For the last three days (Monday through Wednesday), the global Coptic Church has been fasting and praying as the Holy Synod edits 15+ candidates for the patriarchate down to five(-ish). No meat, no dairy, no seafood, lots of praying, lots of metanoias*.
Why are we praying? Why are we fasting? Because in the next couple of months, a new leader for the Coptic Church will be chosen, after the departure of Pope Shenouda III last March. If this leader is not chosen according to God’s will and by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are
in such big trouble not in a happy place.
Pope Shenouda III was awesome–truly a man of God. In his 40 years as Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, 117 bishops were ordained, 17 schools of theology were established, nearly 200 churches were established in the United States, 289 priests were ordained, and he visited the U.S. 55 times. He wrote 140 books on a variety of subjects (St. John Chrysostom wrote 23), and he gave a public sermon every week from his ordination as a bishop to the last week before his death*.
He was always diplomatic, loving in his words, careful to respect all people and to avoid hurting others needlessly. He had a killer sense of humor and a beautiful smile.
The next leader of the Copts will face many of the same challenges: a volatile Egypt, a widespread diaspora, and continuous social pressure to conform to the world. How he handles these challenges will directly affect our lives and the integrity of the Church.
God will protect His church and provide a leader with wisdom and strength. Of this, I am confident :).
*metanoia: the word is Greek and means the changing of one’s mind (repentance)… in the practical Coptic context, it is a deep prostration made as way of disciplining the body (discipline as in teach, not punish) and opening the mind/heart to God
*Facts as per a talk given by HG Bishop Tadros in Virginia on May 26, 2012.