Holy Week began on Sunday with the celebration of Palm Sunday. That night was the Bridegroom Orthros service. On Wednesday was Holy Unction, anointing with oil, a service of healing.
On Thursday we had a Liturgy followed by a meal followed by the Passion Gospels service. During this service twelve passages from the Gospels are read about Christ's Passion, as they are read a candle is lit, it's a little bit lengthy, but worth it. During this service the priest hangs a figure of Christ upon a Cross. Since we observe the coming days as beginning at sundown, we observe Christ's Crucifixion on Thursday evening.
On Holy Friday we spent almost the entire day at church. The Royal Hours service began at nine, then at three were the Taking Down From the Cross Vespers. At this service the icon of Christ is removed from the Cross, and it is wrapped and placed in the funeral bier, representative of the tomb.
That evening is the Lamentations Orthros service. This is a very somber but beautiful service. It is a lot like a funeral. We process outside with candles and enter back into the church after walking under the funeral bier. It represents baptism.
That afternoon the Vigil began. This means that someone was at the church constantly until Pascha, reading the Gospels and other scripture, keeping vigil until we celebrated Christ's Resurrection. Brandon signed up to read between 4:30-5:30 am. I decided to go with him, and it was one of the more beautiful things I have ever been a part of.
The Church was dark save for a few candles and only about 5 people were there at any given time, and the only sounds were the words of the Gospel being read. Recounting Christ's Passion until we would celebrate His Resurrection.
After going home and grabbing an hour long nap it was time for the Holy Saturday service. This was the service I've been waiting for since July of last year. It was my formal reception into The Church through anointing with oil. It was also the first time I was able to take communion. It was an incredibly emotional day. I can't really describe how amazing it was. Until I can think of something adequate to say, here are some pictures of the service.
The Chrismation Service began in the back of the Nave, ending up on the Solea. There were 12 people being Chrismated this year, including our friend Chase, it was very joyous
After the liturgy everyone sang "God grant you many years" for those of us who were newly illumined, it was so wonderful!
These are mine and Brandon's patron Saints, St. John Maximovitch and St. Catherine the Great Martyr. Although they aren't in the picture, my sweet friend Hannah (whose Patron Saint is also St. Catherine) had placed a vase of daisies underneath her icon in honor of my Chrismation. She also gave me an icon card of St. Catherine that had been blessed on her relics in Greece. I'm incredibly lucky to have friends like Hannah!
Here we are, the newly illumined.Me with the best sponsor ever, Meribeth. I love her very much! I figured it would be too daunting to tackle Holy Week, Chrismation and Pascha all in one post, so I'll wait until later to post about Pascha, but until then.... Christ is Risen!