Great and Holy Week: Bridegroom Matins
I have attended many different types of Orthodox services (there are still a few I’ve not yet made it to such as the Cannon of St. Andrew). I’ve attended baptisms, funerals, weddings, vigils, vespers, matins and variations in addition to different liturgies. I’ve been to most of the different services offered during Holy Week. (I have not yet attended the special Liturgy of St. Basil on Holy Saturday).
Of all the different types of services I have experienced, The Bridegroom Matins is hands down my favorite. Our Parish serves these special matins on Sunday night, (for Monday), Monday night (for Tuesday) and Tuesday night (for Wednesday).
Why are they my favorite? These services instill the anticipation of waiting for the Bridegroom. The atmosphere is somber as we begin to enter into the experiences of our Lord’s Passion Week. The special hymns of each day focus on different events. For example one hymn describes Judas agreeing to betray the Lord. But this isn’t really why they are my favorite services.
They are my favorite because of the Exaposteilarion:
"I behold Thy Bridal chamber richly adorned O my Savior but I have no wedding garment to worthily enter. Make radiant the garment of my soul O Giver of Light and save me.”
I have yet to experience hearing the haunting melody and meditating on the words and NOT cried. Last night I thought “my heart is just so hard and I’m so grouchy and I doubt I’ll cry tonight because I’m just so out of sorts.” The exaposteilarion took me by surprise. (I was having a a hard time following the service because I’d had such a bad day.) But as soon as my heart heard the very first note, my heart melted and my soul joined in the prayer. “Make radiant the garment of my soul O Giver of Light and save me.” I am not worthy to enter in but He can give me garments so that I can enter.
Pascha (Easter) and the joy of the Resurrection has so much more meaning for me because of the experiences of the services of Holy Week.