5/1/13

G is for Going to Church (a lot) ~ {Through The Alphabet}

This week is Holy Week. From a day or two before Great Lent ends until the day after Pascha we go to church. A Lot.  So it makes sense that this week, when we are going to church every day that I blog about Going to Church. Isn’t it great that Marcy’s Blogging Through the Alphabet is on the letter G right now?

Great Lent technically ended on Friday.  Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday fall outside of both Great Lent and Holy Week. My oldest daughter refers to the weekend as “the marathon of colors.” The cloths and candles are purple for Lent.  Those must be swapped for Gold for Lazarus Saturday.  Palm Sunday is liturgically green so all the cloths change again, but then Sunday night we enter into Holy Week and all the colors change again to black.

Fr. Andrew of Emmaus PA posted a photo on FB a few days ago that stated the average Orthodox Christian who attends all the services at his church leading up to and including Pascha will spend more than 30 hours in church. That’s going to church a lot!

Why do we go to church so much this week? Well, these are special services that are only offered during Holy Week. For me they help me to focus on Christ’s mission here on earth and in a way that I can not explain with words, the services allow me to join with Him. It starts for me on Palm Sunday. Liturgically we are outside of time and we experience the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem.

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Matins, which is typically served in the mornings, does a flip flop with vespers, which is typically served in the evenings so on Sunday evening we enter into Holy Week and the Matins for Great and Holy Monday is served.  The Matins for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (all served the evening before!) are the Bridegroom Matins service.  These are my most favorite.

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On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts is served. This service is the vespers but with the flip flop is served in the morning. I always giggle when we get to the line that says “Let us complete our evening prayers unto the Lord.”  and also with “And now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening.”  We’re a one car  family so the girls and I won’t be making it to any of those services this year. Still going to church a lot just not in the mornings!

Wednesday night is when Holy Unction is served. Well at my parish it is served in the evening.  Some parishes serve it in the afternoon and then in the evening they serve the final Bridegroom service.  We don’t serve that last Bridegroom service. Holy Unction is a beautiful service. Seven different Gospel passages are read and one candle is lit for each reading. To be served “properly” there should be 7 priests.  Parishes are given a blessing to have less than 7 priests. I wonder if we’ll have 7 priests this year?

On Thursday evening we will do Matins of Great and Holy Friday which includes the reading of the passion Gospels. We all light candles during the readings. This is a very emotional and moving service as we read all the passages of our Lord’s betrayal, crucifixion, and burial. To quote Supergirl “this is when we put Jesus on the cross.”  Yes, we have an icon of Christ that is attached to the cross. 

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On Friday we “celebrate” the entombment of our Lord.  The image that was placed on the cross on Thursday is removed from the cross and placed in the “tomb.” The entire Psalm 119 is read just as we do for Orthodox funerals.  We have a procession with the “shroud” but it is not a joyful procession; we are mourning. On Saturday we move begin to move from mourning to joy as the Resurrection approaches.

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The Paschal services begin at 9pm on Saturday night with the reading of the book of Acts. At 11:30 we have the very short Nocturnes service and at Midnight? The greatest, most exciting, joy filled glorious Paschal Matins and Divine Liturgy. Just typing it up and thinking about it brings a smile to my face.  I can’t wait to shout “Christ is Risen!” and to sing “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”  But first I must get through this second half of Holy Week. <grin>

Blogging Through the Alphabet

1 comment:

  1. Lovely thoughts and pictures. I am remembering our first Pascha last year when we were not Chrismated yet. This year is even more full and beautiful. There is a LOT of church this week. We can make it!

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