Great Lent 40 Days Before Pascha (Orthodox Easter)
The Liturgy Of The Presanctified Gifts
Because Great Lent is a season of repentance, fasting and intensified prayer, the Orthodox Church regards more frequent reception of Holy Communion as especially desirable at that time of the year. However, the Divine Liturgy has a festal character not in keeping with the season. Thus, the Presanctified Liturgy is celebrated instead, since the Divine Liturgy can only be served on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Service consists of Daily Vespers combined with additional prayers and Holy Communion. The Body of Christ has already been consecrated, intincted with the precious Blood of Christ and reserved at the previous Sunday's Divine Liturgy (Presanctified Gifts).
We offer the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts once a week during Great Lent. Please check the parish bulletin for day & time.
Lazarus Saturday is a preview of the Paschal (Easter) celebration. We recall that Jesus’ good friend Lazarus died and that He promised to raise him from the dead (John 11).
On Friday evening, as we prepare for the Feast of Lazarus’ resurrection, the “great and saving forty days” of Lent are formally brought to an end.
At the Divine Liturgy on Lazarus Saturday, we glorify Christ as the “resurrection and the life” who, by raising Lazarus from the dead, has foreshadowed and confirmed the universal resurrection of humankind, even before His own passion and death.
Lazarus Saturday is a resurrectional celebration. It is the only time in the entire church year that the resurrectional theme of Sunday is celebrated on another day.
Entry of our Lord into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday)
Now, Great and Holy Week (Passion Week) is about to begin with the Sunday of the Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday).
Instead of Palm branches, bundles of pussy willows are blessed and distributed to the faithful because of their availability and early springtime blossoming in northern countries.
During the Service, there will be a procession with the festal branches as we join in following the Lord’s triumphal procession into the Holy City.
Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday
The theme of the first three weekdays of Holy Week is Christ the Bridegroom (Nymphios). The Orthros is technically a morning Service, but is celebrated here at the night before as we wait like the wise virgins for the bridegroom to come (Matthew 25:1-13).
In some places, the Lenten Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is celebrated on Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday and Holy Wednesday morning.
During these first three weekdays of Great and Holy Week, it is customary in some churches that the entire four Gospels be read at the Canonical Hours (Third, Sixth, Ninth) up to the point where the passion of our Lord begins.
This basically is a penitential Service. We ask for mutual forgiveness and receive the Holy Mysterion (Sacrament) of Holy Unction.
This continues a custom of great antiquity. It is the evening of repentance and the remission of our sins by the Lord in preparation for receiving His precious Body and Blood on Great & Holy Thursday.
Holy Unction, one of the Church’s sacraments, is considered the Mysterion of the cleansing of sins and the renewal of our body and spirit. It has its origins in the practices of the very early church as recorded in the Epistle of St. James (5:14-15).
Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist on this day, the night before His suffering and death on the cross.
The Church does not repeat this event, but rather celebrates in the Holy Liturgy (Holy Mass) the death and resurrection of Christ as the Pesach (Pascha) from death to life, i.e. from our state of death to life in Christ, as He has redeemed us from eternal death and damnation through His own sacrifice on the Cross.
The Matins or Morning Service of Holy Friday with the reading of the Twelve Gospels of the Holy passion of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. This is one of the most beautiful and moving Services in the Orthodox Church.
The Royal Hours
The Epitaphios (Holy Shroud) of our Lord is placed upon the Holy Table (Altar). The Third, Sixth and Ninth Hours are celebrated festively.
Holy Friday Vespers
The final events of Christ’s Life are retold. The Epitaphios is taken in procession to the tomb in the center of the church and venerated by all faithful. The Service is completed with little Compline (night prayers).
All-night watch at the tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We usually offer Services from Holy Wednesday through Holy Friday. Please check the parish bulletin for times.