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Wisdom of the Oriental Orthodox Fathers

Salpy

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From The Paradise of the Holy Fathers, Vol. II:

The old men said, "Let no monk do anything whatever without first of all trying his heart to see that what he is about to do will be done for God's sake."

("On Scrupulous Watchfulness in our Thoughts, Words and Deeds," saying 339)

http://www.amazon.com/Paradise-Holy-Fathers-2/dp/0980517125
 

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“A person with a hardened heart will never see God’s mercy.”

St. Abune Samuel of Debre Wegeg, Ethiopia. 13th C.
 

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When, once, the king ordered St. Filipos of Ethiopia to join a government celebration during a fasting season, the saint responded “Monks have no festival. Their only festival is when their souls depart from their flesh.”

St. Abune Filipos, successor of the see of St. Teklehaimanot 13th C.
 

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When his parents urged him to marry, St. Samuel of Waldeba said: “I don’t need this world’s wedding. I have chosen the heavenly wedding where children of light will glory with their Lord Jesus in the heavenly Jerusalem.”

St.  Abune Samuel of Waldeba, Ethiopia. 14th C.
 

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After his ordination as a monk, St. Samuel of Wadeba said: “Behold my soul! You are now engaged to Christ. Think of the bridal wealth that you will receive from the clean bridegroom.”

St.  Abune Samuel of Waldeba, Ethiopia. 14th C.
 

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One day, Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to St. Samuel of Waldeba and asked him “My beloved Samuel, what do you like me to do for you?” The saint answered “My Lord I ask you one thing only! That, throughout my life, I see my own sins only and never the sin of others.”

St. Abune Samuel of Waldeba, Ethiopia. 14th C.
 

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Saint Filipos of Ethiopia once said: “The Lord’s saying to his disciples ‘Whosoever wants to be chief amongst you let him be your servant’ is so sharp as a blade and is able to cut out the pride in our heart.”

St. Abune Filipos. 13th C.
 

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“Oh father! I am a new seedling that has not yet experienced the sun and that does not know the drought of the summer;
Oh father! I am a newly growing olive tree whose leaves did not yet bloom well and whose roots are not yet firm;
Oh father! I am a new captain that has not experienced the waves of the sea and that does not know how to swim in deep turbulent waters.
Yet, I am planted in the middle of your holy stars….
Oh father! Let your prayer assist me; let you prayer lead me.”


St. Abune Filipos. 13th C. [praying to his predecessor father St. Tekle-haymanot during his ordination as an Episcopos by Bishop Yaqob of Egypt.]
 

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Thank you for posting these awesome sayings, Hiywot!

Is there a book in English available which has these, and other, sayings?  Or are you translating these from Ge'ez or Amharic?  If there is something available in English out there, I would love to get a copy for myself.
 

Salpy

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The translations are beautiful.  Thank you for going to the trouble to do them.  We really are enriched by the sayings!
 
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St Apa Shenoute the Archimandrite and Prophet (+461 A.D.):

"Our Lord Jesus Christ died for our sake not only so rthat we might be raised in a bodily manner on the final day, but also so that we might be raised at the present time from the death of sin."
 

Salpy

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From The Paradise of the Holy Fathers, Vol. II:

An old man once said, "When a man said to his companion, 'Forgive me,' and at the same time humbles himself, the devils are perplexed."

("On Humility," saying 522)

http://www.amazon.com/Paradise-Holy-Fathers-2/dp/0980517125
 
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A very powerful statement by the great St Philoxenus of Mabug (sixth century)--well worth being read at least seven times:

Now many have, for sundry and diverse reasons, forsaken the life of the world, and have drawn nigh to the discipleship of Christ, but not by reason of the one true cause, and in consequence their discipleship hath not prospered.

And they have become like sick members in the healthy body of the discipleship of Christ, and they also prevent healthy members from the performance of the service of the spirit and from the doing of all the commands of our Lord; it would have been better had they remained in the world and not made an exhibition of slackness in the land of spiritual beings.

