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Author Topic: Coptic Church  (Read 2595 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jonny
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« on: January 12, 2009, 01:06:23 PM »

I've got a couple of questions about the way Coptic Christians do things.

Firstly, is the sign of the cross different? people seemed to simply be crossing their heart, not their whole body. Is this a normal practice and if so why is there a difference?

Secondly. At theservice I went to this Sunday there were four people dressed as Deacons, one Priest and one Bishop. Most of the Deacons seemed to be in their early teens! Is this normal or are they not Deacons? They were saying prayers that the little book I was given prescribes as being for the Deacon so I assume they are. If so is it normal to ordain people so young?

Thanks.
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2009, 01:10:20 PM »

I've got a couple of questions about the way Coptic Christians do things.

Firstly, is the sign of the cross different? people seemed to simply be crossing their heart, not their whole body. Is this a normal practice and if so why is there a difference?

Secondly. At theservice I went to this Sunday there were four people dressed as Deacons, one Priest and one Bishop. Most of the Deacons seemed to be in their early teens! Is this normal or are they not Deacons? They were saying prayers that the little book I was given prescribes as being for the Deacon so I assume they are. If so is it normal to ordain people so young?

Thanks.

I could answer this, but I'd rather wait for a Copt to do so.
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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2009, 04:37:06 PM »

At theservice I went to this Sunday there were four people dressed as Deacons, one Priest and one Bishop. Most of the Deacons seemed to be in their early teens! Is this normal or are they not Deacons? They were saying prayers that the little book I was given prescribes as being for the Deacon so I assume they are. If so is it normal to ordain people so young?

They are not deacons, they're singers or readers, although all of the orders below priest are commonly referred to as "deacons." It is the norm in the Coptic Church to let the lower orders perform the parts of the Liturgy belonging to the Deacon when there isn't one present.
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Jonny
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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2009, 05:12:30 PM »

At theservice I went to this Sunday there were four people dressed as Deacons, one Priest and one Bishop. Most of the Deacons seemed to be in their early teens! Is this normal or are they not Deacons? They were saying prayers that the little book I was given prescribes as being for the Deacon so I assume they are. If so is it normal to ordain people so young?

They are not deacons, they're singers or readers, although all of the orders below priest are commonly referred to as "deacons." It is the norm in the Coptic Church to let the lower orders perform the parts of the Liturgy belonging to the Deacon when there isn't one present.

OK. Are there still minor orders in the Coptic tradition then?
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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2009, 05:44:55 PM »

see: http://copticchurch.net/topics/thecopticchurch/sacraments/7_priesthood.html

Yes, there are chanters (epsaltros), readers, and subdeacons.  Unfortunately the minor orders are extremely confused.  You'll often see chanters reading the Gospel, and no clear distinction between chanters and readers.  They often don't even wear the appropriate vestments, with chanters often dressing as readers, or chanters and readers dressing as deacons.  If there is no deacon present (the norm) readers, chanters, and subdeacons will take their place in the Liturgy.  Subdeacons are quite rare too, so it's mostly just chanters and readers.

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Orthodox11
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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2009, 07:23:06 PM »

You'll often see chanters reading the Gospel, and no clear distinction between chanters and readers.

In a different post you wrote that "chanters do almost everything else readers should do, such as reading the Gospel."

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, only deacons (full deacon) may read the Holy Gospel. Readers cannot. The site you provided suggests the same is true in the Coptic Church. It lists only the reading of the Epistles and the Praxis among the responsibilities of the Anagnostis, and only of the Deacon does it say "He is permitted to read the Holy Gospel of the divine Liturgy."

I've been wondering about this, so any clarification would be appreciated:

Is the reading of the Gospel (strictly speaking) limited to the Deacon in the Coptic Church, as it is in the Eastern Orthodox Church?
Is the reading of the Gospel limited to Deacons, but if one is not present the person taking his place must be at least a Reader?
Or may Readers always do the Gospel readings?
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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2009, 08:14:09 PM »

Canonically it is as you say.  In practice, few people even know that chanters are not deacons since deacons are few and far between and chanters take their place in most cases.  I don't know exactly what has been officially allowed by synodical decisions and what's just started happening, but that's the way it is now.  The only exception I can think of is that a chanter would never (as far as I know) give a sermon whereas a reader can be asked to... and full deacons help distribute the Blood, minor orders taking their place never do.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2009, 08:15:57 PM by Jonathan » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2009, 10:37:53 PM »

I'm sorry...are you talking about ORDAINED deacons, or the "deacons" which you have identified as chanters and readers?  Because i've been to a Coptic church which had "deacons" who were 7 years old, ringing some cymbols and bells.  So...

 
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2009, 09:40:48 AM »

I'm sorry...are you talking about ORDAINED deacons, or the "deacons" which you have identified as chanters and readers?  Because i've been to a Coptic church which had "deacons" who were 7 years old, ringing some cymbols and bells.  So...

 

These 7 year olds would be chanters.  Playing cymbols and leading hymns are duties of chanters, so I don't see the problem there.

Readers can be asked to give sermons, chanters can't.

Deacons can help distribute the Blood, chanters, readers, and subdeacons never do.

Chanters and Readers commonly take the place of the deacon in the Liturgy when there is no Deacon present.  They hold the cross and say the deacon's responses at the altar.  But they do not help distribute the Blood.

