Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Hello everyone! We hope that you are all having a blessed Holy 50 days. We would like to share with you all a contemplation on the painting provided above as you patiently wait for us to finish reviewing our first few books for you. We all go through hardship and tough times at some point in our life but through it all, we must remember that God is with us all the way and will bring us through it. Please remember to pray for us and this service!!
God's Infinite Mercy and Compassion: A Contemplation
How often, O Lord, have I cried out for compassionate arms to lift me up from the abyss of my misery, to hold me tight and love me? How often, O Lord, have I willingly left Your warm, Fatherly bosom, searching out my death and destruction? How often, O Lord, have I committed evil in Your sight and caused You to be upset? How often, O Lord, have I cursed Your name and blamed my faults on You? How often, O Lord, have I despised Your wonderful gifts to me, those I requested and those I did not request? How often, O Lord, have I been ungrateful for Your never-ending mercy, Your never-ending compassion, and Your everlasting patience with me? Lord, I despise myself as each day passes and wonder how I ever attained Your love for me, I the sinful and wretched, the deserving of death.
And yet, Lord, You encompass me with Your mercy and Your love. Though I suffer and weep and struggle through my life, You are always beside me, as my Father, You encompass me with Your protective arms, comforting me and shielding me from the things that hurt me. Though I push You away and I fight against You, yet in my lowest times, You lift me up and heal my wounds. Though I willingly sin, yet when I repent and confess, You sit in front of me as a Father would and gently tell me, “It’s okay, I forgive you, don’t do it again.” When I am hurt, You are the One who carries me and knows the extent of what I suffer, You are the One who puts Your hand on my broken heart and my ailing mind to calm them. You are the One who stays with me all night, as a loving Father would to soothe me, dry up my tears, and tell me that, “Everything is going to be alright.”
Who am I, Lord, that I should contend with or question Your judgments, You who have protected me from every evil and have given me every good thing? Lord, I am speechless because of my audacity and Your continual compassion. Thank You Lord for all You have done, I am Your servant forever, have mercy upon me and mold me into the person You want me to be. Lord, though I feel discouraged, yet I have faith and hope that Your judgments are just and righteous and in due time, I will understand. Though You reprimand me at times, I know that You love me and that it is for my own good. Lord, I am Your child, do not let me perish because of my ignorance and evil ways. Have mercy and compassion on me, Lord, I beg You, and ease my broken heart and ailing mind. Amen.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Daddy, Why? OR
The Crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, Our Savior
Story Idea by Bishoy A. Michael
Written by Youstina Guirguis
It’s Friday. I like Fridays. It means I get to rest tomorrow; it will be the Sabbath day. My parents told me that because God commanded us to rest on the Sabbath day, we cannot do anything at all. The Sabbath day is solely dedicated to God. That meant that my father had to finish his errands today. He allowed me to accompany him.
We headed out early in the morning. As we walked along the side of the road and my father went in and out of buildings, taking care of various matters, I noticed that the streets were busier than usual. There were many people standing outside of their homes as if they were waiting for something coming their way. Some people went about their normal business, others simply stood, waiting. Of the ones who waited, many had malicious looks on their faces. Others looked upset and had horrified looks on their faces. My curiosity was aroused and I desired to know exactly what these people were waiting for. Why did some look so eager and spiteful? What were the others scared of?
I looked at my father. For the first time since we left our house, I noticed that there was something bothering him. I inquired of my father what the reason for the presence of these people was and why they appeared the way they did. My father absentmindedly told me not to worry about it and we continued along, my father trying to finish up his errands as quickly as possible. I knew then that what these people were waiting for was indeed so terrible that my father wanted to get us out of there as quickly as possible, before it happened.
My father walked into the last place he needed to run errands in. While my father spoke to the man in charge of the place, I examined my surroundings. This man was something like an apothecary; he had many different vials and flasks filled with liquids, herbs, and other things of the sort. As I took note of all this, there were sudden shouts outside and people scrambled to see what was going on. I saw my father’s shoulders tense as he heard the commotion outside. Naturally, the storekeeper went outside to see what was happening. My father followed reluctantly and I crept out behind them. I slipped in between the crowd in front of me and peered out, trying to get a glimpse of what was happening.
Coming down the road, there was a Man in a tattered and bloodstained garment. He had a crown of thorns on His head and He was carrying a cross. As He came closer, I could see what was happening better. His face was contorted with pain and tears fell from His swollen eyes. The soldiers beat Him as they shoved Him forward. He fell and His garment slid a bit off His shoulder, revealing deep cuts and wounds. The crown of thorns atop His head dug deep into His flesh and large drops of blood fell from where they pierced His forehead and sides of His face. I wept; I perceived that this was Jesus, the Man my father and I went regularly to the synagogue to hear. One of the people next to me, a man, grabbed the edge of His garment that was falling off His shoulder and pulled Him up. Then, he spit in Jesus’ face. Jesus didn’t say anything as the spittle slowly moved down his cheeks mingling with His tears and blood.