The whole life and conduct of the world is sick and infirm in respect of spiritual things, but the body of the discipleship of Christ is sound and healthy. And whosoever would cut off his own members from that sick body, and come to be absorbed in this living body, it is the love of the Christian life and rule alone which can bring him into union with [this] body. And it is not meet that there should be [any] other cause for his drawing nigh thereto, as it is in the case of many men, for by compulsion, and from obligation, and from the forcing of parents, and by the irritation of a woman, and from many other unsound reasons, many men are driven perforce to come and be disciples to Christ.

And when they have come they are only [His disciples] in name, while in truth they belong to the world; to the Christian life [they belong] falsely and according to the sight of the eye only, and to the world in thought and deed; to the Christian life for custom's sake only, and to the world for their will's sake; to the Christian life by forcible consent, and to the world by the intelligence of their own freewill. And to speak briefly, in the Christian life is their shadow, and in the world is their body; in the Christian life they exist in form and appearance only, and in the world in [their] true person, being made the cause of stumbling to themselves and also to their brethren.

And they eat the bread of Christ by theft, and not by right; and although they are hired by Him they labour for another, and are not ashamed. When He calleth them, they obey another who is His opponent, and when any man taketh and bringeth them as his own property, they abuse His goodness, and despise His commandments. And they are made a stumbling-block in the place of the building, and a vision of detriment in the region of excellent things, and an occasion of falling in the land of truth, and a form of iniquity among helpful appearances.

And for those who are thus, it would have been better, according to the word of Christ if they had never been born, or if they were born that they had remained in the infirm country of the life of [this] world in which they were, and had not come to make others sick with themselves, or to make living limbs die, being themselves dead before God.

Do thou then, O disciple of God, flee from such things as these, and let faith itself alone be the cause of thy going forth from the world, that as thou hast laid the foundation, so also the whole building of thy works may ascend. For when thy works have received strength from thy faith which is [laid down] first, and which hath brought thee forth from the world, all things will be completed and preserved by faith in sound condition, and they will abide in integrity, and they will advance towards the secret eye of God, and will be completed and perfected by the exhortation of faith itself.
 
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Tamav Irini (+2006):

Whosoever toils with joy and gratitude, and without grumbling, receives great consolation from God in their work, and is blessed to a degree beyond that requested or hoped of Him.
 
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Pope St Kyrillos VI of Alexandria:

"When I was young I prayed for wisdom and love; but growing up, I learned to pray for the Wisdom of Jesus our Lord and the Love of the Crucified Jesus, our King and Saviour".
 

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Christ is my God and my hope.
His cross is the rod of my faith.
His pierced side is the flood of my baptism.
The blood of His flagellation is the oil of my anointment.
His apostles are the guide of my way.
My lady Mariam is the door of my salvation.


Aba Giorgis of Gasicha, Ethiopia (14th C.) in his “Book of mystery”
 

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The devil brought death through Eve; God brought life through Virgin Mariam.
Because of a woman we were far from God; Because of a woman we are nearer to God.
Satan gave Adam and Hewan (Eve) hope of becoming Gods; St. Gabriel gave Mariam Hope of giving birth to God.
Seed from a wood brought us quarrel with God; Cross from a wood brought us forgiveness.


Aba Giorgis of Gasicha, Ethiopia (14th C.) in his “Book of mystery”
 

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Gebre Menfes Kidus said:
Hiywot,

Glory to God! Beautiful quotes above!  Is this book available in English?

Selam
No it is not. I just translated them as I read the Amharic version.
 

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Hiywot said:
The devil brought death through Eve; God brought life through Virgin Mariam.
Because of a woman we were far from God; Because of a woman we are nearer to God.
Satan gave Adam and Hewan (Eve) hope of becoming Gods; St. Gabriel gave Mariam Hope of giving birth to God.
Seed from a wood brought us quarrel with God; Cross from a wood brought us forgiveness.


