Desert Prayers

In the week of 20-25 October we prayed the Coptic Agpeya (also known as the Horologion) in Anafora. This Coptic Orthodox Retreat Centre in Egypt is based in what used to be part of the desert, west of the Delta. Bishop Thomas has almost singlehandedly transformed the place into a green oasis of I do not know how many acres.

The Agpeya is a cycle of seven daily prayers that have been prayed since the early times of Christianity. They carry the monks through the day, from sunrise to sunset (Prime to Compline) and then there is the midnight prayer.

What I find so striking is the enormous number of Psalms that is used in these prayers. And how they are linked with events surrounding the life and death of Jesus. They are very Christ-centered. And they are prayers of great humility: seven times per day the monks confess their sins, and their need for forgiveness. The Trinitarian character of the prayers is also striking.

These prayers can be prayed anywhere, but Anafora is certainly a wonderful place for it. We are surrounded here by God’s wonderful nature, by friendly people, by churches with amazing icons, by a very healthy organic kitchen, and more good things.

In The Netherlands we will, the Lord willing, set up a ‘Friends of Anafora’ organisation to bring people to Anafora and to bring Anafora to The Netherlands. Wait and see!

Radical Anafora Desert Retreat 19-25 October 2019

We enjoyed a great Egypt Desert retreat in October 2018, and we aim for another retreat in a year’s time.  Arrival date in Anafora: 19 October 2019.

Beginning of retreat program: Sunday morning 20 October 2019, 5.30am
End of the program: Friday 25 October 2019, ca. 1pm.

The retreat will be RADICAL… we will live the life of an Egyptian monk for a week. All the prayers! Starting 6am every morning, and then throughout the day.  This will be hard – a meeting with God, and be prepared, also with yourself.   

In between, we will visit some monasteries in Wadi Natrun.  And you might even have a swim in Anafora… And the food in Anafora is great.  Of course, we fast with the Coptic Church, but that will be a feast, I promise.

Though your spend many hours in prayers and readings of Holy Scriptures, as the monks have done for 17 centuries, we will also have plenty of time to interact with each other, to enjoy, to exchange experiences and ideas.

But I warn you: you must have guts… to meet with God and with yourself in the many hours of silence with Him.

The maximum number of participants is 12
So… reserve your place soon.  The first people have signed up as our retreat in 2018 was truly a wonderful time.

Make sure that you have your place in this retreat by your downpayment of €100 before 31 August 2019.

Payments please (with comment: ‘down-payment Anafora Retreat 2019’) to:

Jos Strengholt
Swift-Bic: ABNANL2A

This is what we offer:

During the retreat we will

  1. Meet with God and with ourself
  2. Pray the ancient prayers of the Coptic monks (in English)
  3. Visit some ancient monasteries
  4. Have time for personal meditation
  5. Meet with the Coptic Orthodox Bishop Thomas (the visionary who founded and leads Anafora)
  6. Participate in the common morning and evening prayers of Anafora
  7. Enjoy the green desert of Anafora

Total cost of this retreat: €575  (that includes the €100 downpayment) 

Included in the price:

  1. Six nights in Anafora, including three meals per day.
  2. As much coffee, tea, water as you like
  3. The prayer books that the Coptic monks use, supplied as hard copy at the beginning of the retreat
  4. Transport from and to Cairo (the airport, if you like, or any other place in Cairo if you wish so) on 18 or 19 October and on 25 or 26 October (or other dates  – details can be discussed)
  5. Visit to some monasteries in Wadi Natrun

Not included:

  1. Your ticket to and from Egypt. You can handle this by yourself.
  2. If you spend more nights in Anafora that the six nights that are part of our program, you pay 40 euros per night extra.

If you want to more information or if you want to register, contact me as soon as possible.