H.G. Bishop Moses



Table of Contents
 1. A christian view of Marriage.
 2. The Maturity necessary for Marriage.
 3. The perfect choice of life-partner.
 4. The engagement period.
 5. The marriage Ceremonies.
 6. The characteristics of a Christian family.
 7. Passing on faith in the family.
 8. The family and a sound upbringing.
 9. The family and the money.
10. The family and the mass media.
11. The family and the relationship.
12. The family and bearing witness for Christ.

                                       - 1 -

                           YOUTH AND FAMILY LIFE
                    A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF MARRIAGE
                            (H.H. Bishop Moussa)

Christian  marriage is different.  It has a  perspective  of
its own, which we need to get to know -if we want to get the
full  picture, and see it in all its purity.  For  Christian
marriage is a sacrament:  it is the Holy Spirit Who makes it
work.   So  we need to approach it in a different way,  with
real  spiritual  depth.  Then we will see  it  work  out  in
practice, in authentic Christian behavior.

The  Apostle Paul gives us two significant insights into the
sanctity of marriage:  "This is a great mystery" (Eph 5:32);
"Marriage is honorable among all" (Heb 13:4).

Christian  marriage goes beyond the coupling of bodies:   it
aspires to the coupling of souls.  In the same way that  the
Holy  Spirit  is active in baptismal water to create  a  new
person, so He is present in marriage.  Just as He is at work
in  Meeron oil (Holy Chrism) to consecrate a human  body  to
make  it  a temple of the Holy Spirit; just as He takes  the
bread  and  wine and transubstantiate them into  the  Lord's
Holy  body  and blood; So he unites the bride and  groom  to
each  other  and  to the Lord, through sincere  prayers  and

Yet,  this unity is not accomplished in a magical way.   The
bride  and groom are aware of and participate in it by their
heartfelt  prayers and positive response to the  working  of
grace.   This  means that the sacraments do not  work  in  a
merely  mechanical  way:  rather, they  demand  a  spiritual
response  from  the person who is receiving  the  sacrament.
This  is just as necessary as the involvement of an ordained
priest; the holding of formal prayers - and the presence  of
the Spirit of God.

This  divine  work  is the new thing in  Christianity.   For
since the beginning of the creation there have been marriage
rituals,  agreement by both sides, and social  aspects  that
differ from one community to another.  But the new thing  in
Christianity is the work of the Holy Spirit that  makes  two
individuals into a couple and the couple into one entity.

The  Christian  understanding of marriage  is  seen  through
specific characteristics some of which are:

1.  One Partner

Christianity does not permit polygamy, i.e. getting  married
to more than one partner,  Monogamy, or the law of one wife,
is  definite in Christianity and established in  the  Bible.
In this context St. Paul's words are enough:

+   "Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have
her own husband" (1 Cor 7:2).

+   "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but
the  husband does.  And likewise the husband does  not  have
authority over his own body, but the wife does" (1 Cor 7:4).

+  "Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord:  A
wife is not to depart from her husband" (1 Cor 7:10).

+   "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and  be  joined  to his wife, and the two shall  become  one
flesh" (Eph 5:31).

+  "He who loves his wife loves himself" (Eph 5:28).

This in fact is:

a.  A restoration to the original state of affairs:  "He who
made them at the beginning 'made them male and female'"  (Mt

b.   Keeping Christ's command:  "So then they are no  longer
tow  but one flesh.  Therefore what God had joined together,
let not man separate" (Mt 19:6).

There  is  no  doubt  that the law  of  one  wife  has  many
important  implications.  It raises the status of the  woman
from  just  a  mere  tool  to  a life-partner;  changes  the
significance  of the children from sheer quantity  to  their
quality,  and  refines  the  instinct  from  sensuality   to
spirituality.  These three points we should consider deeply.

God  has  created only one Eve for Adam to make him  realize
that  she is a help-meet for him, i.e. a life-partner on  an
equal footing.  It is often said that God took Eve not  from
Adam's head, so as to be superior to him, nor from his  leg,
so as to be inferior.  He took her from Adam's side to be an
equal counterpart to him.

Moreover,  the  law of one wife changes the significance  of
children  from  their quantity to their quality.   They  are
limited  in  number  and raised on  the  basis  of  a  sound
Christian  upbringing to become good citizens  and  faithful
witnesses  to the Lord.  This is much better than  having  a
big number of children who are badly brought up and have  no
share  either  in  church  membership  or  in  eternal  life

The   law   of  one  wife  also  sublimates  the  instincts.
Spiritual  love  is the secret of satisfaction,  contentment
and  happiness,  whereas uncontrolled,  sensual  love  is  a
regression from the human to the animal level.

2.  Oneness

Christian marriage is not jus a contract between two parties
whereby each person continues to follow his or her own  ego.
Instead  Christianity unifies the two parties or rather  the
two  partners in "one entity" for "the two shall become  one
flesh"  (Mt  19:5).   The  expression  "one"  here  is  very
precise,  for  the one flesh has many members  but  all  are
linked  and  unified  in love, sacrifice,  self-giving,  and
harmony.   The  one flesh is controlled by  one  network  of
thoughts and feelings and one will.

Therefore, the true Christian marriage turns the home into a
new heaven and the family into a sacred church.  There is no
more duality but one entity integrated on the levels of:

Spirit:   the two are united in God.

Mind:     the two now have the mind of Christ.

Emotions: since the spiritual self-sacrificing love is their
          motto.   "It  is  more blessed  to  give  than  to

Will:           the  Holy  Spirit is the leader of  each  of
          their wills and unifies the two into one.

Therefore  we  call the individual a couple and  the  couple
one.   This is true as they are united in God.  Each partner
bears  the other in the depths of his or her being.   He  or
she  is no longer one individual but a couple.  Each thinks,
moves  or  acts with the other partner hidden  deep  in  the
heart.  At the same time, the couple becomes one, i.e. their
behavior  flows from a spring of profound unity  created  by
the Holy Spirit.

That is why it is very important for the bride and groom  to
pay attention to the prayers and commandments recited in the
celebration  of the sacrament of matrimony.   They  need  to
rise  to  that  Christian level where  their  marriage  goes
beyond  social  and physical coupling to a sacred  spiritual

3.  Continuity

This  is  a  third important characteristic of the Christian
marriage.   In fact, it is - as the Lord Jesus  said  -  the
principle   on   which  Adam  and  Eve   originally   lived.
Therefore, when the Jews tested the Lord on divorce  saying:
'Is  it  lawful for a man to divorce his wife for  just  any
reason?'   He replied:  'Have you not read that He Who  made
them at the beginning 'made them male and female' ....   For
this  reason a man shall leave his father and mother and  be
joined  to  his  wife and the two shall become  one  flesh.'
When they asked him:  'Why then did Moses command to give  a
certificate of divorce, and to put her away?'  He  answered:
'Moses,  because  of the hardness of your hearts,  permitted
you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not
so' (Mt 19:3-8).

From this text we can clearly see two facts:

a.   Marriage was originally based on continuity,  i.e.  the
idea of divorce is completely rejected.

b.  Moses allowed the Jews to trespass over this boundary  -
with  God's  permission - because of the hardness  of  their

But  Christ  Who  marked  a new covenant  of  salvation  and
restored  us  to our original image and first  nature,  also
restored marriage to its original state, i.e. continuity and
prohibition of divorce.  God has not allowed divorce  except
for  adultery because the guilty partner - by the nature  of
his  or  her  sin  -  breaks the original marriage  bond  by
uniting  himself or herself by a new partner.   However,  if
the  innocent partner is willing to go on with the  marriage
and   accepts  the  other  partner's  return,  marriage  can
continue  on  the  basis  of  the sinful  partner's  sincere
repentance and rededication to the first marriage covenant.

The second reason for divorce is spiritual adultery, that is
to  say denial of faith and giving up Christianity.  In this
case  the  Christian  partner is  no  longer  bound  by  the
marriage  covenant  and has the right to divorce  the  other

As  for  the  kind  of reasons Christians  are  now  putting
forward  to  divorce,  such  as  ill-treatment,  separation,
frequent absence and chronic diseases, they cannot set one's
conscience at peace.  For they are a mere veneer,  to  cover
up for a basic selfishness and lack of love.

On  the  other side, the nullity of marriage is  allowed  in
cases of cheating, impotence, and some other cases specified
by the church.  The nullity of marriage is a sound principle
as  there  has  to  be basic elements to guarantee  a  sound
marriage, such as full physical and mental maturity ... etc.

An  overall view of the reasons for divorce today  shows  us
how  shallow the spiritual life is and how rare genuine love
has become.  It shows us the extent of selfishness and self-
centeredness,  and  disobedience to  Christ's  commandments.
May  the  Lord  restore to the Christian  family  its  ideal
cohesion  and unity; the cohesion and unity with  which  the
Christian  family  has  so  long testified  to  Christ,  its

4.  Bearing Fruits

The  Christian  family - by the work of the  Holy  Spirit  -
bears the following fruits:

a.   Christian  Virtue:    reflected  in  the  life  of  its

b.  Children:        when God grants - they are blessed  and
               raised  in the fear of God and firmly at  one
               with the church.

c.  Services:        the  family offers to everyone it deals
               with,  in  a true Christian love which  knows
               neither    discrimination,    hatred,     nor

The  family is a small, lively, active church that testifies
to  its Lord Jesus Christ.  Children are not an end but just
fruits.   How wonderful it is when the parents'  hearts  are
enlarged  to  include  a wider circle  of  love  instead  of
confining  their emotions to their children.  How  wonderful
it  is when the couple, whom God has not granted children by
the  flesh,  enlarge their hearts to adopt by the  spirit  a
bigger  number of children.  At the same time, within  God's
church  they  look  after  thousands  of  children  in  true
parental love.

These  are  some characteristics of the Christian  marriage.
May  God  give  us  the  joy of seeing more  marriages  that
witness to Christ.

                                       - 2 -
                           YOUTH AND FAMILY LIFE
                            (H.H. Bishop Moussa)
Young  people often rush into marriage.  This is  a  natural
inclination  in the beginning of youth and the heat  of  the
call  of  instinct.  But mistakes always  result  from  this
hurriedness,  for many reasons which will be dealt  with  in
this chapter.

Every  young  person  must be endowed  with  some  important
aspects of maturity in order to be in the right position  to
think  and move towards the choice of a life-partner.   Here
are some of these aspects.

