Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Monday, October 13, 2008

Remarks on the Conference of the Eastern Catholic Churches in Toronto, October 10, 2008

1.  The conference that we just had last Friday was arguably the greatest spiritual event hosted by Jesus the King Church. Almost 500 people from 5 Apostolic Eastern Catholic Churches attended. Probably half of them were young adults, who came not only to listen to lectures but to also get introduced to their peers of other same-mentality, same-culture Churches. I know for sure that some  40 youths of Jesus the King participated. My hope is that this circle will get enlarged with more encounters for the youths of the Eastern Catholic Churches.
2. As organizer of the event, I was contacted by quite a few people from Roman Catholic Churches and Ukrainian Catholic Churches - They knew about the event through the ad that I published in the Catholic Register last month with Fr. Farah's approval. I, therefore, asked Fr. Farah to speak half the material in English during the lectures. Fr. Farah admirably took on the role of a translator to English of all the lectures, while I distributed the two articles you see on the blog prior to this one.  
3.  What did the lecturers speak about? You may ask! Fr. Khairallah Fares-Maronite Catholic explained how Lebanon is the fount of saints todate. Fr. Pishoy Onse-Coptic Catholic spoke about the spirituality and liturgy of the Coptic tradition. Fr. Yousif Abba-Syriac Catholic spoke about the Syriac Church being the oldest community who still speaks the language of Christ and emphasized the heroic life and model of St. Ephraem the Syriac who defended the dogma proclaimed by the 3rd Ecumenical Council (431AD) that Mary is to be called Theotokos-The Mother of God. Fr. Georges Farah-Melkite Catholic culminated the speeches with a brief history of the Eastern Church and its diverse yet united traditions.
4.  The lectures of 4 priests were not all we heard. We had a guest who spoke English only and whom Fr. Farah introduced as a great friend of the Melkite Catholic Church: Fr. Jackman. I asked Fr. Jackman to give us all the final blessing and asked also the attendees to let the priests lead the procession out of the Church to the hall where we had a huge reception by Jesus the King for everyone. 
5. As everyone who attended knows, the lectures were interpersed with hymns sung by choirs of the respective Churches. It was a glorious feeling. The Sacred among us! On the way out, Jesus the King Choir sang its popular hymns: The Lord's Prayer, Alleluia, and Axion! Many people I met after the conference congratulated me for organzing a job well-done. I cannot fail here to think of the contributors who planned the conference with me particularly Maged Bebawi for the Arabic transcripts, Fr. Fares for the words and hymns,  Fr. Abba and his team for the hymns, Fr. Pishoy for his encouragement, and Fr. Farah who contributed not only his brilliant thoughts, but also much of the food that Jesus the King put on the reception tables. Many more people from Jesus the King contributed to the reception which ended a great religious and social night. Thank God.
6. Why and What next? Asked me Asdaa TV in an interview after the conference. I told them the reason for the conference was to show and experience SOLIDARITY with Christian people who are suffering these days in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East. The next conference will be sooner than what you think.  We are already planning one!
George Farahat, Organizer of the Conference

Selected Hymns Sung by Choirs at the Conference of the Eastern Catholic Churches in Toronto,October 10

نحن ساهرون


نحن ساهرون ومصابيحنا مشتعلة، ننتظر عودتك أيها الرب يسوع (2) - كما يومض البرق في أفق ويتألق في آخر(2)، هكذا مجيء ربنا يكون - ملكنا آت بمجد عظيم (2)، لنضىء مصابيحنا ونخرج اليه - لنفرحن به كما فرح بنا(2)، لأنه سيفرحنا ببهاء ضيائه

نحن ساهرون ومصابيحنا مشتعلة، ننتظر عودتك أيها الرب يسوع (2) - كما يومض البرق في أفق ويتألق في آخر(2)، هكذا مجيء ربنا يكون - ملكنا آت بمجد عظيم (2)، لنضىء مصابيحنا ونخرج اليه - لنفرحن به كما فرح بنا(2)، لأنه سيفرحنا ببهاء ضيائه



