St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church
                                                Cleveland, Ohio
                                                   FOCUS ON
                                           THE COPTIC FAMILY
                               A Scriptural and Liturgical Guide
                                                   Based on
                                    the Coptic Orthodox Lectionary
                               by Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D.Min

                                                 Published By

                               St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church
                                     2100 E. Pleasant Valley Rd.
                                        Cleveland, Ohio 44131
                                                (216) 642-7691

                                       Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail,
                          Pastor of St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church,
                                           Cleveland, Ohio.
                         B.Div. Coptic Orthodox Theological Seminary,
                                          Cairo, Egypt 1972.
                         M.Div, D.Min. Ashland Theological Seminary,
                                         Ashland, Ohio, 1986.
                                         ISBN: 977-00-1426-5


                                          TABLE OF CONTENTS




     The Head of the Church
     The Weekdays Lectionary
     The Body of the Church


  V. HOLY WEEK OF PASCHA [Passion Week]







Although some books and studies have addressed the  subject of the enhancement
of  the devotional  life of the  Copts living in the land  of immigrants, none
have approached this issue by making such extensive use of the Coptic Orthodox
Lectionary (Katamaros).

The importance of the  spiritual growth of  the family unit cannot be stressed

This can be clearly illustrated in the wonderful verse from the  Bible: "I and
my family worship the Lord" (Josh 24:15). Without having the Lord constitute a
major part of the family unit, this family unit has a serious defect. There is
no better way to encourage  spiritual training and growth  than by reading the
Bible, daily and applying its principles to use.

The Coptic Orthodox Church,  is indeed, a  biblical church which relies on the
Holy Bible, as the first source of teaching.

The Coptic  Orthodox Lectionary (Katamaros), containing readings  for Sundays,
the Weekdays, the Great  Lent, Holy Week,  and the  Pentecost Lectionary, is a
comprehensive and thorough study of the various stages  of our Lord's  life on
earth: the Annunciation, His  Birth, His Baptism,  His Ministry, His Suffering
on the cross, His Resurrection, His Ascension and His Second Coming.

By reference to the  Saints and their holy lives,  we ensure a continuation of
the Apostolic tradition.

The objective  of this  book is to provide an  effective and concrete guide in
the utilization of the Lectionary. It provides spiritual direction, offering a
course of daily readings for each member of the family to follow.

The book  can be  divided into five  segments. The  first segment includes the
readings of the Sundays throughout the  year  which  deal with the work of the
Holy Trinity: The love of God the Father,  the grace  of the Son Jesus Christ,
and the fellowship and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The second segment  is a study  of the lectionary  for  the remainder  of  the
weekdays, which is based on the lives of the Saints.

In the third segment, which deals with the Lenten season, the Lectionary sheds
light on the relationship between the prophecies read in the Old Testament and
their fulfillment in the New Testament.

The fourth  segment,  an analysis of the lectionary  for "Passion  Week", is a
close follow-up of our Lord's suffering day by day and hour by hour.

Finally, the fifth segment is  meant to be read  for  the Period of  Pentecost
where  the lectionary portrays  the Lord  Jesus  Christ as  being   indeed the
Conqueror  whose love is  everlasting. It also brings out  the blessings,  and
fruits of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I sincerely hope  that this book  will be  a source  of inspiration to you and
that through the use of the lectionary. your faith  will be strengthened, your
spiritual life increased and your ability to  achieve unity of spirit and mind
in your family enhanced.

May God be with you through the prayers and intercession  of the Mother of God
St. Mary, St. Mark the Evangelist, and His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.

Glory Be to God forever. Amen.

                  Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D.Min.


                                         GENERAL INTRODUCTION
                                      A. The Christian Family *

The first family on earth was  not formed of  two  persons,  a man and a woman
(Adam and Eve) but it rather consisted of three, God, Adam and Eve.

Any newly formed.family consists initially of three members: God, and  the two
spouses. That is why, when a family begets a child he is  the child of the two
parents, and also the child of God, by baptism, thus  belonging to the church.

Marriage that does not have God as a member is not a holy family.

God makes the two spouses into one when they receive the sacrament of marriage
through  the Holy Spirit.  Hence, the Bible text reads:   "Whom God joins, man
cannot separate" [Mt. 19:6].

The children that are the fruit  of a marriage are called  by the Holy Spirit:
"The inheritance from the Lord".

Marriage in our church is carried out inside the church -  the  house of God -
by the priest. Every spouse feels that he or  she has  received the other as a
gift from the hands of God who blessed and sanctified their marriage.

The Bible  and  the church history offer us   many instances of  good families
living with God, according to His words. How wonderful is this  biblical verse
"I and my family worship the Lord" [Joshua 24:15].

We want our  Christian homes to be  a source of spiritual  inspiration  to our
children where they receive the first lessons about loving God, and living the
true Christian life.  Parents should set a  good example for their children to
follow,  in every good deed,  and in  living  a  righteous  life. We  want our
families to conduct Bible studies in our homes, 'a Servant and a  Priest offer
this handbook, therefore, to develop the devotional life  of the Coptic family
living as immigrants in  this land through  the utilization of  the Lectionary
(The Katamaros) of the Coptic Orthodox Church".