1.  Spiritual Maturity

Though young people might not take this point too seriously,
yet  the  guidance of the soul by God's Spirit is paramount.
It is a serious matter for many reasons:

a.  Marriage is a spiritual fellowship and an integral union
in Christ.  This necessitates a true Christian life for both
partners  so that they may (through the Holy Spirit  working
in  the  sacrament of matrimony)  be brought together  in  a
true  and firm union.  This union cannot take place  without
the intervention of the Holy Spirit, for He is the Spirit of
unity  and  He  integrates the two spirits  in  one  entity.
Through this spiritual union the husband and wife are united
in mind and body.

b.   Christ  is  the Lord of the house in which  He  dwells.
Whenever  the Lord takes His leading position in the  family
everything  is  performed according to His mind,  love,  and
holy guidance.  The Lord will be ever present at meals,  the
silent listener to every conversation, the divine Savior for
every soul.

c.  In the choice of life-partner the spirit should dominate
over  both mind and emotion, for the mind has limited vision
and power, while the emotions are fickle.  The spirit is the
divine  element in contact with God; capable of finding  the
way  out,  and  controlling the course of mind and  emotion.
Therefore,  young  people have to activate  their  spiritual
life  and  their fellowship with the Lord, so as not  to  be
easily  inclined either to the heat of their passion  or  to
their limited thinking.

d.   The  blessing of the Lord and His sacred seal  for  the
choice is the only sure guarantee for a happy life under His
love.  Even if you wear yourself out trying to find out  all
about  your life-partner and trying to check that  you  made
the right choice, you cannot without the intervention of the
Holy Spirit succeed in this aim.

e.  Marriage requires some significant concessions from both
parties  in  a  spirit  of  self-sacrificial  love,  not  of
destructive  selfishness.  This is quite impossible  without
the  work  of the Holy Spirit, the only guarantee for  self-
denial  and  the  surrender of many habits and  patterns  of
thinking.  This will enable the two partners to give  before
taking  - giving with Christian joy, not with the resentment
of the oppressed, nor in a quarrelsome and reluctant spirit.

Therefore,  maturity  is essential  for  both  partners  for
leading  a  life of fellowship with the Lord and involvement
in church life.

2.  Psychological Maturity

Studies  show  that  the young adult, at  the  beginning  of
university  life, looks forward to choosing  a  life-partner
and  finding  out about the opposite sex.  It is  also  well
known  that  this is merely a phase of life in youth  called
"general  heterosexuality".  In other words, we are  looking
at  the  opposite sex in frequent attempts to find out  more
about them.  So we cannot identify the right person for  the
journey of life at this stage since our characters are still
frequently changing.  It is a good idea at this stage to mix
in  a  spiritual  environment that allows opportunities  for
general   acquaintances  without  pairing  off  or   getting
involved  in 'heavy' relationships.  Such relationships  are
more  harmful than useful as the two partners are distracted
from  establishing themselves spiritually and  academically.
They may also harm a girl's reputation, since how do we know
that this relationship is God's choice?  Are we not still at
the stage of "general heterosexuality"?

When   university  life  draws  to  its  close,  even  after
graduation, a young adult begins to move towards  the  stage
of  "specific heterosexuality", i.e. we may, through thought
and  prayer  identify the specific person  we  feel  is  the
choice  of  God  for our lives.  Now we are  psychologically
mature enough to take this crucial decision, the decision of
a lifetime.

So  we should get to understand these two phases.  We should
not   choose   hurriedly   or  get   involved   in   'heavy'
relationships which finish in desolation and bitterness.

3.  Emotional Maturity

This  is significant too.  There is a big difference between
a  young man driven by the heat of passion and another moved
by   spiritual   love.   Emotion  is  often  deceitful   and
changeable.   It is a facet of man's psychological  make-up.
It  is  merely  a repeated attraction towards  a  particular
person  accompanied  by a feeling of comfort.   However,  is
this  human  feeling the final arbiter of partner selection?
Where  is  God in this decision?  Where is the mind?   Where
are the two families' views?

Moreover, emotion is usually a physical phenomenon.   So  it
is  part of our natural selves.  Unless it is raised to  the
level  of  spirit, holiness and Christian love,  it  rapidly
drags   the   couple   into  heavy,  physical   involvement.
Christian   marriage  generally  begins  with  a  spiritual,
sincere, sublime love whereas an emotional one begins with a
sensual affection, fading away when difficulties show up the
fact  that it was not love at all.  Emotion is taking first,
then  giving.   Spiritual love, however, is  giving  without
necessarily  receiving in return.  So  emotional  love  will
vanish  at  the  first  ordeal:  when a partner  misbehaves,
wants  something  without being able  to  give  anything  in
return - in time of illness or trouble, for instance.

On  the  other  hand, spiritual love is giving  in  essence.
Therefore give "to all liberally and without reproach"  (Jas
1:5),  as  the  Lord does; without waiting for something  in

It  is  here that emotional maturity is essential, where  we
enjoy  the  outpouring of God's sacrificial  love  into  our
hearts.   Because of this we are capable of generous  giving
without waiting for compensation.  Thus love thrives through
marriage, and continues in spite of all life's crises, as  a
witness to the Lord Who loved us when we were still sinners.
Many  marriages today are violently shaken by life's  blows,
because  of selfishness and fickle emotions.  When  the  ego
dominates, the family is torn apart.

4.  Economic Maturity

This  is  the  fourth pivotal point.  Marriage has  definite
material prerequisites.  Because of old fashioned traditions
which  we hope one day will disappear, the two partners  are
faced with huge material obligations.  To mention but a few:
marriage  rings,  gifts,  shelter,  furniture,  celebrations
inside and outside the church.

However  young people, in their innocence and momentum,  try
to  escape  these  traps.  They find these traditions  rigid
like  a  rock,  putting a stumbling-block in their  path  to
marriage.  Where love collides with a financial rock,  their
hearts  are filled with bitterness even towards the  partner
who lets him or her down.

At  this  point, we need to be realistic.  Life  is  not  as
smooth as imaginations and daydreams are.  It is as tough as
reality, its pains and its facts.  The two partners have  to
estimate  the costs before embarking on this step.   As  the
girl  will  suffer more than her partner, she must  be  more
prudent  when love and harmony may be dashed on the rock  of
social and economic circumstances.

It  is better to be jerked back into the real world than  to
fly  into  reveries  with the wings of  imagination  and  be
deceived.  We must get into the serious business of managing
our material needs, before we stumble for lack of readiness.

Building  on  maturity  in the four areas  we  have  thought
about, young people will be in a suitable position to choose
a partner and look forward to a happy and lasting marriage.


                                       - 3 -
                           YOUTH AND FAMILY LIFE
                            (H.H. Bishop Moussa)
There  is  no doubt that the choice of a life-partner  is  a
vital decision.  It is the decision of a lifetime;  you need
to  be  successful in choosing your life-partner.  No  doubt
there  are many forces at work in this decision, the outcome
of  which is a crucial step; one of personal destiny.   What
are  these  forces?   Let's consider them  from  the  lowest
upwards.   The  lower drives, unfortunately,  are  the  most
pressing   and  clamorous.   The  higher  powers  are   less
insistent, yet they are the more reliable guides.

1.  Instinct

This  is humanity's most basic drive, for we shares it  with
the  animals.  A young person may imagine, at the  onset  of
youth,  that  he  or she has chosen the right  life-partner.
This  choice  may  merely be the result of propinquity:   of
being crammed together in public transport or in overcrowded
housing  conditions.  Most typically, it can stem  from  the
incessant stimulation of the modern media and - even worse -
video,  which carries highly provocative material.   However
simplicity  and  chastity  are assumed,  the  more  powerful
prompting voice lurking behind is undoubtedly instinct.   It
has its call, its heat, its treacherous currents, especially
under  the  influence of external stimulation  and  internal
hormonal activity.

It  is  well known that young people at that age  undergo  a
phase where they are inclined to have knowledge of the other
sex.   So  their  attentions shift from one  personality  to
another  in  a  changeability characteristic  of  that  age.
Deception  is so dangerous at this phase, when we  think  we
have  chosen  well  and  are proceeding  towards  a  perfect
marriage.  However good our intentions, however keen we  may
be  to please God, the strong voice of instinct makes itself
felt  at  this age.  The truth, that instincts alone  cannot
lead  us  into  the path of holy marriage,  should  be  made

The  dangers  of this attitude are clear enough,  especially
for the young girl.  For they may lead to risky involvements
and damaging results.  Consequently, young people undergoing
this phase need to be aware of the range of their instincts,
their  recognized limitations and the need to elevate  them,
in  holiness  and  in progression towards  maturity.   Those
envisaging marriage must not allow the message of the beauty
of the body and sensual desires to determine their choice of
life-partner.  These motives must be cut down to size, since
"Charm  is deceitful, beauty is vain" (Prov 31:30)  and  the
body returns to dust (Gen 3:19).

2.  Emotions

This  is  the second set of drives.  Although they may  seem
finer   than  instincts,  they  are  related  at  the  core.
Emotions are a part of the psychological system, necessarily
then of the natural system.

Therefore, we cannot rely on them as a sufficient  guide  to
the  choice  of  life-partner.   Untrammelled  emotions  are
subject  to human limitations:  they are fickle, superficial
and tend to get us into tricky situations.

Fickle:   Emotion is not spiritual, pure, sacrificial  love.
It is a kind of trade-off:  a relationship based on what you
can get out of it.  It is a form of selfishness:  you have a
special motive for love.  You find in your partner something
you  are missing:  a resource that you need and want to draw
on.   On the other hand, spiritual love carries on "in spite
of  ..."   For  it  is a divine, self-giving  love.   It  is
generous,  giving  without  waiting  for  a  response,  even
without  getting anything in return.  It can be compared  to
God's  love,  which prefers giving to receiving:   it  gives
itself to the other.

Superficial:  Emotion does not run deep in the human  being.
Lovers get high on it for a quickly fading moment as  it  is
superficial,  highly  excitable, not deeply  rooted  in  the
heart.   It is facet of the soul - not of the spirit,  which
is the most profound part of our human identity.

May Degenerate:  Emotion, without the spirit, may degenerate
into  bodily desires and sensuality at a rate which may vary
from one person to the other, depending on that individual's
concern  for personal salvation, struggle against  sin,  and
sanctification of marital life.

3.  Mind

This  is a higher power.  It distinguishes human beings from
the  animals.   The  animal  has rudimentary  instincts  and
emotions, but human beings are characterized by the mind and
the spirit.  The mind is a noble gift of the Creator, yet it
is  substantially limited.  It cannot be the sole arbiter of
this  crucial choice.  Can the mind really get to the bottom
of  things?  Can it, no matter how intelligent one  may  be,
discover  the depths of the chosen partner's psychology  and
his  or  her  character?  Can it gauge the unknown  and  the
future and foretell what destiny is reserved for him or her?
Or  for  his or her life-partner?  So, the couple  and  both
their  families have to think through things.  Yet the  mind
alone  is  not enough as a guide.  Yes the mind ponders  the
suitability   of   both   partners   socially,    ethically,
economically, religiously, etc.  What is possible  and  what
is not?  What is fitting and what is not?  Nevertheless, the
mind is unable to give the last word.

