Friday, April 29, 2016

We Worship Your Passion, O Christ; Show us also Your Holy Resurrection

For me today tends to be the highlight of intensity as the Church sets our gaze upon the Lord on the Cross. Beginning with the Royal Hours this morning, during which the Gospel story of Christ on the Cross is read, and ending with the faithful singing hymns surrounding the Tomb of Christ, our spiritual emotions run the gamut from deep sorrow to tingly hope.

We arrive this morning in a darkened Church to see Christ hanging on the Cross, left alone last night in the Church. During the service of the Royal Hours, our heart will burn with love for God as we hear many of the stories from last night repeated. The service is a compilation of the Hours into a special service including the First, Third, Sixth and Ninth Hours. These are not the hours Christ spent on the Cross, but a combining of the Hours normally prayed throughout the day.

Once the Royal Hours concludes, the Church is “a buzz” with preparations. The Koukouklion (the wooden sepulcher) is decorated to receive the Epitaphios Icon of Christ’s the burial. In many Church, while woman decorate the Tomb, hymns are sung and faithful are free to enter into the Church and spend time in prayer at the foot of the Cross.

In the afternoon, normally around 3pm to coincide with the Ninth Hour accounting of the death of Christ on the Cross, the Vespers is offered. During this service the body of Christ is removed from the Cross and the Epitaphios Icon is placed in the Sepulcher. As the service concludes faithful again have the opportunity to venerate the Tomb of Christ and prepare for the evening.

With the evening hours comes the Matins along with the singing of the Lamentations at the Tomb. This particular service, begins the resurrection tone for the Feast. It is a service during which the clergy vest in bright colors and the hymns include reference to the coming Resurrection.

From morning through the night, Holy Friday seems to drag our soul from sorrow to joy. We began gazing upon the Crucified Lord, and ended the day singing about His coming resurrection. It is quite a day. 

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