Why don't we pray offering of evening incense during Great Lent?



  • edited February 2014
    Now, Mina....thanks for the scan. I have a ton of questions.

    Here is the rough outline of what he is describing:

    1-Bishop Takla of Dishna and its environs put this rite together in 1994 for the order of reading the Memre in order "to be harmonious with the spirit of the Church and her thought"

    2- This rite is not well-known in Lower Egypt but is known and popular in Upper Egypt.

    3- The rite is: Our Father

    4- Prayer of Thanksgiving

    5- Verses of Cymbals

    6- Litanies of Sick and Oblations

    7- Tenouosht and Pauline (I Cor. 14:18-25)

    8- Trisagion, Litany of the Gospel

    9- Ps.142:6-7 ; Lk 9:12-17

    10- Three Major Litanies

    11- Glorification for St. Mary, angels, martyrs or saints

    12- Our Father, Absolutions, Dismissal.

    Here are my questions to you (or any one that has the book) and Albair:

    1-First, where is the Memre in all this? In what sense is this the "Rite of the Memre" as it is labeled without any mention of such a reading?

    2-Is this printed as part of Lent, or as a separate service altogether, like a glorification or a house blessing?

    3-If it is part of Lent on Fridays (as I understood earlier in our discussion), when is this done? After Matins? After the liturgy?

    4-If this is a brand-new rite developed by a member of the Holy Synod, it should have been presented to the Holy Synod for approval. Thankfully, we have the ritual decisions of the Holy Synod from 1988 to 2010 year by year. No mention is made of a Rite of the Memre being presented for discussion or approved for use.

    Now, regarding the contents of the rite itself, it is practically meaningless as far as I can tell. The Pauline epistle speaks about the gift of tongues, that it is better to speak with understanding than a thousand words in a tongue. The Gospel passage is the feeding of the multitude from the 9th Hour of the Agpeya. I can perhaps see a remote connection between reading a Memre, originally written in a different language (albeit non-existent in this rite) and the Pauline discourse on speaking in tongues. What does this have to do with feeding the multitude? Furthermore, looking at the litanies one would get the impression that this is a morning service (since the litanies of sick and oblations are prayed in Matins preceding a Liturgy), while looking at the Gospel itself, one would get the impression this is an end of day service, since this gospel passage tells of a miracle "when the day began to wear away" (Lk. 9:12) and that is really why it was put in the 9th Hour of the Agpeya in the first place, which was prayed before the monastic evening meal. It is difficult to judge the purpose of this service when all we have is Scriptural readings and fillers (verses of cymbals, Trisagion, litanies...etc).

    Which brings me to the most crucial point of all. Has anyone heard of a liturgical service without any unique and specific prayers? The only "services" that come to mind is the Agpeya hours themselves, and its expanded bigger sibling the Holy Week services. I call those "services" with a qualification because they are not ritual in the full sense. They do not involve the altar, incense, clerical roles,...etc. and they are meant primarily as a sanctification of time itself, without any other internal purpose. As a rule of thumb in all other cases, if you are ever unsure what a prayer is supposed to accomplish, what theological value it is supposed to communicate, all you have to do is read the prayers themselves. They should be self-evident and clear once you remove all the fillers and introductory elements. In this case, all we have is a liturgical service embellished by all the standard modern Coptic fillers (Prayer of Thanksgiving, Trisagion, Litanies, Dismissal) to cushion a core that consists only of Scriptural readings. Even the liturgy of the word is always attached to the Eucharist, and at any rate has its own priestly prayers that impart to it meaning and purpose.

    Just something to think about...
  • I can't answer all of these. Albair might be the best person. For:
    (2) The rite was placed after the glorification rite.
    (4) I am with you on that. 

    I think the whole service was put together to fit a glorification or the Taqdees service in (following the teaching of those two being two separate rites).  
  • edited February 2014

    I checked and the book is called كتاب العظات الزهبية. القديس العظيم يوحنا زهبي الفم. It has sermons to be read on every Sunday of the Coptic year including Lent and The Holy 50 days. Generally the sermons are read after the gospels in Vespers and the Liturgy and on Lent weekdays during Matins and the Liturgy. I cannot see any author of the book which is very strange but there is a deposit number 2003/15830.
  • Apparently the first Maymar mentioned is during lent and is just a sermon while the other maymar with a complete rite is somethign completely diferent only practiced in the saed, i.e it has nothing to do with Lent.

    God Bless
  • I have been digging through old manuscripts and I found a few that deal with "Homilies of Lent". 5 of them are from the Coptic Museum collection. One manuscript is catalogued as the Old Testament Prophecies but it may be a collection of homilies. BF Copt 146 is catalogued as "Turuhat of the Lent" which is a collection of Batos commentaries for Lent (Difnar). I think it is for Sundays but the quality is poor to know for certain. BF Arabe 4761 is an Arabic collection of Lent Sunday sermons by St Shenute the Archimandrite. 

    A quick glimpse of the Coptic Museum collection shows daily sermons for Lent by Pope Athanasius (mostly), Pope John of the Antiochians, Pope John of Constantinople, Anba Peter and some others. We can assume that Pope John is John Chrysostom but nothing is certain. 

    It remains to be seen if the 5 manuscripts match each other and if any come from BF Arabe 4761, as well as the 2003 book Drew references. I will say that the Coptic Museum manuscripts are dated as early as follows: one from the 15th century, one 1682 AD, one 1719 AD, 18 century, and one 1909 AD, and one undated. This is relative small amount of manuscripts for the "memra" rite compared to the number of Lent lectionary manuscripts. This tells me that a collection of homilies for Lent (whether or not that is the same as the Memra rite) was not popular at all. 

    Additionally, it also needs to be seen if Albair's Memra rite assume the homilies were to be take from another book (possible the 5 Coptic Museum manuscripts) or if that Memra rite is a modified/unified version of an older rite. In other words and in response to Ramez's question, it may be that a Lent rite was used in the format explained by Albair but the day's katameros was used with its respective homily from another book. Since the rite was not used much, a modified rite was established listing one particular katameros and assumed the homily was included. This is all speculation because we have no real evidence anywhere. What we can conclude is that sermons were read from a homily collection, aka memra, for each day of the Lent but this did not become popular and new books with homily collections for Lent are reintroduced into the Coptic Church. 

Sign In or Register to comment.