Rites

01 – Feast of the Nayrouz

Table of Contents The rite of the Feast of the Nayrouz (Coptic New Year – Feast of the Martyrs), and until 16 Thoout. Introduction The Feast of Nayrouz marks the beginning of the Coptic New Year: the first of Thoout. The readings on this day revolve around this celebration. In the Psalm of the Liturgy, the deacon reads, “Bless the Crown of the Year with Your goodness.” Similarly, in the reading of the Gospel, we find the blessings of The Saviour for the New Year in abundance, saying, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk. 4:19). As for the

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02 – Feasts of the Cross

Table of Contents The rite of the Feasts of the Cross (17 Thoout and 10 Paremhotep). Introduction In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes, “Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:8). St. John Chrysostom comments on this, saying that St. Paul ìdesires for us to celebrate the Cross because “Christ is the Passover and has been sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7). The Cross is the altar on which the Son was sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins.

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03 – Month of Kiahk

Table of Contents The rite of the Month of Kiahk. Introduction The month of Kiahk is called the “Marian month” because of its association with the great saint Mary, the Theotokos. This month has a special place in our Coptic Orthodox Church, for it is a month of preparation for the glorious Feast of the Nativity. For this reason, there was an immense concern for having special hymns in the church during this month, and so the tune of the hymns chanted especially during this month are called the “Kiahk tune.” As for the readings of the month of Kiahk,

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04 – Feast of the Nativity

Table of Contents The rite of the Feast of the Nativity and its Paramoun. Rite of the Paramoun of the Feast of the Nativity The Paramoun of the Nativity is prayed in the annual rite. From the glorious Feast of the Nativity to the Feast of the Circumcision, the prayers are in a joyful tune; from 7 Tobe to 10 Tobe, the prayers are in the annual tune; from 11 Tobe (which is the Feast of the Epiphany) to 13 Tobe (which is the Feast of Cana of Galilee), the prayers are in a joyful tune. The rest of the

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05 – Feast of the Circumcision

Table of Contents The rite of the Feast of the Circumcision (6 Tobe). Introduction The Feast of Circumcision is one of the Seven Minor Feasts of the Lord in the Coptic Church; it is celebrated on the sixth day of the month of Tobe, eight days after the Nativity. God commanded the Jews to circumcise their newborn males, as a visible sign in the flesh, through which they establish a covenant with Him. However, after the coming of the Lord Christ to save humanity through the shedding of His blood, baptism became the sign of our covenant in the New

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06 – Feast of Epiphany

Table of Contents The rite of the Feast of Epiphany/Theophany (11 Tobe). Introduction The Feast of the Epiphany is one of the Seven Major Feasts of our Lord, celebrated on 11 Tobe of every Coptic year. The word “Epiphany” refers to the “Divine Appearance,” where the Holy Trinity appeared to Mankind in an obvious and clear way. Many Churches celebrated the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and His baptism on the same day until the end of the 4th century, when a decision was made to celebrate the events separately. As a whole, the Feast of the Epiphany

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07 – Feast of Cana of Galilee

Table of Contents The rite of the Feast of Cana of Galilee (13 Tobe). Introduction The feast of the Wedding of Cana of Galilee is celebrated on the 13th day of the month of Tobe, and it is one of the Seven Minor Feasts of our Lord. At this wedding, water was transformed into unsweetened wine. This was the first miracle of our Lord Christ in His great ministry, as stated in the gospel of St. John: “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (Jn. 2:11). Through

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08 – Fast and Feast of Nineveh

Table of Contents The rite of the Fast and Feast of Nineveh. Introduction Throughout the Fast of Nineveh, the Church fasts for three days, a period in which we reflect on our sins and live in a state of repentance. This fast was first inaugurated during the time of Bishop Zaraa El-Souriany. When fasted by the Church, the fast symbolizes the Ninevites and their thirst for God’s mercy. The readings are all read from the Lectionary of the Great Lent. The Fast of Nineveh is ritualistically similar to the Fast of the Great Lent. It is vital to remember that

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09 – Feast of the Entry into the Temple

Table of Contents The rite of the Feast of our Lord’s Entry into the Temple (8 Meshir). Introduction The Feast of our Lord’s Entry into the Temple is celebrated on the 8th day of the month of Meshir, and is among the Seven Minor Feasts of the Lord. In order to fulfill the Law, the Virgin Mary took the newborn Christ to the Temple and offered a burnt offering. It was the commandment of God to the Jews in the Old Testament that a woman, after completing her period of purification (which is forty days if the newborn was male

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10 – The Great Lent

Table of Contents The rite of the Great Lent. Introduction The Great Lent is considered to be the most blessed and profound spiritual period in the Coptic Calendar. It is fasted for a total of 55 days, consisting of the Week of Preparation, the Holy Forty Days, Lazarus Saturday, and the Holy Pascha Week. In the past, the holy fathers began fasting the Holy Lent on the day following the Feast of the Epiphany (12 Tobe), as revealed to them by the Gospel, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the

