The Days Before Us
Each Day in Holy Week is devoted to a particular theme, all designed for us to draw closer to Christ, His Resurrection, and His Awesome and Dread Second Coming. Entering into the spirit of these parables and reminders from the Holy Scriptures makes Holy Week the most spiritually and liturgically intense period of the Christian year.
The Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem is one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Christian Faith, and celebrated with great honor.
We commemorate his entrance into His saving and voluntary Passion for us, and like the Apostle Thomas, prepare ourselves to “go and die with Him,” following the services of Holy Week which follow.
A grand procession of palms will take place at the end this Sunday’s service.
HOLY WEEK BEGINS
On Palm Sunday evening the Services of Holy Week begin.
The Long Gospel readings on the first three days divulge the entire content of the final discourses of Christ. The Lord is completing His instructions to His beloved disciples and Apostles, and speaks with forcefulness. His love for mankind is clearly expressed, as He anticipates His suffering and death, which He repeatedly told them about. In these discourses he is far from the “sweet Jesus” of popular imagery. He speaks with clarity concerning the end of this age.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only… Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”
(Matt. 24:36, 42)
The Church celebrates “Bridegroom” services on the evenings of Holy Week. These Bridegroom Services are derived from the Parable of the Ten Virgins, which calls for preparedness at the Second Coming, for;
“the thief comes in the middle of the night.” (Matt. 26:1-13)
These services remind us that we, as Christians, must always be ready to meet the Lord, and be spiritually watchful at all times.
The Theme of Monday in Holy Week is the barren fig tree, which yields no fruit and is condemned, reminding us that believing is not enough – we must bear fruit before the Coming of the Lord. The Lord performed this miracle to show the Apostles that the Hebrew nation was not bearing fruit, and no new fruit would come from them again – and no prophet has arisen among the Jews since. The message for believers is very clear: bear spiritual fruit now, and do not wait, for the Just Judge will come with you do not expect Him.
On Holy Tuesday we remember the parable of the Ten Virgins, five of whom were wise, five of whom were foolish, and the parable of the Talents. Like the wise virgins, we must be ready, and prepared, for the unexpected Coming of the Lord. Spiritual idleness will have a consequence, and we must not be shut out of the Kingdom.
We are filled with “holy fear” as we listen to Him prophesy the Last Judgment (Matthew 24:36-26:2).
The eschatological theme of Holy Week magnifies.
Holy Wednesday commemorates the repentance of the sinful woman, recollects her great humility and repentance as she comes to Jesus in an ocean of sin, and compares her with Judas, who speeds to betray and sell the Creator of the Universe for 30 pieces of silver.
The service of the Mystery of Holy Unction is celebrated on Wednesday evening, to prepare us for entrance into Christ’s Resurrection. We also remember our Lord’s great humility, and the washing of the feet of the 12 Apostles in Anticipation of the Holy Eucharist.
On this day, we commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist. The entire mission of Christ, and indeed the very purpose for the creation of the world in the first place, is so that God’s beloved creature, made in His own divine image and likeness, could be in the most intimate communion with Him for eternity, sitting at table with Him, eating and drinking in His unending kingdom.
The Lord commanded His disciples and Apostles to “Do this,” and the Holy Apostle Paul tells us tha,
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this Cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
1 Corinthians 11:26
Great & Holy Friday
The Matins service, celebrated on Thursday night, recounts the betrayal and crucifixion of our Lord. The 12 Passion Gospels are read, recounting the entire Scriptural account of the Lord’s Passion. On Friday afternoon, we celebrate the Vespers of Good Friday, calling to mind His Life-Creating and voluntary death and burial.
After the service of Great Vespers on Friday afternoon, the burial Shroud of the Lord is placed in a liturgical “Tomb”, decorated with flowers, and we begin our Vigil, remaining with the Lord, reading the Psalms and Acts of the Apostles over the Tomb and Shroud of Christ until the Paschal Vigil.
Holy Saturday celebrates the Great Sabbath, when our Lord Jesus Christ rested, in the tomb, from His labors for our salvation. It also uniquely commemorates the victory of Christ over the powers of hell. During the Matins (sung on Friday night) the Lamentations of the Righteous Man Who loves the Law of the Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ, as presented in Ps. 119.
The Liturgy on Saturday morning is especially joyful, as the cloths of the Church are changed from Dark to White in anticipation of the Resurrection!
The Great and Holy PASCHA!
The Great Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ! This is the King of Feasts, the Holy Day of Holy Days! This is the greatest event in the history of mankind! On this day, we proclaim the festal hymn,
“Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!”
This service begins at 11:30 pm Saturday night, going from dark to light, and we begin our feast immediately afterwards, with the blessing of Pascha Baskets.
There is no service on Sunday morning, but a joyous Paschal Vespers at 12 Noon!