THE COPTIC CHURCH AND THE APOSTOLIC THOUGHT
FR. TADROS Y. MALATY
The Coptic Orthodox Church is an Apostolic Church, not
only because her founder is St. Mark the Apostle who
ministered in Egypt, ordained a bishop, priests and deacons
to aid him in his ministry and was martyred in Alexandria,
and not only because her first Patriarch is St. Mark's
successor through an unbroken chain of popes since the
apostolic age, but also because she preserves the apostolic
thought in her life, spirituality, liturgies and dogmas. She is
actually a living extension of the apostolic church without
The Coptic Church is sometimes accused of exaggerated conservatism and refusal of concessions. As a matter of fact she is not stagnant or stolid but faithful and conservative, preserving the apostolic life, and desiring to offer the gift of faith in all its aspects throughout the ages.
I would like to mention that in 1971 I baptized a child in
Dallas, Texas in U.S.A. An American minister who attended
the liturgy of baptism, said to me: "This child is lucky."
When I asked him about the reason, he stated: "During this
long baptismal rite I felt that I am living in the apostolic age."
Fr. Jungmann says in his book "The Early Liturgy": "In
the general structure of the Mass, the oriental rites have kept
many primitive characteristics which have disappeared from
the Roman rite... Whereas our Mass changes day after day, the Orient constantly repeats the same invariable formula." Since no significant change took place in the Church worship, i.e. in her liturgies, rites and hymns, and she continued to holdfast the dogmas in firmness, Christ transfigures her life, attracting many to Himself, working in her members by the power of Spirit.
I would like to mention here that in 1979, an American
person visited our church in Alexandria (St. George's
Church). He came to visit the church for half an hour as a
tourist. When his guide tried to remind him of an important
appointment he refused to leave until the end of the liturgy of
the Eucharist. When he came outside he told his guide that
he was moved by the Liturgy, although he did not
understand its words, for he did not know the Arabic
language, and that he felt as if he were in heavenly
This matter took place repeatedly in our churches in
I will let you encounter this apostolic thought when we speak about the Church in her worship, dogmas, tradition and conduct etc.