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11 – Feast of the Annunciation

Table of Contents The rite of the Feast of the Annunciation (29 Paremhotep). Introduction The Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated on the 29th of Paremhotep, commemorating the divine announcement of the Archangel Gabriel to St. Mary regarding the birth of the King of kings and Lord of lords. This feast is the oldest of the Seven Major Feasts of the Lord in the Church, and is considered to be of great importance since it is through the Archangel’s message that St. Mary received news of the salvation of the world and the release from the bondage of Satan, where

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12 – Lazarus Saturday

Table of Contents The rite of Lazarus Saturday. Introduction Lazarus Saturday is held on the Saturday following the Great Lent. It is commonly referred to as “Palm Saturday” since it precedes the day of Palm Sunday. According to tradition, it was celebrated on the eve of the fortieth day of the Great Lent Fast. There was a clear practice of separating Passion Week from the Holy Forty Days. In all cases, this is the day in which the Lord Christ raised Lazarus from the dead after his body had been corrupted in the tomb for four days. Importantly, an event

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13 – Feast of Palm Sunday

Table of Contents Rite of the Feast of Palm Sunday, including the rite of the Prayer of the General Funeral. Introduction Palm Sunday is o­ne of the Major Feasts of our Lord, and it is the day o­n which the Lord Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem as a King, riding o­n a donkey and a colt, the foal of a donkey. Accordingly, the crowds with palm and olive branches, who joyfully chanted “Hosanna, Son of David”, greeted Him. “Hosanna” is an Aramaic word meaning “save us”. At the time, the Jews expected an earthly king to come and save them from the

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14 – Passion Week

Table of Contents The rite of Passion Week. Introduction Passion Week, also known as the Holy Pascha, is considered to be the most important week in the life of the Church. During this week, the Church re-lives the moments of salvation and the release of Mankind from the chains of sin and Satanís bondage. These are truly moments patiently waited for by humanity in its entirety. Passion week commences on Palm Sunday and is concluded at the end of Joyous Saturday and the beginning of the rite of the Feast of the Resurrection. Following the General Funeral Prayers, the Church leaves

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15 – Maundy Thursday

Table of Contents The rite of Maundy (Covenant) Thursday. Introduction Maundy Thursday is o­ne of the holiest days of the Paschal week. This is the day o­n which Christ celebrated the Passover with His disciples, washed their feet, and also instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist. O­n this day also, Judas betrayed His Master, surrendering Him to the Jews. After Peter and John had prepared for the Passover, the disciples began to ask which of them would be first in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Lord in His reply knelt down and began to wash their feet. This was not

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16 – Good Friday

Table of Contents The rite of Good Friday. Introduction In the beginning, God created Man o­n the sixth day of creation. It was also o­n the sixth day that Adam and Eve sinned, and fell from the presence of the Lord. Humanity was condemned to death and eternal separation from God. For this reason, mankind became in need of a redemptive death to purify all people of sin. God the Logos accepted this upon Himself, and took the body of Man; and was incarnate of the Virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit. Christ redeemed us o­n the wood of the

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17 – Saturday of Light

Table of Contents The rite of Saturday of Light (Joyous Saturday). Introduction Joyous Saturday is the night between Good Friday and the Sunday of Resurrection. It is the night of transition that took humanity from the state of death back to life. In this night, we witness God’s salvation at work, as He descended into Hades to break our chains, thereby releasing us from the bondage of Satan. These profound themes are reflected in the readings of Joyous Saturday. Psalm 151 for example, tells us how God chose the young David from amongst his older brothers to defeat Goliath, thus

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18 – Feast of the Resurrection

Table of Contents The rite of the Feast of the Resurrection. Introduction The Lord of glory rose from the dead by Himself on Sunday of the Resurrection, after He died on Friday, the Friday of the Crucifixion, on the wood of the Holy Cross. He rose for us, just as He died for us, so that we may obtain the blessings of the resurrection and the strength to defeat sin. For by the death of Christ we put away our old self and buried it with Christ, and by His resurrection from the dead, we clothed ourselves with the new

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19 – Thomas Sunday

Table of Contents The rite of the Feast of Thomas Sunday. Introduction Thomas Sunday takes place on the eighth day of the Feast of the Resurrection, and it is one of the Seven Minor Feasts of our Lord. On this day, the Lord of glory appeared to His disciples while they were gathered in the upper room in the presence of St. Thomas. However, Christ appeared to them in the absence of St. Thomas a week before. The disciples repeatedly informed St. Thomas about the appearance of the Lord Christ to them, but he refused to believe them, as he

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20 – Feast of the Entry into Egypt

