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The Spiritual Man, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

30- Prostrations (metanias)


Prostration or (Metania) means kneeling. What is meant then by this kneeling?

The spiritual man does not see kneeling as just bending the body but it is also bending the spirit with the body.

Therefore he says with the Psalmist: But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; in fear of You I will worship towards Your holy temple (Ps 5).         Image: Orthodox Coptic monk performing prostration صورة: راهب قبطي من الكنيسة الأرثوذكسية يقوم بعمل ميطانية أو سجود Image: Orthodox Coptic monk performing prostration

صورة: راهب قبطي من الكنيسة الأرثوذكسية يقوم بعمل ميطانية أو سجود

The phrase in fear of you proves reverence of the spirit during kneeling. And the phrase in the multitude of Your mercy.. I will come into Your house shows the feeling of being unworthy. And so the Deacon cries out during the Holy Mass saying:

Kneel to God in awe and reverence...

Here, the spiritual feelings accompany the movement of the body. Sometimes you apologize to a person and prostrate (give him a metania), but he wouldnt accept it as he feels it is a physical action that has no spirit.

You may say to him after that: what else do you want me to do? I have knelt with my head to the ground and prostrated!!

My brother, the important thing is for your spirit to bow.. Do not stick to the literality of prostration, but to its spirit.

As for the spiritual man, in his kneeling, he says with the Prophet David:

My soul clings to the dust (Ps 119:25).

And it is not only my head that clings to the dust in its kneeling.

The soul that clings to the dust is acceptable before God and people.                     Divider of Saint TaklaHaymanot's website فاصل - موقع الأنبا تكلاهيمانوت

I read an article written by one of the monks on the feast of the Epiphany where he explained how the Lord Jesus Christ bowed before the Baptist, to fulfill all righteousness, although John the Baptist was far more less than the Lord, and was not worthy to carry His sandals... Then the monk concluded his article by the phrase:

Give us, O Lord, to bow before those who are less than us; to fulfill all righteousness...!!!

If you see that they are less than you, what is then the meaning of bowing?! Is it literality without spirit? We want the bowing of the spirit.

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