but by ulcers. For what does he add to a sound body if it comes close to him?

In wounds he shows the power of his skill. He rightly takes his fee and glory according to his healing power. The physician shines in the striken ones when they are healed. And your great compassion shines out in sinners when they are absolved.

Because you have mercy, I acquired sins, and thus I expect That whenever you pardon me, your compassion will shine in me. I do not say my transgression is too great to pardon, because your compassion is greater than the sea: purify me in it!

I prepared the work for your mercy every day when I was a sinner, So you should not be idle from forgiveness, because it is lovely to you. For the physician wishes that the ulcers might increase in his vicinity, So that he might acquire from them both profits and praises.

Here are some wounds: bring your medication so that it might shine in me, Because it is very beautiful to you when you heal the stricken ones. You do not look for a fee, Lord, so that it might be returned to you, For what did the prostitute give when you loved her?

She offered oil and tears alone when you healed her. Your promise wiped out a great wound with a meagre payment. The river of fire that was threatening the defiled woman, in a drop of tears that she sprinkled on it, she quenched it. The negligible water that the eyes of this woman, full of blemishes, poured forth, Fell upon the flood of flame and stopped it.

I will speak of her whose story is loved by members of her rank, for when they listen it will sprinkle hope on their infirmities. The homily is received by the penitent, who will heed it, For they also thirst for forgiveness as she did.

Let no one abandon the great door of repentance, Because even the prostitute, when she knocked on it, received salvation. Let whoever sins come not close to losing hope, But let him be bold like the prostitute, and then he will be pardoned.

Whoever repents, if he sins again, he should once more make supplication, For there is no limit or special time for repentance. If he is soiled ten thousand times, he can be purified. And however often he falls, he can stand up again if he tries hard.

If one sins and returns to supplicate, then he will be received, Because there is not a time when the door to repentance is closed. Even if my brother goes astray seventy-seven times, I will forgive him. How much more will the Merciful One forgive the one who seeks him?

[Memra on the Sinful Woman, Mar Jacob of Serugh]

Mercy has brought you into this house full of profit – The Flute of the Spirit

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Come, you discerning, let us delight today in the teaching, whose taste is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.

The Church in the world is a great harbour, full of peace; whoever toils, let him come in and rest at her table. Her doors are open, and her eye is good, and her heart is wide. Her table is full, and sweet is her mingled (cup) to them that are worthy. You lovers of the world, come in from wandering in the evil world, and rest in the inn that is full of comfort to him that enters it. You weary labourer, that strives to enrich yourself by vexatious toilings, why do you run after riches that cannot be held fast? O you rich, that go astray with your riches, possess God, and hate the wealth that after a little while shall not be yours. O you unquiet soul, that cleaves after gold, woe to you for that which spends you with your toiling after it! O you that are greedy of mammon, incline your ear hear, and cast from you that grievous load which does not profit you.

Come to prayer, and bring with you your whole self. Let not your mind remain in the market about your business. If you are here, let also your inner man be here within the doors of the crowned (bride). Why is your thought gone forth and distracted after affairs, so that when you art here you art not here, but there? Outside amid the markets your mind is wandering, (taken up) with reckonings and profits; fetch it, that it may come in and ask for its Life. Stand not with one half of you within and one half without, lest when you are divided your prayer lose itself between the two parts. Stand at prayer a united and complete and true man, and all whatever you ask you can obtain from God. Why are you impatient to be off when He has not given to you? Stay long and knock at the Physician, and beseech Him, and bring the tears of repentance and besprinkle His doorstep; entreat much; and if for love He does not give to you, yet to persistence He will not be able to deny all her requests. Be insistent at the Physician’s door, and give not over; for if you be backward He will not bind you up. Why do you stand still? Persistence knows how to obtain mercy of Him; and unless He give to her she will not suffer Him to depart.

O you penitent, be insistent; and whatever you ask, you shall receive from the Giver of all things good. Why art you impatient to be gone about your business? Why are you disquieted to depart and go about your affairs? Why do you run after the world which may not be kept fast? Why have you spent your days in vanity? Why are the hours of the Church esteemed by you as idleness? Why is the service not accounted by you as a banquet? Why are you diligent when you do your own work, but here remiss and cold and slack in asking?