Aba Giorgis of Gasicha, Ethiopia (14th C.) in his “Book of mystery”
I love this. One of the earliest Patristic teachings on Mary actually. :)
 
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St Philoxenus of Mabbug (6th Century):

"[The disciple of Christ] should know that, although he is human according to the flesh, he is chosen to work spiritual things, and that, by the grace of God, he has been held worthy of the life of heavenly things; and that, although he exists in the flesh in [this] world, he should walk in the path which is superior to his nature".
 

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Hishestsook :

Let us recall your name in the night, O Lord. [Ps 119:55]. •The good word will flow forth from our hearts, and our tongues will recount the works of you, the heavenly King. •Having arisen in the middle of the night, let us confess you Lord. •Let us offer our prayers to you, Lord, in your court, in th new Jerusalem. •In the night, let us lift up our hands in holiness to you, O Lord. [Lam 2:19] ʼWith a voice of thanksgiving let everyone bless the Lord!

Zarteek :

Arise, O my glory, arise! And I shall arise in the morning. Alleluia! •Arise with the vigilant angels, O children of the supernal Sion. Alleluia! •Arise, sons of light, in praise of the Father of light. Alleluia! [1Th 5:5] •Arise, all of you saved by the blood, and give glory to the Savior. Alleluia! •Arise, new people; sing a new song to Him who makes all things new. Alleluia! [Ps 96:1,] •Arise, brides in the Spirit, awaiting the coming of the holy Bridegroom. Alleluia! •Arise, you, who burn with light, like the wise holy virgins. Alleluia! •Arise and prepare oil for your lamps with warm tears. Alleluia! •Arise and sleep not, slumbering like the foolish virgins. Alleluia! •Arise, let us fall down and worship with tears, saying: Alleluia! •Arise, why do you sleep? Lord, do not forsake us. •Arise, Lord, and help us, and we shall give glory to your holy name. •Now and forever to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen. •Having arisen from the occupation of nocturnal repose, may the loving Lord also grant us consolation in the solace of the Church. •In awe and reverence let us stand in prayer. •Let us confess our transgressions. •And we shall find expiation and great mercy from Christ. •Forever and ever. Amen. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

St.  Nesess

The two sequential hymns, Hishestsook and Zartik, were both composed by St. Nersess Shnorhali (d. 1173) as a fitting inspiration for the monks to wake up in the middle of the night for worship.

http://www.stnersess.edu/classroom/sml/daily/nightservice/index.php?setid=9
 

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geovar said:
Hishestsook :

Let us recall your name in the night, O Lord. [Ps 119:55]. •The good word will flow forth from our hearts, and our tongues will recount the works of you, the heavenly King. •Having arisen in the middle of the night, let us confess you Lord. •Let us offer our prayers to you, Lord, in your court, in th new Jerusalem. •In the night, let us lift up our hands in holiness to you, O Lord. [Lam 2:19] ʼWith a voice of thanksgiving let everyone bless the Lord!

Zarteek :

Arise, O my glory, arise! And I shall arise in the morning. Alleluia! •Arise with the vigilant angels, O children of the supernal Sion. Alleluia! •Arise, sons of light, in praise of the Father of light. Alleluia! [1Th 5:5] •Arise, all of you saved by the blood, and give glory to the Savior. Alleluia! •Arise, new people; sing a new song to Him who makes all things new. Alleluia! [Ps 96:1,] •Arise, brides in the Spirit, awaiting the coming of the holy Bridegroom. Alleluia! •Arise, you, who burn with light, like the wise holy virgins. Alleluia! •Arise and prepare oil for your lamps with warm tears. Alleluia! •Arise and sleep not, slumbering like the foolish virgins. Alleluia! •Arise, let us fall down and worship with tears, saying: Alleluia! •Arise, why do you sleep? Lord, do not forsake us. •Arise, Lord, and help us, and we shall give glory to your holy name. •Now and forever to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen. •Having arisen from the occupation of nocturnal repose, may the loving Lord also grant us consolation in the solace of the Church. •In awe and reverence let us stand in prayer. •Let us confess our transgressions. •And we shall find expiation and great mercy from Christ. •Forever and ever. Amen. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

