by Gerald Boerner
As we enter the second day of Holy Week, let us continue to focus our attention on the Christ that is the center of this celebration. Yesterday, we commemorated the entry of Christ into Jerusalem. Today we begin a less defined, in the Western world, period (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) in the observation. It is a time to continue our focus upon the meaning of this period of time. GLB
“Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter.”
— Josh McDowell
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
— Pope John Paul II
“Most people outside of America won’t get it. It’s the Easter bunny. It’s another lie and I don’t understand why we had to invent this character.”
— Todd Rundgren
“I am very proud of this work because it is more about the meaning of the Easter Rising and its relationship to what this whole century has been about, people liberating themselves, freeing themselves.”
— Leon Uris
“And it is always Easter Sunday at the New York City Ballet. It is always coming back to life. Not even coming back to life – it lives in the constant present.”
— John Guare
“Do we believe that there is equal economic opportunity out there in the real world, right now, for each and every one of these groups? If we believed in the tooth fairy, if we believed in the Easter Bunny, we might well believe that.”
— William Weld
“God expects from men something more than at such times, and that it were much to be wished for the credit of their religion as well as the satisfaction of their conscience that their Easter devotions would in some measure come up to their Easter dress.”
— Robert South
“A strangely reflective, even melancholy day. Is that because, unlike our cousins in the northern hemisphere, Easter is not associated with the energy and vitality of spring but with the more subdued spirit of autumn?”
— Hugh Mackay
Holy Week: Holy Monday
In the Roman Catholic Church, the Gospel lesson at Mass tells of the Anointing of Jesus at Bethany (John 12:1-9), which chronologically occurred before the Entry into Jerusalem described in John 12:12-19. Other readings used are Isaiah 42:1-7 and Psalm 27:1-3, 13-14.
Few Protestant churches have special services for Holy Monday. Those which do may follow the general pattern of the Roman Catholic observance.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, this day is referred to as Great and Holy Monday, or Great Monday. On this day the Church commemorates the withering of the fruitless fig tree (Matthew 12:18-22), a symbol of judgement that will befall those who do not bring forth the fruits of repentance. The hymns on this day also recall Joseph, the son of Jacob, whose innocent suffering at the hand of his brethren (Genesis 37), and false accusation (Genesis 39-40) are a type (foreshadowing) of the Passion of Christ.
The day begins liturgically with Vespers on Palm Sunday night, repeating some of the same stichera (hymns) from the night before. At Small Compline a Triode (Canon composed of three Odes), written by St. Andrew of Crete is chanted.
The Matins service for Monday through Wednesday of Holy Week is known as the Bridegroom Service or Bridegroom Prayer, because of their theme of Christ as the Bridegroom of the Church, a theme movingly expressed in the troparion that is solemnly chanted during them. On these days, an icon of "Christ the Bridegroom" is placed on an analogion in the center of the temple, portraying Jesus wearing the purple robe of mockery and crowned with a crown of thorns (see Instruments of the Passion). The Matins Gospel read on this day is from the Gospel of Matthew 21:18-43). The canon at Matins has only three odes in it (a triode), and was composed by St. Cosmas of Maiuma.
The four Gospels are divided up and read in their entirety at the Little Hours (Third Hour, Sixth Hour and Ninth Hour) during the course of the first three days of Holy Week, halting at John 13:31.
There are various methods of dividing the Gospels, but the following is the most common practice:
- Holy and Great Monday
- Third Hour—The first half of Matthew
- Sixth Hour—The second half of Matthew
- Ninth Hour—The first half of Mark
At the Sixth Hour there is a reading from the Book of Ezekiel 1:1-20
At the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, some of the stichera from the previous night’s Matins (Lauds and the Aposticha) are repeated at Lord, I have cried (see Vespers). There are two Old Testament readings: Exodus 1:1-20 and Job 1:1-12. There is no Epistle reading, but there is a Gospel reading from Matthew 24:3-35
We have an eternal high priest and an eternal sacrifice in Jesus Christ. The Law is no longer imposed externally, as it was in the old covenant, but written on the hearts of those who believe. Now, writes St. Paul in the Letter to the Hebrews, we must simply persevere in the Faith. When we doubt or draw back, we fall into sin.
Having therefore, brethren, a confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ; a new and living way which he hath dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh, and a high priest over the house of God: Let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with clean water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering (for he is faithful that hath promised), and let us consider one another, to provoke unto charity and to good works: Not forsaking our assembly, as some are accustomed; but comforting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.
For if we sin wilfully after having the knowledge of the truth, there is now left no sacrifice for sins, but a certain dreadful expectation of judgment, and the rage of a fire which shall consume the adversaries. A man making void the law of Moses, dieth without any mercy under two or three witnesses: How much more, do you think he deserveth worse punishments, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the blood of the testament unclean, by which he was sanctified, and hath offered an affront to the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said: Vengeance belongeth to me, and I will repay. And again: The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
But call to mind the former days, wherein, being illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions. And on the one hand indeed, by reproaches and tribulations, were made a gazingstock; and on the other, became companions of them that were used in such sort. For you both had compassion on them that were in bands, and took with joy the being stripped of your own goods, knowing that you have a better and a lasting substance. Do not therefore lose your confidence, which hath a great reward. For patience is necessary for you; that, doing the will of God, you may receive the promise.
For yet a little and a very little while, and he that is to come, will come, and will not delay. But my just man liveth by faith; but if he withdraw himself, he shall not please my soul. But we are not the children of withdrawing unto perdition, but of faith to the saving of the soul.
- Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)
Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:
Wikipedia: Holy Week…
Wikipedia: Holy Monday…
About.com: Scriptural Reading for the Monday of Holy Week…
Brainy Quote: Easter Quotes…