September 2008 letter
In a few days a Coptic year will be ending, to start the new one: 1725 A.M.
It is a known fact that the Coptic year is divided into liturgical seasons, each one having its spiritual practices and rites which include specific tunes and hymns. These liturgical seasons namely are:
v The New Year: starting from the first day of the month of Tut (Nayrouz feast), and until the end of the month of Hatour. This period includes the celebration of the feast of the Holy Cross (17 Tut), and the beginning of the Nativity fasting (16 Hatour).
v The Divine Apparition: from the beginning of the month of Kiahk; in which we celebrate the Kiahk tunes and famous midnight praises, then the period from Nativity Feast on 28/29 Kiahk and till the Epiphany feast (11 Tubah). This period includes the celebration of the feast of circumcision (6 Tubah), and this period ends with Sunday before Jonah’s fast.
v Period of the Holy Lent and Holy Paskha Week: a period very rich in its spirituality and church rites. It starts by Jonah’s fast and ends by Holy Resurrection Feast. The start of this period depends upon the timing of Holy Resurrection Feast, which comes between 26th of Baramhat (April 3rd) and 30th of Baramoudah (May 8th).
v Holy Fifty Days: 7 weeks that start by the Holy Resurrection Feast and end on Sunday of the Holy Pentecost Feast. The church readings during this period are focused on the gospel according to St. John.
v Period of the Apostles: which is the apostles fast that starts immediately after the Holy Pentecost Feast and ends on the feast of martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul on the 5th of Abib (July 12th). Depending on the date of the Holy Pentecost Feast, the duration of the apostles’ fast ranges from 15 to 49 days, and during this period the church celebrates the feast of Jesus Christ’s Entry To Egypt on the 24th of Bashans (June 1st).
v Saint Mary’s Fast and the remainder of the liturgical year: this period starts by the beginning of St. Mary’s fast on the 1st of Misra (August 7). The Transfiguration Feast is celebrated during the period on the 13th of Misra (August 19).
Thus we see the richness of our church and its beautiful rites, moving from one liturgical season to another, as if in a garden full of fruits each with its different and attractive taste.
May the Lord bless the New Year and our spiritual lives during this year, and fill our hearts with joy regarding the full recovery of our beloved father H.H. Pope Shenouda. May the Lord grant him health for many years to come.
Asking you to keep the church, its priest, servants and all services, in your prayers. May the blessing of Saint Mary, and St. Mercurius Abou Sefein and all the saints be with us all.
Fr. Youssef Halim
Belleville, September 1, 2008