In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit One God!
“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10
Greetings to fellow Eritreans at home and in the Diaspora, beloved of God, and who love God, may the peace of God be with you.
Glory to God.
When the appointed time of salvation and the foretold prophesies came to pass, God the Son come to fulfill the promise He gave, and took flesh from flesh, soul from soul and spirit from spirit of the Holy Virgin Mary and was born at Bethlehem, all creation rejoiced. A multitude of the heavenly host (angels) sang, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." The shepherds found the Child with His Mother and worshipped Him, glorifying and praising God. Luke 2:1-20.
His Holiness Abune Yacob, the Second Patriarch was one of the reputable leaders of the EriOTC, a shining star of the Church in the 20th Century. Our father among the Saints, the thrice blessed patriarch was an ascetic, a scholar, preacher, rhetoric, writer, administrator.. .. .. .
He excelled in his service to God, the Church and his faithful as a deacon, an archbishops, a locum tenens and finally as a patriarch. He was a trustworthy shepherd of souls, who looked after his flock well.
A delegation of the Holy Synod, comprised of His Grace Abune Lukas, Secretary General of the Holy Synod and Bishop of the Holy Diocese of Debub-Mendefera; His Eminence Abune Yohannes, Arch Bishop of the Holy Dioceses of Dubarwa and Gash Barka; and, Reverend Samuel Tsegay, Assistant to the Secretary General of the Holy Synod, returned home after an apostolic mission in USA and Canada that was held from 30 October till 12 November.
A new church, Debre Selam Saint Gabriel’s was consecrated in Kigali, Rwanda and its first-ever liturgy celebrated on October 11, 2019 by the representative of the Holy Synod, His Eminence Abune Kerlos, Archbishop of the Southern – Adi Keih Diocese.
On the eve of the event, Archbishop Kerlos led Consecration Prayers and the Tabot, or Holy Ark, was carried into the sanctuary. Thereafter, the scholars and the cantors sung the hymns of the Sebhate waziema, or the Vespers.
Mount Sinai Holy Trinity Theology College launched a Continuing (extension) Certificate Program in General Thoeology this Academic Year. The program was designed to address the needs of those laity who were unable to attend the regular Degreee and Diploma Programs on offer at the nascent College.
Presently over 100 students are enrolled in this program that is offering: Pastoral Theology, Dogma and Bible Studies, Christian Ethics, Church History, Homiletics, Comparative Theology as well as introductory courses on Law, Principles of Accounting and of Management.
A research paper conducted on the possibilities of establishing a central Church Museum on the Premises of the Patriarchate Headquarters was presented by volunteer curators at a meeting attended by the locum tenens, His Grace Abune Petros, other bishops (representatives of the Holy Synod) and Heads of Patriarchal Directorates. The experts presented their assessment research on 22 September 2012 G.C (3 October of 2019).
15th November (geez calander), marks the first day of the Advent Fast, a period of abstinence and penance practiced by the Church from ancient times, in preparation for the Nativity of Christ. This fast, is observed beginning on November 15th and ending on Christmas Eve, with the Feast of the Birth of Christ (Christmas). It is a time for devout and penitential preparation of the soul for the proper and worthy celebration of the great feast of Christmas.
Fasting is abstinence from all things that a body needs, and one has to fast from animal products and from any kind of food for a limited time until the period of fasting is over. (Mt. 6:16, Fetha Negest 15). In general, one has to abstain from anything which the body desires.
The aim of fasting is to make the desire of the body to obey the will of the soul, to seek forgiveness of guilt and to increase the reward of the Soul.
The word holy (kidus) in Geez denotes being special, pure and esteemed. This prefix is an attribute to denote the nature of God since God is Holy by nature. Hence the word holiness is given to saints and blessed people who are at the service of Him who is Holy by nature.
We address angels as saints. We call them so since they are free from all evil things, act and go in God’s way and praise Him. Blessed people who have attained angelic status are also called saints. God himself has said “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am Holy” (Lev. 19:2; 1Pet 1:15-16).
Prophets, Apostles, Saints and Martyrs have been accorded the honor of holiness and beatitudeness for they gave their lives for the sake of God, for they bore witness in His name, and served Him faithfully to the end of their lives with all their energies and capacities. It is written in John 17:17 that the Lord prayed for them “Sanctify them by they truth; your word is truth.”
But above all these, the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, is the incomparable saint; she is therefore called Holy of Holies.