بمراحـــم الرب أغنى عن حقــــه  يخبر فمـــــى

أزال مخــــاوفى منى ... منحنى سعــــادة أبديــة


لــــــه ذراع القــــــدرة ، لــــــه يمين العـــــــزةٍ

اسمـــه رب النعمـــة .. من قد اعطانى الحريــة


ملوك الأرض يسجدون .. له بخشوع يخضعـون

من غيره غلب المنـون .. يســوع فادى البشرية


من فى السماء يعادله.. من على الأرض يشابهه

مهابتــــه تكللـــــه .. ابن الأحضـــان الأزليــــــة


    أبناء أم واحدة

أبناء أٌمٍ واحِدة          بلحُبِ والوئامْ

أبناء امٍ ماجدة         كَنيسةِ السلامْ


شعارنا سامٍ صريح المُلك للمسيحْ

إشدو أناشيدَ المديح النصرٌ للمسيحْ


بلحـــبِ اوصانا المسيح             في ليلـــــــــة العشاءْ

سقانا من قلبٍ جريــــح               محبة َ الإخـــــــــــــاءْ


فينا المسيحُ عامــــــــلٌ               مادام  في القلــــــوب

حبٌ صحيحٌ شامـــــــــلٌ              في اليُسرِ والخطـــوب


صــدقٌ وعزمٌ واتحــــاد             هذا شعــــــــــــــــــارُنا

حُب المسيحِ والــــــوداد            هذا منــــــــــــــــــــارُنا


إن فرقتنا في البـــــــــلاد            أحداثُ ذي الحيـــــــــــاة

كل القلوبِ بأتحـــــــــاد             تبقى ألــــــــــى الوفــــاة



رضيت يارب عن ارضك غفرت اثم شعبك

سفرت جميع خطاياهم سكنت كل سخطك


آالى الابدي تغضبُ علينا ...آالى جيلٍ فجيلٍ تطيلُ غضبك

آلاتعودُ تُحينا فيفرح بك شعبك



أرينا يارب... أرينا يارب...أرينا ياربُ رحمتك

وهب لنا خلاصك



افرحي يا مريم العبدة والأم لأن الذي في حجرك الملائكة تسبحه والشاروبيم يسجدون له باستحقاق والسيرافيم بغير فتور ليس لنا دالة عند ربنا يسوع المسيح سوى طلباتك وشفاعتك      يا سيدتنا كلنا السيدة والدة الإله لكي نسبحك مع الشاروبيم قائلين: قدوس قدوس قدوس أيها الرب ضابط الكل السماء والأرض مملوءتان من مجدك وكرامتك




أبانا الذي في السموات. ليتقدس اسمك. ليأت ملكوتك.

لتكن مشيئتك. كما في السماء كذلك على الأرض.

وخبزنا كفافنا أعطنا فى ايامنا.

وأغفر لنا ذنوبنا كما نحن لغيرنا.

لا تدخلنا في تجربة. بل نجنا من الشرير.

      لأن لك الملك والقوة والمجد من الازل إلى الأبد. آمين.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.


How did the Eastern Church contribute to carrying the light of Christ to the world?

 1.                  Our Lord Jesus Christ, His Blessed Mother, and the Apostles were all born and lived in the East.  Christ’s family tree goes back to Abraham - the father of all faithful - and his descendants who lived in the East.

 2.                  The first Church was born in Jerusalem.  Christians were first called by that name in Antioch as the Acts of the Apostles attests.  The Apostolic Sees founded by the Apostles are all in the East except the See of Rome founded by St. Peter in the West.

 3.                  The first Ecumenical Councils (where all the bishops of the world gathered to articulate doctrines of faith) were held in the East.  For example, the First Council of Nicaea (325 AD) proclaimed the Christian faith that Jesus Christ in his divinity is equal to (“consubstantial with”) God the Father. The Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) proclaimed that Christ is fully divine and human.

 4.                  Monasticism started with St. Anthony in Egypt who was followed by a great throng of “fathers of the desert” and spread in the East before it went to the West. Giants include Sts. Basil, Maron, Pachomius, Simeon, Daniel and many others.  In our times, modern saints in the Eastern Catholic Churches such as St. Charbel, St. Rafka, and Blessed “Mary of Jesus Crucified” shine as models of holy life. Characteristic of the Christian East is the spiritual guidance by holy monks which helped many people in their lives. The writings of spiritual fathers such as St. John Climacus “The ladder of virtues” are invaluable.

 5.                  Many of the great and popular saints and martyrs in the history of Church came from the East. Sts. Mary, Barbara, Catherine, Dimitri, George, Maron, Nicolas, Simeon and many others came from the East. The Eastern Church produced millions of martyrs who accepted suffering and death rather than renouncing their faith.

 6.                  The Eastern Church produced many thinkers, theologians and philosophers who defended the faith. In the 2nd to the 5th centuries, the school of Alexandria and that of Antioch were most influential in theology and philosophy. Some of the great Fathers and Doctors of the Church came from these schools such as Sts. Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria and John Chrysostom. Traditionally, 4 Greek doctors are well known: St. Basil; St. Gregory the Theologian; St. John Chrysostom and St. Athanasius.  The work of St. John of Damascus influenced the study of theology in Europe in the Middle Ages. Today, the whole Catholic Church is calling for a renewed interest in the Fathers and their writings. 

 7.                  Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter “The Light of The East” says this on the liturgy in the Christian East “The sense of inexpressible divine reality is reflected in liturgical celebration, where the sense of mystery is so strongly felt by all the faithful of the Christian East...One of the first great values embodied particularly in the Christian East is the attention given to peoples and their cultures so that the Word of God and His praise may resound in every language” (Orientale Lumen, 6, 7)

 George Farahat, Prepared for the 2nd Conference of Eastern Catholic Churches in Toronto

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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