The soldiers relentlessly beat Him, even when He fell. Everyone was cruel to Him and I did not know why. He was a gentle Man who spoke comforting words. I could not understand the hostility I saw in their eyes. As Jesus continued walking down the road, He fell once more, this time right next to where I was standing. Another person spit in His face and I reached down with my handkerchief to wipe it away. A menacing Roman soldier pushed me back and roughly shoved Jesus along the path. I was terrified. What was going to be His fate? Why was He carrying a cross and where were they leading Him? I could not stop crying; I pitied Him because of what the soldiers and the people around me did to Him.
I felt a hand on my shoulder as the crowd thinned and followed the soldiers and Jesus. I looked up through my tears and saw my father.
“Father, where are they taking Him? Can’t you do anything to help Him? He didn’t do anything!” I pleaded with my father.
“These are troubled times, my child. We cannot do anything. They have sentenced Him to death,” my father replied.
With that, my father and I walked home, each of us lost in deep thought about what we had just witnessed. The walk back to our home seemed to take a very long time. When we reached our home, my father told my mother what we had seen. I stood in the window and looked out. In the distance, atop a hill, I saw three crosses. The tears spilled from my eyes, as I knew that Jesus was crucified on one of them. Again, questions crept into my head. Why did He have to die like a criminal? What had He done to deserve all of this?
I stood some time in the window looking out at that hill and thinking. Suddenly, it got very dark. I was close to my parents and I clung to both of them. I heard cries coming from our neighbors’ houses. Everyone was alarmed that it was dark. The sun was supposed to be shining bright and hot just about this time and yet there was darkness all around. What could be the meaning of this? The darkness lasted for three hours. Then there was an earthquake and someone was running in the middle of the street telling everyone that the veil in the temple was torn in half! I couldn’t believe it! The veil was so thick; how could it simply be torn in half on its own? Other people said they saw dead people rise from their graves and rocks splitting! I tried to put all these events together and come up with an explanation and could not. These were all extraordinary things!
I looked at my father questioningly. I was surprised that he had a calm but melancholy look on his face.
“Father, what is the meaning of all this? Why are all these things happening?” I asked.
“The Son of God has died my child. The Son of God has died. How can nature not lament and mourn His death?” my father replied.
“But father, why did He have to die? What did He do wrong?” I asked once more.
“He came for you and me, dearest one. He said: ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’ Did you not hear Him say so? He is the long-awaited Messiah who came to save us,” my father said.
“But they killed him father!” I cried.
“Indeed they did child. But we must have faith. Did you not also hear Him speak many times and prophecy that He will be crucified, die, and rise again after three days? Have hope, my child. He will rise again.”
I looked out the window of our home once again and looked into the distance at the crosses on the hill. My father’s words rang in my ears. “He will rise again.” I started to get drowsy and eventually I fell into a deep sleep after gazing once more at the crosses at the top of the hill and willing myself to believe in my father’s words…“we must have faith…have hope, my child…He will rise again.”
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Welcome to my blog! Or rather, the humble musings of an Orthodox Christian writer :)
You might have stopped by this page and are wondering...what exactly is the point of this blog??
Allow me to start with a small story...
On one of many long nights working the midnight shift at work, a coworker and I somehow managed to engage in a very long discussion about my faith and her faith, the Orthodox faith and the Church of God faith, respectively. As we sat there debating various subjects ranging from Theology to Patristics to Church History to Tradition, I realized something. Whether it was accurate or not, I noticed that my coworker spoke with a certain confidence about her faith, quoting various Bible verses (which may or may not have been taken out of context) and different sources. I, on the other hand, felt very ignorant regarding my faith and not at all confident of what I was saying.
Up to that moment in time, I had experienced several instances of ignorance and sheer shame that I am not as well-grounded in my faith as I should be...but never as strong as this. Being a person who was born in the Orthodox faith and who prides herself on doing her own research, I had not done enough research regarding some of the questions my coworker was asking me. While our conversation was interesting, it really made me think about what God was trying to teach me from this encounter. It was definitely a humbling experience but it was also meant to show me how to better use the talents God gave me.
I'm sure some of you can relate to this situation...which brings me back to the original question: what exactly is the point of this blog??
This blog will primarily focus on presenting reviews of Orthodox books and highlighting important information to be gained from those books. I will be organizing those book reviews by topic. My ultimate goal is to be able to build a mini-database filtered by topic so that an Orthodox person can go in and find multiple sources either supporting or refuting a certain topic...or simply to give more information on a particular topic (with valid and authoritative sources!!). While the primary focus will be books (and scholarly articles), I will periodically include a sermon by an Orthodox priest or a video, etc. I will try to post weekly (but some books are longer so please be patient)... :)
And this is where your help will come in :) this blog is meant to be a service...if you have a particular question or topic that you would like to see researched, please do not hesitate to email me at: GODlovesme1476@gmail.com.
The Orthodox faith is beautiful and offers such depth you will not and cannot find anywhere else! I pray that God will guide me and that He will bless this service! Your prayers would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance for reading this blog and for contributing to its content! I sincerely hope we all learn more about the Orthodox faith together :)
Until next time,
GODlovesme...AKA Youstina Guirguis