The Feast of Nayrouz (Coptic New Year) and the Victorious Church
By: Fr Tadros Yacoub Malaty
The Feat of Nayrouz and The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church
One of the blessings I enjoyed in the early 1950s, thanks to some of the zealous priests and servants (most of whom have departed from this world) is the Feast of Nayrouz (the beginning of the Coptic new year) which is the feast of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Victorious church. The church who lives in continuous victory over Satan and all the powers of darkness and their temptations, protecting us from falling into despair when confronted with the desires of the body and the world. In this, we ignore our abilities alone but rather we joyfully sing to Christ from the bottom of our hearts: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
A few days ago, the church in South Brunswick, New Jersey in America was celebrating the feast of St. Theodore of Shotep. I felt as if it was a celebration for all the martyred soldiers, those who are famously known and those who may be unknown. It was an annual celebration of St. George, St. Philopateer, St. Mina and the myriads of other martyred soldiers.
I felt that the commander of the army of salvation, the Lord of all believers, gave Himself on the cross for the salvation of the world. He passes by the believers who had fallen asleep, followed by the great heroes: the children of Bethlehem, who were killed while still in their mothers’ arms before even learning how to speak, for the sake of the birth of the God the logos, the incarnate Jesus Christ. Then the myriads of martyred soldiers, along with the monks, hermits, priests of all ranks, and people from all nations joined this holy army. They are the army of the kingdom who are celebrated by the heavenly hosts and treasured by paradise!
What is Behind This Feast?
The purpose of this feast is that every believer understands that they are a special member of this great army of martyrs and is uniquely loved by the Holy Trinity, in which the Father values sonship and grants each member a special place in His bosom. The believer can feel the Fatherly love of God that is above any created thing, as they gaze at all of God’s children, the members of Christ, from Adam until the end of times. In this, all can experience the hovering of God’s Holy Spirit of the creation in the beginning (Genesis 1:2).
He is hovering over all of God’s army who carry the icon of Christ in their members. Christ abides in them all, taking them from glory to glory in eternal union. St. Paul rejoiced over the prospects of martyrdom before entering paradise when he said: “What eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
The Feast of Nayrouz and the Promise of Heaven
How beautiful are the words of St. Macarius the Great as he declared to us that as we unite with the heavenly army of our savior while still in the flesh, we are able to enjoy the heavenly promise. We consider the gifts which we will enjoy in eternal life not as things strange or far away, but rather a continuation of the spiritual pleasures which we have touched during our present fight and our living faith in the Holy Trinity who is alive and working in us. Truly the incarnation of God the Word within the womb of the virgin St. Mary made her a vessel of the Divine as archangel Gabriel said to her during the annunciation: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
The Holy trinity who transformed her into a unique, chosen vessel, makes from every true believer a holy vessel where the demons of despair cannot intrude on his spiritual thoughts and emotions.
God’s Continous Work in You
Through your faith in our savior, St. Paul declares that, “you therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3).
The important characteristics of a soldier of Jesus Christ are:
1. He is from heaven; he cannot allow the temptations of the Earth and its sorrows to distract him from his love of his heavenly home.
2. He thanks God, the creator of heaven and earth for every blessing. He lives his life with all joy in admiration of the work of God on his behalf. He does not let these divine gifts distract him from the creator or from getting closer to the heavenly. He is hovering over all of God’s army who carry the icon of Christ in their members. Christ abides in them all, taking them from glory to glory in eternal union. St. Paul rejoiced over the prospects of martyrdom before entering paradise when he said: “What eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
3. He loves all of mankind, seeing them as the creation of God, desiring that all may enjoy unity with the Holy Trinity, considering God to be the first and the last in their lives.
4. He enters into a daily dialogue with God with a heart full of holy love.
5. He presents to God everyday a loving spirit towards all of mankind in humility so that the will of God may always be fulfilled.
6. He sees the Holy Bible as the word of God that will enlighten his road to the kingdom of heaven.
7. He is not occupied by outward appearances nor the physical manifestations of his worships, prayers, litanies, metanoias, fasting, giving to the poor, praising the godly people and his service, but rather retreats into a deep, inward relationships with God.
8. He doesn’t accept the chastisement of sinners but rather, while hating sin itself, he asks God to attract every sinful soul to live a life of holiness.
9. He doesn’t complain about his life on Earth, but rather he constantly keeps his gaze transfixed towards heaven while calling to Christ: “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
10. The true believer considers the present moment as the happiest moment of his life because he feels he is going from glory to glory.
11. He looks at the world, and realizes that in every generation, more spiritual, valiant, and hidden soldiers join the army of heaven. He remembers the Lord’s saying to Elijah the prophet, who thought he was the only one in the world who worships God: “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal.” (1 Kings 19:18, Romans 11:4).