Holy Week is the prime time for our spiritual life. It is when we spend more time at Church, increase our privet prayers and, for many people–especially those who do not often read–we usually pick up a spiritual book to peruse. The following is a quick review of a book that is dear to my heart, one that I have read for a few consecutive years during Holy Week.
The Crucified Jesus was written by Father Manassah Youhanna (1899-1930), a Coptic priest from Mallawi, Egypt. It is a collection of personal contemplations on the event of Holy Week. In the book Fr. Youhanna goes through the events of Christ’s life, from Jesus’ prayers at Gethsemane to His trial and the different tortures that Christ endured before and on the Cross.
In Chapter 10 Fr. Youhanna gives contemplations on the seven phrases that Jesus said on the Cross. The author then continues to explain what the Cross of Christ means to us as Orthodox Christians.
What makes this book such an amazing read is that the author balances the Orthodox teachings of Jesus’ Crucifixion, which are deep contemplations of the events that help the reader re-live these events. Fr. Youhanna narrates some of the historical background that surrounded the crucifixion of Christ and quotes from the Church Fathers, but more importantly he makes the connection between these events and how they impact the reader’s personal spiritual life. I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book:
“How great is Your love for us, Jesus, that has made You desire death in order to save us, so that even when Peter reproached You and said, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to you,’ You rebuked him saying, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men,’ (Matt 16:23). As if to say, ‘I yearn for this death, which burns within Me. Do you, then, wish to take this opportunity away from Me when I have reached it?’ For this reason we find that the Bible says of the Lord before He left with His disciples for Gethsemane, ‘And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives,’ (Matt 26:30). So before His affliction, He was singing, and what He saw then was not His agony or His cross, but the salvation of mankind and His joy at their salvation overcame His sorrow.”
Fr. Youhanna’s book is available at http://stshenoudamonastery.org.au/store.
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