History of the Great Fast (“Lent”) in the Coptic Church, including “Preparation Week” (a.k.a. “Heraclius Week”)


We are about to embark on the Great Fast (a.k.a. Lent), but as with all worship and rites, it is preferable that we not only understand the what and how of our religion, but also understand why, in order to make it all relevant to us today. The fruit of my research on this topic was intriguing (e.g., there was no “Great Fast” for the first few hundred years), but also at one point I felt embarrassed as I learned the original reason behind what we now refer to as “Preparation Week.” Here is a summary of the current practice and history of the Great Fast, with a particular emphasis on the Coptic Church. Further below you will also find a PowerPoint presentation that I used to teach about this subject that you may download and use as desired.

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LAYING ON OF HANDS: What St. Paul calls an “elementary principle” of Christianity—neglected, forgotten, or rejected by so many Christians today.


Many may have heard or read of the “laying on of hands,” but how many Christians understand its significance? St. Paul, in listing out what he called the “elementary principles of Christ,” mentions the “laying on of hands” as being as fundamental to Christianity as “repentance … faith … baptisms … resurrection of the dead, and … eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2).

Really? As fundamental as “faith” and belief in the “resurrection of the dead?” Yes. Yet, if you are reading this and consider yourself a Christian, do you understand what the laying on of hands is? And for those who recognize this as a familiar practice, I ask you this: is it being practiced by your church the way it was practiced by the apostles and their legitimate successors?

Here is its history and significance:

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American Orthodox Church of Alexandria: What’s in a Name?


Update 5/5/15:

Link below to AOCA slides no longer working. Here is a working link to the PDF (click here)

Update 5/1/15:

Here is the latest on this endeavor, and it appears that the most substantive change will be language, while all other cultural aspects will remain mostly intact. Was hoping for more, particularly when it comes to the manner of singing hymns. Nonetheless, may God bless the bishop and all the servants in this attempt to reach more people.


Original Post:

H.G. Bishop Youssef has announced his intention to establish mission churches in his diocese, and the latest I have heard is that His Grace has settled on the name, “American Orthodox Church of Alexandria” [although I have also heard the title “American Coptic Orthodox Church” as well]. The plan is Continue reading