Friday, April 11, 2014

Turning towards Holy Week

Icon of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)

These will be among my last posts before Orthodox Christian Holy Week begins, when we should turn aside from the maelstrom of the world and the cacophony of false religions of whatever stripe, and direct 100% of our attention — body, soul and spirit — to the Lord Jesus Christ and His voluntary and saving Passion, Crucifixion, Death, Burial and Resurrection.

For all our sakes, mine as well as yours, dear readers, I intend to post some favorite articles throughout the Lord's Passion Week, per the counsel of Fr. Steven Kostoff, who wrote this week on his blog:

+  One must first make a commitment to Holy Week and  make it the priority for your respective households, regardless of how often you actually make it to the services. This is a week of strict fasting, and no other activities should impinge upon that.  Your commitment to making Holy Week the center of your lives is synonymous with your commitment to Christ. 
+  Try and arrange your schedules so that you are able to attend the services as well as possible.  However, if you are not able to attend the services, it must not be because of something of "entertainment value;" or some other distraction that can wait for a more appropriate time.  Be especially aware of Great and Holy Friday and Saturday.  These are the days of the Lord's Death and Sabbath rest in the tomb.  These are days of fasting, silence and sobriety.  Respect that fact that you are participating in a great mystery - the mystery of redemption and salvation. 
+  Parents, you may think of taking your children out of school on Holy Friday and attending the Vespers service in the afternoon.  (This may already be solved for you in some school systems as we celebrate Pascha this year with Roman Catholics and Protestants and perhaps your school district allows for a taking Good Friday off). 
+  Reduce or eliminate TV and other viewings for the week.  Keep off the internet except for essential matters. [In other words, don't focus on Islam during the Lord's Passion Week!] 
+  Be regular in your prayers. 
+  Try not to gossip or speak poorly of other persons. 
+  Choose at least one of the Passion Narratives from the four Gospels - MK. 14-15; MATT. 25-26; LK. 22-23; JN. 18-19 - and read it carefully through the week.  There is also other good literature about Holy Week and Pascha that could be read. 
+  If you have access to any of the Holy Week service booklets, read and study the services carefully before coming to church.  This will deepen your understanding of that particular service's emphasis as Holy Week unfolds. 
+  If you come to the midnight Paschal Liturgy, do your best to stay for the entire service, prepared to receive the Eucharist.  You may or may not choose to stay for the meal to follow, but what matters is the Liturgy.

Much more in the full meditation here.

So, with the Raising of Lazarus and Palm Sunday already at hand, let us together join with the Lord Jesus Christ as He goes up to Jerusalem!