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Saintly Life

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Saintly Life by Pope Tawadros II: St Shenouda Monastery Sydney

Our relationship with the saints makes heaven close to earth, and we say everyday in the synxarion: “we celebrate on this day the life of this or that saint”, therefore today we will be talking about the saintly life and so we don’t think that the saintly life is only for particular individuals but for everyone, but how?

St. Paul says: “for this is the will of god; your sanctification… for god did not call us for uncleanness, but in holiness”. 

Holiness is one of the words that we use more often. Like we say: “holy god, holy mighty, holy immortal”, and the book of god’s commandments is called the “Holy Bible”, we describe the church as “one holy church”, and in the liturgy we use a book called “holy liturgy book”. And the individual that practices the will of god is called “holy person” and whoever visits the holy land is called “holy”. Then how is this holy life for everyone?

Firstly: you should understand that being holy isn’t about living the perfect Christian life, but in the orthodox understanding it’s the person that walks with god, a person that yearns to improve spiritually. Therefore when St. Paul was sending letters to the believers he used to call them “saints”. 

Secondly: holiness is a blessing gifted by god to us through our spiritual struggle, and St. Paul says in the verse “this is the will of god, your sanctification”, which means god is calling us to be saints: old or young. 

Thirdly: saintly life doesn’t oppose human nature. When god created Adam and Eve they were living spiritual life, but when sin was introduced in to the world they lost that blessing, just like god creates a healthy human and then they get a disease. 

How can someone live a spiritual life?

1- teach yourself to hate sinning from the bottom of your heart:

The bible says through the mouth of Jesus that this world is evil, therefore you should teach yourself how to hate the sin. We all know how Joseph was exposed to a lot of troubles, but when he stood in front of Potiphar’s wife and said this great phrase “ how hen can I do this great wickedness, and sin against god” (Gen 39:9). Do you know why the church fasts a lot? So we can train our will to stand against the sin and refuse it. The problem with us is that sometimes our will is weak and we get attracted to sin easily, therefore fasting teaches us how to say no. Even when raising our children, we teach them using the words yes and no. 

2- make a door for your heart: 

Your heart is like the street or like a house, and there’s a huge difference between them. A house has doors but the street doesn’t, imagine your house without a door, would you be comfortable sleeping? Or will you guard your belongings? Can you lie down relaxed? Treat your heart like your house, don’t let everything into your heart, not every thought or desire, not every relationship. Don’t let the world occupy your heart, in every liturgy after reading the catholic epistle we say “do not love the world or anything in the world, the world is passing away and it’s lust”, and this is an advice that the church offers everyday. A person willing to live the saintly life makes a door for his heart, and like what David says: “ set a guard o lord over my mouth, keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). Teach yourself to live in the world but don’t let the world live in you, we shouldn’t hate the world but don’t allow the world to change your spiritual path. 

3- the capital of a Christian life is love: 

We do not have anything but this commandment, “love one another”. Love is the main means of communication between god and us. And like John the beloved says: “my little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Loving by tongue is of no value but we love by deed and truth, with all our heart. 

The problem with modern life is that we all love less, making humans hungry for love. In the gospel Jesus says:”was hungry and you fed me” (Matthew 25:35), here it doesn’t refer to food and drink alone but being hungry for love. St Augustine says: “love everyone in order to obtain everything”. 

The world my brethren is in need of love. In the story of saints Didymous and Theodora, st theodora was arrested to disown her faith in Christ, and when she refused she was sent to a sinful house. At night they presented to her a soldier who was a believer, st didymous whom gave her his attire to run away with. And in the daylight when they discovered what has happened, they took him to the field to be martyred, and suddenly a lady started running towards him saying “ do not steal my crown”, and they were both martyred on the same day. If you wanted to love a saintly life then you have to love from your entire heart, love Christ like he loved you first. True love is based on two principles, first having the ability to forgive one another, and secondly being able to forget everyone’s trespass against us. Isn’t that what Jesus did first? 

4- spiritual aspects: 

Heaven is expensive and it requires a lot of work and A lot of sacrifices to reach it. Do you read the bible and pray everyday? Do you have a merciful heart towards everyone? Do you please everyone you meet? Do you sit yourself down and judge yourself? Do you have a confession father? If your actions were evil yesterday then today should be righteous. 

Your spiritual life is like the cross, you should hate sin from your entire heart, and then make a door for your heart, then you fill your heart with love for everyone. That’s how you carry your cross everyday and how you live a spiritual life. 

“That’s the will of god, your sanctification” god didn’t call us for uncleanness but for holiness. Be holy just like your father in heaven is. At the start of this Coptic new year, tell the lord you want to live a spiritual life. Ask him to give you grace, grant me this year o lord to live a life pleasing to you. Help me lord and I promise to hate the sin, and to fill my heart with love. 

Glory be to god forever amen. 

Pope Tawadros II