Day 35: daily lent practice: 5th Sunday of the Holy Great Fast

Category : Daily Lent Practice

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus
went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep [Gate] a
pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five
porches.
3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind,
lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.
4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the
pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped
in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of
whatever disease he had.
5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity
thirty-eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he
already had been [in] [that] [condition] a long time,
He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to
put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but
while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and
walk.”
9 And immediately the man was made well, took up
his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.
10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It
is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry [your]
bed.”
11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to
me, `Take up your bed and walk.’ “
12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to
you, `Take up your bed and walk’?”
13 But the one who was healed did not know who
it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in
[that] place.
14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said
to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more,
lest a worse thing come upon you.”
15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was
Jesus who had made him well.
16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and
sought to kill Him, because He had done these things
on the Sabbath.
17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been
working until now, and I have been working.”
18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him,
because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said
that God was His Father, making Himself equal with
God.      John 5:1-18


Day 39: daily lent practice: How? Struggle to attain Faithfulness

Category : Daily Lent Practice

“Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown
of life.” (Rev 2:10)

“According to the scriptures, one of the main
characteristics of God is His absolute faithfulness.
This virtue in man is also considered to be one of the
‘fruits of the Holy Spirit’ (Gal 5:22).

To be faithful means to be absolutely true to one’s
word, to be totally loyal in one’s devotion, to be
completely steadfast and unswerving in one’s own
calling and vocation. It also means to remain in humble
service, in truth and in love, no matter what the
conditions or consequences. To be faithful means to
be courageous and to be and to do that which one must
be and do by God’s will, regardless of any rejection
by others and in spite of any lack of recognition or
appreciation. God Himself is perfectly faithful. . . . ‘if
we deny Him, He will deny us; if we are faithless, He
remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself’ (2 Tim
2:12–13).

The spiritual person is the one who is faithful to his
calling, fulfilling every good resolution, and bearing
fruit patiently with the gifts and talents given by God.
The spiritual person is faithful in every little thing—
every thought, every word, every deed—‘according
to the measure of faith which God has assigned him’
(Rom 12:3), ‘according to the measure of Christ’s gift’
which is ‘given to each’ (Eph 4:7). Such faithfulness
is the main teaching in Christ’s parable of the talents.
The one who faithfully and without fear develops and
grows with that which the Lord has provided is the one
who hears the voice of the Master.

‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been
faithful over a little’ (Lk 19:17); I will set you over much,
enter into the joy of your master (Mt 25:23).

The only way to receive the ‘crown of life’ is to be
‘faithful until death’ in the place where God has put us
(Rev 2:10). The only way to find joy, wisdom and peace
is to be faithful to one’s own uniqueness, knowing that
each person has his own specific life and vocation from
God which no one else has; his own specific mission
which no one else can perform. The spiritual person
develops his own life in faithfulness, without envy or
fear, and so accomplishes and becomes that which
God has willed for him before the dawn of creation.”


Day 36: daily lent practice: How? Seek to attain Virtues

Category : Daily Lent Practice

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever
things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever
things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever
things are of good report, if there is any virtue and
if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these
things. The things which you learned and received and
heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace
will be with you.” (Phil 4:8-9)

“We are made in God’s image and likeness. The image
is like God’s stamp on us as a human person. It cannot
be changed. The likeness, on the other hand, can
change and grow. It is the potential to grow evermore
godlike… acquiring virtues [is] a way to grow evermore
Godlike. The virtues are specific, [as are] the rungs on
St. John Climacus’ ladder. We can choose one, and
with prayer, proceed to discipline ourselves so as to
acquire it. When our lives are not focused on a major
struggle with evil, we need to struggle in the positive
direction by seeking to attain the virtues.

.. may we all be encouraged to focus in on at least
one virtue and struggle towards it with all of our heart.
And as we struggle, let us remind ourselves…that we
are struggling against sin not just by fleeing/fighting
from the passions, but also by actively struggling
towards virtues.”

