From Nayrouz to the Feast of the Cross


From Nayrouz to the Feast of the Cross

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The Liturgy of our Church and her hymns are joyful and jubilant from the beginning of the Martyrs’ New Year (1 Tute) until the glorious Feast of the Cross (17 Tute). Listening to the readings during this period makes your heart jump of joy by the sweet enchantments and the contentment of the trust in the true and reliable promises of our compassionate God… “Oh sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.” (2) “In You, O Lord, I put my trust; let me never be ashamed…Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You” (3) “He permitted no one to do them wrong; Yes, He rebuked kings for their sake” (4)

Many think that the word Neirouz is Persian, which means “the new day,” but the name of our New Year came from the Coptic “Ni-Yarou, ou” which means “the rivers.” When the Greek invaded Egypt, they added “s” to the end of the word and it became “Ni-yarous” and the Arab thought that it is the Persian “Neirouz.” The Neirouz Feast is the oldest feast of the oldest nation; and during the era of Emperor Diocletian’s persecution (AD 282) the Egyptians kept the timing and the months of their agriculture year when they started their Coptic Year by the feast of their martyrs. This was the time when the Christians used to visit the burial sites of the martyrs and commemorate them.

The “Book of Revelation” describes the endurance of our fathers the martyrs and their triumph in their strife by the most wonderful words, it says, “And they overcame him (the accuser) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (martyrdom,) and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice O heavens, and you who dwell in them!” (5) Here you see a truthful correlation between the martyrs and the cross. Our late blessed father, Pishoy Kamel, was standing one day in front of the Altar under which St. Demiana was buried and he whispered, “St Demiana was martyred and buried under the Altar for the Christ, and the Christ is offered daily on the Altar for St Demiana!”

Our fathers the martyrs loved our God to the death, they cheered their cross as our Lord cheered the cross of our salvation; “…for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” The cross for our Savior is the ultimate love; “…having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (Jn 13: 1) and the cross for us is boasting this love and cherishing it; “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (6)

And the cross is the narrow gate by which our Lord asked us to enter (Mt 7: 13) “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake” (7) “…the time is coming that whoever kills you (be unjust to you) will think that he offers God service.” (8)The cross is the joy of feeling that the Lord hastens to our help in our tribulations, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let the patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing(9); then he stresses the fact that the Lord rejoices for those who endure the trial in patience and joy, saying, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.(10)

Our teacher and guide, Pope Shenouda III says about the cross, “You are going to face many kinds of crosses; like the strife, endurance, and patience, and also bearing the discipline of God and the fathers…Do not be exasperated, and do not think that the spiritual life is easy or is paved with roses…or else, for what work will you be rewarded in eternity? And what is the meaning of the Lord’s words about the narrow gate?!

My Lord, as long as I am in your bosom and under your wing, take me in your compassion, for you hear my sighing… and everything You allow for me is my joy, my consolation, and my victory, “Put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?(11)

Emil Bishay

1. Hebrews 12: 2,3
2. Psalm 96: 1,2
3. Psalm 31: 1, 19
4. Psalm 105:14
5. Revelations 12: 11,12
6. Galatians 6: 14
7. Matthew 10: 22
8. John 16: 2
9. James 1: 2-4
10.James 1: 2
11.Psalm 56: 8