4.  Spirit:

This  is  the decisive element, the divine part in  us,  the
power which links us to God.  By it we believe in God,  gaze
into  His  heaven and live out His commandments.  Therefore,
the  divine voice is the most significant.  The satisfaction
of  the  spirit is really crucial.  The only guarantees  for
giving the spirit its opportunity to thrive, to move and  to
guide are:

+   Sincere  and  consistent prayers in true  surrender,  in
accordance  with  God's will, with the conviction  that  God
knows and will choose the best, and works out everything for
our  good.   He works in a way which is radically  different
from our limited human approach.

+  Finding pointers of Christ's ideas in His Holy Gospel, as
it  shines in our hearts in a special way and gives a  power
of discernment in controversial matters.

+   Giving opportunities for discussion with family  members
and friends capable of giving the right advice.  Sharing our
thoughts with others cancels psychological tension  and  its
bad  effects.   Being  open to the  Lord  to  speak  through
family, friends and the spiritual father.

These  are  the main forces at work in making this important
decision.   Let  us  summarize  them  according   to   their

                              1.  Spirit:         praying in
                         surrender,  asking for  the  Lord's

                              2.  Mind:      thinking calmly
                         and intelligently.

                                 3.     Emotions:    feeling
                         acceptance  towards the partner-to-

                               4.   Instincts:       sacred,
                         caught  up  into an  expression  of
                         spiritual  love,  within  a  family
                         which  is a true church and a unity
                         blessed by the Most Holy.

Proceed, my friend, keep yourself under the protection of


                                       - 4 -

                           YOUTH AND FAMILY LIFE
                           THE  ENGAGEMENT PERIOD
                            (H.H. Bishop Moussa)

The  engagement  period starts with  the  agreement  to  get
married and ends by actual marriage.  It is a very important
period because it gives the chance to get to know each other
deeply and to grow in Christian love, to sense the potential
for  fulfilling the engagement with a happy marriage.   Just
as  the  couple  needs to get to know each other,  so  every
family  member  pulls  together for the  building  up  of  a
marriage that will be blessed.

The  engagement period provides a chance for bother  parties
to speak out openly and frankly.


Are brief.  They comprise:

1.  The triple sign

The  sign  of  the  cross is made three times  on  both  the
engaged couple and the marriage rings (as the rings  mark  a
covenant of love and firm union).  The priest says:

     O  "In  the  name of the Father, the Son and  the  Holy
     Spirit.  Amen!"
     O "Blessed is the Father, Almighty.  Amen!"
     O "Blessed is His Holy Son our Lord Jesus Christ!"
     O "Blessed is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.  Amen!"

This  is  how  the One and Only God, Father,  Son  and  Holy
Spirit  blesses this project, based upon the  acceptance  of
both the fiances and barring any legal impediments, or other

2.  Prayer of Thanksgiving

In  which  the priest offers everybody's thanks to the  Lord
for  the blessing of the establishment of a new family as  a
small  church.   This  new church family  will,  with  God's
blessing,  bring children into the Lord's house to  complete
the body of Jesus and the number of the saints.

3.  Prayers of Counsel

These aim at explaining the dimensions of engagement to  the
engaged  couple, asking the Lord for the completion of  that
project  at  the appropriate time, for their  salvation  and

While uplifting anthems are sung, the rings are put on as  a
symbol  of  the  covenant.   Then the  priest  commands  the
engaged  couple  to live a holy, chaste life,  to  read  the
Bible at every opportunity and end the reading with prayers,
in order that their engagement might be made holy and mark a
chaste beginning to a blessed marriage.


1.   Each party recognizes the characteristics of the future
partner:  thoughts, opinions, aspirations and life-style.

2.   Both  the  fiances may grow in a holy  spiritual  life,
where they are taught how to fight against sensualities, how
to  acquire  chaste  manners and how  to  achieve  spiritual
fullness as the only way to a sacred marriage.

3.   Both families are introduced.  This promotes the spirit
of  love  and  understanding, cooperation and care  for  the
growth of the new plant.

4.   Everybody cooperates for meeting all the needs  of  the
newly  formed  household in a truly Christian spirit.   This
means  shunning  all extreme behavior such as  showing  off,
sulking,  secretiveness,  crookedness,  annoying  the  other
partner, or failing to keep promises.


The  relationship  between  the two  fiances  often  suffers
severe  fluctuations, instead of tightening up and  becoming
stronger.  There are many crucial factors that both of  them
should  watch out for if they really want their relationship
to continue and be transformed into a sacred marriage.

1.   One of the critical causes of failure is blind jealousy
between  the  engaged couple, i.e. if  one  sees  the  other
paying   some  attention  to  a  third  person  the   former
misunderstands  and  consequently starts  to  make  trouble,
expressing doubts and quarrelling.  Just as it is  essential
for  each of them to be firmly loyal to the other, so it  is
essential for both of them to get rid of that jealousy  that
only  indicates  selfishness  and  awful  self-centeredness.
Paying attentions to a third person may have only been  done
out of politeness and good manners, or it may have been done
in  good  faith, although jealousy would see it as betrayal.
The  more people are attracted to Jesus, the closer they get
to  each other in a proper Christian way, free of all  forms
of excessive possessiveness.

2.   Another factor that could ruin the relationship between
the  two  fiances is the tight feelings of love between  the
parents  of  one  partner and their son or  daughter.   This
leads  to the suspicion that the other partner will  deprive
them of that love.  So they would tend not to give their son
or  daughter  the appropriate advice that would  make  their
lives  easier.   The  fear of testing out the  probabilities
even  magnifies  situations  and  so  complicated  ordinary,
everyday problems.

3.   A third pitfall is when one partner asks about the past
of  the  other partner.  Although this may be  done  out  of
goodwill,  yet dragging up an affair that is over  and  done
with,   may   only   lead  to  jealousy  and   psychological
disturbances.  It may even give rise to the suspicion of one
partner  that  the other might easily fall into  temptation.
That is why we advice them to avoid the following:

      a.  Revealing old bad experiences that one has already
confessed; as they are no longer a part of our lives.

     b.  Going along with any sort of flirtation or physical
contact  however slight, as this only creates doubts between
the two of them.

      c.   Asking  the other partner repeatedly  about  past
experiences  or sins in a stiff way that will only  lead  to
lying,  or  the  admission  of facts  that  might  ruin  the
engagement.  Christ has forgotten all our sins,  so  let  us
all forget the past and look forward to the future.

4.  Disagreement on financial matters is a common reason for
the  breaking of engagements.  That is why it is  preferable
to  agree  to  all  the details before the engagement:   the
marriage  rings,  the  new house, its  furnishing  and  each
party's  contribution  to  it,  ceremonies,  and  all  other
aspects.   As  Christian  believers,  we  should  avoid  all
showing-off and extravagance in the engagement ceremonies or
overburdening one partner more than the other.  We hope that
the  rising  generations would be able to  break  all  those
obsolete  habits  so that marriage would no  longer  require
large  amounts  of money.  Why should not economize  on  the
ceremonies?   Why  have candy boxes?  Wouldn't  a  religious
picture card do?  Why not economize on the furniture so that
it  is no longer heavy, impractical, very tiring to buy,  to
clean  and  to  maintain.  A simple, cozy  sitting  room,  a
dining  room,  multi-purpose  beds  etc...  could  be   more

The most important thing is that each partner should act  in
a  spirit  of cooperation, frankness, honesty and commitment
to  fulfill obligations, so as to maintain goodwill, without
avoiding any obligations or cheating the other partner in  a
way  that  may  disturb  the  existing  amity  or  give   an
impression of deceit.

Breaking off the Engagement

If it becomes impossible to go through with the marriage for
any reason, then either both parties or whoever feels unable
to continue must break it off in a proper way, as follows:

1.    Exchanging   all  civil  rights  and   referring   any
disagreement to their priest.

2.   The  withdrawing party leaving the marriage rings,  all
the  non  consumable  presents and the money  to  the  other
party.   This  is  without  taking  into  account  food  and
clothing and so on.

3.   Each party keeping - forever - all the secrets  of  the
other party.  God has a special punishment for the betrayer.

4.   The  priest  issuing  an official  report  as  a  final
settlement - civil and canonical.

5.   If  the  engaged couple disagree on civil  matters  the
engagement  is broken canonically - even at the  request  of
only  one party and, at the same time, maintaining the civil
rights to both parties.

Nowadays people are in the habit of breaking engagements  at
the drop of a hat, and this only goes to show how hasty they
are  in  making decisions.  They rush into decisions without
bringing them to the Lord due to their spiritual shallowness
and materialism.

Let's  develop  our  lives in the Lord,  asking  His  divine
guidance  at every step.  Let's deal with the other  partner
in  a  generous,  loving spirit.  The Lord  Himself  is  the
secret  of  blessing  and joy:  He  is  the  foundation  for
success and unity.


                                       - 5 -
                           YOUTH AND FAMILY LIFE
                          THE MARRIAGE CEREMONIES
                            (H.H. Bishop Moussa)
Marriage in the Coptic Orthodox church - as well as all  the
other  traditional churches - is a sacrament; and this means
that all three conditions of the other sacraments have to be
fulfilled.  These cover:

     1.  Those receiving the sacrament.
     2.  The sacramental prayers and materials.
     3.  The ordained priest.

"Mystery"  is  not  the  ecclesiastical  definition   of   a
sacrament:   for   "mystery"  means   "obscurity,"   whereas
"sacrament"  means the "unseen gift" that  we  obtain  as  a
result of our conscious participation in the holy sacrament.
It  is  "the invisible blessing that we receive in the midst
of physical, visible manifestations."

1.  Those Receiving the Sacrament

The  couple  approaching holy matrimony are like  those  who
come  for  baptism or confirmation.  As they  approach  this
holy sacrament they have to meet certain special conditions,
such as:

     -  The Legal minimum age (16 for her and 18 for him).

      -  The absence of any legal impediments or any kinship
which may disqualify them as marriage partners.

     -  The full consent of both parties.

      -  Suitable spiritual preparation, such as repentance,
confession and receiving the Holy Communion.

     -  Mental, psychological and social readiness.

     -  A sound understanding of Christian marriage.

