Tuesday, April 8, 2014

And so it begins....The start of Holy Week

Saturday begins the long cycle of services that culminates in Pascha for the Greek Orthodox Church. Lots of tradition and prayer goes along with the marathon of services that we gird ourselves for. This year a decision was made to hold most our beloved Pre Sanctified services as Pan Orthodox. We were unable to attend them as they went very long and we rise early in our house to make it to work. The absence of the services in our lives really deflated the rest of the season for us. I am sure the clergy thought it was in our best interest but frankly the most beautiful service happened to be our first of the season attended by an amazing number of people and our own little choir. After that, they moved all over town and the length became unwieldy and just silly especially after most had fasted all day to take communion.

This Saturday is Lazarus Saturday, a foretelling of the future Resurrection service. That marks the beginning of Palm Sunday, Bridegroom Matins and then a litany of evening prayers and day services that culminates on Sunday morning about 1 a.m.  It's a long haul and we are usually spent at the end of it sometimes even taking Monday off to recover depending on our chosen level of participation.

The icon  above plays predominately in the first few days of Holy Week. It is called The Nymphios or Bridegroom and shows the bound Lord before the Crucifixion. In Orthodox icons, the dramatic flair is downplayed as the icon represents the transfigured character so no blood or agony just a reassuring calmness. This particular icon will be decorated with a floral frame and venerated many, many times before the end of next week. I painted it specifically for the church at this time of the year.

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