St.  Nesess

The two sequential hymns, Hishestsook and Zartik, were both composed by St. Nersess Shnorhali (d. 1173) as a fitting inspiration for the monks to wake up in the middle of the night for worship.

http://www.stnersess.edu/classroom/sml/daily/nightservice/index.php?setid=9
Nice waking-up psalms!  :D

Hey, is the Orthodox Church of India canonically recognized by the See of Constantinople?
 

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yochanan said:
Hey, is the Orthodox Church of India canonically recognized by the See of Constantinople?
We are talking about the Oriental (Non-Calcedonian) Orthodox Church of India; hence the question of being recognized by the Chalcedonian Byzantine Orthodox See of Constantinople does not arise.

If you are asking about the existence of Byzantine Orthodox Churches in India. It is almost nonexistent. There are three or four churches altogether in and around the city of Calcutta. They are all relatively recent missions, with recent converts, which I believe is under the Bishop of Hong Kong.

The Church in India with 1950 year history from the time of St. Thomas the Apostle is not in communion with Constantinople.  At various stages that Church has split and as it stands the Church established by St. Thomas exists in four different faith systems:

- Oriental Orthodox (2 jurisdictions: one that is autocephalous, another that is a autonomous jurisdiction under the Patriarch of Antioch) ,
- Church of the East (what some would refer to as Nestorian)
- Eastern Rites Roman Catholic ( 2 rites:  Syro Malabar that is a parallel to the Church of the East and  Syro Malankara  parallel to the Oriental Orthodox church)
- Anglican Communion (they call themselves Marthoma Church or the reformed Syriac Orthodox)
 

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More quotes from Aba Giorgis of Gasicha

Being named as Christian without faith in Christ is the same as naming a plant without seed, tree without leaf, river without water, cloud without rain, government without military, wall without roof, bride without ring, and altar without quorban.

* * *

A locked metal rod can be unlocked by a locksmith. Strong iron could melt in a furnace. But nobody can open the heart of the wicked with the words of scriptures and wisdom.

* * *

The father of Eve dwelt in the daughter of Eve. The father of Adam strived to be the second Adam. Behold, the grace of God was seen spreading from generation to generation.

Hiywot
 

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“You are a King and not an Evangelist. You need religious guidance from us as we need a righteous rule from you.”

Our holy mother St. Fikerte-kristos and her company to King Susenios (16th C.), when he tried to force them convert into Roman Catholicism.

“Do not intimidate us. Behold fire and sword are in your hands. You can do whatever you will on us. We will never renounce our Tewahido religion.”

St. Fikerte-kristos (16th C.), as the same King threatened to kill them.
 

Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Hiywot said:
“You are a King and not an Evangelist. You need religious guidance from us as we need a righteous rule from you.”

Our holy mother St. Fikerte-kristos and her company to King Susenios (16th C.), when he tried to force them convert into Roman Catholicism.

“Do not intimidate us. Behold fire and sword are in your hands. You can do whatever you will on us. We will never renounce our Tewahido religion.”

St. Fikerte-kristos (16th C.), as the same King threatened to kill them.

AMEN!!!


Selam
 

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Whenever the Divine Light shines within the heart of one man, Its radiation is inevitably reflected through him on to others. And just as a prism reflects the light in various hues, so does the human being reflect the Divine Light in many ways. Some see in him God's Grace; others His mercy; still others His Wondrous love. Fortunately, the reflection of the Divine Light through a sanctified person is not only shed on his contemporaries, but shines on successive generations long after the physical death of the man himself. That is why the people of this present age can still bask in the Light reflected through the saints of bygone days. And by this reflection, the whole of humanity is raised to higher levels.