Because they say the words that have 'deacon' written above it in the Liturgy book, many people ignorantly call them deacons.  Many mothers then go and buy their little 'deacons' deacon's stoles instead of readers stoles or no stole for chanters.  The priest still knows the 7 year old beside him is not a deacon even if he can't tell him to take the stole off without creating a big scene with the parents since it has become so common, so he won't ask him to help distribute the Blood or give a sermon.

Is there something still unclear hear?

The ancient practice is that the Liturgy cannot be prayed without a priest, a deacon, and a congregation.  For whatever reason, no one does this any more.  The Eastern Orthodox have gotten around it by letting the priest say the deacon's parts.  The Copts have gotten around it by letting lower orders fill in for the Deacon.  I don't know why we don't just all have Deacons like we used to, but this is how it is now Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2009, 10:45:15 AM »

I'm sorry...are you talking about ORDAINED deacons, or the "deacons" which you have identified as chanters and readers?  Because i've been to a Coptic church which had "deacons" who were 7 years old, ringing some cymbols and bells.  So...

 

These 7 year olds would be chanters.  Playing cymbols and leading hymns are duties of chanters, so I don't see the problem there.

Readers can be asked to give sermons, chanters can't.

Deacons can help distribute the Blood, chanters, readers, and subdeacons never do.

Chanters and Readers commonly take the place of the deacon in the Liturgy when there is no Deacon present.  They hold the cross and say the deacon's responses at the altar.  But they do not help distribute the Blood.

Because they say the words that have 'deacon' written above it in the Liturgy book, many people ignorantly call them deacons.  Many mothers then go and buy their little 'deacons' deacon's stoles instead of readers stoles or no stole for chanters.  The priest still knows the 7 year old beside him is not a deacon even if he can't tell him to take the stole off without creating a big scene with the parents since it has become so common, so he won't ask him to help distribute the Blood or give a sermon.

Is there something still unclear hear?

The ancient practice is that the Liturgy cannot be prayed without a priest, a deacon, and a congregation.  For whatever reason, no one does this any more.  The Eastern Orthodox have gotten around it by letting the priest say the deacon's parts.  The Copts have gotten around it by letting lower orders fill in for the Deacon.  I don't know why we don't just all have Deacons like we used to, but this is how it is now Smiley

This is EXACTLY what I was looking for!  thank you very much!  that helped a lot actually...
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Jonny
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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2009, 12:06:15 PM »

These 7 year olds would be chanters.  Playing cymbols and leading hymns are duties of chanters, so I don't see the problem there.

Readers can be asked to give sermons, chanters can't.

Deacons can help distribute the Blood, chanters, readers, and subdeacons never do.

Chanters and Readers commonly take the place of the deacon in the Liturgy when there is no Deacon present.  They hold the cross and say the deacon's responses at the altar.  But they do not help distribute the Blood.

Because they say the words that have 'deacon' written above it in the Liturgy book, many people ignorantly call them deacons.  Many mothers then go and buy their little 'deacons' deacon's stoles instead of readers stoles or no stole for chanters.  The priest still knows the 7 year old beside him is not a deacon even if he can't tell him to take the stole off without creating a big scene with the parents since it has become so common, so he won't ask him to help distribute the Blood or give a sermon.

Is there something still unclear hear?

The ancient practice is that the Liturgy cannot be prayed without a priest, a deacon, and a congregation.  For whatever reason, no one does this any more.  The Eastern Orthodox have gotten around it by letting the priest say the deacon's parts.  The Copts have gotten around it by letting lower orders fill in for the Deacon.  I don't know why we don't just all have Deacons like we used to, but this is how it is now Smiley

Seems like a logical way to get around the problem and it makes sense.

As to my other question at the beginning of the thread.

Do you make the sign of the Cross differently?
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« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2009, 12:42:36 PM »



As to my other question at the beginning of the thread.

Do you make the sign of the Cross differently?

I'm not Coptic, but am pretty familiar with that tradition, and I'm pretty sure Copts hold their hands exactly like EO do, however they go from left to right, (like Rome) rather than right to left when making the sign of the cross.

As far as doing the cross only over their heart, I've never seen that in a Coptic Church. (though I never paid that much attention either). However it's a VERY common practice in the Greek Church, and as far as I know it has no significance whatsoever other than they're in a big hurry to make the sign of the cross, (or 3 signs of the cross right in a row). Being a member of a Greek Church I catch myself doing it as well. We learn by example I suppose. Smiley Greeks (or non Greeks in Greek parishes) also will put their hand on their heart after making the sign of the cross, and I've never seen non Greek jurisdictions do this either. I do this, and I've never been given a theological reason as to "why" but I'm so used to doing it, it feels weird when I don't. it's like I'm affirming to myself that Christ is close to my heart.

I've never seen Copts do it however, but I honestly never really paid much attention either.
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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2009, 03:11:41 PM »


Seems like a logical way to get around the problem and it makes sense.

As to my other question at the beginning of the thread.

Do you make the sign of the Cross differently?

Good, sorry it took so long Smiley

Right hand, two fingers and the thumb together, left to right.  When it's small it's laziness and/or many repetitions or rushing a hymn so there isn't time to make all the repetitions at the appropriate times.
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« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2009, 11:42:21 AM »

Peace mate,

Just to clarify the issue, Coptic Christians do make the full sign of the cross. The little crosses may be performed for several reasons including lack of time, unwillingness to embarrass somebody, to avoid flaunting one's piety, or because one has been directed to do this at certain times. Some saints have preached against it however as with anything in the Orthodox Church, it's up to what the Bishops and priests serving them determine.

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