Monday, 31st August 2015 --- 25 Misra 1731
Day 25 of the Blessed Coptic Month of Misra, may God make it always received, year after year, with reassurance and tranquility, while our sins after forgiven by the tender mercies of our God my fathers and brothers.
The Twenty-Fifth Day of the Blessed Month of Misra
Departure of St.Bessarion, the Great
On this day, the great ascetic
father, St. Bessarion, departed. He was born in Misr (Egypt) to Christian
parents. When he grew up, he longed for the monastic life, so he went to
Anba Anthony (Antonius), under whose direction he remained for a while.
Then he went to Anba Macarius, and stayed under his guidance for a while.
Later on, he wandered about in the desert, never lodging in a place with
a roof. He possessed absolutely nothing of this world, and he had only
one coarse hairy sack-cloth. He used to carry the Gospel, and went round
the cells of the monks crying. If they asked him the reason for his weeping,
he would reply, "My riches have all been stolen, and I have escaped from
death. My family have fallen from honor into disgrace." His words referred
to the great loss that befell the human race by the fall of the first father
Adam by breaking the first commandment. Those who did not understand what
his words meant would console him saying, "God shall restore what has been
stolen from you."
The fathers had recorded for him many signs:
+ Once he was walking with his two disciples, John and Dulas, by the
shore of the Red Sea (salty water). When they became thirsty, St. Bessarion
took some of its water and prayed over it. The water became sweet and they
all drank of it.
+ Another time, they brought to the wilderness of Scetis a mad man,
who was possessed by demons, for the elders to pray over. Because the elders
knew that St.Bessarion despised the glory of men, they did not want to
ask him to pray over the sick man, but rather they put the man in the church
where the saint usually stood. When St. Bessarion came into the church
and found the man there asleep, he woke him up, and the man rose up healed
and with a sound mind. God wrought many signs on his hands. He pleased
God and then departed in peace.
May his prayers be with us. Amen.
Departure of St.Macarius III, the 114th
Pope of Alexandria
On this day also, of the year
1661 A.M. (August 31st, 1945 A.D.), Pope Macarius III, 114th Patriarch
of Alexandria, departed. He was born in the city of El-Mahalla El-Koubra,
on February 18th, 1872 A.D., to an old, respectable family. His family
was know by El-Kasees family (The family of the priest), which was virtuous
and godly. He grew up from a young age in a religious and pious atmosphere.
He received his primary and secondary education in El-Mahalla El-Koubra
and Tanta. Even as a young man, he was ascetic, longed for solitary life,
and enthusiastic about memorizing the church hymns. When he was sixteen
years old, he deserted the world and went to the monastery of Anba Bishoy in Wadi
El-Natroun, in the year 1888 A.D., to fulfill his desire for asceticism
and worship. His name was Monk Abdel-Mesieh. He devoted himself to worship
and to the study of the Holy Bible, ecclesiastical books, and Coptic rituals.
In a short time his virtues and righteousness were evident, and his pure
life became known to the monks. He was distinguished for transcribing books,
and his Coptic and Arabic penmanship was exquisite. He perfected the religious
Coptic artistic decorations. After he was ordained a priest he spent about
six years in the pure ascetic life.
In the year 1895 A.D., Macarius
went to the Baramous monastery, where he was ordained Archpriest (hegumen)
by Pope Kyrillos V, and became his private secretary. The Pope delegated
him to teach the Coptic and French languages in the theological school
for monks. He intended to ordain him a bishop for Misr (Cairo), but two
years after the arrival of Fr. Abdel-Meseih to Cairo, Anba Michael, bishop
of Assiut, departed. A delegation from Assiut came to Cairo, they chose
this honorable hegumen and nominated him to be a metropolitan for Assiut.
In the beginning, the Pope did not accept their petition, for he kept Macarius
in order to ordain him a bishop for Cairo and as an assistant to His Holiness,
in managing the affairs of the See of St. Mark. But when the delegation
persisted in their demand, the Pope accepted their petition, and ordained
Macarius a metropolitan for Assiut on July 11th, 1897 A.D. (Abib 5th, 1613
A.M.). He called him Macarius, and he was twenty-four years old. He went
to his parish as a young man, with no armors but his piety, asceticism,
and knowledge. He embarked, with the wisdom of the elders inspite of his
young age, with his strong will, and with the help of the Lord, on bringing
together the factions of his congregation, and establishing the Faith.
So, he maintained the unity of his people, and the position and reverence
of the church, and he was quite successful in it. He was not content with
the program that he placed for the church reform, but he also held an immense
Coptic conference in the city of Assiut in year 1910 A.D., inspite of all
the objections that rose against it. He also submitted along with Anba
Theophilus, then bishop of Manfalot and Abnoup, in early 1920 A.D., a petition
to Pope Kyrillos V. This petition contained the required administrative
and financial reforms, which indicated his great competence.
