Alexandria and Christian Dogmas
Our Belief in God
The Heavenly Creatures
THE SAINTS AND THE
BOND OF LOVE
The Saints are dear brothers who have
struggled like us and have departed to
Paradise. They are not dead, but are
sleeping, as our Lord said (John 11:
11), and as St. Paul called them (I
Our early fathers spoke clearly and in
detail about our relationship with
Saints. The Saints in Paradise are the
triumphant members of the same one
church in which we are militant
members. We, the triumphant and
militants, are members of the Church,
which is the one Body of Jesus Christ.
The triumphant become invisible
members because of the death of their
bodies, and then militants ire the
visible ones. This is man's point of
view, but in God's sight, we are all a
visible holy family.
They departed from earth, but did not
leave the church; their love toward
their brothers did not cease by their
departure and dwelling in Paradise.
The death of their bodies does not
sever the bond of mutual love between
them and us-, on the contrary it
increases in depth and strength. Their
prayers for the salvation of all the
world never cease. They pray for us,
and we venerate them as they are our
holy and dear friends.
ICONS OF SAINTS
We venerate the icons of saints and
put them on the iconstasis
(icon-stand). Church walls and doors
are hung with icons, also our homes
etc., as a sign of our communion with
them in the Lord Jesus Christ. The
Coptic Icons have their own
characteristics as we have mentioned
in the book : "Church, House of God."
THE INTERCESSIONS OF SAINTS (THEIR
PRAYERS FOR US)
We all - the triumphant and militants
- as one Body, have love that never
fails (I Cor. 13:8), for our
interaction is unceasing. Those who
preceded us pray for us, and we
through love - pray for those who
departed, and God in His Fatherhood
appreciates this mutual love.
Our belief in intercession is
biblical, as it appears from the
1 . Saints who departed are still
alive, for it is said, "When he called
the Lord the God of Abraham, the God
of Isaac, and the God of Jacob for He
is not the God of the dead but of the
living, for all are alive in Him" Luke
20:37,38; Matt. 22:32; Mark 12:26.
Moses and Elijah appeared on Jesus'
transfiguration (Luke 9:28-33), and
many bodies of the saints were raised
on Jesus' transfiguration (Matt.
2. God disclosed many secrets which
concern the future of His men in both
the Old and the New Testaments (Acts
20:22, 23, 29, 30; 2 Pet. 1: 14), no
wonder that He reveals our conditions
to the saints who are in Paradise.
Their knowledge about us is a gift
from God to them. Therefore Abraham
knew that Moses and other prophets had
come (Luke 16; 29-3 1), and those who
are in heaven rejoice for the
repentance of a sinner (Luke 15:7-10).
3. The believers who departed have a
kind of privilege before God,
therefore the Lord blessed Isaac for
the sake of Abraham his father (Gen.
26:5), and He was gracious to Israel
and had compassion on them because of
His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob (2 kings 13:23). He did not tear
down the kingdom in the days of
Solomon for the sake of his father
David (I kings 11: 11- 13). God raised
a dead man when his corpse touched the
bones of Elisha the prophet, revealing
the great position of this prophet in
God's sight (2 Kings 13:20,21).
4. We, the militants ask for the
intercessions of the saints, as Jacob
did when he asked for the
intercessions of his grandfather
Abraham and his father Isaac (Gen.
32:9). Moses asked for the
intercession of Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob (Exod. 32:13)... For God honors
those who honor Him (1 Sam. 2:30). He
attributes Himself to them (Gen.
26:24; 28:13), and hears their
supplications... Therefore the rich
man appealed to Abraham (Luke
Origen says: "It is not against truth,
that we ask saints and seek for their
intercessions... but that they might
help us." St. Athanasius says: "0 lady
and queen, the mother of God (Theotokos)
intercede for us."
The Sacremental Life
I am delighted to
write here about church sacraments,
for in fact practicing church
sacraments gives us enjoyment through
the exceeding love of God and the free
divine grace. Such are the practical
gospels in the actual church life,
that through them believers discover
the mystery of the Gospel.
