Orthodox Holy Week, Continued.

I wish everyone I know and love could come to Holy Week. The service of the Twelve Gospel Readings is so rich. It is long and it is rigorous (3 hours) but that is the purpose of liturgy — to re-form us in the spirit of Christ, away from the World, and that takes work. A lot of it. After the reading of the 5th Gospel, the lights go nearly out. The Priest enters carrying the icon of Christ on the Cross (video can be seen here). It is a slow procession and he hymns:

Today is suspended on a tree He who suspended the earth upon the waters.

The King of the angels is decked with a crown of thorns.

He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery.

He who freed Adam in the Jordan is slapped on the face.

The Bridegroom of the Church is affixed to the Cross with nails.

The Son of the virgin is pierced by a spear.

We worship Thy passion, O Christ.

We worship Thy passion, O Christ.

We worship Thy passion, O Christ.

Show us also Thy glorious resurrection.

Somehow, I don’t remember this most important processional from last year. But I will not forget this year’s. Christ was hung on a tree and is being hung on a tree. He is there and I am there; we are there. We mystically enter into this event. It is literally happening before our very eyes. Dark silence hangs in the air and the readings resume.

There is an elderly woman in our parish named Khoula. During Great Lent, for the Monday Compline, she sings a hymn to the Theotokos. I first heard it last year and again this year, when she was able to attend (Great Compline is every Monday for our parish during Lent). The singing is Divine. Yesterday, during our morning service, our Bishop came. Toward the end of the service, he sang the Litany of the Intercessions. Again, the singing was Divine. In an email exchange with and old friend from Pittsburgh who recently was received into the Church, I remarked: “The Bishop came today. Man, was it glorious. Some of the hymns take me out of this world. I think that’s the point.”

That language is a little metaphorical, as in reality, God is everywhere present, filling all things, but there are these thin places, where the Divine kisses the Created and the exquisiteness of those precious moments is unbearable….

To-day, it will be overcast and rainy and it is appropriate for great sadness hangs around Holy Friday. Christ will be entombed and we will kiss his lifeless body.

“On the same day, O Lord, You granted the Robber Paradise. Now by the wood of the Cross, illumine me and save me.”


One thought on “Orthodox Holy Week, Continued.

  1. Pingback: ICYMI: “Orthodox Holy Week, Continued.” [LINK] | Prodigal Paul | the long way home

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