The Rev. Dr. Gary Thorne

Chaplain, Huron University College
London, Ontario
Diocese of Huron

As the Anglican Foundation’s Saint Basil the Great Scholar in 2015, I explored the role of monasticism in the recent revival of the Coptic Church. My three months in Egypt at a conference for Coptic Bishops from around the world, followed by extended visits to six monasteries.

I felt the overwhelming presence of God sitting with an eighty-seven-year-old anchorite at his desert cave; I joined Coptic youth in a midnight liturgy in the ancient cave of Saint Anthony; I prayed many hours of the Jesus Prayer with anchorites in their caves; I viewed the finest examples of ancient Coptic iconography; I accompanied young Coptic priests in their ministry to crowded urban churches in Cairo; and I worshipped the daily seven-fold Offices of the Coptic Liturgy, attending all-night vigils at which the melodic Pharaonic chanting of the monks was full-voice, urgent with love and devotion for God.

Sitting with Abouna Mina at his desert-cave, he recalled the ancient tale of the monk who pleaded with an elder Abba that he had practiced all the spiritual exercises—now what? The Abba raised his arms in the “orans” position, spread his fingers, and they became like fire. I give thanks that the Anglican Foundation made it possible for me to reignite similar passion in my Love for Christ in the Anglican Liturgy.