The Rites – The Coptic Church

According to Chapungco, “there is no rite of penance in Coptic [books of] rituals” (Chapungco 112).  This makes it very difficult to provide an outline of the rite.  Chapungco provides a partial one, drawing from manuscripts used by Orthodox Copts:

“At the end of confession the priest recites a prayer in which he asks God for forgiveness and remission of sins.  … [T]his prayer, addressed to the Son, reminds one of the Latin Confiteor.

“The confessor adds a second prayer, also called a blessing, which calls to mind the one in the ancient Latin penitential rite that the priest made after the absolution.  Before departure, the penitent says, “I have sinned, my father, give me absolution.”  the confessor says, “You have been absolved of all of your sins.”  This prayer… begins with the words “I bless you”…

Chupungco also provides two lengthy prayers.  The first would appear to be a prayer before the confession of sins (which would have been done according to species and number, says Chupungco [110-111]):

“Master, Lord Jesus Christ, only Son and Word of God the Father, who by your saving and life-giving sufferings have broken all the bonds of our sins; you who breathed into the faces of your holy disciples and said: ‘Receive the holy Spirit; whose sins you will remit, they are remitted, whose sins you will retain, they are retained.’  Now, our Master, you have deigned, by the holy apostles, to give to their successors in the priestly ministry, in the bosom of your Holy Church, the faculty of remitting sins on earth, of binding and loosing all the bonds of iniquity: we now pray and beg your goodness, you who love humanity, on behalf of your servant whose head [or: your servants, my fathers, brothers and sisters who bow their heads] is bowed in the presence of your holy glory, that he (we) may obtain your mercy and that you break all the bonds of his/our sins, which he/we has/have committed against you, whether consciously or unconsciously or by fear, in word, deed or by weakness.  You, the Master, who know the weakness of human beings, in the good God who loves humanity, give him/us the remission of his/our sins.”

The second is, what Chupungco calls the “blessing.”  It is certainly a prayer of absolution.  And it is very interesting in its use of “consubstantial,” as well as in its invocation of certain saints and the numbering of bishops at past councils:

“Fill us once more with fear of you and guide us in your holy and good will, because you are our God, and may glory, honor and power be given you along with our Father and the life-giving Holy Spirit, consubstantial with you…. May the infirmities of your servants and me who officiate today be absolved.  May they be absolved by the mouth of the Most Holy Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and by the mouth of the twelve apostles, of the divine interpreter Mark, apostle, evangelist and martyr, of the apostolic St. Athanasius, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril, St. Gregory and St. Basil, of the three hundred eighteen Fathers of Nicea, and the one hundred fifty of Constantinople, the two hundred of Ephesus, the six hundred thirty of Chalcedon and by the mouth of our honored Father, the Archbishop Abba… and his auxiliary Bishop Abba… and by he mouth of my most humble self, because blessed and glorious is your name, Father, son and holy spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

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