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

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[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]

Let your prayer be simple – John of the Ladder

“Let your prayer be completely simple. For both the publican and the prodigal son were reconciled to God by a single phrase.”

[John Climacus, Ladder of Divine Ascent]

Let us walk in humility – St. Clement of Alexandria

Let us therefore, brethren, be of humble mind, laying aside all haughtiness, and pride, and foolishness, and angry feelings; and let us act according to that which is written (for the Holy Spirit says, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, neither let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glories glory in the Lord, in diligently seeking Him, and doing judgment and righteousness”), being especially mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus which He spoke teaching us meekness and long-suffering.

For thus He spoke: “Be merciful, that you may obtain mercy; forgive, that it may be forgiven to you; as you do, so shall it be done unto you; as you judge, so shall you be judged; as you are kind, so shall kindness be shown to you; with what measure ye mete, with the same it shall be measured to you.” By this precept and by these rules let us establish ourselves, that we walk with all humility in obedience to His holy words. For the holy word says, O” n whom shall I look, but on him that is meek and peaceable, and that trembles at my words. ” (Isaiah 66:2)

[St. Clement of Alexandria, Letter for the Corinthians]

On pressing forwards – Abba Theodore of Pherme

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Abba Theodore of Pherme said, ‘The man who remains standing when he repents, has not kept the commandment.”

[Apophthegmata Patrum]

Christ the Light – St. Clement of Alexandria

Sweet is the Word that gives us light, precious above gold and gems; it is to be desired above honey and the honey-comb. For how can it be other than desirable, since it has filled with light the mind which had been buried in darkness, and given keenness to the light-bringing eyes of the soul? For just as, had the sun not been in existence, night would have brooded over the universe notwithstanding the other luminaries of heaven; so, had we nor known the Word, and been illuminated by Him; we should have been nowise different from fowls that are being fed, fattened in darkness, and nourished for death.

Let us then admit the light, that we may admit God; let us admit the light, and become disciples to the Lord. This, too, He has been promised to the Father: I will declare Your name to my brethren; in the midst of the Church will I praise You. Praise and declare to me Your Father God; Your utterances save; Your hymn teaches that hitherto I have wandered in error, seeking God. But since You lead me to the light, O Lord, and I find God through You, and receive the Father from You, I become Your fellow-heir, (Romans 8:17) since You were not ashamed of me as Your brother (Hebrews 2:11).

Let us put away, then, let us put away oblivion of the truth, viz., ignorance; and removing the darkness which obstructs, as dimness of sight, let us contemplate the only true God, first raising our voice in this hymn of praise: Hail, O light! For in us, buried in darkness, shut up in the shadow of death, light has shone forth from heaven, purer than the sun, sweeter than life here below. That light is eternal life; and whatever partakes of it lives.

[St. Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Heathen, Chapter XI]

Late have I loved You – Augustine of Hippo

Late have I loved You, O Beauty so ancient and so new; late have I loved You! For behold You were within me, and I outside; I sought You outside and in my unloveliness fell upon those lovely things that You have made. You were with me and I was not with You. I was kept from You by those things, yet had they not been in You, they would not have been at all.

You called and shouted to me to break open my deafness: You sent forth Your beams and shined upon me and chased away my blindness: You breathed fragrance upon me, and I drew in breath and now I pant for You: I tasted You, and now hunger and thirst for You: You touched me, and I burn for You peace.

[Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, Book 10]

I too am a sinner – Abba Bessarion

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[On this day, 25th Mesra, the Coptic Church commemorates the great ascetic father St. Bessarion, his blessings be with us.]

A brother who had sinned was turned out of church by the priest. Abba Bessarion got up and left with him saying: “I too am a sinner.”

[Abba Bessarion, Apophthegmata Patrum]

Hold to the cross in the tempest – Amma Syncletica

If you have begun to act well, do not turn back through the constraint of the enemy, for through your endurance the enemy is destroyed. Those who put out to sea at first sailed with a favourable wind; then the sails spread, but later the wind becomes adverse. Then the ship is tossed by the waves and is no longer controlled by the rudder. But when in a little while there is calm, and the tempest dies down, then the ship sails on again. So it is with us, when we are driven by the spirits who are against us; we hold to the cross as our sail and so we can set a safe course.

[Amma Syncletica, Apophthegmata Patrum]

Draw near to him as a child – Mar Isaac the Syrian

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When you fall down before God in prayer, become in your thought like an ant, like a creeping thing of the earth, like a leech, and like a tiny lisping child. Do not say anything before him with knowledge, but with a child’s manner of thought, draw near God and walk before him, that you may be counted worthy of that paternal providence that fathers have for their small children.

[Mar Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies]

Excerpt from Gospel of the Day – Take up your cross – Mark 8:34-35, 1th of Hathor- Augustine of Hippo

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“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34-5)

What is, Let him take up his cross? Let him bear whatever trouble he has; so let him follow Me. For when he shall begin to follow Me in conformity to My life and precepts, he will have many to contradict him, he will have many to hinder him, he will have many to dissuade him, and that from among those who are even as it were Christ’s companions. They who hindered the blind men from crying out were walking with Christ. Whether therefore they be threats or caresses, or whatsoever hindrances there be, if you wish to follow, turn them into your cross, bear it, carry it, do not give way beneath it. There seems to be an exhortation to martyrdom in these words of the Lord. If there be persecution, ought not all things to be despised in consideration of Christ?

The world is loved; but let Him be preferred by whom the world was made. Great is the world; but greater is He by whom the world was made. Fair is the world; but fairer is He by whom the world was made. Sweet is the world; but sweeter is He by whom the world was made. Evil is the world; and good is He by whom the world was made.

[Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 46 on the New Testament]