                                          B. The Lectionary

The Holy Bible   is our  source   of  knowledge  about  the  will   of God; it
illustrates to us God's plan for the  salvation of man. The  Holy Bible is the
Word of God that announces to us the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, His
death, resurrection, ascension, and His second coming.

It is therefore appropriate to say that the Holy  Bible is  the primary source
in  Christian education,  and  consequently our Church  makes  it  of   utmost
importance  to educate its  members in the contents of  the Holy Book,  and to
interpret such accurately to enable them to lead their lives accordingly.

Moreover, our glorious Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit,  has established a
method of teaching the Holy Bible to its members by means  of which a thorough
and complete study  is  covered. The study   comprises  chapters from  various
sections of the Bible, mainly covering the  various aspects and  stages of our
Lord's life  on  earth: the  annunciation,  birth,  baptism, abstinence,   His
suffering  on the Cross, the resurrection,  ascension, and  His second coming.
The Church also mentions its saints on their holy days to remind the people of
their model lives.

The Church  presents this method  of  study through its  text  readings in the
Divine Liturgy to ensure the unity of mind and spirit among  its members. Such
a  system is followed  year  after year  not  only   to guarantee  a  thorough
comprehension  of  its  teachings by its members,   but  also   to ensure  the
continuation of the Apostolic Tradition without interruption.

The Basis of this System:

The Church selects out chapters from the Gospels,  Acts, the Pauline Epistles,
Catholic Epistles, Psalms and parts of the Old Testament (read only during the
holy days of Jonah,  Lent and the Holy Week).  These  readings recited in  the
Divine Liturgy are contained in a book called "The  Lectionary," a  Greek word
literally  meaning "a section for  every  day." It  is an  ecclesiastical book
which contains sections from the  Holy Bible divided and  assigned to each day
of the year.

Sections of the Lectionary:

1. For Sundays:  present to us  Jesus Christ in  various aspects of  His life,
   work, teachings and miracles.

2. For weekdays: present to us the Holy Saints of the  Church and its martyrs.
   Such sections are divided  into  groups,  each of which has its own special

3. The Great Lent.

4. The Holy Week.

5. Pentecost.

Truly, the Holy Bible presents to us a unique method to learn about
the life of Christ without contradiction, making us apt to live wholly.

* Cf. H.H. Pope Shenouda III, El-Osra El-Masihya wa El-Kerat El-
Kanasia, St. Mary, Church and Monastery 1982, pp. 3-11.

                                                MESSAGES READ
                                      IN THE SUNDAYS LECTIONARY

There are forty Sundays  in the  Sundays Lectionary (the remaining  Sundays of
the year are included in the Great Lent, Holy Week, and Pentecost Lectionary).
These Sundays are distributed as follows:

1. Four Sundays in each month of the following:  Thuout, Paopi, Athor, Khoiak,
   Tobi, Mekher, Paoni, Epep, Mesori; these are 36 Sundays.

2. The two last Sundays of the month Pakhons.

3. One Sundays of the month Nasie.

4. The fifth Sunday of  any month  all through  the year, the first and second
   Sundays of Pakhons and all Sundays of Paramhat and Baramuda are included in
   the Great Lent, Holy Week and Pentecost Lectionary.

Sundays Rule:

All readings of those forty Sundays talk about one subject: The work of
the Holy Trinity. This subject is divided into three main parts:

1. The love of God the Father to mankind.

2. The grace of the Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to his people.

3. The fellowship and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

[1] The Love of God the Father to Mankind. All selections read on the Thuout
    Sundays deal with this subject.

[2] The Grace of the  Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ,  to His People. All the
    readings on the Sundays of the months from Paopi through Pakhons deal with
    this subject as follows:

A. The Paopi Sundays: All the four Sunday readings deal with the subject
   "The power of the Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, on the souls".

B. The Athor Sundays: All the four Sunday readings of this months deal
   with the subject "The gospel of the Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ,
   to His people".

C. The Khoiak Sundays: All the four Sunday readings of this month deal
   with the subject "The appearance of the Only Begotten Son, Jesus
   Christ, among His people".

D. The Tobi Sundays: All the four Sunday readings of this month deal
   with the subject "The salvation of the Only Begotten Son, Jesus
   Christ, to the Gentiles".

E. The Mekher Sundays: All the four Sunday readings of this month
   deal with the subject "The spiritual food of the Only Begotten Son,
   Jesus Christ, to His people".

F. The Pakhons Sundays: All the four Sunday readings of this month
   deal with the subject "The dominance of the Only Begotten Son, Jesus
   Christ, over His people".

[3]  The Fellowship and Gifts  of the Holy  Spirit. All the selections read on
    the Paoni Sundays deal with this subject.

Following are the readings for the remaining Sundays of the year.