2.  The Sacramental Prayers & Materials

Everything  is  "sanctified by the Word of God  and  prayer"
(1Tim  4:5).  So are the bride and groom.  They must  listen
carefully to extensive prayers, to readings from St.  Paul's
letters, the Psalms and the Gospels.  These deal with  every
aspect  of Christian marriage.  The couple are also anointed
with  holy  oil.   It  is  above all after  they  have  been
anointed  in the name of the Holy Trinity three  times  that
they  receive  the Spirit of God and He makes  them  one  in

     The Ordained Priest

     If  the  sacrament is to be effective,  the  priest  is
     essential:  for he has the authority of the  church  to
     carry  it  out.   It  is  not  just  the  prospect   of
     parenthood  for the bride groom, or even the  spiritual
     aspects   of   marriage  that  are  involved   in   the
     performance  of  the  sacrament.   The  sacrament  also
     involves the canonical rites, and these depend  on  the
     ecclesiastical authority handed down to the priest.

     As   a  holy  sacrament,  marriage  requires  canonical
     prayers.   In those prayers we call on God's Spirit  to
     bless the bride and groom and sanctify their union.  Is
     it  possible for that to happen in a civil marriage,  a
     marriage  by  private contact on in  a  mixed  marriage
     between  persons from different religious  backgrounds?
     Definitely  not!  For those marriages are man-made  and
     not from God, and Christianity rejects them.

Matrimonial Ceremony

It  involves successive steps that are vitally  linked.   In
fact, the ceremony used to take place between the Raising of
Incense at Matins and the Eucharistic Liturgy, just  as  the
rites  of  monasticism  do now.  For  as  the  monk  becomes
attached  to  the  Lord, so the bride and the  groom  become
attached  to one another in the Lord.  In this way they  are
prepared for receiving the holy communion, as the first step
to  be taken immediately after getting married.  In the  old
days  there  was a custom, based on the Book of Tobit,  that
the  newly married couple should spend the first three  days
of  marriage fasting from physical contact so as  to  deepen
their spiritual love and thus to abide by and in the Lord.

1.  The Contract of Appropriation1

The   vow  to  belong  to  one  another  used  to  be  taken
immediately upon engagement, in the form of public  prayers.
However,  these prayers have since been separated  from  the
engagement rites.  For whereas the engagement can be broken,
the  'contract  of  appropriation' is binding.   Saying  the
prayers  amounts  to  a real, legal marriage  contract  that
cannot be broken except for legal reasons.

Those prayers or at least, the most significant part of them
are  now  transferred to the wedding itself.  We  take  from
them the Triple Sign which is at the heart of those prayers.

2.  The Triple Sign

This is just like the blessing given for the engagement, "In
the  name  of  the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,  One
God.   Amen!  Blessed is God the Father, blessed is the only
Son, and blessed is the Holy Spirit."  This is done for  the
newly  married couple and their wedding rings, as a blessing
for  the  partners and for their partnership,  and  for  the
covenant of love between them.

3.  The Letters From St. Paul

A  passage  is read form St. Paul's letter to the  Ephesians
(5:22-6:3)  where  the Apostle draws our  attention  to  the
proper  foundations for the Christian home:  a husband  that
loves his wife as much as himself and a wife that obeys  her
husband.  As much as the husband gives love, the wife  gives
obedience and vice versa.  It is a wonderful recipe for  the
unity and the continuity of the Christian home.

4.  The Gospel

After  Psalm  19:   "Like a bridegroom  coming  out  of  his
chamber"  (verses 5,6) and Psalm 128:  "Your wife  shall  be
like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house" (verse
3)  are  read out, there comes the Gospel according  to  St.
Matthew where the Lord stresses:

      a.  The law of monogamy (one wife):  "He Who made them
at the beginning 'made them male and female'" (Mt 19:4).

      b.   The unity of the married couple:  "The two  shall
become one flesh" (Mt19:5).

      c.   The  continuity of the marriage:  "What  God  has
joined together, let not man separate" (Mt 19:6).

5.  The Litany

In which the priest and all the congregation ask God for His
mercy  to  bless the groom and the bride as He blessed  Adam
and  Eve,  Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah,  Jacob  and
Rachel,  Joseph  and  Asenath, and as He  also  blessed  the
wedding at Cana of Galilee by His gracious presence.

6.  The Three Prayers

In  which  the priest asks for spiritual blessing  and  real
unity for the couple, "That they may have happiness and keep
the  right faith, and enter into the mystery of joyfulness."
He  also prays that God would "Keep them in welfare,  wisdom
and  the  blessings  of  salvation"  and  grant  them  godly
children, "For life O Lord comes from You, and the fruit  of
life from the womb."

7.  Anointing With Oil

This  is after a special prayer over the oil so as to  bless
it:   "As  a  weapon  for  righteousness  and  justice;   an
anointing  for  purity  and incorruptibility;  radiance  and
beauty that will never fade; and a renewal and salvation for
their  souls, their bodies and their spirits."  The  deacons
respond  at  the  end of each section by  singing  a  joyful

8.  The Chasuble2 & The Crown

The priest prays over the chasuble and the crown so that the
couple may receive, "Crowns of glory and honor, blessing and
salvation,  joy and happiness, virtue and justice,  strength
and  stability."   Thus, when the priest  crowns  the  newly
married couple, this means crowning them in spiritual  glory
in  their  new church.  When the groom puts on the chasuble,
this  means that he has become the family priest.  He is  to
present  daily  sacrifices, such  as  prayers,  praises  and
offerings, on the altar of Christian love and the  altar  of
the inmost heart.

As  for  the marriage rings, they are a mark of the covenant
of  love.  That is why they are transferred from the  right-
hand to the left, which is closer to the heart.

9.  The Presentation

The  priest presents the bride to the groom with  a  special
prayer.   Then he covers both their hands with  a  Communion
napkin  that  was originally given to them as a  preparation
for Holy Communion.  It is now just to remind them that they
should receive Holy Communion at their earliest convenience.

10.  The Exhortation, The Blessings and The Absolution

Now  the  priest urges both bride and groom to take  special
care  to  nurture their love for each other and  to  cherish
their family ties.  After they have promised at the altar to
keep  the  family  altar, to have daily prayers  and  Bible-
reading, he blesses them.  Then he prays for forgiveness for
their  sins  and  sends them out with  the  congregation  in
peace.   After this they should be regularly receiving  Holy
Communion and other sacraments.

This is how the prayers of the sacrament reach their climax:
on  a  high point of spirituality and exhortation.  Although
the  bride  and  groom  will then  be  very  busy  with  the
photographs  and  social  niceties,  which  are   not   that
appropriate, we still hope that they will reflect on all the
prayers of this sacrament, which are usually taped.

May the Lord keep our homes in purity, understanding and
cohesion.  May He make them model homes:  models of witness
to Jesus Christ, their Founder and Shepherd


                                       - 6 -
                           YOUTH AND FAMILY LIFE
                            (H.H. Bishop Moussa)

A  Christian family has special traits that spring from  the
Christian concept of sacred marriage and the commandments of
the Bible for the married couple about how to deal with each
other and how to bring their children up.

The Definition of a Christian Family

The  family in the Christian concept is a small church,  for
St.  Paul says:  "To Philemon our beloved friend and  fellow
laborer,  and to the church in your house" (Phil 1:2).   The
family  is  an  arena for experiencing the work  of  God  in
uniting the couple and sanctifying their offspring for Jesus
Christ, and in radiating His light to those around.

Domains of Family Love

There are many aspects, such as:

1.  The Family Altar

The family prays together and reads chapters of the Bible as
a means of binding its members together spiritually, so that
they  may  all receive the blessings of the Holy Spirit  and
the power to overcome every evil.

2.  Taking Communion Together

It  is when the whole family is gathered around the body and
blood  of  Jesus in the Eucharist that the  church  -  as  a
community - is best expressed.  This gathering is a  feature
of  our  Orthodox  church, for not only does  it  bring  the
individual into a relationship with God but it also nurtures
the   relationship  of  the  group  with   God:    "In   the
congregations I will bless the Lord" (Ps 26:12).

The  Spirit  of God endows groups with more than  it  endows
individuals.   This  is why taking Holy Communion  together,
following repentance and confession, is a continuous  source
of renewal for the family.

3.  Bringing Problems Before God

It is important to get our children used to lifting up their
hearts  to God when they face a problem.  Besides  the  fact
that  this makes a way for God to intervene in our  problems
and  make our hearts ready to cooperate gratefully, we  find
that  this method builds up faith and fellowship so that  we
turn  to God under all circumstances.  "Call upon Me in  the
day  of  trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall  glorify
Me" (Ps 50:15).

4.  Mutual Understanding

The  pressures of life in our age, whether those put on  the
exhausted  husband, on the working wife, or on the  stressed
children  who  have  their conflicts and worries  about  the
future,  demand that the family stay committed  to  settling
disputes in a spirit of mutual understanding.

It  is  a  great crime against the unity of the  family  and
against oneself that a person puts his foot down and acts in
self-centered   individualism   and   stubbornness   without
consideration   for   others.    We   must   learn   to   be
understanding:  to let go of our preconceived ideas  and  be
open to one another.

5.  Friendly Visits

It  is a good idea for the family to pay friendly visits  to
other Christian families because this strengthens the spirit
of  love  in the Christian community.  It also nurtures  and
renews love among the family members.

It  is important that the wife cares for the feelings of her
husband's  family and the husband for the  feelings  of  his
wife's  family.  Most of the problems emerge from neglecting
those  important  feelings.  The  harmony  between  the  two
families is a strong support for a Christian family  and  an
important basis for psychologically well-balanced children.

We  warn against interfering in the family's affairs because
such  interference frequently causes problems, division  and
serious disruption.

6.  A Spirit of Simplicity and Contentment

One of the most disruptive influences on a family is that of
imitation  and jealousy of other families who are trying  to
'Keep up with the Jones'.  However, the Christian soul  that
the  Lord has filled with His grace sings in heavenly peace:
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Ps 23:1).

It  is  important to examine oneself on this point and  both
parents  are  responsible to do that.  St. Paul  teaches  us
that:   "Godliness  with contentment is  great  gain...  and
having  food  and clothing, with these we shall be  content.
But  those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and  a
snare,  and into many foolish and harmful lusts which  drown
men in destruction and perdition" (1Tim 6:6-9).
7.  A Sound Upbringing

Parents should realize that the sound upbringing of children
in  their early childhood and the stages that follow is very
important.  When the parent is at one time tender to his  or
her  children and on many other occasions strict, the  child
gets   confused.    The  child  does  not  understand   what
principles to follow nor what good behavior means.  When the
father  is strict with his adolescent son or daughter  while
the  mother treats the same one tenderly - ignorant  of  the
nature  of  that stage and of the father's aim -  the  young
person will go off the rails and neglect duties.  There must
be  an agreement between both parents on a policy about  how
to  deal  with  their  children.  The affections  should  be
balanced during the process of upbringing.