In brief I can say that the sacraments
grant us the following blessings:
1. Practical divine grace: If teaching
the divine grace is the heart and
center of the Gospel, we attain this
grace through the sacraments, as it is
written in the Holy Bible:
In the sacrament of Baptism, we attain
the rebirth, not of our own merit nor
by a human hand but by the Holy Spirit
(John 3:3-5; Tit. 3:5). We also
receive God's adoption (Gal. 3:26,
27), attain the remission of sins
(Acts 2:38) and sanctification (Eph.
Through "Chrism" (Mayroun) we receive
the gift of the Holy Spirit who
teaches us, guides us and sanctifies
us, so that we may attain the measure
of the stature of the fullness of
Christ (Acts 8:17; 19:5,6).
Through penance and confession, the
Holy Spirit grants us the remission of
sins (Matt. 16:19).
In the Eucharist, the church is lifted
up as if to heaven so that she meets
her heavenly Savior, participates with
the heavenly host in their hymns, and
partakes of the Body and the Blood of
the Lord to be united with Him,
established in Him and to live forever
(John 2:3 5,55; Matt. 26:27,28; 1 Cor.
Through the Sacrament of holy unction,
the sick who accepts to be united with
Christ in His sufferings attains the
remission of sins (by repentance). and
the healing of his body (James 4:14;
Through the Sacrament of marriage, the
couple are united together, and the
Holy spirit sets their home as the
holy church of God...
Through the Sacrament of priesthood,
Jesus Christ, the Unique Chief-Priest
acts in those whom the Holy Spirit
grants the grace of priesthood (Matt.
28:19-20; Eph. 4:11; Acts 20:28; 1
Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1: 16).
These exceeding divine acts are the
free grace of God offered to believers
through His Church.
2. The free divine actions for human
sanctification: These actions are
called "Sacraments," for they are
divine and they surpass the human
mind. The believer acknowledges the
Holy Trinity acting to his advantage,
so that he may become son of God
sanctified by the precious Blood. He
participates with the heavenly
creatures in their supreme life, and
enjoy God's action in his conjugal
life, and the divine providence in his
sickness etc. These sacraments have an
evangelic spirit, I mean they do not
ignore the human side.
In more details, I say that God grants
man special honor because of His love
to him. Thus God acts by him and
through him and does not ignore him.
For example, no heavenly or earthy
creatures has the power to grant a
human being to be a child of God. This
is the work of the Holy Spirit in
baptism, according to the merits of
the Cross, but it is performed by the
priest. God appreciates giving man
this honor, but the Sacrament is
effectively God's work and not the
priest's. Someone may ask, why does
not God grant His gifts to the
believer directly and not through the
priest? we reply that when God the Son
became man, He honored all mankind by
acting through them, calling them,
sanctifying them and granting them the
grace of priesthood.
When God the Son was incarnate for our
salvation, He took a true Body from
Virgin Mary who had a positive role...
We considered this as an honor to
mankind. Likewise, God asks men to
have a positive role, so that He may
reveal Himself through men.
3. Proclaiming the nature of the
church: Someone may misuse the
sacraments, as sources of authority
and not for serving others. This in
turn may cause anger and protest
against church authority. The Coptic
Church however deals with the
believers in a motherly way through
these sacraments. The Holy Trinity
grants gifts to the believer through
His Church that has the image of
Christ, and carry His likeness.
For example, the believer who receives
rebirth in baptism, looks to the
church as his mother who begot him by
the Holy Spirit as a son of God. This
gift of adoption unites him
spiritually with other members so that
he will not feel isolation nor live in
individualism. In his conjugal life, a
husband meets his wife as one with him
through the loving church, looking at
his relation with her as an image of
the relation of Christ and the Church.
