Fr. Malek Lenten Lecture


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  • Bishop of Alexandria ; Confessor and Doctor of the Church ; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373. Athanasius was the greatest champion of Catholic belief on the subject of the Incarnation that the Church has ever known and in his lifetime earned the characteristic title of "Father of Orthodoxy", by which he has been distinguished every since. Source: Catholic Encyclopedia
  • Rejoice, Vessel of the Wisdom of God. Rejoice, Treasury of His providence. Rejoice, you who proves the philosophers fools. Rejoice, you who proves the logicians illogical. Rejoice, for the subtle debaters are confounded. Rejoice, for the inventors of myths are faded away. Rejoice, you who breaks the webs of the Athenians. Rejoice, you who fills the nets of the Fishermen. Rejoice, who draws us from the depths of ignorance. Rejoice, you who enlightens many with knowledge. Rejoice, Raft for those who desire to be saved. Rejoice, Haven for those who fare on the sea of life. Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.
  • The four gospels records about thirty-five separate miracles Jesus performed. These were not the only ones he did, but the specific ones the writers picked out under the guidance of the holy Spirit to represent his ministry. At the end of John's gospel he says the books of the world would be filled with his miracle accounts if they were all written down. Only two of His miracles are found in all four gospels, the feeding of the five thousand and the resurrection.
  • Albert Einstein (1879-1955) Einstein is probably the best known and most highly revered scientist of the twentieth century, and is associated with major revolutions in our thinking about time, gravity, and the conversion of matter to energy (E=mc2). Although never coming to belief in a personal God , he recognized the impossibility of a non-created universe. The Encyclopedia Britannica says of him: "Firmly denying atheism, Einstein expressed a belief in "Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the harmony of what exists." This actually motivated his interest in science, as he once remarked to a young physicist: "I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details." Einstein's famous epithet on the "uncertainty principle" was "God does not play dice" - and to him this was a real statement about a God in whom he believed. A famous saying of his was "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."
  • .Isaac Newton (1642-1727) In optics, mechanics, and mathematics, Newton was a figure of undisputed genius and innovation. In all his science (including chemistry) he saw mathematics and numbers as central. What is less well known is that he was devoutly religious and saw numbers as involved in understanding God's plan for history from the Bible. He did a considerable work on biblical numerology, and, though aspects of his beliefs were not orthodox, he thought theology was very important. In his system of physics, God was essential to the nature and absoluteness of space. In Principia he stated, "The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being."
  • C.S. Lewis (29 November 1898 - 22 November 1963) was a prolific writer, poet, scholar of English literature and defender of Christianity. His most famous book is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe , the first published of his Chronicles of Narnia On cover of Time Sept 8 1947
  • The book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light in 2008. Here was a woman who most would agree held a profound understanding and belief in god. Yet after reading her personal letters it became evident she had the deepest of doubts: Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone … Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony. So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart? St. John Chrysostom, who wrote the Divine Liturgy that we use on most Sundays reiterated the importance of caring for others. He said that ‘Feeding the hungry is greater work than raising the dead’. If Mother Teresa, a weak, tiny 80-year old woman, with nothing to her name but the clothes on her back can inspire nearly 5000 women to join as nuns in her Missionaries of Charity in 133 countries to care for hundreds of thousands of the poorest of the poor, just imagine what you and I can do, if we put our mind to it; and allow God to work through us. (BTW Mother Teresa is Albanian, and her birth name is Agnes Bojaxhiu).
  • It was at this time that 2 Corinthians 5:21 occurred, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus became sin for us, so He felt the loneliness and abandonment that sin always produces, except that in His case, it was not His sin – it
  • A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”     19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”   20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.   21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”    “ From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”     23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”   24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”   25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “ You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”   26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.   28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”   29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting”
  • ( Chrysostomos , "golden-mouthed" so called on account of his eloquence). Doctor of the Church, born at Antioch , c. 347; died at Commana in Pontus , 14 September, 407. John — whose surname "Chrysostom" occurs for the first time in the "Constitution" of Pope Vigilius (cf. P.L., LX, 217) in the year 553 — is generally considered the most prominent doctor of the Greek Church and the greatest preacher ever heard in a Christian pulpit . His natural gifts, as well as exterior circumstances, helped him to become what he was.
