His Grace Always Put Others Before Himself

A Reflection on the Life of Bishop Athanasius of Western Kenya

In early December, we requested prayers for His Grace Bishop Athanasius of Kisumu and Western Kenya of the Patriarchate of Alexandria who at that time had already been in the ICU at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts for about three weeks. After the news of his illness spread, social media was flooded with reminiscences of and words of praise for Bishop Athanasius who, by all accounts, was a humble and sincere shepherd for his flock. Millions around the world were praying for him. However, it was not God's will to heal him, and Bishop Athanasius reposed in the Lord yesterday, having suffered from a rare form of blood cancer.

Nativity Message of Bishop Irinej of Eastern America

The Star, which long ago appeared over a cave outside of Bethlehem, continuously reveals for us the mystery of the birth of the Divine Christ Child. Christ is born – rejoice, beloved! Rejoice for the light of the Nativity also reveals the intended purpose of humanity and, therefore, our own being. The Word of God – Light of Light, True God of True God – as we faithfully proclaim in the Creed, became man, so that the same Star, which shone upon Him, may continue to shine upon us, illumining our hearts and minds with the Gospel of Truth and Righteousness and, thereby, the promise of salvation for all.

The light of the cruciform Star of Bethlehem, as it reveals the Sun of Righteousness to the world, will also reveal in us the mystery of our humanity and, with it, the salvific nature of incarnate love and community. Through the Gospel encounters of the Nativity, we are summoned to illumination by the light-bearing precepts of family, friendship, fellowship and faith. Through the birth of Christ in the flesh, the fullness of His humanity is realized ultimately in His sacrifice on the Cross, as foreshadowed in the gifts of the Magi, and fulfilled in the light of the Resurrection.<--break->

A prayer for those who are suffering or in anguish

Going through old papers which I saved over the last 40 years, I rediscovered this prayer attributed to St. Ephrem the Syrian in a folder. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where the prayer came from, but share it for all who may be in need of just such a prayer – those being crushed by their own failures, mistakes, sins and sense of sinfulness. The prayer makes several references to the Gospel parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15:11-32, the text of which I have included at the bottom of this post just for reference.

Who are the Holy Forefathers, and why do we commemorate them before the Nativity of Christ?

The two last Sundays before the Nativity of Christ are called the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers and the Sunday of the Holy Fathers. The Holy Forefathers and Fathers are the Old Testament relatives according to the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, beginning with the holy ancestors Adam and Eve, Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, and his sons, the holy patriarch Abraham, and so on up to the glorious Nativity of Christ.

Prophet Daniel

The Holy Prophet Daniel is the fourth of the major prophets.

In the years following 600 B.C. Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians, the Temple built by Solomon was destroyed, and many of the Israelite people were led away into the Babylonian Captivity. Among the captives were also the illustrious youths Daniel, Ananias, Azarias and Misael.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon ordered that they be instructed in the Chaldean language and wisdom, and dressed them in finery. Handsome children of princely lineage were often chosen to serve as pages in the palace. For three years, they would be fed from food from the king’s table. After this they would be allowed to stand before his throne. Daniel was renamed Baltasar, Ananias was called Shadrach, Misael was called Mishach, and Azarias was known as Abednego. But they, cleaving to their faith, disdained the extravagance of court, refusing to defile themselves by eating from the king’s table and drinking his wine. Instead, they lived on vegetables and water.