It  is  important  to  watch  the children's  behavior  with
compassionate understanding.  This must be done  effectively
and  persuasively, so that they become capable  of  choosing
good friends and steer clear of pit-falls.

8.  The Family and the Community

Sometimes the parents are very lax with their children; they
let them give way to peer-group pressure.  After a while, it
turns  out  that they are mixed up with the  wrong  kind  of
company and are up to their necks in trouble.

A  positive and flexible Christian approach is to be open to
people  and  deal with them in love and cooperation  without
getting involved in their aberrations.  What is most harmful
is  being  flexible  to the point of  laxity:   letting  our
values,  principles, and kids go adrift.  The family  should
be  careful  when  it comes to getting involved  with  other
families.  What some would consider friendly relations might
end with critical problems.

9.  The Family and the Mass Media

It  is  not wrong to have access to different kinds of media
at  home like T.V., radio, newspapers and magazines, but  it
is  wrong not to help children, and even parents, to  choose
the  right  thing.  All should learn to pick the appropriate
method for improving their minds:  the right program, a good
book et.  It is up to us to stop and ask ourselves if we are
abandoning   our  children  to  trivialities   or   negative
influences that will ruin their spiritual lives.

We hope for the day when the mass media puts across material
that  will  build up the spiritual lives of our  children  -
because life is not like a decadent play or a violent movie.
Indeed,  the  mass  media should elevate  -  not  degrade  -
people's  instincts.  There are the fields of science,  art,
and  sport and, even better, religious knowledge that fights
atheism  and  spreads the principles of pure, genuine  love.
These are the subjects that we can watch or listen to on the
mass media.

10.  Serving Others

Christ taught us that He came not to be served but "to serve
and  to give His life a ransom for many" (Mt 20:28).   There
is no doubt that the spirit of servanthood is the sign of  a
real  Christian  soul  and  the blessed  testimony  of  what
Christianity  does  in  people's  lives.   We   should   get
accustomed to serving others and teaching our children to do

The  selfishness  that we teach our children  will  cost  us
dearly unless we correct ourselves.  We ask our children  to
be  selfish  and hate even their cousins, to be jealous  and
take  advantage  of  others.  All this creates  a  fractious
community full of feeble and resentful people.  Christianity
requires from us self-sacrificial love:  "Love suffers  long
and  is  kind;  love  does not envy; love  does  not  parade
itself,  is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does  not
seek  its  own,  is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does  not
rejoice  in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears  all
things,  believes all things, hopes all things, endures  all
things" (1Cor 13:4-7).

Hence it is necessary to have the spirit of servanthood,  to
give  part of our time, effort, money and talents to others,
especially  within the church which channels such  donations
to  the needy.  Be honest in giving your tithes to the  Lord
and  you  will know His blessings.  "Bring all the tithes...
and prove Me now in this....  If I will not open for you the
windows  of  heaven and pour out for you such blessing  that
there will not be room enough to receive it" (Mal 3:10).

Dear Friend,

The  church  trusts  that you are going to  respond  to  its
appeal  for family repentance - that you are going  to  pray
and  worship God together, take Communion together,  glorify
Jesus, and offer lively, fruitful service.


                                       - 7 -

                           YOUTH AND FAMILY LIFE
                            (H.H. Bishop Moussa)
The  words  of  St. Paul to his disciple Timothy  were  very
strange,  when  he  told  him, "I call  to  remembrance  the
genuine  faith  that is in you, which dwelt  first  in  your
grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am  persuaded
is in you also" (2 Tim 1:5).

Is  faith inherited?  The very genuine faith in the heart of
Timothy  the son, was the very same faith as that living  in
the  heart of his mother Eunice and in his grandmother Lois.
The  faith  that  a family passes on to its  children  is  a
sacred  inheritance.  Faith cannot be transferred  from  one
generation  to  another  mechanically,  but  the  effect  of
transmitting it and of Christian training in the home cannot
be denied.

This is the most important function of the Christian family:
transmitting faith.  We could have our children a fortune  -
that is okay, but the danger lies in our failure to pass  on
to  our  children  the  faith we  inherited  from  our  holy
fathers.  "For what is a man profited if he gains the  whole
world,  and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give  in
exchange for his soul?" (Mt 16:26)

That  is why St. Paul confirmed the role of parents  in  the
salvation of their children:  "Nevertheless she (the mother)
will  be  saved in childbearing if they continue  in  faith,
love and holiness, with, self-control" (1 Tim 2:15).  So the
outworking of the mother's salvation is conditioned  by  the
way  she  brings  up her children.  That is why  St.  Monica
cried  bitterly when her son Augustine went off  the  rails,
feeling  her great responsibility towards God for  her  son.
Her concern deserved St. Ambrose's encouragement:  "Trust my
daughter...  the son of all of those tears  shall  never  be

Now,  what are the channels through which our children  will
be given faith?

1.  A Life of Adoration

This  is the main channel through which our children receive
faith.  Standing to pray in front of an icon, depicting  the
Lord Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary holding the Lord, makes
an  indelible impression on the child's mind.  For our first
experience of such a vigil is associated with baptism -  now
new birth by the church.

2.  Christian Education

This  is  the  second channel which transmits  faith,  since
"Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Rom
10:17).   Here  we should always remember the  role  of  the
grandparents when they tell their grandchildren stories from
the  Bible, starting from the beginning of the creation, the
flood,  Babel, Moses and going on to the birth of  Jesus  by
the  flesh, His crucifixion, His resurrection, His ascension
into   heaven   and  the  establishment   of   His   church.
Grandparents  usually have more free time than  fathers  and
mothers,  but the stories of the Bible and the work  of  the
Word  are  two very important issues for childhood education
and  upbringing.   It  is also worth  mentioning  that  many
parents have experienced the effectiveness of the Bible when
they started to tell their children some of its stories.  It
is  a glorious blessing to every age-group, as the Bible  is
the best school and the best law.

Also,  parents  should give more attention  to  the  regular
attendance  of their children at Sunday school, at  services
and  at the Communion table.  All these build up a store  of
faith and education for succeeding generations.

3.  The Family Peace

"There  is  no peace", says the Lord, "for the  wicked"  (Is
48:22).   This is true:  when the husband and wife  who  are
away  from the Lord and each of them is either self-centered
of  even  worse sin-centered, they never live in peace.   On
the  other hand, the husband and wife who are close  to  the
Lord, who believe that He is with them in all their problems
and  guides  their family wisely, live in true peace.   That
peace  -  the  fruit  of  their  faith  -  is  noticed   and
appreciated  by  their  children.  It  is  a  vital  channel
through which the family can know the Spirit of Christ,  His
mind and His forbearance.

I  could never forget, that once when I was visiting a godly
and  blessed  Christian family, a relative  came  around  in
tears, all worked up, and raised her voice as she complained
against  her  husband.  It really disturbed  the  quiet  and
friendly atmosphere of the family.  A little girl leapt into
her  mother's  arms  and cried out:   "Mum,  let  this  lady
leave."   Yes, because she was not used to loud disagreement
but to the calmness of love.

4.  Dealing With Difficulties

There  is no doubt that the Christian family which has  real
faith can easily pass it on to its children, through the way
it  handles  various situations.  As it is a  loving  family
that  bears genuine love for everybody, children notice  and
absorb that spirit.  It is a wise family, because it handles
its  problems quietly and avoids getting itself into  fights
or  quarrels that are not from the Spirit of God.  It  is  a
serving  family, since it serves everybody happily,  in  the
joy  of  giving.  It also follows all the principles of  the
Lord  Jesus Christ of Whom Isaiah prophesied, "He  will  not
quarrel nor cry out, nor will any one hear His voice in  the
streets"  (Mt  12:19).  Such a family models itself  on  the
commandments, love and mind of the Lord.

What  ruins the children more than to see their parents fall
out  with others, whether family members or not?  How  great
is  the responsibility the parents must bear for bringing up
their children properly!

5.  The Family Library

It is perfectly okay for the family library to include daily
newspapers, magazines and general publications suitable  for
children  and  young people, but it is also  important  that
parents organize a small library suitable for their children
according  to  their ages.  You can find  many  constructive
Christian  publications, whether stories from the Bible,  or
lives of saints, or explanations of the liturgical services,
or  other suitable books for young people.  Reading  edifies
the wandering mind, said one of the saints.  That is why  we
have  to  concentrate on the role of books in the children's
lives, especially since TV and other audio-visual aids  have
weakened  people's ability to read, as most people just  sit
passively in front of the box, accepting whatever comes  on.
Some  programs are good, but most of the others  would  have
negative results.

The  family library should also include the Bible and  books
to  help  young  people interpret it.  There books  can  re-
activate  young  people's  minds  and  recharge  them   with
spiritual  ideas, giving no chance for evil ones  to  get  a

6.  Educational Trips

Such  as  visiting  monasteries, or exchanging  visits  with
churches  in  or outside your area.  All this  is  education
that  children and young people can absorb as they meet with
monks who have given up the world, with priests who can give
insight into the mind of Christ and the works of the Spirit,
or  with  brothers and sisters that are following  the  same
path as they are - the path of eternal life.  This is how  a
young  person  can  grow spiritually in a relationship  with
God,   psychologically   at  ease   in   a   social   group,
intellectually   increasing  in  knowledge  and   physically
building up the body through training and sports.

Those  are some of the channels that the family can  use  to
pass  on the faith to its children - to increase the  number
of  those  who are to dwell in the eternal kingdom  and  are
free from condemnation on the last day.


                                       - 8 -

                           YOUTH AND FAMILY LIFE
                            (H.H. Bishop Moussa)
The personality of an individual is the final outcome of two
sets of essential factors.  The first set is made-up of  the
innate qualities inherited from the family.  The second  set
is  acquired  from different contacts - such as  family  and
school-life.    But  the  family  is  the   most   important

The  family plays a key role in building the personality for
it  gives  all  hereditary qualities and provides  the  most
important  environment.  You can easily tell the  difference
between  a person born and bred in a poor family in  a  slum
and  another from a rich family and a cultured neighborhood.
The  difference  lies not in morality but in  behavior:   in
patterns  of  thought;  aspirations; ways  of  dealing  with
others; expression of feelings; habits; attitudes and norms.

The  first  features of personality are formed  between  the
ages  of three and five.  There is a difference between  the
wanted  child and the unwanted child within the family,  and
also  between  an only child and one with many brothers  and
sisters.   A  child  who is kept at home  will  not  have  a
personality  like one who's been encouraged to  go  out  and
make contacts with many other families.

