500 metres away from the famous monastery of St. Pishoy (Deir el Anba Bishoy), is the less known, but still known, monastery of the Syrians, “Deir El Sourian”. The monastery itself has had its recent greats. Bishop Theophilus will go down in history as one of the most charismatic abbots of that monastery. He was the abbot who had all sorts of ways of testing new novices before coming, and it was he who admitted Nazir Gayid to the monastery, who would one day become the thrice-blessed Pope Shenouda III. This monastery also gave us two modern elder saints that have been making their way in the world: Elder Matthias (Mettaous) and Elder Philotheos (Faltaos). There are, of course others. Copts of course are not as keen, it seems, on preserving the written record of some of the teachings of these elders. I pray that we acquire that.
Continue reading Abouna Antonious El Souriani
This is the third and last installment in this series. You can read the first two here and here.
I want to discuss some of the issues and characteristics that I’ve seen come up time and time again in this journey. I’m not claiming this to be an exhaustive piece or even a comprehensive one. This is not my specific area of expertise. If you wish to learn more and want to dialogue with someone who really ‘knows his stuff’, Father Peter Farrington is your priest! Please find his site specific to this topic here.
Continue reading Theosis and other problems: On Orthodox dis[unity] – Part 3
This is the second of probably three parts in this series. The first one was done in allegory, and now I want to apply that allegory to real life through the lens of my own experience in this. I hope in the next one to talk about modern “issues” that we all have and of the things we like to accuse one another and ways to look at things if we want to ever grow from this. Too often we level accusations at one another and we judge others in their contexts without having any real understanding of one another as people or of one another’s contexts! If we want unity, we need to understand one another, not to label one another improperly.
Continue reading Personal pilgrimage: On Orthodox [dis]unity – Part 2
There have been both progressions and setbacks lately in discussions about Christian unity – Oriental Orthodox vs. Eastern Orthodox. Catholic vs Orthodox. Protestant vs Catholic. You name it. We have acronyms to express every denomination and viewpoint on the planet. I cannot speak to most of those, but I want to reflect a little bit on the division between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox. This first blog will be an analogy of sorts from which to work from, and the follow-up blog or two will be personal reflections of this story as it applies to our present-day situation through the lens of my own life and experience thus far. They are thoughts about the matter after years of reading about it, being angry about it, and then arriving at where I presently am.
Continue reading Brothers who fought: On Orthodox [dis]unity – Part 1
The recent passing of several giants has grieved me. There were the passings of Fathers Feltaous and Mettaous of the Syrian Monastery, then the passing of Anba Mikhail of Assiut. These and others, to me, symobolise the ending of a great era, a loss of giants. Hearing the news of Abouna Fanous el Anba Bola today, only added to this feeling. With every passing generation, I fear, humanly, that there’s a rich tradition that dies with them. I feel that there are secrets and mysteries that are symbolically lost forever. There are ways that are not explained, and stories that are untold. They are the ones that link us to the past, that tell us of the monks of old and can see with clarity the monks of our generation. They were stalwart pillars of the philosophy of monasticism, and no longer can they, in the flesh, transmit ancient truths to us modern hearers. I pray He raises up a new generation from among us.
Continue reading Remembering Abouna Fanous…
Every mother has a story. Every mother came from somewhere, and where she came from affects how she raises her children and interacts with her husband. One mother, however, the mother of all of us, has a story that I think is awe-inspiring. The volumes that are written and could be written about our blessed mother, the Theotokos, the God-bearer and the Christ-Bearer, are countless. She’s not just some lady that got lucky. No, we know that God was waiting for the day that ‘the time had fully come’ before He entered into the world.
Continue reading What a woman…
Some old men said, “If you see a young man climbing up to the heavens by his own will, catch him by the foot and throw him down to the earth; it is not good for him.”
– Paradise of the Fathers
This week I was saddened to hear about the passing of a righteous elder, Abouna Stefanos Anba Bishoy. He was a monk of several decades, and the right hand man and steward of the monastery of Saint Pishoy in Wadi Natrun. While Paradise rejoices at the arrival of a struggling hero, I cannot help but feel sadness at the fleshly separation, at the end of the day, I am still a man. I want to share some meditations about what I observed in him over the last two years.
Continue reading A true elder: remembering Abouna Stefanos
Q: I’m having difficulty knowing how to deal with my spiritual father. I don’t know how to balance my freedom with restrictions that he’s putting on me and I’m having trouble understanding what our relationship should look like. What am I supposed to do? I just feel like he doesn’t get how difficult what I’m going through is with a particular thing that I’m doing and I think that’s what is causing my frustration.
Continue reading Discipleship: dealing with my spiritual father can be rough.