[4] The Help of  the Savior to His Apostles.  All the selections  read  on the
    Epep Sundays deal with this subject.

[5] The Savior's Care for His Church. All the  selections  read  on the Mesori
    Sundays deal with this subject.

[6] The  Second  Coming of Jesus  Christ  and the End  of   the Time. All  the
    selections read on the Nasie Sunday deal with this subject.

It should be noted that  if any  of these months  has five weeks,  we read the
fifth Sunday messages which talk about the miracle  of the five loaves and the
two  fish. If any  feast day of Jesus  Christ comes on  a Sunday, we  read the
message of this feast day and not the Sunday message.


                                        THE TRINITY OF LOVE *

God is Love:

Jesus, by His coming to the world and His death  on the Cross for us, revealed
to us the nature of  God that was  not known to mankind.  By this  coming  and
giving Himself, He declared to us that God is Love.  As it is  clearly written
in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one  and  only Son,
that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have eternal life."

Man did not  recognize that love  was God's  nature, until   the appearance of
Jesus in the flesh. "This is how God showed His love among us; He sent His one
and only Son into the world, that we might live through Him" [1 John 4:9].

The Godly love as declared by the coming of Jesus and  His death  on the Cross
reveals  to us the secret  of eternal life;  for what   Jesus, the Son of God,
performed on earth, is an objective expression of the eternal love between Him
and the  Father. That  is  why,  in His  last prayer to the  Father,  He said,
"Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me  where  I am, and to see
My glory, the glory You have given Me before  the creation of the world" [John

"God is Love," truly means that in Him,  there is a loving Person  and a loved
One, otherwise there would have been no love. The loved and the loving must be
present together  without a beginning even  before  His creation of  the world
because God is Love before the creation. For God does not change like shifting
shadows [James 1:17], and  as  it is written in Malachi  3:6, "I, the Lord, do
not change." Accordingly, the love of God  to mankind cannot be  the beginning
of the loving nature  of God, because  this  implies that God has changed  and
that love was introduced to His nature with the creation of man.

But the fact and the truth is  that inside God,  there is the  Heavenly Father
who is the source and origin of the Godly love. The Father is the  loving One.
He is the ever compassionate, who was never created.

The Son is the loved Person, being loved infinitely by the Father. He  is "The
only Son, who is at  the Father's side" [John  1:18]. And the word "side" here
refers to "the side of  love" because God has  no material "side" like man; as
there is also  the "Spirit of  Love," meaning the  Holy Spirit who  originates
from the Father and rests in the Son, it is the loving Spirit of the Father to
the Son, as it is the loving Spirit of the Son to the Father. As it is written
in Hebrews 9:14, "The blood of Christ, Who  through the eternal Spirit offered
Himself unblemished to God." And the Holy Spirit of Love is the one  who pours
the love of God into our hearts, "because God has poured out His love into our
hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us" [Romans 5:5].

God is  Trinity: Father, Son,  and Holy Spirit  that cannot be  separated from
each other, a "loving  Father," a "beloved  Son," and a  "Spirit of Love." The
current of Godly love flows without interruption between the  Father, the Son,
and the Holy Spirit, and from within this Heavenly  life, the  Father sent His
beloved Son who became Incarnate for the salvation of mankind and to bring him
to the unity of  Godly love; in other  words, to participate  into the life of
the Trinity. Jesus  Christ has instructed His disciples  to baptize  those who
believe in Him, in the Name of the Holy Trinity: the Father,  the Son, and the
Holy Spirit; and the Baptism  in the name of the  Trinity means to participate
in the life of Trinity, as it  is written in 1  John 1:34, "And our fellowship
is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write  this to make your
joy complete." The Baptism in the name of  the Holy  Trinity opens  for us the
world of Godly life, so we move from the state of  slavery to  freedom, and we
become beloved children to the Father. That  is  how  God the  Father of Jesus
Christ, the loving  Father,  became our Father by  our union with  His beloved
Son, Jesus Christ. "In   love, He predestined  us  to be adopted  as  His sons
through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely
given to us in the one He loves" [Ephesians 1:5,  6]. Also, by the Baptism, we
became  brothers to  the First Son,  Jesus Christ, and that  is why  Jesus was
incarnate  and  took our shape, so  we can share  with Him in His inheritance.
"Now, if we are children, then we are heirs  - heirs  of God and co-heirs with
Christ, if indeed we share in  His sufferings in order  that we may also share
in His glory, for those  God foreknew, He  also predestined to be conformed to
the likeness of His Son, that  He might be the  firstborn among many brothers"
[Romans 8:17-29].

Through  Baptism, we  became a temple for the  Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love
that Jesus pours  into our hearts from the  Father and that  is how we  became
sons to the Father,  brothers  to Jesus and a temple  for  the Holy Spirit. In
other words, Jesus  opens for us  the door to enter into  the circle of  Godly
love, that runs into the life of the Holy Trinity.