So  it  is a must to know some important principles in sound
          1.  Setting an example
          2.  Understanding each Phase
          3.  Being even-handed

1.  Setting An Example

This  point imposes itself as a primary principle, not  just
because  we  are  handling the subject from a  religious  or
moral viewpoint, but also because we are looking at it  from
a   scientific  and  practical  one.   The  child   imitates
everything, picking up behavior from parents, relatives  and

So  we  should be prudent in the way we speak and  act.   We
should  avoid bad behavior, such as abusing, slandering,  or
being  harsh  with others.  We should also keep  an  eye  on
anyone  who helps in the home in case they spoil or maltreat
our  children.  Moreover, we should know what  services  the
kindergarten  provides for our children and what  effect  it
has on the child's personality.

The  parental  model is very important.   There  is  a  real
difference  between a child who sees his parents  living  in
peace  and happiness and another who sees the reverse.   The
first  will  be  calm and the second will be  very  nervous.
Moreover,  the second child may reject the idea of  marriage
in the future or deviate, according psychologists.

There is a difference between the child who sees his parents
really involved with the church and takes part with them  in
prayer  and  receiving the Holy Communion, and  another  who
misses  out  on all these things, living in a atmosphere  of
continuous  disturbances:   the  parents  shouting,  the  TV
turned up and the telephone jangling.

Again,  the  child  who gets to see short  films  and  slide
presentations about Christ and the Bible and finds  somebody
keen  on  helping  him  or her find  out  more  about  these
matters,  is different from the one who spends  his  or  her
time  watching  films  on  TV,  playing  football  or  going
dancing.   The  former  grows up with a spiritual  awareness
within  him or her, while the latter grows up with a worldly
heart distracted from the spiritual path.

2.  Understanding Each Phase

The  parents  should study carefully the characteristics  of
each stage of growth.  There are five stages:  the two years
in the cradle, the early childhood (3-7), the late childhood
(8-12), adolescence (13-18), and maturity (19-25).

Each  stage  has specific characteristics and needs  special

      º  From the cradle, the child learns to walk and talk,
and  discovers the surrounding world.  Both boys  and  girls
are  nervous  because  of teething,  so  need  kindness  and
compassion.  There is no substitute for these qualities.

      º   In  early childhood, the child is imaginative  and
imitative.   He or she moves around inside and  outside  the
home,  asks  many questions and wants to know  many  things.
This  stage is a period of learning and forming impressions,
so  icons,  spiritual music and church  hymns  will  have  a
lasting impact.

      º   In  late  childhood, the child has  unbounded  and
untiring  energy.   He  becomes sociable,  wanting  to  know
people and places.

      º   Adolescence  is  the  most  critical  stage.   The
teenager starts to feel attracted towards the opposite  sex,
and wants to find out about sex.  This is not wrong, but the
problem  stems  from where he or she gets this  information.
So  the  teenager needs parents and older friends to  listen
carefully and openly without restraint of rebuke.  Then they
can give him or her advice.

      º  The final stage is maturity.  The young adult needs
to  know the best way to choose the life-partner in order to
avoid being hasty in making the choice while still not ready
for  the financially and not quite mature enough spiritually
and  psychologically.  Dialogue is the most appropriate  way
to  help  our sons and daughters at this stage so that  they
don't  react with the kind of stubbornness that  could  ruin
their future prospects.

3.  Being Even-Handed

The  parents' treatment of the children should be  balanced,
neither  terribly  severe  nor  extremely  fond.   Love  and
firmness  should  go  hand  in  hand.   There  must  be   no
discrimination  between  girl  and  boy  or  one  child  and
another.   Lack of love and compassion may create delinquent
or hardened youths.

These  are  some principles of a sound upbringing,  but  the
most important is a close walk with God.


                                       - 9 -

                           YOUTH AND FAMILY LIFE
                            THE FAMILY AND MONEY
                            (H.H. Bishop Moussa)
Although money is a gift from God and has an important  role
in  our  lives,  yet it is a root cause of  all  the  recent
conflicts  at  the  individual,  family,  and  international

For  this reason the Bible established basic principles  for
using  money  to promote human happiness and serve  mankind.
These principles have been defined to prevent us from making
money  into  another god and worshipping it.   So  what  are
these principles?

1.  Money Is A Gift

"God  ... gives us richly all things to enjoy" (1Tim  6:17).
So whatever the material income we have may be, it is a real
gift  from  God.  In fact, if God hadn't given  us  life  we
would  not have received that money and unless He had  given
us scientific, practical and technical abilities we couldn't
have gotten anything.  Not only that, if He hadn't given  us
health  we  couldn't have used the different  parts  of  our
bodies in producing what brings money to us:  for example  a
painter  uses  hands, an engineer uses eyes, a  player  uses
feet and so on.

Therefore, the Bible teaches us to talk to God when we offer
alms  for  helping  the  poor or the church,  saying:   "All
things  come  from You, and of Your own we have  given  You"
(1Chron 29:14).

2.  Money Is Not Essential For Life

God said:  "One's life does not consist in the abundance  of
the  things he possesses" (Lk 12:15), and He also said  "Man
shall  not  live  by  bread alone, but by  every  word  that
proceeds  from the mouth of God" (Mt 4:4).  "For in  Him  we
live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).

Hence  life  -  and  health  too  -  is  a  gift  from  God.
Therefore,  whatever we spend or however far we travel,  our
own efforts to enjoy a good life and good health will end in
failure - because life is His and health is His too.

3.  Money Is Not Essential For Happiness

"Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of
feasting with strife" (Prov 17:1).  Happiness is a spiritual
and   psychological  quality  which  comes  from  a   living
relationship  with God:  a soul at peace, a  mind  at  rest,
knowing  God's forgiveness, and genuine love of  all  people
whoever and whatever they may be.

From  this logical concept we can see how hard it is to  buy
happiness with money:  in fact money has brought sadness  to
those  who  have  a great deal of it.  They rest  all  their
hopes on investing or keeping it, but sometimes they destroy
themselves by chasing a false happiness.

4.  Money Is Transitory

St.  Paul says:  "Command those who are rich in this present
age  not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but
in the living God" (1Tim 6:17).

This  verse is true:  money is uncertain.  It may come today
and  go  tomorrow.  You may get a fortune today and lose  it
very  quickly again when circumstances change.  Money  is  a
dynamic thing.  So we must be cautious of it:  depending  on
it could cause a nervous breakdown.

5.  Money Is A Talent

The Bible commands those who are rich to "Do good, that they
may  be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,
storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time  to
come" (1Tim 6:18-19).

So  what  is  required is to invest money for the  glory  of
Jesus  Christ and the comfort and salvation of fellow  human
beings, especially those who share with us in faith.  "It is
more  blessed  to give than to receive" (Acts  20:35).   The
more  we give, the more we are increased in blessings.  "The
generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also
be watered himself" (Prov 11:25).  In fact some who are rich
have  also  been rich in faith and offered great service  to

We  are  stewards  over "unrighteous mammon"  (Lk  16:1-15).
This  means  that money is not ours, but a  gift  from  God.
Think of the unjust steward who used worldly wealth to  make
friends.  Although this money was not his, but his master's,
he  used it to win friends and influence people.  The unjust
steward's behavior was wrong in that he had used what he did
not  have,  yet God orders us to learn from "the  people  of
this age", to invest the money which He has given us for the
purpose  of having prayerful friends.  God has entrusted  us
with  our money so we must use it conscientiously.   We  use
what we need and leave what we don't to the will of God, Who
may use it in coping with an emergency.

Therefore, God warns us about being wasteful:  "The drunkard
and  the  glutton  will come to poverty" (Prov  23:21).   He
encourages  us  to  take up the pieces left  over  to  serve
others (Mt 15:37).

6.  Don't Depend On Money!

Depending on money is a denial of God.  The Lord said:  "How
hard  it  is  for  those who trust in riches  to  enter  the
kingdom of God!" (Mk 10:24), or as Job said:  "If I had made
gold  my  hope, or said to fine gold 'You are my confidence'
... I would have denied God Who is above" (Job 31:24-28).

So the problem lies in considering money as a pillar of life
and  a  support  for the future.  Yet this doesn't  mean  we
don't  save, as saving is different from depending on money.
Saving means keeping the money we don't need and offering it
to  God  to  use  it according to His own  will  either  for
service or for unforeseen circumstances.

So  we  must  believe  that  God  is  essentially  our  sole
Supporter,  but money is not:  "He who trusts in his  riches
will fall" (Prov 11:28).

7.  Don't Crave For Money!

Those  who  love  money fall into a lot of  evils,  such  as
theft,  embezzlement,  and illegal practices,  because  they
want  to  be rich.  "Those who desire to be rich  fall  into
temptation  and a snare, and into many foolish  and  harmful
lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the
love  of money is the root of all kinds of evil" (1Tim  6:9-

So when God said:  "No servant can serve two masters ... you
cannot serve both God and mammon" (Lk 16:13), He meant  that
the love of money is opposed to the worship of God.

8.  Enough Is Enough!

People  are always trying to improve their personal  income.
They keep changing jobs looking for a higher income, but the
main  aim  must  be to have enough, not to live  in  luxury.
There  is  really  a  great  difference  between  the   two:
"Godliness with contentment is great gain" (1Tim  6:6);  "Be
content  with such things as you have" (Heb 13:5).  "God  is
able  to make all grace abound toward you, that you,  always
having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance  for
every good work" (2Cor 9:8).

Satisfaction  should be the norm:  "Give  us  this  day  our
daily bread."  This is what makes for a contented life lived
for the glory of God.  God does not want us to be miserable,
but  to  be  happy.  He gives us the right to be  satisfied.
But  as  for pleasure:  "She who lives in pleasure  is  dead
while she lives" (1Tim 5:6).

And  as for what people admire and run after:  "All that  is
in  the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes,
and  the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of  the
world.   And the world is passing away, and the lust of  it"
(1Jn 2:16-17).

9.  Planning The Budget

A  Christian must plan the budget for the family.  A  couple
must  honestly collect their money together and  budget  for
their needs according to their priorities:

                    For  God:       the 'firstlings' or  the
                    first  portion of everything we produce,
                    the tithe or tenth, and the vows.

                    For  each partner:   a suitable  sum  of
                    money for personal expenses.

                    For   the  family:      its  daily   and
                    monthly expenses.

                    For the children:   a family must plan a
                    better future for its children.

                    For  the  parents:    when they  have  a
                    special need.

                    For savings:        we must allow God to
                    act according to His will either for the
                    family or for others.