When Pope Kyrillos V, departed
in 1928 A.D., the people nominated Abba Macarius for the Patriarchal chair
to achieve the required reforms, but the circumstances then prevented that.
When Pope Yoannis IXX, departed, the Divine grace permitted that Anba Macarius
be enthroned on the throne of St. Mark. He was ordained Patriarch for the
See of St. Mark on Sunday, February 19th, 1944 A.D. After his enthronement
to the Patriarchal chair, Anba Macarius issued on February 22nd, 1944 A.D.,
a historical document. Its main objective was to reform the monasteries,
and promote their monks spiritually, and scientifically. He also ordered
that the heads and the administrators of the monasteries be accountable.
This lead to a major contention between the Holy Synod and the General
Coptic Community Council (Maglis El-Milli). On June 7th, 1944 A.D., the Holy
Synod submitted a memorandum to the Pope and to the minister of Justice.
They objected to the draft of the Marital and Personal Law for the non-Muslim
denominations, for it subverted a canon of the Coptic Orthodox Church,
as it affected two of the Holy Sacraments of the church which are the sacrament
of Priesthood and Matrimony. These sacraments are cornerstone of the Christian
religion and worship. The dispute between the Synod and the Council continued,
and all the attempts of reconciliation failed. The efforts of the Pope
to eliminate the misunderstanding failed also. The council insisted on
interfering in what was not its jurisdiction, and in what was the core
jurisdiction of the Holy Synod. As a result, the Pope was compelled to
leave the Capital, and the Papal residence, for seclusion in Helwan, then
went to the Eastern monasteries accompanied by the metropolitans. He remained
for a while in St.Antony's monastery then went to the monastery of Anba
Paul. All these painful events had strong impact in all the circles and
distressed every devout in the church.
When the Prime Minister
knew about the departure of the Pope to the monastery, he worked on the
return of the Pope in honor to his Chair, and his efforts were successful.
Meanwhile, the Coptic Community Council (Maglis El-Milli) sent a letter
to the Pope asking for his return, to be able to manage the affairs of
the church, and promised the cooperation in the needed reforms. Later,
the Pope returned from the monastery, and the people received him with
joy and reverence.
The Holy Synod convened, with Anba Macarius presiding, on January 1st,
1945, and issued many resolutions, which follow:
+ The representation of The Ethiopian church in the Alexandrian Synod.
+ The exchange of delegations between Egypt and Ethiopia, and the establishment
of a seminary in Ethiopia.
+ Restriction of divorce on the grounds of adultery only.
+ Legislation of the Family and Marital Law.
+ Rules for nominating and electing the Patriarch that coincide with
the canons of the church and its tradition.
+ Establishment of a Theological seminary for the monks.
+ Formation of a permanent committee to revue all the ecclesiastical
+ The safeguarding of the endowment funds, and improvement of the office
procedures at the administrative offices of the patriarchate.
+ Strict enforcement of the Monastic Law that was issued on June 3rd,
1937 A.D., and the return of all the monks that were living outside their
+ Establishment of a record in each church to register the members
of each Coptic family, and another to register the baptized, the departed,
and the deacons.
On June 6th, 1945 A.D.,
the Russian Patriarch visited Cairo. Pope Macarius sent a delegation of
metropolitans and bishops to be in his reception. Then they exchanged the
cordial visits. Once again a dispute between H.H. the Pope and the General
Coptic Community Council (Maglis El-Milli) took place. This time the dispute
was not resolved before the Pope took the initiative to defend the position
and dignity of his nation, the canons of the churches, and the Family Marital
Law for non-Muslims in particular. On May 30th, 1945 A.D. all the leaders
of the non-Muslim denominations in Egypt, headed by the Patriarch of the
Coptic Orthodox Church, presented a memorandum to the minister of Justice
objecting to the special law that regulated the denominational family affairs
courts. Also copies were sent to the senate and the house of representatives.
The memorandum focused on the objections, to better suit the Christian
rites and traditions. The Pope suffered from a severe weakness two weeks
before his departure that forced him to rest in his residence. On Thursday
evening, the 24th of Misra, 1661 A.M. (August 30th, 1945 A.D.), he felt
fatigued and he suffered from heart failure. The doctors rushed to his
bedside trying to save him till dawn. At 9:15 Friday morning, 31st of August,
1945 A.D., his pure soul departed to its creator. On Sunday, the second
of September, his pure body was taken to its final resting place in the
church with the signs of grief and sorrow. His coffin was placed beside
the bodies of the patriarchs, his predecessors. He remained on the Patriarchal
throne for one year, six months, and nineteen days. May God accept him
in the habitations of the righteous. Coincidentally, an earthquake was
felt in Cairo at 2:45pm at the time of his burial. Everyone felt it, and
the believers were touched, for nature shared their sorrow for the departure
of this pure saint.
May his prayers be with us and Glory be to God forever. Amen.
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