The holiness, virginity, covenant and intercession given to Our Holy Lady, the Virgin Mary is quite widely taught and deeply rooted in the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church.
Our Lady, the virgin Mary, who conceived and gave birth to Jesus Christ in Virginity is free from the original sin derived from the descendants of Adam, clean from any sins of flesh or soul; embedded in the conscience of God before the time of her birth, free and protected from human desires and frailties, and the choicest from among the chosen. Such is the Virgin Mary _ pure and Holy of Holies. (Song 4:7).
She is graced and honored by Holy Angels as indicated in Lk. 1:28-30. Here it is written that the Angel said to her “Greetings, you who are highly favored the Lord is with you.”
Our Lady, who is blessed in body, Soul and Spirit, was chosen by God to be the abode of His Son and the dwelling of the Spirit. (Heryacos Liturgy 45; Ps. 132:13).
Purity of the flesh, purity of the Soul and Purity of the heart all belong and reside in our Lady.
One of the distinctive attributes of the Virgin Mary that makes her the select among the select and the honored among the honored is the fact that she conceived and gave birth to Christ in Virginity. (Mt. 1:18-20). Our Lady the Virgin Mary is Virgin before she Conceived the Lord, during her period of conception, after conception, before delivery, during delivery and after delivery. Our Lady, apart from all women is pure and virgin in thought, word and deed. (Tewodotos 53:22). The word virgin rightfully denotes her sanctity and purity. No female, either past or present, has combined virginity with motherhood; as well as motherhood with virginity as Our Lady St. Mary.
Our Lady is a virgin in perpetuity (The Liturgy of Basil 73; Ezek. 44:3, Song 4:15) and the Evangelist Luke says “God sent the angel Gabriel …. to a virgin …… The Virgin’s name was Mary.” (Lk. 1:27). Ephraim also says that Our Lady is the pride of all virgins. (Ephraim 6:3).
Honour of the Virgin
Our Lady, the Virgin St. Mary, is the most prominent from all angels. She is pre-eminent in honour and intercession from all saints. Other ladies are honored for having given birth to prophets, saints and martyrs. But Our Lady is honored as the Mother of God. Hence, the honour accorded to the Virgin Mary is below the Creator but above His Creatures. She is, therefore, revered as such. (John Chrysotomos). The Faith of theFathers Ch. 28:36-39) Lk. In 1:30 says “….. Mary. You have found favor with God.”
Several prophecies have been written about the honour and high esteem of our Lady. Prophets have told about a Virgin giving birth to Christ. (Ps. 132:13; Isa. 7:14; Ezek. 44:3).
Church fathers, have through the centuries glorified her, guided by the Holy Spirit, about her ever sanctity and purity; and have also praised her in their writings and songs. Fathers such as St. Ephraim, Abba Heriakos, St. John Chrysostom’s and AbbaGiorgis of Gascha have venerated her greatly. The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church revers her by speaking and writing on her sanctity and purity. The life of Our Lady is associated with God’s act of redemption.
As Noah’s Ark became the cause for saving the lives of his family as well as himself and saving the human race from extinction; Our Lady, the Virgin St. Mary, also God’s trusted repository for being the cause for God’s act of redemption by giving birth to the savior Messiah. According to the doctrine and faith of our Church, the Virgin Mary is venerated as being above all God’s creatures, but below God.
In our hymns and liturgy, we recite Mary’s praise right after reciting the Holy Trinity’s.: When we think of the sacrifices that Christ paid for the human race after becoming man, in conjunction with the trials He went through, i.e., the fact that He was born in the manager, that He was shrouded in a rug, that He was banished, driven away from place to place, His suffering, His crucifixion and death; we cannot separate the Virgin Mary from these travails.
Who else, outside of Mary has been honored thus “Geetings, you who is highly favored …. You have found favour with God…. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Lk. 1:28-35).
From among her relatives, St. Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit said to Mary “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” Besides, she bore witness to the fact that Mary is the Mother of God by exclaiming “But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me!” (Lk. 1:43). She thus confirmed that what was said by God about Mary would be accomplished and that she would believe in and carry out God’s will.
When St. Elizabeth heard Mary’s greetings, the baby (John) leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Thus was it confirmed that He who was born of the blessed Virgin Mary was God, the Son of God. Our Lady has herself said that “From now on all generation will call me blessed.”
All Christians who believe in Her Son, regard her as the basis of their purity, as a pride of their virginity, and a cause for their salvation.
May her prayer and intercession be with us!!!