Iris Habib el Masry (20th Century)
(An OO Church mother)
 

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The body was just as important as the mind in these observances, and not merely only what the eyes saw and what the ears heard. Seeing and hearing were in some sense fundamental, even when there was no conscious comprehension. Equally important, however, were the other senses: the scent of incense in the church services, the taste of the Eucharistic bread and wine, the smearing of the oil from the church lamp on your forehead, the kissing of the cross and making the sign of the cross, the myriad genuflections and prostrations, the tasting of the bitter vinegar on Good Friday, the holding of the palm leaf on Palm Sunday, the kiss of peace given and received during the liturgy by all in the special Indian Christian way (offering both your hands to your neighbor to interleaf with the two hands of the other, who does the same to his or her neighbor in turn), the gorgeous vestments of the bishops and priests, the peals of church bells and systrums, exercising one’s own vocal chords loudly and spirit-fully, if not quite harmonious singing of the hymns and chants, the white-clad deacons, the colorful decorations of the altar. All five senses of the body were to be involved in worship: sight and hearing, smell and touch and taste. The body must pray just as much as the soul and the spirit, with the hands and the feet, the tongue and the lips, the voice and the breathing, posture and movement.

That was the system in which we had been brought up. And I must affirm the basic validity of the system, though much in it could readily be improved upon. I have dwelt upon this point in my Joy of Freedom. Many of the attitudes and tastes that I have carried over from childhood to adulthood came from this system.


His Grace, the Late Metropolitan Paulose Mar Gregorious
20th Century
 

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Mary is also our model in that she was the first person to receive Jesus Christ. As Mary bore Christ in her womb physically, all Christians now have the privilege of bearing God within them spiritually. By God's grace and mercy we are purified and empowered to become like Him.
Source: The orthodox study Bible
 

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Quotes from Mar-Isaac (Mar-Yishaq)

A soul that loves God gets rest and happiness by God only. Make haste to untie all bindings that are external to you. When you do this you can tie your heart by the string of love of God. Renunciation of carnal deeds brings unity with God. [/color]
[Mar-Yishaq, Geez version, Art.1, Ch.1]

*  *  *

Mercy is not in charity only. It is in the burning of the heart for and in pitying the sorrow of a brother. It is in giving oneself the sake of a brother.
[Mar-Yishaq, Geez version, Art.1, Ch.2]

*  *  *

Read books always… so that you find comfort in your soul;
Love the virtue of poverty… so that your heart remains far from conceit;
Denunciate pleasure… so that your conscience is free from turbulence;
Flee from a multitude of people… so that you save your
soul from loosing internal peace;Love purity… so that you will not feel ashamed when you stand in front of Jesus Christ for prayer.
[Mar-Yishaq, Geez version, Art.1, Ch.3]


Hiywot
 

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More quotes from the Ge’ez version of Mar-Yishaq

Gossip begets gossip and blessing begets blessing, therefore, bless others. Always bless with your tongue so that nobody will gossip about you. [1:7]

*  *  *

Refrain from minor sins so that you will not fall into the major ones. [1:4]

*  *  *

Who can possess meek thoughts… while in love of shining raiment?
Who can remain pure in thought… while in love of too much talking? [1:4]

*  *  *

Gossip begets gossip and blessing begets blessing, therefore, bless others. Always bless with your tongue so that nobody will gossip about you. [1:7]

*  *  *

If you achieve the state of appreciating and enjoying the sight of nature, know that this is the first step in the spiritual act of the mind. [1:8]

*  *  *

Refrain from reading the book of the heretics and never open its pages. You will lose your spiritual grace and glory. [1:9]

*  *  *

When you are liable to see mysteries and revelations you will be given the gift of tears and internal temptations will be quietened. [1:10]

