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||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||

Maintenance & Preservation of Orthodoxy




H.G Bishop Moussa


In the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. One God. Amen.

Welcome again to the conference of the Year 7, 8 and 9 here in Melbourne. I would like to thank His Grace Bishop Suriel for inviting me to give this lecture amongst you. Indeed I am very happy to be with you here this day.

Just quickly we will revise yesterdays lecture. Yesterday, we knew that our Lord created man put him in the Paradise of Joy and then the man committed sin. So we will move to the next step and that is the altar.

Our father Abraham put our father Isaac as human sacrifice on the altar. We said that this represents the relationship between God and people, as individuals and as groups, all at the same time. We went on to the third step, which is the house of Eli, which includes the ladder between Earth and heaven and we said that the ladder was representing the incarnation of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We said there are 5 characteristics of our Redeemer and they are unlimited, a man, sinless, must die and resurrection. So our Lord Jesus Christ has these five characteristics and was incarnated from heaven and the ladder, which our father Jacob saw was representing the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We then went straight away to step four, which are barnacles. We said that the roof of the barnacle is black in its colour and this represents the afflictions or tribulation or temptation that might phase the people of God and that the barnacles are moveable, indicating that we are strangers in this world looking for eternal and heavenly life.

Step five was the temple and we said that the temple is for one nation and in one place. One place being Jerusalem, one nation being Jewish and this is not going to work for the church of God because the church of God must be global for all peoples.

In the sixth step we discussed the church. The Coptic Orthodox Church that was founded by St. Mark in the year 64 A.D which represents the authority number two. There are four authorities in this world we have to respect.

1. God

2. Church

3. Laws

4. Family

The church has three offices. These are Bishop, Priest and Deacons and the bishop is the highest degree of the hierarchy of the church.

Today we are going to understand together the maintenance or preservation of Orthodoxy in glorifying God. “Ortho” means sound, “Doxy” means glory. So today we are going to see how to maintain this doctrine, dogma and worship. Doctrine means teaching, dogma means principles and worship means that we have to worship God and we have received from our early church fathers.

We have to keep this faith in the sound way and Orthodox way but unfortunately some heretics swayed the church in the old days, thus forcing us to have three kinds of the councils.

Today’s lecture will then helps us to understand the doctrine and maintain the doctrine, how to worship God and how to preserve the three offices of the Orthodox Church.

As I said, there are three kinds of councils.

1. Diocesan counsels. The bishop determines to meet with the priests once a month or twice every three months to organise church pastoral and admin issues.

2. Provincial meetings. These are meetings between Metropolitan and the Bishops, not the Bishops and the priests. This is because the metropolitan and the bishops assist His Eminence.

3. Ecumenical councils. There are three famous councils that were held– 1. Nicea 2. Constantinople 3. Ephesus. We will take a quick look at each of thses and the role they have in the Orthodox Church.

The first ecumenical council was held in Nicea and it was chaired by His Holiness Pope Alexandra the 19th. We knew that Pope Botrous the 17th, had two disciples – one called Archelaous and the second called Alexander. Before His Holiness Pope Boutrous the 17th’s departure to heaven, he commanded his two disciples saying “Look my two disciples, you are going to be Popes after me. Archelaous, you are going to be the pope, and Alexander, you are going to be the pope after Archelaous. But take care very much. Don’t give Arius the absolution to chair the church because he was one who committed a very bad heresy in the past. Take care of this commandment, Archelaous”. Pope Boutrous the 17th died and Archelaous became the pope but he disobeyed the commandment of his father and gave made Arius one of the church members and this unfortunately made His Holiness Pope Archelaous last six months on his throne because our Lord was not happy with this resolution.

After this, Pope Alexander came and became the 19th Pope, so the 17th Pope was Boutrous and Pope Archelaous was 18th.

The council of Nicea was headed by Pope Alexander the 19th. The date of the Nicean council, the first ecumenical council was 325 A.D. It was attended by 318 bishops, 310 from the east and only 8 bishops from the west. Just imagine the power of the Eastern Church from the large number of bishops who attended. Also King Constantine, the son of the Queen Helena attended this meeting. This is the king who declared that the Christianity must be the religion of Constantinople.