The final goal for Christ's coming:

Christ has clarified, in His last prayer, the final goal for His mission as He

"Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name; the Name You gave Me, so
that they may be one as  We are one. My prayer  is not for  them alone. I pray
also for those who will believe in Me through their message,  that all of them
may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in
Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.  I have given them the
glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one; I in  them and You
in Me. May they be  brought to  complete unity to let the  world know that You
sent Me and have loved them  even as You  have loved Me. Father, I  want those
You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You
have given  Me because You    loved Me   before  the creation  of the   world.
Righteous Father,  though the world does not  know You, I  know You, and  they
know that You have sent Me. I have  made You known to them,  and will continue
to make You known in order that the love You have for  Me, may be  in them and
that I myself be in them" [John 17:11,20-26].

Jesus, the Son of God, converses  with His Father  on His way  to the Cross to
offer Himself in love for His disciples and for His  believers,  "So that they
may be one" united by love through the Holy Spirit, in Jesus Christ. Jesus has
united with us by His  incarnation and by the  work of the  Holy Spirit in us.
And by our union with  Jesus,  we become united in  the Father, Who  is in the
Son. Jesus uncovered to us the love of the Father as He loved Him.

At the end of the prayer, we discover that the world did  not know the Father.
"No one knows  who the Son is except  the  Father, and no   one knows who  the
Father is  except  the Son and those to  whom  the Son chooses to reveal Him."
Jesus knows the Father because He is His Son and He tells His Father about the
Disciples and believers. "No one has ever seen God, but God  the only Son, who
is at the Father's side, has made Him known" [John 1:18].

The Holy Spirit pours in us love from God  and  the Holy Spirit attracts us to
Jesus  and "no  one can say  'Jesus  is Lord,'  except by the  Holy Spirit" [1
Corinthians 12:3].

The  living Christ remains on the  side of the Father teaching  us the love of
the Father as He promised, "In order that the love  You have  for Me may be in
them and that I myself be in them."

*Shenouda, El-Osra El-Masihya wa El-Kerat El-Kanasia, pp. 18-23.

                                    THE HOLY FEASTS OF THE CHURCH

I. The Coptic New Year.

II. The Head of the Church
    A. Feasts of the Savior: Major and Minor
    B. His Glorified Cross
    C. His Glorious Tomb

III. The Body of the Church
    A. The Mother of God
    B. The Angels
    C. John the Baptist
    D. The Children of Bethlehem
    E. The Three Fathers: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
    F. The Prophets and Innocents
    G. The Preachers
      1. The twelve Disciples
      2. The seventy Apostles
      3. The evangelists
    H. The Martyrs
    I. The Fathers of the Church
      1. The patriarchs
      2. The bishops
    J. The Monks


                                         WEEKDAYS LECTIONARY
The weekdays lectionary is the biblical reading book which we read during the
 weekdays all over the year. The Coptic Calendar is divided into twelve equal
months, each of which has thirty days in addition to a small month of five or
six days, according to the type of year.

The Feast Days of the Holy Saints of the  Church  and its  martyrs are divided
into groups, each of which has its own readings.

There are sixty-nine different readings  for the whole weekdays lectionary, so
we select the proper reading according to these groups.

The Weekdays Rule:

Readings from Psalms,  Gospels, Pauline Epistles,  Catholic Epistles, and Acts
follow this rule:

-- The Gospel reading and the Pauline Epistle reading touch the same

-- Both Gospel readings of Vespers and Matins complement those of the

-- The Catholic Epistles and Acts readings complement the topic touched
   by the Pauline Epistle.

A great historian said once that a good way to start historical analysis is by
asking of a particular people what  holidays they celebrate on their calendar.
To understand the United States,  for example, we  have  to look first  at its
calendar and the great events it celebrates, such as  Thanksgiving Day and the
Fourth of July.

In the same  way, the religious calendar of  the Orthodox Church  reflects and
expresses the whole history and faith of the Church.

St. Augustine  said: "If you believe what  you like in the  Gospel and  reject
what you hate, it is not the Gospel you believe in but yourself."


                               The Special and Transferred Days

The Coptic Church has devoted all the days of the year except  Sundays for the
celebration of  the  feast  days of  the   saints,  and the  martyrs,  whether
individual or groups who participated  in its foundation and strengthening, so
that all the readings selected on these days are based on the  Synaxarium, the
book which contains the life  story of these saints  and  martyrs according to
the date of their martyrdom, as follows:

1. If the Synaxarium of a certain day included the life story of more than one
   saint at a certain date,  the Church chose the readings to be based on only
   one of these saints.

