Holy Week
Holy Week

Holy Week is very special in our monastery, as are all of the festal services.  They are served in their completeness and with great solemnity.  Perhaps this is also due to the atmosphere kept in the monastery, where the fast is strictly kept, and there is not the distraction of the “World.”

            The first three days, the so-called Bridegroom services are served.  As called for by the Typicon, all of the Gospels are read during the Hours, and every day the liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is served. Basically, all through Holy Week there are services in the morning, afternoon and evening.

            On Holy Wednesday, as per our tradition, all inhabitants of the monastery are encouraged to go to Confession and prepare for Holy Communion on Holy Thursday, the commemoration of the institution of the Holy Eucharist.  Even many if not most of our neighbors partake of this pious tradition as well as the many pilgrims arriving for the holy days.

            At the end of liturgy on Holy Thursday, the rite of the Washing of the Feet is performed.  Vladyka Luke washes the feet of twelve priests and deacons, thus commemorating what our Lord did with His disciples, to show them an example of humility and of service. 

            As time goes on during Holy Week, the services grow in solemnity and in beauty. Who cannot be touched by the moving chants of Matins of the Twelve Gospels Thursday evening?  On Friday morning, while the Royal Hours are served in church, those assigned prepare the eggs for Pascha.  By this time, the Pascha cakes and cheese have been prepared as well as the Artos has been baked. 

            At the end of the Royal Hours, the brethren beautifully prepare the Tomb of the Lord, decorating it with spring flowers.  The flowers are made possible by the donations of the faithful.  In the afternoon, we have Vespers for Holy Friday, during which the Shroud is brought out of the altar and placed on the tomb.  Vladyka gave a moving sermon, and all present venerated the Shroud.

            One meal is provided after this service, and then soon once again another service, this time, the Rule for Communion. 

            At 2 AM the monastery has one of its most moving services, the so-called “Burial” of Christ.  Lauds are chanted during the first part, followed by the Canon of Holy Saturday.  The last part consists of making a procession around the church with the Shroud.  At the end of this service, the first Resurrection Gospel is chanted, and we are given a foretaste of our Lord’s arising from the dead.

            Holy Saturday is a glorious day during which we have the Vespers Liturgy of St. Basil.  Approximately one hour of Old Testament passages are read, all foreshadowing the Lord’s Resurrection.  Instead of the usual Cherubic Hymn, the choir sings “Let all creation be silent…”  This is the theme of this day as the Church waits in anticipation of the greatest event of human history.  All of the vestments and church coverings have now been changed to white, another indication of our leaving behind the darkness of Great Lent for the brightness of the Resurrection.

            At the end of this liturgy, according to ancient tradition, blessed bread and wine are given out to the faithful, thus commemorating how in the ancient times of the Church, the faithful remained all day in church, awaiting the Resurrection and were given bread and wine to sustain their strength.

            After the one meal of the day, the church crew once again returns to the temple to prepare for the evening services by arranging the flowers and decorating the tomb and the iconostasis.  All who are available assist in cleaning the church for the Feast of Feasts.

           

Great Friday Sermon

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters!

“Flee from the greed which made him dare to do such things against His Master.”

The Holy Church teaches that the betrayal which led to Our Saviour’s death was inspired, initiated by the love of money. But is the love of money such a great evil? “The love of money is the root of all evil” writes St. Paul. Indeed, we can say that greed for profit among the very rich is the main contributing factor behind the wars of the recent past and the present.

However, is only the love of money to blame for all our personal and global evils? It is in fact, only a part of a greater problem, which plagues all of us. The issue is the instability of our hearts. We are never satisfied, but always desire more – more food, power, carnal pleasures, amusements, social media acknowledgements and approval, property, things.

It is this insatiable uncontrolled hunger that causes people to be frustrated, sad, depressed, fearful, irrational, insane. God has set limits to behavior in the animal world. We, who have freedom, abuse it. The spirit given to man hungers for the pure water of grace, and yet, we feed it poison. Hieromartyr Hilarion Troitsky explains that civil law protects uncontrolled impulses, if they do not interfere in the life of our neighbor. He writes that this is not so in the spiritual life according to God’s commandments. Our creator, knowing our propensity to extremes commands us to restrain ourselves, to deny ourselves, to sacrifice, to be obedient. Such commands will save us from destruction and hell.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is not only love for money that causes so many catastrophes, but the sum of all our unbridled desires, especially our self-will. Our Lord’s extreme humility is always our best example. Let us obtain through prayer the fear of God, which is the antidote to our greedy wills.

Soon, we will joyously exclaim, “Arise o Lord, and judge the earth”. May our joy be tempered by salvific fear of God, that when He comes to judge, we will find a place on His right side with all the righteous. Amen.

+Bishop Luke

 

Holy Thursday
Holy Friday
Holy Saturday
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Holy Trinity Monastery
1407 Robinson Rd.
PO Box 36
Jordanville, NY 13361

info@jordanville.org
Telephone: (315) 858-0940
FAX: (315) 858-0505