Happy Bright Week!!! Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!!
Now that Holy Week is behind us I decided I wanted to share about what an amazing week Holy Week is in our Orthodox Tradition. I have some non-Orthodox family and friends that may find it interesting to read about what it is we do during this awesome week of our Lord's Passion...my favorite week of the entire year!
After spending 7 weeks focusing on changing ourselves, we turn our attention from us to Him and all he endured for us during the week leading up to Pascha (Easter). ( Much of the descriptions of services, etc. I found on the OCA website.)
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we have 2 services each day and each day has a theme. Monday is the sterile fig tree which yields no fruit and is condemned. Tuesday the accent is on the vigilance of the wise virgins who, unlike their foolish sisters, were ready when the Lord came to them. Wednesday the focus is on the fallen woman who repents. We focus on the Gospel readings that lead us through this week of Christ's life and we also concentrate on reading the Old Testaments reading that prophecy them.
On Holy Thursday each service is focused entirely on the Lord's Last Supper and his betrayal. In some Churches they even do the actual act of washing feet. All hymns have these themes as well.
When Thy glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of their feet before the supper, then the impious Judas was darkened by the disease of avarice, and to the lawless judges he betrayed Thee, the Righteous Judge. Behold, O lover of money, this man because of avarice hanged himself. Flee from the insatiable desire which dared such things against the Master! O Lord who deals righteously with all, glory to Thee (Troparion of Holy Thursday).
Great and Holy Friday begins with the Matins service late on Thursday night with the 12 Gospel Readings. This is what I read about it...
The main feature of this service is the reading of twelve selections from the Gospels, all of which are accounts of the passion of Christ. The first of these twelve readings is Jn 13:31-18:1. It is Christ's long discourse with his apostles that ends with the so-called high priestly prayer. The final gospel tells of the sealing of the tomb and the setting of the watch (Mt 27:62-66).
The twelve Gospel readings of Christ's passion are placed between the various parts of the service. The hymnology is all related to the sufferings of the Saviour and borrows heavily from the Gospels and the prophetic scriptures and psalms. The Lord's beatitudes are added to the service after the sixth gospel reading, and there is special emphasis given to the salvation of the thief who acknowledged Christ's Kingdom.
We build a "tomb" in the center of the Church during Holy Friday. In the afternoon the priest carries Christ from the Cross sets Him in the tomb in what is one of the most moving services I have ever attended in my life. He is laid in the "tomb" as we sing...
The noble Joseph, when he had taken down Your most pure Body from the Tree, wrapped it in fine linen and anointed it with spices, and placed it in a new tomb.
On Great and Holy Saturday we celebrate Divine Liturgy in the morning. It is a somber yet hopeful celebration of Liturgy because we know Christ lies dead, yet he is alive. He is in the tomb, but already he is "trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life." There is nothing more to do now but to live through the evening of the Blessed Sabbath on which Christ sleeps, awaiting the midnight hour when the Day of our Lord will begin to dawn upon us, and the night full of light will come when we will proclaim with the angel: "He is risen, he is not here; see the tomb where they laid him" (Mk 16:6).
We then rise at midnight to begin the amazing celebration of Christ conquering death.
Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee from before his face!
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. (Troparion)
This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Christ is Risen!!!!
Indeed He is Risen!!!