From The Word Magazine , April 1984, Page 17-18
Services of Great and Holy Passion Week
HOLY WEEK and PASCHA are the ultimate goal of the whole Christian experience. The absolute minimum fasting would be to eat no meat or dairy products the entire week. Add constant prayer and charity to this for a complete Holy Week experience. The Fasting, of course, is intended to direct our attention to Holy Communion, and to place each action, word, and thought in relationship to Holy Communion, as well as to the content of the Services of Holy Week. We are also to SLOW DOWN our lives so that we can see ourselves as we really are. Finally, Fasting is saying “yes” to God’s desire to fill what is lacking in us, so that we may see life as it really is, through Christ’s Glorious Resurrection.
It is EXTREMELY important to PLAN things in such a way that these Holy Days are focused on what is essential. All week is dedicated to “Keeping Watch” for the coming of the Savior. Therefore, organize your schedule AROUND the cycle of worship. Keep a planned, consistent, disciplined program of worship around the cycle of worship. Be sure TO ATTEND ALL OF THE SERVICES WITH THE ENTIRE FAMILY. Come to HIS House, to worship HIM during this Holy and Great Passion Week.
Palm Sunday Evening
The Bridegroom Service is celebrated to commemorate the Blessed and Noble Joseph and also the fig tree, which was cursed and withered by Our Lord. The withering of the fig tree was a miracle and simultaneously a symbolism, inasmuch, as it had only leaves and no fruit. We say symbolism, inasmuch, as many people in ethical and religious works appear as such, but in reality have no fruits of their lives to show. On this evening, we begin the Hymn of the Bridegroom, “Behold the Bridegroom comes at midnight . . . beware, therefore, 0 my soul, lest thou be borne down with sleep.. . and lest thou be shut out of the Kingdom.
Great and Holy Monday
Divine liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts;
The Bridegroom Service.
The second Bridegroom Service is dedicated to the Ten Virgins from the Holy Gospel. Ethical preparations and wakefulness constitute the foundations of the vivid faith. The theme is to both Watch and
Pray. “Come ye faithful, let us work earnestly for the Master. . . increase our talent of grace… wisdom through good works.”
Great and Holy Tuesday
Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts:
The Bridegroom Service.
The third and final Bridegroom Service commemorates the anointing of Our Lord with myrrh by the woman in the house of Simon the leper in Bethany. The woman, who demonstrated her repentance and her warm faith toward Our Lord, still presents to us for imitation today, the aroma of her virtue. On this evening we sing the beautiful Hymn of Kassiani: “The woman who had fallen into many sins recognized Thy Godhead, 0 Lord. ‘Woe to me,’ saith she, ‘receive the sources of my tears, 0 Thou who doth gather into clouds the water of the sea. Who can trace out the multitude of my sins and the abysses of my misdeeds? 0 Thou whose mercy is unbounded.”‘
It is hoped that all of the Orthodox Faithful will have made their Confession and receivedthe Holy Sacrament of Penance by no later than Holy Wednesday. In this way, full participation in Holy Unction and Holy Thursday ‘s Liturgy can be realized!.
Great and Holy Wednesday
Service of the Sacrament of Holy Unction (The Holy Prayer-Oil)
The sacred ceremony of the Mysterion of the Holy Unction is celebrated on Holy Wednesday evening, a custom which has prevailed for a long period of time —”Anointing the sick with oil, in the Name of the Lord. . .” The woman who poured the precious oil on Jesus is the image of sacrifical love and repentance, which alone unites us with Christ.Jesus in turn has given us this Holy Oil as a Sacrament of Healing, by which we partake of His love that never fails! We are anointed this evening, so that our own suffering in Christ may become a visible victory over the ills of our body and our soul. This Sacrament is “a healing unto soul and body.. .” and is also a spiritual preparation for the receiving of the Holy Eucharist at the Holy Thursday Divine Liturgy. For this reason it is suggested and requested that all Orthodox Christians have recently received the Sacrament of Holy Confession to properly participate in the Mankind-saving events that are to be celebrated in the remaining days of Holy Week. Since Holy Unction is a Sacrament of the Church, only Orthodox Faithful may be anointed.
The Washing of the Feet Service. (Optional)
The service commemorates Christ’s washing of His Disciples feet as an example of humility and love.
Great and Holy Thursday
The Divine Liturgy of the Institution of the Mysterion (The Sacrament) of Holy Communion — The Commemoration of the Last Supper. The Reserved Sacrament, used for the sick throughout the year, is consecrated at this Liturgy. THE DIVINE LITURGY OF ST BASIL THE GREAT:
Commemorating the Last Supper of Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ. ALL OF THE FAITHFUL SHOULD RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION AT THIS DIVINE LITURGY!!
