Easter Message for 2010 Pope Shenouda III, Patriarch of Coptic Orthodox Church
- Easter Papal Message for 2010 in English
Pope Shenouda III
Patriarch of Coptic Orthodox Church
My beloved sons in the lands of immigration, priests and congregation.
Peace and grace from Our Lord, hoping that God may bless your lives and
sanctify them and may every work that you do be successful.
We thank God Who granted us to complete this Holy Pascha in peace and has
brought us to the joys of His Resurrection. Our joy is not merely the joy of
the Feast after ending the fast. Our joy however, is a spiritual joy, as the
apostle said, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice."
I wish that you meditate well on this phrase and practice rejoicing in the
Lord and on how it should be. We rejoice in the presence of the Lord with us
during this period, to strengthen our faith and to speak to us about matters
pertaining to the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). He gives us the feeling that He
is with us all the days and to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
These are the feelings of the holy fifty days after the Resurrection. Do we
have such joy and contemplate on its reasons as a principle for these fifty
days, focusing all our thoughts on matters pertaining to the Kingdom of God?
Do we examine what are these matters and how to live by them?
I hear so often some people, whilst being perplexed asking me, how can we
keep our spirituality during these fifty days when we have been deprived
from fasting and prostrations during these days and also from the liturgies
that begin in the afternoon and end at sunset? Whereas some say more than
that, how can we overcome lukewarmness during these days? Here I say to you
that every season has its own spiritual nature. Fasting and prostrations
were the nature of the Great Lent. However, there are other spiritual means
for the holy fifty days. What are they?
In the period of the fifty days, the focus is on prayer, spiritual reading,
contemplation, praising and hymns, deep spiritual meetings, exercises of
repentance and spiritual growth.
This is what each individual as well as those who are responsible for the
ministry should be concerned with. It is inevitable to present spiritual
nourishment to take place of the fast. Spiritual nourishment was the aim and
the means of the fast, "Every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
If fasting includes self control and strong will, we should continue in
these two virtues with various and many exercises.
With respect to food, it is not appropriate to lose control when breaking
the fast. We should eat with self-control and not with gluttony. We should
not be like those who after breaking the fast cause upset to their stomachs,
or those who destroy and lose all of the benefits of the virtues of fasting
without wisdom or discernment by the way they eat.
One of the exercises of self-control during the fifty days after Lent, is
lack of eating between meals. It is a useful spiritual exercise, as it is at
the same time useful for the health of the body. Whereas this may be
difficult for some with respect to the many visits and banquets that they
attend and host, this can be minimized by lack of eating as much as we can
between meals, except when necessary.
We do not fast during the fifty days after Lent according to the saying of
the Lord, "can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is
with them?" (Mark 2:19) The reason therefore, is our feeling of the Lord's
presence with us or our presence with Him. This will take place through the
continuity of prayer or through the remembrance of the Lord.
Through this, the fifty-day period after Lent is a period of prayer,
contemplation and our feeling of being in the presence of the Lord, as were
the disciples after the Resurrection. "Speaking to one another in psalms and
hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the
Lord." (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16) It is a period in which praising
increases. There is no doubt that this also agrees with the saying of Saint
James the apostle who said, "Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms."
(James 5:13) Some beneficial spiritual exercises are memorizing psalms and
parts of praise and using them as an opportunity for contemplation, in order
for them to originate from the heart as prayer. That is why the apostle
repeats the phrase, "singing in your heart to the Lord" "making melody in
your heart to the Lord."
May the Lord grant it to be a period of spiritual joy for you my beloved, in
which you rejoice in the Lord and to make the Lord rejoice by your pure
lives that are filled with God's love. Hence, the period of these fifty days
was also a period of repentance, since by repentance heaven and earth
rejoice according to the Lord's saying, "There will be more joy in heaven
over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:7) How much more so if he also grows
Therefore, be a source of joy to God, His angels and to heaven. Be also a
source of joy for us when we hear about your righteous life, your growth in
grace, ministry and in every good work. The Lord be with you and wishing you
a happy Feast of the Resurrection.
The Feast of the Resurrection April 2010