Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I'm dreaming of a white...Pascha?

The first three days of Holy Week repeat themselves to such an extent that I lose track of time. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, the serving priest reads all four gospels, symbolizing Christ's preaching in the Temple. At ten in the morning, we serve Presanctified Liturgy. And in the evening, we have the Bridegroom Matins, which takes its name from one of the hymns we sing:
Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight, and blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching, and again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep, lest you be given up to death, and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom. But rouse yourself crying: Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou, O our God, through the Theotokos have mercy on us.
There are differences on certain days. On Tuesday evening, we had the service of Holy Unction, which is commonly done during Holy Week. Seven priests anointed everyone gathered with a mixture of oil and wine, recalling both the the parable of the Good Samaritan and the epistle of St. James: “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord”. By the end, our faces and hands were covered in holy oil; we wiped off the excess with paper napkins, which we disposed in a special container for “holy trash”.

Somewhere in all this, Nature greeted us with this sight:

Alas, the poor buds of Spring were swallowed up in an inverse Indian Summer (or should I say Indian Winter?). Thankfully, it looks like the snow’s melting…for now!

This morning, we gathered in church again for the rite of forgiveness. We lined up and prostrated to each other, saying, “Forgive me, a sinner!” and answering, “God forgives, forgive me!” This rite is also done at the very beginning of Great Lent. After making many prostrations to each other, it’s hard not to feel a sense of Christian brotherhood.

And after today’s Presanctified Liturgy, we did the last Prayer of St. Ephraim. The blue lights above the Royal Doors lit up, signaling the end of prostrations in church (for the most part).

It’s the home stretch!

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