This week is unarguably the most sacred week of the year, one reason the Church names this week Great and Holy Week. Beginning with this past Sunday evening and the Matins of the Bridegroom each evening the Church has asked us to dig deeper into our hearts, ponder longer within our minds, and pray fervently for the strength that we can embrace the call to repentance, and follow Christ as He ascends His Glorious Throne.
But the mood changed last night with the service of the Twelve Gospels of the Passion of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. The Church was dark and filled with candles and incense as the Priest and Chanters recited pages and pages of prayers and Scriptures. The high point of last was the procession of the Lord hanging on the cross with the words,
Today, He who suspended the earth in the waters is suspended on a cross (3x). The King of the Angels wears a crown of thorns. He who wraps the sky in clouds is wrapped in a fake purple robe. He who freed Adam in the Jordan accepts to be slapped. The Bridegroom of the Church is fixed with nails to the cross. The Son of the Virgin is pierced with a spear. We worship Your Passion, O Christ (3x). Show us also Your glorious Resurrection.
Following the sacred procession we were invited to come and humble ourselves at the foot of His Cross. This physical sign of humility must be met with a life of repentance and dedication to the Way established by Christ before ascending to heaven.
Today is a continuation of our sacred vigil at the Cross of Christ. Churches commemorate the time Christ spent on the Cross with a service called the Royal Hours. This afternoon, at the Ninth Hour, Churches will remove His dead body from the Cross and place it in His Tomb, which has been covered with flowers. And from that moment, the mood changes again as we immediately glance ahead at His Glorious Resurrection.
By the time we complete this 24 hour vigil, we will gather at the Tomb of Christ singing hymns of joyful-sorrow, called Lamentations, through which we will praise God’s saving work and expected Glorious Resurrecti
If you have not yet engaged in the services of Holy Week, NOW IS YOUR CHANCE! It won’t get any more sacred than these 24 hours seeing Christ on the Cross. The next time we see Him, He will be raised from the Dead, and another NEW season will blossom in our lives.
Have a blessed Pascha!