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What I Learned from my Beloved Father

This is an article written by Father Metias Said Ibrahim that was published in El-Keraza Magazine on August 21st, 1998:

In the past month of July, my family and I had the opportunity to visit our mother church in Egypt. It is there that I gained the blessings of my beloved father, His Holiness Pope Shenouda the 3rd more than once. At these encounters with His Holiness, I learned quite a few things …

The first visit was on Wednesday at the weekly sermon which His Holiness spoke at in the midst of thousands of Copts. Also present at this weekly sermon are various bishops, priests, and monks, and all are present to learn from the Holy Spirit which speaks through the mouth of His Holiness. His Holiness has a strong commitment to this weekly sermon, and the only time it would ever be postponed, is if he is not present in Egypt as a result of visits to our other Coptic churches in other countries.

Here I learned how commitment is essential to the life of the servant, from the prospect of abiding to the service, and delivering the word of God to others.

I met with His Holiness once more at his papal residence at St. Bishoy’s monastery at Wadi El Natroun, this is where His Holiness dwelled for part of the week in order to remain in some spiritual solitude. Here I learned the importance of one being in solitude with God, far from the busy cycle of life, or even the spiritual service amongst people, this is essential in order to be filled with grace so that the others may benefit.

From His Holiness, I also learned about his strong love for the saints of the monastery and the monks. Despite his tight schedule, he insists on participating, blessing, and leading the preparation and procession of perfuming the body of the great Saint Bishoy along with the other bishops who are heads of the monasteries of Wadi Al Natroun, as well as the fathers the monks, and the brothers of monasticism. I took the blessing of attending this joyous and spiritual event.

I met with His Holiness a third time at the celebration which took place at St. Bishoy’s Monastery for commemorating His Holiness’ 44th anniversary in monasticism. It was a glorious event in which numerous archbishops, bishops, monks, brothers, and many common people were in attendance.

Here I learned all about humility. As people hailed his points of success, His Holiness recalled all those who assisted in attaining this success. He never forgot about those who were a part of the success, and he attributed the success to their hard work, and in general, he attributed everything to God and His work.

Also at another meeting in the monastery, His Holiness requested more than once from those attending to pray for the speedy recovery of Bishop Karas, the head of St. Anthony’s Monastery in California. His Holiness was deeply moved by the illness of Bishop Karas, and mentioned that he would go himself to visit him in California. Also, prayers were said for Bishop Athanasius of Beni Sweif who was being treated in the United Kingdom. Further prayers were also mentioned for Father Rophaeel Sobhy in Detroit in the United States of America.

Here I learned from the fatherhood of his holiness, and the love that he has in his heart towards his children in a very practical way as opposed to theoretically speaking. I learned about the essence of the verse in Holy Bible which states, “I was sick and you came to me.”

I met with His Holiness the fourth time at the papal residence in Cairo when he had just returned form a celebration hosted by President Hosni Mobarak, where His Holiness participated in it as the head of the Coptic Church, in order to promote the spirit of brotherhood and patriotism in Egypt.

I learned how to a Christian individual, especially a servant, well balanced in his life as he needs to combine the strong spiritual relationship with God on one hand, as well as his social life, as an integral component of the personality, on the other hand, without drifting from either.

During this visit, I saw that even though his holiness was showing signs of weariness, he strived to meet weekly with the poor, the beloved of the Lord. He is there to make sure all of their needs are met, and also prays for them.

Here I learned how the servant must endure suffering in order to provide rest for the others in need. His Holiness has placed this as a rule, as a guiding council within his life, and he had taught that principle numerously.

I would need a lot more space to list the other lessons I learned from His Holiness through observing his meekness and his simple heart, especially his love for children, and all of his other spiritual teachings.

I beseech God to keep His Holiness Pope Shenouda the 3rd for us for many prolonged and peaceful years to come, and for God to grant us grace and mercy through the prayers of His Holiness. Amen.

— Father Metias Said Ibrahim
St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church, Hamilton, ON, Canada
August 1998

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