  • Born at Pouy, Gascony, France , in 1580, though some authorities have said 1576; died at Paris , 27 September, 1660. Born of a peasant family , he made his humanities studies at Dax with the Cordeliers, and his theological studies, interrupted by a short stay at Saragossa , were made at Toulouse where he graduated in theology . Ordained in 1600 he remained at Toulouse or in its vicinity acting as tutor while continuing his own studies. Brought to Marseilles for an inheritance, he was returning by sea in 1605 when Turkish pirates captured him and took him to Tunis . He was sold as a slave, but escaped in 1607 with his master, a renegade whom he converted Founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools , educational reformer, and father of modern pedagogy, was born at Reims , 30 April, 1651, and died at Saint-Yon, Rouen , on Good Friday , 7 April, 1719 Founder of the Franciscan Order , born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181 or 1182 — the exact year is uncertain; died there, 3 October, 1226. His father , Pietro Bernardone, was a wealthy Assisian cloth merchant. Of his mother, Pica, little is known , but she is said to have belonged to a noble family of Provence. Francis was one of several children. The legend that he was born in a stable dates from the fifteenth century only, and appears to have originated in the desire of certain writers to make his life resemble that of Christ . At baptism the saint received the name of Giovanni, which his father afterwards altered to Francesco, through fondness it would seem for France
  • Fr. Malek Lenten Lecture

    1. 1. of 32 “ From Doubt to Sainthood” A Lenten Journey Fr. Malek Rihani St. Mary Orthodox Church – Alsip, IL
    2. 2. of 32 Prayer before a gospel reading or bible study Illumine our hearts, O Master who loves mankind, with the pure light of Your divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Your Gospel teachings; implant in us also the fear of Your blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing unto You; for You are the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto You we send up glory, together with Your Father who is from everlasting, and Your all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
    3. 3. of 32 “ Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name.” Psalm 30:4 “ When you sing, you pray twice.” St. Augustine
    4. 4. of 32 “ From Doubt to Sainthood” A Lenten Journey
    5. 5. of 32 <ul><li>The greatest of Saints have at one time doubted Christ and/or His mission. </li></ul><ul><li>Many doubters have become great preachers and advocates of Christianity </li></ul><ul><li>Even the most extreme doubters have some degree of faith. </li></ul><ul><li>Doubters are in our life to help us, and in turn for us to help them. </li></ul>Doubting is not only normal, but it’s the driving force behind our faith
    6. 6. of 32 <ul><li>“ To be human is to go in search. </li></ul><ul><li>All human searching is in the end a search for God: </li></ul><ul><li>… and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth - in a word, to know himself – </li></ul><ul><li>… so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may come to know the truth of themselves“ </li></ul><ul><li>Pope John Paul II, May 16, 1999 </li></ul>Doubting is what fuels our ‘Search Engines.’ Constantly searching for the Truth
    7. 7. of 32 <ul><li>Since God created us in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:27) , we can find God, once we discover God’s likeness in us. </li></ul><ul><li>“ God became man, so man might become God” </li></ul><ul><li>St. Athanasios </li></ul>Doubting is what fuels our ‘Search Engines.’ …Constantly searching for the Truth
    8. 8. of 32 How do you explain Christ’s Resurrection? Christianity being a Divine Faith… defies human logic!!!
    9. 9. of 32 How about Christ’s miracles??? Christianity cannot submit to human Logic
    10. 10. of 32 How about Holy Communion…. Bread and Wine becoming Body and Blood of Christ Christianity cannot submit to human Logic
    11. 11. of 32 <ul><li>“ Faith and Reason are like two wings upon which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth” Pope John Paul II </li></ul>We need both Faith and Reason to understand God – and ourselves
    12. 12. of 32 “ The intuitive mind is a sacred gift. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Albert Einstein &quot;God does not play dice&quot; &quot;Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.&quot; The greatest of minds gave credit to God
    13. 13. of 32 &quot;The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.&quot; For Isaac Newton, God was essential to the nature and absoluteness of space Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
    14. 14. of 32 “ Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” The best advocates of Christianity are former Atheists. C.S. Lewis 1898 - 1963 “ I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
    15. 15. of 32 If you’re still doubting… It’s Ok. Greatest Saints before you have doubted “… My Lord, and My God” Thomas the disciple (John 20:28) Then Jesus saith unto him: “ Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” John 20:29
    16. 16. of 32 <ul><li>I call, I cling, I want ... and there is no One to answer ... I’m alone ... </li></ul><ul><li>Where is my Faith ... even deep down… there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness </li></ul><ul><li>I have no Faith! </li></ul>Who do you think said the following:???
    17. 17. of 32 “ My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34 Even in His final prayer, Jesus felt the loneliness and the abandonment.