In that first ecumenical meeting bishops travelled from their positions to Nicea, the second capital state in Turkey. While they were travelling, something amazing happened, one of the bishops who accompanied His Holiness Pope Alexander, Bishop Bitamon, a simple bishop knowing nothing of events happened with Arius. The rest of the 310 bishops were afraid that the bishop was too simple to defend.

The rest of the bishops decided to kill his donkey in order to prevent him from reaching Nicea. Unfortunately, Bishop Bitamon had one disciple and a donkey and his disciple also had a donkey but the colours of the two donkeys are different, one was white and the other was black. His Grace Bishop Bitamon donkey was black.

They decided in the night to kill the two donkeys, to cut their necks to prevent His Grace Bishop Bitamon from attending the Nicaean meeting because he was a very simple man and they might be defeated by Arius, who was very powerful. The next morning, His Grace Bishop Bitamon woke up early, while the sun was not yet out and asked his disciple, “Where are the donkeys?” His disciple went to find the donkeys but saw that their necks had been cut off and put beside the bodies. So he returned back quickly to his bishop and said, “Someone killed the two donkeys.” So the bishop went with his disciple and said “Do not worry my disciple, come”. In the dark he took the neck of the white donkey and put on the body of the black donkey because he couldn’t see and prayed and the donkey arose from the dead, so he did the same with the white donkey it arose from the dead and they were able to continued travelling to Nicea.

In the morning they saw that the bishop was on a white donkey with a black neck and his disciple was with a black donkey with a white neck. The 310 bishops heard this and were convinced that this bishop is a very holy man and took him to Nicea the first ecumenical council.

What decisions came from the first ecumenical council? I think there were three important decisions.

1. All the Christians must celebrate the resurrection the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover. This means we must not celebrate the resurrection with the Jewish because we are not with the Jewish in the doctrine, dogma, etc.

2. To give permission to priests to be a married priest. Before Nicea, there were no married priests. However, if the wife of the married priest dies, the priest is not allowed to remarry because this priest has consecrated his life to God.

3. Bishops can only be chosen from the monks.

Arius was born in 270 A. D. in Libya and became a priest. He was a very intelligent and intellectual man and a good priest but towards the end of his life, he started to say that the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is not that the same as the Fathers’. He said that the son was lesser than the Father and this was not sound doctrine. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord who is equal with the Father. So they excommunicated Arius from the church community.

This first ecumenical council held in Nicea and the first and most heroic man of this council was the disciple of His Holiness Pope Alexander, otherwise known as Pope Athanasius. Athanasius was only a deacon at that time, not a priest, hegoman or bishop but a faithful deacon. He defended the heretics of Arius and King Constantine said to him, “You are the hero of Orthodoxy.” We call Athanasius ‘Contra Mondum’ or ‘against the world’ because some people said to him, “Athanasius, the world is against you” and he said to them “’and I am against the world.”

The second ecumenical council was held in Constantinople and was chaired by His Holiness Pope Timothy in 381 A.D. 56 years after the first meeting in Nicea.

Only 150 bishops attended this meeting whereas the first council had 318. In this meeting they decided to excommunicate Macdonias, who said that the Holy Spirit was created and this is not right. The Holy Spirit is one of the Holy Trinity. So they excommunicated Macdonias and completed the creed of the Orthodoxy ‘we believe in the Holy Spirit, One God…etc’.


The third ecumenical council was held in Ephesus by His Holiness Pope Cyril the 1st 431 A.D with 200 bishops 50 years later. In this meeting they excommunicated Nastour, who was one of the big heretics of the church, who said that the Lord Jesus Christ has two natures, one is divinity and the other humanity. He separated these two natures, which is wrong because we say that our Lord Jesus Christ is one in nature and that His humanity parted not from His divinity without mingling, confusion or alteration.

I want to give you a small warning. There is a church in Sydney and they call themselves the Astourian church. They do not call themselves the Nastourians but in fact they are Nastourians with a priest called Father Nastour. Take care and recognize their name and don’t go because this church is not recognized by our church fathers.

These three meetings fall under our doctrine and we have to maintain our doctrine. His Holiness Pope Shenouda the third always conducts meetings to maintain and preserve the Orthodox doctrine/dogma.