2. As  some of these  saints are considered to   be   in a higher degree  than
   others,  the Church devotes the readings to be based upon the greater saint
   to be read in the feast days of the saints of the same groups but with less
   rank.  The feast days of the great saints are called the special days,  and
   the feast days of the saints of lesser rank are called the transferred

The 22nd of Tobi  is   one  of  the special  days in   which we celebrate  the
commemoration  of Abba  Anthony, father  of all the  monks,  so that   certain
readings were selected to suit  this occasion. If  the Church  celebrated  the
commemoration of another monk, e.g. St. Illarion the monk  (24th of Paopi), or
St. Bimin, the confessor and monk (9th of Khoiak), or St. Isaac, the priest of
the cells (19th of Pakhons), or St.  Abanoub, the  confessor and monk (23rd of
Paoni), it uses the  same  readings originally used in  the  feast day of  St.
Anthony, i.e., it had transferred their feast day readings to the 22nd of Tobi
which is  a special day.  The same applies to all   other groups.  In order to
understand this rule clearly, the next table indicates the number of the daily
readings used in the weekday lectionary. This  table is composed on sixty-nine
basic readings for the special days which are  outlined by  the shape < >, and
to  which  we refer all the  other transferred days  according  to the numbers
shown in the table.

Note: Because the Coptic Church has a special  Calendar (the Coptic Calendar),
there is  a  table  showing the  Coptic months  and  their equivalents in  the
Western Calendar. This table  is  entitled, "Comparison Between the Coptic and
Western  Calendar," and it follows the  table of the  special  and transferred

                      NUMBERS OF DAILY READINGS

1   < 1>  39   54   18  <29>  15   19   48  <46>  29   39   17  <65>
2   < 2>  54   24   52   54  <40>  23   56   57  <51>  45   39  <66>
3    54   18   15   46  <30>  48   24   54   29   23  <54> <57> <67>
4     3   41   23   55  <31>  12   15   19   24   17   17    3  <68>
5    39   18   22    3   21   13   23    3    3   37  <55>  38  <23>
6     3   39   18   54  <32>  17   22   39   43   56   29   39  <69>
7    54   48   43   40   18   54   19    3   54   43   40    9
8   < 3>  21  <14>  41   54   32   55   39   43   49   13   47
9    23   18  <15>  37   13   57   48   37    4    3   45   17
10   39   41   39   23  <33>  55    5   48  <57>  19   23   22
11   44   54    9   52  <34>  24    8   39   23   44   44   23
12   15  <10> <16>  48   35   48   24   54   18   16   17    5
13   18   48   54    9  <36>  44  <41>  19   37   67   23  <58>
14   57  <11>  23   44   48   18    8   24   57   23   13   18
15   29   56  <17>  18    3   52   39   29   10   17   57   39
16  < 4>  24   52   22   44    9   24   31   31  <52>  31   46
17  < 5>  54  <18>  57   52   44   23   55   23   37   39  <59>
18  < 6>  24   55   12   23   18   56   44   13   24   55   54
19  < 7>  56   41   23   19   48   29   23   37   43   19   13
20   39   40   45    3   29   24   24   56  <48>   3  <56>  19
21  < 8>   3   18   55   46   55   58    8   57   46   41   39
22   44  <12> <19> <25> <37>  23   54   24   29   19   44    3
23    8   23   23    3   23   44    3  <43>  45   37   22   43
24   29   37  <20>  31   39   23   24   56  <49>  57   17   23
25    3   21  <21>  40   48   56   11   39   21   29   21  <60>
26  < 9>  29   19   39  <38>   3   39   56  <50>   3    3  <61>
27   17  <13> <22>  23   44   18   13  <44>  23   45   43   43
28   19   48  <23> <26>  17   56    4   21   18   54   39  <62>
29   39   22  <24> <27>  39   31  <42>  29   57   48   55  <63>
30   18   48   54  <28> <39>  51   25  <45>  54  <53>  19  <64>

         Comparison between the Coptic and Western Calendar

Day THU    PAO    ATH    KHO    TO     MEK   FAM FAR PAK PAO EP  MES NAS  Days
of  OUT    PI     OR     IAK    BI     HIR   ENO MOU HON NY  EP  ORI IE   of
Cop.                                                                      Cop.
Mon.                                                                      Mon.
    Sep    Oct    Nov    Dec    Jan    Feb   Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep

