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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Holy Week & Pascha again

I am very much looking forward to this Pascha and the run-up to it. I missed it last year because of the unpleasantness that was going on with me at the time, and the year before that I wasn't even Orthodox, and was only taking my first tentative steps into an Orthodox church. Now I am an altar server and am awaiting that week with eager anticipation, hoping to immerse myself completely into the Mystery.

One thing that I cannot wait to experience again is the service of Holy Unction. I have experienced it only once and it was one of the most moving things that I have ever been through. You see, there was part of the service where we knelt and my parish priest said prayers. The significance of this isn't immediately apparent unless you understand that we Orthodox generally do not do that. We stand and sing our prayers with full voice. The contrast is unbelievable and the words moved me to tears.

I am also excited about processing outside in the dead of night, singing at the tops of our voices, 'Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life!'

As for Holy Thursday and Friday, I have never experienced them and so will probably be overwhelmed yet again. Does anybody have any expeirences to share and any pointers about what to expect?


Anonymous said...

I too found the Service of Holy Unction very moving: and yes, when you don't kneel, kneeling, and prostrations (during Great Lent), take on a whole new significance.

Holy Thursday and Friday are most wonderful services also. Holy Thursday we have footwashing of 12, as you may've experienced in the Anglican church.

Holy Friday is a very mournful, as you'd expect, set of services. The "burial" service Friday afternoon, where the crucified Christ is taken down from the cross and placed in a decorated bier, with the priest chanting a very mournful hymn. My thoughts from last year's Friday and Saturday morning services are here, but the Greeks in the US have a very comprehensive site you can access here: use the box at top-left to choose the day.

God bless you this Great Lent and Pascha season. And how wonderful that you are an altar server: God bless.

Aristibule said...

Like Ian said - it will take some stamina. Make sure you've vitamined up! If they have the Bridegroom services on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings - those are some of the most beautiful in the Byzantine rite. Holy Thursday and Holy Friday are probably the most emotionally impacting things I've ever done - the nailing of the icon of Christ to the cross, and our explicit participation in it because of our sins is *impossible* to escape. Every Orthodox Christian Should Attend Holy Week Services - the whole cycle pretty much encompasses what we are about. Hopefully you'll also have the the Agape Vespers later in the day after staying up for the Paschal Vigil.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, as Aristibule wrote, the Bridegroom services and the Agape service are wonderful: the poor parishioners are subject to my German at the later -- though it is lovely to participate.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to write, our parish recently printed a booklet with all the Byzantine services for Holy Week: if you'd like a copy drop me an e-mail with your address and I'll send one on.

Anonymous said...

[Sample pages here.

And apologies for the prolific commenting! :)]