Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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I was so disturbed to learn that the so called "Preparation Week" is actually "Heraclius's Week" and is based on a promise the Christians of the Holy Land made to Heraclius after killing the Jews. Based on this it should be banned!

In 2020, the Holy Great Fast starts on Monday, February 24th and lasts for eight weeks. We abstain during the weekdays, which will equal eight weeks by five days each week for forty days.

These are the two proofs:

1. Egaria, the Spaniard who visited the Holy Land between AD 384-386 and who followed the passage of the Israelites from their exodus out of Egypt as well as Christ's movements during His ministry, provided a detailed account of the rituals during the Holy Great Pascha Week. According to historical documents that were discovered in AD 1884 by archaeologist, F. G. Maurine, in which he says that while the Great Fast is forty days before the Resurrection Feast, it is eight weeks in Jerusalem (fifty-five days). The reason is that they do not fast with abstinence on Saturdays or Sundays, except on Bright Saturday. Thus, the fast alone is forty-days.

2. In Homily 19 by St. Severus of Antioch that can be traced back to AD February 8, 513, he explained that the fast is eight weeks. These eight weeks resemble spiritual renewal and the five days of each week in which we abstain resemble the five senses.

Some mistakenly say that the first week of the Holy Great Fast, which is referred to as the preparation week, was originally called Heraclius's Week. They propose a strange narrative claiming that when Heraclius freed Jerusalem from the Persians, the Jews begged him not to harm them. Thus, he made a peace treaty with them. However, Church clergy were displeased with the agreement and requested that Heraclius discard the treaty and kill the Jews. In exchange, they would fast one week every year so that God would forgive him. Thus, he agreed and killed the Jews. Therefore, the Church imposed this additional week of fasting on the people.

This is narrative is erroneous and refuted by the following points:

1. The Coptic Orthodox Church had no agreement with the Roman government. Suffice it to say that the Coptic Orthodox Church has endured atrocities at the hands of the Melkites. Unfortunately, because of lack of resources, some Coptic historians from the middle ages quoted the Melkite version. However, it is clear that the preparation week existed before Heraclius and this fictional account.

2. The patriarch of Jerusalem during the time of Heraclius's conquest was Chalcedonian. Therefore, there was no agreement made with the Coptic Orthodox Church.

3. Heraclius was not even a Copt, an Orthodox, or a Christian. There was no reason for us to fast for his sake.

4. It is preposterous that we would even consider fasting for the killing of others.

5. Christian doctrine does not teach that one fasts for another.

6. There is nothing in our Christian faith that encourages or condones killing. This is a criminal act, unsuitable for a patriarch.

7. Heraclius ruled from 610-644 AD, two centuries later than Egaria's account (see proof #1 above).

8. St. Severus's account existed one hundred twenty years before Heraclius ruled (see proof #2 above).

9. The heretic Melkite version was published during the leadership of their patriarch from 887-940 AD.

10. Socrates Scholates, a fifth century historian (439 AD), also wrote manuscripts along the same explanation as Egaria, which refutes the future-written fabricated account of the Melkites.
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