     C  L   C  L   C  L   C  L   C  L   C  L

 1  11 12  11 12  10 11  10 11   9 10   8  9  10   9   9   8   8   7   6   1
 2  12 13  12 13  11 12  11 12  10 11   9 10  11  10  10   9   9   8   7   2
 3  13 14  13 14  12 13  12 13  11 12  10 11  12  11  11  10  10   9   8   3
 4  14 15  14 15  13 14  13 14  12 13  11 12  13  12  12  11  11  10   9   4
 5  15 16  15 16  14 15  14 15  13 14  12 13  14  13  13  12  12  11  10   5
 6  16 17  16 17  15 16  15 16  14 15  13 14  15  14  14  13  13  12  11   6
 7  17 18  17 18  16 17  16 17  15 16  14 15  16  15  15  14  14  13       7
 8  18 19  18 19  17 18  17 18  16 1t  15 16  17  16  16  15  15  14       8
 9  19 2O  19 20  18 19  18 19  17 18  16 17  18  17  17  16  16  15       9
10  20 21  20 21  19 20  19 20  18 19  17 18  19  18  18  17  17  16      lO
11  21 22  21 22  20 21  20 21  19 20  18 19  20  19  19  18  18  17      11
12  22 23  22 23  21 22  21 22  20 21  19 20  21  20  20  19  19  18      12
13  23 24  23 24  22 23  22 23  21 22  20 21  22  21  21  20  20  19      13
14  24 25  24 25  23 24  23 24  22 23  21 22  23  22  22  21  21  20      14
15  25 26  25 26  24 25  24 25  23 24  22 23  24  23  23  22  22  21      l5
16  26 27  26 27  25 26  25 26  24 25  23 24  25  24  24  23  23  22      16
17  27 28  27 28  26 27  26 27  25 26  24 25  26  25  25  24  24  23      17
18  28 29  28 29  27 28  27 28  26 27  25 26  27  26  26  25  25  24      18
19  29 30  29 30  28 29  28 29  27 28  26 27  28  27  27  26  26  25      19
20  30  1  30 30  29 30  29 30  28 29  27 28  29  28  28  27  27  26      2O
21   1  2  31  1  30  1  30 31  29 30  28 29  30  29  29  28  28  27      21
22   2  3   1  2   1  2  31  1  30 31    1    31  30  30  29  29  28      22
23   3  4   2  3   2  3   1  2  31  1    2     1   1  31  30  30  29      23
24   4  5   3  4   3  4   2  3   1  2    3     2   2   1   1  31  30      24
25   5  6   4  5   4  5   3  4   2  3    4     3   3   2   2   1  31      25
26   6  7   5  6   5  6   4  5   3  4    5     4   4   3   3   2   1      26
27   7  8   6  7   6  7   5  6   4  5    6     5   5   4   4   3   2      27
28   8  9   7  8   7  8   6  7   5  6    7     6   6   5   5   4   3      28
29   9 10   8  9   8  9   7  8   6  7    8     7   7   6   6   5   4      29
30  10 11   9 10   9 10   8  9   7  8    9     8   8   7   7   6   5      3O


                                                THE GREAT LENT
                                                Introduction *
                                    Readings During the Great Lent

1. The Nature of the Texts

The texts read during the  Great Lent are  different from those  which we read
during the rest of the year. During Lent, the Church has no Vespers  except on

2. Prophecies

The days  of Lent, together  with the three  holy days  of  Jonah and the Holy
Week, proclaim prophecies from the Old Testament.

On the weekdays of the seven weeks of Lent,  we read the prophecies before the
prime Gospel.

As  for Saturdays and  Sundays, which  are  considered  as  holidays, in which
happiness and delight should prevail, we do not read prophecies.

3. Topics of Readings

The Church divided Lent  into seven weeks: the first  week is for preparation,
in which  all readings   talk about spiritual   growth, repentance,  and  deep
fellowship  with our  Lord  Jesus Christ.  Subsequent  weeks  are  for general

Readings from Psalms, Gospels,  Pauline and Catholic Epistles and  Acts follow
the same system as other days of the year (see Weekdays Introduction).

The Church has a strong  program during this fast put  by the Fathers  through
the  inspiration  of the Holy  Spirit, which became  to the  soul  a source of
survival and   spiritual filling, and  to   the Church a   source  of communal
repentance and deep fellowship  with the Lord  Jesus Christ  in  His fast. For
Christ fasted for us and with us--certainly He is a partner with  each fasting

The monks used to  take this   opportunity  of the  holy  fast to leave  their
monasteries for the wilderness in solitude and  in the fullness of the company
of the Lord Jesus, and the fellowship of His Holy Spirit. At the  end of Lent,
they returned to their monasteries (as was recorded for us in  the tale of St.
Mary the Egyptian and her meeting with St. Zosima the Priest).

In addition, the Church considered the Great Lent a dedication program for the
teaching of catechumens who were admitted to the faith, and who at Easter were
baptized in the name of the Trinity--that is, they were buried and resurrected
with Christ. The procession which the Church conducts these days for the newly
baptized baby, was in  the  past  the  procession  of  Resurrection which  the
catechumens   experienced at their  baptism  and resurrection  in  the Lord at

These days,   the   Church as  a body  practices   absolute abstention,  daily
liturgies,  the life of  repentance  and  contrition  before God.  We can find
through meditation on the Sunday readings a strong spiritual program for every
soul, which may  be  titled, "The  Journey to   the Bosom of the Father."  The
journey  starts   in a frank  and  clear  invitation in   the  Gospel  of  the
Preparation Sunday  for the entry  into the  closet  for a  dialogue  with the

* Banoub Abdou, Kenoz El-Ne'ma, Vol. 4 (Cairo, Egypt: The Sheraty
Bookstore, 1963), pp. 25-32.

1. Preparation Sunday: Matthew 6:1-18

"When thou prayest enter into thy closet ... shut thy door, pray to thy Father
which is in secret ... Also if thou givest alms or fastest that also should be
to the Father in secret..."

