A New Year’s message from His Eminence Paul (Yazigi) of Aleppo, the martyr bishop who was kidnapped in Syria in 2013 and since then no one heard anything about him: “Let us make the coming year a time of experience of God, of moments with God.”
English translation by Waad Rabahie
Video recording: 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w28N7rKBB5Q
Bp. Paul of Aleppo:
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!
There are two dimensions for human beings through which they accomplish their lives.
First dimension is the place where you are, where one exists and what is around him or her, his surroundings…
And for these surroundings, the Church advises us to fast, i.e. chastity, to deal with everything and everyone around us with purity and chastity, not with selfishness and consumption.
The second dimension is time. The Church advises us to deal with it by praying: fasting in case of surroundings (space) and praying in case of chronology (time).
Time is of two types: natural universal time, which is night and day and the passing of hours… and It has no spiritual meaning, it’s the same for everyone.
But there is a personal time, personal history. To explain better, it is chronicling, not just history. To write – in every moment – what we want in history, to chronicle what we want in our history.
Thus, the Church advised us to pray.
Prayer is not only when we attend the Divine Liturgy, or at home for 15 minutes or when we pray before meals or before going to sleep… This is a narrow explanation of prayer.
Prayer – as Saint John of the Ladder says – is intimacy with God. This communion with God is the holy history or the holy chronicle in history.
History and time are meaningless by themselves. The meaning is found in the amount of experiences, the amount of experiences lived with God, in life, during this time and this history.
The Apostle Paul warns us, he says: the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16). They are not evil because they are “evil in themselves”, but because they may deceive us, so we end up with things and people, but not with God. They deceive us by making history pass by without any chronicle of experiences of God.
If we examine our lives, which is something we should do, we will see how many moments are wasted in vain, in things and with people, without being able to write anything mutual with God.
My dear ones… Let us make the coming year a time of experience of God, of moments with God.
These experiences and this communion with God is called “prayer”.
While we read the Holy Scripture,
while we pray the Lord’s Prayer,
while we serve the poor,
while we teach our kids,
as long as we put God in front of us, these are experiences of God, so they are a prayer.
With fasting we sanctify the surroundings, with prayer (in its general meaning) we sanctify the history and time.
Time is not to be wasted!
Time is an element of sanctification and each moment of our life is for Christ the Lord.