    18. 18. of 32 <ul><li>Jesus said. “Everything is possible for the one who believes.” </li></ul><ul><li>Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 </li></ul>In the story of the boy possessed by the demon . The father asked Jesus to heal his son who’s been possessed since birth. What does our Bible tell us??? About believing
    19. 19. of 32 <ul><li>Jesus said. “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting ” Mark 9:29 </li></ul>When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not remove the demons.
    20. 20. And Much More! of 32 Charity Discipline Sacrifice Be merciful Forgiveness Celebrate others’ success – Do not envy Kindness Our ability to be like God and to perform miracles, requires Prayer and Fasting … Simplicity Devotion Quietness Compassion Obedience Repentance Loyalty
    21. 21. of 32 What the Saints tell us about Fasting &quot;Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. If you see a poor man, take pity on him. If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him. Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ea r and the feet and the hands and all the members of our bodies. St. John Chrysostom
    22. 22. of 32 What the Saints tell us about Fasting <ul><li>Let the hands fast, by being free of lust and greed. </li></ul><ul><li>Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin. </li></ul><ul><li>Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful </li></ul><ul><li>Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip. </li></ul><ul><li>Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism. </li></ul><ul><li>For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers and sisters? </li></ul>St. John Chrysostom
    23. 23. of 32 <ul><li>'Read good and useful books, and abstain from reading those that only gratify curiosity.' St. Vincent de Paul </li></ul><ul><li>'To abstain from sinful actions is not sufficient for the fulfillment of God's law. The very desire of what is forbidden is evil.‘ St. John Baptiste de la Salle </li></ul><ul><li>'We ought to abstain from all extravagance and excess .’ St. Francis of Assisi </li></ul>What the Saints tell us about Fasting
    24. 24. of 32 Because Heaven is made possible only through the Cross Even with Prayer, Fasting and Sacrificing, God will still allow misfortune and suffering in our life.
    25. 25. of 32 Jesus would not ask us to do anything, unless he’s done it himself &quot;And he said to all: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily , and follow me &quot; - Luke 9:23.
    26. 26. of 32 One thing Jesus did often… … is to pray. And to pray alone
    27. 27. of 32 “ But Lord, a few minutes from now, I'm getting out of bed...  From then on I'm going to need a lot MORE of Your help..... Dear Heavenly Father,   I think you'd be proud of me!  So far today I've done all right. I haven't gossiped, lusted, lost my temper, haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. Praise Your Name! I'm grateful for Your grace...   Let us Pray…
    28. 28. Viewing yourself in relation to others <ul><li>Begin by understanding your own strengths and weaknesses </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure a purpose-driven life </li></ul><ul><li>You’re a Role Model to many. Act accordingly </li></ul><ul><li>Never measure your success by material possessions </li></ul><ul><li>Be loyal to those entrusted in your care </li></ul><ul><li>Love sacrificially. Forgive continuously. </li></ul> of 32
    29. 29. of 32 We cannot travel the journey to Heaven alone! We need God, His Church, and Each Other To help us and to hold us accountable
    30. 30. of 32 Before you leave, please remember to take with you… A one-page summary entitled: “ How Can I Know?” By Fr. Thomas Hopko Priest for nearly 50 years Former Dean of St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary Our thanks to Fr. Fouad and the Parishioners of St. John the Baptist Melkite Church
    31. 31. of 32 For Next Week: Thursday March 1 st : Please see your church’s bulletin for the latest update Date / Time Church / Presenter Topic / Language Location Thursday, February 23 rd 6:30 – 8:00 PM Saint Mary – Fr. Malek Rihani 708-239-0004 English “ From Doubt to Sainthood:  A Lenten Journey”. Saint John 200 East North Ave. Northlake, IL Thursday, March 1 st 6:30 – 8:00 PM Our Lady of Lebanon Fr. Charles Khachan 630-932-9640 English “ Toward the cross, the empty tomb, and beyond.” Saint John 250 South Villa Ave. Villa Park, IL Thursday, March 8 th 6:30 – 8:00 PM Saint John, Northlake Fr. Fouad Sayegh 708-562-7050 English and Arabic “ Anger in the Holy Bible: How can we deal with it” Saint Mary 12147 S. Cicero Ave. Alsip, IL Thursday, March 15 6:30 – 8:00 PM Saint John, Villa Park Fr. Yacoub Youhanoun 847-533-6003 Arabic &quot;The Liturgical Year, Celebrating Christ and Journeying towards God.&quot; &quot; السنة الليترجية، احتفال بالمسيح ومسيرة نحو الله &quot; Our Lady of Lebanon 950 N. Grace Lombard, IL
    32. 32. of 32 Thank you for the privilege of speaking to you. شكرا May the Almighty God bless you: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen. In Christ’s love, Fr. Malek