The Point of Departure of the Journey. The Church declares to us the closet is
the point  of departure of the journey  of Lent. If it  does not start  at the
closet, then the  journey of  our fast has deviated  from its true course. The
Church  starts the  fast by directing us to  the closet.  This means  that the
fast is not only related to  the flesh, but  it is related  more to the Spirit
and  to  the Kingdom of God.   (The  Life  of  Prayer,  p.  545). The  week of
preparation is the week of the closet.

Close Your  Door. The Journey starts  after closing   the door--the  door that
looks at the world. Then there opens before us another door that faces heaven,
"Our Father who art in heaven," and "I looked, and, behold  door was opened in
heaven" [Rev. 4:1].

"Fasting is not a  fetter  or a prison to the  sense  but  a soaring with them
without hindrance towards contemplation of God" (Life of Prayer, p.  454).

Pray to Your Father. The Church  has set a  standard to the  level of faith of
the catechumens before  they are allowed  to receive the Sacrament of Baptism.
The standard is  that the Church continues  teaching the catechumens about the
Lord's Prayer, which starts  with "our Father ..."   and  at  the  moment they
perceive and comprehend the  paternity of God to  them, they  are  entitled to
receive the Sacrament of Baptism.

Your Father Who Sees in Secret. This is the secret of the prayer of the closet
which the Church perceived  and so allotted to it  the deepest of prayers like
the prayer of the wise virgins awaiting the  coming of the bridegroom, and the
prayer of the fallen woman at the feet of the Lord Jesus (Prayer of the closet
of "Matins"). Where  in the closet we  discover our sins ... and  we hold  the
feet of the Lord to free our  feet from  the  prodigal road, and  we taste the
love of God,  and learn contrition,  and thus the goal  of the journey  of our
fast becomes the withdrawal of the soul into itself (in secret) where the Lord
purifies it with His blood and  dedicates her a temple for  Him and adorns her
with His talents so that  she may  participate  with  the  wise virgins in the
meeting of the Bridegroom.

Since the journey is with the soul and Christ, it is an invisible relationship
that  begins in the  chamber. So, fasting  is  accompanied by a  reduction  in
talking and visits  and by concentrating  on spiritual  readings and attending
the Divine Liturgy.

Our Heavenly Father is calling you to a holy participation with Him in secret,
through which you may start  your fast, your prayers, and  your almsgiving. So
beware of negligence.

Practice. The practice in the week of preparation is the prayer of the chamber
and the worship in secret which will continue  with  us  all through and after
the period of fasting.

* All the explanations for the Great Lent are taken from:
Fr. Bishoy Kamel, The Lectionary During the Lent (Alexandria, Egypt: St.
George Coptic Orthodox Church, 1974).

The First Sunday: The Journey of Lent
Surrender of life to the Heavenly Father:  Matthew 6:24-34.  The Gospel of the
First Sunday of Lent calls for the surrender of life to  the Father.  "Take no
thought for your life,  what ye shall  eat ... nor yet  for the body, what  ye
shall put on ... Take no thought for the morrow." The  reason for not worrying
is that "your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have  need  of all these things"
[Mt. 6:32].

Practice. The Practice of this week is a call to a secure  life in the care of
the Father and the carrying out of what  comes in the  verse, "Take no thought
for the morrow," physically, mentally, and spiritually.

The Christian commandment is  full of  risks but  its assurance is the care of
the Father. The woman who gave the two mites was risking  her meal, and during
the fast,  Satan rages  his war  by   convincing  us that  we  are risking the
necessities of the body and causes us to worry about  our health, and likewise
in charity there is a risk of wealth.

In this week we experience  the complete  surrender to the  care of the Father
and to His commandment.

The Second Sunday
Why does God forget us if He is our Father? Matthew 4:1-10. The Gospel  of the
Second Sunday deals with the temptation of doubting God's paternity to us. "If
you are the Son of God--why does he leave you hungry?  Why does God  allow the
presence of disease, failure and the death of our beloved?"

Practice. It is our duty this  week to examine  our faith  in the love  of the
Father  Who gave  His  Son  for us.  Our faith  that  fortifies us against the
temptations and emotions;  faith in   the Father; a   faith that fortifies  us
against the temptation of the Adversary, the hardships of this  world  and the
sufferings and desires of the body.

The Third Sunday
Repentance in the Father's bosom: Luke 15:11-32. Repentance in Christianity is
different from any other repentance; it is the return of the son to his Father
and  the Father falling on the  neck  of his son to embrace  him and kiss  him
[Luke 15:2O]. This is the Gospel of the Third Sunday.

The Father's paternity to us is not because  of our righteousness, but because
of His paternity to His children, especially the sinners.

The  Father's paternity for   us challenges  all  our sins,  our failures, our
betrayal of His love and our mistreatment of His name.

Practice: Brother and sister, do not permit this week to go by without a true
repentance and resorting  to the Father's  embrace ...   Examine this in  your
chamber and taste the Father's embrace and  His kisses which are reserved only
for those who repent.  This is the  week of repentance in the  Father's bosom,
the repentance of the whole Church--the communal repentance.