*  *  *

Do not look for the gift that is not given to you so that you will not loose the one you already have. [1:11]

*  *  *

Fire can not burn a wet leaf.  Likewise, Godly mysteries can not dwell in pleasure loving heart. [1:11]

*  *  *

They are many who worked miracles and who saved others through their teachings but they themselves became sick in soul, fell into temptation, killed their souls and became stumble blocks for others. It is good to teach others… but it is much better that a person makes himself pure for God than teaching others. [1:5]

Hiywot
 

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Then He said the greatest thing when He made the statement, "Just as the living Father sent me, and I have life on account of the Father, so too whoever eats Me lives on account of Me." (John 6:57).  He did not need to say here, "whoever eats my body," because He already established that in the preceding statement.  He said first, "the living bread" (John 6:51), and informed us that that bread was truly His body.  Then, He said third, "whoever eats me" (John 6:57).  He means (here) that He is God incarnate, and His divinity is not differentiated from His humanity.  Whoever partakes (of the Eucharist) in a worthy manner and with faith, (God) resides in him and gives him the life that He gave to the body united to Him.

Bishop Bulus el Bushi (13th Century Coptic bishop)

quoted from Michael Christensen's Partaker of the Divine Nature, in the essay "The Copto-Arabic Tradition of Theosis" by Stephen Davis

 

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What the Christian tradition has taught me is not to ask for the cause of individual suffering, or to resolve philosophically the problem of unmerited suffering. My task is to use suffering that comes my way, for the exercise of self-discipline and compassion.  I do not know why we have to suffer, but I know that where there has been no suffering there is no development of character. I know that compassion is learned and taught by entering into the suffering of others and by letting others share one’s own suffering, to a certain extent. Suffering seems to be Love’s way, at least in this world.

Suffering does not open the door by itself. The key has to be turned; suffering has to be transmuted by love. Hate and despair can turn it into poison. I am grateful to God that however close I came to despair in my suffering -filled adolescence, I did not give up. My little faith helped me to cling on in hope.

Suffering is the key to the mystery of existence in this world. That is why God himself, supposedly free from all suffering, decided to come and partake of it Himself. Thereby lies the Grand Mystery. God suffers, in Christ, in us, even today.


His Eminence the Late Metropolitan Dr. Paulose Mar Gregorios
20th Century
 

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Hiywot said:
Just in case this link never works in the future:

It is good that you are here to record this picture of me in my palace garden at Addis Ababa.  People who see this throughout the world will realize that even in the 20th century, with faith, courage, and a just cause, David will still beat Goliath.

His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie, 20th Century
 

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Dionysius Bar Salibi, Bishop of Syriac Orthodox Church in 12th century, clearly expounds Miaphysite Christology of Oriental Orthodox Churches in his Prayer during Fraction of Holy Mysteries in Divine Liturgy:

Thus truly the Word of God did suffer in flesh, and was sacrificed and broken on the Cross, and His soul separated from His Body, while His Godhead never separated neither from His Soul nor from His Body. And He was pieced in His side with a spear, and there flowed out of Him blood and water, the atonement of the whole world. And his Body was stained with them. And for the sin of the whole world, the Son died on the Cross, and His Soul came and united with His Body. And He turned us from the work of the left to that of the right. And by the Blood of His Person, He reconciled, united and combined the heavenly with the earthly, the people with the gentiles and the Soul with the Body. And on the third day, He rose from the tomb. One is Emmanuel, and cannot be divided into two natures after the indivisible unity. Thus we believe and thus we confess and thus we confirm that this Flesh is of this Blood and that this Blood is of this Flesh.
 
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"It is more worthwhile to focus on furthering the depth of our spirituality rather than expanding its breadth. Progressing spiritually is not necessarily about doing more. In some circumstances, spritual progress is better achieved simply by striving to do greater in the little you already do."

- Anonymous Coptic priest
 
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