Table of Contents The rite of the Feast of our Lord’s Entry into Egypt (24 Pashons). Introduction The Church celebrates the Feast of our Lord’s Entry into Egypt o­n the 24th day of the month of Pashons. This feast is among the Seven Minor Feasts of the Lord. As the Holy Family entered the land of Egypt, St. Mary the Virgin mother carried the child Jesus in her arms, with Joseph the Carpenter at her side and Salome, who accompanied them. They had done so in order to escape from Herod, who had sought to kill the Child. This was

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21 – Feast of the Ascension

Table of Contents The rite of the Feast of the Ascension. Introduction The Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension on Thursday, the fortieth day in the Holy Fifty Days. It is considered one of the Seven Major Feasts of the Lord. On this day, the Lord ascended by His divine power to Heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father. Following His resurrection, the Lord prepared His disciples for the service of preaching and did so for a period of thirty-nine days. He also taught them about the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. By his resurrection,

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22 – Feast of Pentecost

Table of Contents The rite of the Feast of Pentecost (Descent of the Holy Spirit). Introduction One of the Seven Major Feasts of the Lord is the descending of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, known as Pentecost Day (Fiftieth day). On this day, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples as tongues of fire, through which they were able to speak in different tongues and preach the news entrusted to them by our Lord Jesus Christ. This gift is the promise of the Father to the human race. After the Son reconciled the Father with the human race by

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23 – The Fast and Feast of the Apostles

Table of Contents The rite of the Fast and Feast of the Apostles, including the rite of the lakkan. Introduction The Fast of the Apostles is one of the oldest fasts in the church, and was previously known as the “Fast of Pentecost” or the “Fast of the Disciples.” However, during the Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., its name was changed to “Fast of the Apostles” which is carried through till today. In the Holy Dioscolia (collected in the third century), it is written: “After you complete the Feast of Pentecost, have a feast for another week… then we fast after

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24 – Feast of the Transfiguration

Table of Contents The rite of the Feast of the Transfiguration (13 Mesori). Introduction The Feast of the Transfiguration commences o­n 13 Mesori, which is 19 August. On the other hand, the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Western churches generally celebrate this feast o­n 6 August. The feast is o­ne of the Seven Minor Feasts of our Lord, which commemorates the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus o­n Mount Tabor, where He revealed His light and the glory of His divinity. The transfiguration was witnessed by three of His disciples: Peter, John, and his brother James. The word “transfiguration” means a

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25 – Fast and Feasts of the Virgin Mary

Table of Contents The rite of the Fast and Feasts of the Virgin Mary. Introduction and Rite The fast of the Virgin Saint Mary, which is 15 days long, begins on the first day of the Coptic month of Mesori. It ends on the sixteenth day of the month, when the Coptic Church celebrates the assumption of the body of the Virgin that was carried by the angels. This fast is one of the most beloved fasts by the lay people, to the extent that one can claim that the lay people enforced the fast on the church, being that

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26 – The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

Table of Contents The rite of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, including the Seventh Day Prayers and the Consecration of the Baptistery. Rite of the Seventh Day Prayers The priest comes o­n the seventh day of the birth of the child, and pours water in a basin, and puts a bit of oil and salt. Seven candles are lighted, and the priest begins by praying the Prayer of Thanksgiving, and then he raises incense. The Pauline Epistle (Heb. 1:5-12) is read, and then the Trisagion is chanted, which is followed by the reading of Psalm 112:221 and the Gospel of St. John

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27 – The Sacrament of the Unction of the Sick

Table of Contents The rite of the Sacrament of the Unction of the Sick. Introduction The service of the Unction of the Sick, one of the Seven Sacraments of the Church, is commonly referred to as the sacrament of “Kandeel” (literally: lamp) because the first Christians used to place the oil in a lamp with seven threads. Today, the oil is poured in a plate and seven threads are dipped in it. The number seven signifies the fullness of the Holy Spirit in the Church (Is. 61:1-3). The Lord Christ instituted this sacrament when instructing His disciples saying “Heal the sick…

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28 – The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony

Table of Contents The Rite of Betrothal and the Rite of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Rite of Betrothal In the Coptic Church, betrothal is only permissible between a male and a female, as long as both participants are believers and share the same religion/faith. Moreover, they must be mature and responsible enough for marriage. There are official rules against a relationship between relatives, such as the marriage of brothers to their sisters or marriage to one’s parents. Once the priest ensures that all conditions have been meet and acknowledges the willingness of those who are to be betrothed; he

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29 – Holy Ordination

Table of Contents The rites of Holy Ordination. Duties of the Deacon in the Church The word “deacon” was used by the early Christians to refer to the first rank of the priesthood. Many rules were mentioned in “The Collection of Safawy Ibn el-Asal” written in the thirteenth century, which sheds light on the importance of the deacon’s duty in the Church. In fact, even in the Apostles’ era there was a persisting need for this duty to fulfill the Apostles’ service and to complete the work of preaching. This is why our fathers the Apostles chose seven deacons, among them St.

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