Pope Shenouda III Goes to Heaven

Yesterday, at 5:15pm, the world lost a true leader and a true servant, Pope Shenouda III, the 117th Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark the Evangelist of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

News websites and newspapers are full of news about his life, his achievements, his flaws, what people loved about him and what they didn’t, it’s as if I’m reading a history book!

No one talked about his fiery spirit, the spirit that gave glory to its maker; It’s He “Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.” (104:4)

Can you believe that an 88-year-old person who suffers from lung and liver diseases, and goes through kidney dialysis 2-3 times a week would give a 2 weekly talks, would meet up with people in need and personally give them money or whatever they need, would dedicate time to listen to people’s questions and reply to them, would write and publish books (over 100 books), would travel all over the world to check on his flock as a true shepherd would do, and would travel to a quiet monastery weekly to get his personal time with God, to recharge, to be able to give with no limits? I’m 26 and I can’t!

Last year he came to visit our church, later I knew from a friend that he went through minor surgery that same day! But the love in him for Jesus and for us, his children, was more than his love for himself and his care for his health. (The source of this story is that my friend -who I mentioned earlier-‘s mom was the anesthetist in that operation)

Aside from his unconditional love, and his fiery spirit in ministry, the wisdom and power that flowed from his words were enough to illustrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Everybody who heard him knew he was different; just like his Master, “they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Mark 1:22)

Pope in Arabic is translated to “Baba”, which other than its ecclesiastical usage, is actually the Arabic informal word for “father”, just like you would say “Dad”, instead of “Father”. Everybody who knew him, knows he was a true “baba”; he was both, the very formal charismatic leader who would meet with world leaders and renown figures, and the very humble simple dad who would sit with his children in very informal gatherings telling stories and jokes.

I don’t want to write more, because I don’t feel I’m giving him what he deserves! He deserves much more than my simple words!

As Christians we don’t believe in death, we believe in the passing of the soul from this temporary earth to our permanent home in Heaven. And since we don’t believe in death, we believe that those who passed away and those who are on earth are one living family bind together. As I would ask a living friend to pray for me, I will ask the “living” Pope Shenouda to remember us in his prayers in front of God.

Update: I was told by Dawn that the news of his holiness’ passing away is not quite spread on the other side of the world. So I thought you may want to read the article on BBC or the entry about him in Wikipedia.

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11 thoughts on “Pope Shenouda III Goes to Heaven”

  1. Dear Mike,

    The sun is rising here and I am about ready to get up and run my dogs. I thought I would stop by to see if you had posted anything new. Last evening before I went to bed you had not and so when I saw this, I was so happy.

    I never heard of this man. You say the news is full of stories of his life and manner. That is not so on this side of the world and so I really appreciate your tribute. I love the picture of him laughing. It truly shows the tender, yet zealous spunk of a baba.

    This morning as I am out in the glorious natural surroundings with my pups I will give thanks to God for this remarkable life and for you, Mike, the one who introduced me to Pope Shenouda III. It will be my privilege to meet him someday in heaven.

    Have a blessed day,
    Dawn

      1. Dear Mike,

        When I went downstairs where my husband was at the breakfast table reading the news, he knew of Pope Shenouda III’s death. His comment to me was, “I just hope he died naturally.” We are so concerned about those of you who are Christian in the religious and political climate of Egypt today.

        I see by the BBC link you so graciously left for your readers that he did die of health-related issues and old age. Another part of the same link, however, gives me great concern and I will be praying as you continue to live out your faith in post-Mubarak Egypt.

        I quote the BBC article:

        “Pope Shenouda sought to protect his Christian community amid a Muslim population by striking a conservative tone and lending tacit support to President Mubarak’s rule.

        Whoever succeeds him now faces the task of reassuring the Coptic community as the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood look on the verge of sharing power in Egypt for the first time”

        I pray protection for the Coptic community in the coming days and for the rise of a wise leader to fill Shenouda III’s place. Your sister in Christ,
        Dawn

      2. You know, Dawn, if your read about the Coptic Christians’ history, you’ll know that Copts are destined to be under persecution forever. Whether it is in an obvious way or under cover. The good news is God has always been with us, and that’s why we’re still here praising His name and we will still be here till His second coming full of glory 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing about Pope Shenouda III. I hadn’t heard of his death either, like Dawn. And also, I loved the pictures and his kind face laughing, as well as knowing the other things you shared about his life. He did so much, such a servant’s heart. God bless you, Mike, and tenderly care for you and all the brothers and sisters in Christ where you are.

    1. I’m happy that this post shed little light on Pope Shenouda who truly affected the lives of all his children and all who knew him. Even many moderate Muslims are upset for his passing away, because they saw the unconditional love he spread, and the wisdom by which he calmed down the relations between Muslims and Christians.
      I am sure God will choose a new shepherd to tend His sheep until His second coming 🙂

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