In the 21st century there are heresies as well. The Mormon Church is one in which you must be aware of. There are many churches in the 21st century that are not sound in their faith. Pope Sheounda at least has conducted two meetings with the bishops to see to these issues in order to finalise these properly.

Now we will move to preserving and maintaining our worship. The human being consists of body, psyches, mind and spirit. Each one of us has a body. The psyches or the senses are like watching or hearing. Each one of us has their own mind and spirit.

We have three elements in our lives God, Satan and friends. What is the influence of God on your bodies? Just think about this! What is the commandment of our Lord concerning our bodies? Our body must be a temple of God. Gods’ influence on your bodies is positive because our bodies His temple.

What is the influence of God to our psyches? What is the commandment of our Lord Jesus Christ concerning the psyches? What is the commandment of our Lord Jesus concerning your eye? If your eye is so simple, your body is light. You must have a pure and simple vision.

What about Gods’ commandment concerning our minds? You must try to think of only good and not evil by being a committed Christian. What about the influence of Satan concerning these elements? Are they positive like Gods’ or negative? If they are it is negative, how? What does Satan tell us about our bodies? If you want to pray, what does Satan tell you? ‘You are too tired; take a break you have been working all the day.’ Is this a positive or negative influence? It is negative. What is the influence of Satan concerning our psyches? Your sight, hearing and touch. Are they negative too? He might tell us, ‘take this, it is yours or touch that boy or girl it is only natural, watch those bad movies’. Satan only influences our psyches and minds negatively. How? Who killed his own brother? Cane did in the book of Genesis. How could he kill him? He envied his brother Abel and killed him. Who put this bad idea in his head? Be careful Satan influences the mind of man in a very negative way causing us to sin.

What about the spirit? How hoes Satan influence our spirit? What is the work of the spirit of the human beings? Praising God, being holy and being a committed Christian. Satan wants to destroy man by putting negative influences in our minds, bodies through our senses and spirit.


Do our friends influence us negatively or positively? Both! How? If you have a good friend they will influence you positively and if you have a bad friend they will influence you negatively like Satan.

We want to mention some people in the Old Testament who gave bad advice to their friends. Job and his wife were given bad advice, his friends said him, “Job, please die because you have no hope and you will not be able to rise again from this tribulation”

Some friends can influence you through peer pressure by offering you to try just one cigarette. Do not give then the satisfaction by obeying them because once you start smoking not only will you regret it but it will hard to stop which will cause many problems with friends, family and health.

Another example is drugs. What if one of your friends says “taste this drug, try it won’t kill you” you’ll become addicted.

Girls, what bad advice do you get from your friends? If one of your friends says to you go out with that guy and take him on as your boyfriend, would you? We call this the negative influences of friends to the people of God. Maybe one of your friends will say to you, ‘your all grown up and have your own opinions, don’t depend on you parent’s on such matters, at the end of the day you find yourself alone with no help and no experience. It is very important to choose your friends from committed Christians, from the good people of God, who fear God and who are holy.

What do we do if we are subjected to bad influences from Satan and from friends? We must have a spiritual father, remember what His Grace Bishop Suriel said yesterday, “Tomorrow we are going to have the Mass and the fathers/priest will be here.” So you have to choose a spiritual father, take his advice, guidance and blessings. You have to choose a spiritual father, and tell him what’s going on, be smart get straight to the point. If you are ashamed to tell him the details then just give the title and he’ll know the rest. eg. “Father I have committed a sin, which is this. What is your advice?” You must also pray the before and after confession prayers from the Agpeya.

Try sitting with myself before confessing with a piece of paper and pen writing down things that have happened to you, even in point form and remember to always be frank because he is your friend and your holy father. How many people have a father of confession? How many do not have a father of confession? When was the last time you confessed? Was it a one week ago, one month or a one year ago? We want to concentrate on confession because this is a way for the people to overcome the Satans influences and bad friends with our minds, bodies, psyche and spirit.

We have to have spiritual discipline. What is the meaning of spiritual discipline? It is spiritual order. We have to ask our father of confession to give us spiritual discipline. How can we pray the morning pray, how can we pray the sunset prayer, how can we pray during the day, what are the arrow prayers? (repeating ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon us’). How many matanioas are you going to do in each day? How many chapters of the Holy Bible do you read? How many virtues am I going to gain? What is the service that I must give to the church while I am a youth? So you must have spiritual discipline.