Practicing the sacraments in spirit
and truth without misusing authority
proclaims the motherhood of the
church, her unity, her spiritual
existence and her message concerning
the salvation of every soul, far away
from the spirit of administration and
4. Proclaiming our concept to the
whole creation: God the Word who
surpassed all materials; became a true
Man; who ate,
drank, worked and sanctified our view,
not only on the body that He took, but
even on our daily life and the
materials we use. We find no
defilement in food, or look at the
creation in enmity or as an element of
I Using materials in sacraments, like
water in Baptism, oil in the Holy
Unction, bread and wine in the
Eucharist, metal crown in baptism and
marriage celebration, priests'
vestments etc. grant us an honorable
view on materials, for we see God's
hand that sanctifies everything for
OUR CONCEPT OF CHURCH SACRAMENTS
Sacraments are vital and essential to
the believers; they are the means of
practicing the evangelic thoughts,
besides receiving the grace of God and
the action of the Holy Spirit in the
Church of Christ, so that all
believers-might be lifted up to the
bosom of the Father.
Here, I wish to explain in brief our
concepts of every sacrament:
1. In the Coptic rite of Baptism there
are two essential lines; denying Satan
and the acceptance of God's work. In
other words, in baptism the believer
is transferred from being belonged to
Satan through subjection to his works,
to receiving God's adoption, and being
His. He denies the kingdom of the
devil to receive within himself that
of Christ, turning towards the east,
where the sun of Righteousness shines,
instead of the west, which is a symbol
In this rite, the church deposits the
newly baptized into the hands of a
godparent giving him firm
commandments, to be responsible of,
and do his best to present the
evangelic church life to the newly
The Coptic church insists that baptism
is performed by immersion, except in
necessary cases such as illness;
whereas the baptized person is buried
with Christ and also risen with Him to
enjoy the new risen life (Rom. 6:4-6).
2. In the rite of Chrism, the body is
anointed with holy oil thirtysix
times, as a symbol of the
sanctification of the soul and body
together, so that man in his
wholeness, becomes a temple of the
Holy Spirit. All members of the
body-even those which are inferior-are
anointed with the holy Chrism, for
there is no defiled or shameful member
of the body.
Putting on new white clothes (and also
a crown in ancient), refers to
enjoying the pledge of the crowned,
pure and heavenly life.
3. In the rite of penance and
confession, the priest and the
confessor feel that they are together
under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,
which convicts men of sins, and
forgives sins in order to obtain a
communion with the Holy Trinity.
The believer does not feel ashamed of
discovering his own weakness, in the
presence of his spiritual father who
takes care of his salvation, and who
feels as if he was partaker with his
sons of their weaknesses.
4. In the Eucharist, the church is
lifted up to heaven, through the One
unrepeated Sacrifice, the life giving
and ever present One.
In this Sacrament, the church prays
for her children, for the whole world,
for the salvation of mankind, and for
their life on earth etc. For she
appeals to God's heart that is tender
with love, and His ears that hear her
5. In the Holy Unction, the petition
for spiritual blessings are correlated
to the temporal ones, so that the sick
person may obtain remission of sins
and healing of the soul and body.
6. In the sacrament of marriage, the
rite is concentrated on revealing the
heavenly crown, that the hearts of all
who are present
may be lifted up to the heavenly
marriage, and that the couple
acknowledge that their conjugal life
is a shadow of the church in heaven.
7. In the sacrament of priesthood, the
person obtains this grace to wash the
feet of God's people, not by himself,
for he is unworthy of this ministry,
but by Christ the Servant of mankind
on behalf of their salvation. The
priest receives "fatherhood" not by
his own merit, but by the act of God's
Fatherhood in him. He says with St.
John: "My children" I John 2: 1, and
with Paul the Apostle, "in Christ
Jesus I have begotten you" I Cor.
Hence the sacraments, in their rites
seek for man's salvation and his
receiving God's adoption, lift him up
to the heavenly life to the bread of
angels, that he may obtain
participation in the eternal glories.
Sacraments are the fulfillment of