Mercy has brought you into this house that is full of profit; think it not loss if you remain here long. Be patient and listen to the sound of the Psalms which the finger of prophecy played to the words of David. Hearken to the Hymns sung by chaste women with voices of praise, which the wisdom of the Highest has given to the congregations. Hear the Prophets who, as it were through pipes of choice gold, pour forth from their mouths life into the ears of men. Hearken to the Apostles who, like the channels of rivers, arc opened and water the King’s garden with lofty streams. Bend your ear to the pulpit of the Godhead, and receive from it precious pearls. Learn and give assent to the (two) Testaments, rivers both which hold for you life unending. Hear the New, and hearken to the Old; and see that in both one truth is spoken unto you. Lo, you hear from the Old of the four rivers which flowed from the blessed source of Eden; and again in the New (you have) the Apostles like four rivers, who went forth into the four corners (of the world) and watered them.

Life flows from the service of the house of God; you lovers of life, refuse not the profit that comes from there. The soul of man is receptive of impressions and in whatsoever she meditates, she is dyed withal and becomes (the colour) of the same. When she hears the dirges of the wailing women, she overflows with grief and pours out tears over the departed; and when again she hears the songs and jests of the actors she waxes wanton, that with a loud voice she may pour forth laughter. When she hears evil reports, dread comes upon her; but if she hears good tidings, she is glad. And every wind that blows towards her moves her; and in whatsoever direction it be, each time she turns. When, then, she hears the sound of the service of God’s house, spiritually she is moved with love towards God; and as it were she despises the evil world and its affairs, and comes in and mingles with these godly meditations; and she cleaves to and loves that spiritual conversation. She scorns the world and its affairs and its doings; and she is steeped in these voices of holiness, and all carnal thoughts depart from her. And the soul scorns the love of the world and its pleasures, and thoughts of wantonness and remissness. And when she hears these voices that are sung to her, she is chaste and lowly and full of hope and moderation. Therefore it is right that he who enters in to give himself to prayer should be long in God’s house.

[On the Reception of the Holy Mysteries, Mar Jacob of Serugh]

Be at peace – St. John Chrysostom

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God is not a God of war and fighting. Make war and fighting to cease, both that which is against Him, and that which is against your neighbor. Be at peace with all men, consider with what character God saves you. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9). Such always imitate the Son of God: you imitate Him too. Be at peace.

The more your brother wars against you, by so much the greater will be your reward. For hear the prophet who says, With the haters of peace I was peaceful (Psalm 120:7) This is virtue, this is above man’s understanding, this makes us near God; nothing so much delights God as to remember no evil. This sets you free from your sins, this looses the charges against you: but if we are fighting and buffeting, we become far off from God: for enmities are produced by conflict, and from enmity springs remembrance of evil.

[St. John Chrysostom, Homily XIV on Philippians]

Do not let the sun go down on your wrath – Abba Agathon

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Abba Agathon used to say, “I have never lain down to sleep and kept anger in my heart, or even a thought of enmity against any man; and I have never allowed any man to lie down to sleep keeping any anger against me.

[Abba Agathon, Apophthegmata Patrum]

Consider others before yourself – Abba Anthony the Great

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The blessed Anthony never deemed it right to do that which was convenient for himself to the same extent as that which was profitable for his neighbour.

[Abba Anthony the Father of Monks, Apophthegmata Patrum]

Whenever you find your course at peace, without change, be suspicious – Mar Isaac the Syrian

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Whenever you find your course is in peace, without variations, be suspicious. For you are deviating from the divine ways trodden by the weary footsteps of the saints. The more you proceed on the way towards the city of the Kingdom and approach it’s neighbourhoods, this will be the sign: that you meet hard temptations. And the more you approach, the more you will find difficulties.

