Coptic Church

Living the Cross Practically

As Lent begins, the focus of this season should be on the cross. We should be thinking about how we can practically carry our cross to a world that is in dire need of Jesus' love.  

HOW TO BEAR YOUR CROSS PRACTICALLY By HH. Pope Shenouda III

‎1. The Cross is a sign of love, bestowal, sacrifice, and redemption, which you ‎carry each time you are tired in view of the practice of these virtues.‎ Try to get tired for the rest of another, and for his deliverance and his service; ‎and be confident that God does never forget the fatigue of charity, "and each one will ‎receive his own reward according to his own labor." (1 Cor. 3:8). Train yourself to ‎give: whatever you bestow and support and sacrifice...and train yourself to give from ‎your necessities, as the blessed widow had done (Luke 21:4)...Tire yourself in your ‎service, because the more you tire, the more your love will appear, and therefore the ‎greater your sacrifice will be.‎ ‎

Coptic Saints

The Saints are dear brothers who have struggled like us and have departed to Paradise. They are not dead, but are sleeping, as our Lord said (Jn 11:11) and as St. Paul called them (1 Thess 4:13).

Our early fathers spoke clearly and in detail about our relationship with Saints. The Saints in Paradise are the triumphant members of the same one church in which we are militant members. We, the triumphant and militants, are members of the Church, which is the one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. The triumphant become invisible members because of the death of their bodies, and then militants are the visible ones. This is man's point of view, but in God's sight, we are all a visible holy family.

They departed from earth, but did not leave the church; their love toward their brothers did not cease by their departure and dwelling in Paradise. The death of their bodies does not sever the bond of mutual love between them and us; on the contrary it increases in depth and strength. Their prayers for the salvation of the entire world never cease. They pray for us, and we venerate them as they are our holy and dear friends.

We venerate the icons of saints and put them on the iconstasis. Church walls and doors are hung with icons, also our homes, etc., as a sign of our communion with them in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Monastic Movement

The Coptic Church is known by her ascetic attitudes, not only because it was there the monastic movements started, but because these attitudes represent characteristics of her life of worship. These attitudes have an evangelic base:

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?..." (Mt 16:26)

"...Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor...and come, follow Me." (Lk 18:22)

"But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." (1 Cor 9:27)

Asecticism, in the Coptic Church, is not a goal in itself that believers desire to attain, but it is a practical response to divine love. Our Lord gave Himself on our behalf, and we in turn long to give ourselves a long-sacrifice for God's sake. We abstain from temporary pleasures as a sign of our internal desire to enjoy the divine delight through the new life in our Lord Jesus Christ. Believers, especially monks, have one purpose; to attain the inner heavenly Kingdom as a pledge to their hope for eternal life and meeting with God.

In Egpyt, all monastic forms started in the fourth century to reattract the heart of the Church to the inner life, after the country had accepted Christianity and the Emperor had opened his door to bishops and priest.

St. Antony, the father of monks, was the first Christian to live a life of consecrated solitude. As a hermit in the desert, he lived a long and saintly life that influenced countless people both in his time and for generations thereafter, even to this day.

Patrology

As we believe that the Coptic Orthodox Church is the Holy and Sacred Body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we also believe that there is a direct and strong connection between our Coptic Church's Fathers, our holy Apostles, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Therefore, the Faith, which was submitted by our Lord Jesus Christ to His holy Apostles, was the same faith submitted to their holy successors who preserved it and submitted it unchanged to their children throughout all the generations of Coptic Christianity. Without the Apostolic Fathers and those holy Fathers who followed in their footsteps we would not have the blessings of "the authentic and unchanged faith" in which we have today.


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Coptic Liturgy

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