The Fourth Sunday
Worship of the Father in Spirit and in Truth: John 4:1-42. The next step after
repentance is worship of the Father Who accepted and loved  me and cleansed me
from my sins, and put me in his bosom. Contrition of the spirit and submission
to the   Father and the  love of  frequent  prostrations   in  worship are the
expressions of our love for Him Who opened His arms for  us sinners and kissed
us. This is the end of the road of repentance in the Father's bosom,  and this
is the sweetest fruit of the chamber and which the Father gives us in secret.

The Church, inspired by the Spirit, stresses in the period of  Lent the use of
prostrations  during  private  prayers  and  in the   Divine  Liturgy (at  the
"offering of Incense" after the readings of the prophets).

Practice: The practice of this week is the worship of the Father in  truth and
in Spirit: "for the Father seeketh such to worship Him" [John 4:23].

The Fifth Sunday
Bethesda and Baptism: John 5:1-18. The Gospel of  the Fifth Sunday talks about
Bethesda, which symbolizes Baptism. We, the crowds  of Christians, were beside
it sick,  lame, blind  and paralyzed, suffering  every spiritual sickness. The
angel which moves the water symbolizes the Holy Spirit which comes down on the
water of Baptism.

This is our share in  Christ: those who are baptized  have everlasting hope in
the Father, even if they have been sick for 38 years.

Practice: The practice of this week is to hope  and never to despair.  Baptism
has given us the grace of sonship and children are never disappointed in their
hopes in the love of the Father.

The Sixth Sunday
Sonship is a spiritual enlightenment: John 9:1-41. The last Sunday in  Lent is
the Sunday of Baptism, during which is read the Gospel of the man born blind.

1. "I was blind and now I see." This is our everlasting experience as children
   of the Heavenly Father.  We were blind and He opened our sight so we beheld
   miracles of  His  laws and we saw what the prophets longed to see,  and  He
   gave us understanding of the Scriptures.

2. Baptism  means washing  (in   the pool of  Siloam),   so   we  become pure.
   Repentance is a continuous washing, so we may see clearly.

Repentance is a continuation of  Baptism and it  is the means through which we
can  see Christ  clearly all our  lives. Lasting repentance cleans our hearts,
renews the  intellect,  protects the contrite   soul in   the obedience of the
Father, and through repentance, we can discover all  the graces and secrets of
the Heavenly Father.


                                                 HOLY WEEK *
                                    Introduction of the Holy Week

The Nature of the Text Selected During the Holy Week
1. Prophecies: The number of prophecies read during the day ranges between two
   and five throughout the whole week, except on Good Friday.  On that day, in
   the first hour there are eleven read;  in the third hour there are six, and
   in the evening hour prayers, there is only one reading.

2. Sermons: Sermons are  given  only in the first  hour, as  well as the ninth
   hour and the  eleventh  hour of the morning  prayers  of  Monday,  Tuesday,
   Wednesday, and Thursday.

3. The Gospels: These are read in all  the morning hours  while in the evening
   hours, only one Gospel is read on Monday through Wednesday.

On  Thursday, one Gospel  text is read until the  ninth  hour  of the morning.
Another  Gospel (El Lakkan)  is   read at the  eleventh hour,  followed by the
Gospel of the Divine Liturgy.

In the evening of Good Friday,  we  read the four  Gospels from Matthew, Mark,
Luke and John.

On Saturday of Delight, we  read  one Gospel in the  first,  third, and  sixth
hours of the day, followed by  the whole  book of Revelation. Then, one Gospel
is read on the ninth hour, followed by the Divine Liturgy.

4. Interpretation: Interpretation (El Tarh) is read after every Gospel.

Topics of the Text Readings
The topics for the Holy Week follow the same  pattern of those  in  texts read
during Lent.

The first prophecy read during any hour of the day as well  as the Pauline--if
read--the Gospel and the Sermon, all speak about one  topic.  The  rest of the
prophesies fulfill the first prophecy.  They are all arranged  to fit the life
of Jesus Christ during His last week on earth.

The following summary  will  take us, day  by day,  starting from Palm  Sunday
through this treasure of events and teachings as they had happened.

*  All the Tables are taken from the following Sources:

 - The Coptic Orthodox Lectionary [Katamarous], The Holy Week, Vol. 3
   (Cairo, Egypt: 1974).

 - Banoub Abdou, Kenoz El-Ne'ma, Vol. 5 (Cairo, Egypt: The Sheraty
   Bookstore), pp. 76-587.

 - St. Mina Monastery, Natiga Daweria Tebkan lel Takweem El Kopty waal
   Miladi (Alexandria, Egypt: St. Mina Monastery), pp. 18-21 .

*  All the explanations of the Holy Week readings are taken from St.
Mark's Church, The Coptic orthodox Youth Periodicals, Vol. 1, No. 2
(Montreal Canada: St. Mark's Church, 1983).