The spirit of understanding, love, justice and righteousness
must  prevail  among us.  There's no doubt  that  a  lot  of
families  break up because of money, even though  it  should
not carry so much weight in our lives.


                                       - 10 -

                           YOUTH AND FAMILY LIFE
                   THE FAMILY AND THE MASS MEDIA
                            (H.H. Bishop Moussa)

"Do  not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.   For
what  fellowship  has righteousness with  lawlessness?   And
what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has
Christ  with  Belial?  Or what part has a believer  with  an
unbeliever?   ... For you are the temple of the living  God"
(2Cor 6:14-18).

There's no doubt that the world has witnessed rapid progress
in  the  field  of the Mass Media.  Over a small  number  of
years, we have witnessed the progress of T.V. from black and
white  to color, then the development of video which we  use
to record movies to watch whenever we like.

There  have  also  been developments in  broadcasting.   The
French  are  angry because of the tyranny of  American  T.V.
programs  that  come  to  France  clearly  spreading  ideas,
culture and negative aspects of American society.  They  are
afraid of losing the French identity, despite its culturally
distinguished heritage.

Because of all this, we need to study with an open mind  the
effects of the mass media on the Christian family and how to
overcome them.

First:  The Effect Of T.V. On The Family

1.  The Spiritual Aspect

T.V. affects the family in - at least - two ways:

a.   There  is  no  doubt that T.V. keeps  the  family  from
important  matters that are basic to the  salvation  of  its
members.  To be forced sometimes to reschedule the hours  of
Sunday  School and youth meetings to avoid the viewing  time
of  a  movie or a football match is proof enough  that  T.V.
takes  up  a lot of our time and attention.  This definitely
affects our spiritual life whether individually, as a family
or as a society.

b.   Some T.V. programs cause stumbling blocks because  they
include  unsuitable subjects for a Christian.   Their  moral
values are opposed to the sublime standards of Christianity,
and  their  principles  contradict those  of  the  Christian
faith.   They titillate the senses in a way which  flies  in
the face of Christian integrity and faithfulness.

2.  The Social Aspect

The  T.V. presents social issues and offers the opinions  of
famous writers and thinkers about family and public affairs.
It  also  shows  various  types of delinquency,  disloyalty,
theft, and violence, and divorce for reasons like falling in
love with someone else etc.  All these have their effect  on
us.  We get used to all these and they become accepted moral
values  although  they are as far as can be  from  Christian
purity.  Maybe the adults can resist such effects because of
their  firm upbringing, but the young may imitate what  they
see  and  take things for granted.  Current trends in  hair-
cuts, smoking, styles of dress, even catch-phrases prove the
effect of T.V. on people.

3.  The Cultural Aspect

Thinkers  and writers complain bitterly about the triviality
of  the ideas presented by T.B.  TV has weakened the faculty
of  reading.  People sit waiting to watch TV programs.  When
we  study  the  TV programs, it is surprising to  find  that
there  is a lack of humanitarian subjects and social advice.
Nothing  but  trivialities are presented most of  the  time.
Children  memorize  many  of the advertisements,  songs  and
words   broadcasted  on  TV.   Why  doesn't  the  TV  handle
religious, cultural, scientific, and patriotic topics?

4.  The Behavioral Aspect

There  is no doubt that the violence that dominates  our  TV
and  cinema screens is reflected in people's behavior.   The
chief  of Los Angeles police has realized that the  rate  of
certain types of crime increases after a film shows them  on
TV.   The  cinema,  now that TV has attracted  much  of  its
audience,  survives  on two types of movies:   violence  and
sex.   It  degrades us by exploiting these two instincts  to
take our money.

A novelist once wrote about a man who committed all kinds of
sins,  then  felt it did not satisfy him, and  so  repented.
However, the producer who made a film based on the book took
only the first part.  He made a lot of effort to demonstrate
the  man's sins and canceled the part about repentance.  The
film  was shown all over the world bearing the name  of  the
wronged writer.

Second:  How To Face These Effects

We can face them in three ways:

1.  The Spiritual Fullness

There  is  no  doubt  that  "A satisfied  soul  loathes  the
honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet"
(Prov  27:7).  When our children find their satisfaction  in
Jesus  Christ,  the Bible, the lives of saints;  in  church,
hymns and spiritual readings; in serving in the city and the
village, it will be easy to take them away from watching TV.
It  also  makes  it  easy to overcome the negativism  in  TV
programs.   Jesus  is a great power Who saves  us  from  the
power  of  the flesh, the world and the devil and gives  him
the victory over evil in all its forms.  He can enable us to
reject  sexual immorality no matter how tempting it may  be.
We  have  to  restore  the  family altar,  gather  with  our
children  to  read the Bible, sing hymns, pray and  go  with
them  to  take  Holy  Communion and to  attend  meetings  at
church.   We should watch their spiritual progress  closely.
Then it will be easy for them to make the right choices.

Inner emptiness is the reason behind being attracted to  TV,
but the person filled with God's grace will watch the little
that is useful, leaving the much that is useless.

2.  Cultural Fullness

We used to have a big library at home that was full of books
on  different subjects.  The parent used to read a book  and
then  give it to his or her son or daughter to read;  later,
they  would  discuss  it together.   Now,  we  rely  on  the
cultural triviality of newspapers, magazines, and TV.

We  need a push to read, to activate the mind and fill  life
with  sacred enthusiasm, leaving us with no spare  time  for
any  delinquency.  A cultured person is capable of  choosing
useful books, programs etc., choosing what is upbuilding.

3.  The Constructive Selection

When the heart is filled with Jesus Christ and the mind with
culture, it is easy for us to choose the best programs,  the
right  friends,  good  books and  magazines  which  will  be
fruitful  in  the  home  -  and leave  out  those  that  are

As  Christian  believers  we have some  inner  enlightenment
bestowed  by  the God Who made us.  "Test all  things;  hold
fast what is good" (1Thes 5:21).  We should weigh matters in
the light of three verses:

+   "All  things are lawful for me, but all things  are  not
helpful" (1Cor 6:12).
+   "All  things  are lawful for me, but all things  do  not
edify" (1Cor 10:23).
+   "All  things  are lawful for me ... but I  will  not  be
brought under the power of any" (1Cor 6:12).

We  live  in  inner  freedom:   whether  reading,  studying,
discussing,  watching, or travelling.  "In all these  things
we  are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us"  (Rom

Let's  live with our children a spiritually satisfying life,
a  life  that builds them up culturally.  Let's  enter  with
them  into  a  dialogue  that will build  their  consciences
through  Jesus Christ.  We will not leave them to go adrift.
Instead, they will be filled with God, live a life of  faith
and holiness, and be witnesses for the Lord Who saved us.


                                       - 11 -

                           YOUTH AND FAMILY LIFE
                        THE FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIPS
                            (H.H. Bishop Moussa)

The Christian family has two types of belonging:  one to the
church  or the secret body of Christ, and another to society
or the country.  Each of them has its own rights and duties.
The  family  is really the fundamental cell from  which  the
church and country are built up.

There is no contradiction at all between these two types  of
belonging.  Christianity calls us to be good neighbors.   It
commands  us  to acquire good and honest behavior  that  can
testify for Christ Who dwells within us:  "Let your light so
shine  before  men, that they may see Your  good  works  and
glorify   Your  Father  in  heaven"  (Mt  5:16).   Moreover,
Christianity   commands  us  to  submit  to  the   governing
authorities,  being confident that God is above  all:   "The
king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers  of
water;  He turns it whenever He wishes" (Prov 21:1);  "There
is  no  authority except from God, and the authorities  that
exist are appointed by God" (Rom 13:1).

The Christian family is asked to be Christian in reality and
not  just in name.  It is to be firmly connected by the Holy
Spirit  and bonds of love, to be concerned with bringing  up
its  children in the fear of God and love for all.  Then the
family will remain a model for the holiness and continuation
of  Christian marriage and be ready to play its part in both
church and country.

1.  The Relationship With God

It  is  the first and essential relationship.  The Christian
family  sometimes hangs an significant sign  in  the  dining
room.   It  says:   "Christ is the head of this  house,  the
unseen guest at every meal, and the silent listener to every
conversation."  If the family follow this watchword, it  may
be  converted into a real church and a holy sanctuary  where
it   can   offer   the   oblations  of   glorification   and

In  the  past the Christian family took care to set aside  a
place  for  prayer.  This place contained a compartment  for
the  Holy  Virgin carrying Christ, and in front of it  there
was an oil lamp symbolizing the light of the God's Word,  or
candles  to symbolize the deepest source of self-sacrificial
love  that the family had.  In front of such an east  facing
compartment a daily prayer has to be offered - we suggest it
should be once a day in the evening.  The family may pray  a
short  prayer - we suggest the prayer of thanksgiving, Psalm
50  (Have  mercy on me, O God), and the Compline absolution.
One  of  the children may read a chapter of the Bible,  then
the  prayer  should be ended by the concluding prayer  (Have
mercy  upon  us O Lord, have mercy upon us) and  the  Lord's

Such a family altar will mean that the Lord will keep an eye
on  us  and His love and personal presence will be with  us.
His  Word  will be heard in the ears of both young and  old.
It will be a reason for renewed calm repentance, its prayers
will  be  an  opportunity  for the  Holy  Spirit  to  renew,
sanctify,   direct   and   win  hearts   to   goodness   and

No doubt this altar will be a chance for good family ties on
both  the  spiritual and emotional levels.  The family  will
never be divided against itself, neither the parents nor the
children.   All  will  behave later  with  a  spiritual  and
enriching  love.  They will not be trapped in  psychological

2.  The Relationships Within The Family

Educationalists  talk  about  the  generation  gap  and  the
inability  of the parents' generation gap to understand  the
psychology  and circumstances of their sons' and  daughters'
generation.  On the other hand, young people have difficulty
in   communicating  with  their  parents  and  imagine  that
agreement  between  their generation and their  parents'  is
impossible.  This is a natural thing to happen among  people
of  the  world but not among the sons and daughters of  God,
who  have got rid of their stubbornness and selfishness  and
overcome their materialism.  It will be easier for  them  to
meet  intimately and agree gracefully.  In an atmosphere  of
warmth  and  affection, they should be  able  to  give  firm
guidance, free from enfeebling favoritism or undue severity.

Keeping  the  balance  of expressing feelings  and  offering
advice  is  essential  not  only for  the  peacefulness  and
cohesion  of  family  ties  but  also  wholesome  spiritual,
psychological and practical life for its members.

