Holy Week

Palm Sunday or the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday,  one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church.

Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday

These days are noted for the celebration of the Bridegroom services. In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Christ is identified as the Bridegroom and in Isaiah chapter 54 the Messiah is identified as the Bridegroom of the Church.

Matthew 25: 1-13
1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
These services focus on Christ's return and how we should always be prepared for it.

Holy Wednesday

On this day we recall the Betrayal of Our Lord by Judas Escariot. This  has led to the Orthodox tradition of fasting on Wednesdays throughout the year.

Holy Thursday

A central feature of Holy Thursday is the Service of the Twelve Gospels. These readings highlight Christ's last instructions to his disciples, prophecies of his crucifiction, the Lords Prayer and his new Commandment. The twelve readings are
  • John 13:31-18:1
  • John 18:1-29
  • Matthew 26:57-75
  • John 18:28–19:16
  • Matthew 27:3-32
  • Mark 15:16-32
  • Matthew 27:33-54
  • Luke 23:32-49
  • John 19:19-37
  • Mark 15:43-47
  • John 19:38-42
  • Matthew 27:62-66
Great and Holy Friday

This is the most solemn day on the Churches Calendar. At Vespers the priest removes the Epitaphios, an icon of the Body of Christ from the Cross wraps it in a white cloth, recalling the burial shroud and places it at the altar.

During the evening service of the "Lamentations at the Tomb" the Epitaphios is processed around the church with the faithful following with lighted candles before being placed on a bier, representing the Tomb.

The Orthodox tradition of fasting on Fridays derives from Christ's crucifixion taking place on a Friday

Holy Saturday

Also called the Great Sabbath and we recall Christ's descent into Hades, releasing the souls trapped there,  whilst anticipating the Resurrection.

The Divine Liturgy of St Basil is served on this day and the somberness of Good Friday begins to be replaced with the joy of the Feast of Feasts -Pascha.
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