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syriac saints in november - kirk yacoub - 26-11-2007

This coming week is very important in the Syriac Orthodox Church.
Tuesday 27th November is the feast of ST JACOB M'FASKO (the Dismembered) who suffered a horrific martyrdom in 421 at the hands of the Persian Zoroastrians. Having renounced Christianity in order to attain great rank in government service, Jacob received a letter from his mother and wife, still true to the faith, in which he was rebuked for his apostasy and informed that they severed all ties with him. This letter broke his heart, but not in the worldly way that leads to despair, but in the same way that Christ broke bread. He repented very openly, was denounced and, because a man can only die once, the Persian Emperor decided, on the advice of Zoroastrian priests, that Jacob's death would be long, slow, and agonising. He was deprived of his limbs, toe by toe, finger by finger, arm by arm, leg by leg. With each severed part of his body, as his torturers discarded it, he sang praises to God. There are those who might doubt the authenticity of this, but we must always remember the rapturous joy that seizes martyrs during their trials. A fuller hagiography can be read, in French on <!-- w --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- w -->
On November 28th we celebrate the feast of MOR DIONYSIOS BAR SALIBI,
who died in 1171. One of the great figures of mediaeval Syriac Christianity, he had a prolific pen that was guided by the Holy Spirit. His Anaphora is used in the Syriac Church in Britain, and a translation of his
"Introduction to the Commentary on the Gospels can be read at
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On November 29th we celebrate the feast of ST JACOB OF SERUGH(451-521) one of the greatest poets of Syriac Christianity, second only to St Ephrem. He wrote over 700 verse prayers and homilies, most of which are, unfortunately, not yet translated. His great contribution to ecumenism was, when the battles over Christology were at their bloodiest height, to write a letter in which he stated that it was a serious waste of time to try to probe the depths of the Mystery of the Incarnation, because we cannot possibly truly express this reality in words, but rather we should always stand in wonder at the marvellous gift that God gave us, His Only-begotten Son. His "Homily on the Reception of the Holy Mysteries can be read at <!-- w --><a class="postlink" href=""> ... tracts.htm</a><!-- w -->

Kirk Yacoub

Syriac saints - John Charmley - 26-11-2007

dear Kirk,

very many thanks for these references. St. Jacob of Serugh speaks to many of the concerns we have expressed in this forum - the extracts at the website seem very apposite. How like sinful mankind to crave precise definitions of the indefinable - and then get agrey with each other when we fail.

In Christ,