His Holiness Pope Shenouda III


Day 29: daily lent practice: How? Return to God, to one’s self, to life

Category : Daily Lent Practice

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with
all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with
mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God.” (Joel 2:12-13)

“As sin is separation from God, repentance then
is returning to God. God says: “Return to me, and
I will return to you” (Mal 3:7). When the prodigal son
repented, he returned to his father (Luke 15:18-20).
True repentance is a human longing to the origin from
which it was taken. It is the desire of a heart that stayed
away from God, and felt that it cannot go any further
away.

Repentance is also a spiritual awakening. The sinful
person is unaware of his state. The Bible says to him:
“that now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Rom
13:11). By this context, repentance is the return of a
person to himself. Or the return of one’s self to its
original sensitivity, the return of the heart to its fervour
and the return of the conscience to its work. It is justly
said about the prodigal son in his repentance: “He
came to himself” (Luke 15:17). He then came back to
his alertness, to his correct thinking and to his spiritual
understanding.

For as sin is regarded as spiritual death, just as
the Bible says about sinners that they are: “dead in
trespasses” (Eph 2:5), then repentance is transfer
from death to life according to the expression of St.
John the Evangelist (1 John 3:14). St. Paul the apostle
says about this: “Awake, you who sleep; Arise from
the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Eph 5:14).
St. James the apostle confirms the same meaning by
saying: “he who turns a sinner from the ‘error’ of his
way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude
of sins” (James 5:20).

Repentance is resurrection for the spirit, because
the death of the spirit is separation of the spirit from
God, just as St. Augustine said: ‘Repentance is a new
pure heart, which God gives to the sinners to love Him
with’. It is a divine act performed by God inside the
person, according to His divine promise which says,
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, I will cleanse
you from all your filthiness….I will give you a new heart
and put a new spirit within you….and cause you to walk
in My statutes, and you will keep My judgements and
do them” (Ezek 36:25-27).”

His Holiness Pope Shenouda III



Day 28: daily lent practice: 4th Sunday of the Holy Great Fast

Category : Daily Lent Practice

1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard
that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John 2 (though
Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), 3 He left Judea
and departed again to Galilee. 4 But He needed to go through
Samaria. 5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar,
near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now
Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from [His]
journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman
of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”
8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Then
the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew,
ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings
with Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the
gift of God, and who it is who says to you, `Give Me a drink,’ you
would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and
the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 “Are You
greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from
it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered
and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14
“but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.
But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of
water springing up into everlasting life.” 15 The woman said to Him,
“Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The
woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her,
“You have well said, `I have no husband,’ 18 “for you have had five
husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband;
in that you spoke truly.” 19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive
that You are a prophet. 20 “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain,
and you [Jews] say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought
to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is
coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem,
worship the Father. 22 “You worship what you do not know; we know
what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 “But the hour is
coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father
in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
24 “God [is] Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in
spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah
is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all
things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am [He].” 27 And
at this [point] His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked
with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are
You talking with her?” 28 The woman then left her waterpot, went
her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who
told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then
they went out of the city and came to Him. 31 In the meantime His
disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But He said to them,
“I have food to eat of which you do not know.” 33 Therefore the
disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him [anything]
to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who
sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 “Do you not say, `There are still
four months and [then] comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you,
lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white
for harvest! 36 “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit
for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice
together. 37 “For in this the saying is true: `One sows and another
reaps.’ 38 “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored;
others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” 39 And
many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the
word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I [ever] did.”
40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to
stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more
believed because of His own word. 42 Then they said to the woman,
“Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves
have heard [Him] and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the
Savior of the world.” John 4:1-42


Day 26: daily lent practice: How? Persevere

Category : Daily Lent Practice

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always
ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1)

“[Fr Pishoy Kamel] told a story which happened to
him several years ago: One of the ladies who used to
confess to him was very bitter and broken hearted.
Her husband was alien from God. He did not bare to
go to church and did not accept visits of any priest.
Furthermore, if he found a religious picture, he would
tear it apart. Father used to tell her to keep on praying
on his behalf.

