A Christian news group that I subscribe to offered a wonderful segment last week for Western Good Friday that I wish to chew on today for Orthodox Good Friday. A listener to their news service asked why the agency is Christian yet covers so much bad or depressing news stories. Can’t they just up the anty on more positive, life-affirming stories, and would that not be a more redemptive, Christian approach to news? That is, they wanted to see more stories that demonstrate where God is working.Continue reading
Tag Archives: holy week
Ravish Me With Longing
Thou hast ravished me with longing, O Christ, and with Thy divine love Thou hast changed me. But burn up with spiritual fire my sins and make me worthy to be filled with delight in Thee, that I may leap for joy, O gracious Lord, and magnify Thy two comings. Into the splendor of Thy Saints how shall I who am unworthy enter? For if I dare to enter the bridechamber, my vesture betrays me, for it is not a wedding garment, and as a prisoner I shall be cast out by the Angels. Cleanse my soul from pollution and save me, O Lord, in Thy love for men.Preparatory Prayers for Holy Communion
“Uh, Fahhh-ther, the Bible says that the sacrament of the Lord’s supper is only a symbol or a mere remembrance.” I can still hear my nagging, self-righteous challenge from so long ago. As one of the few fundamentalist, Protestant Christians in an all-boys Roman Catholic high school, my biblical challenges in a class on sacramental theology came often and not always welcomed. I was especially bothered by what the priest would teach concerning what the Roman Church calls the sacrifice of the Mass; i.e., that in consecrating the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, we the faithful are not merely remembering Him like some historical event or person, but re-presenting Him in this particular moment of time. In other words, whenever the Mass is celebrated, the timeless work of salvation, the Paschal Mystery (first time I learned this word “Pascha” from a Catholic priest) of Our Lord’s death, burial, Resurrection and Ascension is brought again from the timeless into this present moment of time.Continue reading
Revival in the Resurrection!
For those of you in my faithful readership who have yet to experience an Orthodox Christian Holy Week, now is your chance! At an Orthodox parish near you, a week of services has begun unlike any you have experienced anywhere else on the planet. Today is Great and Holy Wednesday. If you are local to Boston, you are cordially invited to attend all of the services our parish offers. On Holy Friday, for instance, one of my sons feels like heaven and nature weep, so he makes a special candle to resist the elements and howling of any storm. If you can only do one service, come to either Saturday morning Liturgy or late Saturday night, early Sunday morning for the Feast of Feasts, GREAT AND HOLY PASCHA.
Worse case scenario, if you are unable to appear hypostatically (in person), you can at least listen to a youtube channel created that has much of the key music or the ever-mellifluous Ancient Faith Radio. WARNING: Once you have gone to one service, you won’t be able to stop, so clear your schedule for God because He deserves your praise more than baseball games, concerts, or that addicting TV series. Let the divine drama begin!
Surveying the Wondrous Cross
Forbid it Lord that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God. All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.When i survey the wondrous cross by isaac watts
The hymn writer’s meditation on the cross of the Lord has always made a profound impact on my personal devotion. I was reminded of this verse this morning as we chanted the Royal Hours at the foot of the cross in Church. Watts’ verse is based on the epistle read at the first hour, St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”Continue reading
A Village Pascha
Dear Readers, I came across this lovely portrayal of an Orthodox Holy Week from the associate priest of our parish who grew up in an Orthodox Christian country. I always say that we converts (those who became Orthodox as adults) can learn so much from those who knew it from their very cradle, for to them the faith is as natural as breathing air. This kind of simple innocence shines through in father’s words below. And if you have never been to any Orthodox services, behold NOW is the time, while Divine Services last until this Sunday when we celebrate the Feasts of all Feasts, Great and Holy Pascha!
Having prepared through weeks of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, we are now approaching the “feast of feasts and the holy day of holy days.” But before we can arrive at that sacred day of Pascha, we first must traverse the Church’s Great & Holy Week, where there will be more services than usual, sometimes both in the morning and in the evening. That means more opportunities to emerge from our daily jobs, homes, and chores and into the Church – not unlike the way in which the ancient monastics would return to their monasteries after spending the entirety of Great Lent in the wilderness.Continue reading
Join the Divine Drama of Holy Week!
For those of you in my faithful readership who have yet to experience an Orthodox Christian Holy Week, now is your chance. At an Orthodox parish near you, begins a week of services next week unlike any you have experienced anywhere else on the planet. If you are local to Boston, you are cordially invited to attend all of the services our parish offers. If you can only do one, come to either Saturday morning Liturgy or late Saturday night, early Sunday morning for the Feast of Feasts, GREAT AND HOLY PASCHA.Continue reading
A Masterpiece of Repentance
Great & Holy Wednesday
In the thick of Holy Week now in the Orthodox Church. This always happens to me every year when we get to this moment. So many impressions. So many rich and deep spiritual conversations between my soul and the voice of the Church in the divine services. If those of you in my readership have never been to an Orthodox Church, NOW is the time. Between now and the celebration of Pascha this coming Sunday, you will experience the Lord’s suffering, death, and resurrection in a way you never thought possible.
This Wednesday’s service contains one of the most memorable characters of Holy Week, the woman Mary Magdalene, caught in many sins that broke open a very costly jar of ointment and anointed Jesus’ feet in an extreme act of repentance. The hymn that is sung to her at the end of the service is a masterpiece of repentance. Her deep humility and repentance provide a foil to the betrayal and hard-heartedness of Judas, but she also provides hope to those of us who by this point in Great Lent feel very far gone. Read these words of her hymn and feel drawn into her great story:Continue reading
The God Who Delivers
Sunday, April 19, 2020 Bright and Saving PASCHA of our Lord Jesus Christ
And who is the God who will deliver you out of my hands?— Pharaoh, King of Egypt to Moses the Great, Patriarch, Prophet & God-seer
The taunt of this particular Egyptian ruler rings down through the centuries and is rehearsed every Great and Holy Saturday during one of the 13 readings from the Old Testament. But it is more than a taunt or even an honest query: It is the prayer of every person in the grip of some power beyond their making or control.Continue reading
Cultivating the Church at Home
April 17, 2020, Great and Holy Friday
“How do you, Father Herman, manage to live alone in the forest, don’t you get bored?” He answered, “No, I’m not alone there! There is God, and God is everywhere! There are holy angels! How can one be bored with them? With whom is it more pleasant and better to converse, angels or people? Angels, of course.”Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. 3, St. Herman
In this forth week of our at-home Coronavirus quarantine, we struggle as a family with where to go and what to do. Our travelogue has been quickly and suddenly restricted to our immediate vicinity, and we labor at how to overcome feelings of isolation and boredom. The saints in heaven and especially the monastic hermits like St. Herman of Alaska can teach us what to do with our boredom, and it does not involve surfing to the next binge-worthy series or reaching for our favorite comfort food. It involves a rediscovery of our blessed habitation, that home which Father Herman called, “the blessed place which will render my soul’s salvation.”Continue reading
Holy Week at Home
Saturday, April 11, 2020: Lazarus Saturday
Every year around this time I encourage those of you in my world wide readership that have never been to an Orthodox Church or visited an Orthodox worship service to GO. This year we have the especial privilege and blessing to not have much on our schedule as most are quarantined. I hereby encourage you then to live stream the Holy Week services in very own living room!
Starting today and continuing throughout next week until Pascha (Orthodox Easter) and beyond will be served throughout the world the most sublimely beautiful and divinely inspired worship you have ever seen, heard, felt, smelled or touched, except this year the feeling, smelling and touching will be left to only a few (those few who are left to serve what is being live streamed).Continue reading