"Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into Heaven, You are there; if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 139:7-10).
Jonah, according to Hebrew tradition, was the son of the widow, whom Elijah, the prophet, raised from the dead at Zarephath of Sidon (II Kings 17:10-24). He was a prophet in the Northern Kingdom of Israel around 825-784 BC. Therefore, Jonah prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II, the King of Samaria (II Kings 14:25).
The Holy Book of Jonah in the Old Testament tells the familiar story of Jonah, the fleeing prophet. Forty-eight verses comprise the entire story. This is a story of a legendary character with a nature similar to our own. Jonah, a contemporary of the prophet Amos, had faults, shortcomings, and weaknesses.
On the 11th day of Tout, St. Basilides (Wasilides) who was a minister and counsellor for the Roman Empire, was martyred. He had many slaves and servants. Emperor Numerianus was the ruler, who was married to Basilides' sister, Patricia, and had a son called Yustus. Patricia was also the mother of Theodore El-Mishreke. Basilides had two sons: Awsabyos (Eusebyus) and Macarius.
When the Persians waged war against Rome, Emperor Numerianus sent to them his son Yustus and Awsabyos, Basilides' son. Then he went to fight another enemy and was killed in that war. His kingdom was thus left vacant without a ruler.
The people chose from among the soldiers a man called Agrippita, who was a shepherd, and they set him over the royal horses, stable. He was a mighty man in action, bold in his dealings. One of the emperor's daughters looked at him and took him as her husband. She made him emperor and called him, "Diocletian." Shortly after, he forsook the Lord God of Heaven and worshipped idols. When Wasilides heard this, he was sorrowful, and he did not return to the service of the new Emperor.
His Holiness Pope Tawadros II announced the inclusion of the 21 Coptic New Martyrs of Libya in the Synaxarium of the Coptic Orthodox Church today. Every year, they will be commemorated on 8 Amshir in the Coptic calendar, which corresponds to 15 February in the Gregorian calendar, the same day as the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple.
Axios, Axios, Axios!
This beautiful icon, which is also featured on the front page, was drawn by Tony Rezk. May the Lord reward his talents.
[Article link: http://lacopts.org/story/the-new-martyrs-of-libya-added-to-the-coptic-synaxarium/]
The Feast of Nayrouz marks the Coptic New year and the Coptic calendar is one oldest calendars in the world. To better understand the importance of the Feast of the New Year, which is on the first of the month of Thout, it is very interesting to see the word Nayrouz comes from the Coptic word “niiaroouz” which means rivers. Mid-September is usually the time when the Nile River waters rise and prayers are raised to God for the rising of the waters of the rivers for irrigation and good crops.
During the persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Diocletian starting in 283 A.D., the Coptic Christians adopted their calendar for church liturgical use. The persecution by the emperor was so severe and bloody that the Copts called this time the Era of the Martyrs or Anno Martyri in September of 283 A.D. Therefore, at the start of each year, we celebrate the Feast of Nayrouz to honor the millions of martyrs who shed their blood for our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Feast of Nayrouz is all about the newness of a new year, a new life and new beginning. We are indebted to the martyrs from Egypt. They shone as beacons of light and gave the people strength in their faith. They have kept our Coptic Orthodox Church strong until this day. If not for the fearlessness of the martyrs, the Church would not be as it is today. The feast usually falls on the 11th or 12th of September. As we celebrate the new Day, we remember our eagerness to share with the martyrs the new day in which they entered Paradise. This is the new season where the brightness of the Glory of Christ shines, and we look toward our Lord who will, God willing, open the gates of Paradise for future martyrs and for us. The last two weeks before the feast contain Divine Liturgy readings that focus on the second coming of our Lord. May we be ready for that Day.
During the Feast, all prayers are done in the joyful tune and this continues until the 16th day of Thout. In the Divine Liturgy, all the readings celebrate this New Year.
We hear about the newness of the year in each of the readings of the Divine Liturgy. In the Psalm we hear “Bless the Crown of the Year with Your goodness.” In the Gospel, the Savior blesses the New Year in abundance, saying, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk. 4:19). In the Pauline Epistle, St. Paul writes: “the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). St. John delivers a similar message in the Catholic Epistle, saying that “the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining” (1 Jn. 2:8). The Feast strengthens our desire to repent and return to God with all our hearts. We try to give our Lord a blessed New Year. St. Luke emphasizes this point in the Book of Acts, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).