So, whenever the soul on its way perceives varying states which cause difficulty you must know that your soul has secretly been advanced to a higher state and that it has acquired a gift of increase in comparison with the degree it occupied before.

The hard temptation into which God brings the soul are in accordance with the greatness of His gifts. If there is a weak soul which is not able to bear a very hard temptation and God deals meekly with it, then know with certainty that, as it is not capable of bearing a hard temptation, so it is not worthy of a large gift. As great temptations have been withdrawn from it, so large gifts are also withdrawn from it. God never gives a large gift and small temptations. So temptations are to be classed in accordance with gifts. Thus from the hardships to which you have been subjected you may understand the measure of the greatness which your soul has reached. In accordance with affection is consolation.

[Mar Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies]

Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free – St. John Chrysostom

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If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have laboured long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honour, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honours the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honour the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

[St. John Chrysostom, Paschal Homily]

O Lord who adorned the earth with flowers, they dressed You with a scarlet robe – Prayers of the Coptic Orthodox Church

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O you dwellers of Jerusalem, come and see. They crucified Jesus, the Son of David, on a cross. They dressed Him in a scarlet robe like the kings, and placed a crown of thorns on His head.

He adorned the heavens with the stars, created the earth and beautified it with flowers. They placed a reed in His right hand as a wise man and a teacher. They compelled a cross on Him as a conqueror.

The women who came to Jerusalem for the Passover wept and wailed when they saw Jesus. He looked at them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me. Rather, weep for yourselves because of the tribulation that will befall you. There will be days when you envy the barren who never gave birth, nursed or raised a child.They will ask the mountains to fall on them, and the hills to cover them. For if they do this when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?

When they came to the place called the skull, there they set the cross and crucified Him.

They crucified with Him two criminals, one on His right and one on His left, so that the prophesy of the prophet may be fulfilled.

The soldiers took His clothes and cast lots to divide His garments. They inscribed on the cross over His head, in Hebrew, Greek, and Roman, “This is the king of the Jews.” The people stood by, watching, and the rulers mocked Him saying, “He saved others, let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen one.” The soldiers also mocked Him saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save Yourself and come down off the cross.” One of the criminals railed at Him in front of everyone, saying, “If you are the Christ save Yourself and save us of this shame that we endure.”

The other rebuked him saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence and condemnation? We deserve this punishment but He is innocent and without blame.”

Then he said to Jesus, “Remember me, O Lord in Your Kingdom.” The Lord of Glory replied saying, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

There were women standing by the cross of our Saviour, His mother, His mother’s sister Mary Clopas and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing near, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother,” and from that hour the disciple took her to his own home as the Lord said.

And from the sixth hour to the ninth hour there was darkness on the whole earth.

O Lord who adorned the earth with flowers, they dressed You with a scarlet robe, and the skies with the stars, they put a crown of thorns on Your head.

You who have dominion over Heaven and Earth, they put a reed in Your hand. You who suspended the whole world with one word of Your mouth;

You were crucified on the cross. You were crucified for our sins and abolished the power of death by Your cross, O Ominpotent.

[Exposition of the Sixth Hour of Great Friday, Rite of the Coptic Orthodox Church]

Sit alone in the evening and search your soul – Abba Shenoute the Archimandrite

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Brethren, if we want to escape God’s punishment and find mercy in his eyes, let us sit every evening alone by ourselves and search our souls for what we presented to our guardian angel to offer before the Lord. Again, as the night goes by and a new day dawns and light prevails, let us search ourselves to know what we presented to our companion angel to offer to the Lord.

Let it be beyond doubt that everyone of us – male or female- young or old, who was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit has been assigned to a designated angel until the day of his death to report to him everyday what his assigned individual has done by day or by night.

Not that God is unaware of what we have done. Heavens forbid. He is more knowledgeable about it. As it is written. the eyes of the Lord are watching all the time everywhere on those who commit evil and on those who do good. Rather the angels are servants installed by the Creator of the universe for those who will inherit salvation.

[Abba Shenoute the Archimandrite, First Hour of Monday of the Holy Pascha in the Coptic Orthodox Rite]