Days passed and nothing changed. However, our
beloved father was always giving her hope assuring her
of the power of prayer. Suddenly her husband fell sick
and he asked her if she had a picture of the crucified
Jesus. She was reluctant to give it to him lest he might
tear it; but, she realized his good intentions this time.

So she gave him the picture and he put it on his
chest and started to cry heavily. He asked her to call
a priest fast. He confessed and the following day took
communion. Shortly thereafter, he passed away. This
was the work of prayer in this family and many other
families.”


Day 34: daily lent practice: How? Keep striving

Category : Daily Lent Practice

“You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving
against sin.” (Heb 12:4)

“When a man is given over to the passions, he does
not see them in himself and does not fight against
them, because he lives in them and by them. But
when the grace of God becomes active in him, he
begins to discern the passionate and sinful in himself,
acknowledge them, and to repent and decide to guard
against them. A struggle begins.

At first, the struggle begins with deeds, but when
is released from shameful deeds, then the struggle
begins with shameful thoughts and feelings. And here
the struggle encounters many steps … The struggle
continues. The passions increasingly are torn out of
the heart. It even happens that they are entirely torn
out … The sign that the passions are torn out of the
heart is that the soul begins to feel repulsion and
hatred for the passions.”

St Theophan the Recluse


Day 38: daily lent practice: How? Struggle to attain Patience

Category : Daily Lent Practice

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations,
knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
(Rom5:3-4)

“To be patient literally means to suffer and endure.
It means to wait on the Lord through all tribulations
and trials with courage and hope…Too often people
embarking on the spiritual life forget that patience is a
virtue, and that, because of man’s freedom, the effort
to cleanse one’s life from sin is tiresome and long.
Everything is expected at once, with little striving and
small effort.

Too often, also, people who wish to be patient
forget that the virtue is a grace of God and a fruit of
the Spirit. They think that they can attain patience
with themselves and with others by will power alone;
by rationalizations and human considerations. Such
people never find peace for their souls.

The virtue of patience is found in the steadfast
endurance given by God. It is the power to “stay on the
cross” no matter what, doing only the will of the Lord.
Patience is united with faith, hope, love, humility and
obedience, which alone brings the strength to go on.
It must be renewed daily through fasting, prayer and
communion with God in the Church. It is found when
one trains oneself to remember God, to abide in Christ
and to see all things in the light of the Kingdom of God.

If one wishes to be patient, one must be united with
Christ and live by the power of the Spirit. According to
the spiritual teachers, there is no other way.
‘No temptation has overtaken you that is not
common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let
you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the
temptation will also provide the way of escape, that
you may be able to endure it (1 Cor 10:13).’

‘Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain
you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved (Ps
55:22; 1 Pet 5:7).’


Day 23: daily lent practice: How? Meet God early in the morning

Category : Daily Lent Practice

“So be ready in the morning, and come up in the
morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself to Me
there on the top of the mountain.” (Exo 34:2)

“In the morning, long before dawn, [Jesus Christ]
got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely
place and prayed there.’ In the middle of sentences
loaded with action – healing suffering people, casting
out devils, responding to impatient disciples, travelling
from town to town and preaching from synagogue to
synagogue – we find these quiet words: ‘In the morning,
long before dawn, He got up and left the house, and
went off to a lonely place and prayed there.’

In the centre of breathless activities we hear a
restful breathing. Surrounded by hours of moving
we find a movement of quiet stillness. In the heart of
much involvement there are words of withdrawal. In
the midst of action there is contemplation. And after
much togetherness there is solitude. The more I read
this nearly silent sentence locked in between the loud
words of action, the more I have the sense that the
secret of Jesus’ ministry is hidden in that lonely place
where He went to pray, early in the morning, long
before dawn.”

Henri Nouwen