The Church of Martyrs By Fr. Marcos Girgis

The Church of Martyrs

At the beginning of the month Tout the Church celebrates El Nayrouz Feast, the Feast of the Martyrs. This feast begins on the 1st of Tout and continues to the 16th of Tout ending with the Feast of the Holy Cross, which we celebrate for three days. We celebrate this feast by praying in the festive tune until the Feast of the Cross which is prayed in the same tune as that of Palm Sunday. This is the tune for celebrating Kings because the Lord Jesus Christ has reigned over the wood of the Cross. The martyrs, “Who had not worshipped the beast neither his image.” (Rev.
20:4) followed the way of the Cross for the sake of God.

The Coptic Orthodox Church has always been the Church of the martyrs throughout the ages, since its establishment. “My Coptic Church, its faith is true, Forever strong, Egypt for Christ” No period of time has passed when the Coptic Church did not offer martyrs and confessors as a good savor of incense to the Lord. It is truly the Church of martyrs and its calendar is Calendar of Martyrs—Anno Martyrdom.

Until now the Coptic Church is offering martyrs, confessors, those whose possessions were burned and destroyed, and those who are denied employment as a true interpretation of the Lord Jesus Christ’s words: “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.” (Jn. 16:2) But these tribulations produce patience, as St James said: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience… that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4) The recent persecution which is taking place now against the Coptic Church will be a source of blessing and stability of the faith, as is written in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles: “At that time a great persecution arose against the church…Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” (Acts 8:1-4) Their martyrdom wasn’t only for their faith, but also to be a witness for the Word of God. This is what the Lord Jesus Christ said, “for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (Jn. 18:37) This is the duty of the Christian person in our present community. “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2Cor. 4:11); testifying for the truth for He is “The way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6) This is also the message of the Church always, to obey the Voice of the Lord, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn. 8:32) The Church has also offered for us bright examples who led a life of truth in their daily practical lives. Therefore they were freed from the earthly connections and reached the Holy Cross and their blood was blessed by the Blood of the Crucified Lord. They always reign with Him, “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 22:3-5)

These martyrs are not far from us. They are our relatives and family members. For example Mother Rebecca who offered her five sons, then her own self, our brothers and sisters St. George and St. Demiana, our children St. Abanoub, our deacons St. Stephen, our Patriarchs St. Peter the Seal of Martyrs, our teachers St. Polycarp and St. Ignatius (St. John’s disciples)…our family of martyrs is endless. They lived like us but they insisted on their faith, worked hard to be with God, and received the crowns of righteousness, “Being dead still speak.” (Heb. 11:4)

Now how about you and I, do we lead the way of the Cross as they did? If we cannot live with Him on the wood of the Cross we should at least be as the thief on the right hand who looked to Him on the Cross and repented saying, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (Lk. 23:42) Let us ascend with Him to the wood of the Cross by testifying to the truth saying, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).

Happy New Coptic Year and Feast of the Holy Cross September 27, 2013 Tout 17, 1730 AM

Fr. Marcos Girgis

The Church is requesting your support in completing its furnishings: pews, Sunday school classrooms, etc…
“You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance.” (Ps. 65:11)