Great Thursday Evening
The Service of the Reading of the Twelve Holy Passion Gospels of Our Lord and also the Procession with the Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Our Lord.
On Holy and Great Thursday evening the Sacred Service of the reading of the Twelve Passion Gospels of Our Lord’s Passion is celebrated. His Crucifixion is also commemorated by the procession of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross, after the reading of the Fifth Gospel. During this Procession, the Faithful kneel and pray for the spiritual welfare of their souls, imitating the thief on the cross who confessed his faith and devotion to Christ. Then all of the Faithful proceed to kiss the Cross reverently as the chanter sings, “We worship Thy Passion, 0 Christ…
Great and Holy Friday
The Service of the Hours
“They cast lots upon my vesture… ” According to the Hebrew custom, the “Royal Hours,” four in number, are read. These services consist of Hymns. Psalms, and Reading from the Old and New Testaments, all related prophetically and ethically to the Person of Christ.
A.M. The Service of the Royal Hours
The Death of Christ is lamented. In the service of the Vespers of the Winding Sheet, Christ’s Death, His being taken down from the Cross, His Burial in the Tomb by Joseph and Nicodemus, is commemorated in a solemn Procession with the Shroud, the Epitaphios. What logics or evil led the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate, the Roman soldiers, and the whole crowd to hate, torture, and kill Christ? On what side would we have been had we lived inJerusalem under Pilate? These questions are addressed to us in every word of the Great and Holy Friday Services. The world has not changed nor has human nature. Holy and Great Friday is the REAL and not the symbolical condemnation and the REAL and not the ritualJudgment of our life. The world still prefers darkness to light, evil to good, death to life. WHERE WILL YOU BE THIS GREAT AND HOLY FRIDAY???
WILL YOU COME AND STAND AS WITNESS TO HIM, WHO DIED FOR OUR SINS? WILL YOU PAUSE IN YOUR DAILY BUSINESS DEALINGS, TO SAY A PRAYER?
P.M. The unnailing and taking down from the cross the precious body of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The Service of the Taking Down of the Precious Body of Our Lord from the Cross and the Placing of the Winding Sheet, the Epitaphios, in the Bier of Our Lord.
The Lamentation or Burial Service
The Death of Our Lord is lamented. In Christ’s perfect love for us, He gave Himself FOR US, for the life of the world, as the act of pure obedience and the full trust in the Father’s will that we lack! This is what we have been; lovers of Christ’s Kingdom, but few of us have desired His tribulation. We would eat and drink with Him, but He finds few of us to be with Him in His hunger and His thrist. All of us want Christ’s joy, but few suffer anything for Him. Jesus has many lovers, as long as no troubles befall them. Yet, He loves us, even unto death!
This Holy Night we would stand at the Tomb of our gentle, kind, understanding, forgiving Lord, Jesus Christ, who endured spittings and scourgings, the Cross and Death, for OUR salvation. Tortured with pain on the Cross, our Lord spoke the words, “I Thirst.” Was He not revealing thus the desire of His Heart to be loved by you and me? This is the Great and Holy Friday night. Isn’t it time we gave our Lord a simple pleasure: To whisper before His Sacred Tomb, “Lord, I Love You!”
The Procession around the Church with the Sacred Tomb, the re-entry into the Church, and the scripture Readings that follow, commemorate the descent of Christ even into Hell, to free the righteous, who awaited the fulfillment of His promise.
On this day flowers adorn the Tomb of Christ. Following the service, all of the Faithful kneel before the Tomb, rise and kiss the wounds on the Body of our Savior, and also the Holy Gospel Book, and receive a blessed flower from Our Lord’s Tomb.
All of the Faithful should strictly fast this entire day. You should come to all of the services and fast from supper until after the Vespers of Great and Holy Friday. No TV. or radio. This is the day that Our Lord died for OUR SINS!
Morning Liturgy of St. Basil:
Easter Matins, P.M.
Rush Procession, Midnight;
Great and Holy Saturday
This is the most sacred and blessed Sabbath. We believe in the Holy Resurrection! We expect the Resurrection! We know that Christ’s death has destroyed the power of sin and death. We wait in love, hope, and faith. We keep the Sabbath!
DIVINE LITURGY OF ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM: COMMEMORATING THE GREAT HOLY AND GLORIOUS RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD OF OUR LORD, GOD, AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST!
Following the Resurrection Divine Liturgy, we bless and distribute the Easter Eggs.
Great and Holy Resurrection Sunday, The Holy Feast of Feasts
At the Paschal Agape Sunday Vespers Service, the Holy Gospel of the Resurrection is read in many different languages, to symbolize that the message of Our Lord’s Resurrection is proclaimed unto the four corners of the earth. Another Paschal procession takes place at this service.