"However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:21).
Great Lent is understood to be the holiest fast as our Lord Jesus Christ Himself fasted it for us. Therefore, during Great Lent we must strive to follow the example set by our Lord Jesus Christ, who had fasted on our behalf for forty days and forty nights, which we read in Matthew chapter 4. During Great Lent, the Church in her wisdom teaches us how to receive Him by using the great means of repentance along with prayer and fasting. But many are fooled by what the true meaning of fasting is; fasting does not mean to just abstain from certain foods and drinks. Fasting without prayer is essentially nothing less than a bodily act. Fasting provides us with an opportunity for prayer because when a person fasts, their soul is occupied with internal work with God and so when the body is humbled by hunger, the soul also is humbled. We must train ourselves while fasting to not let a change of food be the only thing different we do in this fast, but rather let the fast be striving for change toward a better spiritual life. We must struggle to remove defects and weaknesses that we may feel exist not only within ourselves, but with our relationship with God, and our brothers and sisters through Christ. However, as we fast we must not try to make our fast visible to anyone except our Father in Heaven who sees everything in secret. And as we journey through this most sacred time of the year we must examine ourselves, our salvation, our repentance, and our spiritual life. Sit down not only with yourself but your spiritual father, seek the guidance that us all sinners are in desperate need of as we grow daily in the knowledge of God.
+ May God help us all to see the importance of prayer and to lift up our hearts and thoughts to Him alone and may He grant us to have a blessed and holy fast as we seek for repentance +
“I will praise you, O Lord, for your mercies are forever. From generation to generation, my mouth shall declare Your truth.”
- First Doxology of the Sunday Readings during the Great and Holy Lent
His Holiness Pope Tawadros II announced the inclusion of the 21 Coptic New Martyrs of Libya in the Synaxarium of the Coptic Orthodox Church today. Every year, they will be commemorated on 8 Amshir in the Coptic calendar, which corresponds to 15 February in the Gregorian calendar, the same day as the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple.
Axios, Axios, Axios!
This beautiful icon, which is also featured on the front page, was drawn by Tony Rezk. May the Lord reward his talents.
[Article link: http://lacopts.org/story/the-new-martyrs-of-libya-added-to-the-coptic-synaxarium/]
On the 23rd day of Abib is the commemoration of the martyrdom of the blessed St. Marina, who overcame the Devil. She was one of the daughters of the nobles of Antioch. Her parents were pagan. When her mother died, her father sent her to a nanny to raise her, who was a Christian. She taught Marina the Faith of Christ. When Marina reached the age of fifteen years, her father died.
One day she heard her nurse talking about the biography of the martyrs and what glory they receive in the Kingdom of Heaven. She longed to become a martyr in the Name of the Lord Christ. One day St. Marina went out of her house with her maiden servants, and on her way she passed by Lopharius Ebrotus, the governor, who admired her much when he saw her. He ordered her brought to him. When the soldiers came to her, she told them that she was Christian. In turn, when they told the governor this, he was distressed for he liked her, and he had her brought to him by force. He offered her the worship of the idols and asked her to forsake God, but she refused.
On the 24th of Abib, St. Abanoub was martyred. He was born in the city of Nehisa (District of Talkha). His parents were pure and merciful and they reared him in the fear of God. When he was martyred by the Roman rule, Diocletian, who incited the persecution against the Christian, St. Abanoub was twelve years old, and he desired to shed his blood for the Name of Christ. On July 31 our Church celebrates his death, as the day of his birth into eternal life. Abanoub's relics, as well as the relics of many Christians who died with him, are still preserved in St. Virgin Mary and St. Abanoub church in Samanoud.
It is also said that the Holy Family visited that place during their Flight into Egypt. The church still contains the well from which The Lord Jesus, St. Mary, and St. Joseph drank. Numerous apparitions and miracles do occur in that church until this very day. Abanoub was born in a town called Nehisa in the Nile Delta. He was the only son of good Christian parents who died when he was a young child. At age twelve Abanoub entered the church to hear the priest asking the congregation to remain faithful during the persecutions provoked by Diocletian, the Roman emperor.
On this day, the great St. Macarius, the son of Basilidis the Chancellor, was martyred. When the messengers reviewed the order of Emperor Diocletian, which dictates the worship of idols, with Macarius, he did not heed them. When the Emperor knew that, he sent Macarius to the governor of Alexandria. He bid farewell to his mother, and asked her to care for the poor and the needy, then he went with the envoy. The Lord Christ appeared to him in a vision, encouraged him, and told him what would happen to him. When he arrived to the city of Alexandria, he stood before Armanius the governor, who deceitfully treated him well because he knew that he was the son of Basilidis the Chancellor.