March 2024 English Newsletter Posted May 23, 2024 by admin


My beloved the Benevolent,                      March 2024

Grace and peace, wishing you all goodness and blessings

I am pleased to congratulate you on the beginning of Great Lent, which begins on Monday, March 11th and ends with our celebration of the Feast of the Resurrection on Sunday, May 5th. This Great Lent is marked by an important church event: the making and sanctification of the Holy Myron at the Monastery of St. Bishoy on Monday and Tuesday, March 11th, and 12th. Then the Holy Leaven is added after the Liturgy of Monday, May 6th. We pray that the blessing of making and sanctifying of the Myron and the special prayers that accompany it may bless us so that we may enjoy the blessing of Great Lent.

 The Great Lent is a special spiritual period that the Church Fathers called the spring of spiritual life. Fasting is linked to the work of charity and mercy for the needy. The book of Isaiah describes the acceptable fast to God as follows: “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?” Isaiah 58:6-7 Acceptable fasting is a fast mixed with the work of mercy. The work of mercy and the concern for those in need expresses that we are members of the one body, the body of Christ our God; who incarnated for our salvation and fasted to teach us fasting, and offered His life for us to give us an example of giving and sacrifice so that we could offer our lives for others. The Great Lent this year comes during a time of harsh economic conditions that many families are suffering from, especially in our beloved country, Egypt. Santa Verena’s primary charitable mission is to help our brothers in need in Egypt. Therefore, I would like to devote this message to discuss the work of mercy.

The work of mercy includes many things, as the prophet Isaiah tells us:

1- Defending the oppressed and giving justice: Injustice is an act of evil, and injustices entered the life of man after his nature was corrupted; therefore, man began to oppress his fellow man. The oppressed man is bound by the shackles of evil and has a yoke carried against him as a result of injustice; many of the oppressed are crushed by the shackles of evil and the yoke of injustice. So, the children of God must defend the oppressed and loose the bonds of evil, release the prisoners of bondage, and break every yoke, and not oppress anyone in order for their fasting to be acceptable before God.

We see many injustices in the world today; the oppressed need someone to defend them, to raise their voice loudly and stand before the oppressors and tyrants. Christ has defended the oppressed and cared for the neglected, He stood before the oppressors and rebuked their injustice. St. John the Baptist also called for fruitful repentance and told the publicans, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Luke 3:13 andsaid to the soldiers: “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.” Luke 3:14

Just as there are personal sins, there are societal sins. An unjust society that does not achieve social justice for the people oppresses and crushes the poor who start their lives poor, and the unjust society does not allow them to get out of the cycle of poverty. That is why there were reformers who called for social justice, dissolving differences between classes, and achieving equal opportunities for all members of the people. There is also a society that oppresses certain groups because of religion or gender and does not achieve social justice.

Jesus Christ laid down the principle of societal responsibility towards others, especially in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man did not care about poor, sick Lazarus, and his lack of concern became a type of injustice towards him. The poor and needy don’t need urgent assistance, but they need justice and the redress of injustices against them. Therefore, the period of fasting is a period of activity to defend the oppressed and demand the rights of the downtrodden and persecuted.

 2- Fasting is a period for the work of mercy: “to break your bread for the hungry” and a period to welcome strangers “to bring the poor and lost people into your home.” Nowadays, we find the problem of refugees who flee their country due to persecution and wars. Some countries may accept them, and others reject them. We see many families leaving our country, Egypt, and coming to the U.S. for a better future. So, we must pay special attention to newcomers and open our hearts, homes, and churches to them. We remember the biblical commandment, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” Hebrews 13:2 Therefore, I call on all of you during the blessed period of the Great Lent to pay special attention to our newcomer brothers; helping them start their new lives and encouraging them to persevere and strive until their affairs are settled in the new society. Many come looking for job opportunities or suitable housing and schools for their children; so, we should not be stingy with our experience and capabilities. We also do not forget about our brothers in Egypt during these painful economic times.

Let the period of the Great Lent be a time of doing good deeds, that we may all feel that we are members of the one body, “If one member suffers, all members suffer with him” 1 Corinthians 12:26 “Distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.” Romans 12:13

 May God bless your offerings to support Santa Verena’s charitable programs.

Metropolitan Serapion