The right spiritual atmosphere is an important element in maintaining worship. What do we mean by this? We mean that we over come these negative influence through the right environment. Don’t see the bad films and say to the Lord “Oh God, please give me the strength to over come this bad film”

An important question here is did the man create the place or did the place create the man? Man created the place. An example is Adam who was Paradise but he still committed the sin. The prophet Daniel was in the Den of lions and he was very holy man. So don’t ever say that the place lead you to sin, it is you. We live in a multicultural society where every one in Australia is open to do anything.

Only you can create the good place for you. Who and where is the best spiritual atmosphere for you?

One last point is if you want to live in a good environment you, your family and friends must try to get you friend closer to God. With this plan in mind you are going to be one with your friend and God.

Now we are going to answer some question:


Why is it wrong to listen to rock and roll music? Is it a good or bad influence?

Satan uses it as a bad influence against us.

Why is it bad to listen to rap music? And why is it rude to dance?

The same answer. Satan uses it as a bad influence against us. It is a bad influence from Satan or friends concerning the body, especially if there is some contact or some touching.

Is it true that the Mormons can marry more than one wife?

The doctrine of the Mormon Church is not a sound one and we have so many books on the Mormon Church. We are going to make a research into this church, but they have many strange beliefs. Just be aware of them.

If someone kills a person and repents, is God going to forgive him?

God will forgive him depending on his repentance but he will still receive punishment in law and from his father of confession.

If I am not comfortable with my father of confession, what shall I do?

Do I change and do I have to tell him?

I will answer this question from the mouth of His Holiness Pope Shenouda because someone asked him this question. ‘If anyone is not comfortable with his confession father, you can change with or without him’. However, I do believe if you are comfortable enough tell your previous confession father the reasons behind the change.

Is it wrong for someone to be superstitious?

You must have the faith and not be afraid.

Is there any chance for the devil to repent?

No, why? He has already been judged. The devil is a spirit not a body. When a person commits a sin, he uses both body and spirit to repent.

Do you have to be sinless, without any sin at all to enter into heaven?

We are doing our best to be sinless, so just abide in God.

If you do not confess all your sins before you die, can we still reach heaven because we have been baptized?

If you do not confess your sin, it will not be forgiven you. Baptism is the first step in the Christian life and way. Just try and God will help you and you will be a good man.

If a little child dies suddenly without baptism, does he go to hell?

The child carries the sin of Adam and those who have not been baptized cannot go to heaven. Same with those whom the preaching of God did not reach them; will they fall under the judgement of God? We do not know what will happen to them but God is very merciful.

Is it wrong to have a boyfriend or girlfriend?

It is not the suitable time; you must be at a mature level.

When you are in the altar, do you look to the altar or to the east?

You must look to the altar.

Why do priests and bishops wear an aema?

In the past all churches were domes and the hat represents the dome of the old church.

Why does the Bible use the number 10, 3 and 40 most of the time?

40 is 4 multiplied by 10 and 4 is the earth –North, South, East and West. 10 is the completion number and 3 is the Holy Trinity.

If you are a deacon, and you don’t go to church for a long time, is this a sin?

Yes, because as a deacon you have certain responsibilities such as the handing of candles, the censor, to clean the church, etc.

Why can’t we have a tattoo or a cross above the elbow?

This is wrong because the body is the temple of God and you are not permitted to destroy the temple of God.

If you repent, but don’t confess, would God forgive you?

No because you have to have the absolution from the father of confession and he has to pray for you.

What if you forget some of you sins while confessing?

When you remember them, you must go to confess again and before you go, you must sit with and evaluate yourself.

What if someone dies before they confess?

You must manage your time now because you do not know when you are going to die. You must be prepared for confession at all times.



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||    Prayer of the First Hour    ||    Third Hour    ||    Sixth Hour    ||    Ninth Hour    ||    Vespers (Eleventh Hour)    ||    Compline (Twelfth Hour)    ||    The First Watch of the midnight prayers    ||    The Second Watch of the midnight prayers    ||    The Third Watch of the midnight prayers    ||    The Prayer of the Veil    ||    Various Prayers from the Agbia    ||    Synaxarium