A  lot of young families have been torn apart because of the
strong emotional ties between the parents and their sons and
daughters.  Because of the impossibility of the young person
being  emotionally weaned from the parents he or she  cannot
be  united to a partner.  Such a strange emotion between the
parents  and the new couple is not love at all  but  only  a
counterfeit  image of love.  It springs from an  unwholesome
selfishness    and    self-centeredness,    which     causes
psychological troubles for both the young man and the  woman
and makes an illness all too likely in the long run.

In  fact,  spiritual and rational love  is  needed.   It  is
essential because we don't want young men and women to  grow
up  with  an  emotional deprivation that leads  them  to  be
trapped  by  the  first false emotion.   Spiritual  love  is
essential, but emotional love is not sufficient.   Emotional
weaning  is  needed and a balanced upbringing  is  essential
too.   We  suffer from the disparity between the father  and
mother  in the way they bring up their children.   One  uses
cruelty  and  the other spoils a child so that  the  son  or
daughter  grows  up  with a damaged,  psyche  which  rapidly
develops into a corrupted manner and spirit.

3.  The Relationships Outside The Family

These must have principles and boundaries.  For example, the
spirit  of  love  between a couple and their  families  must
always  be  evident.   The  parents'  intervention  must  be
limited  to what will benefit the couple and build them  up.
Each  partner must not allow the other partner to be closely
tied  only  to his or her family:  they must be linked  with
each  other's  families.   The two  families  must  not  let
destructive curiosity or feelings of resentment interfere in
the life of the new family.  Intervention is needed only for
the  benefit of the new couple, but they must have  time  to
know  each other intimately and become united.  Each of them
must give up some of habits and mood.  Within this period of
time,  some  minor differences or even disputes  take  place
but,  because of the spirit of understanding, Christian love
and  the  earnest direction of parents they will calm  down.
But if the parents take the opposite course, i.e. favoritism
and destructive attitudes, the new family may be torn apart.

Outside  the  two families there are the relationships  with
colleagues, friends, and neighbors.  Such relationships must
have  manners  and spiritual rules, because we  suffer  from
these types of relationships.  They bring bad thoughts  into
the family, involve them in resentful relationships and push
them  into abandoning constructive, vital principles.   this
is  the last of the negative consequences which come from  a
home  with  no protective walls around it.  Visits  must  be
limited, relationships must be set up after suitable vetting
and   sons'  and  daughter's  friendships  must   be   under
compassionate control.

Hence,  every  family  must keep an  eye  on  its  sons  and
daughters  to  be able to say to the Lord on the  Last  Day:
"Hence  I  am and the children whom God has given  me"  (Heb
2:13).   The mother "Will be saved in childbearing  if  they
continue  in  faith,  love and holiness, with  self-control"
(1Tim 2:15).

The  watchword of us all must be:  "As for me and my  house,
we will serve the Lord" (Josh 24:15).


                                       - 12 -

                           YOUTH AND FAMILY LIFE
                            (H.H. Bishop Moussa)

Bearing  witness  to Jesus Christ is not just  the  duty  of  the
family,  but also of every believer.  For what Jesus  Christ  has
done for us deserves our gratitude, dedication and active efforts
for  Him.   Therefore, the Christian family is expected  to  bear
witness to Christ, Who loved it and shed His blood for its  sake.
We bear witness to Christ not only because we are thankful to Him
for  saving, blessing and choosing us as His children,  but  also
out of love for humanity that needs the Good Savior.  We need  to
determine the ways that the Christian family should follow.

Bearing  witness means demonstrating these divine characteristics
with  consolidation  and  depth in our  Christian  lives.   Being
positive in one's Christian life is a blessing to oneself and  to
others,  as Solomon said:  "The generous soul will be made  rich,
and he who waters will also be watered himself" (Prov 11:25).

There  are many areas where the family can bear witness to Christ
Who protects and saves it:

1.  The Area Of Personal Holiness

What  proves  that Jesus works in us is His ability  to  make  us
holy.  Holiness is not based on sinlessness, but on "freedom from
condemnation."  It is impossible for man to be sinless.  As  long
as  we are in our weak body we groan under the same burden as the
Apostle's  saying:  "O wretched man that I am!  Who will  deliver
me  from this body of death?"  (Rom 7:24).  Even we who "have the
first  fruits of the Spirit, ... groan within ourselves,  eagerly
waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body" (Rom 8:23).
We may stumble, but we refuse to be enslaved to sin.

In  spite of our struggles and efforts, our weakness still  leads
us  to  sin  -  this  is natural, but our faults  are  caused  by
carelessness  or  overconfidence in the face of  temptation.   We
should  not try to test ourselves out.  Such a reckless  attitude
must be changed.  It is possible for a certain kind of person  to
rise to his or her feet when fallen.  This person changes his  or
her  ways  and  is  not condemned.  "There is  therefore  now  no
condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who  do  not  walk
according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Rom 8:1).

Another kind of person, however, not only falls but with  his  or
her  free-will  keeps  on falling and fully  chooses  to  do  so.
Someone  like that really needs to be shaken up inside  and  have
his  or  her conscience aroused so as to change his or her  whole
direction in life.

"Holiness" in Greek is "Agios", which means "set apart  for  God"
or  "chosen for God."  Just as tithes, or tenths, are "set  apart
for  God"  and  the  vessels of the altar  are  "consecrated  for
service",  so a priest of the old covenant would have a  sign  on
his forehead saying, "Holy to God."  In Holiness we set ourselves
apart  from  the  natural walk of the people of this  world,  and
dedicate  the innermost sanctuary of our hearts to the Lord.   We
struggle to devote all our love to Christ.

This  personal holiness is based on the grace of God working with
our  struggles.  This is the most important area  of  witness  to
Christ,  for  people "May see your good works  and  glorify  your
Father in heaven" (Mt 5:16).  What will have most impact are  not
our untiring efforts as God's servants, nor our profound studies:
what  really counts is being a model or a demonstration of  God's
handiwork, an icon that expresses the work of the Holy Spirit.

2.  The Area Of Family Cohesion

The  Christian family is to be an example which bears witness  to
Jesus'  love.  This love can link the family members together  in
one body.  When talking about steady, consistent marriages people
used to call them "Christian Marriages."  What is needed now from
our Christian families is a living witness to Jesus Christ Who is
dwelling  in  them  with all His love.  What  we  don't  need  is
trouble, selfishness, hatred and divorces.

People  nowadays think of divorce very quickly and at  the  first
misunderstanding,  despite the fact that  divorce  is  completely
rejected  in the New Testament except in the case of adultery  or
abandoning the faith.  god told us in the Old Testament  -  under
the age of Law - that He hates divorce:  how much more in the age
of  the  Holy  Spirit and redemption?  People think  nowadays  of
cutting off marriage ties because they have no children (mainly a
Middle  Eastern phenomenon).  Or they may think of  splitting  up
because  their  characters differ, instead of  coping  with  each
other  in true Christian love.  Or they may get divorced  in  the
face  of sickness instead of looking after one another.  None  of
these  reasons  spring from the mind of Christ or the  Spirit  of

The family will disintegrate and the children will lose their way
and will face spiritual and psychological suffering.  Yet the one
who  is  causing all this thinks he or she's doing nothing wrong.
As  the days go by, the one who has said an angry word will sense
that he or she has done something which didn't please God.

Let  God  speak  into  our hearts!  Let Him arouse  our  sleeping
consciences.   Let Him unite our disintegrated families  for  the
sake of bearing true witness to Christ, Who suffered by the whips
which cut His shoulders for our sakes.  We must watch out for God
will  bring  peace  into  our disintegrating  families  and  give
repentance to lost souls.  Otherwise, what a great crime  we  are
committing  against our children, not only in  this  age  but  in
eternity as well!

3.  The Area Of Service In The Church

This  is  the  natural area in which the family should  bear  its
witness to Jesus Christ.  We are to exert continuous service  for
the  church and to serve with our tithes and not to deny them  to
their real owner, Who is the key of blessing.  Giving tithes is a
blessing  to  oneself.   We  must contribute  our  talents:   the
father, as a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer: the wife
in her work or in any job which may suit her.  She can make food,
clothes, and share in outreaches for charity.  The sons can share
while still young in serving the altar and then in Sunday Schools
in  the  church.   Or  they can join in with  working  camps  and
various  social activities.  The girls can also serve in suitable
areas  maybe  in teaching classes, looking after the  creche,  or
serving  in  needle-work, knitting, and so on.   Serving  in  the
church is a natural thing for every Christian family, because the
family  is  the  basic cell for forming the  church.   It  is  an
inseparable part of the church and a vital organ in it.

Serving the church will also show the sons and daughters to be  a
vital  branch in Jesus' vineyard.  They can't go astray from  the
way  of  eternity.   They achieve a sense of belonging  and  give
their efforts to God's house.

4.  The Area Of Sacrificial Love

This  is  the deepest and most profound area of bearing  witness,
where the family comes out of its shell and directs its attention
towards  others:   friends, neighbors, and  everyone,  with  love
untainted   fanaticism.   For  Jesus  Christ  has   never   known
fanaticism,  but  on the contrary, He fought  fanaticism  in  His
disciples.   When the Samaritan village refused to accept  Jesus,
two  of  His disciples thought of asking for a heavenly  fire  to
come  down  and  burn  up the Samaritans.  At  that  point  Jesus
rebuked them saying:  "You do not know what manner of spirit  you
are  of.  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's  lives
but  to save them" (Lk 9:55, 56).  And it actually happened  that
these two disciples were inwardly changed and went to minister in
all areas, without discrimination between Jews and Gentiles.

Christ  wants us - His children - to excel in opening our hearts,
spreading love and presenting our service with a highly  positive
spirit.   When  a  Pharisee, in order to justify  himself,  said:
"Who  is my neighbor?", the Lord gave him the example of the Good
Samaritan  that  served  the wounded Jew.   He  declared  to  the
Pharisee that the one he ought to show compassion to is the  true
neighbor, not the one who belongs to the same sect or race.

Christianity is pervaded with the concept of love from the  first
moment  of  creation till the end of the world,  from  the  first
chapter  of the Bible will the last.  It is enough to  know  that
the  most  favorable way of describing God to us is  that  He  is
love.   That  is  why  when hatred enters a  person's  heart  God
departs  from  it  that very moment.  But when  God  possesses  a
person's heart He widens its boundaries, till he or she loves the
whole world without being tainted by its lusts.

An  elderly monk once said:  "If you've shut yourself away to  be
alone  with  God and haven't found consolation, get down  to  the
street,  since  you  will find the image of Jesus  in  the  first
person you meet."

Let's  serve  with  all  our love and energy,  without  expecting
praise  or  anything in return.  For this we'll have praise  from
God and that will satisfy us.

God bless our families for the glory of His Name.  Amen!